Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I'm Cheap, Therefore I Am

Tip Of The Day: Different ways I am unbearably cheap, plus how all y’all are cheap, too.

Tip For Tomorrow: Cheap activities for the cold winter months. Just in case you can’t afford that trip to Aruba.

Further Elucidation Of My Cheap Deal: I was raised by the most frugal woman on the planet. Of course, she didn’t really have a choice – she was a single mom raising two VERY hungry and destructive kids. So Ma could, and still can, stretch a dollar until it screams to be put out of its misery.

Needless to say (yet I’m saying it anyway), she passed on her frugal ways and means to me. My brother? Not so much. He makes a bunch of money, and he likes to spend a bunch of money. Seeing as how he’ll spend that money on me from time to time (thanks again for my new digital camera!), I am not inclined to chastise him.

Here are just a few of the cheap tips my Ma has given me throughout the years. And her greatest wish is that I’ll pass them on to my own daughter. NOT HAPPENING, MA.

1. Instead of buying trash bags, reuse store bags. I use paper grocery bags with handles for the kitchen, and medium-sized plastic Target bags for the bathroom and my office. I haven’t bought a garbage bag in two years. I win!
2. Use Suave shampoo and conditioner knock-offs, instead of the real, full-priced products. Here’s the thing – you RINSE THE STUFF OFF. It’s not like it’s staying on your head all day, so why pay over $2 a bottle?
The exception to my rule? Folks with sensitive scalps. You guys need the stuff without that one chemical that makes your head bleed and fall off. I hear Burt’s Bees makes a good shampoo and conditioner for under $14 a bottle. However, if you’re like me, and the only things that irritate you are Dubya and people who mispronounce Realtor (seriously, quit adding an extra syllable), you can get away with using the cheaper stuff.
3. Buy the store brand when you can, and when it’s cheaper. I buy generic (or store brand) body wash, OTC drugs, milk, canned goods, detergent, fabric softener, etc. Usually I can’t tell the difference between the store brand and the name brand. Of course, I usually have never even TRIED the name brand, but still. One product that you MUST buy the name brand, though? Wheat Thins. Target’s Thin Wheats are just nasty.
4. Buy the men’s store brand razors. I recently read an article on how those quadruple-blade razors actually irritate your skin more, BECAUSE they shave too close. That’s all the justification I need for buying the Target-brand two-blade men’s razors in the 8-pack. If I’m feeling splurgy, I’ll get the ones with the rubberized comfort-grip handles.
Seriously, though, look at the price difference between men’s and women’s razors. We are paying about $1 more. Damn the man! And buy his razors.
5. Learn how to darn your socks. Yes, socks are inexpensive and you can just buy a new pair. But a needle and thread are cheap, too. And they’re all you need to salvage your favorite pair of Christmas socks.

Now for a few tips I’ve heard from my peeps. No, not Peeps – nothing marshmallow has spoken to me in months:

1. Lou makes her own stickers for her boys. Stickers are EXPENSIVE, and if you already have a color printer, it’s cheap to buy plain, printable labels and make your own. Or, rip off the people who employ you, and print them up at work. Power to the people!
2. HaC uses her children’s artwork to make cards and stationary. Cute, and a great way to clean off the front of your refrigerator.
3. Larue buys her daughters' clothes almost exclusively at thrift stores. Except for the big back-to-school spree, everything else comes from Saver’s, Value Village, or Nu Look.
4. Amanda has made homemade graham crackers. No, really, she did. You can find the recipe here:
5. Sarah spray paints existing furnishings to match her décor, instead of buying new ones. She even spray-painted her television. Check it out here: She also spray-painted a mirror – an idea I plan to completely rip off.

If you have even more fabulous ways in which to be cheap, please tell us about it in the Comments section below – thoughtfully provided by Blogger to make speaking your mind even easier.


LaRue said...

FIRST! (hee)

Ok, I am buying you trash bags for Xmas. No ifs, ands or buts. Of course I live with 3 other people and a hairy dog, so we really need bigger trash bags. Particularly for all the dog hair.

Quit making fun of your brother. (Hi Golden Idol!)

