You: walking around town wearing hand-me-downs, sipping coffee from a thermos you brought from home, running a debt-free hand through your home haircut, wondering if there are others like you in this world of seemingly endless consumption.

Frugal person in NYC (hint: it’s me!)

Me: other frugal person, catching your eye, noting your home-sourced thermos, digging your not-off-the-rack outfit, wondering if you’re a kindred spirit.

The dilemma: how to spot a fellow frugal in the wild without being horrifically awkward? How to become best garage sale gal pals without seeming like a total weirdo?

Plenty of us blend into the dominant consumer culture with our used cars and packed lunches. We nod along as co-workers lament their credit card debt and extol their brand new kitchen cabinets in the same breath. We don’t contribute to these conversations because we don’t want to isolate, we don’t want to be rude. We remain silent and choke back our unsolicited financial advice.

We go home to our cozy, within-our-means homes, eat our cooked-from-scratch dinners and consider that perhaps we really are the only ones who live this way. Maybe we really are frugal weirdos destined to conceal our true financial identity forever.

Unfortunately, we have no covert frugal hand signals or bumper stickers* to identify each other and so you might not, at first blush, realize just how many frugal minimalists populate your neighborhood or town.

But since I have the distinct and strange advantage of being recognized in public (always while I’m doing something embarrassing and/or my kids are rolling on the floor screaming), I happen to know that there are A LOT of like-minded, fiscally-prudent, frugal-for-fun folks in the world. So let me connect you with each other. Let me be your virtual matchmaker. To aid in this identification effort, I bring you a (semi-satirical) guide on spotting frugal friends and what to do if you find one.

Note to self: idea for future revenue? Nah, no one would buy them.

10 Tips For Spotting a Fellow Frugal in The Wild

1) They bring their lunch to work. Every day.

You spy a from-home lunch suspiciously often… like, every day.

This is an excellent harbinger of frugality. Many a conversation can be instigated in the office kitchenette while you take turns heating up your leftovers and filling your thermoses with free office coffee. This is an easy entry point for frugal-adjacent conversations that needn’t be graceless.

Sample conversation starters: “I love how much money I save by bringing my lunch every day!” or “I can’t believe how much the cafeteria charges for a sandwich!” or “Hey, what do you think about low-fee total market index funds?”

Like I said, you can commence a totally natural, not at all weird conversation around your shared passion for leftovers.

2) Walk around town and periodically drop change behind you.

If anyone starts following you and picking up your dropped dimes, you just might be in the presence of a fellow frugal.

3) Take note of a friend’s enthusiasm for potlucks versus restaurant meals.

Identify friends and acquaintances who seem excited at the prospect of a potluck and disappointed at the prospect of dining out. Invite them over for a potluck and further the conversation with leading questions such as, “So, how much would you say you save of your net income every month?” or “How big is YOUR emergency fund?” This will not seem like prying at all.

4) Conspicuously leave dryer lint in plain view in your home/office.

Older? Yep. High-milage? Yep. Well-maintained? Mostly. Cosmetic damage un-fixed? Yep.

Strategically site a lump of dryer lint in a conspicuous location in your home. Invite a friend over. Engineer a reason to leave them alone with your dryer lint. See if they take it. If so? Definitely a frugal weirdo. If not? They still might be a frugal weirdo and therefore know the value of dryer lint and don’t want to steal a precious resource from you.

Since this test is inconclusive, utilize the odd presence of a lump of lint to start a conversation along the lines of: “Isn’t it amazing how many uses there are for dryer lint?!”

5) Their car is at least 10 years old. Or, it’s a bike.

Cars (or their absence) can be an accurate bellwether of one’s frugality, particularly if the mileage is high, the car is well-maintained and the driver makes comments such as “I plan to drive this car into the ground!” or “I love being frugal!” Or the car is, in fact, a bicycle. You know, for example.

6) You invite them to go yard sale-ing with you and they accept your invitation.

Yard sale-ing (as a verb) is a favorite frugal past-time and provides an organic reason to broach the topic of money. You are, after all, trying to find deals on other people’s used stuff.

7) Barter and trade becomes your currency.

Whether swapping tools or cutting each other’s hair, barter and trade is a way to a frugal person’s heart. Next time you need something–be it a goat to mow your lawn or the next size up in boots for your kid–check with friends to see if they have a goat/boots to lend.

Rock those hand-me-downs, Kidwoods!

Next time you clear out your closet, offer the discards to friends and see who bites. In both giving and receiving, I find frugal friends dialed into this sharing, community-oriented mentality. My friends and I are forever handing down and up and around, which keeps the flow of goods fluid and the need to buy new minimal.

