Reader Suggestions: What’s The Weirdest Thing You’ve Done To Save Money?
I’ve been called a frugal weirdo. I’ve been called an extreme saver. But let me tell you what, the readers of Frugalwoods make me look like the tamest frugalista that ever walked around in a coat she found in a trash heap.
I mean, I do have an entire section of Frugalwoods devoted to the amazing stuff I’ve picked out of the trash… But I must say, per usual, I am humbled by the intense frugality on display by Frugalwoods readers. If you think you’ve done weird things in the name of frugality? Read on, my friends.
Welcome to my monthly Reader Suggestions feature! Every month I post a question to our Frugalwoods Facebook group and share the best responses here. The questions are topics I’ve received multiple queries on and my hope is that by leveraging the braintrust of Frugalwoods nation, you’ll find helpful advice and insight. Join the Frugalwoods Facebook group to participate in next month’s Reader Suggestions.
Oh yeah, also, Happy Valentine’s Day and here’s stuff about V-Day The Frugal Way:
- Crowdsourced Ideas For A Unique And Thrifty Valentine’s Day
- A Frugal Valentine’s Day: Do Instead Of Buy
- A Frugal Weirdo’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Manifesto
Ok back to the odd topic at hand…
The Weirdest Things Frugalwoods Readers Have Done To Save Money
Live In A Construction Zone
Mary Grace wrote, “We bought a house that needed lots of TLC, it had a makeshift kitchen.. as it had plywood floors, no walls or partial walls, same with the ceiling, no cabinets or cupboards, it had a temporary sink and an old stove. We lived with this mess for over 20 years .. now we have a beautiful kitchen that we did ourselves! We learned how to hang drywall, texture, lay tile, .. all of it!”
Go Old School
Carrington said, “We bought a VCR for about $8. Now, we can get the classic Disney movies for about 35 cents at Goodwill. If the tape doesn’t work great, then we can just buy a new one. It’s a lot cheaper than dvd or blu-ray.”
When Life Gives You Lemons
Yuliya said, “The most recent re-discovery – preserving lemons. 🍋 My lemons always went moldy, I’d use some and the rest would get forgotten in the fridge until it’s too late. Then I remembered that my grandmother used to cut up lemons into small wedges and layered them with sugar in a jar and kept the jar in the refrigerator. It’s perfect for tea and no lemons wasted!”
When Life Gives You Vegetable Oil
Julie said, “My husband recycled used vegetable oil and turned it into biodiesel.”
When Life Gives You Coconuts
Natasha shared, “I live on Guam I’m always on the lookout for Coconuts that fall from trees. I pick them up off the side of the road I get usually 5-6 a week. I use the husk to line my chicken boxes, I also use it as topcover in my veggie pots to retain moisture and to keep the Chickens out. Then the coconut itself I crack open and shred it I use it in a chicken salad dish called Kelaguen, I also make Coconut candy as gifts, I then take the coconut nut halves and make little bowls or decorative ladels as gifts.”
Let No Toiletry Go Unused
Carolanne shared, “I made up some washing soap by dissolving endy bits of soap bars in boiling water. I stored it in a jar – where it sets to a kind of gel.”
Laurel reports, “I accidentally discovered that my body lotion works as well for my face as the expensive face lotion I’d been buying for years. I forgot to pack the latter on a trip then just started using it full time, no difference.”
Julie said, “I always put water in dish soap or laundry soap bottles and save it for hand washing or light loads. Filling a dirty pot with water and dish soap and then pouring part of it into another dirty pan and so on.”
Meghan said, “We paid for the food at our wedding by returning cans and bottles collected from the restaurants we worked at, I made my own wedding dress and we “borrowed” the flowers from our neighbor’s yards. But I think that’s all perfectly reasonable and not strange at all, the weirdos are the ones who take out loans to pay for a party.”
Adastra wrote, “I participate with foodsharing. I think it is just in Germany available. Shops like grocery shops, bakery, restaurants participate and let us know if they have leftovers, packages near the “best before date”, not so pretty fruits. We collect the food, use it for ourself and share what we are unable to consume. Reduced my grocery bill under 50 $ per month and the food is not wasted. Most shops sell organic food, so it is high quality.”
Annie said, “When I was fresh out of law school and very broke I still wanted to attend my out of state friends’ wedding and support them. So I packed oatmeal and tuna packets for the whole weekend other than the wedding night when I knew I’d be fed so I wouldn’t spend any money on food. I was sharing an Air Bnb with several buddies and they all thought I was nuts 😂.”
Kellie shared, “We go to 3 supermarkets, a fruit and veg store, and a discount grocery (plus Asian grocery and various outlets of the same supermarket as we go by) to find the best prices. I take photos of products in one store and check the cents/100 grams in each. Sometimes we have to walk back to one of the other stores if it’s cheaper (we’re lucky that we have 3 supermarkets in one small shopping centre so it doesn’t cost to travel between them). The discount grocery we go to, sells products close to (or over) use by dates sometimes we get some great bargains there. Lately as petrol prices have been rising by 40-50 cents overnight, we’ve been topping up the tank when they’re low. As we drive by, we see the price is low and pop in . Sometimes the top up to make the tank full is only $10-15 But when prices rise by so much per litre, that’s a big saving.”
Kristi said, “Well, I’m not sure it’s that weird or if anyone has done it, but I guess it might be. We are trying our hand at composting. Instead of buying a kit or a bucket made for composting, we decided to use a long Tupperware piece with a tight seal to see how it goes. We stuck it on the balcony.”
Elizabeth wrote, “I buy bulk vegetables and fruit and share with my sister, especially seasonal fruit is cheaper and also very ripe fruit i chop up and freeze for smoothies.”
Cindy says she, “Saved the butter packets from take out. I really like them and put them in a ziploc in the fridge-they are the perfect serving size for the kids toast!”
Chickens Like Mexican Food (as do people)
Anna reports, “I still get a kick out of getting plate scrapings from the Mexican restaurant for free and not buying as much chicken food! We also are turning a clay pit into garden soil with free coffee grounds! Saving landfill and money!”
Ellen said she once, “…carried leftovers home in my coat pocket for 2 miles on foot… It was half a quesadilla and leftover guac… GUAC IS EXTRA OK IM NOT GONNA WASTE IT.”
From Trash to Treasure
Mary-Ellen said, “In this age of reusing, repurposing and recycling, I don’t think trash-picking is strange. I think it should be encouraged and applauded! However, others may think we are strange for doing it. My husband recently trash-picked an antique steamer trunk that I use for my Halloween displays. 👻”
Kathryn’s favorite is, “Literal dumpster diving! Most notably, nice apartment complex’s when the college kids move out and for my wedding looking for wine bottles to paint for center pieces!! My best friend and I were both deep in dumpsters holding each other ankles!!!”
Sophie said, “Not that strange (to me), but dumpster diving to salvage perfectly-edible and delicious food!”
Rachel admits, “Trash pick in the swanky neighborhood across town. With a red station wagon. In broad daylight.”
Mandy reports, “I had a job that would throw out trash bags of food, mostly unopened, from different vendors; I would collect it and take it home in my backpack. I got fancy cheeses, granola, pastas, frozen entrees, snack foods, etc.”
Lynn wrote, “I saw 8 foot posts left for the trash when I was out for my 4am run. I dragged them to my house, two at a time and used them in my landscaping project.”
Reduce Your Water Use
Caitlynn said, “What started out as frugality and turned into better for our skin and hair: we go as far between baths as possible and all use the same bath water. For my husband and I that’s weekly. I like it screaming hot so I get the tub first. For my girls (7 and 3), that’s about once a month and go in together after us. They have sensitive skin so less washing is best. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!”
Melissa said, “I don’t think any of it is strange! I’m sure I looked like I’d lost it last night when I was ladling potato water into the house plants though. (Plants like the starch water….) 😂”
Joan shared, “We had a hurricane in our pre-generator days, so since we are on a well, we had no water. I was desperate for a shower but refused to find a hotel and pay for a room. When a new band of rain moved in, I put on my swimsuit and showered and washed my hair under the run off from our roof. We live in the country with no near neighbors, but my teen was still embarrassed by me.”
Go ALL IN To Make It Work
Kathryn reports, “We’ve done a lot. Both our cars broke down and instead of going into debt we went carless while saving up to fix them. I would walk a mile with three kids and a little red wagon to buy produce. Then when my husband got home from work at night he would take the little red wagon on the light rail to the cheapest grocery store and stock up on other goods. I even had someone stop me and the kids on the road with our wagon full of produce and ask to take a picture!
- We redid our kitchen ourselves a little at a time on cash, so there was a stretch when I did dishes in our front yard with the garden hose.
- We spent six months without any fridge and then almost a year with a dorm sized fridge for our then family of five to save electricity.
- I’ve made my own sandals out of cardboard and duct tape.
- I took Amtrak to visit family instead of flying. By myself. With a four year old, two year old and six week old. It was a two day train ride.
- I used to work at night after the kids went to bed doing transcription but we didn’t pay to heat the house so I would type on my computer bundled up in a hat, winter coat, and fingerless gloves.
