Frugalista 2.0: 12 Silly Things SurvivalWoman does to Save Money

Avatar Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
Frugalista 2.0: 12 Silly Things SurvivalWoman does to Save Money

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piggybankLast week I wrote about 12 Frugal Tips for Living with Less Money.  Most if not all of those tips were fairly benign.  They were simple, easy, practical and common sense rules for pursuing a frugal lifestyle.  There was nothing controversial and certainly nothing to be be embarrassed about.

Today I present another list.  These are my own quirky, funky and yes, crazy things that I do to save money.  For some, this list may seem silly. For me, they are a way of life.

1.  Cut used paper from the printer into scratch paper: Using my paper cutter, I cut a stack of 8.5 x 11 sheets into note paper and set them out in my desktop note holder. This only takes a few minutes and I get four pieces of note paper from each sheet. I have done this for over 20 years.

2.  Re-use the back side of paper in the laser printer:  A person can only use so much scratch paper.  The rest of the paper spilling out of the printer is flipped over and used again, this time on the back side. But I don’t stop there.  I also use the back side of documents and flyers that arrive in the mail.  Since I am 99% paperless, nothing gets filed or saved.  Instead it gets scanned, flipped and added to the stack of “blank” paper destined for the printer.  Nothing hits the recycle bin until it has been printed on both sides (or cut into scratch paper as described in #1).

3.  Re-use remittance envelopes that arrive in the mail: Since I pay all of my bills online, I have no need for all of those envelopes that come stuffed with bills that arrive in the mail. I slap a label over the pre-printed address on these so-called junk envelopes and I am good to go. I use these envelopes for all sorts of things: bank deposits, grocery coupons, receipts, you name it.

4.  Hoard cardboard boxes: I am sure this is some sort of sickness. I buy almost everything online which means I get a lot of boxes. An entire section of my garage is stacked to the ceiling with boxes of all sizes. In all fairness, all of my stuff in storage is organized in labeled boxes that are stacked neatly in another section of the garage so it is not as though the boxes don’t get used. Still, one of these days I am going to have you send some to recycle.

5.  Spend one hour online comparison shopping in order to save a dollar or two: This is bad but I can’t help it. There is always the thrill of the bargain but at some point we all need to value our time.  Like I said, this girl just can’t help it.

6.  Wash and re-use zip lock bags until they are ready to fall apart: If you have ever priced the cost per bag, you will understand why I do this.

7.  Dumpster Diving:  Admit it.  A lot of good stuff can be found by keeping your eyes peeled for dumpster goodies.  Some of my finds?  One night a week, the local grocery store throws out bouquets of flowers in anticipation of fresh arrivals the next day.  A lot of the time, I can pluck four or five bunches, toss out the wilted blooms and end up with a gorgeous bunch of flowers that adorn my home for the next three or our days.  Once I found a huge gift basket – less the goodies inside.  The basket still had the cellophane wrapping on it and would have cost me about $20 or more at a specialty store.  This was a find as was the brass colored party tub I found, again, still in its cellophane wrapping.

Okay, enough said.  It is somewhat embarrassing after all, to admit to dumpster diving.

8.  Squeezing the last bit of product out of tubes and bottles:  You will not believe how much product can be rescued from almost empty tubes and bottles.  I will cut off the ends of tubes and dig out the remains with a popsicle stick.  There is one face serum I use and by employing this rescue method, I get another 4 or 5 days worth of product.  Maybe it is only pennies that I am saving, but in my mind, it is more.

So the question is:  Why can’t some smart packaging wizard figure out a way to get every last drop out of those bottles?  I end up turning them upside down over a funnel into a smaller, squeeze type bottle.  Is this being cheap or thrifty?  I prefer to call it frugal.

9.  Re-purpose empty bottles and jars (and especially spray bottles):  Like boxes, I tend to hoard empty bottles and jars.  I keep them in a box in my closet of all places and when the box starts to overflow, I weed it down to half a box.  These re-purposed bottles work great when concocting my home made cleaners and for breaking down products from bulk packaging into manageable and useful quantities.

10.  Burn DVDs on re-writable disks instead of throw-aways:  The initial cost of rewritable DVDs was about triple the single use type.  Furthermore, burning these disks is slow and the results are often unreliable.  It is not unusual for it to take 3 separate efforts to make a single, readable, DVD.  Still, over the long term I am sure I have saved at least $100 dollars by using the DVD-RWs.  Plus, I have saved a lot of waste from the landfills and that just seems to me like the responsible thing to do.

11.  Re-use gift wrap and bows:  This is pretty self explanatory.  Have you priced gift wrap and bows lately?

12.  Garbage soup:  Call it garbage soup or hobo stew.  I save bits of leftovers in a freezer bag and when it comes time to make soup, it all goes in to the pot.  The combinations are never the same.  How about a combination of turkey carcass, homemade chili, brown rice, and chunks of baked potato?  This may not sound good but whatever goes in to the soup somehow melds together in a delicious as well as nutritious brew.  I usually add some lentils or beans and perhaps some canned tomatoes as well.  Almost nothing food-wise goes to waste in my house.

