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Frugal Living


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#1
DragnFly
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I created this topic on another (non-related) site, however with many young people on this site I thought it would make for an interesting topic here. As such, I decided to make such a post.

For many people, I am sure at some point in their lives... They have either experienced financial hardships, or just looking for methods to save money in either the short term or long haul.

Now keep in mind, many of the options I am about to list require maintenance and upkeep. Also, not all options are convenient or necessarily worth it for many people/most people. Your milage may vary. Basically, I am coming up with alternatives and leaving it up to you to discuss the pros/cons of each.

So without further a due:

#1 - Property:
When it comes to property, you basically either rent it or own it.

Make no mistake about it, owning property (especially if in a good location) is usually expensive. It does, however, mean you no longer have to pay rent. Though for most, you'll usually have to pay a mortgage til you own it outright (though thats often cheaper than rent).

#2 - Electricity:
As far as electricity goes, the alternative from receiving it from the electric company is solar power and wind turbines. Usually, these are options with a high initial cost and require alot of planning of your own electrical needs. The benefits however are reduced cost of electricity (infact, sometimes you can even make money by selling electricity back to the grid, if you generate more than you use).

#3 - Garbage / Waste Disposal:
Instead of paying the city for pick up, your alternatives here are basically any legal means of disposing of your garbage. This can include recycling certain items, burning some, or arranging for delivery to a land fill.

#4 - Water:
The major alternative to city water is of course well water. Now this option certainly isn't available to many/most people, but for those who have it... It means no water bill.

#5 - Food:
Most people purchase most of their groceries from a supermarket. However, you also have the options of growing your own fruits and vegetables, and raising your own livestock. You can pay for an animal to be butchered, and store the meat. You can purchase from your local farmers market (sometimes its cheaper, others its not), or in cases pick your own from certain farms/orchards for cheaper costs.

#6 - Transportation:
Aside from having a car (and the expenses that come with it), you could choose several alternatives. You can carpool with others to reduce costs. There is public transportation, which is an option for many in larger cities. You also can ride a bike, or walk in certain cases. There are also motorcycles, which have lower costs.

#7 - Sewage:
The major alternative to city sewage is the septic tank. Naturally there are drawbacks, such as when they back up and having to watch your water usage. Though you can eliminate another bill this way.

#8 - Clothing:
Aside from purchasing clothes in major stores, you really have two alternatives. The first being to make your own, or have them created. The second being acquire clothes second hand, whether from the hand-me-downs from friends and family... or purchasing them from the local thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales. Obviously you will not have as many options this way, but often you can find used clothes in great condition at a fraction of the cost.

#9 - Furniture:
Very similar to clothing, your alternatives are to make it/have it custom made, or to acquire it second hand. Again, thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales are your friend in this scenario. You can sometimes get stuff for free, on sites like Craigslist.

#10 - News:
The best alternative to paying for a newspaper is viewing the news online. Its usually free, and you can find both local and major news outlets this way. Another alternative is many areas have several free alternative news publications.

#11 - Television:
Instead of cable and satellite, your major alternative is an antenna. Obviously the amount of channels and what channels are available to you depends on your location (generally, there are more options for those close to major cities). Some antennas have very large range and can pick up from quite a long distance. Some people even state that HD programming can be of slightly better quality than cable, due to the signal being less compressed.

Aside from this, you can purchase the media outright (DVDs/Blu-Rays), download it off the internet, or stream it off the internet free or cheap (Hulu, NetFlix, etc...).

#12 - Phone (land line):
There is really not a lot of alternatives for replacing land lines. Cell phones and VOIP are your major alternatives.

#13 - Phone (cellular):
Your alternative to paying a monthly contract is going for a prepaid phone. Generally, you have to buy the phone outright, though you can usually get unlimited service for half the cost of a contract (or cheaper, if you only need so many minutes/features).

#14 - Music:
Radio is free (aside from satellite radio), so take advantage of this. You can also download music from the internet, or stream it from services like Pandora. You can also purchase CDs outright, and can often find them used for a fraction of the price.