We successfully weathered several periods of unemployment/underemployment, started a profitable family business and purchased a home with cash because we were willing to be extreme.”
The Case Of The Run-Over Sandwich
Aimee said, “I found a takeout sandwich in a parking lot that had been run over by a car (like tire tread marks on the bag). Who knows how long it had been there. I figured it was cold enough that it probably hadn’t spoiled (Michigan winter), grabbed it, brought it home and ate it. My friends still make fun of me, but it was a good sandwich! #ihatewastingfood”
Reuse, Reuse, Then Reuse Again
Brandy reports, “I don’t find them strange but I have been teased by friends for: reusing aluminum foil multiple times, current pans come from a dumpster (it was an eviction 😭 and the garbage truck was on the way and the people had not returned in weeks), seed saving from flowers, my kids take sailor showers (turn the water off when soaping), saving their milk/juice not consumed from breakfast for afternoon smoothies, finding out the drink being served at beach happy hour and bringing our own of that brand (the beach is free but you are supposed to buy the overpriced drinks of the local hut).”
Irene reports, “I wash and repurpose tableware, styrofoam, Chinet plates if they are not to messed up after parties dinner events.”
Laura said she, “Made reusable sanitary products from an old flannel sheet. Use old washcloths for un-paper towels, use my dehumidifier water to water plants.”
Lea said, “Whenever we run our dehumidifier in the basement we will use the water collected in the basin to fill our toilet tank rather than letting it refill from the pipes.”
Rebecca said, “Well this is also to save on plastic, but I found out you can reuse disposable swimming diapers as long as there’s no obvious urine or poop. Just wash, dry and wear again until they get too haggard.”
Susan wrote, “My friends find it odd that I wash my zip lock bags (not those that have contained meat). Could be odd, but I haven’t bought a new box in several years.”
Barb “made swiffer replacement pads out of (reusable) flannel scraps of fabric!”
Terri shared, “In our first year of marriage, my husband’s work was very hard on jeans! I patched them so much that some of the patches had patches! We got to the point where he only had one pair and payday was a week away. I washed them at night when he got home, but we didn’t own a dryer. So I put them in the oven on low heat to dry!”
Buy It For Life
Janel wrote, “I believe in buying quality products that last. For instance, I purchase most of my furnishings from a well known retailer. My last sofa lasted 20+ years no sagging or creaking. We moved across the country and I bought a new one that should last as long. It cost a lot up front but it lasted with yearly steam cleanings and care. Over the years my friends and family would ask is that the same sofa, the answer was always yes. I also have a vacuum cleaner that someone was discarding. I had it repaired and it works well. I take it in for repairs periodically, mostly belts. I worry I won’t be able to find the filters one day but I wouldn’t want it in the landfill. I haven’t bought a new vacuum for over a decade.”
Vincent shares, “I bought ExOfficio underwear that I can wash by hand everyday. I have 2 pairs of underwear and they’ve lasted me 8 years.”
Barter & Trade
Sally wrote, “I love learning new things but didn’t want to pay for classes, so I scanned my friends and families Facebook posts to discover their hobbies and talents. It’s amazing the range of skills people have – photography, cartoon drawing, bird watching, keep fit, rambling, cooking, art, knitting etc. I then private messaged them to ask if they’d give me a free lesson in photography or take me on their favourite walk etc. I did it as part of my Happy New Month lifestyle (each month I do something to challenge or enhance my life and keep it interesting) – this was part of my Try something new in November month. It was great because I spent time catching up with friends and learning all about something they were passionate about. Highly recommend giving it a go!”
Monica said, “I have taught myself how to make very fancy baked goods because I am a sucker for them. Eclairs, macarons, cream puffs, fondant covered cakes, and any other finicky little sweet treat you can think of I have probably tried it at least once instead of going out and buying it. It takes me a while to make some of them but I enjoy baking too so it works out. I’ve also gotten really good at steak dinners and other things we would normally have gone out to eat in the past. Learning how to cook well saves us a ton of money even if there are a lot of dishes afterwards.”
Donna wrote, “The wooden frame of our couch broke – we decided to repair it! Took off the fabric, rebuilt the inside, put it back together again.”
Sara wrote, “My car had a broken knob that changed it from heat to cool. Twice a year, when the seasons changed, my husband would crawl under the dash and manually change the temp.”
Dryer Lint: It Has A Use, People
Elaine said she, “Saves dryer lint as fire starter. Asked my sister to save hers.”
Noel wrote, “Our family hates paying $8 for plastic wrapped fire wood for our chimney. So on nice winter days we go for “stick walks” on the nature trail near our house. We collect small-medium sticks and branches that will fit in our fireplace, enjoy a quick burning fire after dinner, and then the next day we always add the ashes to our compost. It’s frugal, fun, and offers a significant amount of toddler entertainment, but the passersby still look at us funny as we all rummage for good sticks.”
Angela said, “When we lived in a house with a fireplace, I would go to public forests to collect pinecones. Great Firestarters.”
Sew Your Way To Savings
Nicki credits, “Learning to sew at a young age, I have reclaimed many items. When my kids were little I always bought a size up. Tucked, hemmed etc. They weren’t particularly joyful about it, but now they are parents and they get it! Everything can be remade. Now, it’s a treat to buy new fabric.”
Sometimes, You Really Can Go TOO Far
Brooke wrote, “My ex-husband insisted I rinse dental floss and reuse it. Lol. I refused but he did it for years. That’s way too far in my opinion.”
The Overarching Message: You Do You (because it’s a lot cheaper than keeping up with the Joneses)
I think all of this boils down to living an authentic life. I think most of it relates to not caring about conforming to norms. I think the undercurrent here is that you’d better do you because no one else will and no one else actually cares what you’re doing. I think the subtext is that it’s better to do some potentially weird things than it is to wind up in soul-crushing debt. Frugality can be hilarious, it can be incorporated into every aspect of your life, and you’ll probably have more fun being frugal than not. After all, Aimee ate a run-over sandwich and Kathryn found herself head-over-heels in a dumpster with a friend. How many spendy people can claim that?!
What’s the weirdest thing YOU’VE done to save money?
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Oh man, I actually did a whole post similar to this last year on the craziest things I’ve done to save money and make ends meet, but some of these blow mine out of the water! My first two years of college, my roommates and I kept our heat at 50 degrees–the minimum required by the landlords–for the whole winter, even though temps sometimes got down to twenty below. There were a couple mornings I could see my breath when I woke up! A bunch of us would go swimming on campus so we could use the showers there instead of in our apartment to save water (plus theirs never ran out of hot water!), and anytime one of us used the oven to bake something, we’d all open the door up a crack when it was done and huddle around to take advantage of the heat. Good times!
Love these Torrie! 😂
I bring home the coffee grounds from work for the garden. There is a collection box at work I started for cans (which we give to the local Boy Scouts). I also have co-workers who bring me leftovers or expired bread for my chickens! We accept all hand-me -downs and cut the pants into shorts when the knees are worn out. Then, all clothes become cleaning rags when completely worn out or outgrown! Definitely reuse the dehumidifier water in garden. Every little bit helps my pocketbook and the earth!
It’s possible to wear the same jeans several times between washes. And I can attest one can go two weeks between changing the sheets and live to tell the tale.
Denim purists suggest you never wash your jeans. Almost all of mine are years old and have never been washed, but worn plenty. I only wash if absolutely necessary. And wear all my tops at least a few times before washing. My Toddler wears the same Jammies two nights in a row.
Whoo-hoo! My lint suggestion made the cut! I am now frugally famous! (or should it be famously frugal?)
That’s great! We save it to make tick tubes in the spring!
What’s a tick tube?
I also save dryer lint for our campfires! I am genuinely disappointed if I go somewhere with a campfire and I don’t have my ziplock of lint 😀
You are famous in my book!
And I save our lint and put in toilet paper or paper towel rolls. It took awhile to get my husband on board, but now it’s routine, even packing a few for camping trips. Then we ran into a guy who had saved lint/sawdust and put it in cardboard egg crates and put a bit of wax on it, then cut then in “egg” halves. That worked even BETTER. I haven’t done that yet.
I melt wax and pour over shredded paper in a small dixie cup. It’s a great firestarter
Been doing the lint-wax-egg thing at our VT house for years!
Once our dvd player did not work correctly anymore. We found out that every movie would be interupted after 30 or 40 minutes.
We tried to put an Icepack on it and —ist worked!!!
Several years we used icepacks to cool our old dvd player.
Preparing icepacks became part of our weekend, as normally as preparing some snacks if we planned to watch a movie.
We have a ‘truck coop’. In our small town we mostly bike everywhere, but a few times a year a pickup truck is needed. A friend has a 30+ year old vehicle for all these odd jobs. He lets any friend in the ‘coop’ borrow it, and that person fills it with gas. Once a year we all give him money for the registration and maintenance on a ‘whatever you can afford’ basis.
That’s amazing! How different would towns and cities be if more people did this?
That’s such a great idea!
