Why do I call them this? Well, you'll see them on *every* frugal living list. Or most of them. And you'll almost ALWAYS have two types of commenters:
1. "You have to hit the BIG THINGS! Washing out baggies is stupid, call the insurance company and get a better deal!"
2. "Same old stuff, I want new ideas!"
Here's the thing. I've read dozens of "frugal tips" books and as many blogs. There's a lot of repetition, but life changes. I may read the same idea 10 times, but the 11th, it clicks. Or a tip just may not apply to me, but as I get older, change jobs, add new kids - suddenly, it does!
Or I start to slowly lose my frugal ways, and then have to re-dedicate myself to them.
Here are a few "silly and stupid ways" to save money.
1. Water. When you go out to lunch or dinner with friends (you know, rarely), drink water. Soda is what, $2? Eat out once a week, that's $100 a year. Twice, $200. And then it becomes a "thing".
When you go somewhere for fun - a walk, the park, the zoo - take a bottle of water or two. I mean, really, if you get thirsty suddenly, you are looking at $1 to $3 for a bottle of water. Tap water? 1/2 cent per gallon. Just get used to carrying water.
We have a potluck in the park every Sunday with the neighborhood. There's food. There's wine. A lot of wine. So much so that fairly often, there's no water. So the four young children (aged 8, 8, 4, 2) and the 3 older children (teenagers) sometimes don't have anything to drink. Sure, a lemonade or soda can be had for $2 from the vending machine. But really? I know am in the habit of filling two stainless water bottles with cold filtered water and bringing it every week. This way, if nobody else brings anything non-alcoholic, it's there. Often there is bubble water, but many of the kids don't like it.
2. Weekend trips. Now, this is a new thing for me. Now that I have two kids, we find ourselves heading to the beach on the weekends. If you go to the beach, your trip can really vary from "all out" to "bare bones". "All out" is a big sunshade, blankets, chairs, a table. Coolers with water, beer (it IS the beach), veggies, fruit, sandwiches. Surfboards, boogie boards, towels, sand toys, a volleyball, a frisbee, a football. All out is great if you have lots of people to carry the stuff.
"Bare bones" is a towel for each person, a bottle of water, a bucket and a shovel, a boogie board, sunscreen and a hat.
We tend to go in the middle with towels AND a blanket, one chair, one umbrella, sand toys and boogie board. It's usually two trips, but the problem here is: food and drinks. We inevitably go from 10 to 12:30, and then it's lunch time. And everyone is hungry. Problem with packing food? I have to do it. So sometimes we just plan to eat out as a treat, but most of the time it's a last minute eating out. Then it's a habit, and it's not a "treat" anymore.
But packing food inevitably falls to me, and I try to pick things that people like. That won't get covered in sand. And will stay cool (but that requires a cooler, another thing to carry). Sometimes I pack simple snacks to tide us over. Sometimes full on sandwiches. But it seems that everyone is unhappy with that. I guess I need to get a thick skin about it.
3. Prepared food. If you find yourself out and desperate for food, compromise. Or if it's Friday night and you REALLY don't want to cook. This is where the prepared food aisle is your friend, or the salad bar at the grocery store. Sure it's better to make your own pizza, but a $5 pizza is cheaper. If you are going home, microwaved mac and cheese is fine. If you aren't and need to buy cold food, some crackers and cheese, fruit, salami, baby carrots - these can be a meal and they will be a lot cheaper than a meal out.
4. Eat what you buy, buy what you eat, and don't shop. Don't give in to the "well, I'm here, I'll just grab..." (a soda, a bottle of water, a bag of chips). I found myself coveting many things at Kmart yesterday, but really, I had veggies and hummus in my fridge at work. So I didn't buy anything.
I know these seem obvious, and silly. And only a few bucks at a pop. But it's the HABITS we are forming here. And like any habit, they are hard to adopt, and conversely, so easy to lose!