So now that I have bared my soul, how about you? What are the silly thing you do to save money?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


Allison WeddingIn the News:  Just a bit of personal news today.  The past four days have been spent celebrating the marriage of my niece, Allison to a most wonderful young man.  I feel honored and privileged to have been a bridesmaid in their wedding and hope that you will join both Survival Husband myself in wishing Andy and Allison a joyous future together.

By the way, that is your very own SurvivalWoman + Survival Husband in the photo to the right.

Other SurvivalWoman picks:

  • Lodge 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet:  The basic standby for all types of cooking, inside or out.
  • Lodge Set of 2 Pan Scrapers:  A must have to go with that skillet.
  • 550lb. Type III Paracord 100′ Black: I wish I had known about Paracord years ago.  There is no reason not to have a few hundred feet around your home, in your car, and in your bug out bag.
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6 Responses to “Frugalista 2.0: 12 Silly Things SurvivalWoman does to Save Money”

  1. I know it has been 2 years since this post but I just had to add a comment now as I am reading archived materials.
    1) I also use paper from the printer as scratch paper. I have not thought to use the mailings however.
    2) What a great idea for all the envelopes. Since I pay bills on-line, I have opted for e-bills but still get enough envelopes.
    3) I have a number of long chop sticks in a jar – I use this as a dryer for my zip lock type bags.
    4) I also recycle the empty glass jars. I picked up a sample sized paint from the hardware store and I use a bit of fine sand paper on the lids, clean and paint the lids to all match. I have also used chalkboard paint on lids.
    5) Garbage soup – I have carried on the tradition from my family – keep a jar in the freezer. I add that last little scoop of veggies to it juice and all. When it is full (or I am hungry for soup) I thaw and throw it in the pot. It generally contains green beans, corn, carrots.
    6) what is this “bone broth” thing. We always called it stock. I can buy a roasted chicken from the grocery store and get at least 6 meals from it (I am alone). At least 3 of these meals is from the meat itself but the rest is from the stock for chicken noodle soup. I might also make pot pie if I don’t want to go with 3 meat meal. When the stock is done, I take all the bits and pieces of meat and divide it into soup serving sizes. I then make home made noodles. When the noodles are partially dried, I package the stock/soup package and noodles separately into a larger bag (I don’t like soggy noodles). When I want soup, I take out a package that contains the stock and serving of noodles. I then add additional veggies like carrots, celery, and onions. Salt and pepper to taste – yum. This almost as fast as opening a can and so much more nutritious.

  2. My mother-in-law taught me the hobo stew idea a while back. It’s a great idea.

    I’m completely with you about the ziplock bags. You may be interested in the reusable ones on Some brands are pretty pricey, but if they replace lots of little plastic bags (that we may not always be able to get), they will pay for themselves over time and not go in the landfill. They are washable, either in the dishwasher or washing machine. I’m least impressed with the Lunchskins ones.

    Before we began homeschooling, I stuck all those envelopes into a notebook that I kept school related items in. If ice cream day was Friday, I’d stick the change in one. Permission slips and whatnot were returned in them, and so on.

    To save money with my large crew, when we have to be out for most of the day, I take lunches or snacks along. I keep a basket of crackers, granola bars, and waters under the console.

    For Mother’s Day, I asked for a plug in cooler for my van. You can use either the cigarette lighter adapter or a regular plug and it chills things. This allows me to drive the hefty distances I have to travel to hit a “real” grocery store, yet get home with my frozen items still solid. It’s also great for keeping drinks cool during this awfully hot summer so a stop at the playground doesn’t mean heat exhaustion.

    I’m sure I do some quirky things to save money, but nothing else is coming to mind- probably because I have been doing them so long I don’t think they are strange anymore. 😉

    I will tell you something funny though- we ran into a friend while grocery shopping once. We were standing on the cereal aisle and the friend noticed the Disney Princess cereal and commented on it, knowing my daughter was crazy about them. My (then) 5 year old daughter said, “Yes, I would like to get it but Mommy only lets us buy cereal on this side (big sweep of the arm) because those cereals (another big sweep) are too expensive.”

  3. I’ve been known to do at least 10 out of the 12 on the list. Those cardboard boxes really come in handy don’t they? Alas my lack of space prevents me from keeping multiples but I do what I can. Nice pic by the way. Congratulations and best wishes to Andy and Alison!

  4. Survival woman, an older lady taught me years ago about saving small leftovers, a little bit of green beans, a few bean, corn, onions, chicken, what ever it may be. She did exactly what you suggested, freeze it and then make soup out of whatever goes into the container. I started doing that and you would be amazed how much it adds up to be. Then if I need more stuff in it, I can through pearl barley or pasta in and season it up, it is different every time, but yummy. And I feel good about not wasting food.

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