I agree with the sewing comment. I have saved sooo much money by being able to patch, repair and create many things myself. I’ve replaced three zippers in my winter coat and it lasted for 12 years. I work at an elementary school so I am outside alot with the kiddos. My daughter is Type-1 diabetic diagnosed at 21 months and instead of buying cases to carry her insulin pump on her body, I made my own. We picked out fun fabrics and the kids thought she had her own phone! My Mom taught 4H sewing and I didn’t like it, I now appreciate the skills she taught me.
lol I totally reuse my dental flossers. In general we buy (unfrugal) compostable dental floss and don’t typically reuse that but if I use a single use massively wasteful plastic flosser I do rinse and reuse it several times before throwing it away. It really isn’t different from rinsing your toothbrush and using it the next day and to me it’s pretty gross throw away that much plastic after such an insignificant use. Those wasteful flossers were a life saver when my kids were little and I was exhausted – I could floss with one hand (while the other had a baby or was doing something for the toddler) while on the move. Now I enjoy the luxury of standing in one place unitasking. Sometimes.
We also use our diaper sprayers (attached to the toilets from our cloth diaper days) as bidets. While we still use toilet paper the fact that I can clean my behind and dry it with a clean cloth wipe (also left over from cloth diapering days) that can be washed means I no longer fear running out of toilet paper in a blizzard.
I’ve never dived for food, though I’m not opposed it it, but I do bring my compostables home and so often have banana peels or apple cores in my bags or pockets.
my dentist assures me that those plastic flossers are 100% able to be used up to 5 times (or until there is visible damage to them of course), just give them a good rinse after use.
And hopefully use them to make banana peel bread or apple muffins or apple butter or drink before composting
We need to rethink the idea of “trash.” The Western culture is awash in manufactured products. Many perfectly good products just don’t have a home. If you give them a home and a use, who cares where you got them? Trash sounds so … trashy. Can’t we use a different word? So what if a product is simply transferred from one person to another? You can use it, they can’t.
Some of those ways of savings I’ve also been doing most of my life, washing and reusing foil, plastic bags, and similar things people normally throw away. A little soap and water costs less than one box of those bags. Lint for fire starter as well as old paper is excellent for starting fires. I also save all the saw dust and small chips when cutting or splitting firewood to use for tinder. Wrap it in paper or a paper bag; instant fire starter. Like Marion, I seldom wash jeans more than once a week, often longer between washes. I do the same with my flannel shirts. I wear them and hang them out to air. Doing this they last much longer than wear once and then wash. I also avoid using the clothes dryer as much as possible. Everything lasts much longer if not tossed into the clothes dryer.
Brilliant post. I’m storing this one! Thank you 😊
Ha! Some of these are pure gold! One concern I’ve heard about dumpster diving for food is that the vicinity of lots of dumpsters is treated with poison to keep away vermin, and that poison could potentially contaminate the food. I don’t know if that’s a valid concern or if it’s just people who are skeeved out by dumpster food diving making up excuses to police others’ behavior, however!
When my husband was in dental school I sold my blood. It is not a very common type and they would call me every 4 weeks. However, I only went every six weeks. It helped pay the bills.
We had two giant breed dogs, a Dane and an Irish wolfhound. The vet would call us for dog blood donations if they got in a dog who’d been hit by a car and needed a transfusion to save it. (We lived about three minutes from the vet.) We were happy to donate to keep someone else’s pet alive but the vet would pay us with a bag of dog food. If it was a middle of the night call, we’d get two 40 pound bags of dog food. One horrible weekend both dogs’ blood was needed and we ended up with 160 pounds of dog food and a lovely note from the owner of the dog our boys saved. The note alone made it worth the effort!
Due to a horrific drought and banana republic style governance in my country, we faced the real possibility of no water. This taught us to be very, very, very frugal with water, and while the drought is over, the lessons and water-saving has stayed with us. We never bath, only shower, and how it works is this; using a large plastic funnel we catch the initial cold water (15-20 seconds worth) straight into a 10 litre water tank that has a tap. This clean, unused water is then used instead of switching on taps for everything we would normally use water for. Any that is more than 24 hours old is used to water plants. The tanks themselves get sterilised every couple of weeks. Once in the shower itself, we stand in a large, plastic basin, so catch our shower water. This is then used by the bucket to flush our toilets and is very effective, always gets used up within the day, any that isn’t is used on the lawn / garden. Obviously one doesn’t want dirty water hanging around for days so it’s important to be systematic, but the system works well. We use the actual loo flush rarely. All water is caught in plastic tubs in all the sinks, handwashing water, veg washing water, all of it gets used for our plants, garden, for our dogs bowls, for bird / bee baths for the poor little thirsty creatures.
Obviously our showers are also very short. 30 seconds to get wet, switch off water, soap / shampoo, water on for 30-45 seconds to rinse off properly and then off. Water does not run for more than 2 mins in total, ever, even in a ”long” shower. No need for it, and we are apparently clean and fresh-smelling!
Always re-use ziploc bags and virtually never throw away food of any quantity unless it is conclusively spoiled. Twice a week I go through our fridge and portion out / make up single meals with the various left-overs and then each week or so we have a left-over night and pick what we like – the kids love it! Husband also takes single meal portions (made up of left over random meals) to work for his lunch and never, ever buys food during a work day. His colleagues are amazed and admiring and a couple of them ask him regularly what he’s got ”today”. The key is to make sure there is some variety, that there’s enough to eat, it’s appetising and contains snack-type things to see you through. No point thinking ”oh I’ll just have a tiny salad” because you won’t. You’ll be starving and hangry!
Wow! Impressive! You must be a good cook and always making more than enough in order to have leftovers. Great job!
Are you Australian and living on the Southern Downs in Queensland by any chance? 🙂
Amazing! This is a great community.
I think mine would have to be living on my land without power and water for 6 months, waiting for those to be installed. It made me very proud of myself.
Also, after a wedding set up in the park, the caterers packaged a bunch of food but no one took it. My hubs and I took All the crackers and fresh veggies. We did not attend this wedding. We were on a walk in the park the next day 🙂 I hate food waste too!
I wash my foodsaver bags out with hot water and dish soap. I keep a small squirt bottle filled with diluted bleach by my sink and give each bags a few heathy squirt, rinse well and put up to dry. I do this no matter what was in the bags. At 50 cents a foot it is a big savings. I have been doing this for 25 years. I have save hundreds of dollars and didn’t send the bags to the landfill until they were to short to reuse. I also do the same with my freezer bags and other storage bags.
Just reading your thread has made me realise my mistake, I use, wash and reuse my ziplocks until the bottom goes and then I’ve been throwing them out. BUT I bought a vacuum sealer 3 months ago and I COULD HAVE BEEN RESEALING THE BOTTOM of the bags – DUH!!!
I had an outdoor wedding and my mom was able to borrow chairs for free from a funeral home.
I received an insulated coffee mug as a gift and noticed that it kept my coffee warm until lunch time. It also can ride in my backpack without spilling when I bike to work. I work a twelve hour shift so I bought a second one so that I can have breakfast coffee and lunch coffee without buying it at work. (My employer eliminated free coffee years ago). I also pack my breakfast and lunch with reusable containers that can go in the dishwasher. I usually do overnight oats and a piece of fruit for breakfast and then some leftovers for lunch. I keep a couple protein bars in my locker too for emergencies.
I broke my hand held mirror this week. I threw it away until I realized only one side was broken. Removed what glass I could and taped the broken side. I always hated the magnified side of the mirror anyway!
Mrs. Frugalwoods, As always, you are brilliant at weaving together your reader contributions into a well-organized and interesting story. You do not waste time. As our planet resources dwindle, your work becomes more urgent.
Here is my tardy contribution.
-I used a freely offered horse trailer as a moving van. I was able to pack and unload at a leisurely pace.
-My every day frugality means I save paperclips, nails, and thumbtacks.
-I use the toothpaste tubes that my husband discards “as empty” for another few weeks.
-I choose vegetable peelers that remove minimal amounts of skin on carrots, beets, and potatoes.
Me too, I use up my toothpaste and it never ceases to amaze my husband how long I do that for…and I always choose vegetable peelers that remove minimal amounts.
I read somewhere that you could increase your car’s efficiency by shifting into neutral on long downhills, so every time I visited my boyfriend (now husband) in college that’s what I’d do on the way home (more downhills that direction!). I would also drift (draft?) behind large trucks to reduce drag/increase mileage. Those were probably really unsafe choices, to be honest, even with the “young and stupid” excuse. 🤦🏼♀️
I know of someone who had a really bad accident driving like this. I don’t remember the particulars but im pretty sure yhe cause of it was because of being in neutral. Just wanted to let anyone know who would think about doing this.
The Tightwad Gazette books are full of these frugal-zealot tips. Those books have been my textbooks for years. Yes, a tad dated info sometimes but an amazing, huge amount of content is still true, applicable, and relevant. Here’s mine: cook from scratch as much as possible; shop grocery store sales; we do not waste food, we eat all leftovers; we budget only, and only, one moderate-price restaurant meal out a week; pay off mortgage early; pay off debts; if using a credit card, pay off bill in full; keep heat low in winter and AC high in summer; combine errands/car trips to save gas; go pre-owned for as much as you can, such as clothes, toys, cars, books, furniture, household/kitchen items; hit garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores; do not think of frugality as deprivation, think of it as empowering!
