What are some things you do that others might consider ‘radically frugal’? Keep in mind that being frugal means it saves you money. Being cheap means someone else has to pay for your financial choices. Yes, it’s ok to use a ‘two for one’ coupon for a meal out. No, it’s not ok to tip the waiter for just the one meal.

Here are some things we do that might be considered radically frugal. For some these are just ordinary things. For others it’s going way to far.

1) We only have one car. I admit it’s a pain occasionally especially with two school age kids in different activities and two adult drivers in the house. It means a lot more scheduling but it also means significantly lower transportation costs.

2) We pay cash for cars. As well, we pay ourselves the car payment so when it’s time to buy another car, we can pay cash again.

3) We live in a 1000 sq foot house. It’s small but it fits us all just fine. Less to clean. Less to heat. Less to cool. Less property taxes. The good news is that it’s among the lower priced homes in a great school area.

4) I use reusable feminine products. *Warning* If you don’t have ovaries, you aren’t going to want to look here. http://www.lunapads.com/default.aspx? They are 100% Canadian. All I can say is I have been thrilled with these products. Once I tried them there was no going back! A bit of an upfront cost but after 8-10 months they pay themselves off fast and the rest is pure savings! Squawkfox did a great write up on the Diva Cup for those who want to read further. http://www.squawkfox.com/2008/06/13/10-reasons-the-diva-cup-can-change-your-life/

5) We used cloth diapers on the kids. Yes, it was messy and it meant more laundry but after a one time cost for the diapers, it was really inexpensive other than the cost of water and soap. We have a front load washer which uses significantly less water so we didn’t even notice a difference in the water bill.

6) We drink tap water. I can’t even imagine spending money for something that comes out of the tap for free. Sure, we use a water filter so it tastes better but this is Canada. Our water is generally pretty good. We lived in South Asia for nearly five years where we had to treat and purify our water every day. To turn on the tap and have clean, drinkable water come rushing out any time of the day or night has been absolute bliss.

7) We make our own pseudo maple syrup.

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Bring to boil. Boil gently for 5 min. Let cool. (It thickens as it cools). It keeps in the fridge for months.

My kids like it so much they they won’t eat the fake stuff anymore.

8) We make our own salad dressing.

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dijon mustard (optional)
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Mix together and keep in a glass jar. Shake before using.

It’s so good, many of our friends have asked for the recipe and are now making their own.

9) We buy and sell stuff on kijiji. It’s free to post an ad. It’s local. And the best part is you don’t have to pay sales tax when you buy something! As our kids grow out of their clothing, toys, and furniture we sell it on Kijiji and look for things in the next size up. There are no risks as you see the item before you pay for it and all transactions are in cash.

10) We keep our air conditioning at 25C in the summer and the heat at 19C in the winter. In the hot months, we turn off the air conditioning at night and sleep in the basement where it’s nice and cool. The difference between our summer and winter temperatures is only 6 degrees. In the summer we wear shorts in the house and in the winter, we’ll put on a sweater. Yet the number of people who think we’re out of our minds for not keeping our air at 22C year round has amazed us. Six degrees makes a significant difference in energy costs.

We don’t dumpster dive. We don’t have a chicken coup in the backyard or even a veggie garden. We don’t have a windmill or solar panels although these are on my dream list. Until then, these are some of the steps we take that some might consider radically frugal.

What are some things you do that others might consider radically frugal?

Kathryn works in public relations and training for a non profit. In her off hours, she volunteers as a financial coach helping ordinary Canadians with the basics of money management. Her passions include personal finance and adult education. Kathryn, along with her husband and two children live in Ontario.

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  1. as on July 9, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Frugality is all the rage… Our blog also gave it a try (NB we don’t have ovaries): :-)


  2. Martin on July 9, 2009 at 8:20 am

    1000 square foot house? That IS small. I have 1000 square foot condo. I can’t imagine the same space but it being a house.

  3. Andrew on July 9, 2009 at 8:34 am

    We have only 1 car between my girlfriend and I. Live in a very small apartment (cheaper rent), never turn the AC on in the summer and buy/sell a lot of stuff through Kijiji.

    We don’t make our own salad dressing though. That is just radically frugal ;)

  4. FrugalTrader on July 9, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Martin, 1000sq ft isn’t that small. We lived in a 1000 sq ft house for 4 years. The space was fine for us, the biggest reason we moved was for the better neighborhood.

  5. ZeFrench on July 9, 2009 at 9:22 am

    I think that what is the most shocking for our friends is cloth diapers (now with the strike in Toronto, they are starting to think about it).

    What seems crazy to me is to see people surprised when we tell them that we return or resell every product we don’t use and that we always try to negotiate the retail price everywhere. When it comes to negotiating, once they try they are amazed how easy and simple it is.

