Updated on 08.16.10

48 Things Frugality Has Taught Me

Trent Hamm

Today, let’s do something a little different. I’m going to list 48 things I’ve learned about myself and the world around me that I only discovered thanks to frugality.

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?

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  1. Vicky says:

    I agree with a lot of what you said, and I disagree with some of it.

    But this one, “47. Time is far, far more valuable than money”, is by far the most important thing I’ve learned over the past year.

  2. Frugality has taught me that the Joneses were a figment of my imagination…

  3. Gwen says:

    Frugality has taught me that I can come up with good money for a great project by saving a little bit at a time.

  4. Jim says:

    One vote for number 27

  5. Jan says:

    Flashy expensive purchases, like new cars, only impress the kind of people who are impressed by new cars.

    Meantime, there’s plenty of other frugal people out there who will be impressed by your more practical used car.

    Also, figure out your net pay per hour. NET pay. Now before you buy an indulgence, think about how many hours of work that cost. Is it still worth it?

  6. Jeroen says:

    I agree with a lot of them, but 32 is provably false.

    “Money saved and invested helps the economy as much as money spent”

    The whole point of the paradox of thrift is that this is false.


  7. Frugality seems to bring us closer to the ground, which means it brings us closer to real life–who we really are, what the world really is. When we’re busy over consuming we don’t see any of that.

    #13 really captures that. We buy to cover what we believe to be our weaknesses, when it’s our weaknesses that often make us unique and human. Once you get comfortable with that a tremendous burden is lifted. Maybe because you realize that you don’t have to pretend, and you’re free to be who you really are.

    One of the things I’ve found is that once you strip away all of the pretense that comes with over consumption you find that you can live just fine without it. The world tells us we need all this stuff and have to have a lifestyle at Level X–it’s revolutionary to find out we don’t need any of it!

  8. Annie Jones says:

    I’ve learned I don’t like sun tea, but it’s OK because even expensive tea, brewed with heated water is really cheap compared to many other drinks. :)

    I agree with everything else on your list, particularly Numbers 6, 32 and 47.

  9. Mister E says:

    It sounds like a great many things sounded very scary to you pre-frugality. Congratulations on getting over that.

    Frugality has taught me that just about every part of life is easier when you’ve got a little bit of money in the bank. Even just a little.

  10. dakota says:

    Similar to your comments and those of others, I’ve learned that if you flip things around, you can make the Jones jealous of your savings.

  11. Debbie M says:

    I really like #36 about how great it is to have one thing that works perfectly. I love my perfect can opener, work-grade sneakers, book of favorite recipes, college dictionary and British English dictionary, etc., not to mention reliable cars.

    * A ten-year-old reliable car lasts me longer than a two-year old mediocre car.

    * If I fix the little things that bother me about the car, I can keep liking it even as it gets quite old. Actually, this is true of everything–if I fix the things that bother me (instead of putting it off or thinking it shouldn’t bother me), it keeps me happier.

    * I don’t always need to move my foot directly from the accelerator to the brake–I can sometimes coast to a stop (if there’s no annoyed traffic behind me) or to a curve.

    * Early retirement is a goal I can make happen even something ruins my pension plan.

    * You can sometimes use the web and 1-800 numbers to figure out what’s wrong with an appliance and which parts you need to repair it. Check the company’s web site first.

    * Sometimes I accidentally haggle.

    * I bought my house because it was cheap, thinking I would move up later, but now I really appreciate the cheap taxes, cheap utilities, and cheap repairs (replacing a small, uncomplicated roof is much cheaper than replacing a large one).

    * Unlike my mother, I can make light and fluffy cake without a mix. I think with my latest recipe, she can too.

    * I finally developed a good pumpkin butter recipe.

    * I’ve gotten a few awesome recipes from blogs such as a chocolate syrup recipe.

    * I only enjoy owning books that I re-read a lot, lend a lot, or use for reference. Same thing with movies.

    * I like to make sure that repair people (including doctors) have the same priorities as me or at least understand and can work with my priorities. I don’t need doctors to give me prescriptions for everything, just to lend me their expertise. I don’t necessarily want to replace things with shiny, new stuff but with well-built easy-to-maintain stuff.

    I also learned some negatives.

    * I want my next car to be a pretty color, even though I feel that shouldn’t matter to me.