I was thinking the same thing ~ those books are my frugal bible ! Great inspiration when I need a frugal pick me up . I agree some ideas are outdated but very thought provoking . Amy Dacyczyn started a revolution in the 90’s for sure 🙂
I still read my Tightwad Gazette books at least once a year for inspiration.
Me too! They’re darned entertaining too – or maybe just my crazy idea of entertainment 😆
These are REAL savings! So often I read of things my family have done for years.
We used to have 2 Norwegian Elkhounds. When they moulted their very heavy under oats we put this fluff outside and enjoyed watching birds fly away with great bundles of it in the nesting season.
I live everyone else’s ideas! Some of them I realized I do but don’t think about, and others are giving me ideas!
No judgement please..so here goes. My husband and I were at our SIL’s house for our monthly bunco game. They have a big home and very nice things (but highly in debt and they follow the ideas of keeping up with the Jones) I needed to go to the restroom and they had the nicest toilet paper the kind we couldn’t afford. Yes I did, I took a fresh roll and put it in my big purse. 🤷Everytime guest came to our house I would bring out the good stuff. Years later we were partying all together and I handed my SIL a dollar and told them all my story. Now I am known as the TP Stealer and they all tease that everyone should lock up their TP if I am coming over. I learnt my lesson…if I want to steal something now, I ask the host or hostess first. lol
This is a fantastic read!
My partner and I are able to work a very shortened work week due to extreme frugality.
I use big bottles of mild hair conditioner to remove mascara. Mascara hack – I bought one expensive mascara with a good brush. I proceed to use that brush in cheap mascaras as the quality isn’t the mascara it’s the brush that comes with it. Wash out expensive mascara tube when buying a new cheap one to keep it sanitary. Cut and henna my own hair with brown tones (hint amla helps henna stick to grey). Make up only on work days.
Wash hair twice a week. A few quality items for clothes.
No convenience foods – winter eat squash, potatoes, onions, carrots in various combinations. Use Flipp app to source protein for as cheap as possible.
Fruit – canned and frozen items from summer.
No eating out – including coffee
We use second hand appliances. We are fortunate in our community to have a repairman with reasonable call out rates if needed.
Almost everything is second hand and thrift store (appliances, furniture, gadgets, etc)
Extensive vegetable garden in summer. Growing heirloom plants and saving seed.
Roku for free TV
We don’t travel
These are just a few – the peace of mind and joy that comes from a shortened work week are a godsend.
We are too late to the game to save a lot of money for retirement so our option is extreme frugality and a shortened work week.
We’ve been doing cloth diapers for our 14 month old since the day he was born. We bought a huge lot of gently used pocket diapers and wet bags for $250 (vs. the $600-700 new, BumGenius are great, but expensive). We’ve bought 2-3 small packs of disposables for when we were traveling, but that’s it! It’s an extra load of laundry every other day, but the environmental and costs savings have been huge.
This was a fun read! I have done or would do almost all of these! It’s actually kind of funny that most of these seem pretty normal and not weird at all lol But I suppose they could be considered “weird” when looked at through the lens of the typical American. Probably the things I’ve gotten the most side-eye from non-frugal people for doing are using things I’ve found on the curb/garbage and installing a bidet. But they also think I was weird when I was so excited by saving almost $1000/year on my BF & I’s cell phones by switching to a cheaper provider that I had just learned about. I was like, hello! We can now instantly pay for our vacation without any extra work or effort!
I’ve had people look at me oddly because I… wait for it… utilise the hot South African sun and line-dry my laundry. I know. Radical.
Absolutely truthfully, I have never used a tumbledryer. When I lived in the UK, laundry got hung up in convenient spaces in our flat, on or near radiators.
I love this. Dried our clothes on lines for years until we moved to our house in the country. Nearly every time I hung out the sheets, they came in with bird poop on them. It got to be too much work. Started doing the hanging on the wood rack on the deck system for most of the clothes — the birds didn’t go near the deck, I guess. Fun times!
In 2004 I had just started undergrad and needed a new Fall coat. My mother took me shopping and I was obnoxiously picky, and eventually she ended up buying me a rather fancy wool coat for $400, which seemed like a ton of money at the time. I still wear that coat every year, it’s a great coat! But now when my mother sees it she always asks me when the heck I’m going to replace it.
I keep a stash of fabric scraps from sewing projects. Sometimes when looking through them, I can find two or more that can be combined to make a skirt, top, or some kind of decor. The fabric doesn’ t get wasted, and I get something without spending more money. Some local stores discount a bill 5 cents if you bring in your own bags. I keep reusable bags in my car and use them just about everywhere and occasionally make a nickel on something I would do anyway. We stick a sliver of soap onto a new bar to use the last little bit. Noticed recently that a “bar” was made up of three different slivers. Darn the holes in otherwise good socks with embroidery floss scraps—have left-over bits in a lot of colors that get a fairly good match. The floss gives a nice, soft mend since it is basically a woven repair that is smooth. Re-use tea bags(both of us drink tea) with two bags making five cups.
I dry my orange peels to use as fire lighters. Smells good drying on top of wood stove.
Oooh, I’m going to try this for camping season! We save our dryer lint for kindling too. Thanks for the tip 🙂
Dried citrus peels also make the garbage disposal smell nice.
IF I have leftover orange peel, which is not very often, I save it in a jar of white vinegar for a month , drain it , add 2 drops of dish washing liquid, and use it in a spray bottle for general cleaning purposes.
I do this and also save or freeze the peels to use to clean in the kitchen . I sprinkle a little baking soda on them instead of a cleaning cloth and scrub down the stove. It does a great job getting grease off and smells lovely.
Of course, save all bones and veggie scraps in the freezer for homewmade stock. It’s a great use for mushroom stems, veggie peels, etc.
I get the side eye (and sly comments) because of where I live, in a kinda sketchy little decidedly unglamourous town, and a house I bought for $25,000 because someone had stolen the new cabinets and toilet and sink out of the house when the previous owner was renovating and it made her wanna get rid of the house. So, I got the house ( toilet and sink installed) but I have yet to install the kitchen cabinets years and years later. I like to take my time….lol. I also use a window unit for heating and cooling that I purchased from Lowes for under $500 in March 2012, and shut off the bedrooms during winter and summer. So, I only heat and cool the tiny kitchen, bathroom and living room. I cook 90% of my meals at home. I shop Dollar Tree, Dollar General, thrift stores and Walmart when I need something, if I cannot get it off facebook. I used a talk and text phone only for years and just upgraded this year to a prepaid iPhone 6….I think I am fancy now…..lol. I cut my own hair. I don’t wannna pay for a washer and dryer so I haul my clothes once a week to a laundromat and do one load. I will wash in bathtub if I have a bigger load. I drive the cheapest little car I can (Chevy Spark) and I always pack my lunch. For years I slept on a futon that was truly falling apart. I just upgraded this year. I don’t have a tv nor a computer at the house. I just use my iPhone or my simple radio (that was given to me) for entertainment. I loved Amy Dacyczn’s books(The Tightwad Gazette) and still reread them. I pick free figs, free mulberries, and free dandelion greens and eat them. I was very sad when my free source of pecans was chopped down.
The phone made me laugh. I don’t really think of this as frugal, just what I like, but I’ve been clinging to my iPhone SE – the last small iPhone they made. When I dropped the last one I got one refurbished for about $150 (I have to have a smartphone at work). One of my younger coworkers the other day asked “is that an iPhone …1?” Lol.
I love my iPhone SE!!! I’ve had mine over 3 years…paid cash for it and plan to hang on to it until it dies! It works great and has awesome battery life. Thanks to the Lifeproof case I put it in, it has sustained several drops (namely, out of my SUV onto a concrete garage floor). I heard that Apple might make an SE II….if so, this will be my next phone for sure!
I, too, paid cash for an SE… how many years ago? And pre-pay $30/month. This doesn’t seem weird at all to me, but my 9 year old was playing a game on it the other day, and a friend of his said, “wow, that’s a really bad phone! It’s so small!” The phone shaming starts so young.
I love my SE, especially for it’s small size. Fits in my pocket!
Cindy you rock.
Thank y’all……I am 60. I was raised by my grandma who was born in 1896, and she raised six kids on a farm during the Depression. The house I was brought home to from the hospital in 1960 was actually a 100 yr old log house with no water. There was a well pump in the bcak yard. When I was a year old, the chimney fell in and it almost hit me, so my momma bought a house in town for $13,000 . The house was a year old and it had electricity and water (but not central heat and air. It had a window unit for air and electric wall heaters built in.) Our “vacation” every year was to drive four hours south ( in a car with no air conditioner in the deep humid, hot south) to visit my uncle and Great uncle. Most folks were frugal back then. I just pretend I live in the early 60’s (except for the fancy iPhone 6….lol) and carry on…..
I should say I was raised by my grandma, who moved to town with us and babysat me while my momma worked at hospital, and my momma.
