It’s been said that necessity is the mother of all invention. Then frugality must be like a second mother! Have you ever noticed how most frugal people are also very creative? It’s no coincidence; I believe there is a strong correlation between frugality and creativity. There’s plenty of examples out there of frugal people finding creative solutions to life’s problems – sometimes in an effort to save money, and other times simply to extend the useful life of everyday things.
Mowing by flashlight
The idea for this post came to me Saturday night while mowing our lawn late in the evening. As it got dark, I switched on the lawn tractor’s headlight feature without success. In a matter of minutes I would soon be mowing in the dark. With no time to investigate why the lamp wasn’t working, and little time (and money) to start looking for a replacement, I did what any frugal person would do. I duct taped an old MAGLIGHT flashlight to the hood and finished mowing.
Of course, this probably won’t be a long-term solution, although after looking up the cost of a new headlamp I’m thinking I might just live with it for a while (and start mowing earlier in the day!).
Painting the top of my van with Rustoleum auto paint
A while back I noticed the top of my old van was seriously rusted. I was less concerned with aesthetics and more concerned that it would eventually leak during heavy rains. Recognizing that it is a large vehicle, I figured having a new paint job would be expensive, so I decided to do it myself.
One Saturday morning I hand-sanded the top of the van with sandpaper fine enough for auto surfaces, but coarse enough to remove most of the rust. I then gave the van a good washing to remove any sanding residue and loose paint/rust chips.
The next morning I applied a couple coats of Rustoleum auto spray paint to the roof in an almost matching color. It’s really more two-toned now, but not many people can see the top of a van, so it certainly doesn’t bother me. With a little elbow grease, and $20 worth of supplies I had solved most of my rust problem. At 19 years old, the chances of me having to repaint the roof during the van’s useful life are slim.
Made a “book” rest
A few weeks ago I was cleaning out my work office when I found some very old programming books. These thousand-plus page monsters were extremely outdated and were ready to hit the recycle bin long ago. But I had a different idea.
I grabbed two of the books of equal size, and found four door wedges (those triangular things that slide under a door to hold it open), and glued two to each book, about a 1/3 of the way in on both sides. What I had left was a gently elevated footrest for each foot that I put against the backside of my desk.
No offense to the books’ authors intended of course, but the software the books were written for stop being supported five years ago. At several inches thick they make a perfect way to elevate my feet under my office desk,and saved me from having to buy an expensive footrest. Why not extend their useful life a bit?
Naturally, these homemade solutions are not always better. There are plenty of times where it makes sense to go shopping for a new product or service that will solve your problem. However, I applaud those who stop to think about finding a frugal, creative solution using the things they already have, rather than rushing out to a store to buy something new–adding to the clutter in their home or office.