*Really* useful frugal tips for veteran frugalites - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 40 Old 11-16-2009, 06:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I love reading threads or books on frugal tips, but maybe because I've been a tightwad for so long, I don't find most of them to be very useful. They're often things like "re-use baggies, get a programmable thermostat, make a price book," etc. All good things, but not really novel to me, YKWIM?

I was thinking about a few things I do that may not be on such a list, and thought I would start a thread so I could share them, but also in the hopes of getting other mamas to share their more unusual money-saving tips. So here goes:
  • We have a reverse osmosis filter that came with our house, which I'm grateful for, since our city water is flouridated and chlorinated. However, when I discovered how much water is wasted in the filtering process I felt a little sick. So...since the filter is in the basement right next to the laundry area (the kitchen sink is just above there) I rigged up a rain barrel to catch the waste water from the RO filter. I then use that water to wash clothes -- I manually fill the washing machine using a hose attachment on the rain barrel. It's been working great for a few years now.
  • I have been struggling with using up leftovers in a timely fashion, but I keep putting off using food that's not immediately yummy-sounding to me, and then time passes and I'm not sure how old the food actually is, and I end up throwing it away. So I recently bought a small white board with a magnet on it (I think it's for school lockers -- I bought it at an office supply store) and stuck it to the side of the fridge. Now EVERY NIGHT after dinner I write down what is leftover and the date, and when it's time to eat another meal that I don't have planned I look at the list and heat up whatever meal is the oldest. The white board serves to "nag" me and remind me to eat stuff that I don't really feel like eating. (I have a bad habit of just serving snacky-type things for lunch and not using up leftovers.)

I'm sure I have a few more things but DS is calling. I hope to hear some of your ideas!

Formerly New Mama to Henry, born August 2005 and Silas, born November 2010.
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#2 of 40 Old 11-16-2009, 08:46 PM
 
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I will have to think about this. I agree about not finding many new ideas in the books if you've been doing this a while. I'm giving a talk on simple living to a group at church next month and asked what book they were using. I think I read some of it, but never finished because of lack of new ideas. However, so many people are just not used to doing anything frugal that they need to hear the basics.

I'll be back with some tips after I think about it.
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#3 of 40 Old 11-16-2009, 08:58 PM
 
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One thing I found was that we often ended up buying food for *convenience* on days we were running around/too tired to cook or whatnot. Plus since we eat organic and from scratch at home we often ended up with stomach aches aftgerwards. so I invested in a set of nice storage containers. Now once dinner is cooked I set aside a portion of waht we had for dinner and freeze it. I use a dry erase marker to label it with date. We no longer eat out for *convenince* sakes. Any leftovers are also frozen, we periodically have freezer days where we eat leftovers. In all reality it only takes an extra 2 minutes or so in the microwave from frozen. As I would often hold off on freezing immediately and then weeks later find the container in the back of the fridge...wasted. So this ended up being better for us.
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#4 of 40 Old 11-17-2009, 12:49 PM
 
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I have also practiced simple living, being frugal for many years. Some things I have started in the last few years:

Audit.
Go thru all your utilities, telcom, payments etc and call the company. Find out if your service is best for you. You will be surprised you can shave at least $10 off each month on almost all bills. Also all subscriptions, etc

Figure out after meals, what is left behind on the plates. That is food that you payed for and could potentially be throwing out. Start serving up proper portions. Use smaller plates. This also trims the body.

Do an energy audit. Go thru your house and unplug any unused appliances, most are sucking energy. Have your furnace checked and cleaned, vacumn out your dryer vent.

Donate donate donate. Get a receipt. Deduct. Deduct your time, milage etc for all volunteering. I do it every year and have for several years. keep records.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#5 of 40 Old 11-17-2009, 04:33 PM
 
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Here are mine:

--If you've gotten all the big money leaks plugged up, start looking for "time leaks", or even "resource leaks".

--Conserve mental energy by planning ahead of time: household tasks, daily rhythms, meal plans.