I reuse other people’s UNUSED compostable doggie doodoo pickup bags (that I often find fluttering along the bike path where I walk) for picking up trash while I am walking. One time there was a probably 20 bags still stuck together in a row like a roll of toilet paper. I stuck them in my pocket and when I’d spot some trash I’d pull a bag out of my pocket and fill it up. You’d be surprised at how many of these unused bags I’ve found…I think they’re so lightweight they escape the owner before they’ve done their job.
I do many of the weird money-saving suggestions. I cut the ends off of lotion and toothpaste tubes to glean the last bit of product out. You would be surprised how much is still left inside.
My husband and I bought an antique home that had been moved from down the street. While we were told it was connected to the town sewage system, we found it it wasn’t as the wires to the pump had been cut. My husband put on plastic garbage bags and waders and climbed in the septic chamber to pull the pump and clean all of the tangles and waste from it. Since the house had sat for over a year and we bought it from the bank (a process that took 6 months), his actions did not surprise me (grossed me out…yes) we are frugal…we did not have the money to call a company to do something we could do ourselves. He did this 3x before we sold the house for 4x more than we paid.
That man deserves some applause here!!
In our small town local pub, if it’s not busy, the entry sign says, “Pick a table.” My husband and I walked in there, and a nice-looking couple was just leaving, and on their table, I spied a half-eaten basket of Tater Tots!! I adore Tater Tots! I looked at my husband as I sat down at the Tots table, and he said, “You’re not going to eat those……” and I said, “Oh, yeah, watch me…….” and he was rolling his eyes. They were perfectly fine – still warm! I did ask for fresh ranch dressing for dipping. My husband joined me, of course, LOL! In the same town, the local grocery store leaves perfectly good produce in boxes on the side of the building. Anyone is welcome to grab any items. When the pickings are good, I do not need to buy any produce! It is fun to go there and see what they have – always a surprise, and we get creative using it.
I’m Aimee of the run over sandwich, and you know I would have 100% joined you for those Tater Tots! 🙂
I have filled by deck with gorgeous, high end wrought iron patio furniture that I “curb shopped” from a ritzy neighborhood that I drive through everyday on my way to work. Whomever set all this out for the trash truck even included the cushions. I recovered those with outdoor fade proof fabric I purchased with a 60% off coupon. Several cans of $3.99 flat black spray paint made the wrought iron look brand new. I have probably collected about $2000 in patio furniture over the past 2 summers. I can’t believe what people throw out. They don’t even call the thrift store to come and pick it up for donation. I never in a million years would have thought I would ever have such gorgeous patio furniture. Even if I had the money I wouldn’t pay the prices for it anyway. At first I was embarrassed that someone would see me putting someones cast-offs in my truck, but I wanted that patio furniture more than I was embarrassed!! Lol
good ideas! I’ve done a lot of them over the years, but always good to have a reminder when I fall off the wagon of frugality!
We unwrap gifts carefully so we can reuse the paper and always reuse gift-bags, my mum, sister and I compete to see how many times the bags can go round. When the washing-up liquid bottle seems empty I add a little water to get the last drops out. If my moisturiser seems empty I cut the end off the tube, there’s always a few extra days left. Finally I’ve abandoned cleanser for good old-fashioned flannel and water and once the flannels get too grotty they become house cleaning cloths.
I lived in abandoned houses for 18 years, one for 2 years, another for 16 to help an elderly man next door. I fixed 27 windows for the owners at the 2 year place. At the 16 year place, I washed clothes in the bathtub, hung to dry on the back porch, walked to work, saved water (using all the tricks mentioned by others, plus for watering veg in the yard years during drought, painted the roof white each spring to reflect sun and heat , using reject/returned white outdoor paint cheap by the gallon , (temps would go down 5 degrees after each spring painting), I sew,knit, can…it was mostly fun until the bad hurricanes of starting in 2005!
My local Co-Op gives you 10% if you buy 3 bottles of wine or 15% if you buy 12. So we buy 12 at a time and store them. And when you find a bottle you love, order a case (for 15% off) and keep stockpiling. Pretty soon, you have a nice stockpile of wine and you’ve paid substantially less per bottle than if you bought 1-2 at a time. And yes, we drink lots of wine– 3+ bottles/ week! Beer and wine are ancient and noble drinks, and I want to do my bit to support the tradition 🙂
I live in a lovely apartment in a subsidized senior building, so although I’m considered low income, my frugality enables me to have a rich life. I live in a small city with a wonderful library system and lots of low-cost or free cultural events all year long.
In the apartment community room we have a “giveaway” table where tenants pass on items that they don’t want. Many receive food bank donations and items like brown rice and canned and packaged beans end up on the table. I take advantage of these “freebies” to keep my delicious, mostly vegetarian diet at $20 per week. I am lucky to live about a mile from a Winco supermarket which has low prices and a huge bulk section. Life is good!
Some people may think, that you will be lonely and unsocial if you live frugal. It is the opposite. When I collect the food from our foodsharing suppliers I visit my friends to share what I don ‘ t need. Very often we sit together for a while, drink some coffee, chat. There are about 4 or 5 families getting food. They spend less money for grocery, we meet mich more than before and it is good for the enviroment.
I reuse zip lock bags. I cook all my meals from scratch (soaking beans, etc.). When I’m waiting for the water to get hot, I put a basin in the sink and use that water to flush toilets (I have a septic system plus I hate to waste water). I have a rain barrel and use dehumidifier water to water the garden. I compost just about everything – bring stuff home from work to compost (hate seeing them just throw it away). I bring cloth napkins to work and use them at home, too. I have not bought paper napkins for at least 15 years. I eat what’s on sale at the grocery store (the loss leaders). I don’t belong to a gym; have my own flexibility exercises in the morning and walk when I get home. We usher concerts, volunteer at fairs, attend local lectures (lots of colleges in this area).
I love that I made it into your article! Who knew having an ex husband wanting me to reuse dental floss would come in handy. Your readers have some many great ideas, especially teaching yourself new things and going on stick walks. So happy to see that there are a lot of clever, frugal people out in the world.
This morning I cut out several comic strips (I like real newspapers), highlighted hearts with a red sharpie, put them in a fun order, with the best of all last. The ‘Close to Home’ strip by John McPherson shows an older couple holding greeting cards in front of a display rack, with the caption, “After 32 years of marriage, Carla and Ben saved themselves 8 bucks by just reading each other a card in the store.” I added ‘XOXOX’ in red and told my honey, Happy Valentines! no trip to the store required.
An inexpensive-or free-gift With Love will always trump an expensive thoughtless thing.
I love this!
My husband still thinks he should get me a “real” card, but he has learned to not write my name on the envelope, or to write it in the top corner under where a stamp would be, and to not seal it. The envelope is ready for another use. I got a new red one today!
An aunt would just paperclip a piece of paper with their names (pre-post-it-notes) to greeting cards as the signature so they could be reused.
When I wore contacts the weekly cleaning tablets said use one per contact lens. I used one and split the liquid to half the cost of cleaning them. I used a menstrual cup for years which saved money and natural resources. Bought appliances at the Goodwill for a fraction of the cost – coffee makers, bread makers are often donated unused. Bake bread from scratch in a Dutch oven now. Fresh bread and homemade jam make wonderful gifts. For a wedding I made the favors which were jars of jam with bride and grooms wedding date on the label. Spices in the bulk section only and waiting for toothbrushes and toiletries to go on sale or be placed in the half cost bins. All the little things add up. It is like a treasure hunt to find good deals.
I don’t do anything too weird other than continue to wear clothes that most people would throw away 🙂 I have two tank tops I got for a few dollars at Old Navy in 2007 that I used to wear in public and now I wear to sleep. They still look decent-ish (shocking for Old Navy quality) and it’s nice not to throw functional clothes away!
I have requests for two posts: could you do an update on your Cambridge property and how that’s going? I’d also LOVE to see an post that’s kind of like “expectations versus reality” for your homestead life/spending. When I read your blog before you moved, you mentioned that you guys were planning to buy the homestead outright and consider running an Airbnb on the property. I’d love to hear more about that decision-making process and how things have changed over time.
Great posts suggestions!
A friend and I shared an Napoleon dessert we found on the floor years ago. We removed the area that touched the floor and ate the rest. It was good!
I found an old wooden chair on trash day that I washed, sanded & varnished, and upholstered. My husband loves it. Very unique and sturdy…
Our bedroom set is my father-in-law childhood’s bedroom set.
My wedding dress came from JC Penney’s prom dress rack, $20. Our wedding bands were purchased at JC Penney (again to the rescue), we spent less than $40 for both after a coupon + the chocolate mystery bar coupon (the engraving was more expensive than the bands!). Still married 19 years later.
