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Confidential frugality

By on April 15, 2010
dumpster

 

Being frugal doesn’t have to be anyone else’s business. Some frugal people don’t have like-minded friends and family, so they keep their frugality to themselves. But even if you enjoy talking about your money-saving ways with others, there’s probably at least one thing that you don’t care to share. Maybe you use hankies, save food from your plates for leftovers or pick up cans to recycle when out for a walk.

Here are a few more frugal habits that are commonly kept under wraps.

DUMPSTER DIVING: Some people don’t want to admit that they rummage through Dumpsters or shop the curbside mall (even checking neighborhood recycle bins for coupon inserts) for frugal treasures to rescue. It’s amazing the number of items that get tossed out because they’re considered imperfect. Check your local area ordinances. Most areas consider trash public domain. Be sure to check that it is not a breach of privacy in your area, too. Do not dive in fenced-area Dumpsters or where any do not trespass signs are posted.

REGIFTING: It takes a well-organized person to pull it off, but many frugal people regift. It was given to you as a gift. That permits you to do with it as you wish. The idea of regifting isn’t merely to unload your unwanted items. Take time and consider who might appreciate your unwanted gift. Keep notes on who gave you which gift to avoid an embarrassing situation. Look over each gift and make sure there aren’t any price tags, rips in packaging, personalized notes or writing, or anything that reflects that the gift is outdated or used.

REUSE TOWELS: A lot of people use their bath towels more than once before washing them. Oftentimes, they’ll use the same towel for the entire week. Some families share a towel, too.

NO TELEVISION: Some people start by simply challenging themselves not to watch television during the summer months and then discover they don’t miss it at all, so they keep it disconnected long-term. Another reader, Sarah from Massachusetts, shares: “We don’t have a TV set. And while I generally don’t volunteer it, I will if someone tells me that I HAVE to watch something that’s on tonight. But if someone asks me if I watched something that was on last night, I’ll usually just say, ‘No, I didn’t.’”

CUTTING OPEN CONTAINERS: It might be slitting open a toothpaste tube so you can scoop out a few more portions from the last little bit near the cap or cutting up a lotion bottle to get product that sticks to the sides.

DON’T BUY TRASH BAGS: Many people reuse plastic grocery bags and cut down on the amount of trash bags they buy. Simply hang a bag from a doorknob or use to line small waste baskets.

DAY OLD BREAD: Maybe you buy day-old bread from sub shops or the grocery store. It’s perfectly good but not something you’d broadcast to the world. Another reader, Karen from Kansas, shares: “Heating day-old bread to a temperature of 120 F will re-gelatinize the starches, which temporarily reverses the staling process. For one slice of bread, spritz water on it with a fine mist spritzer and warm the slices in a toaster or toaster oven for a moment or two. For an entire loaf, wrap it in foil and bake it for 10 to 20 minutes at 300 F 350 F. Re-gelatinization is only good one time. Don’t try this two or three times on the same loaf of bread.” It can also be used for homemade croutons, breadcrumbs or stuffing.

WATER CONSERVATION: Maybe you’re watchful of your water usage and don’t flush the toilet after every use or you catch water from the faucet or shower head while waiting for it to heat up to use it to water plants. It’s not for everyone, but what you do within your own four walls is your business.

 

photo by Taylor Flannagan

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About Sara Noel

Sara Noel owns Castalia Coffee Roasting Company, Follow me on Twitter

12 Comments

  1. Linda

    4/15/2010 at 9:40 am

    Since I do (or have done) most of the things you listed here, I must be quite frugal. I haven’t done dumpster diving, except for the time a neighbor put out some new foam pieces that I could use for a project. But I can’t even imagine using a towel only once – we hang them on the towel rack and they are good as new for the next day. We always flush the powder room facility after every use, but our private bathroom every other use. Our water and sewer rates are quite expensive, and we try to keep them at a reasonable amount any way we can.

    I did not think any of these suggestions were outlandish, probably because I was raised in a large family of 10 children with parents who were in their teens during the great depression. So they really knew how to live on nothing!

  2. deb(bie debbie doo)

    4/15/2010 at 11:39 am

    It’s unusual to use a bath towel more than once? Really?!? That is shocking to me in this day of eco-awareness!