    Our last project, we started this week is vermicompost. It will give us perfect dirt for our garden and save us the cost of black earth. http://www.allthingsorganic.com/

    We have one car
    We live in a 1200 sq foot house with one kid
    We drink tap water
    We make our own bread
    We make our own cleaning products with white vinegar (cheaper and as efficient)
    We cook a lot and brown bag every lunch of course
    We do almost all our renovation project without contractors including roofing, plumbing, siding, fence building…
    We use coupons for grocery shopping (although we buy mostly organics products)

    It seems like a lot, but I am sure we can do more.

    Oh, and what most people seems to be surprised with is that we do an annual budget!!!

  6. FrugalTrader on July 9, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Some examples of radical frugalness:

    1. Upon graduating, we bought a 2 apt home and lived in one of them. The rented apt paid for most of the mortgage.

    2. I don’t like to waste, not even scraps on a plate after dinner.

    3. I wear my clothes until they wear out/have holes in it. I still have shirts from my university years!

  7. Blogging Banks on July 9, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Well while it is ok to be frugal, using reusable feminine products sounds gross. Who cares if you have all the money in the world if you smell bad?

  8. Anon2 on July 9, 2009 at 10:09 am

    “Keep in mind that being frugal means it saves you money. Being cheap means someone else has to pay for your financial choices. Yes, it’s ok to use a ‘two for one’ coupon for a meal out. No, it’s not ok to tip the waiter for just the one meal.”

    I don’t disagree, but you need another analogy. Buying a cheaper meal would be frugal, but the two-for-one costs the resaurant money just like undertipping does.

  9. FrugalTrader on July 9, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Anon2, if the restaurant has a 2 for 1 coupon out there, it’s the restaurants choice to advertise that way. They are basically drawing you in the restaurant in the hopes that you will buy drinks/appetizers etc.

  10. Finance Matters on July 9, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Anon2, the restaurant has two purposes with the 2 for 1. First, it’s a way to advertise and attract new clientele. If you like the food and service you will come back another time without a coupon. Second, many people will spend money on drinks, appetizers or deserts and thus bring up the total bill, all but removing any “loss” the restaurant might have had.

  11. Finance Matters on July 9, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Frugal, you got that in before I finished typing. Great minds think alike….

  12. Jewel of Toronto on July 9, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Good tips, but…that’s not maple syrup. Maple syrup comes out of trees….

  13. Jo on July 9, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Three cheers for Diva Cup!! It is amazing – every woman should know about it..

  14. J. on July 9, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Having a car (even one) sounds nice to me. I wish to get there.

  15. Caitlin on July 9, 2009 at 11:02 am

    My kids like it so much they they won’t eat the fake stuff anymore.
    Maple syrup that’s not directly from maple tree sap doesn’t strike you as being fake?

    @Blogging Banks
    Well while it is ok to be frugal, using reusable feminine products sounds gross. Who cares if you have all the money in the world if you smell bad?

    So you’re saying every time you get an article of clothing dirty, smelly, or sweaty you throw it out and buy new ones? If your nose bleeds onto your shirt you throw it away? Because that’s what you’re suggesting we do. Reusable products will only smell bad if you don’t wash them. (And if you don’t wash your reusable products, well, you’ve got way bigger problems than smell)

  16. Alexandra on July 9, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Hee! I’m radically frugal too, for sure. Having lived in India as a teen everything I have here now seems amazingly abundant.

    We do a lot of what Kathryn does – one car for two kids, 1000 square-foot house, make all our own food, etc. And we do a lot of dumpster diving (although I’ve never actually been in a dumpster. But we do pick up things for free that others have left out – the garbage strike actually seems to have increased this!)

    My big monthly “splurges” are martial arts training for my husband and me and our life insurance. :)

  17. Michael - Frugal Fat Loss Tips on July 9, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Sleeping in the basement?

    Come on, I find that a little hard to believe and too radical for my liking. I too like the basement in the summer, but does the whole family bunker up down there at night?

    All other suggestions seem on par, although I can’t speak to the feminine hygiene products:)

    Another suggestion to add is getting rid of your gym membership, especially in the summer. So many things to do outside the traditional gym setting!

  18. FrugalTrader on July 9, 2009 at 11:39 am

    It’s interesting to read from the comments the perception of “radically frugal” and how everyone has their own definition.

  19. Peter @ Canadian Banks on July 9, 2009 at 11:49 am

    I never considered having one car in the family radically frugal :). Well I guess it also depends on where you actually live.

  20. DAvid on July 9, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    FrugalTrader said: “I still have shirts from my university years!”

    You’ll grow out of them once you reach middle age!

    I’ll add: walk & bike instead of drive, vacation close to home, keep water bills low by reducing or eliminating lawn watering, install high efficiency heating & cooling units (we run A/C to cool the bedrooms just before bedtime).


