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Do the little things *really* count? - Page 2

post #21 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by ameliabedelia View Post

Yes, I do think the little things do add up.    Of course not always, but sometimes.  I used to bake our own bread because all the "cheap" store-bought brands were full of processed ingredients and the decent brands without all the junk in them were much more.  So, it was definitely cheaper to bake my own bread with wholesome ingredients than to buy the "good" bread with wholesome ingredients.  Of course, if I were to buy "cheap" bread, that would be cheaper, but I don't feel comfortable feeding that to my family..  Now, we are gluten free, so I bake our bread since it is much cheaper as gluten free loaves are more expensive...plus it's healthier as I can control the ingredients more.

 

i bake our bread (well, usually...i go through cycles) for that reason.  we are a sandwich-loving family of 7, so we go through about a loaf a day.  it's $5 for a loaf of organic bread here; a small loaf, like the homemade size, not the commercial size.  i make ours from organic ingredients and magical coconut oil.  honestly, i've never done the math to see how much it saves, but i love my bread anyway.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by lilyka View Post

They don't make that much of a difference for me.  First of all I found making my own bread/soap/whatever did not really save me much money.    I could never slice the bread as thin so we went through it faster.  The homemade cleaners did not clean anything unless I used a truck load of it.  Also I work full time and time is money.  I can only do so much in a day.  Spending an hour making laundry detergent means I won't have as much time or energy to cook and shop wisely.  (and the laundry soap mentioned above....it didn't clean our clothes, left residue in our washer and molded long before we could use it all.  waste of time and money).   ......


yup.  i found that laundry soap to absolutely SUCK.  i love the idea of it, it's fun to make and makes me feel good to use, but it just.doesn't.cut it.

 

 
post #22 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post

They don't make that much of a difference for me.  First of all I found making my own bread/soap/whatever did not really save me much money.    I could never slice the bread as thin so we went through it faster.  The homemade cleaners did not clean anything unless I used a truck load of it.  Also I work full time and time is money.  I can only do so much in a day.  Spending an hour making laundry detergent means I won't have as much time or energy to cook and shop wisely.  (and the laundry soap mentioned above....it didn't clean our clothes, left residue in our washer and molded long before we could use it all.  waste of time and money).   I don't generally mess with coupons (there is not doubling here and the store I work at does not take computer print offs...so it really is just pennies here).  I do focus on the big things.  I have an efficient car and drive carefully, I don't run my AC unless it is over 90 degrees, I watch for sales (although I don't drive all over the world to save a few dollars on groceries), I collect rain water to water my garden.  I do a lot of my shopping online which prevents browsing induced impulse buys and saves on gas, when I indulge my daily starbucks habit I get something cheap (iced coffee in my own cup is $1, brewed coffee is $.50...this is only at my starbucks though) and teach my kids to like that too.  I do swag bucks but use the gift cards for fun and frivolous spending.  I pack my lunch instead of buying it at work....

 

I guess I do some little things but I do them selectively.  If it is easy.  I know that may sound lazy but the few hours I have a day are worth the money and have to be used wisely.   And saving $100 year...just not that big of a deal to me.  And yes, I live right on the edge.  This month I have gone completely over the edge....but all that work for so little savings, i would rather spend that time and money enjoying myself a little.  


yeahthat.gif This is totally how I feel. Time is money for me. I save the most by staying out of stores and not chasing sales.
post #23 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtyHippyMama View Post




yup.  i found that laundry soap to absolutely SUCK.  i love the idea of it, it's fun to make and makes me feel good to use, but it just.doesn't.cut it.

 


Wow, interesting. I've only heard good things about this detergent and it's seemed to do a great job so far. I wonder if the negatives are things you notice after a period of time? It's possible that I got excited too quickly.  I did read that homemade detergents don't work in cold water, that warm or hot is best, and also that it doesn't do so well with hard water. But it will be interesting to see if I run into the same problems with it. I do hope that it continues to work for me because I've just fallen in love with the "idea" and frugality of it.

