Category Archives: frugality

I Went Over The Shampoo Edge

Had to have it, even at the price of a trip to the grocery store.

Had to have it, even at the price of a trip to the grocery store.

Dear Lord, spare me from the wrath of the frugalistas. I spent $50 for a bottle each of shampoo and conditioner.

And there wasn’t even a salon dude to do the washing included in the price.

Fifty dollars. Holy soapsuds, Batman!

Let’s be fair about this. I have been the stockpiler type for a long time. Bought plenty of toothpaste, soap, shampoo, TP, paper towels and dental floss on sale for just pennies. And don’t get me started on BOGOs, doubling coupons, loyalty club points and free-with-purchase. And I go one step better: I donate a lot of what I buy to shelters and food pantries. So I’m really good.

And you know I’m just trying to use my thrift and thoughtfulness to justify that out-of-bounds purchase, don’t you?

Pampering ourselves is not a bad thing. Pampering to the point of indulgence, assuming all other needs are met, is fine.

But fifty bucks for two products that basically go from bottle to hair to shower drain? Probably just a shade over the edge of sanity on this one. And the sad thing is, I will likely do it again with this product; it’s that good. I’ll take my fifty lashes with the frugal noodle and move on.


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Filed under budget, consumer products, frugality, health and beauty, shampoo, thought

I’d Walk A Mile (Or More) For A Freebie

English: A bowl of Cheerios

English: A bowl of Cheerios (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like a good bargain. I’m even willing to work for it.

I had a few coupons due to expire today, and a national chain drugstore had a decent sale on something I use a lot. The store is a mile and a half away, which is certainly close enough as a decent walk. But it’s hot out. About 85 degrees, plus considerable humidity.

Don’t get me wrong. I can more than handle the heat. And honestly, a mile and a half (three miles for the round trip) is not really a worthy use of gas and tires, even in my little subcompact. And letting those coupons expire seemed like a crime, especially when using them meant the items were free.

The Husband does not really get any of this. Does not get the coupon thing, does not get the walking-for-exercise thing (especially since I exercised this morning), does not get why I would want to suffer the heat when I have a perfectly good car sitting in the driveway that will get me from Point A to Point Wherever in good time. And really does not get why I want more of something I already have stockpiled in the pantry.

I can explain the heat thing (I need to acclimatize for my races), the exercise thing (good for my cholesterol and blood pressure and the coupon thing (senseless to throw away money). I’ve given up on the stockpile thing. Trust me, he loves it when he can wander in the spare bedroom and find “surprise” food (“surprise” food is defined as something he thought we were out of, but of course, we could not be out of, because I stockpile it). He may question the need for the pantry, but I know his secret satisfaction with it.

And just what was that freebie item I went looking for today? My favorite cereal, Cheerios©, was on sale, plus I had a national and store coupon. (Oh, and saw the controversial commercial featuring the mixed-race family. For the record, I loved it. I’m looking forward to the day General Mills makes one with same-sex parents. Now that will be thirty seconds heard ’round the world).

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Filed under budget, consumer products, Current news, food, frugality, television

I’d Buy More Stuff If I Could Use Up Stuff

You know you want (all of) it, dangit!

I’m a conscientious stockpiler. I am not a hoarder. There is a difference.

A stockpiler has a careful plan, doesn’t overspend, stores things in sane places (health and beauty products near the bathroom, food items in a pantry within a reasonable proximity to the kitchen, pet products in the vicinity of where the pets are most of the time); while a hoarder buys with complete abandon, stashes stuff wherever it fits and buys stuff they don’t have a hope of needing or using (a single, childless gal who’s buried in diapers and formula or an older, widowed gent hauling in tampons).

That difference explained, I have a nit to pick with some of the current consumer packaging that’s out there. I’m talking about certain styles of tubes and bottles that seem to be empty, yet still have stuff in them when they’re “finished” – and there’s no way to remove the remaining product, thus getting your true money’s worth. And being a stockpiler (and everyday user of these products), I think I would know the difference between an empty bottle and one that still has lotion in it, even if it’s only enough for one hand.

