Monday, July 2, 2007

Frugal Ideas - Part I

There are many simple frugal things you can do on a daily basis that will save you small amounts of money. These frugal things, when done consistently, can turn small amounts of money into large amounts of money, and can have a big impact on your finances.

The trick is to choose the frugal ideas that work for you. If a frugal activity or sacrifice makes you feel deprived, it won't work. It's like being on a diet. Deprivation will eventually lead to indulgence, and often over indulgence. That can sink your diet and your budget.

Being frugal is different for everyone. What works for one person may not work for another. But don't be too quick to reject a frugal idea before trying it. If you keep doing things the same way you always have, you'll keep getting the same results you always have.

Here are a couple of frugal ideas to get you started. (I will continue this list with weekly updates, so that is why this article is labeled Part I of Frugal Ideas.)

1. Use Less Paper/Disposable Products

Use a real cup instead of a paper cup, a real plate instead of a paper plate, a dish cloth instead of a paper towel, a handkerchief instead of a tissue, a cloth diaper instead of a disposable diaper, a washcloth instead of a baby wipe, a cloth napkin instead of a paper napkin, a dust rag instead of a disposable duster.

It seems that every month some new disposable products are introduced into the market. These products are very convenient but also very expensive. Even if you purchase them on sale, they cost you significantly more than their non disposable counterpart.

Take paper towels, for example. If you buy paper towels on sale for $ .50 a roll and you use one roll a day (which is easy to do!), you would be spending $3.50 a week, and over $14 a month just on this expense. Add that to all the other types of paper and disposable products you might use and that becomes a significant monthly expense.

Use less paper/disposable products or switch to all non disposable products and save big! (And you'll be helping the environment as well!)

2. Cook From Scratch

Cooking from scratch instead of buying convenience foods can save you a lot of money.

Take rice, for example. I grew up having Minute Rice so when I began to cook I also used Minute Rice.

It didn't seem too expensive to me at about $1.99 for a box that would last for a couple of meals. Then I found out how inexpensive white rice actually is. You can buy a 10 pound bag of white rice for $3.99 (or less) and it will last for several months!

So, let's compare. For my family of five, the minute rice works out to cost $ .66 per meal. (One box will serve 3 meals. $1.99 divided by 3 = $ .66 per meal.)

The regular white rice works out to cost $ .20 per meal. (A 10 pound bag will serve about 20 meals for my family. $3.99 divided by 20 = $ .20 per meal)

So the Minute Rice costs more than 200% more than the regular white rice. Yes, it cooks in five minutes opposed to 20 minutes but is that convenience worth a 200% increase in price?

You will find similar savings by cooking most items from scratch.