Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cheap like it's my job.

Happy New Year!  We survived one more!  High five.

I added a tab with my New Years resolutions on it if you're interested.  They aren't a great read or anything, I just felt that I'd be more likely to follow through if I made them public.  Thanks for indulging.

Also, Suddora sent me a running headband a couple weeks back and I'm giving them a shout out to say thanks.  You can get 10% off using "fasterbunny" in the code field if you see anything you like.   Here's what I got.   It's reflective and pink and I'm liking it so far!

Main Post 

In honor of all this fiscal cliff stuff and going back home for the holidays I decided I'd write a post about stuff being cheap.   Or "frugal" if you want to sound fancy. 

Also, that Thrift Shop song is really popular now so it's really hip, right?

I grew up in a family that tried to save as much money as possible, often to the point of absurdity.  Most of the time, I hated it and rolled my eyes every time my mom went up to customer service to point out that we were overcharged by 30 cents. But...she found everything!   

In order to get some more ideas on absolute cheapness, I enlisted the help of my friend Anisa who somehow seems to get everything free or discounted.   She is the master.   Numbers 12-14 on this list are directly from her. 

I don't know if I'd actually recommend doing all of these things, but I thought it would be funny to write about them.  Anyone grow up doing any of this stuff or do it now?  

1) Trash Bags:  You know those bags that people give you your groceries in?  Those are kitchen trash bags.  Yeah sure, they are a little smaller but that just means you'll be a little more on top of taking out the trash.  Paper bags are the best ones.

2) Speaking of Trash:  (I've actually never done this one):  You know that 10 dollar a month fee for trash pickup?  Yeah, you don't have to pay that.  Get your lazy butt in gear, get your trash bags together and drive them over to the local landfill.

3)  Shampoo: You're all out?  Are you sure?  Put some water in the bottle and use a few more times. There's always a bunch of shampoo that doesn't come out at the bottom! 

4) Milk:  You're buying the stuff in the jugs?  Aw hell no.  Powdered milk is nutritionally the same and lots cheaper.  Sure, it tastes a little funny but that's ok.  Update:  Apparently the prices of powdered milk have gone up since 1989!  It's not all that much cheaper than regular milk anymore!  Sad.  


5)  The Heat:  If you have that above 60, put on another sweater and turn it down.  Gloves maybe too.  Also, no one really needs the heat on at night unless your pipes are going to freeze.  Just put the covers over your head and go to sleep.

6)   Paper Towels:  If you just dried your hands off with it, don't throw it away.   It's still good! 

7)  Price Adjustments:  Many stores offer price adjustments but I'm not here to tell you about that.  I'm here to tell you about how to adjust the price if you're not in that time window anymore.  You need two people: One to return the item, and one to hang out by the area where they put the returns, grab it up, and buy again.  Done.   Potentially dishonest.  Depends on where your retail morals lie.

8)  Thrift Store:  Even thrift stores have 20% off days and stuff like that.  Go then. Just don't buy underwear from the thrift shore.  I don't care how cheap you are, that's nasty.

9)  You Can Bargain on Anything:  I once bargained with the tire center at Wal-Mart and got a discount.  This was right out of business school when I was flat broke and really needed a tire.  Desperate times, desperate measures.

10)  Check Receipt:  Guaranteed your cashier made mistakes on your checkout sometime recently.  Read the receipt before you leave.  Then find customer service when it's wrong.   Although they probably already know you if you've been doing this a while.

You might even get the item for free!

 11)  That Penny on the ground?  Yeah, pick that up.  It's still money.   A dime?  Even better.

12)  Coffee:  "Post any holiday shopping is a good time to get stuff. Patience. Find things you don't immediately think about. Everyone knows wrapping paper goes like 75% off (btw hallmark stores have the best quality) but Starbucks holiday blend coffee goes 50% off.  Stock up."

SarahOual has also suggested double brewing coffee.  Is double the coffee better if it tastes worse?  Jury still out. 

13)  Walgreens: "Best store ever: Walgreens. They have free items each week. I try and get them every week whether I need them or not. If I don't need them I can donate them to a shelter. I have not paid for toothpaste in years."

14) Travel: "We have also been using some cheaper methods of travel. Look up the mega bus. $3 from San Antonio to Houston. I have no idea how they make money.  I have used Greyhound to get to austin. Buses and trains are often overlooked."

What things have you or your family have done to save money?  Any great stories? No shame.  


  1. 60F for the heat!??!?!?! We keep ours at 70 and I still need a long sleeve shirt and a fleece. Are you an Eskimo?