#15 - Internet:
Sadly, there are no real good alternatives to paying for internet service. The closest thing you have is public WiFi, which often requires you to be in certain locations. The quality/speed/security varies.




So that is everything that I can think of at this moment. Feel free to post any other alternatives/money saving solutions that you may have.

Naturally, as I said not all of these options are great options. Many of them are not for everyone (or even most people), but they are alternatives. Feel free to discuss the pros and cons of each, as that is the intention behind this topic to begin with.

#2
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#3
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Interesting topic. Curious to see what people have to say about it.

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#4
muggiwhplar
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Living frugally is surprisingly easy... your mind tends to adapt to the frugal lifestyle pretty quickly. For example, in high school I almost always had the TV on in my room. Sometimes I'd actually watch it, other times I'd be doing something else (like playing RS) and the TV would just be on in the background for passive entertainment. After moving to college, I didn't have cable anymore and didn't really miss it. A couple of years later when I moved into an apartment, I never bothered to buy cable since at that point it had become a waste of time and money. Similarly, I never unpacked my video games from my moving boxes and went a year without video games and did just fine.

Life without TV seems to have some passive health benefits too. No commercials showing me things that I don't have, but should want to have; no depressing news stories; no unrealistic portrayals of love and romance; etc.

I save money on electricity via cold showers, and by adjusting to the thermostat to be close to the outdoor temperatures. I used to hate it if it wasn't 72F inside, but if you keep the thermostat as high as 80 or even 90 in the summer, your body will adapt to that surprisingly quickly. Your guests, however, probably won't appreciate it :P

There is a balance you have to find, though, such that you're saving a lot of money without sacrificing too much of your freedom. For example, having my own car and source of transportation is more expensive than public transportation and carpooling, however having to depend on those things for transportation isn't really worth the money saved and loss of freedom, IMO.

It also helps if you feel bad when you spend your money, as opposed to getting short-lived gratification out of it.

Simply put, the best way to live frugally is to slowly eliminate things from your life and see if you're capable of adapting to the changes without sacrificing your well-being.

Additional reading:
Frugal Travel Guy
» How I became financially independent in 5 years – Part I Early Retirement Extreme: Becoming debt-free is the first step to building a better world. Financial independence is the second. Doing what YOU want is the third.

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#5
Kaida23
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You have some good tips, and I have some comments on a few of them:

Property - I agree, in the long run owning your own home is definitely a better option than renting. Especially since, if you maintain it and nothing causes your area to become a burnt out slum, the value will only go up over time.

Electricity - solar/wind/etc.. is not really an option that most people can afford. I don't know what it costs where you live, but I've looked into it here and based on my current hydro bill, it would take almost 17 years of problem-free (ie: $0 in maintenance costs) service from a solar system for it to have saved me any money over simply paying my monthly bill. Once the price comes down, this may be a more viable solution.

Food - not everyone has the option of growing/picking their own fruits/veggies, but careful shopping can save you tons of money. My roommate and I used to do this all the time. Sure it took about 7 hours to get groceries, but at half the cost and our bus passes meant we didn't have to pay for gas. |^_^|

Transportation - excellent points (see above on a effective combination :P)

Television - I don't think there are any open air TV transmissions in North America anymore, so we're kind of rooked on that one.

Phone/Internet - you need at least a home phone in this day and age, but a VOIP setup can combine both of these for a minimal cost. My friend pays about $30 a year for his VOIP phone line.

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#6
Ginger_Warrior
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When I was on the doll and still not getting enough money to make ends meet, I would go straight from my Jobseeker's appointment, where they would monitor how much I'd tried looking for work in the past two weeks, and I'd go straight to CeX which is basically a pre-owned media store. I could get CDs in there for about £2, £3, perhaps £5 at most. I already had an iPod from my time at college when I had more money, so I used to come home, rip all those CDs and put them straight on my iPod, but even if I hadn't had one, I could have used a cheap MP3 player for the same purpose. I think listening to music is very important to my mental wellbeing (we all have things which keep us 'sane', maybe a form of escapism), and being jobless at the time, I wasn't exactly feeling great about my circumstances or the immediate future ahead of me, so it was a very cheap way of getting through some very hard times.

