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November 28, 2011


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At my house we've always re-used sandwich bags that weren't dirtied by mustard or mayo. It is good advice to conserve ont these kinds of things, especially with children. Why not take it a step further and simply use tupperwear for everything, small containers can hold snacks and this way you'll never need to buy sandwich bags at all! In terms of the other tips, I'm with refrigerator? Nonsense. Turning your car off when your still moving? How does that save money? That's just dangerous. Another easy way to save is to invest in a Brita or water purifier. Too many people are still buying cases and cases of water, why not use the tap?


I believe the whole notion of turning your car off while running falls under the concept of 'hypermiling.' The idea is that on long downhill stretches (for example), you'd shut off the car while in neutral and just coast down. You're not using gas at all at that point, which is where the notion of savings comes in.

Some of the tenets make sense and are just generally smart driving principles (e.g., don't floor it and then stomp the brakes at a stop sign), but some are just downright dangerous. So, YMMV...literally! ;)

I'm pretty much with you on this list FMF. I am very frugal. But this list looks more like someone just making stuff up. No fridge? Not so sure you would save money by either eating out all the time or throwing away spoiled food. Cold showers???.... Why not just do a warm sponge bath in the McDonalds bathroom? This list is just not real.
I do reuse plastic bags if the are still clean and dry. I also wash and reuse the plastic butter tubs and yogert containers. These are free tupperware items to me. I think you can be fairly frugal with out suffering through cold showers and living on a Ramon Noodle diet.

Turning off your car engine while driving can be outright dangerous!

I dont know if this is also true for cars in the us (maye other safety standards?) but i know that normal cars in the eu-market have that little dis-advantage of not having a lot of the driver-aid systems running without a running engine (creating the power for them), like:

Power-Steering or the Break-Boosters

I dont see how a little savings on gas would be worth not having those. Why bother going in a car at all? A skateboard down the hill will just do fine - and work pretty much the same without steering or breaks...

little Addition:

Letting the gear IN going downhill or breaking however will work and save gas. Since gravity still pushes the engine (and in turn the assistant-systems). But this only works for non-automatic (and i guess by now every car with automatic already does this on its own).

I turn the car off in the drive through but thats about it. Used to do it at lights but you can get caught slowing down traffic if you are day dreaming. Also my brother in law is a mechanic as said this will wear down your ignition and starter systems much quicker. The savings is not worth the repairs which will occur faster than normal wear and tear.

One I would do out of 11 makes this list too extreme for me.

I wonder if they were purposefully looking for stupid frugal ideals to discredit the value of blogging: blogs are a free alternative to magazines are they intentionally trying to make their competition look bad? It doesn’t take very much thought to make these stupid ideas into viable possibilities that someone could consider:
• Reuse plastic sandwich bags.
Reusing tupper wear is much easier- it is designed to be washed.
• Make your own cleaning supplies.
Clean with natural substances water, vinegar or banking soda that are less $ and less toxic for most things. Use cleaning products when these don’t get the job done.
• Ignore expiration dates on food.
Oh come on! How about- plan your meals around grocery store fliers so you maximize the discounted and NOT expired food.
• Stop drinking soda (or another beverage).
Stop the soda for health reasons- water is what your body really needs and it is virtually free unless you buy it in bottles.
• Move back home with your parents, at any age.
No way, but what about getting a roommate or two if you’re single?
• Take cold showers.
How about getting a low flow shower head instead- we got one that feels like a real shower when using ~1/2 the amount of water.

-Rick Francis

Last night's "60 minutes" had an interesting segment on the homeless, of which they said 30% of the homeless living in Central Florida are living on the streets. I don't think there is anyone reading this blog that is living, with their children, in the back of a van parked in some parking lot that they deem to be fairly safe, as long as Dad is keeping watch and ready to move. It's a pretty sad state of affairs that the most powerful and wealthiest nation in the world has come to this and that our government doesn't have the will to take the necessary steps to remedy it - in fact it was government policies on trade, waging war, taxes, entitlements, and spending far beyond their means over several administrations that caused it.

Most of the 11 Secrets are just plain stupid in my opinion. I reuse a ziploc bag once in a while, don't drink sodas because many of them are loaded with sugar & caffeine, and do use purified water to make our tea, but it comes from an under the sink reverse osmosis filtration unit that cost, a hardly frugal, $700.

Meanwhile the affluent, like myself, watch the news on TV and feel very snug in our nice warm comfortable homes while we're dining on something really nice, before retiring to our nice comfortable bedroom. Quite a dichotomy for the leader of the free world!

I avoid drinking soda; wasted money and calories. I also ignore the expiration date on food. I see that as the 'sell by date'. Usually food is still good for a few more days. Of course, I "test" the food before indulging in it. I've had milk go sour on me well before the expiration date.

