One peculiar thing that happens when people find out I am interested in saving money is that they tell me about the things that they do to save money too. It becomes a sort of contest to see who is the most frugal. I always win because no one else lives in an RV and depends on rainwater :) but I like to hear what things other people do and what they would like to do.
Many people would like to use solar energy more if it wasn't so expensive. The return on investment for a whole house system seems to be stuck at 20 years. Until they come up with a cheaper technology not many people are going to go for that. I know a few people who built strawbale houses and have water running through their concrete floors for heat. Supposedly this is a very cost effective method of heating. A neighbor just put up a windmill. I haven't had a chance to ask him about it yet but it looks cool!
On a smaller scale, a few people I know use their laundry water for their landscape including me. Most people have drip systems for irrigation. It saves water and keeps the water close to the plants. All the new houses have drip systems installed as standard now. Using rocks for the front yard instead of grass is standard practice also. That took some getting used to when I first moved here from California (home of the manicured lawn with sprinklers watering the sidewalks).
My mother is even re-analysing where her money is going and trying to plug some money holes. She told me she put quilts over the windows and blocked off the gaps under the doors to stop the drafts this winter. She uses space heaters in the rooms that are used more and keeps the temperature for the rest of the house low. She also wears about 4 layers of clothes including long underwear. Hopefully this will help her save some money on propane this year.
So, what frugal thing that you do saves you the most money? I can always use more ideas!
Just the normal stuff here. Space heaters, do it myself whenever I can, no cable, library card, buy generic, budget, budget, budget, cut my own hair. The biggest thing, I think, is just not buying a lot of stuff anymore. 100% savings that way :)
I admire your radical ways of saving.
I agree, not shopping is a huge saver. I've run out of space to put it anyway. I've been toying with the idea of cutting my hair short again to save on shampoo and water but maybe I'll wait until summer.
I usually wear sweats and t-shirts after work and on weekends. When they start to get worn and holy - they become my pj's.
Also, I don't use air conditioning in the summer. I just use a fan - and this year I really, really tried to not turn it on -but gave in around end of July. Since I am not handy - that saves me on having the plumber out to turn it on and turn it off, and saves on water and electric (swamp cooler).
Anonymous, holy sweats, definitely a staple of the frugal wardrobe. Where do they go after they are un-wearable? Car washing rags?
Very admirable on the no cooling until July! I usually can't make it thru May.
How loud is that micro windmill? Can you hear it when it's running?
Anyway, I spend almost no money on things. I barter, freecycle, swap, or buy used.
Hi there-wow, you do very well for saving money and the environment! I thrift a lot of the time and since I've stopped using the credit cards I'm very mindful of what I pay for with cash! have a lovely weekend!
The biggest thing I have done is redefined the word "enough". I was a bit spoiled as a child and gratitude was learned the hard way. I now know that I have enough and am grateful for it. I actually have more than enough. My needs are met each day and my wants are usually things for my boys. Even they have learned the difference between wants and needs. Knowing what enough is has brought me more peace than I could ever imagine. Good post!
People could save a lot of money and water by giving up the manicured lawn. I have read that 70% of household water used in the U.S. is for landscaping. There is plenty of room for cutting back there.
i don't think i do anything out of the ordinary to save money.
my biggest money savers are cooking/baking at home and not wasting my money on pre-packaged convenience foods.
also, when i do shop, i shop deep-discounted bargains (made of quality). i work at a high-end retail establishment, so i keep my eye on certain things for awesome sales. and i also shop thrift for a lot of things that i simply can not afford at retail price.
dressing in layers is another big money saver. between wearing layers and a few electric blankets around the apartment, i don't need to turn the heat up. when i'm cooking or baking, i turn down the thermostat a bit lower and let the oven heat the kitchen.
ERE, I haven't been close enough to tell if it's loud. It is larger than the micro windmill that I saw before at another house. That one was loud. Perhaps the larger one is not as noisy. I plan to ask the neighbor all about it when I see him next.
Sharon Rose, you are an expert thrifter! I don't know anyone who has such a fashionable wardrobe on such a small budget!
Very good point Kim A! Redefining wants and needs is very important for saving money AND being happy and content. It is so easy get tricked in to thinking we are 'poor' if we don't have the latest and greatest stuff.
Tight Fisted Miser, they also like to plant their favorite large trees from where ever they came from which, of course, need a ton of water here in the desert. Native plants can save a lot of water and disappointment when those typical landscape plants die from the harsh climate.
na0, all of those things that you metioned are great ideas and 'out of the ordinary' for many, many people. Just the fact that you are conscious of saving you money and looking for the best value is something that a lot of people never learn to do. Great job!
The thing that has helped me the most is making sure I know exactly where I stand financially and also being honest about how much money I need to meet my long term goals. This means keeping up to date on my income and expense log and my account balances. (I have made this ridiculously easy by investing some effort and time and creating a system and an Excel spreadsheet that is customized to my needs.) Then when the question of whether I can afford to buy something comes up, I have to apply only 2 questions:
1) do i absolutely absolutely need it? if so, i will buy it.
2) if I don't absolutely absolutely need it and just want it, am I on track to meet my financial goals? If I am on track to meet those (retirement savings in my case), then I can justify spending any extra money on a "want". If I'm not on track, then my decision is made for me.
Case in point:
This week I saw a KitchenAid stand mixer advertised for $99 used in my local paper classifieds.
That's a fantastic price! But I'm not on track to meet my savings goals this year ( I need to increase my income before I can meet them) and it's not a need, just a want. As a matter of fact, I have a bread machine already that I use to mix dough with that I got free on Freecycle.
So although I would love to have an aqua blue KitchenAid, I passed on it because I had already decided on the above guidelines for spending decisions, and I saved (or rather didn't spend) $100.
That was worth $100 savings to me.
Such great self control bugbear! It is great to have a system in place when temptation strikes.
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