HomeFinancial ExperiencesIf you're frugal and you know it clap your hands

If you’re frugal and you know it clap your hands

One of the more common characteristics amongst fiscally responsible individuals is frugality, the innate desire to be thrifty. While some take this to an extreme (I’m talking to you, psycho-couponers), I like to consider myself moderately frugal. There are some things I will always spend a little more money on; electronics, deodorant, and cereal to name a few. Likewise, there are a million things I will always cheap out on. Here are a few of those things.

Fancy Clothes. Nordstrom Rack and Ross are my best friends when it comes to any type of business apparel. I can’t believe people will pay $300+ for a pair of dress shoes. Do they really feel $250 better than my shoes? Me thinks not. I’ll never spend more than $20 for a tie, $40 for pants or a dress shirt. My outfit might not be as expensive as yours, but it looks just as good.

Battery Frugality. These little suckers are freakin’ expensive. When I go battery shopping, I’m not looking for a specific brand, I’m looking for a specific price. And that price my friends, is cheap.

Movies. Girl Ninja and I have been together for five years. During that time, I’ve taken Girl Ninja to three movies (Shrek 3, Taken, and Tangled). She would probably like me to take her to the theater every couple months, but I just can’t bring myself to spend $12 to watch a movie I probably won’t like that much. I’ll wait for it to come out on Netflix.

Cable. I’ve been living like a king lately. My parents have hundreds of cable channels (including movie channels), DVR, and OnDemand programs. Girl Ninja and I had an antenna that picked up about 12.3 channels. I have to admit having cable is really awesome, but to me it’s not $100 awesome, or even $50 awesome. Between our antenna and the internet we can watch just about every show we would want, albeit sometimes a few days later than the rest of the world. p.s. I’m fascinated by MTV’s 16 & Pregnant.

Drinks. I buy one liquid and one liquid only, Milk. As much as I love me some Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, Apple Juice, Lemonade, and Arnold Palmer I never buy the stuff. I can’t justify paying for a drink that a) costs me more than filtered tap water, and b) is pretty terrible for my health. I love you Dr. Pepper, but until you are free, I’m afraid we can’t be BFFs. Darn you frugality!

I shall end my list there, but believe me, I could go on for days. DAYS! What are some things you always cheap out on? Where are you most frugal? Anyone out there Uber-frugal and do things like reuse zip-lock bags and hang used paper towels to dry?




  1. I’d say I’m moderately frugal as well. I really don’t enjoy shopping of any kind, so I definitely don’t break the bank as far as clothes go. I set foot into a clothing store about 3 times a year, and only because I really have to replace stuff that’s ready to be thrown out. I will spend a little more on shoes; I find the cheaper shoes aren’t as comfortable, but I generally don’t spend more than $75 on a pair.

    Hubby and I go to a movie maybe once a year, and it’s only if it’s something we REALLY want to see on the big screen; my next move is to get him onboard with Netflix so we can enjoy movies on our own big screen, in the comfort of our own home!

    Downloading new releases to my e-reader is saving me a whack of cash!! And now I borrow cookbooks from our library before buying them; I’ve been caught many times buying a book only to have 5 recipes be worthwhile.

  2. A New Englander, I will always spend money for real, high-quality maple syrup. I can’t stand the fake stuff, and would rather go without than have fake.

    There are some items that will try to get for cheap, but if I look or think about it for months and can’t find something suitable, I will splurge a little for something just right even if it’s a little expensive. I haven’t bought a pair of jeans in over 2.5 years, and have in the past refused to spend more than about ~$30 for jeans. However, I’ve been looking for a pair of dark skinny jeans for months, and when I found a pair I liked this week, I just decided to get them, even though it’s from a store I don’t usually shop at and they were $80, just to end the search and because the cheaper options didn’t work for me.

    One thing I haven’t bought, per se, in many years is music. My iPod (~4yrs old) just died and I never liked it much because I didn’t buy music on iTunes. I pay for a Pandora One subscription ($36) every year and otherwise listen to the regular radio.

    I tried buying cheap batteries once and they seemed like they died almost instantly in my digital camera. Those need the souped-up stuff.

  3. Reuse ziplocs – absolutely! But paper towels? what’s that? We don’t have any – we tear up old T-shirts or towels into rags, and have collections of them in bathroom, kitchen, laundry room etc and use them. I haven’t bought a paper towel in years! And as for movies, DH and I haven’t been to a theater in over 7 years.
    Come to think of it, investing in entertainment is not our priority – no movies, we use the library for books/magazines and DVDs (I gave up buying books when the financial caa-caa hit the fan), we both love to cook, so no restaurant meals (taking my mother out for mother’s day is the exception),etc. DH would LOVE a big screen TV, but until we are out of debt, and mortgage free, that is not happening, Our 10 year old ugly 20″ TV will suffice.

    Let’s see, what household items are worth/not worth the money…My detergent must be Tide or Sunlight, but any brand of bleach goes.Toothpaste must be Colgate or Crest, but any brand of soap and deoderant will do. Generic coffees will NOT do, but any brand of condiment will.TP – any kind as long as it is on sale. Similarly, my clothing and shoes must be well made and on sale, but they can be from anyplace and label-less – the addtion of a designer name or logo is not worth a gazillion extra dollars! My non-prescription sunglasses, as long as they offer some radiation protection, are cheap…I lose/ step on/drop them too frequently to invest good money in them.

