Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

By , on January 14, 2012

Money and Finance


My wife and I are practicing frugality to a greater extent than ever, despite there being no pressing need by what I would guess to be the standards of most people. There has been no job loss nor huge expense. All debts are retired, and cash flow has never been better.

The reasons for this behavior are hard to understand, but are likely related to a basic affinity for some level of frugality that is in our nature, our experience in knowing depression era parents and grandparents, and the recent plunge of the middle class who were not careful with their expenditures or who were unlucky in timing and have moved to that nervous group who struggle to pay the mortgage, fuel bills, car loans, etc. etc.

So here are some money savings ideas:

1. Keep your driving to a minimum. For example, shop on the way home from work to reduce the number of trips.

2. Drive a car that sips gasoline. We put most of our miles on a Honda Civic that gets 32 to 39 miles per gallon, and usually gets 34 to 36. We also have two 4 wheel drive pickups that are driven 2000 to 3000 miles each per year, only as needed to carry loads or when a second vehicle is needed.

3. I bring a sack lunch to work every day.

4. My sack lunch is double bagged. Two bags last much longer than twice as long as a single bag. Yes, I carry my lunch in the same bags for many weeks.

5. We shop at a few good stores: Trader Joe’s, Costco; Fred Meyer; WalMart, and Home Depot.

6. We do not pay interest or bank fees.

7. We fix stuff ourselves: ABS brake failures, intake manifold gasket replacements, electrical failures and additions, appliances, plumbing failures, roof replacements, adding windows, building structures, replacing engines, sweeping chimneys, etc. Sometimes we hire work done and watch the repair so that we can do it ourselves the next time. Health permitting, this will be the case with our septic system dosing pump, which was replaced last November. It cost $2500 and I can do a much better job myself for less than $1000. It will be done faster, too.

8. Top load washing machines work great and are cheaper than front load. Saving water with front load technology seems silly; our wash water is plenty dirty.

9. Pressed shirts last two days in winter, when a T-shirt is beneath.

10. Cheap Norelco shavers work great.

11. Non-name brand or bulk bathroom supplies from Costco or WalMart are good enough.

12. I do not need an i-phone at $70 per month. My old flip phone works fine.

13. Basic cable television service is good enough.

14. I buy cars new and keep them for no less than 11 years. My F-150 will be 16 years old in March.

15. We make an effort to clean and repair things to keep them longer than average.

16. We do not have trash pick-up service in this rural area. We haul our trash to the transfer station a few times per year in the old F-150.

17. We service our own water treatment equipment.

18. Reverse osmosis (RO) water is cheaper than bottled water and makes excellent coffee.

19. We essentially do not eat at restaurants.

20. Yes, we eat food that is past the pull date. We are still alive.

21. We never go to movie theatres. Our home theatre with BlueRay, Dolby 5.1, and 37 inch HD television is just fine.

22. Coffee is whole bean and comes in a 3 pound bag from Costco. It is San Fransisco brand, not Starbucks.

23. We have money for great dental care, medical care, and other professional services as needed.

24. Light colored laundry goes into a duffel bag I carried as a Boy Scout in 1967. That is 45 years ago. It has some holes in it, but they are too small still for the dirty laundry to fall through.



1 Comment to “Having Fun with Frugality”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Loved your article on frugality. What about a veggie garden and chicks? I would love to see a post about how you taught yourself to build stuff (intimidating for the uninitiated). Also heating and cooling the house…

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