Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Yesterday I was reading Christy's blog here and her post titled Feeling The Pinch here.
We are the most blessed nation on the earth. Most of us have lived a life style that is the envy of the world. It is basically that "life style" that has gotten us into the mess we now find ourselves in. I'm not going to go into all this part of the issue, many others have already done a good job of that. Here is a link from Christy's blog that addresses that issue well.

What does come to the forefront in my mind is
"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another:" Romans 13:8
"The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender" Proverbs 22:7

I'd like to tell you that we are completely debt free but that would not be truth. We owe 3 1/2 more years on our home and we owe on the 2007 Chevy HHR that we purchased on the spot last year when taking our grandkids on a brief vacation and our car broke down out of town and out of state. You can read about that here.

What I want to address is how we can live a frugal life style, being resourceful and not wasteful. To learn to stretch our dollars and what God has given us to the max. To be good stewards.

I learned frugality from my parents at an early age and it has stood the test of time. Mickey and I have never made big salaries or a lot of money but we have lived a very full life and have enjoyed many pleasures. We have never felt deprived and have always counted our blessings. Mickey has always told our kids "the reason we have what we have is because of your mother" and my four kids all think I am down right "cheap"!!!! They can call it cheap, I call it being sensible and practical.

I thought it might be interesting if we began to share with one another some of the things we do to economize. Some we have always done and I am finding myself learning to be even more resourceful these last few months as the gas prices are soaring, the food costs going up from week to week, and the utility bills rising rapidly.

Here are just a few things that come quickly to my mind that I do:

1. I do not throw out any left over food but find some way to use the left overs in another meal or another way.

2. I find a rubber spatula to be one of the most thrifty items in the kitchen and scrape out every last bit of any and everything in a jar, a can or the sides of mixing bowls. It is amazing how much food is left on the sides and wasted. .

3. I try not to buy items in plastic squeeze bottles because you cannot scrape them out as above.

4. I use my lipsticks down to the metal by using a lipstick brush once the upper part of the lipstick has been used up.

5. I almost never buy any of the fancy cleaning products that flood the market. My basic cleaning supplies are Pin*esol, Co*met cleanser, amon*ia water for cleaning windows, old newspapers for drying down the windows, M*r. Cl*ean & bleach.

6. We save all our coffee grounds & egg shells to put in the flower beds.

7. I buy ice cream in the 1 gallon and 1 pint size plastic bucket and then save and use the bucket for cleaning, or other uses that come up.

8. I use scrap sheets of paper for notes and doodling and have them by my computer and our main telephone in the kitchen.

9. I diligently watch the grocery ads of two stores. One I have to drive a ways to and the local neighborhood store that is way too high priced for normal shopping but runs great leader ads. I buy to the quantity limits on the specials they run.

10. When going to the store I have to drive about 20 miles round trip. I always go when I am having to run another errand that direction. With the cost of gas now, it doesn't pay to make a special trip.

11. I am blessed to have an extra frig and an upright freezer in the garage and I take full advantage of them with the sale items.

12. I squeeze every toothpaste tube until you can not get out another drop!! My husband is ready to throw his out and I take it and can get at least 2 more weeks of brushing out of it.

13. I have a dishwasher but I only use it when we have large family or company dinners. For just Mickey & I or even just a few extra I always wash the dishes by hand and my sweet husband usually dries them.

14. I basically shop at Al*di's (don't know if you have them in your area. They don't carry a large supply but what they do carry is very good and always a few cents cheaper on everything) the two stores mentioned above for the leader items and then Wa*lmart for the things I can't find at these and still need.

15. We save a lot of the plastic and paper grocery bags and re-use them. I use the plastic bags to line all the small household wastebaskets. I use the paper ones to wrap items I am mailing.

16. I save ribbon bows and the colored tissue paper from gift packages to re-use. I save all gift sacks I receive.

17. We keep out house thermometer set at 79 degrees during the day in the summer, lower in the winter, and turn it to 80 degrees when we leave and at night.

18. We have ceiling fans in every room of the house.

19. I never use the "hot" water setting on my washer.

20. I usually buy the large size of things.......but I do look at the price per unit on the tag to be sure it is the best buy. Some times it is not. I use the price per unit as I shop.