    * I hate yard work, gardening, etc. I know it’s partly because my soil is made of clay and because we have very hot summers around here.

    * I don’t like having only five pairs of pants. They just wear out too fast, and it takes me time to find more that fit properly.

    * I need to learn more about maintenance and repair. Being raised in a throw-away society, I don’t even understand basic things.

    * I want a dishwasher. And probably a dryer. And covered parking (we have a lot of hail and harsh sun here). And that means renovating.

    * I really don’t like living without a car even though I can take a bus to work and a few good stores and a library are even in walking distance. And I’d want a car even if my friends all moved in from the suburbs, because the cool parts of my town are all over town.

    * The financial decisions some of my family members make drive me nutso.

  12. R L says:

    Love this list! Congrats.

  13. Debbie M (8) – I agree with you about owning a car! It would save a fortune to do without one–easily 1000s of dollars each year. But it’s a freedom thing, being able to go where you want, when you want.

    Frugality should never turn us into hermits, if it does, it’s working against us.

  14. Frugality has taught us that homemade tastes better than store bought.

    Also love #3- we spent an afternoon with friends and had more satisfaction with that experience than anything we could have paid for. Well, except maybe a trip through Europe. :)

  15. Ben says:

    The number one lesson I have learned so far:

    (Assuming a 4% safe withdrawal rate) – If I have a monthly expense, I need 300x that amount in the bank to cover the expense in retirement. If it’s a yearly expense, I need 25x that amount in the bank to cover the expense in retirement.

    If I drink $50 worth of beer per month, I need to save $15,000 to sustain my beer consumption in retirement. (15000 x .04 / 12 = $50). That’s an eye-opener.

  16. Kathryn says:

    @ Debbie M. – like your lists.

    If you have a good pumpkin butter recipe, please share! :) 4 kat 2009 at gmail

  17. Debbie M says:

    Pumpkin Butter

    1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
    3/4 cup water
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    1 tablespoon lemon juice (or juice from 1/2 a lemon)

    Combine pumpkin, water, sugar, and spices in a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for a few minutes while stirring. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice.

    Cool and refrigerate.


    If you’ve never heard of pumpkin butter, it’s a lot like apple butter. If you’ve never heard of that either, it can be used like jam–on peanut butter sandwiches, on toast, and mixed with yogurt.

    This is not a picky recipe–change the proportions however you like. I’ve heard that lemon juice and sugar are preservatives, so you might want to keep that in mind.

  18. Beth says:

    Debbie — thanks for sharing the recipe! I’ve never heard of pumpkin butter, but it looks tasty. (and I’ve heard that pumpkin is super-healthy too!)

    Trent, this is a great list! One big thing I’ve learned is that what’s good for the budget is also good for the environment — like using less product and better managing my meal plans.

  19. Crystal in Ft Worth says:

    I’ve learned that clothes dried on the line can be stiff and scratchy. But! My MIL told me to toss them in teh dryer for 3-5 mins with a slightly wet wash cloth will soften them right up

  20. Greg says:

    I like number 22! I’ll never understand why in frugal blogs so many people talk about canceling netflix! You should cancel EVERYTHING else, stop going to movies, and just get netflix! That plus Hulu / online streaming and you have more shows than you can possibly watch.

    I’ve also made it my mission for the past few years to convince people #3. It costs $20 or less to have a fun get together at someone’s apartment vs $70 at a bar!

  21. Lauren Welsh says:

    Im new to this frugality thing (but have been following your blog for sometime – a bit of inspiration!) but I have to say, you are right about the getting rid of things. It was hard for me to do at first, REALLY hard, but the more I did it, the more exhilarating it felt!

  22. MikeTheRed says:

    I love it. Frugality leads down the same path as de-cluttering it seems. By shedding the excess, you see what’s really important and are able to focus more on those key things, people and experiences.

  23. I agree with much of your list, but I need to say that I agreed with many of these things when I had money and didnt need to be frugal. Some of these are self insights that it seems you needed frugality to find out. Also, I dont do sun tea, LOL. I dont think that giving up things we used to like is a necessity or even desirable much of the time-even those semi expensive hobbies. I think doing what we love is as important as saving money.So I’ll keep the golf, the quilting and the travel. And While im willing to cut down on cable, streaming is not an alternative.

  24. Vikki says:

    Frugality has taught me that making good choices is less about gut reaction and more about thoughtful introspection.