--Is frugality a means to an end for you, or an end in itself? If the former, what is the end, and what can you do toward it now?

--Look for ways to match your excess resources with someone else's needs.
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#6 of 40 Old 11-17-2009, 04:40 PM
 
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No shopping.

Avoiding going into a store -- any store -- as much as possible.

If I don't know that it is out there to buy, then I don't find myself desiring it.

This is especially true of home decorating and personal clothing.

Trying to find contentment in personal relationships and activities instead of things.

 

 

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#7 of 40 Old 11-17-2009, 05:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by New Mama View Post
I have been struggling with using up leftovers in a timely fashion, but I keep putting off using food that's not immediately yummy-sounding to me, and then time passes and I'm not sure how old the food actually is, and I end up throwing it away. So I recently bought a small white board with a magnet on it (I think it's for school lockers -- I bought it at an office supply store) and stuck it to the side of the fridge. Now EVERY NIGHT after dinner I write down what is leftover and the date, and when it's time to eat another meal that I don't have planned I look at the list and heat up whatever meal is the oldest. The white board serves to "nag" me and remind me to eat stuff that I don't really feel like eating. (I have a bad habit of just serving snacky-type things for lunch and not using up leftovers.)
I love this idea! We waste far too many leftovers simply because we forgot they were there and didn't eat them in time.
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#8 of 40 Old 11-17-2009, 05:09 PM
 
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I don't know how unusual my tip is for frugal mamas, but I'll share it since it's fairly new to us.

I've been shopping thrift stores for not only used clothing for the kids and me, but also for fabric, patterns, and notions to sew up new clothing for them.

I've started eyeing large adult clothing that has fun prints and buying them to remake into kids clothing.

Today I bought a housecoat in a fun polka dot that will be a playdress (or two) for my daughter. I also picked up a skirt in a mod print that will be more dresses. Both were on clearance for 50 cents nad are easily 2 yards or more of useable fabric!

I find zippers for 25 cents and trims for 25 cents - both unused and unopened.

The other thing I've been doing is adding "skirts" to t-shirts that are too short for our long-torsoed girls and getting extra mileage out of the shirts for them. I just take two strips of wide ribbed knit fabric and sew them together at the sides. I gather them to fit the bottom of the t-shirt and sew it on.
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#9 of 40 Old 11-17-2009, 08:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Any leftovers are also frozen, we periodically have freezer days where we eat leftovers. In all reality it only takes an extra 2 minutes or so in the microwave from frozen.
I love this idea -- I used to freeze leftovers too -- but we don't have a microwave (by choice) so it would take few days for things to thaw out again, plus I'd rather use the room in the freezer for on-sale meat and other ingredients. That's why I started just using up what I've just made throughout the week. I'm glad that works for you, though. Every household is different!

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Originally Posted by Vaske View Post
--Conserve mental energy by planning ahead of time: household tasks, daily rhythms, meal plans.
This is so true. I've started planning out our weeks on Sunday. Just matching up meals with activities (quick meals with busy or early-start days, for instance) and errands with outings (so no back-tracking or extra trips) has been really useful to me lately.

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Avoiding going into a store -- any store -- as much as possible.
This is totally good advice. It seems obvious but I think we always assume we can just stay strong. When I *do* have to go shopping I find myself looking around at *everything,* not just those things that are on my list, and I have to very consciously talk myself out of buying other things.

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I've been shopping thrift stores for not only used clothing for the kids and me, but also for fabric, patterns, and notions to sew up new clothing for them.
This is a great idea, and makes me wish I knew how to sew! Maybe someday.

Formerly New Mama to Henry, born August 2005 and Silas, born November 2010.
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#10 of 40 Old 11-17-2009, 08:59 PM
 
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1) making homemade laundry detergent

2) using co-ops or wholesale pricing for food, personal care products and other items you might need

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#11 of 40 Old 11-17-2009, 09:30 PM
 
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No shopping.

Avoiding going into a store -- any store -- as much as possible.
Yes!

