Because we are always frugal here at BadMoneyAdvice global HQ, it is always Friday.
First, an apology. We have not managed to post our round-up of doings in the frugalosphere for a while. The cost of the extra electricity required to conduct our research was exceeding our frugal-by-choice budget limits. But now that we have our new-to-us steam turbine generator in the backyard up and running (it burns toilet paper tubes, egg cartons, and dryer sheets for fuel) we are back in business.
But where to start? How about birth? If you are thinking about reproducing, you might want to read Shopping Detox’s analysis Which are most frugal: cats, dogs, or babies? Spoiler alert: it is cats.
If you take that lesson to heart, you might be looking for frugal contraception. Of course, the the most frugal method is abstinence, something that comes naturally to many frugalists. But condoms are a good second choice and Wise Bread’s Mikey Rox points out that there is really no reason to pay for them.
I see them all kinds of places for free. They’re available at bars, doctors’ offices, clinics, street fairs and festivals, and more. I have a huge fish bowl full of condoms in my living room, and I pick up extras whenever I see them.
It is not just frugal contraception, it is frugal home decor!
Then again, if you do not have a baby you will miss out on the opportunity to save by not using disposable diapers. And they are the ultimate DIY project. But remember, timing is everything. FamilyancialWealth [sic] explains that you should get yourself pregnant in late February or March to get an end-of-year baby. You will get full tax benefits as if you had had the kid the entire year.
And if the new addition on the way means you have to move, StupidCents has a great tip: instead of paying to have your furniture moved, just sell it. Problem solved.
Of course, it is not only the big changes in life that provide frugal opportunities. Personal care, for instance, is rich with possibilities. This That And The MBA passed along the suggestion to save on those expensive disposable razor blades by using an old-fashioned straight razor. That will save literally dozens of dollars a year. Better yet, the author reports that “the first time I used one it looked like I was in a knife fight.” So not only can you be frugal, you can show others how frugal you are. Always a plus.
Also in our personal care department is lip balm. If you are like the author of a post at YouHaveMoreThanYouThink, you apply it more than 50 times a day. And you know that even that totally normal and not weird level of use can get very expensive. Not to worry, the post gives a recipe to make your own lip balm in 9 simple steps. All you will need is 5 ingredients you are unlikely to have in your house but can probably find if you visit a few stores and 10 to 15 empty lip balm tubes with caps. Projected savings from the batch is $2, but your mileage may differ.
Speaking of mileage, there have been a lot of new posts listing ways to save on gas. Most of them, sad to say, have been the sort of thing frugalists have been doing for a long time: keeping the air conditioning and heat off, driving very slowly, etc. But RamblingFever had one that was new to us: draft behind 18 wheelers. Remember: if you can’t see my mirrors, you are saving money.
Food and drink outside the home is another area full of frugal possibilities. CNN even passed on a tip to save money while on a cruise. “Try emptying a water bottle and replacing it with your favorite vodka or gin. "No one will notice," says David Tuder, a banker from New York.” (Come to think of it, that Wall Street bankers believe that nobody can tell if they are guzzling vodka explains a lot.)
FreeMoneyFinance pointed out that you can save as much as $2,000 a year by making a meal of free samples at Costco just three times a week. Great idea. But then the same blog confused us with a post that asked What are the Accepted Limits of Free Refills? They are refills. And they are free. The limit is that the soda fountain will run out of soda eventually. Also there is probably some medical reason why you should not have an all liquid lunch of 50 oz. of Coke more than, say, three times a week.
We started this survey with birth, so it is only fitting that we end it with death. Shopping Detox, which brought us the analysis choosing cats, told us that “the most frugal way to die would obviously be to wander around the woods and pass away, becoming one with the dirt and the trees.” We agree, but there are some practical issues, particularly around timing if you expected to go from natural causes. On the other hand, if you were planning to help a close relative along, doing the job in the woods has some advantages.
More practically frugal was Prairie EcoThrifter, who told us that in “most states” you are allowed to bury a loved one on your own property. Also, in most states, embalming is not required. And, in most states, you do not even need a casket. So just dig a hole in the backyard and toss Grandpa in. We would skip the headstone. Not only will that save money, it will help protect your home’s resale value.
[Photo: Derek Harper]