    Also that surrounding myself with people that share my values (over hobbies, ideas or history) makes those good choices require less thoughtful introspection.

    That thoughtful introspection (habitualized by the desire to be frugal) has helped me make enormous strides in my relationships with others and my career.

  25. valleycat1 says:

    Getting over the need for instant gratification in one area expands in ever-widening circles to more areas of my life.

  26. jgonzales says:

    Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned from frugality is the value of free information, especially the Internet/Library. You can do so many things yourself instead of buying it/paying someone to do it and the information on how to do it is available for free most of the time.

  27. Amanda says:

    Love your last one about family Debbie!

  28. Amy B. says:

    A trip to the mall makes me feel like I’m a stranger in a strange land.

  29. Mule Skinner says:

    #23 — Changing your own oil is actually idiot simple. There are two hassles: Doing it in very cold weather; and disposing of the used oil. I have no solution for the cold. For the used oil: I put it in an old plastic jug and take it to the county dump, where they have a facility to accept it.

  30. Aileen says:

    This might sound naieve but what is free over-the-air digital television?? I’ve been dying to break away from our monthly satelite bill but can’t get my husband to agree. I’d love to save the nearly $70 we spend every month!

  31. an old mutt says:

    You guys are all cheapskates, lol… I’m kidding. Being frugal has taught me to make wiser decisions about when and how to spend. But I do think a person shouldn’t be frugal when it comes to buying good quality food, and not just buying in bulk. A lot of the foods that are on sale in bulk aren’t usually the healthiest.

  32. Monica says:

    Pumpkin butter … yum! Well let’s be honest here, I love anything made with pumpkin :)

    Great post Trent. Lots of good insight to be had here, and like several others I really like #47.

  33. Lacy says:

    Re: No. 4 — This is true for pets, too! My dog’s Favorite Toy Ever is currently an empty pop bottle. She also likes to play with empty paper towel or toilet paper rolls. My cat is in heaven with an old sock stuffed with a little catnip!

  34. Kristi says:

    I learned that when you don’t have health insurance, you can get some really great deals at the doctor’s office. lol.

    If you don’t have health insurance, when you get your medical bills, ask them what their courtesy rate is… that is usually the rate at which they will bill insurance companies. If you offer to pay them in full that day if they give you the courtesy rate, you will save some serious cash. Most of them will take it if you offer to pay in full because they don’t want to mess with payment arrangements.

    I did that with my last medical bill and paid $110 for a $230 bill. Less than half!!

  35. WendyH says:

    I’ve learned not to point out less expensive “substitutions” to my husband until after he’s tried it. He seems to have specific brand names stuck in his head as being “better”, but if I don’t point it out, he usually doesn’t notice any difference in quality.

    I’ve also learned it’s not worth it to argue over purchasing his favorite “name brand”, especially when we’re talking a matter of a few cents for something like window cleaner.

    In addition, I’ve learned if I want to keep him from “borrowing” items, get the “cheap stuff”

  36. tentaculistic says:

    I really liked that list, thanks Trent.

    To address a common theme running through it, there is so much satisfaction in learning to do something intimidating (fixing things, installing things, working on your car, etc) and having the mysteries fold right up and become easy. That is such a good source for the good kind of self-pride.

  37. Crystal says:

    I like your emphasis on friends and family. I truly don’t think about spending money when I’m just hanging out and chatting with great friends.

  38. Leah W. says:

    This is a good post. More like this, please!

  39. todo es bien says:

    Here is what I learned from frugality: Having income yielding investments and no debt feels a LOT BETTER than having a bunch of extra crap. Debt is slavery.

  40. Sheila says:

    Had to laugh at the cloth diapering being “scary.” My “baby” is 32, and I didn’t even think twice about cloth diapering. I was annoyed when daycare said I needed to bring disposable diapers, which were expensive.

  41. Scott says:

    I have learned that I love oatmeal with honey and cinnamon and I have not found a cheaper snack.

    Great post. Thanks for changing it up.

  42. kate says:

    Reading your post and the comments made me smile:) I have lived this lifestyle since high school, so I am used to it and didn’t think about changing anything after college either. I always felt sorry about the people who gave up their dreams and hobbies and activities to pursue this excessive working/consumerism/crash in front of tv – lifestyle. Luckily it seems that more people “get it” now these days.