  21. nobleea on July 9, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    we have a 1200 sq ft bungalow. we’re got more space than we know what to do with. once you consider the basement, there’s more storage than we need.

    i can’t imagine furnishing and cleaning a 2500sqft house.

    there’s no way i would pay for water. especially when it’s delivered to our house for a very very low price already (in edmonton you pay for tap water and delivery charges)

  22. fern on July 9, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    i don’t think any of the things you mentioned are “radical.” And I’m sorry, but you are not making maple syrup. It’s really “sugar syrup.” Might as well buy the cheap fake stuff in the store; it’s the same thing, except they use fructose syrup.

    Real maple syrup is really expensive, but it’s one of those things i won’t give up, not that i use it often.

  23. geekmom on July 9, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    I don’t personally consider my choices to be “radically frugal” – to me this is just part of normal life, and I had to really think about my answer – but here are some things I do that others might think are weird.

    1. Make my own laundry detergent – I use this recipe from The Simple Dollar http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2007/03/15/how-to-make-your-own-laundry-detergent-and-save-big-money/

    It works just as well as the store-bought stuff and costs around a dollar or so for a big bucket full.

    2. Use reusable menstrual products. And no, I don’t smell bad. My teenaged daughter also uses cotton menstrual pads, and has done so since she began menstruating; to her this is perfectly normal, and she finds the disposable pads uncomfortable.

    3. Make most food from scratch instead of buying processed, prepackaged versions.

    4. Shop the sales and go to several stores to get the lowest possible price on the food items I want. I keep a price book so that I can track the lowest prices on most of the staple foods my family needs; it takes a little while to set up, but now I only need to spend a few minutes a week on it and it drops the grocery bill dramatically.

    5. I don’t have my kids enrolled in a gazillion activities. Instead, we carefully select the programs they really want to do and get the most enjoyment out of, which allows them to spend more of their time exploring their own interests at home.

    6. We live in a very expensive housing market (Vancouver), and have chosen to live in a co-op apartment that’s within walking distance of my husband’s office rather than buy a house in one of the outer suburbs, which would mean less family time, and much more money spent on a second vehicle or transit passes.

    P.S. I also think that the syrup that goes on pancakes should not be called maple syrup unless it comes from the sap of a maple tree.

  24. Eddie Parker on July 9, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    It is quite amazing reading what people find ‘crazy’ frugal, what people find ‘radically’ frugal, and others find common sense frugal. ;)

    I, for one, haven’t read a comment yet that doesn’t make sense to me, but I have to admit that ZeFrench’s comment about haggling retail prices does make me nervous – that’s really one of my hang-ups in life, and I should get over. So long as you’re polite about it, I don’t think that haggling is a bad thing; I just was raised with a “You pay as advertised” mentality. If I don’t like the price, I shouldn’t buy it!

    All that said, we have a similar mind to frugality:

    – I’m a tech guy, but I don’t generally buy a lot of tech gadgetry (certainly not as much as I’d like).
    – One car, and it’s pretty much my wife’s as she’s a realtor.
    – I bike to and from work every day, or mass transit if I’m too lazy. :)
    – We ‘make our own salad dressing’ too, but by that it’s merely balsamic vinegar and/or oil. Add the rest of the ingredients to your salad!
    – While we do tend to make our own bread and such, it’s mostly because my wife is wheat-allergic, so it’s rather moot as her bread is still more expensive.
    – The wife shops at three different grocery stores (Superstore, Costco, and Safeway) to pay the cheapest price
    – Customer appreciation days are a must!
    – Redflagdeals.com :)
    – Bag lunches – spending money out on lunch is so expensive!
    – We do have a ‘larger’ house, compared to what people are mentioning here: it’s about 1800 sq feet, but it’s in a great neighbourhood, at a good deal. With the wife being a realtor, I’m looking at this as an investment – particularly as we’re utilizing the smith manoeuvre with it.

    Some things we’re not so good at:

    – I’d like to cut our cable. We rarely watch TV anyhow, but the wife still enjoys it. It’s a rather expensive entertainment box. That said, kids might be in our life soon; maybe it’s a necessity therein.
    – I’m a programmer and as such I do enjoy gadgetry, and in some cases ‘need’ some latest stuff to understand my job better. I am more reasonable than some of my coworkers, but you can always improve.
    – Cell phones. The wife and I both have cell phones, which is a must given our lifestyle. Still, I see this as a ‘haggle’ project of mine to call up and reduce our bill payments.

    Probably more, but maybe this inspires someone else somehow. Or people can offer suggestions. :)

  25. TTP on July 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Lol – I guess we’re not as frugal as we thought we were. We have a 3400 sq.ft. house and 2 cars. But in my defence, the house is in a small town even beyond Toronto’s super-burb-topia so it was a bit cheaper. And the cars, although new, were cheap and not fancy (about $20-$25k each) and we drive them for about 10 years. We do shop at Nofrills instead of Loblaws too.

