The Simple Dollar offered some great ways to be frugal in 15 minutes. I looked at the list and figured would earn my Lazy name by offering a couple of additional shortcuts.
Simple Dollar way – “Clip coupons from the Sunday newspaper or trawl the internet for more”
Lazy Man way – Buy store-brand generic products. They are often the price of the brand name without the coupon and require no extra time. If you are not anti-WalMart, consider their groceries. Their Great Value brand is really well priced and I can’t tell the difference in quality. I choose not to get the
Simple Dollar way – “Write a grocery list (and stick to it when you shop)”
Lazy Man way – Go through the store and look for bargains. Over time you should find that the prices of things that you typical buy in a month stick in your head. When it’s a good price compared to it’s usual price, but it. Don’t buy anything else unless you A) use it regularly and are out or B) have already cited a need for such a product. With this, I don’t typically need to keep much of a grocery list. At most it contains a couple of products that I buy only once in a long while, like shaving cream. Since I don’t buy these products often, the “list” is small if there’s a list at all. I don’t buy any extra things because few items based the two-step process I mentioned previously.
Simple Dollar way – “Prepare a meal (or a few meals) to stick in the freezer for easy cooking later”
Lazy Man way – Budget Gourmet makes some frozen dinners that are usually only a $1.00 for what is usually 400+ calories. It may be enough for dinner for a lot of people. If it’s my dinner, I usually need a snack of microwave popcorn later in the night to stay full. If you are looking for something more healthy Michelina’s Lean Gourmet offers fewer calories (less filling) for around $1.25.
Considering there are 20 items on the list, you’d think I could optimize more than that, but I couldn’t. I found that some of the items weren’t applicable to my life. I rent, so I can’t install programmable thermostats. However, in northern California the weather is fine for a large portion of the year without heat or cooling. Other things I found that I was doing anyway such as practicing basic hygene or using compact
flash fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs). I’ve been using these for around three years now. I would have been using them before that, but all my lights were on dimmers. A couple of the other items, the laundry ones in particular, I found are not worth my time. The clothesline would be interesting if we had much of a yard. However, we do all our laundry for a couple of weeks on one day, and unless a clothesline dries in 40-50 minutes (I suspect it doesn’t), it would turn this into a multiple day job.