  43. Sandy Cooper says:

    I learned that chicken on the bone is just as easy to fix and just as tasty as boneless chicken breast.

    That taking the kids to Sonic for $1.59 sundaes is more fun to them than Graeters where the ice cream is $3/scoop

    That less house means less house to CLEAN.

    That a few really pretty, well-made pieces in my closet are better than a whole closet-full of poor-fitting thrift items.

    That I really don’t need half the stuff I think I want.

    That if I don’t look at catalogs, I think my house is really pretty.

    That compared to 99% of the world, I am extremely wealthy…and that humbles me.


  44. jo says:

    Frugality has taught me:

    You should always do the math – the giant economy size is not necessarily the best buy.

    Reducing clutter avoids buying a duplicate of something you already have because you can actually find it.

    We eat more than we need to – cutting down on portion size is both frugal and healthy.

  45. Jason says:

    That’s inspiring! I agree with most of them, and 34 and 47 are real important.

  46. Jeremy B says:

    Thank you for this!!! As my email and blog suggest, I am a frugal traveler. However, this carries over to all areas of my life. On my blog, I even have a Budgeting 101 article on how to create a budget spreadsheet to track spending.

    I love to save money and like these ideas. I just started growing a garden this year to save money and to give me a fun project. I am not very handy but love DIY stuff to learn and to save money.

    And lastly, one of my biggest beliefs is that the greatest enjoyment of life comes from simplicity and not stuff. You don’t need to spend a lot or buy stuff to really enjoy this life. Thanks again!

  47. Jeremy B says:

    Man, I just love this. Sorry but I want to make a few more comments. We’re like brothers from a different mother!

    Family – every day after I get home from work, I spend time with my wife and kids until the kids go to bed. No TV – just playing with them. Best quality time I have every day and will make their life more meaningful in the future. And it costs nothing.

    I just bought a house last year. I bought a house I could afford – not what the bank told me I could afford. Know your own finances and what you can spend before committing to a major purchase like a car our house. You need to know what you can spend and all the costs associated with that decision.

    Getting out of debt should be your biggest priority. If in debt, pay it off. Order your debts by which can be paid off first. Once you pay off that first one, then take the money you were putting towards that debt and add it to the payment of your next debt. Once that is debt is paid off, add both payments on top of the next one. Debt will disappear faster and you will pay less interest in the long run.

    Best gifts you can give your kids are time and attention. Often the stuff we buy them are substitutes for that. Having stuff can stunt the mind of a child who is unwilling to engage his mind and learn that relationships with others are more important than anything we can own.

    Your best memories when you look back on life are not the things you bought or the successes you had but the relationships that you have with people you love. Moments with those people don’t have to cost anything more than time.

    I have much more but this is a good start for now. :)

  48. Zina says:

    Really like the list! Especially #4,12, 33, and 44.
    Friendships are the best source to keep me grounded and you are so right about those friendships shaping your choices in all areas of life. Surround yourself with people you want to be more like!

  49. Chris says:

    My favorite frugal finding: Hanging laundry out to dry saves me a ton of cash and my clothes smell better and last longer than they do if I use the dryer.

    ALSO: (sung to the tune of Supercalifragilistic. . .

    “Super gals are frugalisitic”

  50. Joan says:

    Great list, however; I was very surprised to see you end sentence #3 with a preposition. It brought back memories of my high school English teacher who threatened to fail any student who said or wrote a sentence ending with a preposition. A tough no nonsense teacher who was the best teacher I had in 12 years of schooling.

  51. skeemer118 says:

    I’ve learned how much DH & I can accomplish when we set a goal in mind & work towards it together. If it wasn’t for DH’s support, my quest for a more frugal lifestyle wouldn’t be nearly as frugal or happy. He’s willing to try anything once & doesn’t complain if it doesn’t work out. :)

  52. Jon says:

    I agree with almost everything you said, except I strongly disagree with “I like putting beans in a lot of different kinds of food.” I dislike beans, any kind of bean, in fact the only one I tolerate is a fresh green bean from the garden, well disguised in a casserole, or cooked with bacon bits and tomatos.

