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Forum Home > The Art of Frugality > Sticky: Little Things That Add Up

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I like to bring a lunch to work with me. The savings add up, plus you don't have to spend your lunch hour looking for food. Besides a savings of time and money, though, it can be a healthier option to bring a lunch. 

Here is a cool little reusable lunch bag! I like the retro Campbell Soups insulated carrier for soup or leftover hot dishes, too.  :)

April 30, 2010 at 3:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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I'm not really a coupon kind of gal, but some folks really know how to make them work!  

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May 7, 2010 at 6:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Growing some of your own fruits and vegetables can help stretch the food budget.  I've never thought of myself as someone who has a green thumb, but we do have rhubarb and raspberries that grow in our yard, and I do enjoy making jams and desserts with them.  I had a tomato plant in a pot last year, and I'm thinking of maybe growing some grape tomatoes this year. I don't want to get overwhelmed with a garden and have things go to waste, so starting small is a good idea, I think. 

Here are some pictures of rhubarb dessert and jam I've made.  :)

May 10, 2010 at 9:45 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Hello!  FINALLY I am on the blog!  I would like to know where I canpurchase Rhubarb plants!  Any thoughts ???

May 17, 2010 at 8:55 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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[email protected] at May 17, 2010 at 8:55 PM

Hello!  FINALLY I am on the blog!  I would like to know where I canpurchase Rhubarb plants!  Any thoughts ???

Hey!  Good to hear from you!

Our rhubarb plants were here when we moved in twenty years ago and they are so hardy!  They have multiplied and so we have a lot of rhubarb.  :)  I really don't do much with them except weed around them and if the summer is really dry, I will water that garden, but that's mostly because I have flowers in there, too.

I found a link talking about growing rhubarb ...  click here ...  as far as where to find a rhubarb plant, I would think a plant nursery would sell them.  Better yet, if you know someone who has plants, maybe they would split them to give you some! 

I love rhubarb dessert and jams.  Let me know what you find!

May 17, 2010 at 9:52 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Green living seems to be the current "in" thing these days. And, even though the ideas involved do seem to make sense, what if a person truly can't afford to pay for all of the green products endorsed? 

Here is an article that helps explain why not everybody is jumping on the green-living bandwagen ... The Hypocrisy of the Green-Living Bullies.

May 18, 2010 at 8:35 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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It pays to check over your receipt before you leave the store!  I made an effort today to use some store coupons for buy one get one free items. They were items that I use and happened to need, too, all the better!  I took a peek and saw that they had charged me $5.99 twice for one item ... they reimbursed me when I asked. By the way, I saved $18.61 by using those coupons today. Not anything close to the lady in the video above, but hey, it alls adds up.

May 18, 2010 at 7:21 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Have you noticed how much money you can spend on things to drink? I'm thinking about soda and juice, especially now that kids are home from school in the summer. A bottle of juice can be gone in a matter of a couple of hours!  

So, I remembered all the different kinds of tea that we bought and there they sit, in their boxes, waiting to be steeped and sweet tea seems to be the latest rage at McDonald's currently, my kids like sweet tea, so why not make our own?

Here is my version of an Easy Sweet Tea that is so simple to make:

6 bags of tea, any kind, be adventurous

2 quarts of water

1/2- 3/4 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you like your sweet tea

At night before you go to bed, float the tea bags in a pitcher of water, in the fridge.  Next morning, squeeze out the tea bags and stir in the sugar. Voila! It is done.

Yesterday, I made some peach tea. My kids tell me they like it.  Plus, I really need to use up all those bags of tea. 

June 26, 2010 at 6:35 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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A friend suggested a way to deal with those first silver hairs that seem to pop up.  She said to use mascara to color over the gray. Of course, this would only be for the day, but I thought I'd give it a try ... it did color over the gray, but the texture felt a little strange. Hmm. I'll have to think on this one. 

July 14, 2010 at 11:37 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Thrift stores can be a good resource. We recently had a new open up in our area, and it's a nice one. Feels spacious, clean, and safe.