    Considering that I’m drying off a clean body I can not imagine why folks would not use a bath towel more than once – it would seem so wasteful to me!
    .-= deb(bie debbie doo)´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday … Vintage Beauty Seen On The Freeway Yesterday Morning =-.

  3. Sara Noel

    4/15/2010 at 12:00 pm

    I don’t think these things are unusual. I think they’re things many people do but tend to not tell other people that they do them.

  4. Penniless Parenting

    4/15/2010 at 4:15 pm

    I’m pretty open about my frugal lifestyle. Pretty much the only frugal thing I don’t blog about is my “If its yellow, let it mellow, if its brown flush it down” aspect of relating to the toilet. I even blogged about family cloth! And yes, people from my real life read my blog, so whatever I say there is public knowledge among my acquaintances.

  5. Donna

    4/15/2010 at 6:32 pm

    I have been frugal all my life starting with sewing my childrens clothes, baking from scratch, all our bread, cookies, deserts, and made meals , (not out of a box either) Plus I make my own spot remover, with equal parts of clear ammonia, and dawn dish soap, and water, to pre spot our laundry.. I also use grocery bags as trash can liners, and our grandkids get lots of nice clothes from the trifty clothes store, with out complaints.. because they have been taught that one doesent need designer clothes.. I no longer use paper towels, since we have old towels, and cotten rags to use for cleaning, and can be washed and reused. When our dressing bottles or catsup, shampoo, and any other condiment is almost used up, we turn the bottle upside down to get the last drops out, We need to teach our children these things, it really isnt very hard, but out of necessity we did this..

  6. I was actually surprised why some of the things get thrown. I found some books that are pretty good just beside dumpsters. Oh, when dumpster diving, make sure that the things that you get are really discarded by the owners.

  7. tracy

    4/18/2010 at 1:59 pm

    I do all of those things and then some. I agree with penniless when it comes to personal cloths. Living alone is a big challenge when it comes to not being waisteful with food. I have learned to do it and I am very happy without my t.v. and other things that some people cant live without. Penniless, I love your blog! I really wish I knew how to do one. I have alot to share!

  8. Mea

    4/19/2010 at 1:20 pm

    On the other side, I usually leave things out on the curb when I no longer want them or need them. That way I know they won’t end up in the landfill and someone else can find a use for them. We get a lot of “stuff” for Xmas and a lot of times there are things I can’t or don’t use. I put them out there so it becomes someone else’s treasure.

  9. Julie

    4/20/2010 at 11:38 am

    I have an easy way to get my dumpster diving in, without really doing it! My dh works for a disposal company, and they are always getting dumpsters full from people cleaning out their houses. I haven’t bought laundry soap in a year, I never have to buy new candles, etc. He brings things home all the time!

  10. Monroe on a Budget

    4/21/2010 at 7:25 am

    Reusing the plastic shopping bags as trash bags? That’s harmless! : ) I’m surprised more people don’t do it, because they fit very neatly into most of the office-size and bathroom-size trash bags.

    On the dumpster diving, we threw out two items this week that we thought scrappers would take before the trash haulers arrived. That’s exactly what happened. We set out a broken vacuum cleaner and a broken safe box.
    .-= Monroe on a Budget´s last blog ..The stuff you need to cook at home =-.

  11. Daniel

    4/27/2010 at 7:45 am

    Since I do (or have done) most of the things you listed here, I must be quite frugal. I haven’t done dumpster diving, except for the time a neighbor put out some new foam pieces that I could use for a project. But I can’t even imagine using a towel only once – we hang them on the towel rack and they are good as new for the next day. We always flush the powder room facility after every use, but our private bathroom every other use. Our water and sewer rates are quite expensive, and we try to keep them at a reasonable amount any way we can.

    I did not think any of these suggestions were outlandish, probably because I was raised in a large family of 10 children with parents who were in their teens during the great depression. So they really knew how to live on nothing!

  12. Shelly Covell

    5/22/2010 at 8:02 pm

    I prefer to use a hand towel to wet, soap and scrub my back, the dollar store brands are rough, and resonably inexpensive. wonderful, saves the back and the wallet.

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