  4. Let’s see….

    1. summer sandals. hello $12.99 from Target, i’m looking at you

    2. shampoo and conditioner. $2.99 works for me.

    3. workout clothes. i’m not talking bras and shoes, but my clothes? old shirts from college and events, and enough shorts to get me through a week. i don’t need to look like a model…i think the red face and sweating disqualify me anyway.

    Oh – and I will re-use ziplock bags, if they’ve had dry goods in them. I’ll bring cereal or crackers to work in the same bag for a week or so. 🙂

  5. I can relate to all of the frugal things you listed. I had the same experience with 16 and pregnant when we stayed at a hotel a few months ago and came across the show. We don’t have a TV at home much less cable so watching real TV as opposed to Hulu or Netflix is like watching some bizarre cultural ritual for me these days.

    I’m compulsive about not letting food go to waste, I’ll wear shoes and clothes out to the point of holes since I hate shopping to replace them and I buy generic brand almost everything.

  6. We nixed the cable, also. Honesty I don’t miss it. We don’t go to movies, we go to Redbox. I like it better than the theatre. We get to lay down, eat popcorn and watch a movie. It’s awesome. I refuse to spend a lot of money on clothes. I usually buy my things at Marshalls, TJ Maxx, thrift stores, or the clearance rack with an extra 50% off already reduced prices. I get GREAT things for $10-20 a pop. I do the same for household items. Thrift stores or clearance racks at Target, Home Goods, etc. I’ve gotten three really nice mirrors for our house for $10 each. SO cheap!

    I get a lot of my makeup at the Dollar Tree. They get good brands there…Almay, Neutrogena and it’s SO much cheaper.

    Also – did you know there’s a clearance cart at the grocery store? Nyquil, canned goods, OTC meds and random things can be found for $1. Usually because the box got a little banged up in shipping. Yes, I am that lady digging through the Shaws clearance cart, and No, I am not ashamed!

    I’ve also started asking everywhere I go for a AAA discount. I’m surprised at the number of places that give you 15% off just for flashing your card!

  7. When you’re buying batteries, you do have to make sure you get allkaline batteries or they’ll last about 37 seconds.

    I go cheap on clothes as well. I give myself a $150 annual clothing budget. Probably what lots of girls spend in a month, but I really hardly ever need new clothes. I stopped growing years ago.

  8. Hair care. Bought a Wahl barber kit around 1998 and have maybe paid for about 3 haircuts since then. Additionally, I travel enough for work so that I never have to buy soap or shampoo or conditioner or lotion. I’ve never taken the time to calculate the savings on this, but it’s got to be around $100/yr.

  9. Hate to say it, but we’re not extremely frugal. We don’t clip coupons or eat Wonderbread. Then what am I doing writing a PF Blog?!?!! Anyway, we do shop for clothing when it’s on sale typically. When we go to movies we go to the first showing of the day… it’s 5 bucks!

  10. Clothes- I like to go to TJ Maxx or marshalls, sometimes you can even get their stuff on clearnance. I got a suite for $50 once, and didn’t even need to be taken in. I also got my wedding dress at Loehman’ss for $20, but has to get it fitted and that cost $60 =(.
    Batteries – I like to pay a little more for the rechargable ones, NiMH is better than NiCad. I can ususally find them for about $1/battery but they can be used for like 1000 recharges. Better for the environment too.
    Movie/TV – ditto on the netflix, I am considering canning cable. and going with hulu or amazon prime
    Drinks – I usually find coupons for juice and use them when there’s a sale. I can get a 1/2 gallon of juice for $.50 – $2, plus I add water to my juice cause I find it too sweet. But this is mostly for my husband and kids. We don’t even drink soda.
    here are couple more money waster posts:

  11. FYI, Dollar General brand batteries suck.
    I do wash and re-use Ziploc bags, in fact. And we use cloth napkins to avoid buying paper napkins or paper towels. (We do use paper towels for other things, but hardly ever.) We don’t have cable, and don’t have internet at home (hubby can get it on his phone, but since we have to pay for it at his office [self employed] we decided not to pay for it twice.) I cut my husband’s hair and I go to a local beauty college to get my hair cut.

  12. I am definitely on the higher side of frugal. I shop with coupons (though not the extent of the crazies on TV – those people are nuts), I buy my clothes at Ross, Target and Goodwill, and I’ve actually taken up mystery shopping as a side hustle – which means free dinners, gas, vacations and other activites for me and the hubby. My husband loves going to the movies, so we go once or twice a month, but I get free gift cards through this program where I send in my junk mail, so we haven’t actually paid for a movie in over 4 years. I shop garage sales on the weekends, the clearance racks at stores, and am all about hand-me-downs from my family. That being said, I bought my own house when I was 22 years old (I’m 26 now, btw), my husband bought a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle last year and we are going on a cruise for Christmas. I look at my frugality as a way to enjoy the nicer things we want, and still have money in the bank and in our investment accounts.

