Frugal Friday – Late Edition

Usually, the word "late" carries a negative connotation. But not in the phrase "late edition." So the fact that this ought to have been posted a week ago is a good thing, right?

Speaking of positive and negative connotations, two frugal bloggers raised a similar confusing question on August 28th. Dawn at Frugal for Life posted Lemons Hans Hillewaert When Frugality Crosses Over to Stealing and Serena at Queercents asked When Does Frugality Constitute Stealing?

Before I read these posts I thought the answer to Serena’s question was "When you’re really good at it." Because a truly great bargain is a steal. Isn’t it?

Alas, both these bloggers meant "steal" in a pejorative sense, which confused me. Apparently, they want to complicate the frugal lifestyle with an unnecessary set of new rules. For example, it’s no good using coupons if you stole the newspaper you cut them out of. Also, under this new regime, smuggling snacks into the movie theatre and then fishing used refill cups out of the trash to get free soda is frowned upon. What’s next? Are you going to tell me I shouldn’t have my friends hold open the fire exit so I can sneak in without a ticket?

I know what you are thinking. "But Frank, going to the movies is never frugal." And you may have a point. I guess that’s a fundamental conflict inside the frugal movement. Is it more frugal to do something that is itself unfrugal in a frugal way, or to not do it at all? Both give you that delicious feeling of self-denial.

In the frugal methods for unfrugal things department, August brought tips for saving money on pool maintenance, sex toys, and cocktails. Now don’t get me wrong, I like a low-budget buzz as much as the next guy.  (The recipe for the Kool-Aid and vodka cocktail was especially appreciated.) But to me, a frugal drink is one I distilled myself in the backyard. Or would that be in conflict with the new frugal rules too?

DIY is one of the great pillars of the frugal lifestyle. So you can imagine my distress when I read this misguided attack on raising your own chickens in your suburban backyard at Suburban Dollar. Apparently, on a per-egg basis, it is cheaper to go to the grocery store. That may be true, but it misses the point. If you raise your own chickens you get to spend time being frugal every day. Going to the supermarket once a week, on the other hand, produces no positive feelings at all.

Unless, that is, you go to a salvage grocery store. I’ve never been to one myself (does anybody know of one in the Boston area?) but it sounds like lots of fun. What could be more frugal than buying food in dented cans or damaged packaging, and/or past its sell-by date? And not to worry, Think Your Way to Wealth assures us that just because an item is past its due date it "does not mean the product is expired, bad, or unsafe to eat, only that it may not be best quality."

Speaking of foodstuffs, Miss Thrifty gave us Six Thrifty Uses for a Lemon, only one of which involves eating it. Using a lemon slice as deodorant is probably the best of them.

But no frugal round-up would be complete if I did not touch on the inevitable result of using foodstuffs as food. Frugally Green (which, incidentally, uses the same creepy green tunnel banner photo as My Financial Journey) shared a long post Sustainable Bathrooms: Saving Water by Pooping Less (and more).

Actually, the post doesn’t discuss the pooping less strategy. But no matter, as readers of this blog know to do #2 before they leave work. The post does tell us that Americans spend 1 1/2 years of their lives in the bathroom, which I guess is down 75% from 20 years ago. And we are advised to restrain ourselves from flushing mere pee.

A commenter on the post added the idea of going without toilet paper. Apparently the commenter just uses a water rinse on the no-doubt-sound theory that a few sheets of TP requires more than a liter of water to make. I wonder if she’s tried lemon slices.

[Photo Hans Hillewaert]

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