Frugality on a Whole New Level!

popcorn fingersMost of us here do some pretty frugal stuff, but how far you’re willing to take it is totally another story.

I got an email from a reader the other day and it cracks me up just thinking about it again :) Probably because I can see my friends doing the same thing, but also because it’s just hilarious to envision!  I’m too lazy to give these things a shot, but it certainly makes for a good story/blog post. Here’s what Andrew Wrote:

“As background, Friend A and Friend B work together. Friend A sent an email to a group of us pals making fun of Friend B for burning a bag of popcorn in the workplace microwave, running to the backdoor, and heaving the flaming bag into the parking lot.”

And here’s what Friend B replied with via email:

“What you were not privy to is that I was “double popping”. As you know, there are always un-popped kernels left over in a bag of popcorn, so in order to get my money’s worth, I eat all the popcorn in the bag, then re-seal it with some tape and put it back in the microwave in order to pop remaining un-popped kernels. This results in a fair and delicious portion of popcorn, but this inevitably burns the bag. So out of respect for the office, I run and set the bag outside and transfer the delicious remaining popped kernels to a bowl so as not to permeate the office with the burned popcorn bag smell.

This does not burn the kernels, only the bag. Guess the bag can only take one spin in the microwave. Very frugal iyam.”

Haha, indeed! I racked my brain to see if there was anything I did as extreme as that, but unfortunately I’m pretty boring (unless you count sneaking cheeseburgers into the movie theaters as hardcore?). I don’t refreeze food over and over again, I don’t clip coupons or pay with bags of saved up pennies, and I certainly don’t recycle old toilet paper (ewwww!). I still bargain shop and save money like a mother f’er, but when it comes to hardcore frugalness I fail.

But I bet some of YOU don’t! And I bet you’re willing to share them with us too :) Aren’t you?

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  1. Carrie March 17, 2010 at 7:55 AM

    i enjoy high end makeup (so that’s not frugal), but to make sure that i completely get my money’s worth out of it i do take assorted tools like knives and pliers to the containers when they’re running low so that i can really get on the inside and get every last drop out.

  2. Investing Newbie March 17, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    This more-so my mother and the popcorn. She actually takes the unpopped kernels in the bag and puts them in a pan, adds some oil, and pops the rest. That is just too much work for me, but when I’m the one getting served, I appreciate her effort. LOL.

    I guess I’m frugal in the sense that I won’t buy something until I need it. So my perfume has to literally have one last spritz left before I can buy another one. All in all, lame, I guess.

  3. Kitchen Penguin March 17, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    See, this is where my brain doesn’t work like other people because my thought was, “if he’s trying to be frugal then what is he doing eating microwave popcorn?” I understand that it’s a convenience thing and when somebody is at work they usually don’t have access to a stove to make popcorn the way I do.

    Hardcore frugality? I had to “phone a friend” because I know that what I think is normal really isn’t. Always carrying reusable bags in my purse so that I get the discount at grocery stores (or so I don’t have to pay for a bag if I shop at Aldi’s or Save-A-Lot) and because if I get a plastic bag then I’ll just have to recycle it later. Cutting open lotion and toothpaste tubes to use that last little bit. Using the water from the shower while I wait for it to heat up to fill the humidifier. Adding the water from the dehumidifier in the laundry room to the washer when I do laundry. Using a laundry rack in my house, or outside when the weather is nice, instead of the dryer. Having a separate tub of hot soapy water when I do dishes so I don’t continuously run the water. (I pay the water bill so there is a trend here.) Always carrying my reusable water bottle. Netflix rather than seeing movies in theaters and only going to matinees or using discount tickets if I do see a movie in the theater. The house does not get above 65°F in the winter. Eating out requires a coupon, certificate or special deal (somebody else paying qualifies as a special deal).

    Have you been to the Book Thing of Baltimore? Free books ;-)

    – KP

  4. Megan March 17, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    That’s more than a little ridiculous. And it can’t make the office smell that good.

