Saturday, February 13, 2010


I have been reading many blogs by people who are or are trying to be frugal. Some of the ideas are great; while others, not so much. Just as I was working on this post I read The Happy (atheist) Homemaker who had the same mantra: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

We haven’t always been so good at money. At one time we ran up credit card and loan debt that took ten years to pay off. Since then, we have been better about money. Well, until I lost my job see my blog entry I Get Honest with You.  Now, we are trying to keep on the straight and narrow of the money situation.

I thought I would write today on what frugality means to me, a child of parents who grew up in the Great Depression.

Quality of product is important. I look for the best quality products for the less expensive price. I was taught there are three qualities of product: Good, Better, Best. Price has nothing to do with quality. Look at the quality of materials and workmanship that went into making the product. Pick out the best quality you can find; at the price you can pay.

If I need clothing, I shop in upscale stores before going to the discount or mass market stores. By going to the clearance rack I can find clothes for up to 90% off. Most of the time they are 50 -75% off and I can afford the best quality fabric and stitching for a very good price. My clothes tend to last more than one season because I buy for quality. Beware of the outlet shops, you will very well be getting a lower quality product. I have found sale prices at the name brand shops to be less than the outlet; and the quality is better.

Same goes for my appliances. I comparison shop on the web, getting an idea of what is out there and the prices I can afford. Then I go to the stores and look for bargains there. I have found returned and floor model appliances for great prices. I bought a stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher at the old Montgomery Ward for not only under budget but I got top quality as well. 20 years later, I am still using the stove. The dishwasher lasted 10 years and the refrigerator 15. Recently I purchased my fourth dryer in 40 years. It was reconditioned and guaranteed for a year; I paid $125 for a top of the line model that is 10 years old.

We are using a 26 year old microwave. I see no need to buy a new one until this one wears out. I am that way about all small appliances. I get my coffee makers from a company that sells boutique coffees. Buy a couple of pounds of coffee at the regular price, get a free coffee maker. No obligation, cancel at any time. I look at it as buy a coffee maker and get free coffee. Win, win situation.

When we last bought furniture, we took time to shop around. I found a couch at a little, local furniture shop for less than one similar one at a big furniture retailer. My chairs are from the Clearance Room at the Lazyboy Store. I paid less than the price of one chair for both. My occasional tables are family ‘heirlooms.’ You know, someone wanted to get new furniture and offered them to me. I only accept those things I can use. Right now I am shopping for a new computer chair. The one I want is $350 retail. I will continue to look until I can get one for about $100.

I covered How I Shop For Groceries in my blog, Cooking in Nana's Kitchen. I like to keep a full pantry and shop it to prepare meals. I put new products behind the old so things cycle through. We have a small freezer to store meats bought on a sale, breads, home frozen fruits and veggies, and 'cook ahead' meals.

One of my biggest challenges was to stop ‘shopping as a hobby.’ I don’t need all that stuff. Over the past few years I have weaned myself from shopping for fun to shopping for a reason.

Scott drives a 15 year old car; and my truck is 24 years old. He was restoring two cars, an ’84 Mustang and a 280Z when I got sick. They have been sitting in the driveway since then. After the bankruptcy goes through we will sell them for whatever we can get.
He bought his car for $1100 and put $500 into it. It is showing its age as well as my truck. We figure on selling the two vehicles and buying another used. Scott is the vehicle and insurance shopper and finds some really good buys.

As we are going through pre-foreclosure on the house, all we are paying are the taxes and insurance. Unless he gets a job that requires us to move; we will stay put until fall. We are still taking care of the house; after all we have to live here.

Here a few money saving ideas I love:

  • Add water to the last of the shampoo or liquid soap bottles and use it up.
  • Running out of fresh milk: mix up an equal amount of powdered milk, add it to the fresh and refrigerate
  • Save the heels of the bread for hamburger or hot dog buns.
  • When using the oven for dinner, take the time to bake some bread or goodies and freeze them for later.
  • Buying bulk is great. Just compare the price per pound with the bagged stuff. And store it properly at home.
  • Organic foods are not more nutritious. They are just grown without petro-chemical pesticides or fertilizers. They are produced without added preservatives, colors, or flavor enhancers. As such, their shelf life is not as long as usual supermarket foods.


  1. Good post!

    I think that I might be the opposite of you though, hehe! I tend to just go cheap. Not that I don't like quality...but as far as clothing goes - I'm a quantity kinda gal. Then again, I like all that trendy stuff - and I'm not about to fork over top dollar for something that might be uncool in a month or two. Not that I'd actually toss something just because it's not cool anymore...just sayin'...

    But I do still try to take really good care of my (cheap) things and make them last faaaaar longer than they should.

    On appliances though, I'm with ya. Totally. After numerous crappy Blenders my husband finally got me a expensive, great quality one...I'm sure if I just bought a nice one in the first place I could've saved lotsa money over the years replacing my cheapie blenders. Ugh. I'm glad he bought it for me though...because I am too cheap to get that kinda thing for myself!

  2. You make a good point about buying quality clothing... I get most of my clothing from Goodwill or another used clothing store around where I live, and I often don't think about the "quality" of it... just the price. I can get pants/shirts/skirts for $4 each at Goodwill. A little bit higher at the other store, but that's all name-brand stuff.

    Maybe I will try checking out some of the higher end stores next time I need something to see what I can find at a large markdown... It'd have to be a good bit cheaper though to make me want it!