How Frugal Purchasing Habits Add Up

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you've probably noticed that I advocate seemingly inconsequential savings like getting travel toiletries for free, cutting open tubes of lotion and toothpaste to squeeze out every last drop, and diluting dish soap with water. As you read these tips, you might find yourself asking, "How could these miniscule savings possibly make any noticeable difference in my financial situation?" Well, I'll show you how.

A couple of notes about the chart you're about to see: The music savings is not me advocating piracy. I get most of my audio entertainment in the form of free podcasts and streaming internet radio, leaving me with only a couple of albums I really feel compelled to buy every year. And yes, $10/album is very realistic if you're buying used CDs online or complete albums from iTunes. Or I may just buy lots of individual tracks if the whole albums aren't compelling enough to buy.

The $1.00 per movie price was calculated by dividing the cost of the cheapeast monthly Netflix subscription ($5/mo.) by the number of movies it entitles you to per month (2 DVDs and 3 online viewings). If you only rented movies instead of only seeing them in the theater, not only would you save $60 per year, you'd get to see 60 movies instead of 12.

Item Average Price Saver's Price Times Purchased/Yr. Savings/Yr.
Shampoo $4.00 $1.75 6 $ 13.50
Toothpaste $3.00 $3.00 3 instead of 6 (use less) 9.00
Milk $4/gallon $3/gallon 52 52.00
Gas $130/mo. $120/mo. 12 120.00
Music $10/album $10/album 2 instead of 12 (see note) 100.00
Soda $2.50/6-pack $4/12-pack 48/24 24.00
Movies $10/ticket $1.00/rental @ $5.00/mo. 12 60.00
Coffee $4/weekday $0.50/weekday 252 882.00
GRAND TOTAL 1,260.50


I realize that the coffee savings, which takes up a large chunk of this chart, may not apply to everyone, but I think you still get the point. As you can see, just looking for small savings on a few of the items you purchase regularly can put a ton of money back in your pocket. You can make this number grow as much as you want by seeking out other little areas in which to save money.

In addition to the cold, hard cash you'll hang on to, acquiring the habits of frugality and thrift leads to increased creative thinking about how to obtain the things you need and want and thus exponentially reduce spending in areas you weren't even originally planning to cut back in. For example, once you start diluting your dish soap, you might find yourself diluting your hand soap, realizing that you really only need a tiny squirt of hand soap, or discovering that you can sometimes save money by using dish soap as hand soap. Once you ride your bike to the grocery store, you might find other things on that bike route that you never realized were so easy to get to without a car. Once you borrow a suitcase you need for a trip, it occurs to you that you might be able to borrow a tent for your camping trip. Developing a saver's mindset will decrease your expenses even further than you thought saving $1 on a bottle of shampoo ever could.

Photo by CleanWal-Mart

Related Posts:
Save Money by Exfoliating with Baking Soda
How I Saved $120 at CVS
The Shaving Cream Myth
Saving Money on Cleaning Supplies
Saving Money on Laundry
Saving Money on Napkins and Papertowels

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