8) They seem suspiciously un-stressed about money.

The frugal among us know they don’t need to worry about money. They have plenty in the bank, they don’t need much to live on, and they’re debt-free.

Money doesn’t rule their lives and they’re not focused on constantly acquiring more. They’re content and comfortable with the wise financial decisions they’ve made and the options this freedom provides to them.

9) You could swear they’re wearing a dress you saw during your most recent trip to Goodwill.

You just KNOW it’s the same dress and you just KNOW they got it second-hand. Sidle up and share that your outfit is from the thrift store.

Compliment their outfit and hope they offer up the Goodwill detail. Or just ask.

10) They email you a link to this article.

That’s a surefire way to know you’ve got a frugal friend.

Disclaimer: This is intended for entertainment purposes only. I am not a comedy professional and will not be held responsible for lost dimes, the exploitation of dryer lint, and/or awkward co-worker/acquaintance interactions. 

How do you locate and secure frugal friends?

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  1. I love the “Lint : they don’t want to take a precious resource from you ” line.

    Even better if they see it and ASK if it’s lying where it is because it’s unwanted and due to this , may they have it?
    Ooooh, what are you going to do with it? You can ask . And begin an interesting and ongoing topic of discussion between Youse 😃🤗😃

    1. Because I live in a place that’s very hot and sunny almost always, tumble-drying is not something I’ve ever really done, so I am THE MOST FRUGAL of all because I line-dry 365 days a year.

      However. Now I need to know what tumbledryer lint is used for?

      1. I use my clothesline 365 days a year (366 this year!). I have dryer racks that go in front of the wood stove in the winter – puts moisture into the air. My darks are on hangers in the shower. My dryer is 37 years old – I use it briefly to get the wrinkles out, then put the clothes on a rack or hanger. Ironing is kept to a minimum.

        1. Hi dryer lint is general made up of plastic which the majority of clothes are made up of, so I wouldn’t put it in the compost as it won’t rot down.If your clothes are all made of natural fibres please ignore the above

      2. I put dryer lint inside an empty toilet paper tube, and use the lint/tube as a fire starter in my wood stove (lint is highly flammable!)

    2. The downside to line drying is … no dryer lint. As we plan to do a lot of camping this summer, I am trying to convince my husband to dry more things (towels are the hill I have decided to die on) so we can get a stash of toilet paper/lint rolls.

    3. Left to accumulate in a dryer vent is a common cause of fires. You’d be shocked at how many people rarely (NEVER) remove lint. It also get inside dryers so periodically vacuuming is needed.

  2. You would be better off to borrow a sheep to mow your lawn. Goats would be better to trim your bushes or clear a field of brush, since they much prefer to munch on bushes and trees and not so much graze on grass. Goats, however, have much better personalities than sheep and are lots of fun to have around. They are smart and sociable. (Yes, I know your suggestion was tongue in cheek! I love the humor in your posts. )

    1. I am one of the people that is approached by people wanting to “borrow sheep” to mow their lawn. The answer from a sheep owner like myself is usually “no”. I may be viewed as cold-hearted and unneighborly. However, animal welfare is my highest priority. Often lawn owners do not know that azaleas and rhododendrons kill sheep. Broken cherry branches and native ferns can be poisonous, too. With coyote predation, there is a need for very secure fencing. Even domestic and obedient dogs can transform into aggressive sheep chasers. Regular worming and vaccinations are needed. Trace mineral salts need to be available. Overall, this borrowing arrangement is naïve, where the lawn owner is not willing to take full responsibility for the well-being of the sheep.

      1. Totally agree! Also an issue if they have treated their lawns with fertilizer, herbicides or pesticides. We absolutely need to be responsible to keep the animals we own safe and healthy, even if they aren’t technically pets.

  3. this is fantastic!

    For rather convoluted and quite sad reasons we got my husband a new-to-him car last year. It involved the sale of my late mum’s very gorgeous, but rapidly ageing high-end car (that she bought for cash – she would start frothing at the notion of car debt agreements), that had various incipient issues that were going to be a money pit in the near future. Anyway. Because it fetched a decent price and we sold his much more modest and much older car as well, we had a very substantial amount to pay for a newer-model, low-mileage car with good fuel economy, that ticked all our frugal boxes in other words.

    Well. People were hysterical and distraught that we didn’t – I’m not even kidding – take that very decent cash and use it as a down payment on an uber-fancy car ”you deserve it”. Things like ”but doesn’t your husband want a big, man’s car?” and ”what if you need a (large, gas-guzzling, top-of-the-range) SUV? What will you do then? came from otherwise quite rational people.