21. I usually buy the house brand of products and not name brands.

22. We have replaced almost all of our light bulbs with the newer energy saving ones.

23. My husband keeps a "rag box" to use in his garage and shop area.

24. We do not drink a lot of soda pop but I do save all the pop cans in a barrel. My two daughters also save theirs for us. When I get a barrel full and take them to the recycle place (which we have one right here in Coweta so I'm not spending money to drive there) and get my $5 to $7 I put the money in savings accounts I have for Oksana & Aric.

25. We have a Wa*mart Di*sco*ver card that pays us a 1% rebate on all purchases. We use that card on most all our purchases. We pay the card off in full each month (other wise this would not be economical) and then I put the rebate check in our savings account each month.

26. The above mentioned card also saves us 3 cents per gallon on gas at Mu*rphy which is where we always fill up.

27. We have a land line phone with basic service, none of the bells and whistles like call waiting, caller ID, etc.

28. Mickey had bought me a cell phone as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago, that we buy minutes for in advance, to use solely for emergency purposes if I ever needed to reach him if I broke down somewhere. Now that he has quit work and we are together almost 100% of the time we will not buy any more minutes when these run out and will stop using the cell phone.


These are some changes and additional things I have been doing recently as I am becoming more aware of the need to pinch & save any way possible. Mickey & I are retired and on fixed incomes that are not rising along with the cost of living.

A. We are limiting our driving trips into Tulsa. We are 25 miles SE of Tulsa and we thought nothing of running in there several times a week. Now we try and only go once and take care of everything we need to do in the one trip.

B. I have begun to do most of the driving when we go places. I am able to get better gas mileage than my sweet husband!!!! (our car has the automatic gas mileage reader that tells us the miles per gallon we are getting). Seems he has a heavier foot than I and he is more of a sped up, slow down driver than I. He actually enjoys being able to relax and look around and enjoy the ride more. Especially since his last jobs have been driving all over town delivering abstracts!!!

C. I have begun making a simple salad dressing out of just mayonnaise with milk and a dab of sugar and cutting down on buying as much ranch salad dressing.

D. I have begun taking my bottle of shampoo and dividing it and doubling it by diluting it with water. I find it does as good a job and cuts down on cost.

E. I have always used cloth napkins when having guests because I prefer them. We have begun to use cloth napkins everyday and cutting out using paper napkins 3 meals a day. I have very many sets of napkins so it did not necessitate buying any.

F. I just recently began shutting off my computer at night when I go to bed. Before I left it on all the time.

G. I've been thinking about having Mickey put me up a clothes line and not using the dryer but haven't done it yet.

H. I also want to buy a large barrel and start catching the rain water. I remember my grandparents doing this and the water was so soft. We've had so much rain this year it's a real shame we hadn't done that already.

I. Just before the last stamp price increase I bought a lot of extra stamps at the 41 cents instead of having to pay the current 43 cents per stamp they are now charging. If there is another price increase before I use up what I've purchases my savings will be even more per stamp.


Please leave me a comment and tell me what things you have done and are doing to economize. Are you are making any changes in your life style due to the current conditions. Let's all share and learn from one another.

"I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.. Psalms37:25

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Anonymous said...

Susan, these were great ideas!! I do a lot of them, too. I feel like I can never get too many ideas on saving money, which is good for the environment as an added bonus.

I started to list some of my ideas in this comment, but then it got loooong.... so I think instead, my next post will be frugal ideas!!

Susan said...

This is a great list, Susan! I am not as frugal as I could be in some areas. One thing I've learned lately though is how to buy high-end clothes for pennies at the local thrift store. In fact, that is what MY blog is about today (only not the money saving part).



Tina said...

A great post Susan! I do some of these things, but I need to do more. I do love to buy things at thrift stores, garage sales, and ebay if it is a good deal.

I also shop at about 4 different stores for my groceries. I only buy what's on sale.

A great book to read is The Tightwad Gazette for even more ideas.

Anonymous said...

I just read The Butler's Wife's post on making her own soap and was feeling bad for not having the desire to learn these things to save.

I feel so good now as I do many of the things you do.

Thanks for sharing and reminding me that all of these things make a difference each day.

By the way, it's better for your computer to shut it off at night anyway. Way too many people end up with computers needing repair because they burn their fans out. I turn mine off everytime I'm walking away from it.

Crystal said...

Those are great ideas and I'm glad to say that I already do many of them. We have really cut down on our driving since I left my teaching position last year - 20,000 km instead of more than 40,000! And I only go into the city (an hour away) every month or six weeks. DH is still adjusting to both of us doing things in the same trip - really it's the waiting that he needs to work on :))

I found a recipe online for making laundry soap and that's my next project. The cost of it is pennies per load. I already use dryer balls instead of fabric softener and microfibre cleaning cloths instead of products. Huge difference and much healthier too!!