In past threads on Internet piracy, I've vehemently argued against people who say "I'm jobless/poor/a student so I have to get my music free."

That's why.

#7
Giordano
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Those suggestions seem pretty...unrealistically basic. Solar panels? Those cost like 50k to install around here, getting water from rivers? Might as well work for the time you'll be dragging water and earn a profit. Some are good advice though, like owning property and the clothes/furniture.

In my experiences and observations, the real key to saving money is to not to spend money. If you have a job that pays decent hours, there's no reason whatsoever that you can't pay for the utilities (water, garbage, gas, and electricity). You should be paying for yourself, not for a roommate or for a girlfriend.

Don't spend money on things you can miss out. My sister and her boyfriend blow through their money buying $50 games, $10 snacks, $65 Disneyland tickets, and small $30 collectables like there's no tomorrow, then they wonder why they don't have money by the end of the semester. Don't buy things you don't need.

Avoid dependencies. Don't buy weed or beer. I have seen way too many people going through tough times but always hear them talking about smoking joints or drinking alot in their parties. Instead of getting water from a well or taking your garbage to the dump, you could buy half the amount of six packs you'd usually buy. If you don't do drugs or drink often, don't start. Yes, it is your 'entertainment expenses' but those should never hinder basic expenses like utilities, rent, or gas for work.

If you don't have a job, then I'm sorry but you're NOT living by yourself unless you rent in a broken down apartment in the broken end of town. A part-time job can cover most of your non-rental needs and a job that does 40 hours evenly you can even have enough to rent.

The hardest part of the financial game is if you get kicked out with no savings or are unemployed. In those aspects you really have no choice but to look for a job, ignoring all your luxury needs until you can find a job. There's no much 'savings' you can do here but eating ramen noodles.



Just a few pointers from my personal observations from people. It really bugs me when people dwell on saving so little when they have no objections buying new games for $60, $40 worth of booze, or every day eating out.



ps. Oh thank God Tip.It got the auto-save for posts! Got a blue screen of death during my last paragraph...thanks TIF staff for including this feature!
"The cry of the poor is not always just, but if you never hear it you'll never know what justice is."
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#8
Ginger_Warrior
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You mean the ramen noodles that taste awful because they're tasteless and sloshy? I know them too well. To be honest, I still eat them even though there's no financial need to; I use them instead of using normal noodles for a chicken stir fry, for instance. Just add a cube of chicken stock to the boiling water... makes the sauce much thicker and only adds a fraction to the meal. More frugality. I've known people eat the "toast sandwich" too. It's literally too slices of bread around a slice of toast that's been buttered both ways, seasonsed with salt and pepper. Costs like 12p to make and it tastes not that bad apparently... but I've never been that desperate!

I think what we're discovering is that, actually, for different people, depending on their backgrounds, frugality means completely different things. There's absolutely no way you could go back to my hometown and say "Want to save money? Just spend a few thousand pounds on some solar panels." People where I live don't have that much in the first place.

#9
Sy_Accursed
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One thing I like is frugality promoting gadgets.

For example my desktop computer and living room tv arrangement are connected to plug thingies that purposefully turn off all the plugs using various smart methods so you save power without having to turn all the stuff off.
Eg the longue one is an 8 gang plug. Master socket is for the TV, it has a remote sensor you train to TV remotes standby single. Of the other 7 plugs 2 are permanent on for like DVRs and the like.
You press standby on TV remote and it turns the master plug on.
You can then turn the TV on (if it don't come on of it's own accord).
Once the TV is on it'll turn on the other plugs (so like games consoles, dvd players and like).
When you're done hit standby for TV. It waits about 30 seconds but once it's sure TV is on standby it turns all the plugs back off.

It makes being frugal through turning plugs off a heck of a lot easier by eliminating needless standby/effort to turn loads of plugs and or off; yet retains the connivence of plugs etc. being turned on.