 

It's good to read differing opinions. 

 

post #24 of 75

hmmm, my parents make huge batches of homemade detergent for themselves, my older sister and me.  It works great, even in my little portable washer.  I'm not sure their exact recipe though.

 

I think its an individual thing as far as what you want to/can do to be frugal.  I don't do every frugal thing I could because for one reason or another it doesn't fit my lifestyle.  I don't do family cloth, for example because dh won't do it and I forget about using it half the time if there's tp there anyway.  I can never 100 percent commit to cloth diapers or wipes.   I've never had great luck making my own bread, but if I got a bread machine at a yard sale, etc maybe I'd try again.  However, I don't buy detergent, I don't have to pay for any haircuts since I barter with my sister the hairdresser, I rarely go out for entertainment/to eat, I buy mostly used or accept handmedowns, etc.  There is only so many BIG things you can do, and I'm not really interested in sitting in the dark or sweating my butt off/shivering my butt off.  That's just me. 

post #25 of 75

When I was flat broke, heck yes, the little things counted.  

 

Now that I have more income, I find that I either focus on the little things or my spending can quickly spiral out of control.  And my attitude sets the tone for the household.  If money seems loose, dh will spend more and more.  And if he is spending and I am spending, all of those little purchases add up really fast.  

 

Now, I don't make detergent, but buy it twice a year and use 1T per load.  Conservation is my preferred method of frugality.  I simply use less of everything.  

post #26 of 75

hug.gif..... Seawitch.  

 

Yes, little things make a difference, but big things are the place to put your energy.  Make sure you have the lowest cost you can get that meets your needs on insurance, TV, phone, etc.  Reduce driving, and do not speed.  Shop less and with a list. Consider food prices - meat and dairy can be very expensive.  Cut down on heat in winter and AC in summer. 

 

There are small areas where I am frugal, but it is more due to me being ticked off with the cost of xyz (that I think should cost less) than the savings.  Bread can be one.

 

 

post #27 of 75

The little things make a difference, but they also are easier to see what you are doing on a day-to-day basis. I also try to save on the big stuff such as not buying a more spendy vehicle than we actually need, not overheating or overcooling this house, and just trying to live a lifestyle we can actually afford.

 

I make very thoughtful decisions about how I am willing to spend our money. The occasional latte while out, taking my daughter to the newest Harry Potter movie (and buying her popcorn and soda), going out to eat as a family 1-2 times a month and such are all ways that I am willing to splurge. I also skip some of the frugal things like washing ziplock bags to reuse, making laundry detergent (instead I use a fraction of regular), making bread (unless it is winter), etc. I have found ways that make large impacts for our family though! We can save roughly 50% on our grocery bill simply by eating all our leftovers and planning our meals well so that any extras from one meal get repurposed into another. This was a huge deal to us when we realized it and started being more careful with the food we bought. I am a big coffee junky and could very easily spend $5/day on a latte from the lovely independent coffee shop here in town. Instead, I have a beautiful espresso machine that makes wonderful coffee drinks and I can save myself about $150/month. I also squish all my prenatal appointments into 2 days a week so that I only have to pay for daycare on those days rather than 5 days a week and that saves us another several hundred a month. We cut cable and that is another $50/month we save. I shop clearance racks for my kids for clothes and try to buy a season ahead (got winter jackets for $8!) and stuff like that. Overall, these are small things that add up to big money. Saving a buck here or there on things you don't mind saving on will allow you to have the buck to spend on something you really would like to indulge in.

 

I think it is about prioritizing for yourself. What is important to you and your family? When you look at your monthly spending are there areas that you know could be trimmed down? Are there areas you are unwilling to trim? Some of the frugal things are fun and others seem like torture, so choose what makes you feel good :)

post #28 of 75
Thread Starter 

OP here, you've all given a lot of food for thought. 
 

