We've all had frugal accomplishments that we're proud of -- tell us about yours!

Amanda Witman
By Amanda Witman on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 - 11:58pm

What moment, discovery, experience, or find is at the top of your list of "most significant frugal accomplishments" in your life?  Tell about more than one if you want to -- large or small.

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26 Comments

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1828
One big; one small

Large-scale frugal accomplishment: sitting out the housing bubble while living in Silicon Valley.

Ever dreamed of buying your starter home for the price tag of $1 million or more? That's what it was like in Silicon Valley when I was in my early 30s and looking to buy my first house. And a million bucks was the entry price for a no-frills, 30 year old, unrenovated single family home.

Family, friends - everyone - was screaming at us to buy or be priced out of the market. I resisted and later became very grateful I did.

Small-scale version: buying food in bulk quantities. Invest in some bulk storage jars (for rice, flour, lentils, sugar, etc) and buy at the bullk station when at the market. Most of the time, something is always on sale and that's when to stock up. Not only are you saving $, you're deepening your pantry and eating healthier because you're actually making 'real' meals (vs buying prepackaged, often less-healthy foods)

David Huang's picture
David Huang
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Housing

I think my most significant frugal moves have been in housing.  When I first moved out of my dad's home to be on my own I could have rented an apartment like most.  At the time in my area this would have cost $400 to $600 a month.  Instead I settled on a small mobile home in a trailer park.  I bought the trailer for $1500 cash and had a monthly lot rent of just under $200 a month.  It was like having my own apartment except I had a yard to garden in, two parking spots right out front, and the neighbors weren't right on the other side of the wall (though they weren't much farther away), all for a fraction of the cost.  After about 5 years there I sold it for the same $1500 (sort of like getting my security deposit back) and bought my current place.

Again, I bought the cheap small property most didn't want, a slightly larger mobile home on 1.56 acres with lots of out buildings.  This was priced at $27,500.  My mortgage was about $60 more than the previous lot rent and I was able to pay extra and pay it off early.  Over time I've been upgrading and improving the homestead, paying cash all the way.  This route has allowed me to live well on minimal income over the years.

shastatodd's picture
shastatodd
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austerity

i have lived in my current mount shasta california home for over 18 years now. it is on 1.5 acres. over that time i have done what i can to make this place as resilient and sustainable as possible. i super insulated the house and with frugality, only used ~7 kWh a day of electricity, which doubled to 14 kWh a day whan i added the electric heat pump. this is zeroed out with a grid-tied 4.5 kW solar electric system... with battery back-up for our severe winter storms when the power goes out. i only heat about 300 sq ft in the winter, so the bedroom runs in the upper 40's to low 50's (austerity). i have a large garden and orchard and grow (with permaculture techniques) around 30% of my food needs. i also wildcraft food and harvest acorns in the fall. i have a solar thermal system for hot water & greenhouse for garden starts and winter veggies. i am also part of a 'lifeboat' group here in the mount shasta comnunity... this is a group of folks who are doing similar things. we realize working together is how we will best move through what is unfolding.

todd

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suziegruber
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Posts: 141
Use Your Local Library

When I began to reduce my expenditures because I exited the corporate world and the paycheck that went with it, I started to look at alternatives to buying every book or renting every DVD that I wanted.  I discovered that I can order most things I am interested in through my local Sonoma County library.  Yes, it takes longer than just jumping on Amazon or visiting my local bookstore.  However, it has also allowed me to review books before I buy them.  In several cases it saved me from buying books that I was no longer interested in owning once I reviewed.  I love ordering DVDs from the library because I never know when they are going to show up.  Since I also have a passion for journal articles, I discovered that I can get most articles for free through my local library.  We happen to have a great research librarian which helps a lot.

butsch's picture
butsch
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Housing - Rent -vs- Buy

For many years most people have assumed that it is better to buy a house than rent one.  This may be true in some situations, but sometimes you can turn that on its head.