I'm looking forward to more on this topic in the days ahead.

Dawn said...

I do a lot of those things as well - it frustrates me that I haven't passed them on so well!

Mountain Mama said...

When I was reading your post I realized that we certainly do a lot of the same things. Maybe it has to do with our ages being so close and our parents teaching us to be frugal.
I can't think of anything to add to your list, but as soon as I go to bed tonight I'm sure something will come to me!
Thanks for sharing this Susan. I believe it will be of help to your readers.

... said...

wow! you've been really diligent in economizing. that's great. there are some good lessons there.

Linds said...

I do a great many of these too, Susan. It is a global shake-up at the moment, and I actually think we will all be the better for it too. I keep looking for new ways to be frugal. I am also looking forward to everyone's ideas.

Anonymous said...

Susan, I am the first time on your blogu.Blog you is really good and I will read it in the future

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Great list Susan. We do a lot of this too. We shopped credit cards and found one with 1% rebate and 5% on gas and groceries. This has been really helpful, as we pay it off each month.

Yard sales are our lifesaver for kids clothing and toys. I do most of the Christmas shopping that way too!

Good thoughts! I'll have to get back tomaking my own dressings too...I like them better anyway :)

Shirley said...

Thanks for the tips - I have stumbled across some of these myself since moving to Alabama and our new career.
We have put up a clothesline and I hardly ever use the dryer right now and love it. Some days, I have to plan around the weather, but so far it hasn't been a problem.
The one thing I might add is that people watch (scrutinize) everything - receipts, credit card bills, telephone bills, etc. I have found SOOOO many mistakes in the past few months that it makes me wonder how much I have lost over the years because I didn't pay attention.

Susan said...

Shirley, Thanks so much for adding is so true. Having an accounting background this is second nature to me and I forget that it is not something all are aware of. Glad you did!

Anita said...

Dearest Susan!

I just popping by to tell you that you should NOT miss to pass by my blog tomorrow because there will be a little surprise waiting for you over there!

The Olson's: said...

Wow - that's quite the list!

For some time now I try to only run errands if I am already going out - partilly because of the gas but also it's a big hassle to load up a bunch of kids just to go to the store.

I have a clothes line and use it every year from spring (or when it stops raining long enough) to early/mid fall. I love the smell of the fresh air on the clothes and I feel like I'm helping to save $$.

We also have mostly energy efficient bulbs (& our basement suite) and I'm always concscious of turning lights, etc off when they're not being used.

I'm sure there are more - these are just off the top of my head. Thanks for sharing and inspiring others to follow suite!
~ Leanne

Maxine said...

This is such a helpful post, Susan. I use some of your ideas, but you gave so many other helpful ones. All our life when we could afford more, my husband and I always tended to live a bit below our means, which is definitely helping us now that we are on Social Security and retirement. Living a frugal life style is a blessing and I am thankful that the Lord has given us neither poverty or riches. Thanks for all your tips. I'm going to check out the post by Christy.

Unknown said...

Hi Susan,
Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong generation. I do so many of these things already! One thing I do is keep 2 containers in my freezer one for reds one for other...what I mean is that if we have leftover red items..spagetti sauce, empty catsup or bbq sauce bottle( I add a little water and rinse and dump it in the freezer container) basically anything that can go into a red based stew or soup. In the other container I add other left over items like vegies or gravies what ever they happen to be..even the top of green onions that may be left from a salad. Into these containers I will also add left over meats....then when they are full I take out what ever one I need and make my soup or stew with it. It is like a free meal, and the different items add great flavor. ..add homemade biscuits and the kids feel like royalty!
This can sound funny to do but it is a regular habit and it really works well.

Susan said...

Kim, What a fantastic tip. I never thought of this but will certainly be adding this to my frugal life style. Thanks for sharing.

Lindy said...

What a great post! I loved reading it. Because I love all things frugal. :)

I do most of the things you mentioned. One thing I am trying to do is shop for future presents when I find a bargain. Not shopping at the last minute and spending to much.

My blog is geared toward bargain shopping using coupons. I'm not trying to advertise myself at all, I just thought if you haven't tried using coupons you might want to check it out.

Kristie said...

