Weekly Roundup – What’s Your Most Embarrassing Non-Frugal Habit?

We often share ways to save money, reduce our monthly expenses, etc, but I’m sure many others are like me and have a couple non-frugal habits they are ashamed to admit. I have a few, including:

  • I hate using soap in the shower after the bar is reduced to 1/16th of an inch. Seriously, I know I should use them up, or save them to make a new bar, but I take pleasure ditching that sliver of soap and unwrapping a new bar.
  • I hate scraping the bottom of peanut butter and mayonnaise jars. Is a quarter of a teaspoon really worth the effort?
  • I don’t particularly like to clip coupons, even though I know they save money. I’ve tossed many more coupons that I’ve cashed in over the years.
  • Despite the known energy savings, we keep our thermostat at a fairly comfortable setting (74 in the summer and 70-72 in the winter) while at home. Our power bill is a little higher, but I refuse to sweat (or shiver) in my home if I don’t have to.

That’s about all I care to admit in this post. Now, it’s your turn!

The Frugal Roundup

I Just Lost My Job! How I’m Downsizing My Household Expenses. I certainly don’t revel in learning about others losing their jobs, but I do enjoy reading from those who are surviving, and sometimes even thriving, after losing a job.

Setting and Achieving Monthly Goals and Projects. I enjoyed this entire post, but Trent’s “Twenty Ideas” in particular inspired me to set a number of goals myself.

10 Creative Ways States and Cities are Plugging Leaks in Their Budgets. Perhaps a couple of these ideas will inspire you to plug the gaps in your own budget (and be prepared to rely less on the government).

Best of the Rest

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  1. I used to throw pennies in the trashcan when I received them as change. I don’t do it anymore but I think it’s revealing of my old mindset that I used to do it. I didn’t want the weight of too many coins in my pockets.


    • Rob, I used to feel the same way. At the car wash, I’d scramble to keep anything silver from getting sucked into the vaccuum hose. But pennies, oh well, away they go. Unfortunately, my kids saw this habit and thought little of pennies, until they opened savings accounts and saw that a couple pennies represented all they had earned in interest in a month!

  2. Thanks for talking about the thermostat! That is always one of the first things that is suggested to save money and we just can’t do it. I want my home to be a place where we are comfortable, not shivering and excited to get in our cars and go somewhere to keep warm!

    • Brad, if I were single, perhaps I could gut it out, dress in layers, etc. to stay warm, but when you have little ones it changes your perspective a bit. And it’s a battle I’ve decided to avoid with my wife. She’s cold-natured; I’m hot-natured – the thermostat stays in the middle!

  3. We are super frugal in almost everyway, except eating out. It is our weakness, to the point that I even grab an egg & cheese sandwich at mcdonalds if I’m running late–shame!

    • We share the same weakness. Here lately, we’ve been eating soups and sandwiches quite often for dinner as we’re in the middle of a DIY renovation. That means no leftovers the next day, and the temptation to hit Subway or Taco Bell.

  4. We have a few brand name food products for which we can’t abide the no-name substitutes. DH won’t drink anything but Coca-Cola, I hate ketchup that isn’t Heinz, for example.

  5. Great question! I purchase the more expensive wet food for my cats…you know, the one on the commercials where it looks like they are actually eating human food:). Fortunately, I only give them each a spoonful, so the can lasts 2-3 days. But still…..

    • I had a cat (and a dog) growing up and my mom fed her Fancy Feast. Of course, that cat was convinced she ran the house, so it was only fitting she get the gourmet foods.

  6. Beer. I live in Canada, and it is way too expensive (specially Mexican beer), I’m talking $14.00 CND for a six-pack of XX Ambar – my favorite. Last year I spent close to $950.00 on beer alone! My beer store receipts don’t lie! This year’s resolution: No beer for the first 3 month of 2011. I will keep you posted on my progress.

  7. Okay here goes mine is taking my daughter to Starbucks for a venti misto Yup it’s true I can hear David Bach ,Dave Ramsey and all others screaming in my ear “NOT the latte factor” but it is true! on the flipside it is planned in the budget, it is once a week for two busy women to catch up and reconnect,it could be Dunkin Donuts coffee or McD’s if the budget warrented changing.The point is it is our one guilty pleasure, we don’t golf/ski/gamble/smoke or drink.And we get soy milk and sugar free flavor so a bit healthier.Can I justify or what? Should of been a salesman! Any way never had a use for confession but this is fun!