    The notion that we took the money we had in the budget and got the best deal for a car within that range, and refused all ”small add ons” that weren’t of immediate and direct benefit was boggling.

    Priorities people, priorities.

    1. Good for you, Caroline. Not only priorities, but common sense. Cars are a horrible investment. They are only meant for one thing, and that is, getting you from point A to point B safely. Too bad there is so much emphasis in our (America) society to keep up with your neighbors, friends, etc. You can laugh all the way to your bank as they struggle with debt!

      1. It’s an issue in South Africa too, if you can credit that. Wouldn’t you think that in a country with severe, severe economic issues and desperate poverty, getting the latest-and-greatest vehicle would feature low on the list of priorities? But no. It is a driving culture because our public transport isn’t great / safe everywhere, so I can absolutely appreciate wanting a safe, comfortable car that drives nicely, that’s what most car-owners want, but after that, unless you have very particular requirements, then the rest is window dressing and very expensive. Of course, if a person loves, loves, loves cars as many do, and they can well afford a really great car, good for them, may they get much pleasure from their choice. For us, it’s just… very much further down the list!

        Each to their own, but our sky-high repo rates are testament to the fact that people just cannot afford things like this a lot of the time.

    2. I got the best car advice from a little old lady at the laundry mat. She said – your car spends all day in the parking lot at work and all night in your driveway at home, so what are you really paying for as long as it starts.

      1. that is so, so true! As long as a vehicle is safe, comfortable and reliable, that is all that is required.

    3. Gads! If you need an SUV, you can hire one.

      Meanwhile, we are on the horns of a dilemma. We have a 2004 Corolla station wagon that will need to be replaced ‘soonish’ (we’ve been thinking this for several years as repairs become ever more expensive). Do we get an electric vehicle (we’re in Australia – recharging networks are limited) or a hybrid, or something else. The something else would actually be a small flat-bed truck like a HiLux because we have a bush block that we’re yet to build on where we foresee needing something with a bit more oomph than our 2014 Suzuki Alto (1 litre, 3 cylinders).

      But of course, all the ‘something else’ vehicles available are petrol / diesel with increasing costs just for fuel (plus the environmental damage). I guess I’m hoping that the Corolla will last long enough until a suitable EV becomes available.

      1. We’re also in Australia and thinking similar things about replacing our increasingly more expensive to maintain car. I’m leaning towards hybrids, but finding it hard to know the right answer…

    4. Hi, Caroline. Congratulations on such a smart and perfectly adequate car purchase decision. Six years ago this February, I bought a brand-new Mitsubishi Outlander. I wanted a third row seat (check) back-up camera (check) all-wheel drive (check) and gray or silver, automatic transmission, air conditioning, and dirt camouflaging paint (check check check). It has plain black cloth seats. While I am aware of the new car premium, this make and model sell for significantly lower base prices than competitors.

      I have a decent job at a company where everyone else does too, and many people show it in their rides. I could see many judgy looks when I showed up and showed off what is, to me, a luxury vehicle in every way. I just posted a picture on social media of its dashboard mileage dial-gauge, which is just reaching 60,000 miles and wished it a happy sixth birthday, looking forward to another 60,000 miles together.

      This car has never failed to start when asked in any season. This car has never had any significant maintenance or repair issues. This car came with lifetime dealer provided oil changes, and I do pay them decent money for full scheduled maintenance. Of course they remind me that they could give me excellent trade in value for a newer version, I point out to them that she has excellent value to me as well, thankyouverymuch.

      I love this car as much today as the day I gave my husband permission to go negotiate the purchase (he was giddy with delight). She is a perfect machine and replacement is so far in the future as to be currently unforeseeable.

      Your priorities are clearly in the right place! (Let the secret gloating commence).

    1. Firestarter. Lint from a clothes dryer is very good for starting fires in the woodstove. That’s why one needs to clean one’s clothes dryer often. – Of course as a frugalista – I only semi-dry my clothing and leave it to dry overnight on a rack.
      BTW, we haven’t paid for wood in years – when people have hardwood trees taken down in our northwest of Boston suburb – they bring the large pieces of wood to our yard and my husband and our 19-year-old son chopped it up.

  4. You know you are in the community of fellow Frugarians when you see their down jackets repaired with large strips duct tape. Your Frugarian friend may offer you leftovers that she took home after volunteer service at the dinner at the local soup kitchen. I recall being handed a bag of groceries by a long time Frugarian. She said spoke with genuine warmth that no one at the food pantry wanted these, and so I am gifting this to you.