  53. Joyce says:

    I love the thrill of finding what I need at the thrift store for much less money. examples – frames for my mother-in-law’s beautiful water color paintings, $3-$6 versus $30-40 at the frame store. Cute jackets for $3-6 which make my outfits more attractive. Specialty kitchen utensils, lemon peel grater, lettuce cutter, etc, for pennies. I could go on and on. Love it, love it.
    Trent, I look forward to your e-mails every day.

  54. littlepitcher says:

    I’ve learned that small really is beautiful, in well-designed spaces, houses, and especially in bills.
    I’ve learned that small is not beautiful in savings accounts.
    I’ve learned that a bad job in running shoes and t-shirts can outearn a “good” job in heels and suits.
    Iced coffee is a fabulous breakfast.
    Online magazines don’t kill trees for their junk mail.
    Internet glasses are cheaper than mall outlets and work just as well.
    Grow the expensive stuff, buy the cheap stuff by the case at the farmers’ market, and keep those Mason jars working.
    Good health is the best asset we own.
    Standing desks are better than sitting.
    We all know something which can make a difference in others’ lives.
    Changing your own oil works best if you’re flat-chested, and I don’t qualify.
    Women can plug tires from the outside and make it till payday before we get to the tire store.
    It saves big money to do even small research.

    Thanks for the pumpkin butter recipe!

  55. Cindy says:

    I’ve learned that I like the feel of a scratchy, sun dried towel.

    I’ve learned that the gift my Mama most appreciates is a jar of my Cranberry Banana Marmalade.

    I was surprised to learn how much my husband loves beans!

    The smile on a neighbor’s face when you present them with a home grown tomato is priceless!

  56. Lilly L says:

    You mentioned YouTube and fixing your own stuff, and I gotta tell you, you can find information on fixing pretty much anything on YouTube, Instructables.com or just by doing an internet search. I have found all kinds of detailed information on testing switches, circuits, etc., so that I was able to replace my vacuum cleaner switch, and test other circuits. I found how to fix my laptop. I found how to fix our satellite radio receiver. I found how to repair my GPS. I found how to repair my wireless USB receiver. I found how to clean a motor so that I was able to fix a sluggish household air cleaner. I found info on refilling my Swiffer Wetjet floor cleaner bottle so that I don’t have to keep buying theirs. Plus, I found so much info on how to fix my own car, it’s not funny. I have saved literally hundreds upon hundreds of dollars just by doing my own simple car repairs (or getting my husband to do it). We are not particularly mechanically inclined or electronically inclined…..on the contrary! We just have a willingness to learn how to do those things ourselves so we don’t have to pay someone else big $$$ to do it for us. Of course, there’s always stuff too difficult for us to do. For example, when my car needed a new weld-on catalytic converter, we left that to a professional. But there’s so much we can do ourselves to save money. And just about anything you want to fix — and I mean literally just about anything — you can find detailed information about online.

  57. JJ says:

    @Joan: Actually the preposition at the end of #3 didn’t bother me as much as the use of “less” instead of “fewer” in #40. :-)

    Still, it’s a great list that I’ll probably re-read often for inspiration. Nice job, Trent! Number 35 is one I’ve only recently learned.

  58. Susie says:

    We’ve learned that kids are smarter when they don’t have every toy and gadget, they have to use their imaginations.
    Don’t need toothpaste or deodorant, we’ve been brushing our teeth with calcium carbonate for years (no cavities ever) and using baking soda for our underarms.
    We live without cell phones, cable TV, blah blah blah.
    And life is so much more fun!

  59. Debbie M says:

    Cranberry banana marmalade? That sounds awfully yummy! Willing to share?

  60. Barbara says:

    When you focus on appreciating everyday experiences ((e.g. a beautiful sky at dusk, the delicateness of a newborn that you see on a city bus (especially the tiny feet))as opposed to focusing on “things”, your life is richer.

  61. Kristin says:

    I’ve learned that detergent I make myself is just as good as Tide.

    I’ve also learned that I can make my own gourmet yogurt for 1/4 the price + with my favorite local milk.

    And I’ve learned how when you limit yourself to eating out only once a week, it’s special instead of just another meal.

  62. Matthew says:

    Since I got converted in March to the new frugality, life has been so good. I feel in control of my finances. I have developed a disciplined savings plan and just checked the metrics and I am well on my way to saving a 100K this year. I feel more connected to people as I put relationships over things in importance. I brown bag it, eat oatmeal for breakfast and have never been healthier.