    • Pam, if you’ve read Frugal Dad any length of time you’ll know I’m an advocate of stopping to “smell the roses.” Life is to be enjoyed, and it’s hard to enjoy if you are constantly trying to squeeze out every single penny from your budget in the most conservative way. I applaud you for budgeting (and enjoying) this time to reconnect with a loved one.

  8. Artificial nails. They make me feel more confident than my own weak, crooked, ugly nails. I’m not giving them up!

  9. I have a BIG one…. my housecleaning service. I don’t care, I love them and they are worth my happiness. If I find I can’t afford them in the future – I’ll probably look for a higher paying job before I get rid of them (which means I would have to actually get a job outside the home which I don’t plan on doing anytime soon). 🙂 When mama is happy everybody is happy. Don’t kick me off your site for my crazy expensive habit ($130 a month for every other week)! Although I did negotiate the terms, they come in and don’t do a couple of rooms so I can keep the cost down.


    • I am a single mom with my own housecleaning business, so thanks for keeping that service. Most of my clients are busy, working, middle class families. They rather spend time with family than clean. I thank God for them.

  10. I too used throw out pennies, hell even dimes and nickels at some point. I just hated the weight of the change. I don’t anymore, but sometimes I am still tempted. In Canada we have more coins then bills so throwing them away doesn’t work so well. I also just cleaned out my bathroom cupboards in an effort to go green. I would like to replace our personal care products with green and natural alternatives. Instead of using up the others I just tossed them. I know it’s a waste of money but part of me doesn’t want to keep putting that stuff on my body.

  11. Food. Of all kinds. No matter how expensive it is. I have to be on a gluten free, dairy free diet and I don’t care how much good tasting gluten free food costs – if I like it, I buy it! The same thing goes for eating out: If the food is good, I don’t care about the price.

    • I’m the same way because I’m a restricted diet. If it tastes good and I can eat it, then I’ll allow it. That means I’m spending twice as much on breads and baking ingredients — and those non-dairy alternatives. Yikes!

      • That’s just it! The alternatives are so expensive and when I am finally able to discover a good one, the price has no impact on my purchase. It is usually just such a relief to eat something that tastes good!

  12. Mine are not necessarily embarrassing but more like vices. The first is coffee – I LOVE my Keurig coffee maker. Definitely cheaper than Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks but much more expensive than a regular coffee maker. And unfortunately I drink more coffee now than I used to so that doesn’t help! 🙂 The second is wine. I started drinking wine about a year ago and joined the local wine of the month delivery club so I could figure out what kind of wine I like. My husband just went out and bought a case of the wine I really liked which doesn’t help our budget at all! But is is sooooo good!

  13. I end up throwing out WAY more leftovers than should be frugally allowed. I’m the only one that typically eats them and I can only stomach each meal for a day or two. I guess I should cook less?

    • When possible, freeze those leftovers! That leftover whatever that you’re sick of today could be a great lunch portion in 2 weeks when you’re no longer tired of it; or if you’re really making too much food, take half and freeze immediately so that you can pull it out at another time and have dinner already made. (I know not every food type works in the freezer, but for things that are suitable this could save you both money and time!)

  14. Professional painting. I am a decent interior painter and I like doing it, but since the hubby departed the planet, this single- and working-mom thing sucks every spare second out of my life. So I hire someone else to do all that sanding and painting and — most important — clean up.

    And I also pay someone to mow the lawn twice a month for about five months of the year. But I am too obsessive compulsive to hire a house cleaner. Go figure.

    • I’m with you on the painting. I’m in the process of a DIY paint project right now, and wishing I had hired someone. I don’t mind the actual painting, it’s the prep and cleanup that seem like such a chore.

      Now, I’m obsessive compulsive about the yard, so I handle all the mowing, edging, etc, but I am considering highering someone to get the hedges under control (the previous owner wasn’t much for landscaping and they’ve grown to be unmanageable).

  15. What a great topic. Isn’t it funny how the flood gates open when people are given the liberty to confess. Jason, wish I could live at your house. We keep the thermostat at 68 because it’s cheaper but I’m more comfortable at 75. I hate the cold. It’s so hard to function. I can’t use the excuse of my kids because often they are wearing short sleeves and shorts inside.
    My weakness is getting food or drinks when I am out and about which honestly is only once or twice a month. But there is something so enthralling about wanting something, placing your order and having it be delivered to you. Not having to prepare something is wonderful. I really feel like it’s an indulgence and even though we would save money if I didn’t do this, I get so much joy from it that I don’t want to give it up.

