In the pursuit of being more frugal, I started using coupons a long time ago. I can't even begin to imagine how much money I have saved by using coupons. My stockpile has been pretty large at times and at other times not so much. I am in the stockpile mode at the moment. I think the garden starting to come in always puts me in that frame of mind. Putting up the garden produce makes me want to get all stocked up for the winter, and makes me more conscience of waste.
One thing I have struggled with is waste. When things are gotten for free, I feel less frugal with them. I may open up a bottle of shampoo before I use up all of the bottle I already have open. Or use a little more laundry detergent in the load, just because I have 6 bottles.
My goal is to be just as frugal with the things I get for next to nothing as I would be if I had paid full price for them. Just because something is cheap or free, doesn't mean I should use it any differently than if I had paid full price for it. A big part of being frugal is simply just not wasting what you have, even seeing just how far you can stretch things. So my challenge is to see just how long I can make things last, no matter what I paid for it.
There is one persons whose blog I use to read, who would post every week about what food she threw away over the week. Americans waste 40-50% of their food every year. That's like $40 - 50 a week if your food budget is $100 a week. Multiply that by 52 and you get $2080 - 2600 a year in the trash. Astounding to think about.
That got me thinking I should pay more attention to what I am wasting. Maybe if I started taking pictures like the blogger I mentioned did, I would stop wasting so much. Now we do take leftovers in our lunches, and I do make banana bread with overripe bananas, I feed stale bread, cereal and chips to the chickens, and fruit & vegetable peelings go into the compost pile, and I don't consider any of that waste. The chickens give us eggs and it cuts down on the cost of feed. The compost gives us better garden soil.
I have decided to implement a new technique to help me do this. I am going to start writing the dates on things when I start using them. This will help in two ways. I will get a feel of how long that bottle of shampoo should last, and I will know how many bottles I need to keep on hand. After all, if I only need 2 bottles to last for 6 months, I would be wasting my time and energy to stock up on 14 bottles. I don't mind having extra on hand if it's free, but if I don't need it and am not going to donate it, then I am not being frugal with my time and energy by going to get it.
The worst part is it goes far beyond food. Time, gas, money, water, electricity, and the list can go on and on. We have become a disposable society. If something is broke we tend to not even try to repair it. Just toss it away and get a new one.
With the economy the way it is at the moment maybe we should all keep that depression era saying hanging on our fridge or somewhere we look at it frequently.