Here's where I'm coming from:

We've been poor before. I also grew up in a large family where my mom had to stretch everything to make ends meet. So I get that. 

 

DH and I bought a house almost 2 years ago now. We looked for quite awhile but knew it was so important to get it right. (It was after the mortgage crisis had started).  We ended up finding a house that was in the perfect location, perfect for us and cost $50,000-60,000 less than other houses we looked at.... which were already on the low end. bigeyes.gif It's a Fixer Upper. So yeah, we spend a LOT of money on repairs. The first year and a half, we paid for materials as we went (did all the work ourselves minus the electrician). During that time, we lived frugally in order to put as much money as possible back into our home. Then the roof leaked. Instead of just patching it, we refinanced to get a chunk of money to redo the roof with metal (even thought it costs more it's guaranteed 40 years) and a couple other BIG things. We had a 15 year mortgage (our payments were very low so that we could use that extra money each month to put back into repairs) when we refinanced, we kept to the 15 year time frame and just upped our payments... which are still very low. So that is part of what I'm talking about by getting the big things right. If we had bought our house 10 years earlier we would have made so many mistakes!

 

Since day 1 we have been all about INSULATION. Our house is cold. On the coldest winter days, you can just FEEL it radiating through the wall in some spots. We heat with electricity and keep our heat fairly low. Even still, we're spending up to $300/mth on heating.... and I'm still freezing my ass off while dressed in layers. (Makes me appreciate the heat and humidity today!) It is so much cheaper in the long run to insulate NOW instead of paying crazy high heating bills. So that's another example of a BIG thing. 

 

Our car. We had an old car for 7 years and should have gotten rid of it SO MUCH SOONER. Towards the end, it was costing more in repairs that a new car payment. Plus it would randomly stop working and would have to be towed. Not fun. So we bought a small, full efficient car. Yes we have payments, but the peace of mind is priceless. I also believe that overall, it's cheaper than the old car. 

 

So those are examples of the big things. Maybe it's something that most people don't deal with? 

 

I do all the medium saving stuff: gardening, hang clothes to dry, wash in cold water, cook from scratch (mostly), stock up on sales, buy second hand clothes, just about all our furniture was bought second hand but our appliances have been all bought new when they were on sale as we could afford them and we chose "simple" items with less gadgets. (better to buy new than to keep buying old appliance after old appliance, eventually spending the same amount of a new appliance... except for those OLD washing machines that are built like tanks) 

 

There's a lot of things we DON'T do: we don't have cell phones, don't have cable, don't really buy gadgets of any kind, don't go out to eat (often), don't drive all over the place or go shopping for the "fun" of it. 

 

Then you get to the small things (imo): making laundry soap, making bar soap, washing baggies, all the 'penny pinching' tactics. And it seems like THIS is where people go "oh, you can save SO MUCH MONEY!"  I suppose you can save some eventually.... and especially with a larger family. But I guess my point is, why don't people focus on the BIGGER things? Where you can see more obvious results much sooner? Or have they already done that? 

 

 

 

post #29 of 75
I think most people have already done that, or it's too late for them, or whatever.

We bought one of the cheapest houses we could find -- there were a few a bit cheaper but they were in bad locations (= bad investment!) or not structurally sound. Our house is a fixer-upper as well and we are doing everything ourselves. We took advantage of a first-time homebuyer program in our area that had low fixed rates. But houses are expensive in our area, yet at the same time the local economy has taken a real hit. Our appraisal has gone down drastically but the real estate tax rate increased. We thought we were buying at an all-time low, but of course house values just continued to drop & drop & are still dropping here. So yeah, it would have been nice if we could see the future & know that we could have saved a ton by waiting a few more years, but I don't think even economy & RE experts knew that??? But anyway, we insulated our house and keep the heat on low. We ripped out all the sheetrock and made some of the walls thicker to allow for even more insulation. We put in flooring that would hold up over time, etc. We buy our cars in cash to avoid paying interest, get the cheapest car with the highest gas mileage in our price range, take into account which models need more frequent & expensive repairs & maintenance, etc.