    I don’t think I do anything crazy. Like Carrie, I wrestle open packaging to get every last bit of a product, though I really only do it with pricier things. Not so much with something like toothpaste. I “mate” lotion bottles and condiment bottles to get out the last drops. But that’s something I grew up doing, so it doesn’t seem unusual to me.

    I think that what seems normal to one person is crazy frugal to another person. I have a Brita pitcher and a Kleen Kanteen on my desk at work. This seems perfectly normal to me. Other coworkers can’t believe I don’t just buy bottled water.

  5. Lulu March 17, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    Um that popcorn repopping is a bit too extreme for me. I think the most extreme thing I did was in college….I took my vacuum cleaner back to the store to get a refund and then would borrow a friend’s vacuum to clean my apartment.

  6. Emily March 17, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    Speaking of taking frugality to a whole new level….this morning I stumbled upon information about people who dumpster dive and the bounty they’ve obtained from taking part in such an activity. There are links to the pictures and stories of the dumpster finds here:

    I can’t say that I want to go to these extremes, but it certainly does give me something to think about.

  7. myfinancialobjectives March 17, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    Wow, that email really likes his popcorn! I wonder how many times he would have to do that to amount to a total savings of $1?

    These past two weeks I have been eating nothing but Cereal, PB&J, Top Ramen (beef flavor) and Goldfish. I’d say that’s pretty frugal!

  8. Abigail March 17, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    See, we just wait until popcorn goes on sale for 88 cents and then stock up. On the other hand, we don’t buy much microwave popcorn at all.

    I do wash out baggies finally. But the biggest focus of my frugality craze is coupons. Why now? Because we live near Fry’s, which doubles coupons to a max value of $1, and a Safeway, which automatically rounds coupons up to $1. So the savings is awesome!

    Yesterday, I got 25 boxes of Nature Valley bars (they’re good and they don’t go on sale often enough) for 50 cents each. I got Fiber One toaster pastries for $1 a box. Another time, I got 20 boxes of Quaker bars for 10 cents each, when you count the cost of buying extra coupons.

    Oh, and this week coupons will let me stock up on some of Tim’s favorite cereals — always sugar-riddled stuff — for under $1/box. So I’m like a mad woman with coupons!

  9. Tammi March 17, 2010 at 8:29 PM

    Laundry is a big expense. It requires a lot of gas and water, not to mention the wear and tear on the machine and occasional detergent.

    To save money I wear my underwear 4 times: Inside, outside, backwards inside, backwards outside. Underwear isn’t like a shirt with a katchup stain. Those brown stains are INVISIBLE so it DOES NOT MATTER. I also don’t use detergent.

    I wear pants 7 times, shirts 2 times, socks 3 times and underwear 4 times. This means that I cut my washing bill in 1/3 and don’t buy detergent. To get soap I fill up a plastic bag everytime I get gas (jeez, they are charging me $2.70 a gallon so I deserve the soap). I estimate that this saves me $78 per year.

  10. myfinancialobjectives March 17, 2010 at 8:45 PM

    LOL Tammie!!! now that is frugal haha!!

  11. Mama Geek March 18, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    Does wearing maternity clothes that don’t fit because I refuse to buy something I’ll wear for 7 days count? I look so white trash in my sweats with 2 inches of belly hanging out, but I don’t care.

  12. gina March 18, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    I do a few things that are frugal (but I don’t think disgusting): I clip coupons and match them up to the store sales. I have saved SO MUCH money doing this (hundreds per month!!). Also, I wash disposible utensils to get multiple uses out of them (I know, a bit cheap!). I also bring reusable bags to stores like CVS and Target to receive discounts (5 cents up to 25 cents) I know it’s not much, but it all adds up!!