Every time I go to Target or Walmart somehow I find things that I "need" and end up spending way more than I intended. I almost never step inside a store now except for my weekly grocery shopping trip (from a list).
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#12 of 40 Old 11-17-2009, 11:21 PM
 
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Keep a pantry. For example this week canned veggie's are onsale for 47 cents. Thats 22 cents cheaper than costco for the same brand so It makes sense for me to buy several cases than just a few cans.

Pax, loving wife since 2001, Mother of DD1 (11 1/2) and DD2 (8). Entering our 4th year of Homeschooling: Eclectic mix of curriculum and child interest lead. Backyard urban chicken chasers. 10/2014 items purged.
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#13 of 40 Old 11-17-2009, 11:28 PM
 
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Ok, I've thought about it.

Timely for us: shop prices for dentists and specialists, sometimes they're cheaper outside of your network for things like a root canal. Ask for cach discounts. compare prices for prescriptions. Pharmacy prices vary WIDELY and some will price match. This saved us a bundle today > $50.

A big thing I do that no one I know does is have a mileage budget. I used to drive whenever and where ever putting 20+k miles/yr. on the car we wanted to last for 15 yrs. for the last 1-2 years, I drive 10k/year. 4 k out of town trips and 6k in town. 500 miles/month in town. I have to combine trips and plan for some longer distance events in separate months. Good for the environment, our gas budget and the life of the car. Also, I used to run out to escape the house alot. Now I go for a walk or deal with what I'm feeling another way.

shorter showers does save on our electricity bill.

We do our own repairs and house projects.

We spend significantly less on groceries than anyone I know irl. 300-350/mo for a fam of 4.

DH and I don't exchange gifts anymore. The kids make gifts to give to us and each other. The kids made lots of little paper gifts, bookmarks, pictures, etc for my birthday last week. They gave them to me all day long. The love I felt all day was the best. Better than something they could have bought me. I love that they do this of their own accord.

No cable, no high speed internet. Only prepaid emergency cell phone. Most dvds from library except the rare one from redbox for a $1.

shop in thrift stores only- if possible. I stay out of retail or only get what I need and get out. It is tempting, and I start thinking I need things i know I don't. I also only go to the thrift store these days if I need to. I used to spend too much there.

My recent shopping example: I couldn't find a heavy coat for ds. The hand me down route didn't work. I checked lots of thrift stores,some multiple times, nothing in his size. Started checking retail last week. Had a heart attack at the price. Today had time to kill waiting for prescriptions. Went to 1 consignment, marshalls, tjmaxx, ross, walmart,and target all in the same area. Finally got a slightly big one he can wear next year too at Ross for $22.

love everyone's ideas
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#14 of 40 Old 11-20-2009, 01:50 AM
 
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I use rags instead of paper towels. My family destroys clothes pretty frequently. So I have a black mesh laundry bag full of old clothes, and I cut up a few shirts or whatever when I'm sitting and watching the kids latest performance, and put them in the white mesh rag bag.

We had dial-up internet for years, but last year gave up the dryer to pay for high speed internet, which we wanted for homeschooling and other research. We spent over a year that way.

I check freecycle and craigslist a couple times a day.

Start a microbusiness to help cover the costs of your 'necessary extravagance'. I am a TF mama, and I couldn't afford raw milk. So now I pick up milk for ten people every week and my milk and gas to and from the farm are free.

Find the UNFI or Azure Standard or similar group in your area. You won't be sorry!

Even if you can't yet get into bulk buying, try to get ahead enough on stocking your pantry that you can buy only stuff that's on sale, and base your menu on the loss leaders (cheapest stuff in the ads that the companies use to draw customers in, even though the company might be losing money on that item). If you have time to shop more than one store, those items can save you tons.

Learn which things only go on sale twice a year so you don't miss them (natural dish detergent and good vanilla extract are two I've noticed here).

Make sure to include ethnic markets in your price book. Some spices are dirt cheap at the Middle Eastern store, other stuff at the Korean Mkt. There is soap for 99 cents at one of the ME stores that they charge 3.50 for at the health food store. Ditto produce stands, and stores in bad neighborhoods.

