:::: MENU ::::

Frugal Traits


I’ve been a little on the frugal side for as long as I can remember.

When I was a young child, I remember always trying to conserve each precious page in my school notebooks and writing spirals. At the end of the school year if pages were leftover I refused to let them be wasted. Instead, I would use them for writing letters to friends, or writing poetry (one of my hobbies as a child). As an adult I have a little notebook I still use and now I consciously try to use every inch of every page. If a grocery list only covers half a page, I’ll tear off the bottom half and use it for something else (same thing for front/back). It’s always been a trait of mine.

But there are a couple other frugal traits that I didn’t pick up until I started blogging here, just over a month ago.

  1. I now wash and re-use ziplock bags. This doesn’t work as well with the generic bags (they break down faster due to inferior quality). But I had a stash of name-brand ziplocks already on-hand from before starting blogging. I used to use them all the time for all kinds of things and I would toss them when I was done. Now I make a conscious effort to use them sparingly (e.g., for leftover slices of pizza, I fit into a tupperware instead of throwing in a ziplock bag). When I do use them, I try to reuse them multiple times. I still feel weird about reusing bags that had meat in them (e.g., I buy a “family pack” of chicken breasts and appropriate out in sets of two into ziplock bags to freeze individually), but if its anything non-meat I will wash it out and re-use. I’ve found this handy for cheese (I buy blocks of cheese and shred it myself, then store in ziplocks that I wash and reuse), fruits and veggies (if I only use half a lemon, half an avocado, etc.), and more!
  2. In a similar vein, I’ve been saving the liners from cereal boxes. When a cereal is gone, instead of throwing away the plastic bag it was in, I wash it out and save it. I’ve found these to be perfect for storing my homemade bread (which is often too long to fit in a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Plus, its thicker than a regular ziplock and seems to hold up well to freezing.
  3. I have also started saving my baby’s bathwater to use for watering plants. I literally keep a big Home Depot bucket in my hall closet. After they have baths I will fill the bucket up and take it outside to water the big plants in our yard. I can usually get 2-2.5 buckets from one bath. I did a quick google search to make sure using leftover bath water wouldn’t hurt our plants (because there’s some soap in it), and it looks like its fine for our plants (but check for yourself, because it can be harmful to some plants). However, I found that this is actually a “thing,” called recylcing grey water (i.e., “waste-water collected separately from sewage that originates from a clothes washer, bathtub, shower, or sink, but not a kitchen skink, dishwasher, or toilet.”) Apparently this practice is illegal in some places. FYI, I looked up the law in Arizona and its not illegal here, although there are some stipulations… see this document:  http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/water/permits/download/graybro.pdf


The neighbors probably think I’m crazy, but I’m trying to save our family some money. Every penny counts, right? Meanwhile, I’ve been extremely motivated to continue seeing our debt drop (particularly on our Wells Fargo credit card). Exciting progress really helps me increase my efforts!


What are some of your more frugal traits? Any other money-saving tips?


Texan at heart; Arizonan on paper. Lover of running, cheese, camping, and family (fur-family included!). Blogger, motivated to get out of debt YESTERDAY! Follow along with my journey!

Latest posts by Ashley (see all)


  • Reply USA Kiwi (Kylee) |

    The grey water thing isn’t just frugal – it makes sense! I used to live in Australia (I’m from New Zealand and live in Arizona)… and with drought being a regular thing, water usage is a major issue. There are a lot of initiatives you can adopt to lower your water usage – and being in AZ, that’s not a bad thing!

    • Reply manda |

      I agree! I re-use the water from my humidifier, and dump the last inch of water/tea/coffee from glasses or pet bowls into my plants. I never have to remember to water them and they get plenty from both sources.

  • Reply Deby |

    I don’t use ziplock bags for storage much (I prefer mason jars or tupperware) but when I do I usually rewash them, too, unless whatever was in them turned moldy (bread, cheese, etc.)

    Since we’ve been struggling with the drought here in California I’ve been looking for more ways to save water that I can reuse in our garden: saving the cold water as it warms up for showers, rinsing vegetables over buckets to capture the water, saving the cooking water from potatoes and pasta. I also try to turn the water on half or even just a trickle instead of full blast if I won’t be reusing it.

  • Reply Eviva |

    Very smart on the meat vs Ziplocs. Remember reading that Amy Daczyczyn (sp?), author of the Tightwad Gazette books, washes out all her Ziplocs but for safety’s sake never reuses one that stored raw meat or raw poultry, and reports no one in her family ever got sick from reused Ziploc food using this one precaution. She even uses them for lunchbox popcorn once they develop smalll holes – lol I won’t go that far but you can use a Ziploc many, many times before it starts to leak.

    Small things DO add up and most importantly (for me anyway) make me even more aware of the bigger-dollar things because I’ve been paying attention to the small things all day….!

  • Reply Kili |

    Ashley, good for you. I also reuse ziplop bags all the time, they are just so versatile and handy. Not sure if that’s legal in your state, but if the baby bath water isn’t enough for watering your plants, maybe install a reainwater tank outside?

  • Reply Helene |

    I also re-use and wash out Ziploc bags when it’s feasible to do so. I really like using them for freezing foods flat and then storing them like books in my freezer. 🙂 I also like to use the snack-size ones for portion control. I bring my lunch to work almost every day so re-using the bags is a good money-saver for me.