    The hardest part is when you start making more money, you start spending more too! 10 years ago we were happy in a 400 sq.ft bachelor apartment. Today, we just couldn’t go back.

    Maple syrup without maple? Best way around that is plant some maple trees!

  26. YYC27 on July 9, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    “My kids like it so much they they won’t eat the fake stuff anymore.”

    It’s been said before .. but, yeah, if there’s no maple, then they’re still eating the fake stuff.

  27. Brendan on July 9, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    I definitely distinguish between frugal and cheap. I admire frugal people, but i seriously could beat the crap out of cheap people, saving money at the expense of others.
    I agree on most of the articles points. 1 car makes sense, smaller house also. I am sorry but a 1k square foot house WITH a finnished basement is plenty.
    Making your own food stuff is not only cheaper, but usually better tasting too.
    I do not understand the air conditioning/heating thing. 25 degrees is 25 degrees., if you are comfortable in the summer at 25 then you should be absolutely freezing at 19 in the winter.
    Pick a comfortable temperature and let the thermostat do the rest.

    Bottom line live within your means. Not above your means, and certainly not UNDER them either.

    If life has been good to you, give it back. Tip the waitress a little more. Shop at the little mom and pop (as long as prices are not too far out of whack).

    Personally, I work, have a DB pension, max out my RSP, and TFSA, and I will be aggressivly paying down the mortgage, and building a non registered portfolio via the Smith Manoeuvre.

    Seriously how much more do I have to save? How much less do I have to do without?

    There is a big difference between buying something you want/need for less money, and simply not buying something , needed, or not just because you dont want to spend the money.

    Remember people money is there to serve you, not control you. True wealth is being able to live the life you want to live.

    While having a big mortgage, and racking up huge credit card debt, living WAY beyond your means is idiotic, i also believe it is stupid to sit in your house, with no heat, wearing sweaters, and not having any lights on to save hydro is just as stupid.

    At the end of the day folks we are all gonna be dead, so just remember the Brink’s truck does not follow the hearse.

  28. Elbyron on July 9, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Growing your own maple trees and making syrup would probably fall into ‘radically frugal’ category. I’ve never heard of anyone trying it, and I would sure be shocked if someone said they made their own (real) maple syrup.
    Probably the craziest frugal thing I do is to cut the mold off of certain foods and eat them. Not bread or tomatoes though… once moldy, the whole thing tastes bad. But I usually try to make sure we eat stuff before it goes bad. When deciding what to make for supper, the first consideration is “what do I have in the fridge that needs to be used up soon?”

  29. Astin on July 9, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Gotta side with the others on the syrup. It’s not maple syrup, it’s a vanilla simple syrup. The kids are still eating the fake stuff, it’s just that you’re making it.

    Of course, you’d need an orchard of maple trees to make your own real maple syrup.

    How old are the kids? 1000 sq ft will seem even smaller once they’re teenagers.

  30. Caitlin on July 9, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I’ve never heard of anyone trying it, and I would sure be shocked if someone said they made their own (real) maple syrup.

    Never lived near a sugar bush, have you? I come from an area that produces a lot of maple syrup, and lots of the farmers in the area with maple trees make their own syrup.

    The problem with picking one temperature for all year is that the furnace/AC has to work a lot harder to keep your house at that temperature than they would if you pick a temperature that’s closer to the outdoor temperature. In summer, if you set your thermostat to 25 degrees, your AC has to work a lot less (aka uses less energy, therefore less $$$) than it would have to work if you wanted your house to be 22 degrees. Same in the winter; your furnace has to work a lot harder to get your house to 22 than 19, and you can just put on a sweater to make up the temperature difference.

  31. Elaine on July 9, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Real maple syrup might cost me $24 a litre, but you can have it when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

  32. Brendan on July 9, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Caitlin I understand the math and the savings. I just dont get the logic.
    25 is too hot. But if 25 is ok for you then set the thermostat at 25. 25 in the summer is 25 in the winter. We had a guy at work turn off our air conditioning because he didnt like cold. He felt 28 was perfect. In the winter we cranked the heat to 28 and he was mad because it was too hot.
    28 is 28 no matter what. Nonsense.
    If you like 25 in the summer fine. In the winter you turn down the temp and put on a sweater so it “feels” like 25 fine.
    My wife is the opposite of frugal when it comes to heating/cooling. She will turn the temp down in the summer to 19, but she will complain if you let the house go down to 19 in the winter.
    19 is 19. Nonsense.
    Pick a comfortable temperature, and do the Ronnco rotisserie and “set it and forget it”.

    Brink’s dont follow the hearse.


    Loving parent who loved life
    lived uncomfortably
    but saved a buck

  33. Canadian on July 9, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    I don’t own a car, live in a 400sq ft space, and don’t have air conditioning–the lifestyle described in this post sounds rather extravagant to me.

