Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Frugal Extremes - What are Your Priorities?

I have Goals. Because I have goals, I have priorities. Some things are more important to me than others. For example, I'd rather save money for a down payment on a house in the country than be warm in my current house.

Now, that might seem extreme to some of you, but to me it's a simple choice. There are only a few categories in the budget that I have any real control over, and propane is one of mine.

I allot a certain amount of money in the budget for propane each year and that's all I buy. And, I still challenge myself not to use it all. The fact that
my fingers are cold as I write this doesn't matter to me. I have my Goal in mind.

Personal Expenses is another category that I have some control over. I can't decide not to buy soap and shampoo, but I can decide how much to spend on these necessities. So, instead of buying cheap, watery shampoo I buy Tresemme or Pantene.

That last sentence may have surprised you. It would have surprised me had I read it on another site last year. Back then all I bought was store brands of shampoo. But, I've since learned that we use much more cheap shampoo than we do Tresemme or Pantene and it doesn't work nearly as well.

With shampoo it isn't the cleansing aspect that is different, they all clean your hair just as well. It's the conditioning and body aspects that make a difference. For example, I have fine, thin hair. When I use a store brand shampoo my hair flies all over the place like it's been attacked with a blown-up balloon. But, when I use Tresemme my hair has body without static.

Would I spend more just to have more body or an absence of static in my hair? No, like I said, I have plans for my money. But, when the cost-analysis showed me that it comes out just as cheap (or close to it) as the store brand shampoo, I changed brands. And shampoo is on the shopping list much less frequently.

For bath soap, I use Caress. I've found that I spend more money on
cheap soap plus body lotion (trying to put some moisture back into my dry, itchy 40+ year old skin) than I do when I buy Caress. So, I save time, money, and my itchy skin when I buy a better bath soap.

Hair cutting is another item in the Personal Expense category that I have control over. I haven't paid to have my hair cut in over 2 years. I cut my own hair. It's not that hard to learn, especially if you have long hair and just really need your hair trimmed every few months.

I cut my daughter's hair too. She wasn't happy about it, at first. She wanted to go to a "Hair Salon" and watch in a big mirror as some person
gossiped with their work-mates while snipping away at her hair (and charged us to wash her already clean hair just to add to the bill). They usually cut it too short, too.

But she has long hair and just needs a trim. Once she understood that I wasn't going to pay $15 - $20 every 8 weeks just to have her hair trimmed, she got used to the idea. Now, she asks me to cut it, and I cut it a little at a time to make sure it isn't too short.

Other ways I save money that might seem extreme are:

  • I wash snap bags and re-use them
  • I save aluminum foil if it hasn't actually touched food, just the bowl
  • I wash our cars at home - with a bucket - I don't use the hose except to wet and rinse
  • I use bath water to wash the dogs or water my plants and garden
  • I use less detergent per load of clothes than is recommended - washes just as well
  • I add one capful of fabric softener to a 32 oz spray bottle, add (boiled, then cooled) water, and spray just the wrinkle-prone clothes - works great
  • I make my own hot chocolate mix and use less than is recommeded per serving
  • I don't buy paper napkins or paper towels, I make them from old flannel shirts (just cut into rectangles or squares and hem)

Some of these methods of saving money may seem extreme to you, but to me, they are simple choices. When you have Goals, you set Priorities, and that just means you make choices based on what is most important to you.

I'd much rather be extremely frugal in the small details of my life than do without the things that are most important to me.

What are Your Priorities? Do you use Frugal Extremes to reach your Goals?

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