Extreme Frugality - The other people think I'm crazy thread! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Why does everyone look at me funny when I mention I don't like to have to drive into the "city" a 30 min drive away. It costs me $15 in gas everytime and traffic is horrible. I don't like to do it ever and try and limit it to well, never if I can!

We can walk or bike to everything in our town and we like to walk and bike. I biked up to the grocery store the other day in the rain and on the way home the rain was hitting me in the face and guess what? I was grinning this huge grin because I was having so much fun!

Our truck is for sale and we have great plans for what to do with the cash we get from that sale. But everyone who sees what we are doing thinks we are crazy. We live in Ontario and in the winter it gets cold and snowy. Well guess what? They sell studded tires for the bike so I will be able to ride up to the grocery store even in January. In fact I am looking forward to it! What an adventure!

With triple digit gas prices coming, riding our bikes is a great alternative to paying for gas. Think of all the money we will save!

What extremely frugal thing do you do?
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#2 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 01:02 PM
 
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ParisApril, what an awesome idea for a thread.
I don't think I do really extreme frugal things but the things I do, get me some funny looks where I live. People think I am a bit odd for buying all my kids' clothes at consignment sales instead of going to the GAP and Gymboree at the mall.
I recently bought two little cloth snackbags from etsy and we use these every day instead of ziplock plastic bags. I keep getting funny looks and people asking me what they are and when I tell them, they just can't seem to get their head around it. I am pretty certain this type of product will soon find it's way into mainstream stores like Target sometime soon, it's a very green thing to do but my main motivation for doing it is that it saves us money by not having to buy the zip-locks.
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#3 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 02:26 PM
 
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ParisApril, how far do you ride/walk for your errands? I ask becuase (most) everything I need is within 6 miles round trip of my house, yet I find myself using my car. I REALLY want to bike or walk more.

btw, How cold does it get for you?
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#4 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 02:33 PM
 
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Extreme frugality? Not buying things.

Not buying a tv to replace the one that broke. When I did buy one, it was a tiny 15 inch one for $10 second hand.

Using what we have. Not running to the store every single time we "need" something. (Realize you don't have cheese for lasagna? Make spaghetti instead!)

Somehow, to some people, this sounds incredibly extreme.

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#5 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 03:09 PM
 
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My friends think our grocery budget is pathetically small, but since we love to entertain and cooking is our passion, they can't wrap their heads around how "well we eat". This is coming from people with double or more our food budget! I can't believe how much they spend on crap processed yucky "food". If I had $1000 a month to spend at the grocery store, we'd be swimming in organic everything, shellfish, grass fed everything! Sheesh!

Also, some of our close friends know we are on an envelope system, and cannot understand how we are so disciplined. I just tell them we have no choice. This one really baffles me, how is it disciplined to make sure we have the money we need when we need it? If we burn through our cash that we earn in the summer before the next summer, we would starve.

I am not crunchy enough for this forum. Everyday I get a little crunchier though! :
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#6 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 03:22 PM
 
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We moved to a very low COL area, and my ILs are still shaking their heads over it, 4.5 years later. They do not get it at all.

People are also blown away at how low our household/grocery budget is. We have a firm budget of $350/mo for household stuff, including food, non food groceries, clothes, and odds and ends. We typically spend just under $200 a month (family of four and a half) on food, so if the month is super tight, that we'll reallocate the other $150 for more pressing needs. I've encountered people even on MDC who don't get it- wonder how we eat well, isn't it deprivation, etc. Really, it's very freeing knowing that we'll eat just fine, and that we can come up with $150 almost out of thin air if we need to (nobody's ever died from not having ziplocs that month ).

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#7 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 03:43 PM
 
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Not having a car. At all. We live in a city with great public transportation and although it would be more convenient to have a car and zip to places, we don't see the need to be paying up the nose for that convenience. Yes, it takes longer to get where we need to go, sometimes the bus/tram/metro is crowded, but it's not a major issue. For out of town trips we go by train, on the week-ends tickets are half price.
We have a car share membership for those occasions when a car is needed, like a quick trip to the grocery store to buy the heavy and bulky stuff that we can't bring home by bus. The car is payed by the hour and gas and insurance is included with the membership. Definately much, much cheaper than owing a car. Works for us, bother other people. Oh well.
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#8 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 04:01 PM
 
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The main "people think I'm crazy" thing is walking to school every day, no matter what the weather is like. Granted, I live where "weather" is infrequent to begin with, but yes we walk when it is raining/cold/HOT. I grin, too! DD stomps in the puddles or practices the long jump! Well-meaning friends stop and offer us rides. We grin and invite them to walk with us. Oh, the horror on their faces.