We purchased (cashed) a home that needed a lot of TLC (foreclosure) more than two years ago. The house had our preferred location and good bones, that’s it. Only two working things in the house: the hot water heater and the microwave – everything else needed repair, replace or gone. We spent $500 “renovating” our kitchen. That included a stove top from Ikea’s ($200), $40 sink and faucet (Craigslist), wallpaper to cover holes on the wall (don’t touch….), compound and misc to fixed other holes and falling plaster, $3 ceiling light, window blinds, MDF for cabinet doors, hinges(the most expensive item after the stove top) and doorknobs, fold down table, and other miscs to complete the project. The kitchen is presentable and clean. We will do a gut job (need insulation) a few years down the road and buy a working oven. : )
Your dessert anecdot remind me of one of my favourite Friends episode, Chandler and Rachel eating cheesecake right off the floor !
Thank you everyone for sharing your great ideas on frugal living. My frugality doesn’t seem as extreme as some and maybe more extreme than others. Some things I’ve really cracked down on is the use of one time use items. My purchase of paper towels is one thing that is practically non existent at this point. The one thing I still use them for is wiping out very greasy pans before I rinse them in the sink. This is only if there is not a piece of paper or plastic in the trash that will do the job. I wash and reuse plastic food storage bags and aluminum foil until they are at the end of their useful lifespan and then I recycle them. I found out about a year ago Baggies and food storage bags can be recycled in with plastic grocery bags including the zipper seal. As for plastic grocery bags, I use them only when I forget my cloth bags which is pretty rare and then reuse them or recycle them. I use newspapers as mulch between garden rows. I lay them down as is and put rocks on them to keep them from blowing away. It works great and they are biodegradable so when they start to disintegrate it won’t harm the soil. They can be turned over into the soil at the next growing season. One thing I still use is paper tissues although I am considering cloth handkerchiefs.
If you can source sugar cane mulch or straw, put it on top of your newspaper in your garden. Because the individual bits are relatively small, the wind can’t pick them up so easily to blow away, so you get added mulch and organic matter plus you don’t have to deal with clearing rocks the next growing season.
I feel like an amateur compared to most of you!
I don’t think I’m doing anything that would qualify as “weird” to save money, but who knows (and who cares?!) what others think. So let’s see…. Hmm… I always price match when I grocery shop (bring pamphlets from other groceries and have my regular one match their prices,). I run my cars to the ground before getting rid of them (2004 Echo still running!). I favor thrift stores for clothes. I put as much as possible on the mortgage in order to become mortgage-free as soon as possible (2 years from now if everything goes accordingly to plan! Which means that I’ll be mortgage free at 41), I stock up when stuff like shampoo/toothbrushes/deodorant goes on sale and I don’t care which brand they are, I cut my husband , myself and my daughters hair, I always check for a promo code before buying something online, I don’t have a “beauty regiment” (aka no visits to the manicurist, hair dresser, waxing parlor, etc) and I don’t spend anything on makeup except for lipsticks, my kids are reusing the same stuff from one school year to the other (and big sister is passing on clothes to little sister), etc. Basic stuff, but it adds up!
So the biggest frugal weirdo thing I’ve done is live in a renovation property mortgage free. When I met my BF his uncle had bought a house for $3k in a tax sale. He fixed it up with some money they invested in it at first and we bought it from his uncle at cost two years later ($12k total). Property taxes are $350/year. It’s still a big work in progress bc we cash flow repairs.
We have rabbits goats and ducks. Hay from the goat pen goes down in the duck pen after a while. Bags from all the animals feed get saved and refilled with rabbit poop for future compost. Goats eat the grass in summer (we never have to mow) and most of the leaves in fall. We eat rabbit and duck and duck eggs.
What car repairs we can’t do ourselves, we pay for in cash at a mechanics house who we know.
Primarily eating in, meal prep at work. Make Coffee ourselves or at work. Scraps go to the dogs, cats or veggies go to goats.
We stretch a bag of good dog food from Costco by cooking it with rice and lard in a pressure cooker. Improved our dogs skin issues, coats are shiny and we save $.
A lot of other little things but those are the biggest impact.
I’m a widow on a fixed income, in a small apartment, so I can’t garden or do some of the above, but I do take advantage of all of our perks: parties (with food), free coffee machine, fitness center, trash pick-up, large complex for walking, two pools. I volunteer for a clothing ministry, where we can keep anything we wish. Since I can alter, I’ve re-worked many of these items to fit ME! I also wash plastic bags to reuse. I run my heat at 65 during the day, 60, at night. A/C rarely runs in the summer, unless I’m positively melting. I take clothes from the washer and put in the dryer for 3-4 minutes and then hang. When I do eat out, I always bring home leftovers to make another meal (or meals) from. And, will gladly take what others choose to leave behind. I walk as much as I can to avoid driving my car. I get free books from local (and we have many) Little Lending Libraries, but I also return there so they are recycled. I watch one movie, while eating supper when I’m home, and then turn my TV off. I save gift bags, good wrapping paper and even paper stuffed in boxes from mail-order places to reuse. Other than burning a small nightlight, so my apartment doesn’t look deserted, I only turn on one light at a time. I wear my jeans for several days before laundering. I will bend over to pick up pennies, nickles (even a lot of quarters) paperclips, washers, nails, screws, etc. I’ve signed up with a lot of restaurants and get free food, especially for my birthday and even other times of the year. Life is GOOD, even for frugalists!!!
Love this thread.
When young and poor husband and I rented a windowless bedroom under the stairs in a flat for $20 a week. We still got to use the rest of the house so figured a really small bedroom was no big deal.
Camped for 3 weeks in Scandinavia for free. Used public baths, lakes, sea and their associated showers to stay clean. Occasionally did flannel washes on trains. Camped in some amazing places but also some not so great when it was getting dark like near busy highways, near the airport, near the wharves. Still a great experience and we had a wonderful time.
On holiday I hand wash all my clothes whilst in the shower by treading on them. Best if you have light quick drying clothing like merino or synthetics. The shower wash they provide works fine.
Take carry on only so don’t have to pay for checked luggage and extra charges on buses in some countries. Use multipurpose clothing items. I have used a mans shirt as a skirt, sundress, sarong, towel, baby sunshade, back pack. I wore a silk sleeping sack to the opera.
We have a wearagain bin for the kids where clothes that they are wearing for home play can be worn again until they are actually dirty enough to wash. The biggest factor for wearing clothes out is too frequent washing.
I revive withered root vegetables like carrots or beetroot by cutting the top and bottoms off and putting them in water for a few hours. They plump up good as new. Stale bread has a multitude of uses. Try savoury bread and butter pudding for example.
I search the fridge once a week for past its useby items and make super tasty soup. Black withered carrots, leek leaves, broccoli stalks, dried up half onions, left over dinners, left over pasta sauce, the soup liquid is usually left over whey from cheese making. I save the pickling vinegar or preserving oil from antipasto type foods and use it in soups, sauces, dressings. We are so good at minimising food waste there is hardly any scraps for the chickens.
Anything that is left in the fridge before we go on holiday gets frozen. Whole frozen oranges, bananas, milk, yoghurt, cream, cheese, hummus. It can all be used for something when we get back.
One holiday we had no cooking facilities in our fancy resort but didn’t want to pay for expensive restaurant meals all the time. We cooked meals using an electric jug and a couple of thermoses. Rice, pasta, vegetables, eggs, porridge, the possibilities are endless. You just need patience for the cooking to take place in the thermos. Brought some ingredients from home but also fresh stuff from local island markets. You can get larger mouthed food thermoses but they do not keep the food as hot so take a bit longer. A bit like a slow cooker. You can also use an iron to make toast and grilled cheese sandwiches but I have not done that personally.
Ok now for the weirdest and most ick factor for most people.
Save on fertiliser, water, cleaning products and toilet paper by peeing in the garden. Urine is sterile and I used to buy urea (key urine ingredient) for the garden until the WHO recommended urine as a fertiliser in developing nations. Can’t believe I wasted it for so many years. Generally best on ornamentals and fruit trees rather than leafy greens ( just saying).
I use those washable absorbent pants for menstruation.. They work well.
Use toilet paper for blowing nose when have a cold and then reuse it later when it has dried out as toilet paper. When you have one of those colds where you are blowing your nose every 5 seconds it’s mostly just plasma water anyway. We live in a dry climate so it dries very quickly and only I do this in my private bathroom so less ick factor for the family and no one is catching your cold as you have already had it and you wash your hands anyway. When you think about it some people reuse disgusting fabric hankies for the whole day and then all the snot goes all over your laundry. I Think this is preferable.. Some cultures think blowing your nose at all is disgusting and the clean thing to do is to forcefully eject your mucous on to the pavement, even the floor in buses. They would eject their mucous into the toilet or the basin. But when you have one of those streaming noses that is impractical.
My sister works in a lab testing the urine of racing animals (for drugs). She says, yes, urine is sterile, but the tube it comes out through might not be, plus there’s the potential for other drugs in the body to come out in it.
I’m not saying don’t use it as a fertiliser, just be aware of what goes into your body and therefore what might come out, and consequently which plants you want to fertilise with it. I think you’re right, fruit trees might be a better option than items you eat ‘direct’ so to speak.