Work the wholesale or barter angle with everyone. For instance, a friend's husband in construction could bring you a whole truckload of sand (he likely gets it for free). What could you offer or trade him? My husband is a chef; he'll order cases of things for me and sometimes for others (if his work wasn't so disfunctional we could barter more often with that).

Go to the store right as / after the department head leaves- she'll usually mark stuff down before she goes. To get the best prices on meat, go right after the butcher leaves on Sunday or Monday night (they'll be marking down what didn't sell over the weekend.) Here they seem to mark meats down around 8pm, and produce earlier at 6 or so. And the stuff is usually still wrapped and neat (rather than overhandled and icky). I just learned this trick, so I haven't figured out if Sunday or Monday is the best day. Also, markdown deals stick around longer in rich areas of town- they don't like to buy marked down meat. It's gone in a flash in my 'hood. This also works at my hfs, but their employees buy most of the good markdowns.

There may be a food ministry in your area not aimed at giving away food to the poorest, but aimed at helping those on the borderline buy better food.

I have heard of closet swap parties, where ladies bring clothes they don't want. I've never wanted to go to one. But a pantry items swap party- that I would love!
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#15 of 40 Old 11-20-2009, 04:16 AM
 
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KariM
I am sort of a novice sewer. What sort of fabric do you use to make the *skirts* for too short t-shirts?

We have plenty of those in our house.
TIA,
Kathryn
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#16 of 40 Old 11-20-2009, 12:17 PM
 
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*Put up heavier (less attractive) curtains in the winter.
*Make fingerless gloves from wool sweater sleeves to keep comfortable on the computer.
*When showering, I pull up the tub drain. The warm water helps heat the bathroom, and I get a guage on how much water I am using.
*I shop one of our grocery store's clearance meat section. It's the only way I can afford lamb, for example.

Also, on my most recent thrift store trip, they asked what I was looking for. I told them canning jars, but I never see them. Well, apparently they had a TON in the back, waiting to be cleaned up. And all they have is windex and paper towels for clean up - no running water. So, now I know to ASK AT THE SMALL THRIFT STORE.

Bridget. Momma to DD (4), expecting DS - 9/09, wife to SAHD. Gardener, coffee addict, urban dweller.
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#17 of 40 Old 11-20-2009, 03:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Amys1st View Post
Figure out after meals, what is left behind on the plates. That is food that you payed for and could potentially be throwing out. Start serving up proper portions. Use smaller plates. This also trims the body.
I serve on serving dishes which cuts food waste even more.
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#18 of 40 Old 11-20-2009, 05:43 PM
 
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Make sure to include ethnic markets in your price book. Some spices are dirt cheap at the Middle Eastern store, other stuff at the Korean Mkt.
Yes, this! I just bought a big bag of curry for $2. It costs $4 and some change for a tiny little bottle at the grocery store. Huge pieces of ginger root were a quarter! Def. going back there!
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#19 of 40 Old 11-20-2009, 09:25 PM
 
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Ooh, I forgot two. The soup bag. A gallon ziploc, or similar container in the freezer. In go the odds and ends of stuff people don't finish, the leftovers that can't be used- almost nothing gets wasted. This is for mystery soup day. You can do a separate bag for fruit odds and ends, for smoothies, crumbles etc.
Of course make your own yogurt, but I make kefir too and I use the milk that gets left out by kids who ask for too much (I have one that never finishes a glass of milk).
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#20 of 40 Old 11-22-2009, 01:13 AM
 