My dad thought we were crazy on Thanksgiving for saving the turkey carcass and everything that came off/out of the turkey. Hey, those are free meals later, Dad! Eh? Too much bother. Normally, I give him leftovers for sandwiches, etc. Not this year. I got the distinct impression all that gorgeous free-range organic turkey meat was going to hit the trash can. Ironically, though, I learned a great deal of my conservation methods FROM my dad as a kid!!! I shake my head and wonder what happened. Then, I realize he was poor as a kid and learned conservation by necessity (and conservation of land resources through Boy Scouts). As he pulled himself out of poverty, he felt he "deserved" a different way of life and his model was the stereotypical American "bigger is better" and trash trucks take the excess away. Rather sad, actually. (Of course he DOES deserve all his wealth and privileges he has worked so hard to obtain! I just find it sad that he has forgotten some of the important lessons he taught me along the way....)

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#9 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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ParisApril, how far do you ride/walk for your errands? I ask becuase (most) everything I need is within 6 miles round trip of my house, yet I find myself using my car. I REALLY want to bike or walk more.

btw, How cold does it get for you?
This spring we bought a Big Dummy http://surlybikes.com/bikes/big_dummy_complete/ with the Xtracycle Family Van Kit http://www.xtracycle.com/cargo-utili...y-van-kit.html It has totally changed my life. I love it.

The grocery store is 5km/3.1miles round trip. It is not far at all and I can get there in 10 min. 15 with the kids on the back. Downtown shopping is 2 blocks away. The closest city is 15 km away. Which we have biked to before but we can buy almost everything we need in our town so we don't go there too often.

In the winter it can get really cold here. -15C/5F + windchill. I would probably skip the trip to the grocery store on that day though and wait for a warmer day.
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#10 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 05:18 PM
 
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We are going down to 1 car, and people think we are nuts. I am out of work, trying to become self-employed, and I am home working and running errands really cuts into work time.. so 1 car sitting, can go. Dh has Mondays off, and that has becme our errand day.

Like the PP we boiled the heck! out of our turkey carcass and I got 8-10 qts of stock and a week's worth of meals outta that bird! None of it went to waste. Since I have been out of work, and dh has had his hours cut, we have trimmed our food bill from 300 a month to 120-150 a month for 4. I bake, we eat lots of soup--lentil with smoked turkey is the current favorite. DH said the other night that we actually eat better now with the reduced food budget then we did before. I can tell you, I can get a lot of food for $30 and none of it is junk and the result is we can go a whole week and only put out one bag of trash. I have contemplated reducing our trash pick up to 1 or 2 a month.

I have made my own Christmas gifts for years now, and when my dad got remarried, and I made my new nephews' hats, one of my stepsisters very snarkily said well, if it is hand made you know it came from K! In front of about 30 guests! I was really hurt, because I put a lot of thought into the hats (knitted them in the boys favorite colors) and my step mom made a big deal about and she tried to appologize, but once it was out, kinda hard to put it back.

We are huge readers, don't watch that much tv, and instead of buying books, we take hand-me-downs and when we do want a new book, we visit the used bookstores. Worn out jeans? I am saving them to make blue jean quilts.

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#11 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 05:44 PM
 
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I dislike being around people who don't get it. I feel pressured when I get invited to go "shopping" with people. I rather get my Gap shirt at goodwill than buy it new and have credit card debt or work long hours. I'm happy, so if people think I'm crazy, I guess it should bother me

I am impressed with 350/mo for household stuff. I've been doing the grocery game for a few months, and am not even close to that yet! That's awesome! We have saved a lot though.

I am so proud of my family. We used to buy all our books new, get haircuts super often, waste gas going to "the city" as mentioned in a pp, and just generally be more impulsive with our shopping. Once you break a habit, you don't really miss it at all. I'm so much less worried about our future now
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#12 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 05:53 PM
 
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Probably one I should not have admitted to anyone IRL, but I have cut my own hair a couple of times and when I've mentioned it people just think I am absolutely CRAZY.