And these relatively new wifi/smartphone linking boiler controls which mean instead of being like I think I might be home at 3pm, but it could be later better set heating to come on at 2.30pm you can be like right I am now setting off for home best set the heating on. Or once you get into bed be like right heating off from le warmth of bed.

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#10
Donnie
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cheap electricity. Bicycle powered television power!

#11
ilovecuttingyews
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#1 - Property:
- In some places and times in your life, it will be cheaper to rent than own. There are many places out there where house values are still artificially high compared the rental prices. Do your research. Khan Academy has a video and an online spreadsheet you can use in tendem with your own research into your own region.
- Another alternative is to buy the cheapest house for sale in a neighbourhood and flip it. While you live in your newly bought dump, fix it up in your spare time. Not only will you increase the value much faster than the natural appreciation of houses in the area (remarkably easy to turn a cheap house to average than average to higher than average) but you'll learn a lot about handyman-ish things. The father of a friend of mine did this and he was able to buy a house for pure cash by the time he was 30 (after about 5 flips).

#2 - Electricity:
- Where I live, saying electricity is dirt cheap would be overvaluing it. So alternative energy sources would take a lifetime to pay for themselves. That said, there are plenty of places that it makes sense, especially areas that get a lot of sun year round.
- CFL and LED bulbs last long enough to pay for themselves. The saved electricity is on top of that. However, since they're more efficient, they give off less heat. This can often raise your heating costs (especially if you live where it gets down to -30C in winter like me). I have learned that using CFL bulbs in the summer and incandecent bulbs in the winter is the most cost efficient combo. It takes me under 30 minutes to switch the bulbs twice a year. Well worth it.
- If it doesn't need to be on, don't leave it on. My parents leave every light in their house on. Drives me crazy when I go home.

#3 - Garbage / Waste Disposal:
Garbage pickup is often included in property taxes, so cutting down doesn't cut always cut down on expenses. That said, composting allows you to make your own fertilizer that is often better than the store bought stuff. Cutting down also lowers your eco-footprint. Not economicly a big deal, but you can feel good that you're doing your part.

#4 - Water:
Lowering your water usage is quite easy and saves a lot of money. Water saver showerheads cost as low as $10 as will often pay for themselves in days. Depending on water costs and the cost to heat the water, a 10 minute shower can cost around $2 (source: http://www.atsecosol...nshowering.html). Water saving showerheads use around half the water as normal ones. Half the water means half the heating needed.
As well, high efficiency dishwashers and washing machines can cut down your water use drasticly.
The number 1 irrigated 'crop' in America? Lawn grass. Don't water your lawn and you'll cut down on water use a lot.

#5 - Food:
Growing your own food only works so long as you have the space and the climate to do so but is good and cheap.
For meats, I like to buy in 'bulk'. Buying a large roast and cutting it up yourself can save a decent amount. Also, look for discount meat. At supermarkets it's fairly common to find 30% or 50% off meats that are close to expirary but still good. And if you freeze your meat, it's going to taste just as good as regular priced cuts of the same type.
When making dinners, make a little extra and use the leftovers for the next day. I know a lot of students who eat at fast food places because they 'don't have any food at home' when they do, they're just too lazy to prepare it for lunch.

#6 - Transportation:
Cars cost a lot. Up front cost, gas, maintenence, insurance, gas. If you don't need a car, don't get one. A half decent road bike will get you through a city faster than a car anyway.

#7 - Sewage:
City sewage is well worth it for the convenience of not having to deal with septic tanks. Cut down on water usage, you cut down on your sewage output. Water efficient showerheads, appliances, and toilets can save a crop-ton of money. And there's the age old 'if it's yellow, leet it mellow' addage. Just make sure you flush before you get company ;)

#8 - Clothing:
Shop the deals. If you're near a clothing store, just stop by and check the sales. You can save a lot by buying only when you need clothes.
Don't buy new shoes every month. If you don't need them, don't buy them. I had to borrow my roomate money to pay her rent, which I had no problem doing for her. Then going through her finances for her, I found out she bought 4 pairs of decently expensive shoes within the last month. Let's just say she got an ear-full.

