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Posts tagged with: frugal

Frugal Traits

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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

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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?


Mandi’s Debt Introduction

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Note: This is the introduction written by Mandi about her debt to be the next BAD blogger. Take the time to comment or ask questions about her debt journey. This is part of the process to find a new BAD blogger which you can find out more about here

My name is Mandi, and I am debt! It is a secret from everyone, because I appear to be very in control most of the time. I grew up with very financially responsible parents, and I did not have debt of my own until I got married. My husband had about $20,000 in debt when we married, and we paid this all off in a few years. We then saved $20,000 before having children so that I could stay home. I stayed home until my son was 3, and then I went back to work.

Unfortunately, while I wasn’t working, we didn’t cut back too much and burned through all the savings and racked up incredible debt. Our current debt includes credit cards with balances of $3,000, $11,000, and $6,000. We also have a home equity loan of $31,000 and a loan from my parents for $3500. We have recently been able to pay off balances on other cards, so this is not our starting point. Our take-home pay is $6100 per month.

We also bought an older home while I wasn’t working. Our mortgage is inexpensive, but since it is older, we had many unexpected repairs (new HVAC and new ductwork, anyone?), and there are, of course, cosmetic changes that I would really like to make. Making our home inviting is very important to me, and I struggle with paying off debt versus making lasting changes in our home. This and travelling are our two top issues with saving versus spending. I don’t mean extravagant trips, either. Even a weekend at a nearby beach is no drop in the bucket for a family of 4.

In addition to paying off all that debt, I also want to replace the savings we’ve spent and increase our savings in other areas like 401(k)s, etc. I struggle with how to prioritize each item. I would really benefit from the advice that readers here provide, and I need people to call me on my “justified” expenses like new paint, light fixture, furnishings, etc.

I think it would be beneficial to post how much money has been spent each week (and if it was me or my husband). When I even THINK of doing that, I cringe at the items I would put down and not look at twice because I would have to justify the expense to everyone. This includes items at the grocery store. In some areas I feel we are very frugal, but objectively, I know that we probably aren’t. I only feel that way because I am comparing myself to others in my social circle.

I showed my husband the blog, and he is interested, especially in me contributing, but I don’t know how that translates to his involvement. He is very supportive, and he mostly listens when I express concerns about debt, but he does not want to get granular. In fact, he does not even know how to check any of our balances, including our checking account! He does not spend a lot of money on “things,” though, so it might not be as challenging as I think it could be.

I would love the opportunity to share more, answer questions, and start contributing to the site, so thank you for reading!


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