I too am intriuged by a no-spend month and may actually try it. The other suggestions just seem crazy to me. It's not worth it to re-use plastic sandwich bags.

Most of these are ridiculous, though my wife and I do three of them.

1) We rarely drink soda, we'll occasionally buy a 4-pack of Reed's Ginger Beer as a treat. We've had our current 4-pack for at least a month, and have only had two so far.

2) Make your own cleaning supplies: We mostly use commercial cleaners, except for the stove. It gets wiped down with a wet cloth after we cook, but there are always stubborn cooked on spots under the burners from splashes that accumulate. We use baking soda and vinegar to remove these once a month or so. It works much better at removing cooked on food than any commercial cleaner we've tried.

3) Reuse plastic sandwich bags: It's not that much work to turn the bag inside out, give it a quick scrub with the sponge, and let it dry. We mostly do this for environmental reasons, it's pointless and wasteful to throw something out that could be used again and again, and plastic waste is a real problem .
Once the bags are too worn out to keep using them we put them in a bin of recyclable plastic bags (Ziploc bags are #4, which our town recycles) that we tote to our town's recycling center periodically.

"Get rid of your carpet. "

How is this frugal? I put in the hardwood in the first floor of my townhouse when I bought it, and it is expensive. I like hardwood because it is easier to keep clean and I like the look, but it is a lot more expensive than carpet. Carpeting is also better for the heating bills. But in general, the suggestion is getting rid of EXISTING carpets i.e. replacing the flooring. Wouldn't keeping what you have be cheaper than replacing it? I simply don't understand this item.

"Reuse plastic sandwich bags."
Having a cat, I have a need for the plastic bags of all kind. It's one extra use.

"Stop drinking soda (or another beverage). "
I don't like soda. Plus it's empty calories I don't need.

"Stop using a fridge"
This sounds about as frugal as putting in new hardwood floors. If you don't have a fridge then you either need to buy fresh food every day or eat out every day. How is this frugal?

The rest aren't worth mentioning.

Some of those items cross into 'miserly' territory if you ask me. Cold showers, living in an RV, eating spoiled food, leeching off your parents?

Some items are dubious benefit. Like Kitty pointed out hardwood floors are expensive so I don't see how removing carpet is going to save you money. I spend about $99 a year to have the carpet cleaned and the vacuum costs me about $3-5 in electricity to vacuum. I really don't see how going without a fridge is frugal either unless you happen to live next door to a grocery store and like wasting time making a grocery trip every day.

I do reuse ziplock bags in the right situation like if its storing something clean/dry. I don't reuse them if they're spoiled with food or would need cleaning.
But I'd suppose a years worth of savings from my reusing ziplock bags is wiped out by one weeks worth of my soda consumption.

Try that No Spending Month. It is truely transformative. It doesn't need to be a whole month. A 21 Day Spending Fast is all you need.

I rarely re-use sandwich baggies, because I rarely buy them to use in the first place. There is an abundance of free plastic bags or containers that made their way into our homes, so a penny pinching tip about re-using them isn't really a big moneysaving idea. On the other hand, trying not to spend for a mere three weeks unless the expense is vital for existence (Food, shelter & medicine) is a real kick in the the priorities. It is helpful to look at each expense and honestly evaluate if it is a need (Food, shelter, medicine) versus a want (Cell phone, dry-cleaning, Christmas cards). I think that a 21-day break from discretionary spending is more realistic than a full month. (Google Michele Singletary "The Power to Prosper.") Regardless of how good you are at managing your resources, it is good practice, because you never know what is going to happen tomorrow.

I was living comfortably within my means when my employer went bankrupt. My income, health insurance and pension literally evaporated overnight in the midst of huge market turmoil. The COBRA bill exceeded our mortgage. (What is a house really 'worth' these days anyway? And how absurd is it that it costs more each month to have insurance (that thankfully we never used) in case we might need a doctor than it did to keep a roof over our heads?)

Fortunately, we've always been frugal and amassed quite a bit of savings so 13 months of zero income didn't leave us homeless. My point in recommending the spending fast is that it is better to know in advance what you can and can't do without. To know what is and isn't essential and to live and spend with that in mind BEFORE your life depends on it. Giving up soda will save me less than $3.00 per year, so I don't even think about it. Giving up my NYTIMES subscription will save a whole lot more, so I learned how to score a free copy, when it literally meant the difference between having electricity or not.

Ripping out carpet wouldn't save anything. That's just silly.

Moving back to live with your parents may be cheaper for you but all that does is transfer living expenses from you to them. That is mooching.

No spend month is another money transfer, except you prepare for not spending the month before by buying twice as much. False economy.