I find this happens most often with lotions and shampoos, though toothpaste is a problem, too. Newfangled lotion and shampoo bottle tops are not designed to be removed by pulling or twisting, which means it’s not a matter of adding a bit of water, rinsing the bottle and using the dregs. Removing the top requires nothing short of a drill, plus the patience of a saint and the strength of Atlas. And yes, I know about the clasp thingie for squeezing toothpaste. It doesn’t get all the toothpaste out, though. To do that, you have to slice the tube and dig in with your toothbrush. And for the record: yes, I do slash my tubes. It’s fun, in a vindictive sort of way.

Nobody should be wasting resources in this economy, regardless of financial standing. There’s no shame in saying, “I get the most out of what I buy” when you do just that. I’ve mentioned my friend, the blogger and financial writer Donna Freedman, (, who has said, “I save where I can so I can spend where I want.” Donna is living proof that when you do the former, the latter happens: she’s left the lower forty-eight for Anchorage, because she can, thanks to her own thrifty ways.

I’m finally looking at some empty shelf space in my health and beauty stash, and I need to buy more responsibly, meaning containers that can be completely emptied of their contents before recycling. Until then, it looks like I will have to keep the crowbar handy.


Filed under frugality, recycling, thought

A Good Friend Gets A New Gig and Good For Her!

A fellow blogger, Donna Freedman, has a new soapbox, and it’s big. And I’m proud of her.

MSN Money has her featured on their site with a daily blog called Frugal Cool, and it’s about time Donna got her due. She’s been there, done that in terms of going through tough times. A frugal single mom who successfully raised a frugal daughter, Donna has worked hard, lived simply, gotten a college education (without student loans) and had the courage to spill-and-tell about how you can do it, too. She’s not harsh with words, but there’s no Suze Orman-style “GIIIIIIRRRRLLLFRIEND!!!!” talk, either.

Donna’s message is simple. You have to decide what things you want the most and why you want those things, and work your budget priorities around those two ideas. For example, we all have to eat. If eating organic, locally produced food matters more to you than eating any other way, then that’s your food priority, and to get it, you have to budget more money to pay higher prices for those items. That means hitting the bars with friends, stopping for “emergency” take out and lunches with coworkers may not have a place in your budget. Life’s unfair, but you have to work with the money you have, or you have to find more of it someplace else to keep spending the way you want to.

Donna makes no apologies for her decisions. In her early years, frugal wasn’t cool, it was a need brought on by the combination of divorce, a daughter and the prospect of paying bills on her own without a college degree. Now frugal is fun, it’s a habit, and it’s a lifestyle, but it’s not a straitjacket. Yes, she coupons (and for those of us who do, that’s a verb), stockpiles, and shops sales.  She’s not missing a thing: she travels, contributes to charity, lives debt-free and has many followers who admire her story and like her common sense.

I think you will enjoy her as well.


Filed under blogging, budget, frugality, Uncategorized

Reality Stick Smackdown: What Does It Take?

I don’t understand some people’s ideas about money.

They think once they’ve accounted for all the things they know they have to pay for, they’re done worrying. No unexpected or unaccounted-for things could possibly happen to them that could mean the difference between having a balanced budget that month and suddenly scrambling to pay basics like rent and groceries.

I’ve written about a finance board I post on, and one poster in particular, who refuses to give up, change or compromise anything she wants or likes, in order to make living without debt a reality. I should add that she comes from a well-to-do background, and the Bank of Mom and Dad is still probably bailing out her more stupid moves. To make matters more compelling, she is raising children to live this way; buy whatever, spend whatever and don’t worry too much, so long as the income and outgo kinda sorta match up at the end of the month. After all %$!* doesn’t happen here, not to us.

Do tell.

I’ve lived long enough to lose track of the number of  “Oh %$!*” moments in my life. From feline bowel blockages to a husband who breaks a leg on vacation, to an overflowing commode that ruins a bathroom floor, to a sick parent, they never end. Sure, you can break out the plastic, or borrow from family, but isn’t it better to have some funds to fight back with when the reality stick hits you and knocks the wind out of you? Bad enough you have to think fast and react faster; having some money available to pay for extra food, medicine, a plumber, vet, a much-needed adult beverage  is vital to your sanity.