Rule #1 -- Avoid professional rental agents.  They are middle men.  Rental agents make a living by imposing and collecting late fees and other charges.  They also have been known to try to cheat the tenant out of all or part of a security deposit by making unjustifiable claims about the condition of the rental unit.  They will also try to cheat the owner out of income by claiming unreasonable amounts for repairs, using "independent contractors" who are paid a low hourly rate (say for 4 hours work)  to go to an apartment building and fix various problems (broken windows, etc.) in half a dozen or more rental units.  When when the owner gets the monthly summary from the rental agent he sees at least six different bills for as many jobs with a minimum charge or $25. or so.  The repairman got $40 or $50. but the agent deducted $150. from the rent collected.

Rule #2 -- Rent a single-family detached dwelling or both halves of a duplex. This situation is ideal for single people or married people without children.  The amount of rent you should offer must be at least enough to pay the property taxes and the insurance.  You can find out what the property taxes are at the county tax assessor's office.  Hazard insurance quotes can be had from an indepent insurance agent.

If you are self-employed, renting a single-family house or duplex makes it easier to run your own business out of your house or the other half of the duplex.  Why make two landlords rich?

Rule #3 -- Deal only with the owner of the property.  The best owner to rent from is one who owns a house free and clear of any mortgages (such as a house inherited from a parent or grandparent) and wants to hold the property until better times come along so they can eventually sell it at a price they believe is adequate.  They probably have a sentimental attachment to the house which will work in your favor since they will be more reluctant to part with the property.  Perhaps they want to eventually improve the property themselves, but the time is not right due to a poor economy.  This is a win-win situation for both the owner and the tenant.  It is also one of the few times that a rotten economy can be made to work in favor of the tenant and owner.

Rule #4 -- Look for a house with problems that you can fix on your own.  The more problems a house has, the lower the rent can be.  Do not demand repairs from the owner if you can fix them yourself.  Cosmetic repairs do not have to be made at all, while replacing a water heater or fixing a washer or dryer is a one-time expense (and you can take the appliance with you when you move if you get that put in the lease agreement).  If you demand expensive repairs, the rent will increase.  Once the rent increases it stays at the higher rate, whereas a one-time expense is gone forever.

If a problem arises that threatens the structural integrity of the house (such as a severly leaking roof, a foundation that is settling  and causing more cracks in the walls to appear, a tree that is more and more likely to fall on the house or a neighbor's property) report these problems to the owner.  This does not necessarily mean you have to moveif you are willing to put up with the problems.  After all, it costs a lot of time and money to move!

Rule #5 -- Personal contact with the owner means that over time a personal relationship will arise (thus making the owner more likely to value you).  Pay your rent on time and treat the owner well and you will have an ally instead of an adversary.  Owners do not want to increase the rent on a trouble-free tenant unless forced to do so by rising taxes, insurance, repairs, etc.  They also do not want to take a chance on finding a new tenant who might be able to pay increased rent once they have established a good relationship with a current tenant.

Doug's picture
Doug
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home buy

We bought our home in '91 before prepping entered our consciousness.  We wanted some land and woods for our kids (1st was one yo, 2nd was in the oven) to run and explore.  When the realtor told us what their calculations said we could afford, we both thought she was crazy.  Fortunately, we followed our instincts.  We paid it off in 17 years with a re-fi along the way and were able to pay off all debts, retire, pay for all our preps so far, pay for college for the kids (still paying) and have a comfortable nest egg to live out our lives.  If we had bought what we could supposedly "afford" we would no doubt still be in debt.

Doug

Shut Down's picture
Shut Down
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Posts: 3
Household Savings

There are quite a few ways to save thousands of dollars at home each year without lifting a finger. Among them are these three simple techniques that have worked well for our four-member family in a dry, triple-digit hot California desert and here in cloudy, rainy Northwest Oregon, too.

#1. We never use the air conditioner. It may help sell the house some day, but for now it stays off. In the summer, we open windows as soon as the outside air temperature is less than the inside temperature. This is usually in the evening. In the morning, as soon as the sunlight hits the south windows, we close the blinds. Yes, it gets warm some afternoons but so what? 

#2. In the winter, we set the home gas heater at 60 (on) to 62 (off). To suppement the heat, we open the blinds all the way up allowing sunlight in. It's amazing how much free heating the sun offers. Yes, it gets chilly, but a sweater, stockings and a fuzzy hat will cure that.