Get rid of carpet, fridge, water heater and house - and live in your car as it coasts around town. No more buffet line at your local Wal-Mart Super Center, those dumpsters are locked up tight.

They forgot to mention to only flush the toilet once per week.

Habits are what make us successful or not, they are the physical or mental manifestation of our subconscious programing. This programming has a huge bearing on our health, wealth and relationships. It is created through repetition. Repeating a behavior over and over until it becomes imprinted on our subconscious mind. These imprints, our habits, can be either beneficial to our development or detrimental.

Holy crap--that is not "frugal", that's just damn cheap!

"Move in with your parents" -- really?!

"Cold showers"? Why not go the distance and get a blunt, scythe-like instruments and scrape off the sweat and grime like the Romans did?

I hope this list was just satire. If not, the author must be really lonely--in his parents' basement.

My Take on a few of these things:

Reuse plastic sandwich bags -

Plausible, especially if it's just dried goods you put inside, i'm 50/50 on if I put something very liquid inside, like Mayo.

Make your own cleaning supplies. - I've actually made a couple home made cleaners such as the glass cleaners & all-purpose cleaners & they do the job, save alot of money too.

Stop drinking soda (or another beverage)-

This is a good one, soda on it's own is expensive, but for me personally I feel like eating more junk food with soda, probably the sugar.

Move back home with your parents, at any age - If you don't have a family, or if you do have a family & you get along with your parents, why not? Of course you would be paying your share of the rent, but at least that rent payment is going back into your family.

I'm sick of this american notion that you're a loser if you live with your parents. Why move out of the house into your own apartment if you're only going to be there half the time because of work, not to mention lonliness & you'll likely be paying double, pretty stupid if you ask me.

Many cultures support families living together,

Take cold showers:

This one is easy and it makes sense. Why spend all that time in a warm shower only to be freezing cold when you come out. If you take a cold shower, not only will it be quick, you're saving water & it'll be warm when you go out. If you think this is suffering, i'm speechless.

I think skipping the soda is probably the best suggestion. It not only saves money on the soda itself, but on health care costs related to all the health care costs soda consumption leads to (obesity, diabetes, etc). We desperately need to get control over health care costs in the USA, and we can't afford to wait around for the government or some mythical "other guy" to fix it for us.

I almost hate to admit this, but I tried the "turn off the car while coasting" trick for a few days after I first heard of hypermiling. I was doing it for ecological rather than frugal reasons, so I don't know if or how much it saved. I drive a manual transmission, so it was fairly easy to do, but quite frankly I scared myself a couple of times. I also thought about what my dad would think about me doing that. Despite being 30 years old at the time, I know he still sees me as a 16 year old new driver, and I was horrified at the idea of any 16 year old driving that way. So I didn't take the experiment any farther than that.

I've never turned off my car while coasting, but when I had a manual transmission car, I would often put it in neutral and/or put in the clutch. I estimate that it increased my mileage from ~26 MPG (combined) to ~30 MPG (combined). The difference was negligible if highway miles got to be the majority.

I read a lot of frugal blogs, but I haven't seen most of these tips on them. Most frugal people live quite graciously and these tips are insulting. I think they are someone's idea of frugal tips--someone who hasn't actually read any.

"Move back home with your parents, at any age. "
Done!! But man, it's humiliating.

Also: "Ignoring expiration dates on food?!"
Because yeah, ending up in the hospital is so much cheaper than throwing away that 50 cent cup of Yogurt. It's much cheaper to treat botulism than buy another yogurt that isn't expired! *eyeroll*

Oh, and I tried the RV thing, thinking it would be cheaper than renting an apartment. It's NOT. While there are obvious things like space rent for your RV, there are ALSO a ton of little things that most people don't think about until you end up buying the darn thing. Like chemicals for the toilet. They're expensive and you NEED them, if you don't want a huge poo pile in your black water tank. RVs are prone to leaking in the rain. So you have to buy special tape and calking to fix problem spots. More money down the drain. You need to replace the black water hose at least once a year, cause they're just plastic and they crack in the sun. You need to buy wheel covers to protect your wheels while you're parked or else your wheels will crack and blow out, and throw the RV off balance (especially if your RV is never moved, like mine was...I didn't have any way to tow it. It was my house). You need to buy Vent covers. You need to replace the anode rod in the hot water heater yearly. You need to replace the water filters in the purifier every month or so, if you live in a camp with sulfur water (which I did). You need to buy insecticide because tons of insects and spiders get into the RV...more than in a normal house/apartment.

I spent 2 years in the RV before I realized that I wasn't saving any money at all. It cost just as much as a regular apartment would have, once you add in all those extra costs. So, I ended up selling it at a slight loss, and moving back in with my parents.

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