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20 signs of frugal fun

By on March 1, 2008

photo by emdot
cat under blanket
Some folks just don’t get it. Frugality can be fun! Even if you’re not frugal, you probably know someone who is. Read on for a few little frugal insights submitted by readers. We’re kindred spirits! Let me know if any of these signs remind you of anyone you know.
You know you’re frugal when:

1. You refuse to buy something because you know you can make it yourself. Sometimes it’s how you get your best ideas. When you do buy something, you don’t think twice about negotiating for a better price.

2. You take your camera out to take pictures and your children ask if you’re selling more stuff on eBay.

3. Unwrapping presents at a party or holiday, one of your kids yells, “Hey, be careful with that wrapping and those bows. Mom wants to reuse them.” You smile because you’re on your third year with the same bows.

4. You rent videos and eat out only when you have a coupon.

5. You’ve got your spouse “trained” to the point that he or she is excited when a purchase comes with free coupons attached.

6. You’re looking at an old onion bag thinking, “What else can I do with this?”

7. You get gifts like toilet paper for your birthday.

8. You cut the empty tube of toothpaste open and get two to three more brushings out of it, save the wax bags out of cereal boxes to marinate chicken and put cheap shampoo and condiments in brand-name bottles.

9. You’re still wearing clothes from 20 years ago and grow your hair long to save money.

10. Your quilts are like memories: That piece of fabric was a pair of pajamas; that one was inherited when grandma died; that one is also in a nephew’s baby quilt.

11. Your son thinks that McDonald’s means EI-EI-OOOOO and not hamburgers.

12. You mix the last bit of your lipstick with Vaseline to make it last longer, and half your bottles are upside down to make sure you use every last bit. You use dryer sheets ripped in thirds, laundry detergent diluted with water and half the recommended amount of dishwasher detergent.

13. You scold your husband for throwing away the soap slivers that you were saving to make a “new” bar of soap.

Excitement is figuring out how to line dry when it’s greater than 75 percent humidity or snowing.

Your hamburgers are 50 percent oatmeal, and no one knows.

16. Your friends will start a conversation with “I know it’s not frugal, but see what I bought?”

17. People come and ask you, “Is this a good deal?”

18. You can price out food by the meal and unit in your head.

19. You come home from work to a freezing house in February and find the cat under the covers because you haven’t turned the heat on.

20. Your chapstick is causing your lips to bleed as you push the sharp edges of the container against your lips, trying to use up every last bit of it.


  1. DixieJ

    3/1/2008 at 1:14 pm

    I can certainly relate to most of these, especially #17–friends and coworkers are always asking what a good price is on a certain item.

  2. Catherder

    3/1/2008 at 1:52 pm

    I can improve on #3….i use newspaper and just rubber stamp it lol! Love the pic of the kitty ears!

  3. RecycleCindy

    3/1/2008 at 6:48 pm

    Loved your 20 frugal ideas for fun! Great ideas for us all.

  4. Sara Noel

    3/1/2008 at 9:08 pm

    Catherder, I love the kitty ears too. Thanks for visiting. 🙂

    *waves* to Cindy. 🙂 I love your dishcloths with pot scrubber. Awesome idea.

  5. kim

    3/1/2008 at 9:56 pm

    LOL that list hits a little too close to home! 🙂 The only thing I would change is “You use all name brand bath items that you got for free from CVS and Walgreens”

  6. Sara Noel

    3/1/2008 at 10:19 pm

    Hi Kim, There were so many to list. It was hard to pick just 20. I totally agree with you on changing it to name brand items being free with coupons/rebates. 🙂 😀

  7. Daisygirl

    3/3/2008 at 6:47 am

    Sara….have you been watching me?

  8. IntlMom

    3/3/2008 at 11:27 pm

    Guilty as charged!!!

  9. kara

    3/4/2008 at 12:20 pm

    #3-thats me! i havent bought tissue paper in over 5 years!

  10. Marie78

    3/8/2008 at 4:10 pm

    I agree with #1 I found a cat toy in a catalog that I can make using cardboard and toys the cats already have :).

  11. Cricket

    3/10/2008 at 9:27 pm

    You hit the nail on the head, Sara! Open my fridge and ALL the bottles are upside down–good to the last drop. Many of my lotion bottles are this way, too. I have way too many lotions and it was my New Year’s resolution to use ’em all up!

  12. Jessie

    7/22/2009 at 8:17 pm

    Sara — I loved your article !! I am a “Frugal Queen”, and so many of your illustrations described my practice of this.

    You asked for tips so I am going to give you a couple.

    (1) I have decorated some plain unattractive lampshades lately with ribbon, ruffles and/or lace and they look very charming. I just found these items in my sewing chest left over from something or other, and when I experimented with using them I was surprised at the charming, custom-made look.

    (2) When I need greeting cards for a special occasion (birthday, etc.), I go to Dollar General or Family Dollar Store to get the cards. Some are 2 for $1.00, and some are $1.00. They are pretty and colorful on the outside, but the inside is done in grayish looking ink.I learned from working with my son-in-law that using colored ink is more expensive. So I put this knowledge to work and bought colored ink-pens and color the words/decorations on the inside of the card myself. The effect is great, and no one is the wiser. I figure I save about $2 or $3 per card, doing this — and it’s fun !!

    (3) For an effective drain de-clogger, pour in 3/4 cup baking soda and 3/4 cup white vinegar with about 1 cup water. Let stand about 20 minutes or so, and voila ! clog is gone and without chemicals!!

    Hope you can use these. My family will tell you that frugalness is my middle name —

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