Living Frugally With Humor

Over the last day or two I’ve received a couple emails asking how I came up with the site title, “Frugal Dad.”  It occurred to me that I have not really posted a “frugal living” post (other than the article about my balding tires), as much of my focus has been on more traditional finance topics.  So allow me to present in this article my top five signs you are living a frugal lifestyle in Jeff Foxworthy fashion (and yes, I do all of these).

You Might Be Living Frugally If…

1.  You hang your just-used towels on a drying rack in your bathtub.  I use towels twice before they wind up in the dirty clothes hamper. After all, I’m clean after showering so theoretically the towel is not really dirty.  By using each towel twice I am eliminating about one load of dirty-towel laundry a week.  Now, if I could just get my wife and kids to do the same.

2.  You turn the thermostat switch to “Off” every time you leave the house. This one is real popular with the family.  Just before we leave for an extended errand I flip the thermostat to the off position.  Now, some people swear that restarting the air conditioner costs more over time because it has to “work harder” to cool the house.  I don’t buy it.  I don’t think anything turned “off” works harder than when it is turned on.

3.  You always order a small drink at fast food restaurants. I’m always amazed at the number of people I see ordering a large drink when they dine in.  Don’t they know you can get free refills?  Why not simply order a small drink and fill it up as many times as you like.  The difference between a large drink and small drink could be as much as $0.75-$1.00.

4.  You use a plastic grocery bag as a “stinky” bag. All you moms and dads know what a “stinky bag” is, but for the uninitiated it is a bag that holds a stinky diaper. They sell bags for this purpose that have a nice powder fresh scent, but I’ve found that grocery bags work just as well, and they are free.

5.  You paint the top of your vehicle Rust-Oleum Gray. You may remember from my balding tire story that I drive a very old vehicle, sixteen years old to be exact.  Mechanically, it still runs great, but the exterior has taken a beating over the years.  The paint on the roof had shifted from a light blue to a rust brown.  After considering my options I decided to sand and paint the roof myself.  I purchased the sanding gear, some Rust-Oleum auto paint, and a pack of dust masks.  I spent one morning sanding and washing the top and that afternoon spraying two coats of paint.  Voila!  No more rust, and now I have one of those fancy two-tone paint jobs.


  1. Great post, as for #3 I always order water. Better for you and you can’t beat the price!

  2. I just don’t get #1. Growing up, if I had used a towel only twice before putting it in the laundry, my mom would have yelled at me. We re-use them for about a week before they get cycled out to be washed.

    I usually get a “large” soft drink and share it with my husband, rather than a small. This way, we don’t have to get up every third sip to go get more.

    When I had old rust-bucket cars, I always kept some rust-colored Rust-Oleum “primer” to use over the rusty spots, which I would then cover with paint in a close color to that of the car (i.e. with a dark blue car, all I could find cheaply was a royal blue paint). I would try to stay on top of this chore so the spots got no larger than the palm of my hand.

  3. Anitra, sharing a drink is a great way to go. Sharing a water is the ultimate frugal move (as Coupon Fetcher points out).

    Unfortunately, I inherited the rust bucket as a rust bucket so I wasn’t able to keep it in check.

  4. Loved the list. I also use my towels multiple times after showering, for the same reasons (drives my wife nuts, yet she’ll use the same washcloth more than once…go figure). Also, we usually just get water at the restaurants. We use the plastic shopping bags for bathroom trash can liners, and I’m constantly turning the heat down in the winter, and the a/c down in the summer. I do have to say, leaving it on is cheaper (in my experience). If it comes on periodically, say for 5-10 minutes, to keep the temperature at a set point, it doesn’t have to run as long to change the temp, say, about a degree. If it changes too much, based on not having it on, than it may have to run longer at one time, to get back to your setting. Say it comes on for 10 minutes, twice an hour, to maintain – that’s 20 minutes of run time. Coming back and turnig it back on, you might have to let it run for 30 minutes to get the temp back to your settings, so it runs 10 minutes longer than if it had just been on. I find that being a little cooler in the winter, or a little warmer in the summer, will save more money on our bills (but, that is just my personal observation). Again, great list, and great site!