THank you so much Susan for the wonderful tips I have been thinking about ways I can cut back with this suffering economy. Glad I stopped in today I have not been up on blogging much as my days are so busy we have been outdoors a lot!!!

MightyMom said...

most of the things I do are already on your list...but how does the stamp thing work? You still have to buy 1cent stamps or 2cent stamps to total what the current price is to mail a letter...right?

by the way, I'm back and am catching up with everyone.

Brenda said...

Hi Susan, thanks for sharing those. I do a lot of them. I enjoy perusing others' frugal sites to pick up ideas. In this day, it's so much more important to be wise with our resources the Lord bless us with.
For my cleaning business I mainly use vinegar/water and Co*met. I've read that baking soda works like Co*met. I'll have to give that one a try.
I hadn't thought of diluting our shampoo. I'll try that one as well.
I love the challenge of being frugal and not wasteful.
Have a great weekend.
Brenda :)

Jill said...

Many of your practices sound just like my mom. I am sorry to say I am a bit more wasteful, but not as much as I used to be. I would also like to add that I used to have terrible debt and horrible spending habits and am now completely debt free except for our home. My husband and I both make good salaries. My husband has a large child support payment each month that comes right off the top, plus we have full-time daycare for our youngest which is costly. We manage our money by "paying ourself first" meaning contributing to savings and IRA's. We do not eat out. We do not waste food and we do not eat a lot of quick prepare food like frozen, etc. because it is much more expensive. I plan my errands so I use the least amount of gas. We rarely drive any long distance unnecessarily. We take one family vacation each year and that's it. I sell things I don't use on Craigs List. I borrow books from the library instead of buying them. I bring my lunch to work instead of eating out. I do not buy $5 coffee every morning on my way to work! I bring a 50 cent cup from home. Great post. I've loved reading the comments.

Maxine said...

Thought I'd let you know, Susan, that I linked to this post in a post I made today about baking soda. It seemed to fit. I didn't think you'd mind.

Barbara said...

Can't say I have changed or plan to change anything b ut I would if |I needed to.
I already re-cycle and don't cook more food than I need. I also have always bought in bulk and buy one get one free where I can and never use my dryer when the weather is dry. I too have 2 freezers and 2 fridges so stuff does not go off.
I Do not put the dishwasher on every day but stack it until it is full as we do the pots by hand. We make our own bread but that is because we prefer it and I do all my own baking and cooking for the same reason. I'm sure there is lots more but that is what comes to mind.
Our petrol is equivalent to $10 gallon now.

Yellow Rose Arbor said...

I really enjoyed reading all this and I'm happy to say I do most of this as well! I had to smile at you scraping every last smidgen out of jars, bowls, etc. because I do the same thing!! Same with toothpaste too! LOL!

I'm trying to think of something to add - hmmm, I'm trying to cut out buying/eating meat! I can do it just fine, but my meat lover husband keeps buying some! I make a LOT of veggie meals! (The main reason I started this is because of my husband having cancer last year.)

Another thing I do is use my cruise control whenever there's a fairly long stretch of road, this is supposed to use less gas. I don't drive fast either!


Susan Skitt said...

Wonderful post Susan, full of great ideas :)

I'll have to try diluting my shampoo. I still have long/thick hair so that shampoo goes quick!!!

I also like the idea of mayo/milk/and sugar. What portions do you use to make Ranch dressing? I'd like to try it.

As for saving around here, when I do use my dishwasher, I put it on at night with the Energy Saver mode, (no heat drying), and the dishes are pretty dry by the morning. Also, I've been trying to consolidate my trips a bit more. It takes planning, but it's worth it!

I'd also like to sell a few things on E-Bay soon. I have some nice baby items that I'm sure others would love (ie: highchair, jogging stroller). My family and friends are past the stage of little infants and into the pre-school through college ages with kids :)

Unknown said...

Wow Susan, I'm so proud to be able to say that you and I do many things alike! I use every drop of everything, I reuse my plastic shopping bags as trash can liners, I don't mind adding water to our shampoo ( I need to do that more often now). I've also started using hair conditioner on my legs and underarms before shaving them, rather than buying the "special" stuff they sale in cans! Neat post.

Momma Roar said...

Sorry I'm giving you so many comments to read tonight - I've had so many saved in bloglines to get to read that I started putting it off because the list was growing longer LOL!!

This was such a great post and I already do many but have found many new things as well.

I'm sure there are some other ways I could cut down as well.

I really appreciated this post and all the comments as well!