  13. the Dad, Climbing Out March 18, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    Wow! That IS frugal. Every few months one of my colleagues burns a bag of popcorn and the place stinks for hours. I swear, I’d pay for the exhaust fan in the employee kitchen myself if they’d put one in just for those days. :)


  14. J. Money March 18, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    @Carrie – I can see that :)
    @Investing Newbie – I’m wayyyy too lazy/busy to re-pop corn too…not that I ever make it anyways, usually the wife will during movies but I hate when all those corn parts get stuck in your teeth – drives me crazy.
    @Kitchen Penguin – Well, might be a little hard at work to make your own popcorn ;) But my damn you are frugal!! I love it, haha… esp the cutting off of toothpaste and what not, I’m always throwing those out super early and I get yelled for it. Never heard of that book place, but I’ll check it out – thx!
    @Megan – I agree – some of this stuff can be considered both normal and crazy depending on who’s reading/watching. I’m going to guess most of this is normal w/ our blog niche here too ;)
    @Lulu – Haha, yeah I was always borrowing things like that in college.
    @Emily – Oh man, I’ve done this on a NUMBER of occasions….but only with furniture really. oh, and artwork – people throw away the nicest stuff!
    @Caity – Wow, really? That’s a first.
    @myfinancialobjectives – I could go for a huge handful of goldfish right now….love that stuff.
    @MoneyHoneySF – oh yeah.
    @Abigail – Haha, nice….you’re a frugal rock star ;)
    @Tammi – WOW. I think you win the prize here ;) I go through 2 pairs of socks (sometimes underwear) a day..shirts too. They just feel dirty after a while to me, esp socks – whenever i have to wear them longer than a day I go crazy. So yeah, def. couldn’t work it like you do, but if it works good for you!
    @myfinancialobjectives – it def. caught me off guard, that’s for sure :)
    @Mama Geek – I’m not sure if that counts or not, but it does make me smile ;)
    @gina – Yeah, those are great ones! We reuse Safeway/Target bags a lot – great for cat litter and mini trash cans.
    @the Dad, Climbing Out – I’d go 50/50 with you :)

  15. Meghan Fife March 18, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    Yeah, I guess I’m not even close to being that frugal. And there are probably a few areas I could cut expenses in but at the same time–there’s this thing called “sanity” and just “living,” right? I think that point of frugality could actually increase stress.

    I agree w/ Megan and Lulu….it’s pretty ridiculous. ;-) But to each his own!

  16. duddes02 March 18, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    My mother once won a vacuam cleaner in an auction that she entered. It was a super duper expensive and sexy vacuam cleaner. However, the bags was super duper expensive too! Her solution was soe reuse the bags!

    It was so strange. She manually emptied out the bag by sticking her hand into that little opening at the top. She would take out all the grit and cr*p that she vacaumed up. The odd part was that she was really proud of what she did. She’d say “look, this is the 8th time i emptied this bag!”.

    She also used to make split pea soup for less than $2.00. Then she would say (as we were eating) “this whole pot was less than $2.00! ”

    Can she get the prize?

  17. J. Money March 22, 2010 at 10:16 PM

    @Meghan Fife – “there’s this thing called “sanity” and just “living,” right?” RIGHT! just a matter of figuring it all out ;)
    @duddes02 – Haha.. well she’s def. in the top 3 that’s for sure! I bet your mom would get along w/ mine very well :)

  18. Karmella March 24, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    I have reused vacuum cleaner bags too. It had nothing to do with frugality and everything to do with laziness though!

    I reuse Vitamin Water bottles (ha, not frugal to buy that in the first place!) for regular water, but that’s really just because I like those bottles.

  19. J. Money March 26, 2010 at 10:02 PM

    Hah! I LOVE those bottles too :) Just dropped $3 on one the other day cuz I had a mad craving for one…. just sucks when you buy them at bodegas in the middle of D.C. – always so much more expensive.

  20. JMK April 25, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    When we built our house 16yrs ago we put in central vaccuum. When the giant canister/tank in the basement is full we dump it. Does that count as 1 bag for 16yrs?! At the time the system was a bit more than a really good regular vaccuum (maybe $700 vs $500?) but I think we’re actually way ahead on saved bags and no wear and tear on the house. A fabric covered hose does no damage being dragged across hardwood and pulled past wood trim. In our previous house most of our baseboards and furniture had dents from being hit by the canister part being dragged around.