  2. Love this!! Here's one from my childhood: Lifeguards make cheap babysitters. My mom would buy me a summer pool pass and drop me off for a few hours every day. I loved it; mom loved it. Win-win. Kristen

  3. Haha this is awesome. I grew up in probably the cheapest family ever. (I was so embarrassed when my mom made us bring home ziplock baggies so we could wash & reuse them for our sandwiches.) I like to indulge a little more now, but I think I'm still hella cheap. :)

  4. Love this list as my Mom is great at being frugal and I've learned from her. I actually use reusable bags for my shopping but go without them 1 grocery trip a month to get bags for my kitchen and bathroom trashes haha I wash and reuse plastic baggies, especially if they are the kind with the "zippers!" I save any jars from food and use them for storage. I also reuse tin foil and plastic wrap as long as it's clean - my husband haaates this. I also am great at buying things on sale and using a coupon so I pay as little as possible for it. Luckily I have a basement with shelving so I can buy sale items in bulk! I have enough pasta for a year and toothpaste until the end of time. :)

  5. We live in a condo, so we get to crank our heat and don't (directly) pay for it, but I'm all about Walgreens last week -- got all my cards and bows for next year at 50-75% off (had enough leftover paper).

  6. I like your resolutions! Mine were mostly based around running/fitness, but I tried to be more balanced and add some personal ones too. One of my non-written resolutions is to not spend so much time on blogging and social network sites. I am allowing myself only a certain # of hours each week. I find that the best time for me to use my personal time on the computer is first thing in the morning. If I go on at night I could be on forever.

  7. I wash and reuse most plastic ziplock bags. Unless it is super oily or used for raw meat, it gets used again. I do most of those things you already mentioned.

  8. Oh yeah this post totally made my day. I am like the cheapest person ever and I thrive on a good deal. Kohls right now has 80-90% off of there clearence with an additional 25% on all clearence items + 20% discount for using code "newyear". Seriously I felt like me and my Mom completely robbed Kohls on Sunday.

  9. Get rid of cable and Netflix and find a VCR and old VHS tapes for free (or quite nearly) on CraigsList. Saves money on going to the movies, too.

  10. Growing up, my parents always made us bring drinks into Taco Bell. It was always generic and rather embarrassing. We also could only order off the 59-cent (at the time) menu.

  11. I have never paid for cable. I pretty much only like/watch shows that are on the networks (NBC, ABC, etc.), so I bought one of those digital converter boxes and digital antennas. Paid about $50 total one time, and boom, no cable bill ever.

  12. My list from way back when:

  13. Extra bread in the bread basket at a restaurant after the meal? I'll take that off your hands... - my delightfully frugal father

  14. We do turn the heat down at night. But we sleep better that way. And we use the grocery store bags for cat litter. Kind of like trash.

    The Kidless Kronicles

  15. I have an aunt who used to take the little slivers of bar soap that are left when you're almost through a bar and wad them together to make a new bar of soap. She'd also always take extra ketchup and mustard packages from fast food places so she didn't have to buy these things at the store. We all thought she was nuts! But I wish I had been raised more frugally. It pays off later.

  16. We never use the heat. People are always teasing us/freezing at our place but we just pile on clothes. I also hit up the dollar store for paper towels and napkins.

  17. My mom did much of the above mentioned tactics all while I was growing up. Now I can't NOT reuse ziplock baggies or grab all the free little soaps, shampoos, hand creams and etc at hotel stays.

  18. My parents were pretty frugal too with four kids and all. A lot of my clothes was homemade or secondhand (especially when were toddlers, my mom liked going to yard sales in the nicer part of town). My mom went to the swap meet for produce (kinda feels like a farmer's market, but who knows if the food has pesticides. We always packed burritos for road trips and packed sandwiches in a cooler to eat if we went to an amusement park. We had a fireplace at home and a lot of firewood. That would take the place of using the heater. I actually don't like it too warm when I sleep because I feel more comfortable with a few blankets. We used the add water trick to dish washing soap too (always hand washed, we didn't have a dishwasher, we do now but never use it). I've forgotten how concentrated that stuff is since the one at my parents' is so watery.

    I always reuse paper towels. It bugs me to see one thrown away that looks almost new.

    We don't pay for cable but watch a lot of cable shows through other means...

    Yogurt containers and the like are reused as storage for other foods (at least a few times, don't want too much BPA).

    A lot of our parties -- weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties -- were always DIY. My brother even wanted to cater my wedding (expected 300 at the time) and my sister refused to allow me to order cake/cupcakes from a commercial bakery.

  19. I have DEFINITELY done number 7. Just did it, actually. I got a really nice jacket for Christmas that was on mega-sale the day after, so I just returned it and then re-bought it (yes, it was INCREDIBLY awkward doing this). I figure that if they're dumb enough to put it on sale so soon, I deserve to take advantage of it.

  20. Driving your trash to the landfill is hardcore thrifty.

    I have heard some crazy ones like reusable maxipads.