Frugal Friday Back to School Edition

As we all know, the frugalosphere is a seasonal beast. August brought, of course, the usual spate of back to school tips. Most were obvious and ordinary, although Coupon Shoebox did suggest that “If your child is old Milky Way enough to be earning some money, or if you provide an allowance, you can consider letting him or her buy one or two supplies.” They will thank you someday.

Also possibly seasonal, perhaps brought on by the high temperatures that put us all in thrift store shorts and tank tops, was more than the usual amount of discussion of the intersection of frugality and weight loss.

Wise Bread explained Why Going to the Gym Is a Waste of Money, Time, and Resources by disclosing the little known fact that exercise does not help you lose weight. They cite an article in Time which uses “solid-sounding research and academic experts.” This is good news for the frugal, who need no longer struggle with the conflict between the desire to sweat through “no pain no gain” at the gym and the desire to sacrifice the monthly expense of a membership.

Frugality and weight loss conflict more often than a person might think. The Half-Off Diet addressed one of many conundrums when it asked if it is okay to eat only a quarter of a candy bar and then throw the rest away. The answer provided was yes, based on something about the cost of having diabetes or a heart attack, but I am not buying it. You are still discarding something useful. Perhaps you could sell it on Craigslist or, better yet, buy smaller candy bars to begin with.

Alas, buying less food is harder than it should be. But help may be on the way. Wallet Pop had a post Food Police Bust Chain Restaurants for Super-Sized Portions about pressure now being brought against certain establishments for providing too much for our food dollars. It is hard to be frugal if they are going to make it that easy to get a good deal.

Wallet Pop also brought an informative series of posts on unconventional uses for household items. 10 uses for nail polish remover includes removing ink stains from your skin. 17 things to do with petroleum jelly includes removing water rings from table tops. Which also appears on the list of 17 things to do with toothpaste. 11 uses for a garden hose includes using it as a fake snake to scare birds. And one of 12 uses for olive oil is to combat snoring. You do a shot of it before you go to bed.

Speaking of lists of 17, Almost Frugal posted 17 Ways to Save Money in the Shower. #4, #5, and #9 are, paraphrased: use less soap, only use soap on your bits that don’t see the sun, and shower less often. The author lives in France.

Not Made of Money gave us a list, uncounted, of Easy Ways To Save Money When Redecorating Your Bathroom. It suggests installing bright lights because that will make the bathroom look cleaner. While I agree that there is no better way to hide dirt than with bright lights, what about the higher electric bill? It is hidden costs like that that we experienced frugalists know to worry about.

For example, social networking sites such as Facebook are expensive in many non-obvious ways. Yes I Am Cheap provided a short list of them, including the increased cost, and likelihood, of divorce once your spouse reads your page. Good to know.

And why not use the time you will not be wasting on Facebook profitably? this month told us you can actually get paid to look at porn. Imagine turning what was already just about the most frugal hobby available into a part-time job.

For a month filled with beaches and school shopping, August had a surprisingly large amount of musing on frugal theory and philosophy. There was a post at Watson Inc that defended frugalism against oft-made the charge that it is ruining the economy. Watson argues that the frugal do not spend less, they just delay their spending for a really long time. And that is totally different.

This debate is a few years old now, and I think it is time for frugalists to come clean. Of course widespread frugality is bad for the economy. But that just means that average incomes will fall until we can all be frugal.

In Shameless Frugality or Just Plain Weird? Squirrelers recounts the story of a woman who leaves her dog in the car to go into Costco to buy food, treats, and a bed for the dog. When she returns, she discovers that the dog has expired due to the heat. She then immediately goes back to the store to return the now unneeded items. Squirrelers calls this “shamelessly frugal” rather than weird. I don’t get it. What is the shame in taking back what you no longer need? I’m sure Fido would have wanted it that way.

Donna Freedman at Surviving and Thriving shared The Pickup Truck Theory of Life. “You don’t need to own a truck – you just need to know someone who owns a truck.” Brilliant.

Freedman uses this principle to eschew owning a TV or car, but really there are no limits. Make friends with people who wear the same size clothes that you do. If you are lucky, they might have 3/4 of a candy bar they need to get rid of.

No Comments

  • By Dasha, September 10, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

    Thanks for making me laugh yet again. I wonder if there is a way to make my making-coffee-at-home habit more frugal? How many times do you think its ok to reuse the beans and filter? Gosh, I hope someone addresses this in September, preferably in a numbered list…

  • By Adam, September 10, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

    Oh Frank. I think these types of posts are what I look forward to most in the month. You have a real talent for satire.

  • By jim, September 10, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

    I missed that one on Wisebread about exercise being futile. Thats a gem. Wonder if my doctor will buy that argument?

  • By Donna Freedman, September 10, 2010 @ 10:40 pm

    Thank you for linking to my piece. I wonder if the quarter-candy-bar woman ever thought of freezing the rest in pieces? She could take one out to thaw when she wanted one.

  • By Hibryd, September 13, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

    The Time article Wisebread quotes goes into a bit more detail than the headline: the point was that exercise alone won’t help you lose weight UNLESS you keep your calorie intake at or below previous levels.

    People in the study who exercised but didn’t keep track of food automatically ate more. Makes, sense, since your body was hardwired at a time when calories were precious and scarce, so unless you’re one of those (annoying) naturally skinny people, your body is deeply terrified of losing fat and will use every trick it has to keep you padded for the next lean winter.

  • By Zoe, September 13, 2010 @ 2:49 pm

    I had heard the pickup truck line about that being the cheapest way to own a boat – be friends with someone else who does.

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