  16. I take long showers. I rinse my dishes in hot water. I warm up my car until it’s actually warm. I drink too much diet soda. I leave the front door open – even in winter and summer, so the cats can look out the glass one.

  17. Frugal Dad, when my soap is getting too small, I press it onto a new dry bar of soap where the logo writing is carved into the surface. Once it dries in place stick it back in the shower to use. I never have slivers around this way or waste. Also if you open your soap pkgs. and leave it in a basket to look spa-like, it begins to dry out. The bar will actually last longer in the shower the harder it gets. But on the frivolous note, I have to say ordering dessert in a restaurant. I try to save that for restaurants who have really good homemade desserts because for what you pay for one slice or piece you could easily make the whole thing. And then if EVERYONE in the family orders I really turn off the brain and concentrate on the flavor.

  18. I set my thermostat to what is comfortable. Sometimes we put it a little low, or a little high, but never quite as low or high as recommended. This is especially bad since our city has the highest utility rates in the state. :/

    I hate scraping the bottom of a peanut butter jar, so I give it to the dogs.They enjoy the treat.

    Throwing out leftovers is a big one for us. We HATE doing it, but we forget to eat leftovers so they go bad. It has gotten much better since I started adding leftovers into our meal plan (instead of intending for them to be used for lunch), but it is still something we struggle with.

    I take baths instead of showers when time permits. 😛

    More than anything else, we are not frugal when it comes to our pets.
    Even the 3 rats eat high quality lab blocks that I have to order off the internet, rather than the low-quality birdseed rodent food at Petsmart. The 3 cats and 2 dogs get premium foods from a mom and pop pet store, or on occasion from the Tractor Supply store (I was so excited to find out that they occasionally sell the good stuff).

    And when I say premium foods, I don’t mean the stuff that regular pet stores will tell you is premium. Having done a lot of research in this area, I won’t feed them Pedigree or Nutro, for example. They get Evo, Taste of the Wild, Before Grain, Wellness Core, etc. The way I see it, the only food that my animals get (except occasional treats) is their kibble, so it better be high quality. I wouldn’t give my husband Ramen every day, I won’t feed my dogs Alpo every day. Not that we don’t occasionally have to compromise with a cheaper food for a few months because of finances, just like with our own human food.

    Also, our vet is crazy expensive. We are actually trying to find a cheaper vet to do routine stuff for us, because expenses for routine stuff at our regular vet are out of control. For example, our regular vet charges 200-400 dollars to do a dog neuter, whereas you can find it other places for 50-100. We will stay with the vet, and their expensive prices, for “big” stuff though, because they are absolutely fantastic. The quality of their work is great, but I can’t handle paying them 2-4 times more for vaccines than other places.

  19. Dessert at restaurants. I love a good dessert, and not the stuff I can just make at home, like tiramisu and creme’ brulee… I’d rather eat a small salad, drink water and be able to afford dessert (calorie AND moneywise!)
    I also disdain coupons for food shopping although I should do so since I am no longer working.
    Talk to God and then listen

  20. Beer. I drink only local microbrewed beer. It’s pricey, but I justify it not only because it tastes much better, I love the “buy local” mentality.

  21. I let the water run while I brush my teeth! gasp!

    On the thermostat issue, I have little ones(1 and 3 ) but I find that once the weather has been cold for a week I can start backing off the heat a degree at a day. We keep ours at 66 and no one complains. ( Mind you, we do have a fire in the fireplace most nights but in Atlanta the winter is normally mild)

  22. You toss that sliver of the soap bar, and you call yourself frugal?
    I stick the leftover sliver of the old bar of soap to the new bar by getting it wet and pressing them together. Viola, it is all one bar!

    I do however waste a paper towel every morning when I make my sandwich, which I pack in the lunch I carry to work.

    • From now on, I’ll take Michelle’s advice and press the sliver of soap into the new bar to extend its life. Sometimes just saying (or writing) things out loud helps you to recognize where you could do better.

      • Watch for a good price on something that comes in a fine mesh bag (garlic at the dollar store, for example). Put the old sliver and the new bar together in the bag and tie the top with a slipknot. If you use a soft mesh bag, you’ll have a fine exfoliant too.
        This is a great way to use up hotel soaps too. I usually have plenty of those on hand as my non-frugal confession is that I LOVE to travel.