    I owned a truck for a couple of years that needed a bungey cord to keep the driver’s side door closed. This same truck had a damaged starter that was managed by using a coin to connect the wires to start the vehicle. Instead of keys, we set aside quarters. I think that many Frugarians see no need to lock their vehicles.

    One day, I stopped my car on my road to pick up a discarded bag. I was appalled when I noticed several cans of USDA labelled canned vegetables and fruit. Apparently, a client at the local food pantry did not want these gifts and threw away the items as litter. I wrote a few disgruntled e-mails and then served the cans to my family.

    As a Frugarian, I recycle glass jars. This serves as a disguise in the work refrigerator for my milk for adding to coffee and tea. Who would think or dare to take milk from a kombucha labelled bottle? Frugarian behavior can protect you from food theft in the workplace.

    I have noticed that many Frugarians do not shower nor launder frequently. I am likely to smell mildew on their clothing. I may notice body odor. I believe that as our clean water resources dwindle further, cleanliness will become a more expensive and luxurious lifestyle. So, I am trying to become more tolerant and understanding of poor hygiene. While I find the initial wiff of bad odor objectionable, I quickly adjust and acclimate. Recently, I spent a half hour enjoying a deep discussion with a Frugarian. As soon as I sat down and relaxed with her, I no longer noticed the scent of her mold impregnated sweater.

    As always, I love all that you do. Thank you Mrs. Frugalwoods!

    1. Love these! Kombucha milk protection – genius! I chuckled at the mildewy sweater – i have been that lady (air-drying soapnut-laundered clothes indoors in winter, before i learned to add tea tree oil to the wash as a disinfectant and home-made scented fabric softener). Love the sound of your (what i like to think of as ‘characterful’) truck! x

      1. For quite a time I lived in the typical Alaskan small cabin with no running water, no electricity, and only a wood stove for heat. I always smelled like I was on fire and I found it hard to care about that.

  5. I forgot to mention my biggest frugal score – my semi-free kitchen extension. I read Craigslist free for entertainment. Sometimes people are trying to trick you in to haul off their trash or performing free labor. (like “I have a bunch of wet pink insulation on my lawn – yours for the taking” or “do you want granite siding – come to my house and take off my siding – much provide your own tools.) But sometimes, it is just what you didn’t know you needed. In my case, my kitchen was remodeled by the previous owners in the late 1990s. Everything was functional. Then we discovered that one of our 4 children and myself were celiac – making it hard to safely prepare food in same area as gluten foods. Well on Craigslist free I found the exact cabinets to our existing kitchen. Hubby and his inherited truck goes and picks up the cabinets. He and his friends install the cabinets such that I have my own Gluten Free kitchenette in the space of the old dining area. My husband learns how to “re-cabinet” ie break a cabinet down to make it fit correctly in the space.

  6. This is fabulous, and more accurate than you know 😉! I’m still looking for true frugal friends, but Western MA seems to be full of folks who love debt 🤷‍♀️!

      1. Central MA gal here – frugal as well but I hear you if you have kids (esp some in high school) it seems their families are always the ones doing “fab” and expensive outings and purchases. It was so much easier when the kids where smaller – . This is not to say my kids are not frugal, they are but its just tough when so many friends around are definitely NOT!

  7. This is great, so funny! The problem is real for me as well, trying to find like minded people in real life…doesn’t help that I’m a bit introverted.

    Also a big fan of your Instagram feed, it’s great to see real life stuff on social media….if only more would follow suit 🙂

  8. Oh ( very ) dear – I may not entirely hold back on unsolicited advice . . . 🤣
    Great article. Sadly not lint – I have no dryer!

  9. Love it! But since I’m from Norway, where bringing your own lunch is pretty much the rule (at least among us teachers), #1 won’t help me much😉 I was very curious about #4, though. I seem to have a hole in my frugal knowledge when it comes to the many uses of dryer lint. Could you please elaborate?

  10. I was self-checking out at Kroger’s this week and noticed one penny was in the change receptacle-it’s only one penny I thought-leave it! After paying and putting my groceries back in the cart … I slipped the penny into my coat pocket and left the store 😊

  11. So funny! I love how resourceful frugal people are, that they are creators (gardeners, DIYers, menders, etc.) rather than consumers!! Still looking for frugal friends in KY.

