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Monday, July 21, 2008

Feeling Frugal?

I had done an earlier post on stretching our dollar by using coupons and shopping more wisely. I've always thought of myself as fairly frugal, but recently have been learning that there is another level I didn't consider, "extreme frugality"! I've been reading about it here, (as well as her later posts on the topic) and it got me to thinking. While my family isn't ready to go "extreme" (Ted says he'd like to keep his shampoo and toilet paper, thank you!), it made me think about what things we are doing now to cut back, and what would be some other things we would give up if we had to cut back for one reason or another. Here are some things we do:

  • Reuse paper and plastic grocery bags--paper for the recycling and plastic for diapers and trash cans
  • Reuse wipes containers--to store plastic bags in (because they can become unruly!), store toys or other odds and ends
  • Don't use quite as much laundry detergent
  • Wash most clothes in cold water
  • Cut dryer sheets in half, or don't use them at all
  • Use washcloths to wipe faces after meals, instead of paper towels or napkins
  • Use coupons and stock up when there's a sale
  • Go meatless a couple days a week--spaghetti, lasagna or other pasta dishes (w/o meat)
  • Order only water to drink at restaurants, and eat dessert at home
  • Use a programmable thermostat
  • Limit our eating out
  • Bare minimum cell phone plan ($10 month)
  • Try to plan car trips/errands
  • No cable TV
  • We don't rent movies--get them free from the library
  • I don't wear makeup
  • I do the kid's haircuts (but not ours)
  • Rummage sales and second hand stores, then hand clothes down! (they get a lot of use in our family!)
  • Ted takes leftovers for lunch instead of eating in the cafeteria or going out
  • Ted's pretty much given up Starbucks, instead making his coffee at home (except on road trips!)
  • Drink more water at home and less milk, juice and soda (tap water, not bottled)

(Just a side note, I guess I've been living here long enough that I've been calling it "soda" now and not "pop" like I did growing up!) Those are some things we do, what are some things your family does to cut back? I'd love it if you'd leave a quick comment!

Also, what is something you could cut back if you had to? Ted suggested going back to dial-up, but I said "high-speed has changed my life!" (I'm sorta kidding...!) We could trim our eating out budget more, buy less of the "treats" and comfort foods, one friend suggested that we could get a prepaid cell phone for cheaper than our current plan. We could reevaluate our insurance plans or mortgage rates to see if we could save some money there. We've also talked about getting a toaster oven to use for cooking meals in order to use less energy and not heat up the whole house...I still have to look into this. Those are just a few ideas. What are your ideas? Please leave a comment, as it may help someone else think of an area where they can save some money!

I did a search on "frugal" and came across this book....I wonder what suggestions it might have?


Jess said...

We're doing many of the same things you listed! The more general things that are most helpful for us in stretching our dollars is:

Plan, plan, plan! Whether that's for meals, gifts, events, etc. I find that when I do things last minute, I always ending spending more (getting caught without coupons!).

Coupon shopping. While we have obviously saved money outright by paying less for the items we by, a secondary benefit has been that because I put time and energy into bargain shopping for our "need" items, I have less energy and desire to shop for our "wants"!

Being content with what we have (i.e. being content with using only used baby stuff for our upcoming baby #3!).

Sara said...
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Jess said...

I just thought of two more practical-type things that I've started recently:

1) I have to use a rinse agent in my dishwasher or my dishes don't come out clean. I've found that vinegar works just as well as something like Cascade, and it's much cheaper!

2) I have also found that you can refill a foaming hand soap dispenser (as long as the top comes off). You just put an inch or so of regular liquid soap in the bottom, fill it up the rest of the way with water, put the top back on, and gently rock it back and forth to mix it together. Works great! I got liquid hand soap on a GREAT Walgreens deal a while back, and I think it will last me forever!

Lefeber5 said...
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Jessica said...

Great ideas! We also refill our foam dispensers. The kids have a hard time getting regular strength soap rinsed off their hands anyway, so I LOVE these! We're also Entertainment book users. Even if you only use a few coupons out of it you'll get your money's worth, we've found. And I LOVE eating out, so you know my most favorite gift is restaurant gift cards! And Becky, I loved the comment about the diapers! ;-)

Ted said...

[Lefeber5 said] We are also doing many of the same things you do, but here are a few others I thought of:

I found a great laundry detergent that can be used in front load or top loading washers at Sears. It's called Advanced Formula Ultra Plus. It goes on sale about every two weeks for $20.00. It is 31.5 lbs. and will wash 275 loads.

We love Consumer Reports magazine for checking out the best buys for our money. We always check there before we buy big items and you would be surprised at some of the smaller items they rate too.

We also try and buy a year ahead for the kids if they need a few new clothing items. At the end of the season I make a trip to the Children's Place Outlet and can usually find things for $3.00 or less. I keep the receipt and if it doesn't fit the next year, they have always accepted the return.

We alwyas buy an entertainment book for the coupons, and when my family asks for gift ideas for my husband and I, we ask for gift certificates to resturaunts in the book. That way we can go on a date and not have to pay for the meal.

We shop mostly at Aldi, Wal-Mart, and Sam's and buy the "off brand," of most things.

Now, I would reccommend a less expensive diaper that I like a lot, but I don't want to get kicked off of [your] blog... :)

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