Since I became a sports model and not a production model, I have found I do need to use more expensive shampoo - the cheap stuff dries it out something fierce. FIERCE, I tell you. And I totally agree on the razors. I have stolen El Jefe's for years (Hi Dear!) and now G is doing the same. Hee.

Also - I buy some of the kids clothing at Once Upon a Child. I have also been going to Plato's Closet for G, as they have the hip, I'm Too Cool for You Mom clothing there for teenagers. I am a big fan of Kohls as well, and nothing beats the dead cheap back to school sale at the Eden Prairie Limited Too. (And I DID find clothing that wasn't slutty, too short, or had writing on the butt.)

Also - if you love Girl Scouts thin mint cookies and aren't buying them from my daughter, you can make them for cheap - Ritz crackers, fondue chocolate (or choc. chips in a pinch) and mint extract. Melt chocolate, add mint, pour over crackers, cool down. THAT IS IT. FOR $3.75 A BOX.

And I had no idea you could talk to Peeps. They never have anything to say to me.

mantic59 said...

OK, shaving: See if a relative has an old Gillette safety razor ("Superspeed") to give you. Ask your barber/stylist where they get their blades in bulk (I get mine off e-Bay...$0.17 per blade!). A cake of Williams or (preferably) Surrey/Van Der Hagen (same stuff) shave soap. The shave brush will be a little tricky; the only decent one I know of under $20 is from Tweezerman (avoid the drug store "natural bristle" shave brushes if you can). Check out the traditional shaving sub-culture at,, and my youtube shaving channel at!

plumm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
plumm said...

The link was all wonky in my last I'll try this again.

Thanks for the mention! Great post.
Just wanted to let you know I also just did a post on making your own dishwasher detergent on the cheap...
It's over at my other blog.

Max said...

One thing that my wife does that drives me nuts:

When using a paper towel for something clean-ish such as drying your hands or drying a rinsed off spoon, my wife puts the damp crumpled things on the counter next to the sink and re-uses them on REALLY dirty things such as wiping the floor or cleaning a dirty stove top. I think maybe she does it to needle me so I have to try to ignore it, or at least pretend to.

Lou said...

thanks for the mention. Got Juice?

Ranty said...

I reuse store bags too, for everything! Of course I shop at the dollar store a lot, and they give you a different bag for every danged item, so that makes it easy. They are also handy for cleaning up doggy-doo on walks...

I also reuse paper towels JUST the way Max's wife does! (Is Max my own husband in disguise? Sorry sweetie...)

Further, I haven't bought ziplock bags or aluminum foil in forever, cuz I wash and reuse what I have.


Michelle said...

I buy a lot of generic or house brands (mostly Target), too. I agree that for the most part the house brands work just as well as the name brands. I reuse bags, as well.

Most of my accessories (like jewerly and purses) I get at thrift stores. You can finds some really cool unique stuff that is sooo much cheaper than regular prices. The Unique Thrift store has necklaces for $1.95 and leather purses for $5.00.

Anonymous said...

I get Barbasol shaving cream in the Red Can - yep, el cheapo Barbasol. About $1.50 a can and I go thru maybe 3 per year.

It doesn't take alot to shave. Anything more than the stuff touching your skin is just thrown away.

I use schick slim twin razors. I used to use a safety razor and about 20 years ago when I went in the Army they wouldn't let you have razor blades in Basic training. (Yeah, I know. The rifle and bayonet were fine, but no razor blades... but I digress.)

You can get razors for about a quarter each. They work just fine. They come in blue, green for sensative skin (which is exactly the same as blue - and even the same price.) And also pink for $1 more a pack.

I can tell you from experience that they are the same as the men's except for color. (Hello Dear.)

My wife and older daughter steal them routinely with no ill effects. (Other than me getting cheesed when there are no more.)

I'm a little embarrassed to say how long I use them. The one I used this AM I broke out just before our Xmas eve party. It about done, 3 weeks is about it.

The same razor for 3 weeks? You bet. Here's the secret. Dry it off after you use it.

Razors are made of high quality steel and they rust very quickly. Its the corrosion that "dulls" them. Put your razor in a cup, like a toothbrush so it air dries and you'll be amazed at how long they're good for. (

El Jefe