Thought I'd stop in this afternoon and look things over, and I'm glad I did!  I found a red, electric wok (have been wanting to pick one up for my daughter to use in her new college apt. :)) for $4.99, a nice Liz Claibourne tweed jacket for $6.99, and a lace dresser scarf for our bedroom for $1.00. 

Some thrift stores are better than others, but if you find one you are comfortable in, you can find some good savings. It's worth a look, anyway.

August 14, 2010 at 4:40 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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I read about the Wonderwash the other day, and am thinking of getting one for my oldest boy, now that he is living on his own in a studio apartment ... it's a portable device to wash clothes in, uses no electricity and very little water and laundry detergent. No more trips to the laundry mat! 

This is exactly the sort of thing I would have loved to have had when I was single and living on my own years ago ...

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August 24, 2010 at 8:48 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Here's some good practical advice!  From Early Retirement Extreme.

If I could give you a single piece of advice. This would be it: Live within your means. The long term benefits of living within your means have been proved by economists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own observations.

Buy a modest home. Make a 20% down payment. Get a fixed mortgage loan. Consider refinancing at the same term if rates go lower. Do not take out a second mortgage.

Buy good furniture and energy efficient appliances. Only replace them when they break and cannot be repaired.

Turn the thermostat down to 68. Turn the lights off when you leave the room, turning the lights off won’t hurt you.

Don’t fill the garage with powertools you never use.

Drive a modest car. Shop around and pay cash for it. Maintain it well and keep it as long as possible.

Marry a good hardworking spouse with the same financial values as yourself. Don’t divorce.

Learn to cook. Eating at home will add to your savings rather than your waist line. Stay in shape. You may think you are fine now, but in twenty years those extra thirty pounds will turn into sixty and come back and bite you.

Shop at less expensive supermarkets. Make a shopping list before going to the store. Only buy things on the list. Keep your tastes simple. Don’t buy $3 cups of coffee and drink water instead of canned soda.

Don’t smoke.

Buy clothes on sale and out of season. Don’t follow fashion for the sake of following fashion.

Work hard and save 30% of your income. Invest most of it. Don’t trade.

Find ways to have fun without spending a ton of money.

Think about your choices with money. Every choice you make has consequences.

Oh yeah, and wear sunscreen.

September 11, 2010 at 9:38 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Had to show you these ... aren't they gorgeous?  

Found these at a store called Farm & Fleet in LaCrosse, WI. ... $4.99 a piece. They look like fancy coffee from Caribou or Starbucks!  Since we make our own coffee at home, we're always looking for travel mugs that are durable and don't leak. So far, these have been wonderful. Though they are dishwasher safe, I have been hand washing them ... I really like them and want them to last a long time.

Not that we're into looking cool or anything.  :)

September 26, 2010 at 10:38 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Making your own household cleaners can help you save some money. Plus, the ingredients can be a safer alternative to some of the chemicals that are added to the manufactured ones you find in the stores. 

Here is how to make your own all purpose cleaner:

Grandma's Cleaner

1 (16 ounce) bottle rubbing alcohol

1/2 cup sudsy ammonia

1 teaspoon liquid dish soap, like dawn or joy


1. Pour ingredients into empty gallon container or empty gallon milk jug.

2. Fill the rest of the container with water.

3. Put into spray bottle and refill as needed.


If anybody else has any "recipes" they would like to share, please post them!

October 18, 2010 at 8:57 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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How do store brands really compare to name brand food items?  I think that many times they are just as good, and you can save up to 30% on buying the store brand.  

Watch this consumer reports video on the subject ...

November 6, 2010 at 9:39 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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From The Simple Dollar ...

1. I really like sun tea.

2. The patience and effort in teaching yourself something new is incredibly rewarding when you begin to succeed at it (like my piano playing).