#3. We only use cold water for clothes washing and hang all of our clothes to dry inside; yes, even sheets. 

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
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Posts: 1828
Skill sharing

A great way to save money AND build community is through skill sharing.

Go over to a friend's house and help make repairs if you're a carpenter. They may come to your house soonafter to help you put in a garden if they're an experienced vegetable-grower. Or perhaps cook for you. Or help you with your taxes. Or help fix your car. 

Skill sharing is a big goal of these ResilientLife Groups we've created here at PeakProsperity.com. By enabling people to find or create Groups in their local areas, we hope to foster the 'cashless currency system' of contributing your knowledge & time for each other's benefit. 

An example: this weekend I'm putting up a friend (room, board, etc) who's traveling through the area on a job interview. In return, he'll be helping me put in the stakes and bailing wire for my blackberry patch.

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
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Posts: 409
I agree, this is a great frugal practice

My daughter is (right at this very moment) at a neighbor's house having a fiddle lesson at no charge.  Neighbor happens to be a very accomplished musician and teacher, and she also has a 3 year old son.  My kids and I sometimes help out with her son while she teaches, and we help in her yard, and I occasionally help her with data entry for her business.  There is a Time Trade group in our area, which makes it really easy to track hours spent/received and as connect with others who want to share skills.  It doesn't necessarily have to be part of a direct exchange -- I can share my skills with one person and have another person turn around and help me out with theirs.  Because time is traded informally on an hour-for-hour basis, it is not technically barter and therefore not subject to Federal income tax, as barter would be.

With some friends and neighbors, it has become second nature to ask for help and offer help in return.  With others, the Time Trade has helped by providing a formal backbone for helping 'transactions'.  I have had quite a bit of valuable help, at both my old house and my new house, with fixit projects, cleanup, and installations that I could not otherwise afford.  Making it a point to share skills generously and ask fearlessly for what you need set a wonderful precedent for frugal sharing and living.

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
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I've posted about this before, but it's worth saying again

I got a free woodstove a few years back that is currently heating my home for significantly less than it costs to run the oil furnace.  I guess the frugal accomplishment was being active on our local Freecycle list -- active enough to be among the first few respondents -- and following through with the person who offered it, as we were second in line and the first was a no-show.  We had to change our plans significantly that day to pick it up, as we were out of state, but it made so much sense that we made the effort to drive back and get it anyway.  Turns out it is a classic "old" (1985, LOL) woodstove in fabulous shape; it needed no work at all except for installation.  We used it last winter at our old house and it's been a workhorse this winter in our new house as well.

It feels like quite a prize, and it has a good home with us.  I often silently thank the folks who decided to offer it up for free rather than trying to sell it or junk it.

Stoicsmile's picture
Stoicsmile
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Hondas!

I learned how to work on cars in the Navy, where auto hobby shops were located on the bases. I am in my 40s and have yet to buy a new car. My last several cars have all been Honda Civics, at least 10 years old, with well over 100k miles on them when purchased. The two daily drivers in my family (for the winter) are a '91 Civic with 325k and a '95 Civic with 240k. Besides no car payments, auto insurance is cheaper because I don't have to have full coverage. Oh, and 40 mpg average year round doesn't hurt either! I might splurge on my next purchase and get a 2001 Insight or a 2005 Civic Hybrid. ;)

~Bill Bishop

catherder's picture
catherder
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Posts: 26
A small frugal accomplishment

Nothing big to report, as my husband is not into frugality at all, but I harvest many lbs of wild blueberries and cranberries every summer/fall here in central MA (always looking for companions for the October cranberry trips!) - these go into the freezer. Also a friend and I fill up a car with leftover apples from a city-owned orchard near us, as soon as the farmstand closes for the year. We dry most of these for snack food.  Lastly, since lemons don't grow in MA, I use all parts of them except the seeds - first juice in cooking, then rest goes into freezer. In summer I chop them up and whiz them in blender with water and honey to make fresh lemonade (with a sieve). What is left from this goes into bags in freezer for a future ingredient in muffins, etc. If we have too many we make lemon marmalade from the skins. I just can't stand throwing things out, I guess!

