The Limits of Frugality

This is a guest post from Lazy Man of Lazy Man and Money. If you like what you see here, please consider subscribing to his RSS feed.

Many people agree that there are two avenues to financial success: make more money or spend less money. A majority of the time, people employ a combination of the two. It seems to me that making more money often proves difficult for people. Because of this, they turn towards ways of saving money.

The paths to saving money vary greatly. Sometimes you can save a lot of money with a small, easy change and other times it takes a lot of work for small savings. After knocking off those easy ways to save money, finding additional savings can be more difficult. It is at these times, you start to see interesting strategies of saving money. I often wonder if these strategies are really worth the time or effort to implement. Since I’m particularly lazy, I find that I dismiss many of the suggestions I read. Today I’d like to highlight a couple of frugal ideas that I recently read. I will attempt to measure the savings in relation to the time, effort, and other factors to determine if they are really worth my time.

First up, The Simple Dollar makes his own laundry detergent. He has done the math and for 8 loads of laundry per week, he saves $20 a year vs. the Kirkland brand found at Costco. The math comes out to a savings of about 38 cents a week. Since I do less than half the laundry that he does, the savings are probably closer to $5. The cost of this is the time necessary to mix the ingredients. Also, it doesn’t seem too neat as Trent calls his laundry concoction “a giant bucket of slime.” I’m sure a giant bucket takes up quite a bit of space as well. Perhaps Costco’s scale brings the cost and quality down to the point where it makes more sense to just buy their product.

Next up, Finance is Personal says that hypermiling probably doesn’t make sense. According to Wikipedia hypermiling is the practice of driving to optimize fuel economy through various techniques. The article says that in vehicles that get 30 miles per gallon, it probably saves $117 a year – or around $10 a month. I think most cars get less than 30 mpg and would probably save nearly $200 a year. That would clearly save more than making your own laundry – ten to twenty times more. The extra cost to this? Well, I’d have to minimize braking, use cruise control, over-inflate tires a little bit, and coast downhills. This doesn’t really seem like any work or effort to me. I can’t seem to think of a reason why I wouldn’t do these.

I’ll implement some or most of the tactics of hypermiling and I’ll buy my laundry detergent at Costco. It’s this sweet spot of saving and laziness that I strive for. That’s what Lazy Man and Money is about.

7 Responses to “The Limits of Frugality”

  1. Anonymous

    Making that laundry detergent was actually quite fun. I had two teenage cousins of mine mix it up with me and then we checked it together several times as it settled. It was a fun thing to do that saved money in the end.

  2. Anonymous

    Sometimes it’s just an income problem. Being frugal doesn’t work if you have like 10 kids on a $40k/year income. When you see these people most people suggest more income because when these people post their budgets, they are more than frugal.

  3. Anonymous

    I think Trent really likes the quality of his detergent and it’s probably quick enough to make a huge vat of it. He also says that he’s likely to get a Sam’s Club membership, instead of a Costco one, meaning that he’d have to dish out more money for a Costco membership or deal with Sam’s laundry detergent. That’s not the one that consumer reports loves, so maybe it’s not exactly helpful for him.

  4. Anonymous

    Absolutely. What is interesting is that Trent from The Simple Dollar recently wrote about how it made sense for him to pay someone to clean his apartment when he moved out because it wasn’t worth his time based on what he could pay to have someone else do it. For me laundry detergent is in that same category. It isn’t worth my time to save less than $20 a year (I also do less laundry).

  5. Anonymous

    I got side-swiped by a tow truck last week after he didn’t bother looking before turning onto the street I was driving on, and his boss’s insurance company provided a rental car for me while my truck was in the shop for 8 days.

    It was a fairly new PT Cruiser (about 5500 miles on it), and a nice feature that it had that my 8 year old pick up truck lacks is a real time display of what sort of miles per gallon you are getting.

    The average miles per gallon from when I picked the vehicle up to when I dropped it off had gone up by 5 miles per gallon. It still didn’t get as good mileage as my Ranger, though. I wasn’t a big fan, and I am glad to have my truck back.

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