  12. Fun article – and OF COURSE you’d sell the bumper stickers! “Debt-Free Diva”. “Happily Lost in the Frugal Woods”. “Let’s start a FIRE with dryer lint”. “What’s in Your 401K?” “My Other Car Has More Mileage”. “(Fiscally) Free and Legal”. “Debt-Free: the New American Way”. “Leftovers – It’s What’s For Breakfast”. “Drain the Debt Swamp”. “My Debt Made Me Look Fat So I Lost It”. “I Track My Finances”. “Personal Finance Person”. “No Pain in My Assets”.

    I suppose I should be marketing these myself as my side gig but the bumper sticker was your idea, so here you go, all yours. 😀

    1. We could come up with many: “Caution: Frugal Weirdo on Board” or “Warning: Stops at all Garage Sales” or “Frugality = Freedom” or “Fiercely Frugal and Proud”

    2. Laura, I like all of these slogans, but wouldn’t pay for bumper stickers, Mayhaps, I will scrawl them on a chunk of cardboard, and prop them in the back window of my car so as to compensate for having a car that is only 9 years old, and therefore not quite frugal yet.

      1. I feel like I read somewhere the average length of car ownership is 5-7 years (which is another reason why a 7 year car loan is such a bad idea). So, I think your car is well into frugaldom by many standards.

    3. Well done! Excellent stickers. “My other car has more mileage” 😀
      I would *absolutely* buy a “Happily Lost in the Frugal Woods” sticker.

      Also, I have a free sticker that I got at a screening of the movie Playing with FIRE, that says “My other vehicle is a 401k.”

    4. If you do a “My Other Car Has More Mileage”, please do a “My Bike Has More Mileage” as well! I would buy that in a heartbeat!

  13. Once you find frugal friends, you travel with them, splitting the cost of the rental car, gas, airbnb, some meals cooked at home. Bonus, your kids play together, wear each other out, you put them to bed!!! Potlucks on the road! We are probably going to bring a crock pot on our next trip! I used to love dinners out on vacations, now I like lunches out because toddlers are demons when they are off schedule (not their fault at all).

    1. Kathryn,

      I agree completely! This will be year 4 of the traveling with fellow frugal friends. It is 3 families consisting of myself and my son (my husband stays home on this one), my single mom friend and her son, and our mutual friend and her younger sister. We split the cost 3 ways plus, I also play the points and miles game, so some costs are offset by free nights at hotels. It is super frugal, as we stay in hotels with kitchens or in modest airbnbs. We are from the Midwest (St. Louis Area), so we try to see different areas of the US and Canada, though one trip was to Iceland when we scored super low fares on Wow airlines before they collapsed. We’ve been to the PNW, FL & NOLA, Niagara Falls, and this year, we are going to the Smokey Mountains and Hilton Head Island. We go for at least a week each time, sometimes a bit more, and most of the time we pay around $300-$500 total for everything…accommodations, travel, food & entertainment. Plus we have a blast together. My son has a playmate or two and the adults are all smiles and laughs because we are relaxed and living our best frugal life while still adventuring!

  14. LOVE Kidwoods’ top! So cute! It’s funny how many of these categories I fall into, but I’m still not into the dryer lint. However, after the last post, I’m seriously considering saving mine to use in my boyfriend’s soon-to-be-had firepit! Not that I generate much, since I airdry nearly everything. But I’m certain I can salvage some. 🙂

    On a more serious note, the best way for me to find some fellow frugal friends has been through my local Choose FI group. I’ve had some other long-time frugal friends and have been teaching other older friends the merits of frugality and financial freedom. It’s all in who’s receptive to it and how much.

  15. I’m intrigued – what do you do with dryer lint? Can we have a blog post about it? I’m off to drop change in the street ! xxx

    1. Right? I thought I was the only one who didn’t know that particular part of this post. So, let’s have a dryer lint usages post please!

  16. The lunches at work, that’s the big clue for me. I work with six other people. Three of them eat out a LOT, two of those three eating out every single day; four of us bring lunches every day or almost every day (I’m the every day one, unless I forget it at home, which happens maybe once a year).

    Over the years I had so many people compliment me on how well I dressed my kids when they were growing up. Those kids were in second hand, hand me down, clearance rack or homemade clothes, and so were my husband and I. I always just smiled and said thank you. I finally found a co-worker who did the same thing, and we would go yard-saleing (it IS a verb, in my book) together. We had such fun.

    Other clues to finding fellow frugal folk: The ziplock bag holding their sandwich has a faded writing area from being washed several times, or it has writing from previous freezer use. They carry a handkerchief. You catch them picking up a scrunchie off the parking lot asphalt, to take it home for washing and re-use. Their old soap bar is pressed down on top of the new soap bar so it will get used all the way up. They pick up a penny. They carry home the unwanted leftover napkins and packets from a lunch at work.