This is child’s play 😉
For real savings, the weirdest thing I’ve done (lately and most notably) is save myself at minimum five hundred a month by renting a massage table to sleep on, instead of a whole room to occupy. I leave my belongings in a cabinet in the room. It probably wouldn’t be offered to most people, but I am very trustworthy and very respectful. I do believe there is some privilege in being allowed this kind of arrangement. I also believe that my financial position of choosing this situation is what allows me to maintain it without feeling upset or depressed. I see it as a very mutually beneficial arrangement.
Amazing. That is so very smart. I wish more businesses made similar arrangements, a lot of shop close at 6pm.
Thanks for being open to the value of this arrangement. Both she and I benefit, and what was once an underused space is available to house me in an expensive metro area. I was fortunate enough to have previously rented a room at the house and become known to the massage therapist who owned the property. She was able to allow me use only because it was a space within her residence.
I don’t think the arrangement would work in a technically legal aspect for a shop though. I knew a bar owner who was desperate to get his bar open, and he would sleep in a cubby area hidden from view after working there, yet the city officials made it known to him that he could not sleep in his commercial space. I can imagine a problem if there was a fire, and no one expected a person to be in there. That being said, I do think there is opportunity for commercial space to be better utilized under new arrangements with the city.
Every building, old or new, has a lot of embodied energy within the structure, and I find it fairly horrible to decide to waste it’s opportunity for use and instead use more resources to build more buildings. Both residential and commercial space is acknowledged to be very expensive, and at the same time it regularly goes egregiously underutilized.
I really enjoyed this post, there are some really serious frugalers out there!
When I was traveling to conferences for work I used to save as much of my per diem as possible by taking cereal bars and fruit for breakfast and dinner. It was such a treat enjoying a calm and leisurely morning coffee and cereal bar during what would normally be my commute, and again in the evening (with total control over the TV remote! ). Conferences always included a midday meal so I did eat “real food”. I collected air miles from work related flights and hotels and also paid for them using my air miles credit card, switching cards whenever there was bonus air miles offer. These miles and the money saved by not eating overpriced hotel breakfasts and dinners, and walking instead of taking taxis resulted in a couple of trips overseas to visit my parents! Also, carefully checking my employment contract wording resulted in time off in lieu for weekend conference attendance, which meant I had the vacation time covered too!
This isn’t wacky, just very, very frugal, but I have never read about it. When my Dad’s shirt collars frayed and looked worn, my Mother would remove the collar, turn it over, and sew it back onto his shirt, making it good for more wear. When it frayed on that side, too, she would cut the good pieces from the shirt and make a shirt for my younger brother, one of four brothers. When he outgrew that shirt, it was passed down to the next, then the next, etc. When the youngest brother outgrew it, Mother saved the buttons and used the shirt for a rag. I learned to live frugally from her example.
I am now 77 and very comfortably retired. I have friends who are still working because they need the money.
There is a town in Pennsylvania named “Frugality”! Google it.
My mom used to do the same for my dad’s shirt collars back in their early married days!
Gandma did the same with the collars!
File this under weird frugality or just plain resourceful – you decide. 🙂 For Valentine’s Day this year, my husband scored a $10 6′ fiberglass ladder for me. Our original one got left behind when we moved to another state last summer and I was very bummed about that. I went back to the other house before closing and sold it, but still… I loved that ladder. The big one is too heavy for me and the stepladders are too small for many of my tasks. I’ve commented a few times I’d like another 6-footer, but refused when he offered to go get a new one. He came across this one at the perfect time and it was the BEST Valentine’s gift!
Husband is a tinkerer and loves to fix things. It’s like a challenge and often he succeeds, sometimes he fails, but it’s frustrating and fun and rewarding and everything in between for him. Someone was giving away an almost new snowblower because it stopped running after an unfortunate run-in with a yard decoration. Perfect “gift” for the husband! 🙂 He was THRILLED! He already fixed it and has put it use. I also found him a non-working, two-year-old dryer last month that turned out to just have a huge buildup of lint. He cleaned it up and just sold it for $125 + $25 to deliver 10 miles away. He’s gotten on the bandwagon and found himself a free dishwasher that wasn’t working correctly. He fixed that and just needs to replace a seal before selling.
It’s really becoming a fun game for us. It’s also leading hubby down the path of thinking he could run a small repair business when we retire early 6 years from now. He can fix bicycles, light car things light brake jobs, small appliances, computers, etc. I like this idea! I can be his searcher and the accountant.
I’m past worrying about saving money, but I’m frugal by habit. My friends and I are mostly multimillionaires but while they drive very expensive cars my daily driver is a 2008 with 200,000 miles on it. I got it last year for $7,000 cash. It’s an awesome sportscar with screaming acceleration and corners like a race car. It’s loaded with features and it is no hardship driving it. In fact it’s a thrill and it looks almost brand new. My friends consider me eccentric for driving such a cheap car, but I think I’m a super bargain finder! I’ll pay more to get more of I have to, but I’d rather pay less to get the same.
I have teenage athletes. Their sports teams often sell gear; hoodies, shirts , sweats. The typical cost is $35 to $55 an item. I buy plain clearance hoodies, sweats, long sleeve t shirts etc ( JC Penney Kohl’s or closeouts on EpicSports ;Goodwill) and take them to the local sports shop to get the logo put on it. The typical cost is $10 or less per item with the logo. A great savings and they wear the clothing all the time.
Many years ago during a south Texas drought (which is most years), one rancher I knew would go to the bread distributers in the area and pick up old bread for his cows and goats to supplement their very expensive range cubes. He would always let me know when to meet him at the farm to market road intersection to have my pick of the breads and other goodies. My single-mom-with-two-jobs budget didn’t allow for the expensive whole grain bread that I preferred. I got a lot of very wholesome bread for free and had leftover loaves to pass on to my neighbors. Lots of sandwiches and bread/egg strata. Always was thankful for this very kind gentleman.
I’m in awe of some of the people on here! You are all epic in your dedication to frugality 😀
I love the challenge and problem-solving aspect of frugality and resent paying full/’new’ price for anything! My partner is a bit less into it but he’s coming around slowly… Not long after we got together my partner went back to uni and we both had to live on my (not large) income. I have been fortunate to work either within an hour’s pleasant walk from home (first job) or actually from home for my most recent ‘main’ job, meaning minimal expenses to enable work, yay! and have worked a few side jobs to ‘top up’ our income including being a life drawing model and also a mobile/festival massage therapist.
We’ve always shared one car and i much prefer to walk instead when possible. We eat veggie/vegan at home and for a while i made almost everything from scratch (sweet treats/biscuits etc particularly saved us money as we both have a sweet tooth and even cheap chocolate bars and biscuits mount up!) I made my partner packed lunches every day for uni unless i knew he had a social event at lunch where food was included, and we invested in Contigo spill-proof coffee mugs for him to take on the train. I ALWAYS carry a bottle of some sort for water and ask anywhere to fill it – more places are willing to do this than you might think, i’ve only been refused once (in Ibiza airport as their running water was not properly desalinated). I do laundry with soap nuts which work out SO CHEAP! I’m another one who washes and re-uses ziploc bags and foil – once foil has reached the end of its life (ripped/holey etc) it can be used to sharpen scissors by scrunching, smoothing then folding the foil and cutting into small strips. I sew and craft a lot – Gifts are generally homemade food, hats, scarves, kids clothes etc, i’ve made plenty of clothes for myself, recently made yoga pants for my partner and i’m currently making my own wedding dress! i mend our clothes and love visible-mending things for myself. However i hate paying high prices for fabrics etc so i tend to work with second-hand materials – i found a huge £4 blanket in a beautiful woven aztec fabric before Christmas and made everyone on my list a shopping bag, which also doubled as a gift bag 🙂 My partner knows if anyone asks him what they should buy me for birthday/christmas to say wool or craft supplies!
We furnished our house almost entirely second-hand from Ebay and Facebook. Our only new – and only regretted – purchase was a new Ikea sofa for £900 which cost considerably more than the rest of our furniture put together and was distinctly underwhelming. A couple years later we decided to sell the house and I re-sold all the furniture making a net profit (apart from the Ikea sofa, which our buyer wanted so it stayed in the house). I was able to collect (and then in some cases also deliver for a small fee when we sold) almost every piece of furniture, including dismantled sofas, beds, and an 8-seater dining table with all the chairs) in my beloved Honda Jazz. I redecorated our very dated wooden kitchen (using the Frugalwoods method i might add!!) for about £200, which along with essentially repainting a few other rooms, bumped up the estate agents’ valuations by £5-10,000.
I read Frugalwoods regularly and love learning extra tips and tricks (from the blog and the comments!) I also read the moneysavingexpert (uk consumer advice website) ‘OldStyle’ forums which are full of great tips as well.
We now live very cheaply by house-sitting and love the itinerant lifestyle, plus it allows us to save most of our usual home-associated costs as our standard costs are food, petrol, insurances and the occasional airbnb between sits. We’ve also taken advantage of cheap flights and deals to do some travelling in Europe between sits which has been fab. It’s not forever but we are enjoying it right now!