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#13 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 06:30 PM
 
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This spring we bought a Big Dummy http://surlybikes.com/bikes/big_dummy_complete/ with the Xtracycle Family Van Kit http://www.xtracycle.com/cargo-utili...y-van-kit.html It has totally changed my life. I love it.

The grocery store is 5km/3.1miles round trip. It is not far at all and I can get there in 10 min. 15 with the kids on the back. Downtown shopping is 2 blocks away. The closest city is 15 km away. Which we have biked to before but we can buy almost everything we need in our town so we don't go there too often.

In the winter it can get really cold here. -15C/5F + windchill. I would probably skip the trip to the grocery store on that day though and wait for a warmer day.
Beautiful bike! I have a basic hybrid with the bags on the back. Just need to use it more.
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#14 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 06:38 PM
 
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Dumpster diving, keeping the heat at 60 (we will bump it up when it gets colder, but just a little), not driving, not having credit cards or a checking account, cutting our own hair, buying used whenever possible...

but then we WILL go out to eat at times, spend money on nights out with friends.

I guess it does seem hard to believe, but we don't do it strictly to save money. We like to be thrifty with resources and money, but will spend when it's worth it to us. I love a nice lunch out, or drinks with friends... but why spend the extra money on gas or heat when we can get by fine without it?

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#15 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 06:48 PM
 
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Using what we have. Not running to the store every single time we "need" something. (Realize you don't have cheese for lasagna? Make spaghetti instead!)

Somehow, to some people, this sounds incredibly extreme.
That's my mom. She shops every single day for dinner...

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My friends think our grocery budget is pathetically small, but since we love to entertain and cooking is our passion, they can't wrap their heads around how "well we eat". This is coming from people with double or more our food budget! I can't believe how much they spend on crap processed yucky "food". If I had $1000 a month to spend at the grocery store, we'd be swimming in organic everything, shellfish, grass fed everything! Sheesh!
DH gets raises every year (military) and when he goes up in rank...we're so excited about it because soon we'll be able to shop more organically!

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#16 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 07:20 PM
 
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I just switched the girls and I to family cloth, we keep our heat at 60 (we bump it right now when the youngest is awake because she's potty training and therefore naked most of the time!), we are working on eating out less, shop used before new, fix and repair things rather than replace, and I refuse to EVER have another car payment and people just think that's insane. How will we drive....ummm, for almost nothing?

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#17 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 07:44 PM
 
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This spring we bought a Big Dummy http://surlybikes.com/bikes/big_dummy_complete/
$2450??? is that really how much they cost? well, now that I think about it, it's a heck of a lot cheaper than a 2nd car!

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#18 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 08:49 PM
 
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There was a similar thread several days ago. http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1162692

We live so frugally and saved enough that we are both able to be home with the kids. Most people think we are insane for dh giving up a great job. This was the result of frugal living for 10 years. I'd take extreme frugality and having us all at home vs. any bought thing and one of us off at work full time.
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#19 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 09:14 PM
 
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We no-poo. We don't use lotions, etc, really - generally coconut oil instead. We don't have a cabinet full of pharmaceuticals (tylenol, etc), but we do use homeopathics, which imo is cheaper (lot more doses in there, usually) and work great... or for headaches, we use massage, etc. I use vinegar & baking soda for cleaning - people give the weirdest looks for that one. I cut my husband's and my children's hair at home. Dh isn't brave enough to cut mine (apparently he thinks he couldn't manage ), but I only get a hair cut about every 6 months, and usually go to the cheap place (it's like $15, I think?).

We also made soup from the turkey carcass - like we always do with chickens. Last year we had thanksgiving at my dad's house and I offered to make broth during the day while he was gone at work on that friday (we were staying with him) and he basically told me there was no point. I felt sort of more offended and sad than anything, but really, that's what they do. I was also weirded out when they broke out the paper plates when we had subs that CAME IN WRAPPERS. Uh... they *have* a wrapper - why do I need a plate? I dunno... they got mad at me and forced the paper plate on me. But apparently *I'm* the crazy one...