    Decluttering is exhilirating. Just packed up a big shipment of clothes for Pakistan, discovered a lot of “under used” clothes in the process, so though I gave, I feel like I have a new wardrobe.

    I manage stress much better, having a financial plan that will bring about financial independence helps me put things in persecetive. I dont worry about losing my job…much easier to shrug things off now.

    I feel my values and financial choices are better aligned around environmental issues. Frugal is green.

    I look at my “stuff” very differently and look for opportunities to unload things which are not important now.

    I am totally debt free and that feels WONDERFUL.

  63. Johanna says:

    If you’re “nearly vegetarian,” and if those words actually mean anything, then why, oh why, does your summer meal series contain meal after meal centered on meat?

    I’m sorry that this is a bit of a sore spot for me, but I think it’s something that most people who actually are vegetarian or vegan encounter often: People saying “Oh, I don’t eat that much meat” (or “I try to eat only free-range/organic/more-humane-than-usual meat”) when it’s very clearly not true.

  64. Cree says:

    Johanna, I’m seeing your name pop up time and time again in the comments sections in pretty much every article he writes. Not once have your comments been neutral, let alone positive. If you dislike Trent so much, why are you wasting your time here? It really just comes across as weird you spend so much time on a site you dislike so much. Surely you have something else to do with your time?

    Trent, I get the whole free speech thing, but perhaps if you stopped being so generous and deleted the habitual-haters, they’d go somewhere else?
    I do wish they wouldnt detract from the conversation constantly.

  65. Cindy says:

    Debbie – here’s the recipe:


    4 cups washed cranberries – fresh or frozen (a little bit more than one bag)
    1 cup water
    6 medium bananas or 4 large (about 4 cups mashed)
    7 cups sugar
    1 bottle or packet of liquid pectin
    2 – 3 tsp butter

    Cook cranberries and water in covered saucepan for 10 min (berries will burst). Mash bananas with your fingers (you’ll have some lumpy parts) and add to mixture along with the sugar. Mix well. Bring to a full rolling boil. Boil one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in pectin and butter (will reduce the foam). Skim off remaining foam. Pour into hot jars, remove bubbles, wipe rims, and seal. Process in boiling water bath for 5 min. Makes about 9 – 10 half pints.

  66. Susan says:

    I loved this list. It made me smile several times. I also liked a lot of these comments.

    Funny thing for me is that I have stopped wearing a lot of my jewelry (but I’m not ready to give it away yet). I work a job where I don’t dress up and I don’t go out enough to wear it. It used to be as necessary as clothes. Now I don’t even think about it.

    My husband and I agree the best joy in our lives right now is watching our cats play.

  67. Debbie M says:

    Thanks, Cindy!

  68. Michelle says:

    Frugality has taught me 2 big things.
    First, I really don’t need to own everything. When I go to purchase something I ask myself:
    1: How often am I really going to use it?
    2: How much space will it take to store?
    3: How much time and money will it take to maintain it?
    Second, frugality has taught me it is okay to say no. No to a purchase, no to a time commitment, no to an obligation. If it doesn’t line up with the priorities it is okay to say no.

  69. Ted Grider says:

    Thanks for this list. And I thought I was the only adult who didn’t mind hopping into a cool sprinkler because it was a frugal thing to do!

  70. Peter says:

    #22 changed our lives! We’ve been doing it for two years and love it. Similar to your comments about the library and local re. dept., there is no way I’ll ever watch all of the awesome selections on Netflix streaming.

    One HUGE bonus with getting rid of cable/satellite – I’m in a BETTER MOOD! CNN/FOX/MSNMC etc are in the business of upsetting folks and I feel so much better without them.

  71. Gary says:

    I saw a lot of references of fixing or installing stuff in your list. I have to say that the accomplishment that my wife and I get when we fix something like our fridge that broke and being able to Install a $30 part rather than spend $250 in labor and $60 on the part is a great feeling. We purchased readers digest fix it yourself. We have save so much money figuring out the problem ourself and did not cost us anything outer than opening a book and troubleshooting. This has saved us a lot of money in labor expenses and the accomplishment of fixing something that looks scary at first, Today, we have fixed our garbage disposal, washing machine, furnace, and the fridgerater. It’s not scary, just need the drive to problem-shoot the problem and do it safely,

    And to your list item about time more valuable than money, completely agree! Can’t make money with out time. You can’t save money without investing time.

