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Being fabulously frugal or fanatically foolish?

By on May 11, 2011

Practicing frugality is different for everyone. What might seem extreme or petty to you is everyday life for someone else. Each person decides what they’re comfortable doing to save a buck. However, there are times it’s not simply about saving money. Sometimes it’s about being less wasteful. Frugality can be a split-second decision. Keep or toss? Buy or delay? Some frugal decisions are easy to make, but others fall into the shades-of-gray area — not because it’s foolish, but maybe it’s time consuming, slightly embarrassing to admit to or doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. But you still choose frugality. What have you done to be less wasteful that’s on the fringe of what you’d tell others?
Here are a few examples.



You flour the counter when rolling dough and when you’re done, you still have excess flour on the counter. Some people don’t feel comfortable saving it. Others will brush it into a bag to use later.

Side note: Visit our bread making forum!


You have a family with kids that don’t always finish their drinks. Some people will pour it down the drain. Others will save it in the refrigerator or freeze it in an ice cube tray for later use. Many frugal people will dilute beverages such as juice or milk, too. One reader Sharon K., from Ohio says: “I drink diet pop, but I fill up a glass with ice cubes and half water and the rest diet pop. I keep adding ice and water and will probably put in about 1/4 cup more for the day.”


Your vacuum dies. Some people will rush out and buy a new one. Other people might buy a used or refurbished vacuum or a manual carpet sweeper. Marie from Texas shares: “When our vacuum died, I couldn’t justify going out and spending money on a new one, so I started sweeping the carpet with a broom to clean it instead. It takes a lot of arm power to do the whole house, but it saves me money. Some people might think it takes up too much time, and it is time consuming, but I kind of enjoy it now. My husband just bought me a new vacuum cleaner, but I refuse to use it. It uses too much electricity.”


Many families don’t conserve water. Fewer reuse it. Some frugal families will turn a faucet off when sudsing soap in their hands or while brushing teeth until the water is needed to rinse, and some people collect cold water in the shower or bath or sink before it heats up and reuse it to water plants or to manually flush their toilet. Lisa from Indiana, shares: I let the three littles use the same bath water (unless it’s very dirty).” Some people will even reuse bath water to wash their floors.


For some people, leftovers are amounts of food that are large enough to be made into another meal or more. Of course, there are some people who don’t “do” leftovers. Many frugal people will save very small amounts of leftover food such as meat and vegetables and freeze it until they have enough to make a soup or casserole. Michelle from New York says: “I save and freeze all of our leftover meats, and when I get enough, I make a sandwich spread with it. I just add a little onion and mayo and seasonings.”


photo by grongar


  1. Tracy

    5/12/2011 at 10:53 am

    I started using personal cloths instead of toilet paper. Not for messy stuff, but only when I pee. You would be surprised how much t.p. I save. I reuse them after a wash in the washing machine. I also save all scrapes from my veggies for stock. When I make it I put the cooked scraps in my compost pile. I save the juice from canned fruit, thicken with a little cornstarch and use as syrup on pancakes. Thats just a few of the things I started doing. I would write more but it would take up alot of room, lol.

    • mildred lane

      8/10/2012 at 11:52 am

      cloth napkins are cheap,useful ,reuseable, saves a tree, I made mine from sheets from Goodwill. and I am proud to use them. I also used a white sheet to mk hankerchiefs . Another saving that keeps on giving.

  2. OhPioneer1806

    5/12/2011 at 1:18 pm

    I am a firm beleiver in conserving our natural resources. Ironically my water rates are going up 50% and the reason given by my water department…not enough water usage by the consumers….so if I waste water my rates will be lower but my bill will be high…and if I conserve and am careful my rates will be higher and so will my bill. Ridiculous.

    • llamalluv

      10/25/2012 at 3:06 pm

      The reason for this is that some costs are fixed no matter how much water is consumed. If you have 10 employees in your water department, their salaries and health care costs must be paid every year even if water consumption is down year after year. If consumption is lowered significantly because of a decrease in residents (either through older children moving out or households being forced out through foreclosure) or an increase in efficiency (everyone replaces their shower heads, toilets, and washing machines, everyone gets rain barrels for garden use, etc) then in order to keep bills high enough to pay the fixed costs, per gallon rates must go up. The alternative is to charge more in property taxes, and those initiatives are rarely approved by the voters.

  3. Linda--ClemsonU

    8/18/2012 at 9:36 pm

    I started on the frugal trail a few years ago. I would look up information on various websites (such as this one) and find some very good advice. Some things I learned when I was growing up. For example, I still cook large dinners becasue I came from a large family (my mom and dad, my two sisters, one brother, and me). I would make a lot and use the leftovers to make lunch and take to work and/or have leftovers for dinner and lunch for about a week or so. I do admit that I would go through the fast food drive-through when I don’t have time to make dinner. However, I would order a large order and use it for lunch the next day and for dinner. I have to pinch pennies like crazy now, so I try not to go through the drive through as much as I use to. If I do go, I try to make an effort to order from the dollar menu. I have to admit that using cloth toilet paper is a little gross for my taste; however, if it works for a large family, more power to them. Nowadays, we have to learn how to be more frugal and to make due with less. If you have older members in your family who lived during the Great Depression and/or World War II, talk to them and ask for advise on how they made due without. You will probably find a lot of great ideas and get closer with your family members.

  4. Virgie , Scottsdale, Az

    11/27/2012 at 12:34 am

    I bake our pies, cookies and sweet rolls from scratch. I bake cakes using mixes most of the time. I bake most all of our bread from scratch. saves money and tastes better.

  5. Diana

    2/13/2013 at 6:20 pm

    Having worked as a chairside dental assistant, I can tell you that is is good to water down juice for kids. The citric acid & sugar are to much for their little teeth. My 5 year old grandson still drinks juice watered down at my house.

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