3. When you’re sitting around a table with friends, it really doesn’t matter where you’re at.

4. Young children are usually more interested in the free packaging or other freebies than any item you might buy them.

5. A tall glass of pure water is the best first line of defense for many ailments.

6. Going nearly vegetarian when your garden is peaking in productivity is an interesting dietary adventure.

7. You don’t have to go to a dealership to buy a great car.

8. Fixing a toilet isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds.

9. Making a small sample batch of something before you make it in bulk is a really good idea.

10. You disagree with your spouse a lot less if you don’t have a pile of debt stressing you out.

11. YouTube and a pile of old newspapers can entertain a four year old and a two year old for several hours.

12. Real friends keep in touch no matter where your path leads.

13. I used to be ashamed of who I was and bought stuff to cover it up. Then I was ashamed of who I used to be and flaunted my frugality. Now I’m okay with both and I don’t really care at all.

14. You feel pretty good when you’ve fixed a hot water heater problem by yourself without having to call a repairperson.

15. Every time I let go of something I used to like, I have more room for the things I enjoy now.

16. Our local library has more groups going on that I could possibly be involved with.

17. When you’re spending time with people you really care about – and who really care about you – it doesn’t matter what you’re actually doing.

18. Most generics are just as good as the name brands; they’re like getting a $1 off coupon because the label looks funny.

19. Preparing something new in the kitchen and actually pulling it off makes our family dinner incredibly enjoyable.

20. You don’t have to worry about the important stuff if you don’t waste time and money on stuff that isn’t really important to you.

21. Our city’s parks and recreation department has more fun stuff going on than our family has time to participate in.

22. Netflix streaming (at $9 a month) combined with free over-the-air digital television provides better television viewing options than a $50 monthly cable bill.

23. Changing your own oil isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds.

24. Life is a lot less stressful when you don’t really care what the people at the grocery store think of you.

25. The flavor of fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden blows away anything you can buy at the store.

26. You don’t need all of the latest and greatest equipment to really enjoy a hobby.

27. A nap is the best free vacation.

28. Vinegar is a spectacular fabric softener replacement.

29. Haggling can be a lot of fun.

30. It’s a lot easier to focus on earning more money and doing something spectacular if you’re not scared to death of the financial apocalypse from losing your job.

31. I like putting beans in a lot of different kinds of food.

32. Being thrifty isn’t bad for the economy – it’s just a different kind of consumption. Money saved and invested helps the economy as much as money spent.

33. Making your own gifts for other people can be incredibly rewarding, both for you and for the recipient.

34. Saying or thinking “I absolutely won’t…” usually costs you money.

35. Getting rid of stuff you don’t use can be painful, but it feels exhilirating once you’ve started doing it.

36. It’s far better to own one thing that works than ten things that only “kind of” work.

37. The fun stuff you enjoy doing isn’t tinged with guilt when you’re not buried in debt while doing that fun thing.

38. Cloth diapering isn’t as scary as it sounds.

39. Sharing a good money-saving tip or two is almost always a good way to start a conversation with a neighbor.

40. The less activities you jam into a vacation, the more enjoyable and relaxing it usually is.

41. The more you talk to children about money and wise money decisions, the more they emulate those decisions with the money they have.

42. If you have the storage space, you’re almost always better off buying in bulk.

43. You are never too old to run through a cold sprinkler on a hot day.

44. Used paperbacks and books from the library are just as fun to read as new books from the bookstore.

45. Taking out your old thermostat and putting in a new one isn’t as scary as it sounds.

46. A bit of patience on any purchase almost always saves you a mint.

47. Time is far, far more valuable than money.

48. Most of the things that genuinely make me feel good – exercising, playing with my kids, holding my wife – don’t cost anything at all.

What has frugality taught you?

November 8, 2010 at 8:42 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Found an article on MSN Money ... Six Habits That Will Make You Broke

1. Window shopping

It can be fun to browse the aisles and see what's out there. We all have our weak spots, like home goods, electronics or clothes -- even if you don't like to go to the mall. You don't even have to leave the house to window shop anymore; those catalogs, the Internet and commercials advertising the latest sale can be just as tempting.

Window shopping is a bad financial habit that takes some discipline to break. Staying away from your favorite retailers and not requesting catalogs or e-mail updates from your favorite stores is a good place to start. Before buying that latest item you pine for, ask yourself two questions: Do I need it, and can I pay cash for it? If your answer to either or both is no, walk away.