  23. Many of the my “embarrassing” non frugal habits revolve around using the very last drop of everything from toothpaste, tubes of medicine, deodorant sticks, and food items. I like wearing “worn out” clothes because it is comfortable. I usually never wear them in public so it is not really embarrassing!

  24. We od lots of not frugal things. We plan for them. We can afford them. We are willing to do without expensive furniture and house fixings to afford them.
    Our house is as warm as yours.
    We buy food that we like to eat- even when the name brand is it.
    We don’t search for gas at the best price (it is all within 2 cents here anyway- so why spend the gas looking for it).
    We fly several times a year to see family.
    The two of us live in a larger house on a great piece of property.
    But we do—pack our lunch when we fly to see the grandbaby. We also stop at a grocery store when we arrive so we don’t have to eat out.
    We don’t “maintain ” a lawn (because our neighbors cannot see our lawn).
    We don’t have a million in the bank- but we are retired and comfortable.

  25. Great topic. Currently, the most embarrassing non-frugal thing that I do is pay to check through two pieces of luggage when I travel. Up until last Fall, I would struggle with getting all my stuff in a single carry-on or at most, check one bag. Now, I feel that the extra $25 to $50 is small change compared to the cost of my vacation so I pay up and don’t worry about it.

  26. Getting my hair colored professionally.

    My mom always used to give me a home made bowl haircut growing up. I looked like a boy and was regularly asked what gender I was until I was 12. Now it’s one area I don’t skimp because those bowl years scarred me for life.

    • OMG. My mother used to do that to me, to, and also gave me horrible “pixie cuts”. It was after a work associate of hers asked if I was her little boy that she finally started taking me to get my hair cut professionally. Unfortunately, for a while when my daughter was little, she tried cutting HER hair as well–so I always took her to a quick cuts place (where at least they’re *trained*) to cut her hair before my mom could get her hands on her when I wasn’t looking. She’s also trimmed my dog’s hair without asking!

      So yeah. I go to a good stylist salon now. No more cheapy $10 joints for me.

  27. I take long, hot showers – longer in winter since we _do_ keep the thermostat down. And I buy name-brand milk. The other stuff just doesn’t taste worth putting in my body.

  28. I read “frugal” websites and NEVER use any of the advice….for long….I have good intentions but it’s hard for me to follow through…..Guess that should be a New Year’s resolution!

  29. Paper towels. Although I can buy them at the dollar store for $1 a roll, it’s not a good habit and not good for the environment. I recently purchased some micro-fiber cleaning towels and am a work-in-progress!

  30. My DH only likes name brand papertowels and toilet paper. He says “I work hard enough that we can spend the extra dollar on good toilet paper.”

    We also like good soap. I bought DH soap from Spain for Christmas that he found when he was in service. He was so happy!

  31. I turn them into bread crumbs and toss them in the container with the rest. I haven’t bought bread crumbs in years.

  32. My deep, dark, shameful non-frugal habit… I buy quality yarn, none of that acrylic garbage that last forever… True, I make gifts from it. I always buy it on sale… Everything else is done with frugality in mind. I don’t have my hair cut but once every three years and I cut my Uberhub’s. We make and take our lunch. Rarely do we eat out. The hot water heater is on the off position unless a shower is needed (once a day). Clipping coupons, joining Freecycle, reading blogs about saving and sales, no cable (Netflix of internet) and we share the internet with another family for 1/2 the price. But DON’T mess with my yarn, my yarn is my panacea.

  33. Food. I simply refuse to save money on what I eat. That’s not to say that I’m binging on junk food, but rather the opposite, I’ll go for the tastiest, healthiest option…whatever the price.

  34. I have one major guilty pleasure: iTunes! I limit myself to $5 a month. I have a (discounted) gym membership and I notice I go to the gym more often when I have great music to listen to. In my defense the iPod was free! My husband found it at work and gave it to lost and found. 30 days later no one claimed it so he got to keep it-and gave it to me. I figure I’m still ahead of the game! 🙂

  35. I recently reviewed my cell phone plan and discovered several items that could be removed. There were just a few small charges here and there, but it all ads up. Thanks for the post!

  36. LONG hot showers.. and I also have 3 (yes 3) different internet service providers. I need to get out of 2 of the 3 contracts soon before I go broke!