Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Frugal Cheat Sheet

HA!  Tricked you.  Because a "frugal cheat sheet" would really just say "spend all your money on crap and then borrow money at a high interest rate, preferably as a HELOC so if you miss a payment you lose your home, repeat until you are dead."

This is more of a few frugal life hacks (frugal-life hacks? frugal life-hacks?  Cripes.  Forget it.)

These are things I do that I now find easy and tend to save me some cash and I actually enjoy them a bit. 

1) keep a list of stuff you want/need but don'/t have to have immediately.  When you see a thrift store, yard sale, merchandise-graveyard (I'm looking at you Tuesday Morning, Ross, and T.J. Maxx and the rest of your ilk), look in those places first.  And for a while.  E.g. I've been wanting to try thermos cooking again.  So I put "thermos to cook in" on the long term list.  It's been a few months but a good quality option for 2$ popped up the other day.  I don't make special trips to thrift for this stuff, just check if it's on the way to elsewhere.

2) eat what you have.  The "pantry challenge" system has saved me a bunch.  I like to stock up but once I'm there, time to stop shopping and just eat what I have.  Right now I'm well stocked.  There have been excellent sales at scratch-n-dent grocery stores and regular stores that I also hit, with a list, if I happen upon them.  Always start with the discounted food shelves in the back...I have gotten great stuff there.  You need to be a little flexible but it works.  I have a list item "flour" rather than "king arthur organic spelt flour."  If I see a flour that will work, preferably organic but not always a crucial criterion, I can get it.  Once stocked up with the thrifty groceries, then you eat them.  I can go about 2 weeks right now without going to the store for anything but greens and fresh fruit and of course I COULD live without those if I really didn't have time or money. 

3) stop at stores when you are going past anyway.  I don't make many special trips to buy things.  I have my master list with me on an ipod I got as a gift when a friend upgraded.  If I see a store, I check the list and the store.  Then I move on.  This saves me gas by not making the special trips, and money since the list is with me and I'm not there just to browse around, I'm there with a target or two, and I'm on the way to somewhere else.

4) feel free to cross things off the list.  If things are on the master list or the grocery list for a while and I don't get them, and don't miss them or find I already have something that works fine for this supposed "need" or "want," then the item gets dropped.  The list is not a commitment to buy.

5) develop a route on errand day.  OK, I totally just said I don't make special trips.  True-ish.  On the weekend I hit the laundromat as the main goal (clean undies are a NEED not a want).  While there, i can walk to my storage unit and trade out winter/summer clothes or whatever else needs to be swapped out or culled for donation.  That usually takes up the wash cycle.  In the winter I use the dryers since I don't have room to hang 2 loads inside.  During that dry cycle, I run my recycling, on foot, a couple blocks up to the recycling center and drop them ...while checking the free book bin and the free bucket bin but trying to take only items on a list or with immediate uses.  Back to the laundromat, fold and go.  Next is the furthest thrift store which is also by one of the cheap-o groceries.  Then if really need something, another thrift, and any other stores in that town but in a clear loop, not random starfish like driving patterns.

6) know your gas stations.  This applies more to me than to most.  I drive 30,000miles a year or more.  I know, I know...the environment and the potential blood clots.  But, we makes our choices and we lives with them.  About 10,000 miles a year are work miles and tax deductible, but that's still a lot of personal miles.  Anyway, that means I spend quite a bit on fuel.  So I know the gas stations in my region.  I also know how far apart they are and keep an eye on my gas tank levels.  I don't go below a quarter tank because that is just a stupid game.  I make a note of fuel prices on my way to a place, check at the place, and then fuel up at the cheapest option if I need gas that day.  It can save me up to 25cents a gallon.  I usually need 10 or 11 gallons.  $2.50 twice a week (or 3 times...) is 250$ a year or so in savings.  Some say it's not worth my time, but those people are stupid.  OK, not stupid.  Those people aren't me.

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