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jasonw
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Outlawing of the classic old woodstoves

Amanda, 

I recently came across this blog post about new EPA restrictions on the type of woodstove you and I love to use and I wonder at what point will we all be forced to switch to newer and more costly ways of heating our homes? 

http://offgridsurvival.com/epa-woodburningstoves-illegal/

Will we be forced to upgrade (Cash for Clunker Woodstoves) or be stuck fearing the fines that come with not being able to afford alternatives? 

Something to ponder. 

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1516
Here is where my family is findng the money.

As the saying goes, "Pennies add up to dimes, and dimes add up to dollars."

  • We got rid of a Ford Explorer and drive a Subaru wagon now. It's like getting half-price gasoline. And we check local gasline prices with Gas Buddy. Then we take off between 5 ccents and 10 cents a gallon iith a local grocery chain's Fuel Perks promotion. Check - there might be something like that in your area.
  • Over the last three years our electricity cost went up 28% but our bill is slightly lower even though an extra person lived here. This is due to
  1. A new-to-us fridge. We swapped our 23-year-old- refrigerator for a three-year-old one when a friend remodeled. Free upgrade. Big lowering of the electric bill.
  2. CFL bulbs. CFLs are so cheap they were not a stretch. (But the LEDs are wicked-expensive.)
  3. Flat screen monitors (we get them broken and hubby fixes them for things like an $8 capacitor.)
  4. Air-tight woodburning stove for heat (there is a whole forum topic on wood stoves) Not cheap, but worth it in a power outage, right Amanda? And Jason, it's EPA approved so that's covered.
  5. New screen doors and window screens for ventillation on nice days (ACE Hardware has the best prices, and they ship-to-store for free)
  6. Solar-powered attic fan for hot days ($700 installed,  lowered our attic temps 10 degrees F) and two "gable fans" (really, they are just a couple fof box fans we shoved into the gables...)
  7. Various forms of insulation for both temperature extremes: insulated window shades with heat-trapping box valances, foam-cored steel exterior doors, weatherstripping, and Eco-Foil. $200 worth of Eco Foil and some staples lowered the main floor summer temps by 10 degrees and the attic by another 5 degrees.Wonderful stuff.
  8. The TV goes OFF at the surge protecter strip rocker switch. No "standby" power drain!
  • Food-related savings
    1. Cooking from scratch has degrees of difficulty. Certain things, like gravy and croutons, are so simple to make, so delicious from scratch, and so expensive to buy I never stopped doing them. I've always made my own cole slaw, chili, and soups. But when I worked 80-hour weeks, much of it fell to the wayside. Now that I am semi-reitred I am starting to make things like homemade pie crusts and refrigerator pickles again.
    2. Thrift bakery bread is 89 cents a loaf for whole grain goodness.
    3. Garden. We save oodles on produce.
    4. Couponing, up to a point, makes sense, but only if you are buying the item anyhow.
    5. Bring it! I pack a snack and a drink when I run errands, so I am not tempted to buy overpriced convenince foods. Used to pack my lunches, too: just make double for dinner and bring that in the next day. (Yes, even when I worked 80-hour weeks, I cooked for the week on Sunday afternoons.) .
Denny Johnson's picture
Denny Johnson
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Mental benefits

I imagine it is the same for many raised in consumer societies, insights into the beauty and benefits of frugality came about as a consequence of broader lifestyle choices and directions.
Back in the day of Vietnam, Nixon, Watergate, and “America, love it or leave it”, I built a sailboat and left, spending the better part of the next 15 years living closer to nature in some beautiful tropical places and cultures.
There was a forced frugality in this wandering sea-steading life with few opportunities for renewing the cruising kitty. When you did earn some money you continued to live as if you had little, you didn't know when you'd have the opportunity to earn more.
There was a very real, experiential sense of Chris's thought that “debt is a claim on future labor” or more to the point, it's corollary, “savings are a claim on future free time”.
It was a lesson in 'having money isn't important, but not not having it is'.
Associated with this frugality was the development of skills valuable for tumultuous times.

