The other day, I was commenting on an interesting post about shameless frugality over at Squirrelers. Mr. Squirreler himself expressed an interest in hearing about some of Babci’s money saving undertakings that would make even the frugalest of frugalites cringe.
So by popular demand, here is a list of actual things that either my mother or uncle have done in the interest of saving a few bucks. Remember, Babci made minimum wage, had no debt, and bought her house with cash. I’m pretty sure my uncle bought his home with cash too.
- Not bathing every day
- When bathing, sharing the same tub water with multiple family members.
- When doing laundry, manually stopping the washer during the wash cycle to switch loads, so that you can utilize the same water and soap for multiple loads of laundry.
- Ditto on the rinse cycle.
- Line drying clothes, and in the winter, using a line that runs across your kitchen.
- Cutting your own hair and your kid’s hair.
- Using naptha bar soap to wash your hair instead of shampoo.
- Conditioner? What’s that?
- Using Urine as a disinfectant for cuts and wounds.
- Not flushing the toilet unless it’s #2. (I really hated this one and broke this rule a lot.)
- Using cold water to wash your dishes.
- Using rags instead of paper towels.
- Using only 3 cleaning products: vinegar, bleach or ammonia.
- Using newspaper to clean your windows.
- Saving and re-using nails and screws.
- Re-Using Wood, molding, hinges, just about anything.
- Getting Wood or Metal from the dump or Salvage Yards
- Utilizing Yard Sales for misc needs.
- Going to the dump looking for hardwood scrap, brush and logs for the wood burning stove.
- Driving around after a storm looking for down trees.
- Using pallets for kindling
- Only heating one room in your house.
- Never ever using air conditioning.
- Putting plastic on the windows in the winter and reusing it the following year.
- Picking Wild Mushrooms (One of my favorite childhood activities)
- Picking Wild Berries
- Eating Squirrel
- Eating Roadkill (deer specifically)
- Having a Garden
- Going into overpass tunnels and shoveling pigeon dung to use as garden manure. (The city dweller option. The downside is all the broken glass that inevitably got mixed in with it).
- Collecting Rainwater.
- Never buying or using pesticides.
- Rubbing lime on tree trunks to prevent insects from crawling up them.
- Pulling stuff out of people’s trash and/or dumpsters.
- Making noodles from scratch
- Using expired foods or very very old canned goods
- Buying from the old pile in the grocery store and/or bakery.
- Using your oven pilot light to dehydrate foods.
- Using bones for soup.
- Any meat would always start or end in a soup.
- Watering down juice
- Reusing tea bags
- Using pickle water or hot dog water to make soup. (Can you tell we ate a lot of soup?)
- Making your own yeast (sourdough starter).
- Fermenting your own wine.
- Drinking the tuna water from a can instead of pouring it down the sink.
- Using curdled milk for some old timey polish recipe that I wanted nothing to do with.
- Using stale bread for breadcrumbs.
- Cutting the mold or rotten bits off food and eating the rest.
- Using a variety of odd home remedies to cure sickness. I still prefer chicken soup and hot tea the best.
- Sewing your own clothes
- Buying the rest from thrift stores (shoes/belts, etc)
- Buying men’s underwear because they are cheaper than women’s..and fit your rotund figure better.
- Re-soling your shoes with old rubber tire scraps.
- Cutting zippers and buttons off of old clothes and re-using them for other items.
- Cutting collars off old shirts and sewing them into v-neck sweaters.
- Using Urine to help stretch out leather shoes. (Urine used to be used in the leather tanning process).
- Going to the utility company to pay a bill instead of mailing them because you don’t want to buy the stamp and you don’t have a checking account.
- Never making long distance calls.
- Not owning a car. (We weren’t car free always..just for a few years)
- Not having pets because they cost money.
- Not having a cell phone or the internet.
- Using a push mower instead of a gas mower.
- Using very low wattage light bulbs (like 7 and 15 watts before the days of cfl’s) to reduce electricity consumption.
- Living on the top floor of her apartment building because heat rises and it was warmer in the winter.
- Reusing any and all containers, bread bags, etc until they were beyond repair.
I am so thankful that even Babci doesn’t do a lot of these things anymore now that we don’t have to. If anything is a motivator to get college educated and make a living wage, it’s knowing that I won’t be tortmented by such draconian efforts anymore.
The ones that scarred me for life were any activities involving urine, home remedies, bad haircuts and questionable food. I flat out refused to participate in some of these activities as a kid. On the other hand, I love foraging, gardening, recycling, buying used, and cooking from scratch..so some of her frugal ways did rub off on me.
Quick poll.. How many of these items have you done and how many would you never do? Are you EXTREME enough to to stand up to the Babcinator? Are there things you do that didn’t make the list? (Home made detergent comes to mind.)