Friday, May 06, 2011

Frugal Friday Part 1

A few days ago I found a blog post in my email from the Art of Manliness that listed 80 ways to be frugal.

I decided to break it up into 4 parts.

Let's start:

Win the War on Debt: 80 Ways to Be Frugal and Save Money

The manliness of frugality cannot be overstated. Frugality cultivates the manly qualities of independence, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, simplicity, and minimalism. It keeps a man free from the enslaving chains of debt and gives him an sense of manly pride and satisfaction. Frugality build a man’s immunity to the siren call of “stuff,” helps him learn to make do with less, and adds pleasure and happiness to his life by providing opportunities to practice delayed gratification. Frugality also fosters the DIY spirit and inspires a man to create, instead of consume.

We could wax long and poetic about the manliness of frugality but let’s get down to the brass tacks: how does a man become frugal? Some men, inspired to jump on the frugality wagon, set a drastic course for themselves and turn theirs live inside out. But inevitably, this man ends up chafing at the extreme constrictions he has set for himself, burns out on the program, and sets off on a shopping spree to compensate for the months of rigid restraint. No, the better course is simply to make little changes throughout the different areas of your life. You will be surprised to see how fast these small changes can add up and leave you with extra moola in your pockets and in the bank. And you also might be surprised to find out how fun being frugal is–really! It becomes like a game where you’re always trying to figure out ways to cut costs.

We’ve created this list of 80 practical–and often pretty painless–ways to save money. Whether you’re looking to trim your debt, live more simply, start an emergency fund, or just need to find ways to offset the hole in your budget created by rising gas prices, there are guaranteed to be a few things here you can start implementing in your life right away. I recommend giving these ideas a look-0ver, making a list of ten of more things you can give a go, and putting them into practice as a new month begins.

Victory over debt is at hand!


1. Change your own oil.

2. Rotate your tires regularly. Tires are expensive. Make them last longer by rotating them regularly.

3. Buy your car used. And make sure you learn how to negotiate for one.

4. If you’re married, share a car with your wife. Kate and I have been sharing just one car since we’ve been married. Yeah, it can be a pain planning our schedules occasionally, but overall the experience hasn’t been bad at all and has become our normal. We’ve saved money on gas, maintenance, and insurance and the rides together provide us with time to talk and catch up with each other.

5. Pay auto insurance annually, instead of every six months. There’s usually a nice discount if you do this. Other ways to score discounts with car insurance include maintaining a safe driving record, shopping around for the best price, and staying with the same insurance company for an extended period of time.

6. Carpool. Dagwood does it. So can you.

7. Keep your tires properly inflated. Not only do properly inflated tires save you money on gas, they also cut down on tire wear and improve the handling and thus safety of your car.

8. Replace your car’s air filter regularly. It’s an easy car maintenance job you can do yourself, and it can save you money on gas.

9. Practice hypermiling. Hypermiling consists of using certain driving techniques to maximize your fuel efficiency. You do things like coast down hills in neutral and turn off your car when at a stop light.

10. Don’t speed. You use more gas when you do and you risk getting a costly ticket.

11. Plan trips where you have friends and family. During Kate and I’s poor college student days, this is how we were able to go on vacations. We’d hang out with Uncle Buzz in Vermont or go see Kate’s grandparents in Orlando.

12. Always negotiate for hotel rooms. Hotel rooms are like highly perishable food: if they’re not used that day, they’re wasted. You can almost always get a better deal just by asking. Anytime Kate and I are traveling by car and we’re ready to call it a day, we’ll Google nearby hotels on our phone as we approach the town we’re driving into and ask for their rates. Then we’ll start a bidding war between the different hotels: “Is that the absolute best price you can do? La Quinta has a room for $45 a night. Any chance you can go lower than that?” Using this tactic we had one hotel room go from $125 to $40. Boom.

13. When flying, bring your own snacks.

14. Skip on car rental insurance. Check your personal car insurance plan to see if they cover you for rental cars, too. Many plans do. Also, the credit card you use to rent the car probably offers rental insurance.

15. Travel after peak season. It might be hard if you have kids in school, but you can find some good deals on hotel rooms and flights if you travel during the off-season and time your trip for the middle of the week instead of on the weekend.

16. Camp. Kate and I went camping last week. Spent just $10 for the campground fee and $20 for food and supplies. But it felt like a true getaway. Just spending a day and a night in the outdoors completely refreshed us.

Dressing and Grooming

17. Shave with a safety razor. No more buying $20 multi-blade razors.

18. Better yet, shave with a straight razor. No more having to buy razors at all, for the rest of your life!

19. Best of all, grow a beard. No razors and no shaving cream either.

20. Extend the life of your safety razors by keeping them dry and stropping them on your arm. Dull blades are the result of imperfections in your blade. Water causes your blades to corrode, and consequently creates imperfections. So keep your blades dry. But a neat little hack to sharpen those blades up is to do to your disposable razors what you do with your straight razor: hone them. If you don’t have a leather strop handy, just use your forearm. Rub your razor on your forearm in the non-cutting direction for about 10 strokes. Disposable razor stropped and ready to go.

21. Wash and iron your own dress shirts. Even if your local dry cleaner charges the very inexpensive rate of $1 per shirt, at 20 shirts per month, you’re looking at spending $240 per year. This amount can easily balloon to $1000 if you’re paying anywhere near $4 to $6 a shirt. You can complete this easy chore yourself in just 15 minutes a week.

22. Get your current wardrobe altered if you lose/gain weight instead of buying a new wardrobe.

23. Buy your clothing at a thrift store.

24. Cut your own hair. I’m a big advocate of the barber shop, but many barbers are charging $15-$25 for a haircut these days. For me, what you get–a great haircut, a great experience, and the opportunity to take part in a manly tradition–makes going to the barber well worth the price. But if you’re really wanting to tighten the belt, give yourself a buzz cut.

I'll continue with part 2, next Friday.

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