We humans have developed countless quirky habits, clever hacks and, sometimes, completely baffling approaches to fulfilling our needs, so it’s always interesting when you get a behind-the-scenes peek into the lives of others.
As a YNABer, I was particularly enchanted when I stumbled across a post in the YNAB fans Facebook group. It began, “What is the most ‘frugal’ thing you do that others may find odd?”
I wasn’t alone in my interest. Hundreds of “likes” and even more comments—405 of them, as of this writing—poured in. Here are some highlights:
1 – Get Super Cozy with Your Furry Fam
By expressing her two dogs at home, she saved nearly $80 per visit to her vet, although prices may vary dramatically by location.
If you’re unfamiliar with this common veterinary procedure—expressing the anal glands—then count yourself lucky. If you’re curious, may I refer you to The Google? (Not recommended for the squeamish or dining constituents among us.)
Other cost-saving pet care tasks listed included weekly IV treatments ($35 a pop), nail trims ($30 with a wash) and grooming (e.g., one trend-setting pooch gets his pink mohawk done at home).
2 – Don’t Waste One, Single Drop of Your Toiletries
What’s in your bathroom? Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, cleanser, toner, toothpaste, hair product and makeup—oh my! The challenge? Whether you shop drugstore brands, go bulk with Costco-sized containers or prefer boutique, specialty toiletries, don’t waste a drop!
One commenter states, “My husband gets annoyed when it is difficult to get out, and [he] will open the new one … two weeks later, I’m still scraping out of the old one. 😂🤷♀️ I just don’t want to be wasteful.”
Another helpful commenter shared that she does the same with diaper rash cream, “ … that stuff is spendy!”
And, still another helpful commenter shared this tool, a tiny spatula to make sure that you get the job done, right.
Of course, the fewer products that you buy, the less tiny-spatula scraping you’ll need to do, am I right? Which leads us to makeup erasers. Apparently, all you need is water, which saves you on cotton balls, too.
3 – Say Goodbye to Paper Products
Paper goods aren’t popular in this crowd. No, they suggested all manner of DIY and reusable alternatives (Go, planet!). One commenter offered this, “I buy one roll of paper each year and keep it in the laundry room just in case of gross messes (and to drain bacon).”
And at least a couple (a pair) suggested using socks: “Old socks get a slit down to the ankle in the back and can be slipped over the hand for dusting. When things are really gross, I’ll throw it away but, other than that, we just drop stuff in the wash with other clothes.”
4 – DIY Your Wash (Including the Detergent)
If you’re wondering about the relative cost increase of laundry when you give up paper towels, then why not wash your clothes by hand?
One commenter shared, “I’ve recently started doing laundry at home with [a] laundry basket and a washing board. I live in NYC and, because of my hectic schedule, I seriously don’t have the time or energy to go to the laundromat and haul my laundry hamper and bag.”
While you’re at it, save even more by making your own laundry detergent, and cut your fabric softener sheets into thirds, tripling the life of your box. Or give reusable, wool dryer balls a whirl.
And, if you’re cleaning in the kitchen, consider these DIY dishwasher soap tabs.
One commenter uses the following:
- 1 cup of baking soda
- ¼ cup of citric acid
- 1 tablespoon of dish soap
She said, “Mix in a bowl and put into a silicone tray or ice cube tray. The mixture will rise. After about four to five minutes, level off the excess and put into another container.”
5 – Cut Your Visits to the Salon
Cut and color your own hair, if you dare. One commenter shared, “I cut my own hair. Huge thanks to YouTube beauty bloggers.”
If you’ve got a loving and/or frugal partner, take a cue from this commenter, “I color and trim my wife’s hair.”
Impressive, eh? (He also changes the oil in his car, but that’s a tip for another section.)
One last bit on beauty: for salon-finished feet with at-home pedicures, one commenter is extremely grateful for this tool. Pun intended.
6 – Watch How Much You Spend on Food
Grocery Delivery Saves One Family $600/Year
This commenter explained, “I’m a terrible impulse shopper, but only at the grocery store. If someone else does the shopping it forces me to make a meal plan, carefully select only the ingredients needed and place my order.”
Not Buying Groceries, at All, Saves Another Family Thousands
But, how do they eat? Dumpster diving. This commenter said, “You wouldn’t believe [how much food is wasted] . My Husband actually cried the first couple times I did it because of the thought of kids being hungry and all this sitting in the trash.”
Make Every Meal a BOGO
We all know that restaurant portions can be quite large, so why not follow one woman’s lead (including her generosity of spirit when it comes to our friendly servers!)?
She said, “My husband and I always split meals at restaurants. portion sizes are always more than enough. IMPORTANT to note: always tip as if you ordered two meals—servers don’t need to suffer for our frugality.”
Finally, a Word on What to Buy
There are a ton of ways to spend money in the pursuit of saving a buck, so think it through before you plunk down the dough on supplies …
But, also, consider one man’s take, “I buy more expensive things that last longer.”
He went on, “I could buy cheap dress shoes for 50 bucks that l have to replace every year. Or, I can buy good, leather dress shoes that might be 300 bucks but may very well last ten, if I take care of them (and longer, if I get them re-soled).”
Others chimed in citing sturdy, wooden furniture and heavy-duty kitchen gear as solid “buy it once” investments.
You might also find that you don’t need to buy as many tools or gear if you can work out a system of sharing with your neighbors.
One commenter said, “I have a bit of a tool ‘co-op’ where a bunch of us own certain unique tools and we share. There are three households, and we’re all DIYers who super-enjoy working on things together. We’ll actually consult with each other before buying a major piece of equipment.”
She went on, “I’ve moved an hour away from my friends, but I still drive back to borrow/loan (and, hey, visit!). So far, I’ve gotten with friends and have new flooring, an expanded closet, new struts, new brakes, new tiled backsplash, etc. All of it has just cost parts/materials and maybe a dinner.”
How about that? Sharing isn’t just caring—it’s money in the bank!