11 Frugal Things I Do For Which My Friends May or May Not Think I’m Crazy

30 Jul

Remember, I haven’t been frugal all my life.  There have been many things bought that I just had to have.  Over the years, I’ve learned to curb back, with the occasional splurge.  Now, the things I do on this list are just a way of life for me.

1.  I don’t buy lottery tickets.  Even when the Mega Millions jackpot hit $656 million, I refused.  For those who buy only $2 worth of tickets every week, that’s still $104 per year.  Take your pick: for me, that’s a month of gasoline, groceries, or money in my savings account.  When I told this to one of my friends, she said, “You know someone is frugal when they don’t buy special occasion lottery tickets.”  I’ll take that as a compliment.

2.  I cut off the ends of a tube of hand lotion so I can get the last bits out of the other end when it’s too difficult to squeeze.  This way, I get use out of the tube for 3 days if it’s small, up to a week if it’s larger.

3.  I still do my laundry at my mom’s, thus saving lots of laundromat quarters.  I admit it, and I use the Asian card to get away with this.  An Asian child never really moves out of their parent’s house.  But believe me, I do the laundry myself!  The added bonus is that I get to visit my retired mother once a week and usually help her with other household things.

4.  I opened a separate Chase Freedom checking account so I could get their $200 bonus.  I already have a checking account at my credit union with which I am perfectly happy, but I couldn’t pass this up.  Chase had a limited-time offer for this back in April, so now it’s back down to $100.  So what if I have to declare it as interest income on my taxes?  That’s free money.  Some may consider this to fall into the “Time is money” scenario, but I pretty much got $200 for the 20 minutes it took me to set up an account and direct deposit ($500 direct deposit minimum for no service charges).

5.  I pay $14 per month for broadcast cable.  It’s broadcast cable, not basic.  My provider is Time Warner, which means I get channels 1-33.  This cuts me off at CSPAN; I don’t get Bravo, CNN, A&E or Food Network.  But with my broadcast cable service comes free OnDemand, which includes all the basic channels.  This is how I legally watch Mad Men, Justified, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead for FREE, as long as I watch them within the window of time they’re available (anywhere from 2 weeks to months).  They will normally post 24 hours after airing for AMC shows, and 1 week after for F/X.  I have a full enough schedule that I don’t need to watch more TV than I’m already doing.

6.  Instead of throwing away that last bit of a bar of soap, I toss it in the handsoap dispenser on my bathroom sink.  It dissolves eventually.  No one ever looks in there, except to refill the thing. And that person that refills would be me anyway.

7.  I get my hair cut twice per year.  It’s a standing joke with my hairstylist, whom I adore.  But considering I’ve referred about half a dozen people to him who are now also his regular customers, I don’t feel too badly. Also, he only costs $30 and I give him a $10 tip.  For the length of my hair and this city, $40 for a women’s haircut and style is unheard of unless you go to Supercuts.

8.  I don’t have a smart phone.  I currently use the Everything Messaging Plan on Sprint, which is $49.99 per month, less 22% because of my employer group discount plan.  Now that Sprint is carrying the iPhone, I may eventually cave and get their $79.99 Everything Data Plan, but for now I’m perfectly satisfied just using my phone for texting and actual phone calls.

9.  I will eat food somewhat past its expiration date.  Obviously I can use my sense of smell to judge as well.  As long as the yolk of an egg is intact when cracked, I’ll eat it.  If there is no visible mold on an expired block of cheese, I’ll eat it, or cut out the moldy part if it’s a hard block.  I’ll keep stuff indefinitely in the freezer.  If I cook something and it tastes freezer burned, I’ll throw it out, but I haven’t poisoned myself yet.

10.  I refuse to pay for parking.  Los Angeles is the capital of valet parking.  I’d rather walk 2 blocks (and get some exercise!) than essentially throw away money.  There have been quite a few times when my friends say they don’t want to walk because they’re wearing heels.  To that, I say, if you know you’re going to be walking, wear the appropriate footwear.  (Yes, I do own and wear heels if the situation fits.)  I also say that if I ever come into a large sum of money to invest, I’m buying parking lots in this town.

11.  I drive a 1995 Honda Accord.  It has 205,000 miles on it and my goal is to drive it until 2015.  As long as the thing moves without pushing it, I’m going to drive it.  It gets an oil change every 3,000 miles, a new air filter quarterly (this is key to decent gas mileage in Los Angeles), and keep the tires properly inflated, as well as all requisite tune-ups.  It also helps that I only drive about 8,000 miles a year.  Of course, if I ever need roadside assistance, I’m a member of the Auto Club of Southern California (AAA), which will give me a free 7-mile tow, a jump or drive a new battery out to me.

