View Full Version : Frugality: How low would you go?

Jolie Rouge
06-08-2011, 09:26 PM
By Ronnie Citron-Fink Posted Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:29am PST

You may have heard that green is the new black. This can be associated with the intention of being more eco-friendly, and that defines a trend towards watching our pennies. Money, or lack there of, is driving many people to become more frugal. For whatever the economic reason, frugality has become a way of life for some. Is it possible to be too frugal?

Being frugal is not a new concept. My husband’s family had a saying, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” My mom used to squirrel away what she called, “mad money”, for times when money was tight and we wanted to do something fun. This type of frugality seems within the “normal” realm for most folks.

For someone like me, who has been championing eco-friendly DIY projects and has also forayed into dumpster diving on the rare occasion, being frugal has more to do with making wise and ethical financial decisions. Rather than saving every penny and missing out on all the fun, I like the old adage of “making do” and tucking away a little “mad money.” It’s a fine balance that allows for options.

This is all fine and good, but at some point, will some of us migrate over the line towards obsession? The New York Times addressed this recently in an article about what happens when frugality crosses the line:

“One way my husband and I save a little money is to use the shampoo, conditioner and other products we’ve collected from hotel stays. During the depths of the recession, when we stayed at an apartment rental, we stocked up on the hair products the owners had left for us to use. Still, I couldn’t help wondering whether we were being frugal or we were stealing…”

Do you think this is crossing the line? When does being frugal turn into being a cheapskate?

The Money Crashers believes that it is crazy frugal behavior if you’ve ever considered doing these tasks to save a buck:

Cutting dryer sheets in half.

Cutting Post-It notes in half.

Got a run in your pantyhose? Wait until you get a run in another set. Cut each in half and use the two good “legs.”

Splitting two-ply toilet paper.

Are these questionable frugal tactics? Is it possible to be too frugal? What do you do that is acceptable or not acceptable in the name of frugality? Share your stories of being frugal.


I want to share some of my x-mother-in-law's "frugal" ideas. You decide.

1. She washed and reused aluminum foil, plastic bread sacks, the plastic foam trays that held meats from the grocery store. She reused all old packaging that she could.

2. She kept the old shampoo bottle and when it was nearly empty, she would add a little shampoo ( about 1/4 of the depth of the bottle) from her "hidden" bottle and then fill it with tap water.

3. She saved the paraffin from home made jams and jellies. Gifts from other people as sugar was "too dear' to use for making it herself. She would melt the paraffin in a "used " aluminum tray (a brand of biscuit was once sold in this kind of package) on top of a warm stove while cooking a meal and when the paraffin was melted, she would lay bars of soap in the melted paraffin so that one side was covered in the paraffin. She would then lay them out exposed side down so that the paraffin would dry. She thought that the person washing their hands or body would only use off of one half of the soap that way and therefore use less soap! By-the-way, many of her useful aluminum containers came from the neighbors. She would ask them to save them from their trash for her.

4. She save used tea bags in the frig. She made tea with a bag over-and-over until the water was perfectly clear.

5. She only baked biscuits once a week, the leftover biscuits were kept on a platter in the center of the kitchen table with a split plastic bag from a loaf of bread wrapped across the biscuits. When(if)you wanted a biscuit, you would reach up under the plastic to remove a biscuit. You never were suppose to remove the plastic to get a biscuit, because that let in "too much air". When I said that she only baked biscuits once a week, I should explain that she only baked any bread or cake or pie on one day a week. That was baking day. There was baking day, washing day, ironing day, ect. This woman had a college education and was a teacher for some years, but could not keep a job teaching because she was just "too strange".

6. Whenever we went to visit she would bring out her sewing basket and we would "turn" collars on her husband's shirts. I always thought that if he had been allowed to use the proper amount of shampoo and soap to wash the oil, dirt and sweat from his neck that the shirt collars would not have rotted from contact with his dirty sweaty neck.

7. I saved the best for last, for Christmas she gave my children used colors and coloring books that she bought at yard sales. Wrapped in the "funnies" from the Sunday newspaper, and tied with twine. NO, they were not "poor". They owned a business and did quite well. She was mean in the English use of the word, not the American.