Later in life I had some clear realizations that living with a compassionate intention toward all beings is wise, and that anything we consume causes harm to other living beings, oftentimes ourselves as well.
Frugality, minimizing consumption, making do with less, not wasting, are natural consequences of trying to live with these realizations.
The financial benefits are significant, but the mental benefits, the stress reduction that comes from the contentment of having enough, of wanting and 'needing' less, and the peace associated with the compassionate intention behind this frugality far outweigh the financial considerations.

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leoninseattle
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commuting

I'm delighted to have found a job that I can walk to. I put about 200 miles a month on my car. Given that the average American has to  "shell" out about  $8000 annually for their car, I feel like I've discovered an oil well in my neighborhood. It's great to hear what the rest of you are doing. Nice to know there are kindred souls out there.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Just a little tip I was at

Just a little tip

I was at the grocers, buying "family pack" meat for the freezer, on sale. I'd been buying Ziploc freezer bags to break the large packages up into meal-sized packages for the freezer. I realized that I could ask the butcher to cut the large packages of meat up and rewrap them on indivdual cardboard trays. This should save me quite a bit of money since good freezer bags are about a dollar each, and you can only wash and sanitize them so often.

Silly, I know, but every penny helps. (This from someone who just made a substantial cash wedding gft to her son. Where do you think that cash came from?)

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earthwise
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Buying second hand

I've been haunting the local Craigs list websites and my wife has become the Thrift Store Queen. I'da never thunk in my life that I'd be buying second hand, but I'm amazed what I've found:

--Livestock; I found all my farm critters on Craigs list. Goats, sheep, pigs all second hand.

--Fencing materials for said critters. Really, really cheap.

--I bought a 12 foot long heavy gauge, commercial, stainless steel, double sink for $500; lists new for about $3,500. It even already had the faucet and the drain fittings. I use this in my tack room/milking parlor for various tasks, but mostly for butchering. It's awesome.

--A Butcher Boy professional meat cutting bandsaw. I can now cut meat like a professional butcher (well, almost. I'm still working on the "skills" portion. But lack of equipment is no longer a problem)

--Our leather sofa/loveseat/ armchair set wore out under the (ab)use of our three young boys. We found a large high quality leather sectional for them to destroy for under $1,000. Shortly thereafter I found a leather recliner (electric!) for $500 that matched the sectional perfectly. All told, we spent less than half than what a new sectional alone would have cost. So now it'll only bother me half as much when they trash it.

--I got two hundred concrete pavers, one foot square each, for $75. Used 'em to line the pathways between the raised garden beds in the garden.

--55 gallon drums. Plastic food grade for water and food storage. Steel galvanized for gasoline. 

--My wife routinely finds boys clothes in the thrift stores. Not junk, either. Last week she came home with brand new name brand dress shirts that still had the store tags on them, never been worn, for $2 each. The week before it was two thick colorful hoodie sweatshirts for $1.50 each. Looked new. 

One man's trash is another man's treasure. It's amazing what folks are wantin' to get rid of.

Shut Down's picture
Shut Down
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Posts: 3
One More Cash Saving Tip

Okay, I realize this is always controversial. Plus I know some won't try this because they've read somewhere that it's unhealthy or refuse to consider it due to a host of other reasons ... most of which are nonsense, but we've heard and read them all over and over. But I don't care. This is for anyone, but primarily for the 99.9% of the population who do not buy meat from grass fed dairy farms or who hunt for all of their animal-based diet.

Here it is anyhow. I've saved thousands of dollars, maybe ten thousand, over the past eight years. I'm now starting year nine never (and I do mean, NEVER) eating at fast food outlets and continuing my 100% vegetarian diet. No, I did not say "vegan," I said, "vegetarian." I do consume dairy products (not milk) such as egg whites, cheese and occasional whey protein.

I'm 58 and considered fit. I run, bike, lift weights and have suffered no ill effects whatsoever. Happliy my health has improved considerably, particularly cardiovascular. One of my one/oz gold coins roughly represents the annual savings, or it did prior to the recent run-up. Give it a try for one year. Bag an oz of gold as your reward. If you're still young enough, bag a pile of 'em as your personal payoff for a decade of this fantastic, healthy diet.  