We also do cloth napkins, cloth "paper towels" (I cut t-shirts up into 5 or 6 inch square pieces and we use them as though they're disposable - having germs sitting around in a rag all day sorta icks me out), cloth diapers... None of these things seem overly weird to me, though, anymore because most of my friends (and many people on mdc of course) do them, but to the mainstream, I'm CRAAAAAZY...

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#20 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 10:57 PM
 
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Compared to my social circle, Im "extremely" frugal, but compared to most frugal people Im not at all. I come to boards like this to feel normal.
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#21 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 11:05 PM
 
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Y'all are reminding me of other things we do that get the "crazy" look!

I cut DD's and DH's hair. No one seems weirded out by me cutting DH's hair, but they all look at me like I am crazy when DD says, "My mommy cut my hair," after they comment on how cute it looks.

I've been using canvas bags for 15+ years. Reusable bags are trendy these days, but my "old-fashioned" bags get the "crazy" look and I got the "crazy" look all these years, too...

I've been cleaning with vinegar and baking soda since the mid-1990s and have gotten the "crazy" look often when friends/acquaintances have the "best cleaners" conversation and I am asked what I use. (I am known to keep a clean house and people are just not ready for the truth about what I use, I guess... )

and more, but we're headed to the Farmer's Market...

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#22 of 156 Old 12-04-2009, 11:54 PM
 
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Another great thread! With us, it's the fact that I rarely if ever buy new kids clothes. People can't seem to wrap their brains around that. Luckily, there are plenty of people out there willing to buy new stuff so I have plenty of second hand selections, LOL!

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#23 of 156 Old 12-05-2009, 07:44 AM
 
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Dumpster diving-- haven't been doing it lately b/c I'm pregnant, plus it's hard to get out that late with a buddy (usually DP, which means DD is in the car too, it just gets difficult). But it was fun and useful while it lasted.

Buying most things used. The vast majority of our clothing. And I do it on sale days (IE 50% off blue tags!) so it's ridiculously cheap. Most of our furniture was freebies that friends/family didn't want anymore, or from Craigslist.

Not using disposable anything, though I did get out of the habit of family cloth. I also need to fashion up some hankies.

Wrapping with paper bags turned inside out.

Reusing dishes within reason before washing them.

Limiting heater use. Next house I want a woodburning stove or some such so I barely have to use the heater at all.

Making my own cleaners.

Next up is learning how to sew, i just bought a sewing machine on a great discount. I can think of all kinds of ways to save that way.

I also need to learn more food/kitchen skills. Making ahead and freezing, canning, being more creative with ingredients, etc.

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#24 of 156 Old 12-05-2009, 08:15 AM
 
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Reusing dishes within reason before washing them.
Oh yes, we do this and it freaks people OUT. It bothered DH at first (I'd only do it for myself or the kids), but now he does it here and there as well. I make sure that I use my old plate or one child uses their own plate again. I don't switch them up. But I've had family and friends act like it's soooo dirty. (We don't do it when they are over visiting and/or eating, but they've caught on to my doing this anyway)

It really geeks my MIL out when I re-use the same glass over and over at her house. If I am pouring my second glass of ice water, why on earth would I get a new glass???
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#25 of 156 Old 12-05-2009, 08:26 AM
 
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It really geeks my MIL out when I re-use the same glass over and over at her house. If I am pouring my second glass of ice water, why on earth would I get a new glass???
Exactly. We do have a dishwasher but we'd be running it at least twice a day at that rate. If food isn't stuck all over a plate I'll happily reuse it for snacks later on, or whatever. I can't imagine what the big deal is.

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#26 of 156 Old 12-05-2009, 09:08 AM
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I am loving this thread. I always use the same glass all day long. I also will use a plate for toast in the mornig and oftem just push the crumbs off it and reuse to cut something up or heat something up for lunch. If it had something wet on it then i would probably wash it. I am going to make DH some reusable snack bags for Christmas. He already reuses his ziplocks so I see no reason he wouldn't use these. I made some mama cloth for myself and have a diva cup. I am going to make cloth wipes, I already use cloth diapers most of the time. I am also going to make cloth napkins and unpaper towels.
Some might think it is gross but I reuse my bath towel at least once, I am clean when I use it so it doesn't gross me out. I also do not wash some of my clothes after one wear. I usually wear my clothes to death before getting rid of them, shoes included. My husband wears them way past death and I steal them from him so he doesn't look like a slob.
I am so trying to get our grocery bill down and have started to cook most of our meals and we eat leftovers from the meals. Need to start keeping my peeling and chicken bones for stock again. Will start a big ziplock in the freezer.
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#27 of 156 Old 12-05-2009, 10:15 AM
 