    Congratulations on using a kitchen, though.

  34. Erick on July 9, 2009 at 4:34 pm


    25 in the high-humidity summer feels a lot warmer than 25 in the bone-dry winter.

  35. me on July 9, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    thats not frugal, thats just being cheap!

  36. Subversive on July 9, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I really like Suggestion 2. Especially the part about paying yourself a car payment so you have a savings built in to buy a car when necessary. I’m going to suggest this as something my wife and I start doing immediately.

  37. casey5 on July 9, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Well, then call me extravagant coz we live in a 2,500 sq. ft home and we have 2 cars :) but I’m not giving them up. We are already frugal in so many other ways. Like Brendan said, live within your means.

  38. Kathryn on July 9, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Wow, I just got in and there are a lot of comments! Many have been answered by others. Thanks!

    A few more details.

    You are absolutely right. It’s not real maple syrup. I just didn’t know what to call it compared to the Aunt Jememia stuff. Perhaps I should have referred to it as homemade fake syrup.

    The kids are 9 & 11.

    The basement is beautifully finished (by the people before us) and has plenty of room and pull out couches for sleeping in the summer. We’re not hunkered down sleeping on a concrete floor. The basement doesn’t count in sq footage of a house so in reality we have more space because of the finished basement.

    I also find it fascinating to hear the difference between what people think is too frugal and what other think isn’t frugal enough.

    There are some great ideas here.

  39. Brendan on July 9, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Basements DO count. Livingspace is living space.
    Shamefully, my house is 1875 square feet. A monster of a house that I pay 5300 a year in property/school tax. I am pissed that I pay more than my fair share, and get less service than those who pay less, or even nothing at all.
    But it aint up to me and a divorce would cost way more than what I would save by down sizing. On the upside I can do a bigger “Rempel Maximum”, creating an income stream to off set the bigger costs

  40. Victor on July 9, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Brendan – 19 is 19 degrees, agreed, but insisting that you should be able to dress the same in winter and in summer is silly. Do you sit indoors all winter because you can’t go outside in a t-shirt? No, you dress appropriately for the temperature. If putting on a sweater indoors in winter (just like you also put on a jacket over the sweater to go outside) can save you big $ each month and can help you use less energy in electricity/gas, it seems like a reasonable choice to me.

    – 1200 sq ft home for 2 people (I don’t consider this radical, I just consider the 2000 sq ft homes ridiculous)
    – keep home at 19 in winter, no AC in summer (blinds closed during the day, open windows at night)
    – veggie and herb garden (but not to save $, I just like this)
    – I don’t own a TV (what a waste of time…)
    – I don’t have a cell phone (if you think your cell phone is a ‘must’ for your job, did your job not exist 10 years ago?)
    – one car for 2 people (again, this is not radical…)
    – no Christmas/birthday gifts for anyone over 12 (environmental reasons, not frugal reasons)
    – I do all my own renos (no contractors except gas fitters for the new furnace) but I do it because I enjoy it
    – sleep in the basement in summer (takes 15 minutes to move the bed down and it’s SO nice and cool)
    – brown bag lunches and cook all meals, basically never go out (again, I don’t think this is radical)
    – most of the furniture I have was not new (family, neighbours, etc.)
    – the few times I buy clothes, I check second-hand stores first

    I don’t plan to die with it. I just prefer to spend my money traveling around the world and saving to retire by 35.

    And totally agree on all the maple syrup comments. :)

  41. Mai on July 9, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    I would be careful about the fake economy of home-made unhealthy food like the fake maple syrup. The recipie made me shudder. It’s the best way to get fat diabetic kids. It’s just not worth it.


  42. Kathryn on July 9, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Victor: Love the idea of Christmas gifts only for kids under 12. My question to you is how did you convince the rest of your extended family to go with this plan? My extended family seem unenthusiastic about the idea of changing things up at this stage.

    I also agree with your point about not planning to die with it. I also prefer to spend it on things that are more important to us.

    Mai: It’s not like we drink the stuff. It’s only a topping for our Sunday morning homemade waffles. It only has three ingredients (other than water) and no artificial flavours or preservatives. It’s better than what’s in ‘maple flavoured syrup type topping’ from the grocery store. The artificial ingredients in those bottles make me shutter. If pure maple syrup wasn’t $15 a litre, I’d buy more of that.

  43. Brendan on July 9, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Victor you are not understanding what I am saying, or perhaps I am the one with the problem communicating.
    I wear shorts and a t shirt all year long inside my house because the temp is always @22. It doesn’t matter what the temp out side is. That is what a thermostat does.
    My point is that if 25 is an exceptable temp for your house in the summer then why isn’t the heat cranked up to. 25 in the winter? Most people unless you are really old, or just weird will find 25 too hot.
    Agreed that you can dress up to warm up but if you are hot other than being naked, you can’t cool yourself without AC.
    I love my AC and you can’t make me hate it.

