Living Frugally: Loose Change, Contributions, and Scraping

Living frugally means more than simply looking for ways to spend less. According to dictionary.reference.com…

fru • gal [froo-guhl] economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful.

Economical in use or expenditure might refer to spending less. However, how might a savvy individual save prudently and not be wasteful? Here are a few practices we have adopted in the SavvyJames household:

About three years ago we placed a wicker basket – which later became known as ‘the money basket’ – in our bedroom. We determined that at the end of each day, we would place all our change and any dollar bills in the basket. Of course, any change found, such as when out on a run, is also tossed in the basket. And while we typically limit bills thrown in the basket to the $1 type, occasionally we will throw in a $5. You would be amazed at how quickly loose change, $1 bills – and the occasional $5 bill – add up! Often we use the change collected in our basket to add to our emergency fund or as spending money on our mini-vacations, taken over a long weekend. Our best haul? If memory serves me correctly, over a 3-4 month period, about $180.

Like many communities, ours collects recyclable material on a weekly basis. We make a point to take full advantage and ensure that all of our plastic, aluminum, cardboard, and glass make their way into the recycle bin. While not necessarily difficult, it is somewhat inconvenient to lug recyclables out to the bin every time we finish a gallon of milk or bottle of wine. Therefore, we keep a small plastic bin in the garage, just a few steps away from the kitchen, and toss the discarded items in there immediately after use to ensure that they don’t end up in the regular trash can. When full, we simply dump the items from the small plastic bin in the larger bin that the city picks up.

A better solution to throwing away older clothes that no longer fit but still have use? In our community, the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Boys and Girls Club regularly drop plastic bags off at the front door and a notice of the date they will come back by to pick up the bags. We simply leave the bag full of clothes at the curb (corner of our driveway/sidewalk) and they pick up during their rounds for that day. A side benefit? The contributions are tax-deductible. If you leave a bag of contributed items on the curb, they will leave a receipt on your door. If there isn’t an organization that accepts contributions in this manner, you can always drop off donated items at their place of business.

Just recently, Mrs. SavvyJames started holding onto lotion bottles after we would have normally thrown them away, as she realized quite a bit of lotion was left inside. After saving six or seven bottles, she cut them in half and used a spatula to scrape out the remains. A decorative canister, found on sale for $2.99, works nicely as a lotion container…

 

Stay Savvy, my friends and live more frugally.

James
 

James retired in 2005 after serving 21 years in the United States Army. During the latter part of his career, James' interest in personal finance was piqued based on his own experiences and observations of the way most Americans plan – or more accurately, fail to plan – for retirement and the difficulty many face in starting the process. His most valued education has been lessons learned from personal experience and through conversations with smart, savvy friends.

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