Living life just a little bit differently
When my husband and I were first married thirteen years ago, we were beyond broke. We lived in a high cost of living area, I had student loan and credit card debt from college, and we only had one source of income at $35,000 a year. The Tightwad Gazette was my go to resource for all things frugal.
For Christmas that first year, we asked for two products: a pair of hair clippers and a wooden dowel clothes drying rack.
Luckily, we got those presents, and I’ve calculated that they saved us thousands over the years.
Hair cuts can be expensive, so I’ve cut my husband’s hair for thirteen years now. I cut it about every six weeks. Luckily his hair is straight, and he just likes a simple, short cut. Even if he could get a cut at $15 each time, at approximately eight cuts a year, we save $120 a year because I cut his hair myself.
Over our marriage, we’ve saved $1,560.
We also have a nine-year old son, and I cut his hair, too. We have saved $840 in his lifetime by cutting his hair at home.
All told, a $20 clipper kit has saved us $2,400!
I’m not going to lie, though. In the beginning, my husband had to suffer with some pretty bad haircuts. There were a few times when I had awkward cuts around his ears or when I was blending the longer pieces with the shorter ones and left a bald gouge. He had to wear a hat for a few weeks. Luckily, the learning curve was a quick one, and within the first few cuts, he didn’t have to suffer again.
We’ve lived in an apartment our entire marriage and have to use coin operated washers and dryers that are $1.00 for each wash cycle and $1.00 for each dry cycle. We dry every load on our drying rack except for towels and sheets. In the beginning, we only did two loads a week, but now, three kids later, we wash five loads a week.
I can roughly estimate that over the years we’ve line dried three loads of laundry a week. At $1.00 per dryer load, that works out to $2,028 total that we’ve saved with a $60 dryer rack.
In addition to the hair clipper set and drying rack that we received as gifts, we also bought deep freezers ourselves to take advantage of grocery savings.
We have two deep freezers. One we bought brand new for $260 about eight years ago. The other we bought used on Craigslist for $100 last summer. We use the deep freezers for storing meat, vegetables, fruits, and homemade freezer meals.
We buy our grass-fed beef and pastured pork in bulk direct from the farmer and store it in the freezer We buy a half side of beef and a whole hog at a time. These our annual purchases that keep us in meat most of the year.
We also buy organic fruit in bulk when it’s cheap in the summer and store it in the freezer. Right now, we have blueberries, strawberries, plums, homemade apple sauce, and grapes in the freezer.
In addition, we grow a garden and freeze the surplus. We have many greens like Swiss Chard, spinach, and kale that we can add to soups during the winter months as well as diced red and green peppers and shredded zucchini.
Once a month I also have a freezer cooking session. I spend one weekend day making 15 to 20 meals. Then, during the month, we eat those meals on busy weeknights instead of going to get fast food or going out to eat.
I would estimate we’ve easily saved $3,000 (if not more) by buying our produce and meat this way and relying on freezer meals for busy nights.
You know the saying that you have to spend money to make money. Sometimes that’s true for saving money, too.
The hair clippers and wood dowel drying rack cost $80 out-of-pocket, but they’ve saved us approximately $4,428! The freezers cost us $360, but we’ve saved over $3,000 by shopping and cooking to take full advantage of the freezer space.
What is your favorite gadget or appliance that saves you money?
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I used to hang dry my clothes all the time when we had to rely on coin laundry facilities. You’re right that they can save you a mint if you’re patient. I liked the idea of buying a bunch of produce in summer and freezing it for use over the year. Same thing with the meat. We’ll have to save up and see if we can find a farmer or business to sell us something like that. Thanks for the suggestions.
We still hang our clothes to dry, and installed a large wooden dowel over the washer and dryer. It saves electricity (money), saves time, and its better for the clothes not to be heated. We just do a quick dry at the end, to get the wrinkles out, and freshen them up.
These recurring expenses really add up over the years. I think people will be shocked to find out how much they’ve spent over their life on Starbucks and Tim Hortons coffee.
Exactly. These kinds of frugal strategies don’t look like they save a lot over the course of a year, but over 10 or 20 years, the savings is significant.
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