A Truly Frugal Person…

I was reading over at Megan’s A Dollar A Day blog the other day, and she asked the question, “How frugal is too frugal?”

Good question. She’s right, everyone has their limits, and we certainly have different ideas about what we should be frugal on.

Megan mentioned dumpster diving – which we have done in the past, when we lived in the mobile home park. The things we would find in the garbage that were perfectly good. One time we found two rolls of chicken wire, neatly rolled up and obviously leftover materials from a job and no one wanted to keep. Mr. A keeps all extra materials in case he needs something for another job, or for around our home. I remember finding a clothes basket that had one little broken piece. I took it home and used it for months. Back then I couldn’t afford to buy plastic clothes baskets. You know what I found worked really great? Banana boxes. Yep, cardboard banana boxes. 🙂 Sturdy cardboard, low sides and plenty of holes in the sides like a laundry basket. They were the perfect size to put in a load of laundry and walk to the community clothesline.

It’s not really dumpster diving, but Mr. A has found at least five rolls of perfectly good flex duct on the side of the freeway. We have used them to replace the ductwork under our own home, and he has been able to charge clients the going price for the others to install in their attics. We also once found an entire bale of hay which we promptly turned around and loaded into the back of our SUV.

Megan mentioned the Freegan lifestyle, and said it mostly centered around finding food in dumpsters. I would be very hesitant to do this, and I hope restaurants in Maricopa County, Arizona aren’t throwing perfectly good food away as there is a non-profit business named Waste Not which takes excess food to places where it can feed hungry people. Waste Not takes 5000 pounds of food each day from restaurants and grocery stores, and delivers it to more than 80 agencies that provide food to thousands of people. Food that would otherwise be thrown into dumpsters.

I’ve been talking with one of my coworkers about this blog, and we were discussing the degrees of frugality. She told me “… a truly frugal person wouldn’t have pets.” This was a statement directed at me, because we do have pets. We find that they enrich our lives. Do we need as many animals as we currently have? No. But Mr. A and I grew up in households where our parents took our pets away on a regular basis and dropped them off at the dog pound. It was devastating each time it happened. As a result, we’re pretty firm in our belief that if we give an animal a home, it should be a “forever” home. Now that’s talking about our cats and dogs. We also have goats and chickens. These animals earn their keep providing us with milk and eggs, and occasionally meat. We feed excess milk to our dogs, cats and chickens. Raw milk is okay for dogs and cats, and does not affect their digestive system like pasteurized/homogenized milk does. We have been able to cut back on chicken feed for our chickens, and they are laying more eggs due to the high calcium and protein content of the milk.

Megan says she brings her own lunch rather than spend money to eat out. Actually my employer provides a fairly healthy cooked lunch in their cafeteria three days a week for our clients. I sometimes partake, but more often than not I bring leftovers from last night’s dinner. I love leftovers, and honestly don’t understand the dislike for them that some people have. I had a friend that threw leftovers away, no matter how much was left, because she “didn’t know what to do with them.” One time she made a meal that her family just picked at, so she called me and asked if we’d like to have the meal, and she drove it over to our house. This was about 20 years ago.

I haven’t done this in years, but when I was single and lived alone in my twenties I kept a half gallon plastic ice cream bucket in the freezer and I’d put leftovers into it that would work good for soup. You know like leftover vegetables, or diced meat. Then once a month or so I’d make a pot of soup using all the leftover food in the bucket and start all over again.

Now we have chickens, so they get most of that type of leftovers and they love them.

I use a lot of natural cleansers and personal products. I’m sure I could do better in a lot of areas, but I am not the type to get too crazy about these things.

What’s your frugal limit?

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7 thoughts on “A Truly Frugal Person…

  1. Great post, Mrs. A! While I have never eaten from dumpsters, I have scored many, many great things. Especially when I lived in an apartment. Now, I glean many goodies from our local curbsides. And, of course, I scan the “free” section of Craigslist everyday. I find myself suddenly single in the past week, but I’m so pleased because this morning I found a free Queen-size boxpring on Craigslist. Now all I need to buy is the mattress and bedframe. I’m a bit squeemish about a used mattress, but I’ll definitely get the frame at the thrift store.


  2. I, too, used to save leftover dibs and dabs of vegetables and meats to make “whatcha got” soup or stew. These days, being empty nesters now, I don’t cook as much and we take the leftovers for our lunches the next day (or two!). I do make good use of my two deep freezers. Food is too expensive to waste! I also shop at Goodwill and a favorite consignment store for my clothes and shoes. Wash & reuse plastic bags. Recycle everything I possibly can. I wouldn’t consider dumpster diving, though. Guess that’s my limit.


  3. Glad you enjoyed my post, and I love your opinions!

    I have a lot of trouble throwing out things that might have a use. Just yesterday, I was peering into a closet at the number of cardboard boxes I have saved. I think it might be time to recycle some of those.

    I am a giant fan of leftovers. Food never gets thrown away in my house unless it is so revolting that I can’t stand to eat it. Which happens very rarely. I frequently cook soup and stews and casseroles in quantities that would serve 6-8 people and freeze all the leftovers in single portions so that I have quick and easy lunches or dinners.


  4. @Bettsi – I hope you find a great deal on your new mattress. I usually buy mattresses at the thrift store but I’ve recently read about bed bugs and that thought is kind of scary so I’m glad I’m not in the market for a new mattress right now.

    @Shanna – Thanks for your comment! We make good use of our two freezers to stock up on meat and veggies when they are on sale.

    @Megan – Hi, thanks for commenting! I do the same thing with my leftovers, if there is too much for my lunch the next day I’ll save individual portions and then if there is an evening with no leftovers I can find something from a meal earlier in the month. Thanks again!


  5. If you are concerned about buying used mattress and boxsprings, you can buy bedbug and waterproof protectors that zip..and then lock on. If the protector ever gets a rip, you just buy another and lock it on overtop.


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