Saturday, November 22, 2008

Everyday Frugality

I spend a lot of time thinking about my daily routine. How to make it more efficient, what to cut out, what to improve, where can I save?

Frugality was a way of life growing up, long before I knew that there was a name for it. I moved away from that lifestyle as a young adult (more later) but have come full circle back to what I know. What I know for sure is each seemingly small step snowballs into a life that can allow for some real choice.

My frugal lifestyle includes:
  • bringing a thermos of green tea to work
  • walking to work
  • walking to shop
  • buying used cars and driving them until they are done
  • eating lunch and dinner at home
  • no lights on at home during the day
  • setting the thermostat to 58 degrees Fahrenheit when out (winter)
  • using the air conditioning sparingly in the summer
  • cooking enough for leftover lunches the next day
  • eating what we have
  • buying in bulk
  • buying used
  • not buying at all most weeks
  • using cash
  • using credit cards for gasoline and travel related expenses only
  • shopping around for the best price
  • buying local and in season
  • fix things before replacing
  • dinner parties at home
  • disassociate "a job well done" from a "thing" reward
  • thinking "big picture"
  • having a stocked pantry
  • reading flyers and making notes on sale items
  • keeping a price book
  • banking online and fee free
  • using the library for books, movies and magazines
  • seeing movies out with a 2 for 1 coupon
  • looking for better ways to get things done
  • weatherstripping
  • hanging laundry to dry
  • changing over all the light bulbs
  • minimally watering the lawn and garden
  • seeing if a 1 degree decrease in heating temperature this winter can work
  • using a wood burning fireplace
  • using an insulating blanket on the hot water heater
  • shutting off the hot water heater when away
  • filling up cars with lowest price of gas
  • reduce food shopping days to 2 times per month
  • not spending money during the week
  • having a $80/month allowance to spend as I wish
  • having a $250/month food and household budget
  • splitting a "year end bonus" if we have money left after all expenses and savings
  • shutting off all utilities on our recreational properties when we leave
  • using answering machine
  • using a small local ISP
  • having just a phone line
  • using Skype for long distance
  • using Pay as You Go cell phones for emergencies only
  • replacing clothes and footwear as they wear out
  • not having cable or satellite
  • not spending more than $16 for a haircut
  • reading newspapers online
  • using less chemical cleaners
  • having a vegetable and herb garden
  • composting
  • producing a half bag of garbage a week
  • recycling
  • paying down debt aggressively
  • saving as much as possible without deprivation
  • buy quality goods
  • doing work ourselves
  • having a 24 hr grace period before buying anything "wanted"
  • not going shopping as recreation
  • volunteering
  • being a mentor
  • learning for free
  • donating to worthy charities
  • reading and listening to inspiring people who are changing the world

I credit my upbringing for instilling these values in me. My husband came from a different background so it has taken a few years for him to understand and integrate to the ideas and lifestyle.

His perennial argument is that we can afford it whereas my perennial argument is because we can afford it we have an even bigger responsibility to make a conscious choice, not the commonly seen default one.

I'm happy to report that the above list is our new "normal"... for now. I'm sure that we will continue to strive for better.


  1. Great list. I'm already doing some of these, and am adding more of them to my life. Thanks for the great reference and something to aim for.

  2. Wow! A wealth of great tips! Definitely one of the most enlightening realizations after I landed my first well-paying full-time job was that I don't have to spend every paycheck once I receive it. I think that your husband will be thankful for your wisdom down the road ;)

  3. We do a lot of these things already. I am not quite there yet with the hair though. A good cut and colour is a weakness of mine (I have an appointment tomorrow, actually) but i agree with you, less is more when you look at the big picture. I have written a blog about extreme frugality for tormorrow. husband also took some time to come around, but he's pretty well converted now :)

  4. Isn't it amazing how much we already do is helpful? Some of it being "common sense" and other things requiring a stretch.

    It is so nice we have a forum to discuss this. Growing up I used to think my family was the only one...

  5. Great tips.
    I also am already dong some of your list as i think every lttle helps i am helping my daughter through university and the rent money is an added expense each month.
    So i try to save where and when i can i am going to try and stop smoking now, it will be hard but so worthwhile.

  6. I love this list! I do most of these too!

  7. Thanks! I look forward to exploring your blog further.