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
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Posts: 409
jasonw wrote: Amanda,  I

jasonw wrote:

Amanda, 

I recently came across this blog post about new EPA restrictions on the type of woodstove you and I love to use and I wonder at what point will we all be forced to switch to newer and more costly ways of heating our homes? 

http://offgridsurvival.com/epa-woodburningstoves-illegal/

Will we be forced to upgrade (Cash for Clunker Woodstoves) or be stuck fearing the fines that come with not being able to afford alternatives? 

Something to ponder. 

Interesting, Jason.  People have said to me, "Woodstoves can't be everybody's answer, you know."  Well, yes, I agree.  Woodstove smoke can be quite a pollutant in densely populated areas, if enough people are burning wood, or the chimneys are low to the ground, or whatever.  But right now mine is my answer, and other people can figure out different things when their time comes.  (Hate to say it, but "I got here first" kind of goes through my mind...early bird gets the worm, etc.)

I wonder what "forced" would mean.  Our government does not have the resources to run properly with the programs that are already in place.  I have a hard time believing that they would come to my house and remove my woodstove, leaving my four children and me to freeze in our cold winters (currently 18F, but last night it was -9F.)  They have a hard enough time keeping the elderly from freezing to death in their homes, and the homeless from the same fate.  I just don't see it happening.

Though I can see them trying to regulate what can be legally installed and who can do that work.

However, as the system breaks down, I think we'll be seeing more people who must, for their own well-being, make decisions that put them at odds with the rules.

bmega's picture
bmega
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Garden,cook, & second hand Resale!

I grow the bulk of my own herbs that I use daily, and now leeks, garlic and tea.   I would be spending $500+ annually to purchase these fresh.

I grow some of our veggies, though not enough,

I buy bulk and split cases with neighbors... we get mushrooms for $1 a pound!  Quality fresh apples for $0.50 cents a pound, saving usually half of store costs.

Cook from scratch - eat game we catch, buy reduced price meat and eat more beans!

BIGGEST SAVINGS ALERT;  BUY ALMOST EVERYTHING SECOND HAND.. and buy items to resell..

I have held my own yard sales/tag sales  for decades, been doing ebay  for 15 years .. it is good ( although a bit complicated initially) for selling my better items..  especially smaller pieces ,   i also use reliable auctions for moving excess stuff.   I swap with others for things i want and have a little rented "Booth" at a local resale market.  

for decades I have enjoyed buying something I wanted or needed for pennies on the dollar.  

NOW, we live in a time  of 'stealth inflation", ie.. price of stuff stays relativly  low at the sacrifice of quality/services/replacement parts availability, etc.  Notice how thin denim is now, how sweaters "pill"  towels fray or don't absorbe water, shoes wear out faster,  small appliances break... just after the one year warantee! This translates to most anything purchased new today, is not the quality of a similar model made by the same company even 10 years ago.    I generally notice things made at least 25 years ago are superior to things made 10 years ago.., 35 years old product, superior to 25..

so I buy vintage to get higher quality at pennies on the dollar!

I would love to know if any of you are procuring second hand goods, what are they?

I am collecting high quality household items for me, and for my young adult children and friends..  my favorite items:  Vintage Corningware - My vote for the Most durable bakeware ever designed,  cast iron cookware, vintage kitchen hand tools, glass food storage jars, rope, cordage, hardware, office supplies,  quality clothing, shoes, sheets, blankets, furnishings etc..   I now have the skills to "scout" for good resale items that actually give me a small but steady income. 

It is the life of a modern day hunter -gatherer , I highly recommend it!

Woodman's picture
Woodman
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Posts: 1025
My household prefers homemade

My household prefers homemade bread to storebought.  I figure using a quick simple recipe that costs me about $2 in materials and cooking fuel to make 2 loaves I save buying two quality loaves at the store for $5 each.  