    When I find someone that shares my passion for saving money, I feel like it’s a gift. That’s why I love sites like this. Thanks for this fun post!

  17. This is my first year saving dryer lint in toilet paper rolls for the camp fire at Home2. Last year we bought a few boxes for $5 a pc. So I am thinking my winter project will save about $15 this summer. I hang my clothes to dry whenever I can in the Spring/Summer/Fall. I prefer a packed lunch, so I make sure that 3 days a week, I do it!

  18. I count myself lucky that my university and beyond BF is also a frugal weirdo – in fact she is more frugal than me!

    She taught me a lot and I am forever grateful she was the very first person I meet at college back in 1997. Her frugal smarts are astonishing and I took great glee in telling our non-Frugal super high earning friends that she is retiring next month. Just for reference she works in environmental government work – so isn’t a high earner. They couldn’t understand how she had done it. They are lovely people too but just have no concept that you don’t need to be fancy all the time.

    I am so proud of her.

    We are some years behind her because of a combination of love of foreign travel, choosing to live in a high cost of living area and some bad choices in our twenties to buy new stuff.

  19. Frugal friends can be hard to find, but I have shared stories with friends at church who also do many of the frugal things we do. We do potluck dinners at church, picnics and playing outdoor games versus going out to a restaurant. A couple others have gardens and keep chickens as well. I have brought eggs for the men’s breakfast at church and we have also baked cookies, brownies and pies for the dinners. My wife has a friend she has known from elementary school that she shops at the Salvation Army store with and they have handed down and exchanged outgrown children’s clothes to each other and other friends. Kids outgrow clothes so fast, that some of the clothes we have gotten have been like brand new.
    I am the family barber and stylist. I give my wife’s boys their monthly haircuts and I trim her long hair every couple months. We both like her hair long, so we have no plans for me to cut it off short. I do braid it for her in the mornings before work and on weekends when we do work on the farm. I have gotten compliments on my work and I give haircuts to her mom and a couple of her friends. They like the significant savings of skipping the salon.
    The dryer lint is a great idea, I have never thought of it as a fire starter, I have saved sawdust (not from pressure treated wood) cleaned up from home/farm projects and used that for starting fires both in the fireplace and in campfires. We have a small garbage can that we throw the lint in by the dryer, rather than just dump it in the burn barrel, from now on we will definitely use it as a good fire starter. After all the ash trees I have taken down over the last year, we have a lot of wood to burn for fires.

  20. I don’t have a fireplace nor a backyard for fires, so the dryer lint isn’t useful to me!

    I recall years ago, before mobile data was a thing, I was stuck in a broken down car waiting hours for the tow with my friend. There was approx $2 worth of small change, dimes or less, sitting in the cup holder. We scattered it about on the sidewalk and hunkered down in the car and watched as people gleefully collected the coins. It was cheap entertainment on a boring evening :).

    Realized there’s more than one KN commenter on this board, so changing to KNinChicago. I’m the KN who just had the baby 🙂

  21. My at-the-future son-in-law stayed at our daughter’s house the night before a work-related meeting. She automatically packed a lunch for him when she packed hers. He later said he always went out to lunch at work but took it and hoped no one would notice that he was eating a packed lunch. He looked around when they adjourned for lunch and saw that about half of the others also pulled put their packed lunches. Since then he has always taken lunch from home except on those occasions when lunch is provided at a meeting.

  22. Love this! I love that frugal people are so resourceful and often are creators (gardeners, menders, DIYers) rather than consumers! Still looking for my frugal friends here in KY.

  23. You forgot mine: keeps receipts for everything and will shamelessly return the items that didn’t work out. I do my best to research and read reviews before purchasing but sometimes I’m still disappointed in products….thankfully most places are really nice about it!

    1. Yes, I do this too!! I recently bought a purse from a reputable company that just didn’t hold up. The strap was falling apart after a few weeks of very light wear. They let me return it at no cost to me. I appreciate when a company stands behind their product.

  24. I put dryer lint into TP tubes. When jarred candles are finished, but have a little wax left, I chip it out and stuff it in there, or heat jar in a pan of water to melt the wax then pour it in withe the lint in the tube. These are my fire starters. If I have enough, I put the dryer lint in the compost. I don’t know of anything else to do with dryer lint. Once a person tried to stuff a pillow with it, but it was lumpy and weird!

  25. There is a new Buy Nothing FB group in my area, and you have just given me the great idea to suggest a potluck when the weather gets better, to meet some of these folks in the flesh.