    Thank you for the great list.

  72. Ron Cox says:

    Re: Cloth diapering isn’t as scary as it sounds. Perhaps you are right, but the learning curve is formidable.

  73. MsEli says:

    How much vinegar to use as a fabric softener in the dryer?

  74. Olivia says:

    Re: item 31, I love beans and picked up a black bean brownie recipe that got great reviews. From the $5 menu mom.

    What frugality has taught me.

    Irugality makes you look at your stuff differently. “What can I do with this item to make it work here.” We tossed a trash picked dresser in the living room (beyond repair), brought a clothes dresser down from a bedroom, and picked up and 1950’s chiffarobe to put in the bedroom dresser’s place. Really improved the room’s looks. Rocks in a bowl are pretty. Three of anything is a collection.

    Putting magazine pictures in thrift store frames and clustering them on a wall looks great.

    Flour paste and newspaper pinatas are just as much fun to whack as bought ones.

    Most everything that passes through your hands can have a second life as something else.

    Freecycle is wonderful. Curbside gleaning is great sport. Birdwatching is free entertainment.

  75. clares says:

    i’m from singapore! =) though the living environment here and lifestyle may be different from the lives you all are leading (we have no gardens :( ), i feel that most of the tips here can be applied to my life here. to top up the list…

    frugality has taught me…
    1. that a date can be as simple as just sitting at a beach all day
    2. that snacks from the supermarket/ grocery stores taste better than those bought from the cinema (when i’m watching a movie)
    3. good food is not necessary expensive food
    4. frugality is a way of life, an enjoyment, not a chore
    5. i love to borrow books from the library
    6. asking myself ‘do i need this item?’ saves me much money when i am window shopping
    7. being thrifty is not about being a miser
    8. buying cheap flowers to cheer yourself up (or looking at cheap flowers in your garden) is better than buying big ticket items
    9. frugality allows me to lead a simple and happy life with less burdens

  76. m. christensen says:

    Frugality can actually be fun, after the painful start….like a sport. You can even compete with your friends to see who can save the most money. And the grand champion is……

  77. Five Nerds says:

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

    Have you ever noticed that at most points in life, you have one or the other, but rarely both?

  78. Cathy says:

    I learned that shopping at a thrift store teaches me how little my so-called precious items at home are worth in the real world. Books only 50 cents. Sheets $2. Old clothes $3. I might as well let go of them now~it’s not worth hardly anything and I can easily get replacements if I really need it.

  79. Jan Steinman says:

    #49: Simple gifts and giving: having fresh canned jelly in the cupboard when a friend comes over with a fresh loaf of bread for us. I hate to see people who bring gifts go away empty-handed!

  80. Jan Steinman says:

    #50: “zero mile” ice cream: our own raw goat cream, our own eggs, our neighbour’s honey, and wild blackberry purée!

  81. Marisa says:

    I have learned from being frugle:
    While air dried clothes may be a little scratchy, that feeling only lasts a few seconds after you put them on, but there is not a fabric softener or detergent on earth that beats the fresh smell of clothes dried outside on a line.

    Nothing beats the feeling of finding an amazing deal at a yard sale or flea market.

    You don’t become psychomom about stains or dirt on your kids “new” clothes when they come from freecycle or cost something less than $4 an outfit.

  82. Carol Cripps says:

    I’ve learned all knds of things from being frugal. I won’t die if I don’t buy stuff every day, or even every week (not counting groceries – I still need to eat). I don’t need every fancy kitchen gadget that comes along, although I’m saving for a KitchenAid mixer. (I do all my own baking) Because I do my own baking, I save money at the store – that bag of Chips Ahoy *never* calls my name, because there’s something better in the freezer at home. Taking the bus saves the environment as well as money, and gives me time to knit, etc. which introduces me to some of the nicest folks you’d ever want to meet. I spend less on groceries, because I have to think about how much will fit into my small cart. I eat healthier, because I want to make sure there’s room in that cart for what I need – junk food just won’t fit in.

    I could go on and on, but the one thing I really agree with you on is books. They used to be my economic downfall. Now, my library card sees heavy use. I still buy books as gifts, but that’s about it.

  83. SkipsMKGirl says:

    How do you use vinegar as a fabric softner? How much since I’m assuming you use it in the washer? Do the clothes have static still from the dryer? thanks!!

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