Do Small Steps Toward Frugal Living Really Save Money?

September 9, 2009 – 12:39 pm

If you’ve been doing simple little things to be frugal, say, for instance, tearing your dryer softener sheets in half or thirds, have you been wondering if it’s adding up to real savings?  Some frugal living efforts are more obviously money savers than others.  Let’s see if we can reaffirm our thinking here.

Taking dryer softener sheets as an example, the savings may not leap right off this page and thrill you, but it’s one of those things folks most likely do routinely anyway, so does it matter?  You certainly don’t need to use the entire sheet in your dryer to do the job of softening and freshening up your load of laundry.  As a matter of fact, if you put a whole sheet in your dryer, you may end up with powdery stuff on your clothes and be taken aback a bit by the strong smell.

As far as money savings go, if you spend roughly $7 on a box of 120 sheets, that’s about $0.06 or so per sheet.  If you dry a load every day of the year, you’re only spending about $22 for the year.  However, if you tear that sheet into thirds or halves , it’s going to save you about $7; if you tear it in half, that will save you about $11.  That may not seem like a lot of money, but I look at it a bit differently.  That $7 you just saved is enough to buy another box without dipping into the budget, and that $11 is enough to buy another box of fabric softener sheets PLUS treat yourself to a smoothie or to pay for your child’s lunch at school.

Not a giant savings, so let’s look at a much more critical, and rewarding, example of saving money.  We’re talking about the whole bottled water issue.  I spent time recently figuring out just how wasteful it was to buy bottled water, so I did a bit of comparison shopping.  I bought a case of water in 16 ounce bottles.  I bought the case at a good sale price and figured out that we paid about $1.25 per gallon.  So, per bottle, we figured we paid only about $0.15 cents for a bottle of water.  Now, that’s not bad compared to what you would pay for a single bottle of water in a vending machine or convenience store.

Or is it?  Look at what you can get if you filter your own tap water.  If you spend about $30 for a faucet attachment and run your water through the filter, even considering the roughly $10 expense for the replacement of the filter every 40 gallons or so, you still come out to about $0.30 per gallon of filtered water as opposed to the $1.25 we figured for the bottled water per gallon.  So, that same 16 ounce bottle of water that you paid $0.15 for, just cost you $0.04 instead.

How does this savings on water impact your family’s budget?  If you drink one bottle of water a day, you will save about $40 a year.  For a family of water fanatics who drink three or four bottles a day, that can add up to some very serious cash.  Can you really pass up the kind of frugal lifestyle that could save you anywhere in the neighborhood of $40 to $500 or more a year?

Some tips for saving money by reducing or improving the way we use our resources have a better return of investment than others in our time and trouble.  Do a bit of your own researching to find out what frugal lifestyles that you’ve adopted have really paid off.  It would be great if you would share a few of your real success stories here.  I look forward to hearing from you!

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