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Efficient Frugal Shortcuts

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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.

Posted on June 6, 2007.

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9 Responses to “Efficient Frugal Shortcuts”

  1. Jim says:

    Do you mean Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs? Digital cameras on the brain!

  2. Kevin says:

    I like to grocery shop via budget opportunities as well, but there is a caveat for some folks if they choose to do this. You MUST watch out for deals that aren’t deals! I see two ways to get burned right off the bat:

    1) The big discount that isn’t. $2 off an $8 frozen pizza is still a frozen pizza for SIX DOLLARS. Some prices are just so inflated for what you get that even a deep discount doesn’t make it a good purchase.

    2) The cheap item that goes with the expensive one: Taco Shells! 50% off! Cool! Taco night: now I just need some meat, some cheese, an onion, tomato, lettuce, salsa, sour cream… all of which (how odd!) cost a premium that week.

    My wife and I actually tend to pair up. This has worked REALLY well for us. She keeps a list while I troll the aisles for value purchases.

  3. Lazy Man says:

    Thanks Jim. You are right, I must have cameras on the brain.

    A Tentative Money Blog: Sorry that the tastes of those frozen dinners don’t agree with you. They must taste decent enough for many or they’d be out of business. The Michelina’s Lean Gourmet (MLG) is pretty healthy – far above the foods that most Americans choose. Eating to me is seems to be a balance of taste, time to prepare, cost, and health. MLG fits in a sweet spot of all four of those for me while the Simple Dollar’s plan stretches the “time to prepare” axis. It’s just my opinion, as always find what works for you.

    Kevin, you are right about the bargains that are not. We occasionally have taco night, but when you utilize a freezer, it doesn’t have to get expensive. We get ground beef (or turkey) when its on sale and freeze it. Frozen onions are a staple that always have around. We also have shredded cheese at all time in the freezer. You can break off a piece and thaw as needed – it seems to last forever. Salsa has a long shelf life when it’s not opened and as one of the healthiest foods, we stock up when we can. Salsa replaces tomato in our taco night, so we really are looking at just sour cream and lettuce that are full price.

  4. dong says:

    I don’t do this much anymore, but used to. Cook a whole pot curry, and freeze it. The stuff just doesn’t go bad, and it’s cheaper than frozen dinners and tasty to boot. A pack of ready to go mix at an Asian grocer is a couple bucks, and you can mix whatever you want into it.

  5. hustler says:

    kool tips man. Although being frugal is get tougher with the crowd i’m hanging with.

  6. Pat Veretto says:

    A clothesline should be big enough to hold several loads of laundry. On a decent weather day, clothes will dry out of doors almost as fast as a dryer would anyway. A dryer eats electricity or gas and wears out your clothes, too.

    Just had to defend clotheslines.;)

  7. Lazy Man says:

    Clotheslines can work for some, but the longest one I could hang would be about 9 feet I think. I’m betting there are a lot of people in apartments that can’t even do that.

  8. Anne says:

    When my husband and I rented, we went ahead and installed a programmable thermostat. We saved the old one and when we moved out, we switched them again, so we could take the programmable to our house. Our electricity bill dropped quite a bit as soon as we installed the thing. Of course, this won’t matter (financially) if your rent includes utilities.

  9. Susanna says:

    I am also fairly lazy, so I’ve found a way to make a grocery list that doesn’t take much effort. We keep a notepad and pencil stuck to the kitchen door. When something gets used up or when we notice we’re almost out of something, we write it on the notepad. Then when it’s time to go to the store, I just pull the list off the fridge.

    If we have time, we do plan a week’s worth of meals and write down a full list of what we’ll need. But if all we have time for is a quick trip to the store, at least crucial stuff (e.g. toilet paper, coffee) doesn’t get forgotten.

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