  5. I totally agree about the small soda. Why buy the large when you can refill? Although, now I am trying to cut out soda and always get the free cup for water. Thanks for the great list, it made me laugh.

  6. Uhh….maybe I’m weird, but I use the same towel until it starts to lose the laundry detergent smell. Like you said, I just cleaned my body thoroughly, so it’s not like I’m getting the towel dirty. I go through two towels a week on average.

    I too buy the small drink if I’m dining in.

    I use those plastic bags for all kinds of stuff like that.

  7. Looks like I underestimated the frugalness of my audience when it comes to bath towels! I thought most people dried off once and then threw the towel straight into the washing machine. I tried to stretch it for two uses, but sounds like I’ve been outdone by some great frugal bathers.

  8. At fast food restaurants, yes, order water unless you’re getting a combo that has a drink anyway. The soda isn’t that healthy.

    I don’t keep track of how often I wash the towels. I just wash them when they look like they need to be washed. I find that I can use the towels more times if I use different towels for face/hands and for the rest of the body.

  9. For #3, if we’re wanting a soda, my wife and I buy a medium and share it. It’s always cheaper than buying two smalls. And we still get to take advantage of free refills.

    We’ve also noticed that grocery bags make for great trash can liners for bathroom-sized cans. Plus, we have the benefit of handles when we pull out the trash, so we don’t have to worry about dumping the contents.

  10. I’ll have to agree with other posters. My husband and I only wash our bath towels about once every week or two. The hand towel and washcloth usually last about 3 days. We both grew up in poorer families, so I never even considered that someone might toss towels in the wash after every use! What a waste!

  11. Alright, I agree with most of the above. I also suggest a post with a lot more tips; there are a lot more out there.

    As for your #1, towels can be used for a week. Just wash them once in a week with your normal laundry. You can also wear pants, and sweaters (anything that doesn’t touch your body directly), at least twice before washing it.

  12. Well I never considered myself a frugal person until I just read your post because I actually do all five things! (well the diaper one I used to do but my kiddo is out of diapers now).

    Tonight instead of ordering each of us a drink, we shared. They give you half a gallon anyway and who really needs all that?

    Towels, they get used a few times before going to the laundry. All the time I grew up we did this and I didn’t stop when I moved out on my own. Just have to make sure they dry between uses or they aren’t much good at drying YOU off.

    The roof AND hood of my vehicle were recently painted by my dad. While it isn’t rusting the clear coat was coming off and it looked like crap. After some sanding (which I helped with) he took at it with a couple of cans of black paint and it looks just great now. You’d have to get pretty close to it to realize the hood and roof aren’t exactly the same colour.

    I’m so glad you confirmed I am frugal after all 🙂

  13. You do realize that none of these ideas are useful to someone who rents rather than owns, a home (except maybe the soda one). I also don’t have a car, so I don’t know anything about painting the roof. You use a towel twice? If you’re clean after your shower, why do you only use it twice? You can use the same towel for a week or more. At least, I do, because I want to save laundry quarters. That’s right… I don’t have a washer and dryer. The horror!

  14. I tried to get my husband to reuse his towel. He refuses, so I reuse his towel. He says it’s a foul practice, but I don’t think so. I just can’t bring myself to wash it before it’s time. Besides, it’s an expression of my love for him. With how many people would you share a bath towel?;)He should feel honored…

  15. I’ve started reusing bath towels, even though it used to really gross me out. I started doing this to be frugal with time rather than money (I guess the time spent doing laundry got to be worse than any “ick” factor from reusing towels). I suppose I probably am saving some money on the water and electric bills by only having to run one towel load a week rather than two. My dad pays the water and electric bills (and uses each bath towel once!), so I never saw the $$$ savings. But I’m the one who spends the time doing all the laundry, and I really notice the time savings!