I guess I don't really understand what you are saying. We still can do those things & do the little things too. If we make a 'mistake' with the big things (not sure how it's a mistake to not have a crystal ball...), it's kind of over & done with, we don't really have the opportunity to go back & redo it. The medium & small things we can tackle more on a daily basis though, and if we have a 'lapse in judgement' and buy a latte, we can still make up for most of it by going back to making our own coffee. I guess what I'm saying is, if you've already taken care of the big things (or already screwed up on them) and you are still not making ends meet or not able to save up & get ahead, should you just throw up your hands & declare yourself a failure? To me it makes more sense to keep on working at it with the things I can control. And it will add up, $1000/year adds up to $30K over 30 years, all just by making our own coffee and laundry detergent and savings ten cents on gas etc.
post #30 of 75

I've always assumed that people whol are saving a lot of money are also people who are picky about what they are using. For instance, the unscented eco-friendly detergent I buy never goes on sale and has a coupon once a year. One. So I probably could save a lot of money by switching to a regular detergent that is always on sale or cheaper or from the dollar store or something. The only way I could spend less and have the same quality is to make it myself. The way I do save on it is buying it in bulk from WF or amazon but I pretty much have to buy enough for a year to get a break on price.

 

The same is trure for bread, jam, take out, etc. I have expensive taste =) If we don't cook we spend a lot outside the home because we both want to eat organic good quality food. And we live in a big city so it is easy to find, it just costs a lot. I can buy delicous and wonderful bread with organic flour and made with blessing to the full moon or whatever but it costs $7 and goes stale the next day.

 

post #31 of 75

OP, I get what you're talking about.  I think there are a couple of different things going on here.

 

1) When people are living on the edge, saving $5-10/ week on soap or bread or plastic baggies DOES seem like a lot of money.  And often times that $5-10 allows them to splurge on items that improve their quality of life.  Thus, the "I save SO much money" posts. 

 

2) I think there are a lot of people who get a thrill from saving on everyday items.  Saving $50 on a computer that you buy once every 5 years doesn't have the same psychological impact as saving a small amount every week. 

 

 

Like a lot of PPs, I pinch pennies on some things and not on others.  And there are some penny pinching practices that I've tried and abandoned, either because it didn't actually save me money, or because the small amount of savings didn't make it worth it to me.  Like others, if saving money is important to me, I'm more likely to do without or use less of an item rather than user cheaper or lesser quality items.  For me, focusing on medium-priced items (going out to eat, entertainment, clothing, household stuff) results in the best savings.   

post #32 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by seawitch View Post

For us, this is exactly why I'm so disillusioned. We save and save and save and live on a shoestring budget. Really. We just cancelled Netflix because it was $8 a month too much. (And that was our only source of entertainment that we paid for - we never go out for fun at all. We don't eat meat at every meal, and I try to stretch a pound of ground beef through several meals. I don't buy the kids toys, I get them freecycled or make them from felt myself for pennies. I am the queen of frugal (i.e. cheap).

Then we get stuck with 30K in medical bills in the course of a month. That's more than three times more than we spend in an entire year, and for what, two ultrasounds and advice to go home and rest? Or our transmission blew and we had a bunch of car trouble, so we had to pay $6000 in one month, before we had to just say screw it and buy a new car. Then our furnace died, $2000. Our roof started leaking, another $3000 to fix. Then our dish washer, stove, and fridge all died in the course of a month. OK, so that's another couple of hundred right there. It's just insane how many pounds of meat - heck, organic, free range, hand-fed, flower-lei-wearing beef we could have bought for the price of those things.

It ate all our savings, left us in complete debt. When my phone broke I couldn't afford to replace it with even the cheapest version - but we're tens of thousands in debt for things out of our control.