    I also re-use plastic grocery bags as garbage bags. It drives my significant other crazy that I don’t have a full-size trash can, but with just me half the time and just my son and me the other half, plus nowhere to stash a big trashcan out of sight, why bother? When the bag is full I tie it up and toss it, then put in a new one. it means changing the bag more often, but I’m not big on trash sitting around anyway.

    I grow my own herbs and jalapenos and am trying cherry tomatoes again after a hiatus of a few years. The bulk of my food budget goes to fresh foods, because I eat a LOT of fruit and vegetables. Like a freakish amount. (I was so overjoyed last weekend to find gorgeous bell peppers at a farmer’s market for half of what they cost in the store. I loaded up! Peppers every day, lol!)

    I shop for pantry staples at Big Lots. Once I found my favorite brand of canned tomatoes for 65 cents a can, normally about $2.50 a can when not on sale. Score!

    Let’s see … I buy coupons on eBay for pantry staples and stock up during super double coupons + sales. I currently have a stash of over 50 cartons of my favorite brand of chicken broth and I am SO excited because it was all FREE. All I had to pay was the tax. I make a lot of soup and do most of my cooking at home so I will use it all. 🙂

    I barter with and sell things to my coworkers. Luckily I work for a very large company and there is always someone who needs what you have and always someone who has something you need. I have traded things that were just taking up space for things I really needed and have sold many things that now have new homes and made a few bucks without giving eBay and Paypal their cut.

    I limit my showers to 5 minutes tops. And I catch the ‘warm up’ water from my shower and use it to water my plants and fill my birdbaths. Happily now that it’s warmer it doesn’t take as long to warm up the water.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Wow! I wish I could limit my showers to 5 minutes! I never even thought about buying coupons from eBay! I’ve just started trying to save coupons but it seems so overwhelming to get to the point where I can get stuff free (but I WANT to get there!! Who doesn’t want free stuff!?)

  • Reply Meghan |


    I love that you are getting into the frugality bit, and using gray water for plants is an especially great idea; especially in the desert with higher water costs. I think too often people consider budget items such as utilities or groceries to be fixed costs, when really there is a lot of opportunity to lower them. You might like to check out this blog: theprudenthomemakerblog.blogspot.com Like you, the author lives in the desert (Nevada) and has lots of interesting tips for lowering utility bills, etc. She also does a weekly “Frugal Accomplishments” post. And my favorite part is that the blog is meant to be beautiful and encouraging, so she does not allow any trolling or negativity in the comments.

    You mentioned that you don’t do any growing of vegetables or other foods, and I know from experience how incredibly difficult it is to do in the desert. Have you ever considered just trying your hand at some potted herbs? It might even be something your daughters would enjoy participating in if you could keep them from playing in the dirt until the seeds sprout! I think herbs are such a great, fresh thing to use in cooking and those little packets at the grocery store are so expensive! I think that in your area you could do really well with rosemary, cilantro and other hardy things.



    • Reply Ashley |

      That’s a great idea! I actually do have a basil plant but its currently the only herb I have. I used to have more in the past but can’t even recall what has happened to them (must have died over time….that little basil plant is a trooper – going about 3 years strong!)

    • Reply Ashley |

      I’ve actually just started reading theprudenthomemaker – other readers referred me there. She does beautiful photography! I’m still a newby there, but have really enjoyed her posts so far!

  • Reply emmi |

    You are on a frugal drive!

    Just be careful that you aren’t focusing where it makes very little actual savings. It’s fun to make it into a game and think of ways of being wildly frugal, but you can fall victim to what psychologists call “licensing”. This is when you are really really good, but then you get being-good fatigue and you start to feel you have the right to be bad later and your self-control just isn’t there to help you anymore, you used it up. Be careful that you aren’t saving $1.50 a month on ziplocks only to feel you are justified on something that costs 10x that. It’s be easy to fall prey to something 10x that.

    That’s my only concern with losing site of the forest for the trees, so to speak.

  • Reply Mel |

    Ashley, I just love reading your posts. You are an excellent writer and you have a positive, upbeat attitude. You share so much of your personal life, making your posts interesting, relate-able, and human. Thank you! 🙂 Cheers and congrats on your fantastic debt progress!!!

    I am frugal by nature too. The key for me is doing only the things that I enjoy or at least don’t mind. I will wash ziploc bags, but I hate it. I use bags only for dry things like cereal or pretzels where the bags can be reused without washing. Messy things usually go in plastic or glass containers. Saving cereal bags is awesome! They work great to hold graham crackers, cookies, etc. when crushing for crumbs. They also sub for wax paper. I will even cut them up into pieces for separating items in the freezer, such as hamburger patties that I want to be able to pull out individually later.

    You make most of your bread items, but those bags are great to save too. I freeze a lot of stuff (LOVE my chest freezer – huge savings when you can stock up on sale items). Eggs, milk, pizza sauce, yogurt, juice, … I freeze them in ice cube trays so I can pull out only the needed amount later. And I often store them in those re-used bread bags. I never wash those – I feel ok throwing them away since cleaning is a hassle and I’ve already gotten double life from them.

So, what do you think ?