  44. Adam O'Neill on July 9, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    My wife and I hang dry our laundry on our clothes rack year round, oh and we’ve been car free for 4 years.

  45. Kevin on July 10, 2009 at 12:27 am

    This is a very interesting post. I myself find that I am not very frugal. I can guarantee that it costs me a lot of money in the long run. I am not a consumer whore by any means. I don’t really use A/C I would use it if I had it to sleep comfortably at night on the hottest days of summer. I have A/C in my car, but I never use it because I love the summer and the heat.

    I have never bothered to look through the weekly ads for groceries etc. I just go to a grocery store and shop. Call me lazy, but I just don’t have the desire to cut coupons and drive to 5 different stores to save a few cents.

    I could careless about tv and cable. I have a 52″ screen tv and I hardly ever use it. I am attempting to de-clutter my life. I would like to start a budget, but I am lazy.

    If I didn’t need a car for my job, I wouldn’t have one. They are handy for getting around in the winter time, and definitely handy for doing groceries etc…but I was shocked to find out how much my car cost me last year. Almost 12k dollars. And I drive a little Kia Rio RXV.

    And allow me to settle this mape syrup debate. It is very easy to make at home. Its not worth doing though if you are only going to make a litre or two. Make a lot of it. Fun to try though. My parents taught me how to do it.

    Tap a few maple trees, the buckets fill with sap rather quickly. Transfer the sap to a large roasting pan, fire up the old bbq and let it simmer away for several hours…You can make it as watery or as thick as you want it. And you can also make toffee.

  46. Halton Local on July 10, 2009 at 12:57 am

    @Brendon – I think most people are trying to say they wear different clothes in the summer and in the winter. If I came home in the winter and my house was at 25C, I would have to change into shorts and a tang to be comfortable. Conversely, if I came home in the summer and the house was 19C, I would need to put on a sweater, pants, an extra pair of socks, and snuggle up under a blanket. I find 18C lowest in my house (the plants don’t like it lower), and no AC in winter, except the hottest days at 25C. I use a small dehumidifier to prevent mold and, if I turn on the fan at night, I don’t even need to sleep in the basement to be cool.

    I like to be frugal (not cheap!) when I go out with friends. We often do potlucks and dinners in, instead of nights at the bar. I prefer biking and hiking to going for coffee mid-day on a weekend. As for dates, there are a lot of creative low-cost alternatives to going to a dinner/movie combo. Also, home made gifts are often appreciated more than purchased gifts, especially when you don’t know what to get and end up with a prank gift that’ll get tossed anyways.

  47. Halton Local on July 10, 2009 at 12:59 am

    @Brendon – I think most people are trying to say they wear different clothes in the summer and in the winter. If I came home in the winter and my house was at 25C, I would have to change into shorts and a tang to be comfortable. Conversely, if I came home in the summer and the house was 19C, I would need to put on a sweater, pants, an extra pair of socks, and snuggle up under a blanket. I find 18C lowest in my house (the plants don’t like it lower), and no AC in winter, except the hottest days at 25C. I use a small dehumidifier to prevent mold and, if I turn on the fan at night, I don’t even need to sleep in the basement to be cool.

    I like to be frugal (not cheap!) when I go out with friends. We often do potlucks and dinners in, instead of nights at the bar. I prefer biking and hiking to going for coffee mid-day on a weekend. As for dates, there are a lot of creative low-cost alternatives to going to a dinner/movie combo. Also, home made gifts are often appreciated more than purchased gifts, especially when you don’t know what to get and end up with a prank gift that’ll get tossed anyways.

    However, maple is definitely maple. Can’t beat it. Stock up when you’re in a syrop area, like Ottawa.

  48. Money is green? on July 10, 2009 at 1:05 am

    I think it’s funny that, with the exception of paying cash, all the ideas to save money are something the environmentalists tell us about. (Making your own food can be debated, but it’s a step towards paying attention to what you actually eat.) Here are some other big green and frugal ideas:
    -use the government ecoAction rebates to green your home. (Okay, this is cheap because the government pays, but saving energy means they don’t have to buy a new nuclear plant.)
    -eat less meat. The environmental saving are huge, it’s healthier, and it makes an impact in the wallet. Why does everyone always think this is way over the top??
    -drive less often. Carpool, bike, take transit, whatever. You save huge on gas and maintenance. Most people have a grocery store within 2km – walk! Again, why do so many people find it a hardship to spend time outside?

  49. YYC27 on July 10, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    I agree, 19 is 19, 25 is 25. In an ideal world where gas and electricity were free, I’m sure everyone would set their thermostat to 21 or so, and leave it alone.

    We don’t live in that world, though, and many people are OK with sacrificing a small degree of comfort in order to save money. With the differences in clothing we tend to wear between winter and summer, the difference isn’t even exceptional.