  26. I do own a 1993 Buick Century, love that car although recently had to put some hefty money in to repair, but the Autogarage was or is still dishonest, he saw me coming and milked my wallet, like you I will drive it to the ground , ha..ha. It has 148.000 miles and it will make it on other 50 tausend or more !!

  27. Fun little list to read, but I disagree with #8. I’m 2 years into my frugal life and am still stressed about finances. I’m working my tail off to pay off the remainder of my $26,000 of student loans and budget like a boss to cash-fund grad school. Don’t miss out on a great frugal friend because they are in the earlier years of frugality and are still working down debt and focusing on savings!

    1. I also found #8 off-putting. I am still working to pay off my student loans at age 33. My husband and I killed over $11,000 of principal and interest last year, but my balance is still over $58,000 (undergrad and grad school). All public schools and I had grants and scholarships to help cover the cost. It was hard to make much progress in my 20s when I was single and not making a lot of money.

      I’m so grateful my husband wasn’t put off by the debt when we first started talking, instead we’re working together to get it paid off. The good news is our mortgage is even less than the student loans so it will be easier to tackle that quickly should we decide to go that route.

  28. I come right out and say I thrift shop. When we do secret Santas at work my favorite store is listed as “any thrift store” which makes it easy for whomever draws my name. Then I show the person what I was able to buy with their gift certificate. I am so happy in my second hands. Now I have found another thrifter to be friends with.

  29. My friend Donna and I thrift long distance, sending one another pictures of our free or cheap finds and rejoicing together. During the January Challenge we encourage each other to be strong. I think the thing that breaks the ice is to be joyful about thrifting. Any women who says gleefully, “Look what I managed to cram in a $3 bag at the church shop!” has made it clear that criticism isn’t going to bother her at all.

  30. Hello Ms. F,
    It’s your dedicated proof reading nerd.

    As always regards and continue to enjoy your work.

    “we don’t want to isolate, we don’t want to be rude. We remain silent and choke back our unsolicited financial advise”

    Last word:

  31. #5: 23-year-old Nissan still kickin’ it. My neighbors must feel bad for me.

    #7: When I think of getting something new, I think thrift shop.

  32. Thrift shopping is not something to be ashamed of – our family all loves to thrift shop and have snagged fantastic deals on prom dresses (some times free at a give away), sports equipment, clothing & shoes, luggage, kitchen items, etc. You can find just about anything for the house at the Habit for Humanity thrift store. Yard sales are great, clothing swaps for kids are amazing, and church yard sales usually have some really good stuff!! When I’m on vacation I will scout out thrift stores to buy a “souveneir” t-shirt or coffee mug emblazoned with the local sports team…saves a ton of $$$.

    1. Pauline, I agree about church yard sales. They can be gold mines! And I love your idea of hitting the local thrift shops when you’re on vacation.

  33. Great post.
    I happen to fit many of those. What I really miss though is living in the country and meeting my fellow dumpster divers at the dumpster and the local flea markets. I never leave dryer lint around except at the fireplace or woodstove for a fire starter. Thing is we never needed the latest and greatest as teens and we still don’t as adults.

  34. I absolutely love the writing in this article, as usual, but the humor is really in full color here. Debt free hands? Hopeful, reaffirming glances at the lint? It’s a treat, a literary delicacy.
    I like how environmentalism, nonconsumerism, and frugality are in the same space in the Venn diagram at FW.

  35. I’ve recently found a frugal friend and I love it! Our boys are the same age and they love playing outside (free!). We swap kid and adult clothes, have dinners at home together, etc. I recently texted her to tell her that our local thrift shop was having a half off clothing sale and it was a good time to stock up on kid snow gear in the next size up! I love having frugal friends.

  36. My favorite frugal friend is my guy Peter.

    The servings at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant are huge, so for date night we order yummy potstickers & split a bowl of pho.

    A frugal lifestyle is much more fun when your partner on board, too.

    Some very funny bits in this post.

  37. People in your office might know you’re the frugal one when, after an office luncheon/potluck they state: “don’t throw out the leftovers, Cheryl will get mad…see if she wants them first”…
    And you happily, and quite proudly, carry out a large bag of free food at the end of your work day 🙂

  38. We met our best frugal friends five years ago. They were already frugal by nature, then we introduced them to MMM, then they introduced us to Frugalwoods! For fun together, we play board games, pick produce ourselves at orchards and farms, make our own sushi, bake our own desserts, watch each other’s kids, and talk about finances. We even travel hack together (we went to Hawaii together for 60% off!). It’s been amazing. Frugal friends are the best.