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This may sound very dirty hippie of me *haha* but I save A LOT on soap and shampoo this way... I take baths, and always wash my hair first. Little bit at a time, gauging by when I run out of lather it must still be dirty. Extra suds hit my face and pits. Because I have long hair I use a pretty good amount of shampoo... So when I rinse into my water, I just scrub up. I figure there is plenty of cleanser in my water to do the trick. No soap needed, unless I feel it's really necessary. I do this for my kids, but in reverse fashion. Add the soap to their water, as their hair doesn't get greasy like an adult's would. We use only all natural/organic soap/shampoo so it's a big deal to use them wisely. A 12oz shampoo and a bar of Bronner's last us about a month for a family of four. That's less than ten bucks. We used to spend nearly triple that with the conventional method.
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#21 of 40 Old 11-22-2009, 10:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This may sound very dirty hippie of me *haha* but I save A LOT on soap and shampoo this way... I take baths, and always wash my hair first. Little bit at a time, gauging by when I run out of lather it must still be dirty. Extra suds hit my face and pits. Because I have long hair I use a pretty good amount of shampoo... So when I rinse into my water, I just scrub up.
Well, I'm certainly not going to call you a dirty hippie, since one of the ways I save money is by only showering twice a week (though I've gone as long as once a week) and washing my hair only 2-3 times a week. I don't really have the kind of hair that can go longer than every other day, but if we're just hanging out at home all day I might go a day longer. My DH is very smell-sensitive, so I know he'd say something if this was a problem. Plus I do the sniff test on my clothes to see if I need a "freshener" with a wipe.

I used to be one of those people who needed to take a shower every.single.day or I'd feel super gross, but after DS was born I just didn't have the time. So I actually started doing it this way out of necessity, but even now that DS is *okay* with me showering and being away from him I continue to do so less often.

Formerly New Mama to Henry, born August 2005 and Silas, born November 2010.
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#22 of 40 Old 11-22-2009, 12:53 PM
 
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I'm not a veteran frugalite but I have some ideas that I recall from my mother. She was German and was a child during WWII. When my dad was in the military we spent one year living with her mother in Germany while dad was on a yearlong tour. Most residences there have doors to every room including the living room and kitchen. In the winter my g-ma closed every door and she only heated the kitchen while we were in it or the living room while we were in it. We had to wear socks with slippers and heavy sweaters to stay warm. We children were bathed once a week and shared the bath water. There were four of us. We sponge bathed in between weekly baths. A very small amount of hot water was used to wash dishes. The sink was filled barely enough to immerse a dish then rinsed in a small amount of water in the other sink. G-ma reused coffee grounds at least once. She also sewed all our clothes as she was a seamstress by trade. We were allowed no snacks except for the European custom of homemade cake or fruit tart with coffee on the weekends in the middle of the afternoon.

I'll post again if I remember anything else.
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#23 of 40 Old 11-27-2009, 04:51 PM
 
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I'm not a veteran frugalite but I have some ideas that I recall from my mother. She was German and was a child during WWII. When my dad was in the military we spent one year living with her mother in Germany while dad was on a yearlong tour. Most residences there have doors to every room including the living room and kitchen. In the winter my g-ma closed every door and she only heated the kitchen while we were in it or the living room while we were in it. We had to wear socks with slippers and heavy sweaters to stay warm. We children were bathed once a week and shared the bath water. There were four of us. We sponge bathed in between weekly baths. A very small amount of hot water was used to wash dishes. The sink was filled barely enough to immerse a dish then rinsed in a small amount of water in the other sink. G-ma reused coffee grounds at least once. She also sewed all our clothes as she was a seamstress by trade. We were allowed no snacks except for the European custom of homemade cake or fruit tart with coffee on the weekends in the middle of the afternoon.

I'll post again if I remember anything else.
Hmmm. Aside from the handsewn clothing, the rest of that sounds quite horrible to me! I'm all for being thrifty but I would only live that way if it were utter, absolute necessity. There's a difference (to me) between frugal and penurious.
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#24 of 40 Old 11-27-2009, 05:12 PM
 