I'm a bitter, bitter person over it. If I'm in debt I want it to be because I'm living it up. Not because I'm doing everything "right" and STILL getting screwed left and right by unexpected blows. I know it's a cruddy attitude and I'm trying to get over it, but I want to believe that all our "sacrifices" are worth it. It doesn't seem like they are... greensad.gif

Do you own your home?  I just got an annual policy update in the mail on my homeowners insurance and noticed that it covers for needing to replace appliances and such.  It might be worth it to check into that.  It often feels like when it rains, it pours, doesn't it!  I feel for you!
 

 

post #33 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by PoetryLover View Post




Wow, interesting. I've only heard good things about this detergent and it's seemed to do a great job so far. I wonder if the negatives are things you notice after a period of time? It's possible that I got excited too quickly.  I did read that homemade detergents don't work in cold water, that warm or hot is best, and also that it doesn't do so well with hard water. But it will be interesting to see if I run into the same problems with it. I do hope that it continues to work for me because I've just fallen in love with the "idea" and frugality of it.

 

It's good to read differing opinions. 

 


Well I always washed in cold water (which saves way more money than making my own detergent) and I have water to hard you have to chip it with an ice pick to wash your clothes in it.  My dh was a mechanic and his clothes were dirty.  Also we have to worry about "basement funk" Its worse in the summer than the winter.  Right now it is humid, if you leave the clothes in the washer overnight they pick up a horrible odor.  I think it started faster (wihin an hour) with the homemade detergent since it didn't have all the perfumes and chemicals.  not going to lie, I love the smell of tide  As did dh -now xh - and he actually demanded I go back to real detergent.

 

And honestly, I can't even use cheap detergent.  I have to be very selective about what I use..  The combination of basement, humidity, hard water and now animal hair make doing laundry a challenge.  

 

post #34 of 75

To me, I think we see a lot of threads about small savings because we have to think more creatively and ambitiously, and can then share those creative moments with others.  The big stuff is just sort of obvious.  In our family, we've been driving our $3000 1998 full size van for 6 years.  The door hinge rusted out last winter and we considered a new van, but decided to eek one more year out of it, and found replacement doors for $80 at the junk yard.  Yeah, the thing looks terrible, but it runs and we don't have a payment and will be able to save the price of a late model used 15-passenger by next year.  We bought a large home in a community outside of the city dh works in.  When we bought, gas prices were reasonable and the house is about 1/2 what it would have cost in the city.  Of course, we didn't know how high gas would eventually get, so this one is turning into more of a miss.  But, we've been able to enjoy our low payments for 8 years now.  Home values are very stable here, but low, so even with the turn in the economy, we should be able to get out with a profit when we go to sell in the next year or so.  I'm sort of rambling here, so I'll stop. LOL  But we do the big stuff and whatever works for us on the little stuff.  Somehow we manage with a family of 10 on one low income.

post #35 of 75

My take on it is that the little things, done right, probably do count for a fair bit in the short and long term. Especially if combined with medium and big frugal things. However, you really have to factor in what the worth is to you and your family, particularly in relation to time. I do a few of the little things (don't use paper napins/towels, wash and re-use ziploc bags) but for the most part I focus on the medium (meal plan, no cable, infrequent eating out) and big things (frugal with our heating, insulating trouble areas, putting extra money to the mortgage) to save money. I WOH, am in part-time grad school and have a toddler. My time is very valuable to me and I prioritize time with DD and DH over fiddling with little things to save money. Basically if it's not already a habit now, I won't do it unless something gives in other areas of my life. Not because I don't think those other things wouldn't save us money, but because of where my priorities are in the context of my life.

post #36 of 75

Since detergent keeps coming up, I'll mention that my front-loading washing machine uses a lot less detergent and water.....saving money right there.  ( I don't buy the expensive HE detergent you're "supposed" to buy for front-loaders; I just use a lot less of the regular stuff.) 

 

And it's so much easier on clothes, so that saves money in the long run, too. 

post #37 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post

Since detergent keeps coming up, I'll mention that my front-loading washing machine uses a lot less detergent and water.....saving money right there.  ( I don't buy the expensive HE detergent you're "supposed" to buy for front-loaders; I just use a lot less of the regular stuff.) 