  13. El Cheapo Batteries are not worth the money. They don’t last AT ALL. I think you’re losing money in that deal.

    I’m cheap with clothes too. I don’t buy them that often and I try to buy a lot of my kid’s stuff used. I just traded a car load of perennials for 3 garbage bags of boy clothes…How sweet is that?

    I’m also cheap with labor. 9 times out of 10, I’d rather do something myself than hire a person to do it for me.

  14. I’m completely cheap on toiletries. Between coupons and CVS I get most of my stuff for free or very close to free.

  15. I kind of really want to do a comparison study on batteries. I feel like the cheaper ones are more expensive in the long run, because they don’t last nearly as long. But I don’t know for sure!

    I do rewash Ziploc bags and plastic straws, because, why not? For me, though, it’s as much an environmental thing as it is a cost-cutting thing.

    I buy juice every once in a while when it’s on sale, but I absolutely, positively can’t bring myself to ever buy a fountain pop when I’m out to eat at a restaurant. It drives me bananas. It’s like highway robbery. How can a restaurant justify charging me $3 for a product that literally cost them pennies? Does anything else have that much of a markup? No matter how much I want that iced tea with my burger, I just can’t do it. Similarly, I hate the fact that iced coffee costs 50 cents more than regular coffee.

  16. We re-use ziploc bags – mostly the freezer-sized bags. Those suckers are pricey! And we don’t often use paper towels (we use cloth).

    I have to disagree with your battery comments – yes, batteries are expensive, but the name brand ones are so worth it! The cheapies never hold a charge for long. Or go rechargeable!

    I detest spending money on a haircut. I will go maybe 2 or 3 times a year.

  17. I definitely am cheap on clothing. I like quality items that are on sale. And once I find something that I like and I usually tend to buy a couple of the same items in different colors. Hello outlets!

  18. I just have to say I love the title to this post. Made me laugh and smile. Brought back memories of those childhood moments.

    Great post too.

  19. I am frugal except when it comes to shoes. Comfort and quality is important to me. I will spend as much as $3-400 on shoes, but they last forever (30+ years). It helps I stick with conservatives styles. You can get a pretty good deal on batteries at Costco.

  20. I can’t get myself to buy books anymore. I’ll get it at the library, I am too cheap to pay full price when I can wait to read it once for free.

  21. 1) I stopped by clothes in 1998 when I stopped growing. Now I simply replace worn out shoes or pants/shirts etc. Never spending more than $200 a year on clothes. My opinion is that name brand clothes are the biggest rip off there is. Just because a shirt has a special design on it doesn’t mean I’m paying 60% more for it.

    2) I try not to buy bottled water and instead use a pitcher with a filter in it. Also have a filter on my faucet, double protection.

    3) I don’t spend money on music, the radio will suffice.
    4) I buy a dvd maybe twice a year
    5) I buy swim wear and workout clothes once every 2 years
    6) I do not buy plants, electronics, bags, or any other non essential items

    To summarize – I spend 95% of my money on WATER FILTRATION, FOOD, SHELTER (bills), & INVESTMENTS. My vehicle is paid for. A car payment should be avoided at all costs in my opinion.

  22. Dang you’re cheap! But I have to admit that I don’t like to spend too much on clothing or cable either. My rule is, if I can get it free or cheap (and legallly) there’s no reason to pay too much for it.

  23. While on the one hand I do agree that you should spend on whatever is important to you and cut costs mercilessly on things you don’t care about.. I gotta agree with the commenter above. You really take things to an extreme!

    I feel like movies are more of a social date experience where you can get out of the house and do something different. And soda just tastes good every once in a while.

    Are you really saving that much money by cutting these things out of your life? If you bought a few cans of soda and watched a few movies every month, seems like it wouldn’t add up to more than a couple hundred bucks a year. And IMO people should justify this cost with the amount of happiness it brings in (I think they call this “utility” in economic terms).

    Still…props on being so disciplined.

  24. I cheap out on a cell phone. I just have a normal dumb Nokia phone that had lasted me forever. I don’t want to pay for data and I don’t want to constantly charge my phone, so it works well for me. It’s also my primary phone line (no land line), and I’ve managed to get by without caller id or voice mail. 🙂

  25. I’ve been without cable for several months now and I do not miss it one bit. I watch everything on Netflix, Hulu, or You Tube. Everything I watched with cable, I can watch now with the exception of “Til Debt Do Us Part”.

    In a way I skimp out on clothes but only because I hardly buy them. I do purchase high quality clothes (they last much longer IMO), but only when there is a sale or I can get a discount.

  26. What do you buy batteries for? I use wired keyboards and mice for my computers. I cannot remember the last time I bought batteries for my remote controllers for my home theater. They seem to last for years.

  27. I buy rechargeable batteries and have a charger that charges two sizes (AA and AAA). I balked at the outlay originally but it is so worth it not to have to buy batteries!!

  28. […] Punch Debt in the Face talks about being frugal.  One of the things that I cheap out on is a cell phone.  I don’t have a smart phone, just a normal Nokia dumb phone and I am perfectly okay with that. […]

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