Frigid Frugal Friday

January was as cold as we’ve come to expect in the Northern Bits of our great nation and a lot colder than they’ve come to expect in the Southern Bits. Not to worry, the frugalosphere produced plenty of exciting money saving tips to warm us all up.Flat Screen TVs crop

Frugal Upstate, from the northern Northern Bits, gave us no fewer than 3 different uses for the juice, technically syrup, that canned fruit is packed in. All are ways you can consume it, but without a doubt there are dedicated frugalists already working on potential uses as a household cleaner.

A fundamental premise of frugalism is that it is not about simply doing without. You can spend less of your precious money and still enjoy the modest and temperate pleasures of life. Along these lines, DebtMaven had an excellent post detailing how she practices frugal drinking. For example, since she will not drink her morning coffee without a bit of Irish Cream, necessitating the purchase of two bottles a month (presumably the 1.75 liter size since all good frugalists buy in bulk) she has switched to Carolins from Bailey’s.

Modern Tightwad has started a year-long tip-a-day program that we are sure to be visiting regularly. January 26th’s edition was entitled Don’t Use A Breast, If a Thigh Will Do. This caused momentary confusion for me before I realized it was about chicken. Frozen thighs cost 30 cents less per pound than breasts, which means that over the course of a year, in which you, like any normal family, would buy 100 pounds of chicken parts, you can save $30. Cha-ching!

Not quite as lucrative, but still totally worth the effort, was January 6th’s entry on how to Streamline Your Bathing. With techniques such as washing with two buckets of water rather than taking a shower, you can save "$10 a year in product and/or water."

Of course, and this is worth emphasizing, Modern Tightwad does not suggest that you should go without bathing, only that you do it frugally. That is a subtle distinction of great importance. Funny About Money, sadly, crossed that fine line, suggesting that for most laundry detergent is not necessary. As all frugalists know, the proper frugal approach is to make your own detergent, not to go without. Not using detergent in the washer would be like not using dryer sheets in the dryer, and we can’t have that, can we?

Similarly, Wise Bread was skating on thin ice when it discussed, but stopped short of endorsing, saving money on heating your home by not heating your home at all. (They made up for it with a very helpful tip that when flying you should pack a starter’s pistol in all your checked bags. Now if they could only invest in a website that loaded properly on my browser.)

Also this month, Bargaineering asked Do Expiration Dates on Drugs or Vitamins Matter? Of course not. Silly blog.

The Sun’s Financial Diary (which I keep thinking should have something to do with Louis XIV, but doesn’t) had some great tips on Where and How to Stash a Stockpile. For example, one of The Sun’s bedroom closets holds not clothes but a large freezer. This is apparently not a problem for sleeping once you get over the "low, constant hum" coming from behind the closet door.

January was also a good month for directions on how to make stuff. Wisdom of the Moon had a surprisingly complicated one for homemade firestarters. And Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker shared a recipe for homemade Pop-Tarts.

Besides making our own highly flammable objects and junk food, frugalists like to find amusement during the indoor months measuring how much electricity every item in our house uses and publishing our results on the internet.

And one of the discoveries frugalists make when we methodically measure electricity use is that a 50" LCD TV uses less juice than a 50" plasma one. But, as CanadianFinanceBlog points out, this is only generally, not universally, true. The exception is that plasma will use less power to display darker images, while an LCD uses the same amount of power no matter what it displays.

The obvious conclusion from this is that you should use your LCD for bright well-lit things like daytime talk shows and your plasma for darker stuff like slasher movies. But why not go further? Ditch the LCD altogether and restrict your viewing to the darker palettes. You will have to give up some things. Ice hockey, for example, has too much expensively white ice. Come to think of it, the entire Winter Olympics would be out. But baseball and football would work, provided they were played at night.

Just another example of how being frugal does not have to mean doing without.


  • By jim, February 5, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

    According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average American household spends $159 per year on poultry. So at roughly $3/lb thats about 53 pounds of bird per household. Since its poultry in general that would include chicken, turkey, duck, emu, etc.

    I would assume that we eat additional bird meat that is bought as part of processed foods and not covered by the poultry meat category. i.e. the chicken included in your chicken pot pies or such.

  • By Craig, February 5, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

    Ouch. Remind me not to rouse your ire. As for me, I’m taking a 25 dollar bath at the Korean sauna tonight. But the two buckets thing does sound charming in its own way.

  • By Keith Morris, February 5, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

    I’m only frugal when it comes to buying the things my wife wants. :)

  • By Kosmo @ The Casual Observer, February 5, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

    If you you want to keep warm in the winter, simply adjust your pollution.

    I call it “seasonally adjusted global warming”. If we all pollute more in the winter and less in the summer, the winter temps will rise to become more comfortable while the summer temps dip to become more comfortable.

    Really, it’s a win-win.

  • By debtmaven, February 5, 2010 @ 10:19 pm

    Thanks for the plug, Frank! I’ll sheepishly admit that I’m not always the most frugal of frugalites. I do not buy the 1.75 liter bottles of Carolins, simply because I find them heavy and a pain the a** to pickup (who wants to do manual labor when you can’t even keep your eyes open), and they don’t fit in any of my cupboards! I know, I know. I could buy it, then refill the smaller bottles. I probably will, thanks for the peer pressure encouragement.

    Awesome blog – didn’t even know about it until I started getting hits off your site today. Love the sarcasm, does my born-and-bred-in-NY soul good.

  • By Jen, February 6, 2010 @ 12:07 am

    “Besides making our own highly flammable objects and junk food…”

    Why can’t we do both? Give SPT incendiary devices a go (aka strawberry pop tart incendiary devices).

  • By Mt, February 6, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

    Have you heard of Kwedit? It’s in today’s Onion NY Times.

  • By abdpbt personal finance, February 7, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

    I am giggling over the irish cream frugal tip, Frank. How does, but why would you, who in the what now, &c.

  • By Brandon, February 8, 2010 @ 9:31 am

    Oh come on Frank, obviously you have not thought this through. You can still watch hockey. You just have to play with the colors, contrast and brightness until it is sufficiently subdued.

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