Jolie Rouge
06-08-2011, 09:35 PM
Recycle your shopping addiction: 12 frugal ways
By Sherry Brooks Posted Fri Apr 1, 2011 12:14pm PDT

Are you a power shopper? Do you subconsciously use shopping as a form of entertainment? If so, you probably spend more money on things you don’t need than you would like to admit.

What if you could channel your shopping passion toward acquiring healthy, satisfying food? You might find your home more comforting, your health stronger, your bills less alarming and meals more pleasurable.

1. Think of food shopping as an on-going game; how can you find the freshest, organic foods at the best price?

2. Buy produce featured in local weekly grocery flyers, which is in season and that makes it delicious, sustainable and affordable.

3. Rather than splurging on fresh flowers for your home or office, find a beautiful wooden or glass bowl for displaying a bountiful arrangement of seasonal fruit. Enjoy snacking all week.

4. Using two cylindrical glass vases of different heights, hang a green bunch of bananas from the top edge of one and a riper bunch from the edge of the other for decoration and to minimize bruising. Mash a ripe banana while your morning oats cook, and add to the pot. Leave the lid on for a moment for caramelized banana oats. Sweet and delicious without added sugar! Add almonds and dried fruit Yum!

5. Slice the ripest bananas and freeze them in a freezer bag to add to juice or almond milk smoothies, add other fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, mint, oat flakes, nuts or basil.

6. Most dried spices, sadly, are irradiated to extend shelf life, so choose non-irradiated brands. Try something new such as, chipotle powder, which is really nice with veggie broth, pureed veggies and beans for a quick soup. Use tarragon to create a French style “mock chicken salad.” Add tarragon to mayonnaise with orange juice, red grapes, celery and raw cashews. A delightful vegan lunch treat.

7. Purchase toasted nori sheets to make sushi hand rolls with brown rice, rice vinegar, avocado and veggies.

8. For a sleek, yet rustic kitchen decoration, purchase large glass canisters and galvanized scoops. Watch for boxed cereal sales and coupons. Pour a mixture of cereals into a canister with salted pepitas or sunflower seeds. A delicious way to sneak protein into the kids’ breakfast before a long morning at school.

9. Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables on sale. They are pre-cooked, so move a bag from your freezer to refrigerator for thawing and a gentle steam. Toss with olive oil, pepper and Himalayan salt for a side dish or mix with cannellini beans, pasta and Herbes de Provence for a quick entrée.

10. Buy bread that is on sale and immediately freeze, taking slices as needed. If you buy fresh bread to keep on the counter for a few days, make some pinhole sized holes in the bag to allow air in and discourage mold.

11. Consider potting fresh herbs in the garden or in the kitchen. A fresh sprig of basil upgrades an inexpensive bowl of spaghetti and makes a baked pizza gourmet.

12. Jars of spaghetti sauce are expensive. Instead, use a can of crushed tomatoes with garlic and a small can of tomato paste. Add a touch of olive oil to the pan, add veggies on special at the market and sauté (zucchini or onions) then add tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.

With your healthier shopping habits, no longer will you chant “I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go”. Instead it will be “I glow, I glow, my weight is now so low...”


Jolie Rouge
06-18-2011, 08:00 AM
Confessions of Extreme Penny Pinchers
by Blake Ellis Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's amazing the lengths some people will go to save money. From sleeping in offices to following senior citizens to restaurants in order to find the best "early bird specials," these people will do almost anything to save a buck.

I Resell Vacuums Left on Curbs
Name: Quentin Lawrence Hometown: Newport, R.I.

I make an extra $400 a year just from finding vacuum cleaners left on curbs in nearby neighborhoods -- and then selling them on Craigslist. It started out when I would drive around and see all of these things people leave outside their homes. I guess vacuum cleaners are just really popular to get rid of, because that's mostly what I found.

So I started stopping and looking to see what condition the vacuums were in, and it turns out usually they need nothing more than to be emptied out. Or, they have a belt that's broken, so I can just get a cheap belt and resell the vacuum for 25 to 30 bucks.

