Ready or Not #119: Being Frugal

I’m cheap.  No, I think that I would be better described as being frugal – verrrrry frugal.  Some people would still say cheap.  To me there is a difference.

To be cheap is to buy items that are inexpensive and it doesn’t matter if it breaks because you can replace it cheaply.  To be frugal is not necessarily purchasing something inexpensively, although it can be, but instead it is to purchase quality (don’t confuse this with something that is overly expensive just because it has a name brand attached to it), to take care of it and to use it up until it can’t be used anymore.  To me it is less expensive and more dollar wise to be frugal than to be cheap.

It really frustrates me when my clothes become threadbare, furniture or appliances wear out — not that they have given me 20+ years of good service (not the clothes generally). I would prefer to put a little thought into really looking at what I want, what I need it to do, and then pay a fair price for it.  Then go home and take care of it forever like it is new so that it will last, well, forever.

I guess that the rising cost of EVERYTHING is really starting to make me think about my frugal ways and to see if there is anything more I can squeak out of my already tight dollar.

There are a few things that I do with everyday products that I must replace on a regular basis that has saved me money and allows me to use the full amount of the product that I have paid for.  Let’s start with lipstick and lip balm products.  I use all of it; even the stuff that is left behind that most people throw away.  I use a small lip gloss type container and when I get to the point that the lipstick or balm can’t be applied easily anymore, I just dig it out and put it in my little container.  It is just as portable as the original container and…I am being frugal.

Don’t limit yourself to lip balm for this little trick.  I buy my under-eye/blemish cover-up in stick form and I do the same with that.  You can laugh, but the amount of product that is still left in the original packaging is enough for me to use another six months or longer!  It is ridiculous how much product is thrown away because you never thought to dig out the rest and transfer it to another container.

How about lotion?  I have never thrown away an intact lotion bottle in my life because I always cut it in half, scoop out the rest of the lotion and then throw the bottle away.  This is actually my favorite tip.  A lot of people I know just turn the bottle upside down to let the lotion drain towards the cap, but I don’t care for that.  I always make such a mess of things when I open the lid and I always invariably get too much lotion out – and that is being wasteful.

Instead, I go down to the store and I buy the cutest little glass container with a lid (like a cute little lidded candy dish).  Then when the lotion stops pumping out easily, I very carefully cut the plastic bottle in half and scoop out the lotion with a flexible scraper or spatula and put it into my beautiful little covered decanter.  This way I can use the right amount every time and I don’t have to beat my hand trying to get that last little bit that never comes out.  Nifty huh?

Now on to shampoo.  I wash my hair every day – and no, I’m not going to change my ways to conserve my shampoo (just think extreme bedhead without the benefit of using a product to make it look that way).  Instead, I have found a very effective way to extend my supply.  I bought a large bottle of shampoo at Costco that had a really good pump on it.  It dispenses just the right amount every time I use it.  Since I started using that bottle, about 10 years ago, I started going through a lot less shampoo.

If you are manually pouring shampoo in your hand every time you shampoo, I can almost guarantee that you are wasting it and using too much.  Just give it a try.  Get a really good-sized bottle with a quality pump and remember: frugal is buying quality – dollar store stuff generally won’t hold up.  I would suggest you buy a shampoo bottle that already has a pump and then when it gets low, just fill it with your own preferred shampoo.  I have been using the same bottle, like I said, for the last 10 years, with no problems – and I have very clean hair.

Do you use dryer sheets to cut down static cling in your wash?  If so, cut the dryer sheet in half.  Then, use each half twice.  Each half sheet has plenty of power to eliminate static for two loads of laundry. So, in effect, you are getting 4 times the use that you would normally get if you used one complete sheet for just one load of laundry.

Do you re-use plastic bags?  I know some people get grossed out by the thought.  Don’t.  If you have a couple of cookies in a plastic bag for your lunch, I dare say that the bag does not get messy or dirty.  It is perfectly fine to put cookies in it for lunch on another day — or week even.  Even if some frosting got on the inside, you can wash, rinse, dry and then reuse the bag. Sometimes, you can re-use a plastic bag a lot before it gets worn out and needs to be replaced.

Do you use paper towels to wipe up spills on your counter top or floor? Stop it right now! Use a dish cloth instead. Or keep a rag under your sink for spills.  Using and laundering a rag instead of using expensive paper towels can save lots of money.

Extending the life of what you have already paid for and finding ways to economize is just plain smart and frugal – or cheap.  Whatever you want to call it.

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