#9 - Furniture:
Furniture stores often have very good sales on 'last years' items. Since you're not going to get a new couch every year, no one will ever know you got it a year late.
Used items are quite cheap, but unless you know where it's coming from, you should be careful. Bedbugs and fleas have a nasty way of completely ruining people financially.

#10 - News:
Do people even pay for news anymore? That's so 20th century.

#11 - Television:
Replacing TV with internet based services is often a good choice. Just be sure you don't have data limits that will cost you heavily if you pass them. I canceled my TV and used the money saved to buy faster internet. Not only do I save money, but my internet is now half decent.

#12 - Phone (land line):
Get a cell phone.

#13 - Phone (cellular):
Nowadays cell phones can do everything, so they are quite useful. Just don't get too expensive of plan if you don't need to.

#14 - Music:
Radio
Youtube
Streaming internet radio
Buy individual songs when you just 'have to have it'. Often people only listen to their favourite songs on a album and ignore the others. So instead of paying for the album, buy songs individually and use Youtube on the rare times you want to listen to the whole album.

#15 - Internet:
Like phones, this is a neccesity for our modern world. You can get cheap internet, but if you cancel your TV and such, you will need decent internet.

#12
Omar
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Buying quality clothes comes around cheaper in the long run. Not drinking at bars also. Brewing your own beer tastes a lot better, the marginal cost of a beer is probably half that of a store-bought one here in Ontario. Probably the same for growing your own pot, but that's probably illegal and complicated. Rent your textbooks or buy them used. Also, wheneverI want to get a manicure, I check Groupon for deals.
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#13
decebal
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Those suggestions seem pretty...unrealistically basic. Solar panels? Those cost like 50k to install around here, getting water from rivers? Might as well work for the time you'll be dragging water and earn a profit. Some are good advice though, like owning property and the clothes/furniture.

Some of the suggestions that were mentioned would be fairly unrealistic in an urban environment, however they would work perfectly on a farm. Likewise, other suggestions work perfectly in a city, but not on a farm (e.g. public Wi-Fi and transportation). There is a movement nearby where wind energy companies would offer to place wind turbines on local farms in exchange for energy and cash. This proved to be fairly successful, although now there is a counter-movement that wanst to see the end of such projects because they cause unstudied side effects from the noise produced. Don't ask me what that means, I never bothered to look into the matter too much, and I might have my facts wrong if I did :? .

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#14
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Television - I don't think there are any open air TV transmissions in North America anymore, so we're kind of rooked on that one.


It’s only been 3 years since the DTV transition in the US...

http://en.wikipedia....e_United_States

You have let the satellite and cable providers brainwash you; there is indeed over-the-air terrestrial television in the US, Canada and Mexico.

You could buy an antenna, or you could even build your own:

http://www.digitalho...enna/design.htm
http://www.jedsoft.o...tv/gapless.html
http://uhfhdtvantenna.blogspot.com/

For most people, it will be easier to buy one.

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#15
Kimberly
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For next year, I plan to do my garden for the first time just for me. Planning on spinach, cabbage, lettuce, carrot, tomato, broccoli, peppers, and corn if I have any room left. Marigolds, sweet basil, and oregano around the plots to help keep some of the pests away. Might look into canning but that has a very large start-up cost and I dunno how my money will play out. It'll already be costly enough buying fencing to enclose the little plot so the critters don't get in @_@ At least I'll be able to grow from seed though. That saves a lot of money -- greenhouse nurseries have really jacked up the prices on their young plants with the new demand for 'victory gardens.'

And thank you Nerefast for the flour tortilla recipe...I think I know what I'm having for supper tonight haha.

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#16
stevepole
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I'm frugal to a point, but I don't really believe I should go so far out of my way to save a few dollars where it then becomes more of a chore.

I do prefer to ride my bicycle if I'm going somewhere within about 3 miles from my apartment over driving because it's usually more convenient and then you also don't have to deal with finding parking either. I also go for my bicycle too more so out of habit then anything. I grew up 10 miles outside my local town in WA so naturally anytime I ever really need to go anywhere that required a car, it was of a great distance from my house.