2. Carrying lots of cash

You know that paying with plastic is bad, but carrying lots of cash can be a bad habit too. Cash can give you the feeling of having extra -- fun money that's just sitting there. Carry only enough cash for what you need, and leave the rest at home. Avoiding plastic is great, but budgeting is just as important when choosing to pay cash.

If you like the green, try budgeting your cash with envelopes: one for groceries, one for entertainment, etc.

3. Saving your info with vendors

Those online shopping sites are so considerate to save your address and credit card information -- some even have one-click ordering buttons, so you can buy something in just a second. It's very easy and very dangerous. Not only does this easy shopping make you broke if you're prone to impulse shopping, it also eliminates the feeling of spending money, because all you do is click. Don't allow vendors to store your credit card information. Avoid signing up for e-mails and catalogs if those tempt you to shop when you really shouldn't. It can be great to know about a sale, but if you didn't need anything, it's just another temptation.

4. Clipping coupons you don't need

We all feel the pinch in this tougher economy, especially when buying groceries. Clipping coupons is downright trendy today -- but is it really a good habit? Sure, getting 50 cents off that package of cookies or that brand-name detergent is a discount, but you may be surprised to find that your grocery bill isn't going down despite all your clipping. The truth is that buying generic brands that are just as tasty is often cheaper; coupons can make us buy things we didn't plan for. Start with a grocery list for the week, and then look at your clipped coupons. If you can use one, great, but try supermarket brands too for the best bottom line.

5. Shopping with your emotions

It was a rough week, or a good one, or you want to reward yourself for losing a few pounds, so you go shopping. You earned that new dress, that new gadget, that big pie -- it was on sale, too. Letting your mood dictate your buying decisions is the quickest way to go broke. Sober up before shopping. Do you need these items, and can you afford them? Be honest with yourself. Reward yourself by doing something that doesn't cost, like taking a nice bath, or spending time with loved ones.

6. Not planning ahead

It's Tuesday, you're tired, and you have no idea what you'll make for dinner. A great night for takeout, right? Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it's estimated that the average family of four spends more than $4,000 per year on eating out -- a very expensive habit that will make you broke in a hurry. When you make your grocery list, make a menu for the week at the same time, so you always have ingredients for a meal. If your week is hectic, try cooking on Sunday and freezing meals for the week. Plan for lunches the same way; not only will you save money, you'll eat healthier by avoiding fatty restaurant food.

The bottom line ...It takes some discipline to break these bad habits. With some planning, restraint, and avoiding tempting situations, you can break these habits -- and maybe even find you have a little extra cash at the end of the month.

Here's the link to the full article:  Six Habits That Will Make You Broke

November 28, 2010 at 8:53 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
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I guess there are still some grocery stores that will double coupons! Here is a link that lists these stores by state ... Grocery Stores That Double Coupons  

December 3, 2010 at 7:46 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
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Here's my idea for the day ... How To Grow Potatoes in a Barrel  :D

Anybody ever tried this?  How did it work out? 

December 6, 2010 at 9:02 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Lots of great ideas here, Sandy! A couple more frugal ideas: I bought one of those plastic/metal reusable coffee filters. Been using it for many years. I haven't bought a bag of coffee filters since. Even better, I bought the reusable filter at a thrift store (new!) for just 25 cents. :) I used to go through a lot of paper towels and napkins but rarely use them anymore. I spend some time purchasing cloth napkins until I had a good collection. All were bought (new!) at thrift stores for no more than 25 cents per napkin. If you wanted to be even more frugal, you could make your own from used material you have on hand (worn out fabric tablecloths or sheets). A friend told me you can make no-sew napkins simply by cutting them out with a pinking shears! I also keep a supply of various sized rags (old dish towels, washcloths, hand towels, etc.) in a drawer next to my kitchen sink. I use these for all clean up jobs except for very greasy messes (which I don't want in my washing machine). I do buy paper towels for those rare especially nasty cleanup jobs, but keep the roll in a high cabinet so I'm not tempted to use them. And so my husband and daughter can't find them! One roll lasts a very long time now.
December 29, 2010 at 9:01 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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