    We keep our thermostat at 20 in the winter, and don’t have AC. The thermostat’s on a timer, and goes down to around 17.5 at night (both for cost savings and because we sleep better when it’s cooler). It also goes down to 15, I think, during the times no one is home to enjoy the warmer temps.

  50. mojo30 on July 10, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    wow, thats pretty frugal..I like to think I’m frugal but not that frugal..

    I agree with the small house for sure, no need for a mansion..pointless.

    Used cars I also agree with, I never owned a new car and probably never will.

    I need my a/c set to 23 at the high point, I hava asthma and its just easier to breath with cooler ar.

  51. cannon_fodder on July 10, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    I love to save a buck as much as the next guy, but our lifestyle might be considered ‘radically extravagant’ by many of you. I work from home mostly, but we still have 2 cars. We don’t have a finished basement but our home is 2800 sq. ft. and there are only 3 of us in it most of the time. I’ve been used to living in a 700 sq. ft. apartment and when my wife and I got together we would sometimes have 3 kids in our little townhouse and sometimes no kids. It felt quite cramped when you had to share 1 bathroom with 4 other people in a 1250 sq ft home (without a finished basement).

    I sometimes sleep in the basement (not that my wife instructed me to, let’s make that clear) when it’s too warm. I let the house get a little warmer than I’d like, and definitely much colder in the winter. Although I’m home most days, I just dress for comfort.

    I use coupons, I haggle and I’m prepared to not buy if it doesn’t suit my budget. My wife usually only treats herself to a lunch or breakfast 1 time per week during the work week. When we go out to movies, I haven’t paid full price in a long time – I either use gift certificates I’ve purchased at a discount, or go before 12 when it is only $6 instead of around $12. And, in the Toronto area, many blockbuster movies came with a promotion at AMC theatres where you could get a large popcorn and large pop for free! (I’ve also, on occasion when the kids were small, snuck a box of Smarties into the theatre.)

    I’d say I’m somewhat like Brendan – we max out our RRSP’s, RESP’s and now TFSA’s every year, we aggressively pay down our mortgage and we’ve now embarked on the SM. My wife has taught me that we still need to enjoy life and for us, even though we could afford more, bigger, ‘better’, we still live ‘relatively’ simple lives for our income.

    I’d rather ensure we are enjoying some of the fruits of our labour now because I, like most everyone I suspect, know people who put off those indulgences until it was too late.

  52. Kathryn on July 13, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Gates VP: This is worthy of it’s own post. I couldn’t agree with you more, especially your last paragraph.

    We’re fortunate to live within 1 km of a huge farmers market that also sells local cheeses, local meat and freshly made breads. We buy a lot there, avoid most processed foods, and pick up our milk, butter and other misc grocery items at the local grocery store.

  53. Alexandra on July 13, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    #4 – I just barfed in my mouth a little bit.

  54. Victor on July 13, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    I don’t have ovaries, but I think barfing in your mouth is a lot grosser than reading about reusable, *washable* feminine products. I thought #7 was worse than #4 :)

  55. Steve Zussino on July 13, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    I really enjoy saving money and being frugal but at some point you have to enjoy it. I just was married on Friday and my new wife and I are going for 3 weeks honeymoon in Europe and for our wedding we cut costs wherever possible. I think you should spend money on what you enjoy but not to get into debt.

    Some good tips:

    -> no tv, (don’t even have a tv for movies (what an utter waste of time – name more than 5 great movies to watch this year).

    -> Do a vacation swap when travelling. (BTW, anyone want to go to Victoria BC?)

    I use sites like mine or MDJ or RFD to save money or to share deals with other deal hunters! Great tips from everyone.

  56. Tom @ Canadian Finance Blog on July 14, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    With a baby on the way and the wife about to be off work we’re about to try the one car idea and we’ve already ordered some cloth diapers. The cars are paid off but we’re better off selling one, investing the money… plus we’ll save on the extra insurance.

  57. prairiegal on July 14, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    That’s radically frugal? I was looking for new tips to follow, but already:

    1) Live in a 860 sqft house. That’s all we could afford when we were newlyweds, but we still love it and it’s quick to clean. Plus cousin rents out the basement while he’s in school, but his rent just about covers his insatiable appetite.
    2) We have two cars, which is a must because we work in opposite sides of the city and there’s limited public transport. However, lucky us have gotten our folks’ old cars for free or else we pay cash.

    Check: tap water, brown bag, cook at home – aren’t those normal?
    Extras: homemade cleaning supplies, bread, and veg garden – but that’s more for fun and I haven’t caluclated if it’s actually cheaper, considering labour. What’s A/C? (haha)
    Love: Kijiji & Earthcycle (where I only pick up stuff I know I’ll use & I donate many items too – not only am I frugal, but I’m a tidy-nut too)

    Finally – Born with the frugal bone! I don’t like “stuff”. I don’t like shopping, clutter, extras, duplicates, or collections. It has to be worth it for me to part with my hard earned money.