And yes, you can make room in your budget for an emergency fund. We’re talking about a few dollars set aside a week. Give up a treat or two, or put the money aside when you save money couponing and rebating. Try what I do: set aside a small sum every time you do laundry. It’s asking a lot in already lean times to do this. But the next time life wields the reality stick over your head, you’ll at least have a protective shield at the ready.

And an update: All the kind thoughts are appreciated. Mom isn’t doing well, but we are hoping for the best, whatever the outcome will be.

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Filed under budget, family, frugality, mental health

I Found A Phone…And Nobody Cared?

A funny thing happened on my running way this morning.

 I found a cellphone. A very expensive cellphone, according to my Internet research. Unfortunately, by the time I figured out where the “On” button was, I found out it was an expensive, dead cellphone.

Before I set out to find out whose it was, I spoke to a few people about how and why cellphones get lost. I mean, this was not what I would call a lightweight item, given its small size. And then, it’s a possession someone paid for.

When I mentioned the idea of tracing the owner by taking it to the service carrier of record (shown on the outside of the phone), I was asked by several people why I would bother. “They’ve probably just gone ahead and bought a new one anyway.” I also heard, “Oh, I [the husband, the kids] lose phones regularly; I’ve had to replace it a few times.”

I don’t get it. Maybe I’m showing my age, but it’s about respecting your possessions. With all the news about the horrible economy and lack of jobs, you would think people would be more respectful of their stuff, know where it is and take care of the things they spend hard-earned money on. Especially these new phones that store your entire life: address book, photos, emails, texts, Internet games, and all the other things that keep people busy while they work or drive or eat in restaurants.

It’s also about trying to return a possession to a stranger who might want it. I still believe in doing the right thing and the “due diligence” of finding the owner of something lost.

Many will shrug and say that we have been a “throwaway” society for so long, that our discards no longer matter, whether they involve unloved children, poor elderly, unwanted pets; so why should a mere cellphone matter? I guess I’m tired of seeing the trash on the side of the road, whether the road is asphalt or life’s metaphysical highway, and figure it’s time for me to help clean it up.

Note: Many folks have asked about Kitty. She’s home and doing well. Eating a little more each day, still on meds for another week. Thanks for asking; it’s good to know you care.


Filed under frugality, technology, thought, Uncategorized

Kitty’s Sick, The World Stops…And That Costs How Much?

The hubby and I have spent $1,400 at the vet for one of our cats. So far.

Believe me when I tell you, I would never willingly spend that much on myself at the doctor.

Kitty was in obvious distress yesterday; we thought it was nothing more than a major-league hairball she could not eject. But when she was clearly showing other signs of physical struggle, hubby got the cat carrier and Kitty got stuffed into it for a ride. And I do mean “stuffed.” She’s a bit of a tubby feline, though I have to say she can run and jump very well, given that she’s ten years old and leads something of a charmed and lazy life.

Vet Dr. Brian took her in for tests right away, discovered a lower intestinal fecal blockage (that’s constipation in simple terms), changed her food and gave her a shot. We took her home, but the call came this afternoon, when the blood tests came back. Bring her back in; there’s trouble. Kidney and renal issues; she needs a flush and fluids and possible antibiotics. No sign of infection, probably nothing  extremely serious, and this procedure can certainly help her. Yes, she will need meds for the rest of her life. No, we never considered not doing it. I came home early from work, stuffed poor Kitty back into cat carrier for yet another trip, and Vet Dr. Brian took it from there. “She’ll be staying with me tonight,” he said. “Don’t worry, we’ve done this before.”

Poor Kitty gave me such a look as the vet took her out of the waiting room. It was a look that said “traitor.”

Sitting here hours after leaving her, I wonder if we are exactly that. Traitors in terms of putting her through this, even though she is relatively young. Are we doing it for her, or for us? I know many pet owners struggle with this, and Vet Dr. Brian was honest about it. He was for it, because her chances are excellent. And we can do it, because we always have emergency money put aside for just such an event.

It’s a privilege to have the life of a beloved animal in your keeping, no matter how long or short that time may be. It can be a crapshoot to know for absolute certain whether you’ve done exactly the right thing all the time for that creature. I guess I’ll find out more over the next few days.


Filed under family, frugality, Uncategorized