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Household Expenses in a Frugal House

July 10th, 2006 at 06:38 pm

I count anything that is not edible outside of my grocery budget. My ďHousehold BudgetĒ includes long-term things like furniture, as well as short-term like toilet paper. Iím thinking about changing that. Last year I spent $184.89 (I thought I had spent 243, but that was for 14 months.) But the year before I spent a grand, so my more honest long term average is $50 a month.

Paper Products

We donít by paper towels, paper plates, napkins, cups.

I bought paper plates for camping a few years ago; we still have some and use them as a treat rarely.

We use dish towels instead of paper towels. Old washcloths and hand towels become rags.

We use cloth napkins. I got a bunch at the dollar tree in three packs 3 or 4 years ago; 100% cotton, wear well.

We line dry our napkins and dish rags.

If we get takeout, we use cloth napkins and stick the paper napkins in a dispenser I got from the thrift store; the chrome spring loaded kind. We use those napkins as paper towels on really funky messes, or sometimes guests prefer paper to cloth.

I waffled for months before finally deciding that buying double rolls of toilet paper was worth it for us.

Cleaning Supplies
We are not big cleaners; our house is very uncluttered but we donít clean surfaces too much.

We buy ammonia, bleach, dish soap and cleanser. Thatís about it.

I know I could use vinegar and baking soda for some cleaning; I just havenít yet.

We use maybe one cleanser a year, or less. One bottle of ammonia a year, or less. Bleach, maybe 2 bottles a year-I do use in the laundry.

I have spray bottles with diluted bleach and diluted ammonia as spray cleaners.

Oh, I do have some Windex.

We donít buy much. We make do with what we have, and add stuff we like over time.

Iím 35; I have the dresser my parents bought as raw wood and finished together when I was around 9. I got it from my dad when I was in my late 20s when he was paring down.

I have an armoire I bought in my late teens, early twenties; it was an irresponsible purchase at the time at $150, but I absolutely love it. One of the shelves is marked ďwoolensĒ-how could I not love it?

I have bookcases Iíve had since my teens.

It took us three trips to the thrift store to evaluate a $25 sofa five years ago. The people at the store found it funny. We could have ďaffordedĒ a new couch but didnít want to buy one.

I did get a slip cover for the sofa; I like it partially because itís washable.

Bought new: two computer chairs, my desk, and the coffee table. I think thatís it. Otherwise they are hand me downs or thrift store or garage sale items.

One of my favorite pieces of furniture is a wooden recycling cupboard; it was $20 at a garage sale, I probably could have gotten it for $15 but I fell head over heals in love and I was too dazed to dicker.

I will add vintage pieces over time as I find good deals. I did buy a vanity in 2004 for that I will own for decades.

Our TV is 19Ē.

As high tech as our computer set up is, our TV and stereo is low tech. We use our PCs to play music a lot, instead of our low end portable radio.

Camping Gear
Yes, this could be considered entertainment instead of household.

We bought two cheap Sears sleeping bags and a used four man (fits two comfortably) tent. We are good to go.

My Guy got a picnic basket a while ago; we have it full of plastic cutlery (I wash and save from various sources), pots, salt and pepper, metal cups, essentially anything we need to cook while camping. Makes packing easier.

Other than that, we have the burner that screws onto the propane bottle, and a lantern. If we camped more I might get more gear.

We have one set of towels we bought maybe five or so years ago at 1.49 each. They are good quality but someone returned them to Ross washed so I was able to get the towels, hand towels and wash cloths cheap.

I think weíve bought sheets maybe once or twice-we only used a bottom sheet and a comforter with a comforter cover (duvet cover). I know Iíve gotten sheets at garage sales, also Ross when I had an employee discount. The fact I canít remember means itís a long time ago.

I have had my super thick down comforter for a long time. It was a hand-me-down but I would have paid for one. I know they can be costly but I adore my heavy down comforter-perfect in winter and summer.

My Guy bought wash clothes at Wal-Mart (I have never been). The washcloths were lousy quality, we were bummed.

Due to the above experience, I am less inclined to buy new towels unless they are high quality; ours are white and I want yellow or blue, but such is life.

We are renters, so the fridge and gas stove come with the kitchen.

I donít like dishwashers, to My Guyís chagrin.

I get closer and closer to buying a freezer every minute.

Our washer and dryer are used. Both were bought refurbished. My Guy has fixed the dryer a couple times.

Other than that, it's a coffee maker, a coffee grinder, a vacuum, and that's it.

5 Responses to “Household Expenses in a Frugal House”

  1. jodi_m Says:

    I jsut can't get over how much I can identify with you! I could have written that last post. When Dh and I owned our last house, nearly everything we bought was secondhand. We only had new towels because they were a wedding gift. We even use a down comforter, with duvet cover, and no top sheet! Sorry, I just find it so neat to share a complete life outlook with someone, especially since I'm the only one in my family who thinks this way!
    I wish I could get MY guy on board, although he has come a long way...

  2. lrjohnson Says:

    Jodi-one thing I love about this site is finding people with the same outlook. I like feeling like less of a freak, and finding kindred spirits!

    (When I'm in a motel I just can't handle the sheets/bedspread thing. I wonder why the whole world hasn't gone over to comforters!)

  3. Dido Says:

    Your approach is similar to mine, too. I just bought a house last fall and had to furnish the living room almost from scratch--the sofa that I'd bought 25 years ago used was both too worn AND too big for the new space. I ended up buying an antique Morris chair and a used love seat for $275. That, together with the $25 used coffee table I've had for years, bookshelves, and the rocking chair that I actually bought new 25 years ago (the only piece of "real" furniture I've bought new, other than cheap bookcases and cardtables).

    I love my comforter too and do the same as you with just bottom sheet and duvet cover, but I can't imagine using it in summer! My bedroom is about 80 degrees most nights during July and August, and the quilt goes off in June and comes back in September. During June-Aug, I revert to regular sheets and a thin cotton blanket.

  4. flinnie Says:

    It is so nice to know that Iam not the only one who have second
    hand pieces.
    At time I feel like a though back to another time.
    You make me not feel so alone.

  5. Casper Says:

    LR you are doing great. I am in pretty much the same boat. One of the reasons I love your blog is that I can see myself and I realize that both of us are making wise decisions.

    Another note; if you could see behind the scenes of the old money households you would see pretty much the same behavior. They have money not only because the family earned it many years ago but most importantly, because they did not spend it all over the years.

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