I also buy items more so based on quality then price, believing that the better quality of the item, the longer it will last making for a greater overall investment like my jeans for example.

I've also cut down on the amount of nights I go out, and how often I go out to eat for lunch. It's kind of amazing how much you save when you don't go out to eat, even avoiding quick options like Subway. Subway is great though if you want to be extra frugal and buy a $5 footlong and only eat half one day and then save the rest for the next.

I'm also always on the lookout for free things to do, and living in Los Angeles makes this super easy to do, like next Sunday I'm going to this huge block party downtown feature A-Trak, Danny Brown, Chromeo and a bunch of other artists, for free.

I also furnished my apartment with items I found off craigslist or got second hand from friends/relatives.

I try to buy 50% of the music I listen too but I mostly torrent everything before I choice to buy as a way to preview new music. I've also started taking more advantage of Rdio and Spotify recently to listen to music I don't already have. I truly recommend them. Right now I prefer Radio over Spotify if anyone was wondering.

Movies, I usually do a mix of torrenting, movie theaters, and buying used off amazon. I feel the majority of movies (and music for that matter) are vastly overpriced. I believe a person should never pay more then $10 for a dvd or $20 for a blu-ray unless it's some amazingly special box set or something. Not to mention the outrageous prices for a movie theater ticket. I don't think I've paid less then $13 for a movie ticket since moving to LA. It's crazy.
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#17
Omar
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Omar

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Don't use plastic razors and shaving gels. They're a ripoff, and you can get better products for a better price.
http://www.painlessf...g/safety-razor/
Matt: You want that eh? You want everything good for you. You want everything that's--falls off garbage can
Camera guy: Whoa, haha, are you okay dude?
Matt: You want anything funny that happens, don't you?
Camera guy: still laughing
Matt: You want the funny shit that happens here and there, you think it comes out of your [bleep]ing [wagon] pushes garbage can down, don't you? You think it's funny? It comes out of here! running towards Camera guy
Camera guy: runs away still laughing
Matt: You think the funny comes out of your mother[bleep]ing creativity? Comes out of Satan, mother[bleep]er! nn--ngh! pushes Camera guy down
Camera guy: Hoooholy [bleep]!
Matt: FUNNY ISN'T REAL! FUNNY ISN'T REAL!

#18
obfuscator
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obfuscator

    Tanned Caveman

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Don't use plastic razors and shaving gels. They're a ripoff, and you can get better products for a better price.
http://www.painlessf...g/safety-razor/


Good link, thanks!

polvCwJ.gif
"It's not a rest for me, it's a rest for the weights." - Dom Mazzetti


#19
Omar
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Omar

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Check out Badger & Blade, too. Lenticular tipped us off on this back in the day, actually. Wonder what he's up to now.
Matt: You want that eh? You want everything good for you. You want everything that's--falls off garbage can
Camera guy: Whoa, haha, are you okay dude?
Matt: You want anything funny that happens, don't you?
Camera guy: still laughing
Matt: You want the funny shit that happens here and there, you think it comes out of your [bleep]ing [wagon] pushes garbage can down, don't you? You think it's funny? It comes out of here! running towards Camera guy
Camera guy: runs away still laughing
Matt: You think the funny comes out of your mother[bleep]ing creativity? Comes out of Satan, mother[bleep]er! nn--ngh! pushes Camera guy down
Camera guy: Hoooholy [bleep]!
Matt: FUNNY ISN'T REAL! FUNNY ISN'T REAL!

#20
Riku3220
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Riku3220

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I see a lot of people knocking the news section. You should buy the Sunday papers at gas stations or wherever else they sell the paper daily and cut out the coupons. You don't have to go full on hardcore coupon hunting but it's a great way to save money assuming you get more than the price of the paper discounted. It may require you to abandon brand loyalty to make full use of the coupons.

Ditch brand loyalty. Generic brand stuff is made in the same factory as the brand name stuff half of the time.

Don't be fooled by sales. 3 for $5 isn't saving you any money if you only needed 1 of the item. Those deals are for people who know that they will be using a lot of the product over a long period of time.
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