Spend a little to save a lot
photo by webg33k
Many frugal folks buy items that pay for themselves over time. For me, this includes compact fluorescent bulbs, a cooler, a cappuccino machine, a battery charger, low-flow shower heads, a rechargeable shaver, a thermos, a TiVo, quality cookware, carpet cleaner and a water cooler, to name a few.
Some of my choices have even lower-cost solutions, such as drinking tap water instead of buying a water cooler, or taking shorter showers, but it’s what works for my family. Today, readers share items that they consider investment purchases.
FOODSAVER: 1. A FoodSaver. It allows me to buy in bulk and not have to worry about freezer-burnt food. 2. My Kirby vacuum. I was buying $100 vacuums that lasted only a year and needed to be replaced. 3. Reusable sandwich containers for lunches. Saves me a lot in sandwich bags and no smashed sandwiches. — Debra, Nebraska
FRONT-LOADER: My front-loading washing machine. It was costly, but it uses much less water and detergent and is gentler on clothing. — Dee, New York
REUSABLE BOTTLE: My reusable water bottle. I cringe at the thought of ever being out and having to buy water. This trusty bottle sits with me through every class, car trip, bus ride, plane trip, gym time, etc. — A.C., e-mail
TOOL TIME: Tools, because we are handy and have saved tons of money by fixing things ourselves. Our freezer, because it saves us a fortune when we buy food on sale and freeze it. Our woodstove, because it heats the house for cheap, and we can cook on it if the electricity goes out. In the wintertime, I keep a tea kettle on it for us to have cocoa or tea. — Zakity, Oregon
BABY FOOD: My food processor hasn’t paid us back yet, but it will by the end of this year. We’re using it to make baby food. Depending on how much the raw ingredients cost, I can save anywhere from 5 cents to 45 cents per jar. Our Brita pitcher because we used to drink a lot of soda. Now, we drink water instead. We pay around $1.50 per month in replacement filters, and you can filter a lot of water for that amount. It’s much cheaper than soda. Our wholesale club membership and AAA membership have saved us a bundle, too. — Sara, Massachusetts
SEW-SEW: My sewing machine. It’s 23 years old and has saved me a bundle in soft furnishings in every home I’ve lived in. I sew all my curtains, cushions and covers for furniture. I have sewn clothes for myself and my family. I quilt using recycled fabric with it. I also recycle denim jeans with it. — Jean, e-mail
STAY DRY: My clothes-drying rack. It greatly reduced my electric clothes-dryer usage, and I figure within two months, it has paid for itself. — C., Maine
LET THERE BE LIGHT: My solar outdoor lights help light up my walkway without using electricity. — Denise, Illinois
POSTAGE: My postal scale. I have had it about 10 years. It is excellent quality and has saved me from putting too much postage on things. By having the exact amount of postage every time, I am sure that I have already saved the price of the scale and then some over the past 10 years. — A., e-mail
LINENS: My cloth napkins and kitchen towels (that are now used for cleaning) have saved us a lot of money. I haven’t bought any paper towels in months, and I don’t think I’ll ever buy them again. Cloth diapers saved us money, and I’ve resold them and have made most of my money back from them. DivaCup. I don’t even wanna think how much money I’ve saved not buying tampons. These are all environmental choices but are frugal as well. — Sara, Virginia
ONLINE: My Internet service. I read news, get free samples, pay my bills online and am entertained for hours. I also found an old hand-crank ice chopper. I don’t need to buy fountain sodas for the crushed ice anymore. My outdoor clothesline saves me money, too. — D.J., Missouri