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My Top 10 Most Favorite Frugal Things (An Update)

by Shawanda Greene

In early 2010, I shared My T0p 10 Most Favorite Frugal Things. A lot has changed since then. Although I still regularly use most of the items on the original list, I’ve discovered other money saving products that are worth mentioning. So, without further ado, here goes.

#10 Hem Tape

When my job required I don business casual attire, hem tape saved me buckets of cash and numerous trips to the seamstress. Despite paying good money for dress slacks, after a few wearings, the bottom hem would come loose. Before stumbling upon this iron-on adhesive, I’d paperclip, staple, but never sew my hem back together. You can buy this product at Walmart for a couple of bucks.

#9 Slow Cooker Liners

The slow cooker earned its spot as my most beloved kitchen appliance years ago. Although I adore slow cooking, I despise the nastiness it leaves behind after each use. Liners spare me from the clean up process. And thus, provide an incentive to prepare homemade meals instead of ordering takeout.

#8 Palmolive Gold

Palmolive Gold helped me recover from a long stint as a loyal user of Dove “beauty bars.” Granted, the bar’s size is smaller than average. Still, it costs much less than the heavily marketed alternatives. For a buck and some change, you can pick up a 3-pack of Palmolive Gold from Target.

Boxed Wine#7 Eyebrow Razor

One day, after a routine, $15 eyebrow wax, a cluster of hideous, puss filled bumps sprouted up around my eyebrows. Once I realized the outbreak wasn’t a one-time occurrence, I switched to razors to tame my eyebrows. Grab a 3-pack of eyebrow razors for less than $5 at your local pharmacy.

#6 Pipe Cleaners

I curl my (dread)locks with super cheap pipe cleaners. Flexible hair rollers at a beauty supply store average about a dollar each while a hundred pipe cleaners from craft stores only cost a few bucks.

#5 Seasoning Mix

Ever notice how expensive spices are? If you don’t cook regularly, opt for a one-dollar seasoning mix and save money. As an added bonus, premixed flavors help cut meal prep time so you’re less inclined to hit the drive-thru.

#4 Cocoa Butter

Back in the day, I’d set myself in front of a mirror and stare at my skin for hours, mesmerized by the smallness of my pores, the smooth chocolatyness of my skin. Now, blemish causing pimples pop up on my forehead every month. Fortunately, I discovered long ago (after being clawed in the face during a middle school fist fight) that 100% Cocoa Butter reverses skin discoloration. A stick of cocoa butter retails for a little over a dollar at many drug stores.

#3 Freezer Bags

To save money on meat, I buy in bulk. Since I often only prepare meals for one, I don’t need to cook an entire family pack of chicken thighs at once. Freezer bags allow me to break down meat into single portions, which reduces food waste and speeds up the thawing process.

#2 Coffee Maker

I’ve gone from drinking a daily, $3 Starbuck’s Caramel Macchiato to brewing a cup of Folger’s coffee for the cost of a few nickels. I bought my coffee maker from Bed, Bath & Beyond with one of those ginormous 20% off coupons you get in the mail almost every week.

#1 Boxed Wine

$18 for a box of wine = 6.5 bottles of wine = $2.77 per bottle

A bottle of chardonnay goes for $5 or $6 in the grocery store. I’ve seen $3 bottles of white wines at Walmart and Aldi, but those stores are at least a full gallon’s worth of gas away from where I live.

What are some of your favorite frugal things?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren @ LBee and the Money Tree August 24, 2012 at 9:51 AM

I just started using our slow cooker and had no idea “liners” for them existed. I am going to have to go get some!
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Shawanda Greene August 24, 2012 at 10:24 AM

They’re amazing. They make clean up a breeze.
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Remy @MLISunderstanding August 24, 2012 at 2:38 PM

All of those ten things cost SOME money, and for my own life, all of them (except freezer bags! I totally use those!) would cost more money than what I’m currently doing. (Though the slow cooker liners are tempting. Scrubbing takes time, especially when I just want to use the darn thing again right away.)

So I think my favorite frugal thing is the public library. Free books and DVDs as long as I remember to return them (and I get a nice reminder email). Along with the other benefits I know you’ve mentioned, like a clean quiet space to work or relax with a book, wireless internet service, etc. I’m racking my brain here… maybe Amazon Subscribe&Save or Soap.com’s free next-day shipping also rate. Same stuff I’d buy lots of over time, delivered to my door (excellent when you don’t have a car) at a bulk discount.

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Shawanda Greene August 24, 2012 at 4:12 PM

The library is awesome. I was just there earlier today to write. Before I left I borrowed Ric Edelman’s The Truth About Money . . . again. (I think I’ll buy it one day.)
That Amazon Subscribe & Save program looks interesting but it’s more expensive than shopping at a supermarket or drugstore. Although I agree it’s a fabulous service for those who don’t own a car.
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Remy @MLISunderstanding August 24, 2012 at 5:16 PM

It depends on what you buy. I can definitely get toilet paper and dish soap for cheap on loss leader sales at the local grocery. But the pet supplies I need aren’t sold there or anywhere nearby — and they’re a lot cheaper online than at PetSmart, etc. — plus Subscribe & Save doesn’t have a fee (unlike, say, Amazon Prime). Have to be careful and consider what the better option is based on what you need.
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CreditDonkey August 25, 2012 at 7:37 AM

Folger’s coffee is our favorite too. Hubby finds it hard to drink instant coffee after making the habit of brewing this particular brand. I like the single portions for the meat, I usually have a 1lb pack/s stashed to easily thaw when cooking. I didn’t know there are liners for the slow cooker. Nice to learn something new again from you, thanks!
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Shawanda Greene August 29, 2012 at 12:31 PM

The slow cooker liners aren’t exactly cheap, but they figuratively tear down one more barrier that stands between me and eating at home.

I recently bought Maxwell House coffee (it was on sale), and honestly, I can’t taste how it’s different from Folger’s.
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Charlotte@TheCCI August 26, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Great ideas! I recently started making my own coffee at home and that has been a huge money saver for us! I use the Pioneer Woman’s cold brewing method (since I like ice coffee) and it is just as good or better than what I used to pay almost $4 bucks for at Starbucks. I can make a gallon of the stuff plus the cream and flavorings for less than a Venti!
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Shawanda Greene August 29, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Wow! The Pioneer Woman’s tutorial is brilliant. A while back, I froze some leftover coffee. I swore I’d use the cubes to concoct a homemade version of a Starbucks Frappuccino. That was months ago. I’ve yet to make any form of iced coffee–and maybe, just maybe, I never will. :(
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