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Hmmm. Aside from the handsewn clothing, the rest of that sounds quite horrible to me! I'm all for being thrifty but I would only live that way if it were utter, absolute necessity. There's a difference (to me) between frugal and penurious.
Well attitude is often the difference between being frugal and penurious. I fill the sink with only the necessary amount of water and no more because we just lived through a 4 year drought, and we worried about our well. I also don't buy many sweets/treats for the kids though my dh does bake a fair amount. So they have homemade stuff more than just on the weekends as in the above post, but I don't want them to have too much for health reasons. I also don't usually force them to take baths. They take them when they know they are dirty or we're going some place. I'm also rather cold as I type this, but the electric heaters are more expensive to run in our older home and I put them on only to sleep (i'm in the bedroom now). if I wanted to be warmer, I'd put on a sweatshirt instead of the vest I have on or go out to the fire in the great room. I'm forever telling the kids to close the bathroom door or the closet door. I don't want to pay to heat or cool areas that are not in much use. I don't think saving energy is penurious; it's sustainable, something we greatly value. A conserving, sustainable healthy life can be a joy not a hardship or something horrible.
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#25 of 40 Old 11-27-2009, 05:34 PM
 
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Well attitude is often the difference between being frugal and penurious. I fill the sink with only the necessary amount of water and no more because we just lived through a 4 year drought, and we worried about our well. I also don't buy many sweets/treats for the kids though my dh does bake a fair amount. So they have homemade stuff more than just on the weekends as in the above post, but I don't want them to have too much for health reasons. I also don't usually force them to take baths. They take them when they know they are dirty or we're going some place. I'm also rather cold as I type this, but the electric heaters are more expensive to run in our older home and I put them on only to sleep (i'm in the bedroom now). if I wanted to be warmer, I'd put on a sweatshirt instead of the vest I have on or go out to the fire in the great room. I'm forever telling the kids to close the bathroom door or the closet door. I don't want to pay to heat or cool areas that are not in much use. I don't think saving energy is penurious; it's sustainable, something we greatly value. A conserving, sustainable healthy life can be a joy not a hardship or something horrible.
Good points. It does have a lot to do with attitude, plus everybody has her own personal limits. I live in New England, where it's cold for a long part of the year, and I dislike freezing in my own home. We heat with wood, and we keep parts of our home cool in the winter, dress warmly and all that, but I couldn't go so far as to just heat the one room I was in. Life is too short (IMO) for me to spend it shivering. Other people are more comfortable in the cold than I am, though. I use energy wisely but as long as I can afford to do so I will always choose to stay comfortably warm and reasonably clean.

Sharing a bath with three other people once a week probably won't ever sound like a joy to me, but I can see that if I were in a time of great hardship and shortage it could appear downright luxurious. I'm grateful not to be in that situation. Again, I use water wisely, but unless we were in a seriously dire situation I don't see living at that level of frugality as something I personally want to aspire to.

But, everybody is different -- that's what's interesting.
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#26 of 40 Old 11-27-2009, 06:46 PM
 
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For me, the most important thing is to check the used market first for almost everything. There's just a shocking amount of stuff available used. One small advantage of living in such a consumer society, I guess.

To go along with that, it has helped immensely to know the thrift stores in my area - which ones tend to have more clothes, or books, or household goods, etc.

It's also important, when you make a big habit of shopping used, to take a long view and be patient. For instance, I want two big, comfy reading chairs. I'll buy them used and slip-cover them. I've been on the hunt for about 6 months and haven't found one yet, but they'll show up eventually (probably separately), and I'll snatch them up. I have to keep track of what needs will be coming up soon, because when the toaster breaks, you never know if you'll find a good one! So right now, I know that my rice cooker is pretty old and might not last much longer. When I find a good one, I'll bring it home and put it away till the old one dies.

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#27 of 40 Old 11-27-2009, 07:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by chinaKat View Post
Good points. It does have a lot to do with attitude, plus everybody has her own personal limits. I live in New England, where it's cold for a long part of the year, and I dislike freezing in my own home. We heat with wood, and we keep parts of our home cool in the winter, dress warmly and all that, but I couldn't go so far as to just heat the one room I was in. Life is too short (IMO) for me to spend it shivering. Other people are more comfortable in the cold than I am, though. I use energy wisely but as long as I can afford to do so I will always choose to stay comfortably warm and reasonably clean.