    On an everyday basis we’re so used to the frugal things we do that we’ve stopped seeing them that way, until I see someone else doing something I’d never consider doing, or someone notices and makes a comment.
    We haven’t had cable in nearly 20yrs, we buy used cars with cash and drive them until they die. We all pack our lunches and eat in restaurants only on special occasions (about 4-6 times a year). When we drive to visit relatives (6hrs each way) we pack a picnic lunch and drinks – no roadside fast food required. Most of our clothes come from thrift stores and we only buy when things are actually worn out or the kids have out grown something. We repair most things ourselves and only pay for a professional on a very rare occasion. Nobody in the house gets perms, highlights, acrylic nails, heck I’ve never even colored my hair.

    Living as we do now seems normal and it’s only when we pause to look at how others do things that we realize how differently we’ve chosen to spend or more likely not spend our money. I think the important thing is to keep focused on the big picture. Why are you living frugally? What will you do with the money you’ve saved. Saving with no purpose or goal seems pointless to me. We travel with our children now and plan to retire early. Others might trade frugal choices in order to fund expensive cars, or other toys. They’re not the choices I’d make but that’s kind of the point of frugal living to me. Know what YOUR priorities and passions are and don’t mindlessly spend on the things your neighbours do. Most of us will never have enough money to have everything we want all at the same time, so you have to prioritize. And once you have, feel good about it and don’t feel you need to justify to anyone why you choose not to have or do the same as them. I sometimes think others try to get you to spend just to validate the choices they’ve made.

  21. J. Money April 30, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    YES! Well said. Having that end goal in mind for what all this frugality means to you is important – and I must admit it’s not easy…sometimes I save-save-save and then wonder after a few weeks WHY?! I mean, I always understand the full picture of it all, but *stating* where this saved money is going is much better and motivational than just saving for the sake of it. At least for me. I’m still not doing this as much as I should, but I’m working on it :)

  22. Jennifer October 11, 2010 at 12:39 AM

    You can make microwave popcorn bags yourself using kernels, brown paper lunch bags, and some vegetable oil. Put some kernels in a bag with about a teaspoon of oil, fold the bag opening up a few times, and put it in the microwave for 2-5 minutes. When it’s popped, add your own seasonings. This is much cheaper than store brand microwave popcorn, much healthier due to not having the nasty chemicals, and not nearly as much work as making it on the stove.

    Other cheap things I do:

    $1 movies (rental or $1 theater) – I can usually wait to see a movie. If it’s good it’s worth the wait. If it’s not good then I’m glad I didn’t spend $10+ to see it. Plus, if it’s a rental then I can make & eat my own homemade microwave popcorn – cheaper, healthier, better tasting.

    I stay at hostels when traveling. I prefer to eat out instead of making meals at the hotel, so I save on lodging instead. The exception is that I’ll pack sandwiches if it’s a road trip.

    10 or 50 cent cards at the dollar store instead of $1-7

    I get gallons of shampoo at Sally’s. They last forever and are very cheap per use.

    Something I plan to do: Grow some flowers in a “cutting garden”. I love having fresh flowers, but don’t buy them that often because even $10 bouquets add up. However, I can afford some pots and wildflower seeds.

  23. Jennifer October 11, 2010 at 12:42 AM

    Also, if I absolutely have to get my nails done (for a wedding for instance) I use the Kiss press on nails. I’ve made believers of friends after they’ve seen me wearing them. They are cheaper than a regular manicure, stay on really well – I haven’t had one fall off yet – and they don’t damage the nails like regular acrylic nails do. Just soak in warm water and remove.

  24. J. Money October 11, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    Awesome ideas! Thx for sharing Jennifer :) LOVE the growing your own flowers one. If I had the patience I’d do that myself, haha…