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We live so frugally and saved enough that we are both able to be home with the kids. Most people think we are insane for dh giving up a great job. This was the result of frugal living for 10 years.
Wow! That's awesome!
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#28 of 156 Old 12-05-2009, 12:34 PM
 
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Some might think it is gross but I reuse my bath towel at least once, I am clean when I use it so it doesn't gross me out. I also do not wash some of my clothes after one wear.
Not gross at all! Growing up my mom insisted that we got 2 bath towels per week. That was it. One for our hair and one for our body (being long-haired it just made sense to have 2). You hung them up after every bath and if you left them on the floor and they got nasty...too bad! We learned very quickly to keep our bath towels on the rack. I still use bath towels 6 or 7 times, then they go on the floor to catch any spillage from the tub, THEN they go in the wash. We also wore jeans more than once if they didn't get dirty.

I think people are baffled most by cloth everything in my house. I try to keep some tissues and TP available for guests. People are *constantly* asking my for a paper towel or napkin though. My answer is the same as last last week and last month and last year. They are in the drawer and they are cloth. It won't kill you to use them I promise!!!
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#29 of 156 Old 12-05-2009, 12:53 PM
 
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Huh... What's the point of towel drying racks if you only use the towel once? all you need is a table and a laundry basket then...

I find it weird when people *don't* use their towel more than once... everyone in my family does.

for that matter, the re-using plates? I never even thought about it. I don't usually re-use a plate that got real messy (like if I ate pasta on it and there's pasta sauce all over it, I usually won't put crackers or something on it - or I'll rinse it first), but if, say, my kid had a sandwich on her plate and there's just crumbs on it, why on earth wouldn't I use it for, say, crackers or apple slices or whatever later And there's people out there that won't re-use a water glass over and over? That just seems weird to me. I don't even know if I *know* anyone who doesn't reuse their water glass all day...

Jenna ~ mommy to Sophia Elise idea.gif  (1/06), Oliver Matthew  blahblah.gif (7/07) and Avery Michael fly-by-nursing1.gif(3/10)

 

dizzy.gif Wading slowly and nervously into this homeschooling thing.

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#30 of 156 Old 12-05-2009, 01:01 PM
 
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Wait, do most people wash their bath towels after EVERY use? I know some people do, but do MOST? Whoa.. I guess I may be considered a freak to some in that regard as well.

Same with wearing clothes more than once without washing in between (esp pants/jeans, never socks or undies though).

Our kids also don't bathe daily. They don't need to first of all, second it's harsh on their skin (even if they don't use any soap) and third it's just a waste of water/electricity due to the first two things, lol.

I don't shower daily either. I shower every 2-3 days. My showers are cut down to about 5 min now as well.

If our neighbor has their front porch light on (which means their driveway light is on as well), we don't turn ours on. Their light over their driveway is BRIGHT, it lights up our driveway from a good 50' away if not more. As long as I see their lights on at night, which they usually are, I don't turn on our front porch/driveway lights (but if I do, the lights are motion activated, so not on continuously at least).

If I wake up in the morning around the time the sun is coming up, I turn off the night light we have on for our DD (since the light through the window is sufficient).

I used to let the kids take pennies from my coat pocket and save them. Inevitably they'd end up in toy bins and I'd clean them out every six months or so when cleaning out their toys. Now I put every last penny into our coin jar.

I use hot water in the steam cleaner vs. homemade cleaners and/or store bought. Hot water works just as well for most things I've found. But a family member of mine found this odd when I told her about it a couple of weeks ago. She insisted that while we saw clean carpet, it wasn't truly clean. Hey, if it looks clean to me, then it's clean. It's not as if I am eating off of my floor.

I feel a bit crazy about this stuff at times, but I also feel I have to be with how bad of a place we're in financially due to DH being ill and now with no job. Of course, I don't tell most people of what I do and don't do in order to save money, haha.
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