Sharing a bath with three other people once a week probably won't ever sound like a joy to me, but I can see that if I were in a time of great hardship and shortage it could appear downright luxurious. I'm grateful not to be in that situation. Again, I use water wisely, but unless we were in a seriously dire situation I don't see living at that level of frugality as something I personally want to aspire to.

[

But, everybody is different -- that's what's interesting.
New England would be harder for me to be blase about the cold. We too heat the main part of the house with wood that is going most of the time in the winter, but the electric in the bedrooms gets turned on at night only.


B]The kids may share a bath at times, but they are on to individual showers for the most part, so that part of the op didn't apply to us, just the frequency.[/B]

absolutely
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#28 of 40 Old 11-28-2009, 01:35 AM
 
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I love the bits and bobs mystery soup! It's always fun to see what I can make with the leftover bits.

Leftover bits of fruit get food processed and go into muffins.

I'm all about repurposing leftovers. I keep a file on the computer with the approximate amount of leftovers, what they are etc. And then I check it before I make dinner. I have a good clear idea of what's in the fridge, and I always try to make it into something completely different so we don't get burnt out on leftovers! It stretches my creativity and I feel so good about how I've cut down on our kitchen waste.

My hubby wanted more steak (I never ate steak as a child, so I thought it was special occasion food! ), so I bought a huge sirloin tip and cut it into steaks. I got 20 good size steaks and a small roast out of it for $35.

My friends and I get together every couple of months and do a clothing swap, for kids and adult clothes. It's so much fun, and everyone comes away with "new" stuff.

I am not crunchy enough for this forum. Everyday I get a little crunchier though! :
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#29 of 40 Old 11-28-2009, 02:19 AM
 
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Hmmm. Aside from the handsewn clothing, the rest of that sounds quite horrible to me! I'm all for being thrifty but I would only live that way if it were utter, absolute necessity. There's a difference (to me) between frugal and penurious.
I should have emphasized that at the time that my dad was away for a year my mother felt like she needed the help of my g-ma and her teen niece to help out with four children who were within five years of each other and under the age of eight. It wasn't easy for all of us to live together in such tight quarters but it was for only a year. My g-dad had died years earlier and g-ma did not receive alot of earnings but in order to take us all on she had to be even more frugal and austere out of sheer necessity. It wasn't always pleasant but it was an eye-opener for me even as a child although I have to admit that when my dad came home and we moved back on base our resumed middle class existence seemed luxurious and most welcome indeed!
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#30 of 40 Old 11-28-2009, 03:34 AM
 
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I live in Japan, in the north on the 40th parallel.

It is common to only heat the room you are in. All rooms have doors and can be shut. Sadly insulation is not plentiful, so in reality a lot of heat is wasted. We built a house 3 years ago and it is well insulated and we do heat most of it. Which strikes some of our guests as really lux. I point out that we are paying about the same in utilities to our last place, half the size apt. We did heat all the time there b/c of the baby. ie you turn off the heat when you leave, but someone was generally home all the time.

I do think being frugal should be a joy. But I appreciate I am lucky enough to have choices to make.

Things like mamma cloth and family cloth save us a lot. Family cloth is only used for pee at our house. I do keep TP in the bathroom downstairs as we do have friends/my English students etc.. in a lot and I am not ready to explain family cloth to everybody

Bathing is also totally different here. You shower first and then just soak in the hot water. So the water stays clean and all family members use it. It is the norm to then pump that water into the washing machine. My new washer came with a built in hose to do just that. Every home center sells separate pumps for older machines. Clothes driers are rare. I should also point out in most baths is is possible to reheat the water, so it stays hot for everybody. In our case we mostly bathe as a family so not so much of an issue. The baths all come with covers so you can keep the heat in. So say if someone (and most likely dad) comes home late it will only take a short time to heat the water up for him to soak in.

So I can relate to the German post a lot.

Kathryn
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