 

And it's so much easier on clothes, so that saves money in the long run, too. 


So true! I live in a city where water/sewer is very expensive so using a front loader saves us at least $20/month just in the water/sewer bill. Being able to wash larger loads saves electricity as well and the clothes spin out so much more dry so that saves electricity for the dryer. I use hardly any detergent and our clothes still come out nice and clean.

 

post #38 of 75

We still live in an apartment, and it costs $3 per load of laundry just for the machines...the washers are tiny and I alternate between two and three loads each week. :( I would prefer to get 7th Generation detergent, but usually end up getting sale/coupon detergent. And don't even get me started on the poor quality washers, dryers that leave clothes damp, and the overall mess/dirtiness of the laundry room itself. I despise apartment living.

 

post #39 of 75

The answer to your question really depends on your personal situation. A lot of factors go into play but here are some

 

1) Time vs.Savings. What else would you be doing with the time you spend in these measures? If you have a job that pays 150$ an hour (I should be so lucky) then spending an hour baking bread to save 1.50$ is not a good idea. UNLESS you hate that job/prefer to be at home etc.

 

2) Where you live. In my area a loaf of bread costs about four times more than it does where my parents live. So for me making my own bread actually saves me a lot more than it would save my parents.

 

3) What are you really savings - because for things like toothpaste, I can get if for free from the drugstore when they run those deals every few months. I stock up and thus spend zero on toothpaste. I would pay for the ingredients to make it so that is NOT saving me money and I never read posts about people who say they make their own toothpaste and save so much. For you this may be very different.

 

4)How much money do you have to begin with? If you have a lot then the small savings don't seem like so much. For someone making six figures saving 400$ a year on small things just won't seem like that much. For someone making 25,000 a year it will, because it is probably one rent check.

 

Your best bet is probably to write down everything you spend and go from there.

post #40 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by annethcz View Post

OP, I get what you're talking about.  I think there are a couple of different things going on here.

 

1) When people are living on the edge, saving $5-10/ week on soap or bread or plastic baggies DOES seem like a lot of money.  And often times that $5-10 allows them to splurge on items that improve their quality of life.  Thus, the "I save SO much money" posts. 

 

2) I think there are a lot of people who get a thrill from saving on everyday items.  Saving $50 on a computer that you buy once every 5 years doesn't have the same psychological impact as saving a small amount every week. 

 

 

Like a lot of PPs, I pinch pennies on some things and not on others.  And there are some penny pinching practices that I've tried and abandoned, either because it didn't actually save me money, or because the small amount of savings didn't make it worth it to me.  Like others, if saving money is important to me, I'm more likely to do without or use less of an item rather than user cheaper or lesser quality items.  For me, focusing on medium-priced items (going out to eat, entertainment, clothing, household stuff) results in the best savings.   



I totally agree.  We drink nearly all our coffee at home (in part because we live a long way from coffee shop I'd call decent), walk to work and school, eat lot of beans and rice, but splurge on $8 six pack or two of local beer each week. I think some frugal things feel Zen like to some people and torture to others. I enjoy hanging up laundry and would do it if I was Bill Gates.  I would have to be at/near homelessness to drink Folger's.

 

That being said I think some people are nickling and diming themselves out of living the life they would really like.  I have someone that I am close to that would like to leave a miserable marriage, but does not think she could afford to set up her own household.  Yet she buy lots of clothes, goes on lots of weekend trips with gas, meals out and hotel rooms,  spends $500 per month on coffee and work lunches out, and has $150 gym membership she doesn't use.  I see low hanging fruit in her budget that would equal a small, safe apartment in her high COL area. Lots of people leave themselves trapped in jobs they hate, bad marriages, working full time in their 70's, ect. because they aren't using the discipline they should to work on the things that are priorities.

 

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