They move pretty quickly when I put them up on Craigslist, so it's an easy way to make a little income on the side. But since I can't fit a lot in my car right now, I'm actually in the process of getting a van. That way I can start picking up bigger items like furniture and make even more money.

We Started Raising Pigs
Name: Geoff Overland Hometown: New Glarus, Wis.

We have become pig farmers.

We have never raised any animals (other than family pets) and we are not farmers, but we are now raising 13 pigs. With the rising cost of food, it's becoming more and more challenging to provide good healthy food for our family.

By raising our own pork, we believe we will be able to produce meat for around $1.50 per pound instead of the $3.50 to $6.00 per pound we see at the store.

I Hit Up Fast Food Dollar Menus
Name: Shelley Parker Hometown: Portland, Ore.

When I'm on the go or short on time, fast food dollar menus kill a lot of birds with one stone -- they're quick and convenient and can actually be relatively healthy. I'll special order it and exclude the fatty add-ons. I like that the portion is smaller and not a big 'ol gut-bomb meal.

Some of my favorites are Sonic Jr.'s breakfast burrito (sans sausage), Wendy's baked potato with chili, or a Whopper Jr. (sans cheese and mayo).

I'm self-employed so I'm always out and about driving around. Usually when you do things on impulse and don't plan you make bad choices -- so I could end up spending $8 to $10 on any given meal. But with these dollar menus, you know exactly what you're getting -- and it costs a dollar.

I could skip a week, or maybe do it a couple times a week. Over the course of a year, I probably save more than $300.

I Became 'Quasi-Amish'
Name: Mike Hammack Hometown: McLeansboro, Ill.

After going through a foreclosure and dealing with massive debt and stress before filing for bankruptcy, my wife and I wanted to start over. We moved to a 1974 junk mobile home at the end of a dead-end road in the middle of nowhere, in southern Illinois.

Our only bills now are water, cell phones, wireless Internet, electricity, auto and property insurance, and gas for my wife to drive to work and diesel for the farm equipment. Our total cost of living has dropped from $50,000-plus per year to less than $10,000.

Where once the food came from the store, now it comes from the garden and pasture. Now 75% of our electric use is solar. My friends call me "quasi-Amish" because I'm so cheap nowadays I will often ride a horse to town before I will turn the key on my truck. My income went from $15,000 per year as a dishwasher at a restaurant to over $35,000 by selling eggs, chickens, goats and cows.

Moving to the middle of nowhere was a huge change, but the burden of the money pit house is gone and finally there is no financial stress. Sure, the mobile home looks [ugly], but it is completely remodeled inside and is actually nice. It also keeps the property taxes at $48 a year -- compared to $7,000 on our old house.

I Make My Kids Pay for Dinner
Name: John Snyder Hometown: Boyne City, Mich.

On a recent family vacation, my wife and I decided that -- after the first night of eating out -- the rest of the nights each kid would pay half the bill.

The child whose turn it was to pay would also be able to choose the restaurant. So after a tab of $73 the first night (for a family of five), we moved on to Chick-fil-A the next night ($26 total), and pizza the night after that ($32, after using the coupon that my daughter found).

It was funny watching the kids act out, and say to each other, "You guys can share!" or "No, you're getting water!" -- the things I'm usually thinking while biting my tongue.

As parents you always hate to be the ogre saying: "You don't need that." So you just sit there and spend your money, but this made them do it themselves and it was fun for them, because it turned into kind of a game -- with all of them looking for coupons and special deals when it was their turn to pay.

Because of these discounts and how much pressure the kids put on each other to save money, we potentially saved at least $50 a night. A couple of our younger kids had to take out a loan from us for some of the dinners, but they'll be paying that back.

We'll continue doing this on vacations. We're going to a wedding in Wisconsin in July, and my five-year old got off free on the last vacation, so he probably owes us one.

Click here to see the entire list of Confessions of Extreme Penny Pinchers http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2011/pf/1106/gallery.penny_pinchers/?iid=HP_LN


06-18-2011, 10:36 AM
I've always thought there's being smart with your money and then being ridiculous with it. Some of these are just ridiculous lol