  39. Okay I’m rolling 🤣 One, because… hilarious, and two, because… I’ve done most of these items in the past week alone (with the exception of dropping pennies like Hansel and Gretel and strategically planting a lint trap..) BUT I legitimately JUST said to a new friend whilst driving us both up a (local) mountain in my 13 year-old paid-off car, “oh I plan to drive this car into the ground!” (& only now am I realizing what terrible timing that was to reveal such a goal).

  40. The easiest way I have found in spotting new frugal friends is their desire to engage in free or very inexpensive activities. This can be anything from potlucks (my favorite…involves food AND frugality), hiking and taking along a picnic lunch or snack, sitting around a backyard fire or watching a movie at home together. The easiest way to spot new decidedly unfrugal friends is their desire to go out to restaurants as couples, go out to bars as couples and even going away on weekends staying at hotels and eating all meals at restaurants especially upscale eating establishments. These tell tale signs are my red flags.

  41. Hmmm, well, it usually starts by either giving or receiving a compliment on an outfit or accessory such as a purse. As an avid consignment shopper, I have struck up so many good conversations with fellow frugalistas and have bonded over our mutual love of fashion and good deals. While some people brag over how much they spend on a pair of shoes, etc., frugal fashionistas brag about how little we spend!

  42. I work in the public service (so not the higher pay rates available in the corporate field). Most people bring their own lunch, to the extent that the two full-sized fridge-freezers in the kitchen for my floor of the building are full with people’s lunches. One has to be early to get a space. Then there’s the challenge of timing one’s lunch break to not spend all of it waiting for one of the two microwave ovens to be free to reheat one’s leftovers. 🙂

  43. So funny! One year at my old employer’s Christmas party I was talking to a colleague and somehow got talking about investing and saving then got onto MMM and she asked me if I read frugalwoods and I was like YES! I love Frugalwoods. While everyone was getting wasted and doing shots we were talking about our weird frugal habits. We are in Melbourne, Australia. I really didn’t think I would meet someone like me, let alone at my workplace.

  44. You can also put dryer lint in leftover egg cartons (NOT the plastic ones, just pressed paper), drizzle some candle wax into it, and tear the egg carton apart into 12 little fire starters.

  45. Just in reaction to the title (saving the article to after my to do list): english not being my mothertongue, it took me a while to figger out what lint was, after it being mentioned in previous comments. Only when reading todays title it made me laugh; we do without a dryer. Even more frugal 😁

  46. Alternate 6) You enthusiastically accept when they invite you to go yard sale-ing and then become best garage sale gal pals 😉

    1. Awwwww, I love you, best garage sale gal pal! I feel like it’s almost time to start planning our spring routes…

  47. As I read this post I am watching my husband glue my rubber soles back to my slippers 🙂 they are amazing, sturdy 4 year old Haflinger slippers but the thick rubber soles started peeling away from the felt! So we found some industrial grade glue and here’s hoping for at least 4 more years…

  48. My daughters girl scout troop made fire starters from dryer lint, wax, and paper egg cartons. We wrapped them in used dryer sheets and tied them with string. We sold them as a part of a fundraiser for the troop. It was all free stuff we all had and collected! The wax was from old candles that were too small or broken.

  49. So when does the article on how to find a frugal mate come out? Or better yet, when do you start your frugal matchmaking service? You could call it Frugal Finder. Willing to be your first customer – SF in search of SM, 35-50, who loves the outdoors, DIY, sleeping on the edge of the bed so the dogs can be comfy, and balancing his budget. Feel free to cut me a steep deal for coming up with your business name. 😉

    1. 2nds to that! I’m always trying to find a way to ask, “so do you enjoy a good speadsheet?” without coming off as a crazy person.

    2. I LOVE IT! So many people have asked about this over the years and I wish there was such a service!!! In the meantime, any eligible folks can reply to Jen’s comment 🙂

  50. “Hey, so, what do you think about low-fee total market index funds?””
    I have to try this!!! Laughed out loud. Thank you!

  51. I work with people who have remodeled their kitchens and baths and drive leased cars, too. I have heard those same people say they will never be able to retire… I live happily with my 9 year old car (200,000 miles!) and my vinyl kitchen floor, knowing I have a fully funded retirement account.

  52. I cut my husband’s hair and he cuts mine. It saves us a lot of money over a year’s time. I once mentioned the fact at work and was shamed for “taking work and money away from hairdressers.” A new one on me! But later someone I didn’t really know came over and asked me to teach her how to cut her husband’s hair. So one Saturday morning I went over and gave her a lesson. She fed me a delicious lunch of homemade perogies (to die for!) and we both parted feeling like we had gotten the better end of the deal.

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