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
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Posts: 409
Managing kids' expectations

I feels this counts as an accomplishment...  I've managed to raise four kids to pre-teen/teen-hood (so far) whose expectations are compatible with frugal living, including such things as

  • not wasting food
  • appreciating what we have, even if it is not abundant
  • not using disposable items, with rare and conscious exception
  • wearing used clothing almost exclusively, unless used cannot be found
  • caring for clothing so it can be passed down to a sibling or friend
  • wearing socks inside shoes so they can be passed down without disintegrating or smelling bad from barefoot sweat
  • secondhand/repurpose/regiven gifts as a matter of course, with homemade/reused wrapping paper and ribbons
  • handmade gifts such as cards and crafts
  • fixing, mending, or repurposing worn-out or broken items
  • making sure new purchases are high-quality to last many years
  • growing some of our own food
  • eating processed food only rarely
  • almost never "eating out" -- packing snacks/food from home as needed
  • drinking water or tea instead of purchased drinks (like juice, milk, etc.)
  • making do with leftovers or whatever needs using up in the fridge
  • keeping the thermostat low in winter (wearing layers, sleeping in cold bedrooms, acclimating, etc)
  • short showers and awareness of the cost of using and heating water
  • valuing functionality over style when one must trump the other
  • turning lights and appliances off, some with power strips to avoid drawing phantom power
  • generously passing outgrown or unused things on to other families who are living frugally
  • no TV (= limits exposure to advertising and mainstream consumerist ideals)
  • no recreational shopping
  • borrowing or sharing rather than owning

We have cultivated friendships and community among people who share some or all of these values, and so I think my kids' exposure to mainstream advertising and ideals is lower than most kids', but that is also part of the frugal accomplishment here.

I think one of the biggest steps on the road to greater frugality is a conscious shifting of expectations for everyone in the family.

kellyr's picture
kellyr
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 7 2008
Posts: 12
Estate sales

I like to haunt estate sales.  Some of my recent "steals" consist of brand new fishing rods for my grandchildren @ $2 each, new tackle boxes @ $1; an all-metal Standard pressure canner (new in Lehman's catalogue for $250), for $30, and a Enviracare humidifier (new at $129), for $6.50. Also a large compost sifter for $2, drinking glasses that matched mine at $.50 each, a large box of candles, most unused, (about 6 dozen) for $5.

I don't find much at garage sales and so I have stopped wasting time going to them (and using up gas).  I only go to estate sales in my corner of the city.  I have gotten hoes, rakes, other garden tools for about $2-3 each; extra measuring cups and spoons that matched mine for about .50 each; nice 100% wool blankets for about $15.00 each, a few large flower pots.  Tools are usually good, including metal files to sharpen them.

I have seen, but don't need, good vintage wool coats, some evening clothes and shoes, kitchen pots and pans galore.  I picked up some wool shirts for my husband at Goodwill as well as wool sweaters for me.  If we have warm clothes, we don't mind turning down the heat.

I get great buys at children's resale shops for my grandchildren (until they outgrow size 12), including Polo shirts and other good brands, including ski bibs and sweatshirts.  Our local consignment shop has sales regularly at half off their original price.

treebeard's picture
treebeard
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2010
Posts: 380
Maytag

A repair man can to our house and told us our 25 year old maytag washer had finallly bit the dust because the timer had gone bad and replacement timers were not available.  We hunted on line and found that replacements were readily available. The machine is still running strong.

I love to bake bread too, never did the math to see what the savings are.  I love Laurels Bread Book, her original ccok book Laurel's Kitchen is one of the best vegetarian cook books I have ever seen.  The bread book goes into enormous detail on the art of bread baking, I would highly recommend it to new and experienced bakers.

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
Status: Peak Prosperity Team (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 409
treebeard wrote: A repair man

treebeard wrote:

A repair man can to our house and told us our 25 year old maytag washer had finallly bit the dust because the timer had gone bad and replacement timers were not available.  We hunted on line and found that replacements were readily available. The machine is still running strong.

I'm glad you second-guessed him.  Also glad to know the parts were available from Maytag.

I have a Maytag washer and dryer, bought new when my oldest was a baby.  They're 14 years old and still going strong for me, and the last time I had them serviced (belt changed, or something like that) the guy said they are workhorses.

Unfortunately, the following year's model washer was the first computerized version and it has not had the same longevity record as the non-computerized one.  Doesn't surprise me at all.

I think there is something to brand loyalty when the reason is quality.

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