What are the frugal things that you do to keep dollars in your pocket or stretch them further?

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8 Responses to “11 Frugal Things I Do For Which My Friends May or May Not Think I’m Crazy”

  1. Modest Money August 12, 2012 at 9:27 AM #

    That’s a good idea to put the leftover bit of bar soap into a soap dispenser. Unfortunately I can’t use that tip because I’m too frugal to buy a soap dispenser. I do some of the other stuff on this list already such as never buying lottery tickets, eating expired food and not owning a smart phone. The one I get the most grief from my friends has got to be the cell phone though. My ex also got annoyed I was too frugal to replace furniture that had minor damage.

    • Frugal Flip August 14, 2012 at 4:37 PM #

      I think I bought my soap dispenser for $3 about 8 years ago. Normal hand pump, not motorized or anything. I’d say it’s amortized to a decent cost now!

      I’m completely fine with still not having the smart phone, because I don’t have to look anything up when I’m out with my friends. ;)

      How do you define “minor damage”? Was it missing legs or something?

  2. Watson August 25, 2012 at 1:55 PM #

    I cut my own hair. And no, nobody knows that it’s any different (kept a simple straight bob so it’s not hard to do). I had been cutting my own bangs for decades before I made the plunge–one $14 pair of good sharp haircutting scissors lasts many years, savings hundreds of dollars. You don’t need actual “professional” because those are meant to stand up to hundreds or thousands of uses, and I use mine four or five times a year. There’s also a surprising sense of accomplishment from giving myself a good haircut. I feel good all week.

    And I drive a 1997 Honda Accord, but don’t drive much because I can walk to work and many other places (but still drive to the grocery store).

    • Frugal Flip August 26, 2012 at 2:17 PM #

      I don’t have the guts to cut my own hair. It’s wavy, I wear it in long layers and I know I’d mess it up. That’s so great that you can DIY!

      And yes, I’m all for walking and public transportation, but there are always occasions where you need a car for carting stuff around.

  3. Mitch Jacobson (@mitchisagirl) August 30, 2012 at 1:01 PM #

    Great tips! I love #2, #9, and #10.
    There are a few things I refuse to do that save me quite a bit …

    1. I refuse to have the (very large, unsightly) dent in my Honda Civic’s bumper repaired. If it could be popped out, I’d pop it out. By which I mean I’d have a strong, handsome man pop it out. Alas, it cannot be popped out and so the (very large, unsightly) dent in my bumper remains … un-popped.

    2. I refuse to upgrade my first generation HDTV tube – that’s right, tube – television.

    3. I refuse to buy underwear at Victoria’s Secret.

    4. I refuse to buy outerwear at [insert any number of full-priced retail clothing outlets here]. Side note: clothing swaps!

    5. I refuse to “go Dutch” on a first date. OK, that’s not entirely true. However, if a strong, handsome man wants to split the bill on our first date there is no second date. OK, that’s not entirely true either.

    6. I refuse to pay full price for Internet service at home: I share a wireless signal with my neighbors. We invested in a great router and great service and split the bill!

    7. I refuse to buy items such as shaving gel, cotton balls, toilet bowl cleaner and coloring books from anywhere but a dollar store. (BTW, they carry hangers, instant coffee and wine glasses too.)

    These few things have saved me thousands of dollars. Especially, #5. :)

    • Frugal Flip August 30, 2012 at 2:27 PM #

      Your #6 is a great idea! And dollar stores are awesome.

      I’ll see your HDTV tube and raise it a STANDARD def tube television (going on 16 years). Actually, the smaller 2nd TV in my bedroom is a Sony Trinitron CRT (given to me for free by a friend) doesn’t even have a cable box because I won’t rent two, only one for my living room. It has a DTV converter box and rabbit ears.

  4. Jennifer November 28, 2012 at 6:29 PM #

    I make my own laundry detergent (and other various cleaning supplies). It’s as simple as: Borax, washing soda and shaved soap.

    No fabric softener or sheets. White vinegar is the best softener. A ball of tin foil in the dryer keeps the static away, and if you want a fresh scent: cut a piece of cloth, put a few drops of essential oil on it and toss it in. Not only is it frugal, it’s chemical free.

    As for cleaning supplies, there’s nothing baking soda, white vinegar, borax, castile soap (you can also use castile soap as a shampoo and apple cider vinegar as a conditioner) and essential oils can’t tackle.

    More wonderful ideas here: http://www.diynatural.com/

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