I like the concept of ingredient based cooking. Essentially, the idea is you assess what you have in your pantry/fridge/freezer then you cook a meal based off this while buying as few additional ingredients as possible. Truth is, ever since my wife and I started doing this I can’t remember the last time I threw out food that spoiled naturally, and that will save you money. Keep in mind in America 30-40% of food is thrown out.
I thought I was frugal, but I’ve definitely learned a few things from this great list! I reuse nearly everything I possibly can, so that it stays out of the landfills as long as possible, including plasticware, plastic wrap, plastic containers, and foil.
When garments are absolutely unusable, I cut off buttons and zippers and pick them up. I have a sewing machine and I can always use something like that again. If the garment is not completely broken, I cut it up so that I can save as many pieces of fabric as possible. There are many opportunities to use them.
I just sewed a costume for carnival for my friend’s daughter. I could use a piece of red fabric for the hair bow, yellow felt and buttons for the bag and the zipper for the dress.
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I find it very interesting to see some of the lengths that people go to be extra frugal. I would have never thought of some of these. I myself am not the most frugal person out there, but the Buy It For Life is definitely something I’m into. If I can find anything that can last me for many years without needing replacement and requiring minimal maintenance, I’m all for it.
I didn’t think I would have anything new to contribute, but then I remembered when I was much younger and my mother kicked me out of her house the summer before college (long story). I rented a studio (efficiency) apartment for the summer, until I moved into the university dorms. The studio had electricity, but the cooking stove was natural gas. I was really, really broke and couldn’t afford to have the gas turned on. I didn’t have any other cooking appliances (no microwave, no toaster, no toaster oven, no hot pot, etc), just a refrigerator to keep cold food in. I worked in a restaurant and could eat free food while I was there, so I only had to worry about food on my days off. I had been given some foods by a friends family that was moving, including frozen breaded chicken cutlets, cheese, etc. Not having much money and wanting to eat the foods I was given, I cooked all of my foods that summer using my clothes iron. I would turn on my iron and cook each side of the chicken cutlet until it was hot in the middle. I made grilled cheese the same way. It’s been over 20 years, so I can’t remember what else I cooked with the clothes iron, I’m sure there were more, but the chicken cutlets are what stick in my mind.
I love all of these! Being frugal brings me joy and makes me feel I am being a responsible member of this world. But it can also be looked down upon socially. So, reading about all you frugal weirdos makes doing what I do easier.
I make my own deodorant, toothpaste, cleaning supplies, lip balm, lotion, and conditioner. I only wash my body with soap when I am physically dirty. We have a compost heap and rain collection barrel. I save vegetable scraps for broth. I also save random ends of bread for French toast bakes. I dehydrate my own herbs , fruit, and tomatoes. I make my own salsa, pesto, bread, rolls, yogurt, and baked goods. I breast fed my son for 4.5 years and am currently breastfeeding my 16 month old daughter. We collect wood leftover by campers at campgrounds. I patch all our clothes. I use the remnants of jelly to make salad dressing. I love looking for good trash! Most of our clothes are 2nd hand or free. Our second home is quite a bit smaller than our first and needed a ton of work when we moved in (black mold, pests, huge hole in roof), but we got a great price and now it is worth $60,000 more than what we bought it for. I pay $15 per month for my cell phone.
fed the kids popcorn and soda before going to the movie so when you walk by it does not smell so great
This was my favorite post! Entertaining for sure. I actually hope people go through the trash, after a recent move from my apartment my car was too stuffed and I was running out of time to get everything out. I ended up putting quite a few nice items that I had meant to take to the thrift store out by the trash of my apartment complex and hoping someone would come pick them up so they wouldn’t go to waste.
I have a big ole black down coat–thirty years old–that I love……and I have replaced the zipper on it SEVEN TIMES! Thank heavens for being able to sew. That one bit of tightwaddery has saved me hundreds of dollars (I’ve replaced zippers on other coats, too, but the big ole black one takes the cake for times replaced–I finally special-ordered a heavy brass zipper and it seems to really be holding up). It can be a bit fiddly to do (the secret is hand-basting it in place first), but replacing coat zippers can save you tons of money.
BTW, Liz, if you want to send me the infamous trash-picked coat, I’d fix it for you so you don’t have to crawl in and out of it, LOL.
You only THINK it’s empty!
When any of my facial moisturizer, lotion, shampoo are “empty” — I slice them open longways with a box cutter to get ALL of it out. Can get another 3-5 days out of them. (Just have to be careful not to slice yourself!!)
I also rip cotton balls in half when using them.
I just bought a very small spatula (search for beauty spatulas) on Amazon to scrape out the very last drops of some pricy moisturizer and sunblock that I like that come in 1 ounce bottles. It cost less than $10 and should pay for itself in the long run.
My partner is extremely frugal. I am not. I am learning. He found perfectly good used clothing (looked brand new)- by the bag which people dumped by the dumpster in our building. We live in a nice building, so the clothes were perfectly clean and good. He asked me to pick out the ones I liked – which I did. He bleached and laundered it, and I happily wear them to work and told my co – workers exactly where I got them. Don’t get me wrong, I still purchase clothing – more and more on market place v. retail, and second hand shops but why would I turn down perfectly good clothing. He also went through our entire bathroom cupboard, pulled out all the shampoos and lotions, and told me to use them up before I purchased more. Bless him.
Oh, and he recently found a free sewing machine on marketplace. He oiled it, purchased a needle and we now have a sewing machine..
I live in a wealthy ski town, and i have definitely gotten many of my possessions from the trash house of my condominium complex. One lamp, my hamper, dining room chairs (4), coffee table, coffee pot, vacuum — so many things. If you are willing to wait, something comes along. During the time when i found the dining room chairs, i visited the trash house fairly often, and on a whim, i went to the trash house of a neighboring condo complex on the way home from work — bam, there were my chairs!
Want to echo the comment of those who still take amy daczczyn as their role model. Love her! Whenever i do something extreme that saves only a few pennies (like using family cloth instead of toiletpaper) i think of amy saying that it keeps you in frugal blackbelt shape!
As for the dental floss issue, i realized a few years ago that the hair elastics that i buy, are perfect as reusable dental floss. I don‘t know if anyone can take that and run with it, but it‘s worth a try! I buy the clear goody elastics, the size that fits onto my wrist. They slide right between the teeth, and are reusable. Technically dental floss just needs to dislodge food particles, right?
For many years now, I did not buy a present card or any present wrapping paper or bag, Instead I sow reusable bag from clothing, coat, shirt or drapes, whatever people are giving to me or I can put my hands on. They appreciate the effort I put on the wrapping for their gift, they found it funny to see the back pocket of an old pant inside the bag or the front bottons of a shirt. All those bags come with a handmade tag created from recycled paper. I use Cmax card, birthday card, promo pamphlet, inside cardboard or any strong enough paper to hold in the making of a card. (not a folding one, just a plat one). Put multi layers of matching color and add a nice picture on top of it. Attach it with any leftover string that I keep if nice and long enough for that purpose. Save me a lot of money, just buy some glue and a nice cutter.
In the kitchen, when one of the potatoes chips bag comes empty, I reuse it as a garbage bag. Because of the silver lining inside, they are very resistant. The larger bag are more useful for that purpose.
All plastic bag that the milk is coming with will be reused many time instead of using the ziplock kind. Same for all of the products that are coming in a bag. After cleaning it, it will be used for wrapping instead of Saran Wrap kind of.
For bigger piece, I use a cloth that was cover with a mixture of bee wax. With the warm of our hands, it wrap around the product that needs protection and it can be cleaned and reused many time.
In the bathroom, I have TP for my guests. However, I use flannel or old piece of towel cut in face cloth size piece and used them again and again. We clean wash the baby bottom with them, so why not our own. Just add them to the next chlorine wash and it does not make a big difference there but it reduces the cost at the store and the waste going down the sewer system. Note that chlorine is added to the sewer system already, so the impact of a few drops is very minimal on the environment.
For the garden, I use vermi-composting to create compost and natural fertilizer. It is easy to keep in any basement or heated garage. Put some Red worm in a box with paper liner and drill some holes at the bottom and on the edges. During the winter, add all the veggie, coffee and paper scap (no meat, no cheese). The worms will do their job and in the spring you collect that fabulous fertilizer to mix in your planters. It reduces the number of time I put the big brown box up the road for collection during the winter.
Keep doing it during the summer, in the fall it provides new nourishment for the late harvest kind of vegetable.
Use a handful of it dilated in a spray bottle and you got an excellent tea-comporting to nourish your plants.
So many lifehacks to share. I’m just glad we have garden in our home and I don’t have to buy so much vegetables at store. We do DIY’s with our garments and recycle most of our stuff. This way, we don’t just save money, we also go green.
I wish I had thought of it sooner, but my last year of college I was able to find many of the books I needed in my local public library (some may have been though interlibrary loan). I renewed them 3 or 4 times and kept them through the semester, then returned them. Since a year’s books normally cost over $1,000, anything you can borrow for free helps. Even if you pay late fees they’re normally only about 10 cents a day. English literature is probably the easiest, they will always assign Shakespeare & other famous authors. But it’s worth searching every title, someone may have had the book recently for the same class and then donated it to a library in your system after they finished it.