  58. dalmanca on July 14, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Brendan, I agree with you. Most of these ideas are just out of my world. I have never been that frugal even when I was in college. Money is for the enjoyment not for save. You save just because you want to live a good life when you get older, not because you just want to save the money! We all have to find a balance of how much we save and how much we spend. Based on my calculation, if I max out all your pension, RSP and TFSA and work another 30 years, I will have at least 600k something. Plus I will pay off your mortgage and my kids will go through the school. Why I need that much money when I are 80? I can not even go anywhere! Enjoy while you can! So I am spending all the money left after I contribute to all the savings. Why not? I am still living under my means. I know a friend who always has to buy things when it is on sale. While I also enjoy the savings, it is too time consuming and take your mind out of other important things in life. (Talking about how many times he has to go to check out whether the item is on sale or not)

    We only have one life and we should enjoy every moment of it as long as you spend under your means. Remember, we should more concentrate on how to make more money. Saving alone will not make you rich.

  59. Auto Insurance Rates Guy on July 14, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Amazing, and I thought I was frugal. As for the dressing, I’m going to try your recipe.

  60. Victor on July 15, 2009 at 4:19 am

    I have to agree with prairiegal. Almost none of the ideas I’ve read here are what I would call ‘radical’. Isn’t anyone with the goal of living within their means and saving for retirement already doing most of them?

    To me, dumpster diving was the only exception on this list.

    I would also say that even most frugal people don’t sleep in their basements in summer and don’t make their own cleaning products, but both of these are great ideas and not hard to do!

  61. Martin on July 15, 2009 at 8:42 am

    If you’re really frugal, you don’t have a basement to sleep in during the summer because since you are frugal, you live in a house that is too small to have a basement or you live in a condo.

  62. cannon_fodder on July 15, 2009 at 12:15 pm


    If you’re really, REALLY, frugal, you live in a van down by the river!

    One thing I didn’t see mentioned which my ex wife used to do for me – haircuts. Take one large garbage bag, create 3 holes for your arms and head (I’m assuming if she were to do it today she probably would just put the bag over my head and tie it tight at the waist and leave me there, but I digress) and slip it on. That way the hair doesn’t get over your body. (Tip – it gets pretty warm under there so you want to dress lightly, think plastic body wraps used to sweat weight off.)

    A lot of men have pretty basic haircutting needs. I wouldn’t even think of trying to cut a woman’s hair because it usually requires a lot more creativity and skill than I possess.

  63. Victor on July 15, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Good one cannon_fodder!

    I’ve been cutting my own hair since I took up cycling more seriously 10 years ago. A set of clippers costs exactly the same as I used to pay for ONE monthly haircut. Nice tip with the garbage bag. I usually just use an old towel over the sink.

  64. Carl on July 15, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    So Cannon, you see no difference between living in a van and living in a condo?

  65. cannon_fodder on July 15, 2009 at 2:44 pm


    If you want to become a landlord, here is a frugal way to do it.

    1. Purchase a condo that includes 2 parking spaces and car wash facilities in an underground garage.
    2. Rent out condo that covers your carrying costs.
    3. Live in van that resides in one of the parking spaces. You get to keep an eye on your tenants, you live pretty much rent free, and you have access to bathing and dishwashing facilities (i.e. car wash) and laundry facilities.

    Which reminds me – better to ask your tenants to pay you in quarters, loonies and toonies. You’ll need them for the car wash and laundry.

  66. Carl on July 15, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Damn, I should have thought of this 25 years ago. Thanks Cannon.

  67. DAvid on July 15, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Cannon_fodder said: “If you’re really, REALLY, frugal, you live in a van down by the river!”

    If you were REALLY frugal, you forgo the van, and sleep under a bridge abutment. This also ensures you don’t accumulate too much expensive junk, as well!


  68. Victor on July 16, 2009 at 4:36 am

    All joking aside, there are [admittedly very few] people who live this way, and die with loads of money. It’s likely classed as a mental illness of some sort.

    thedigeratilife discusses it here:


  69. Ms Save Money on July 16, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    WOW – I had a really bad mental image of a couple of the items listed in this article. Specifically # 4 and #5. I’m sorry – but that’s GROSS and going overboard – no offense.

  70. Kathryn on July 16, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Ms Save Money: Well, to each her own. I think the creators of the disposable products have done a marvelous job at making what is perfectly natural appear gross. I’d much rather have something soft and washable then hot crinkly plastic any day.

  71. Squawkfox on July 16, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    I love my Diva Cup! It’s seriously the best girlie product ever. It being frugal was actually the last reason I switched from disposables to the Diva. Those disposables are kinda gross – they contain chemicals and weird absorbency features that require warning “Toxic Shock” labels. How is that not gross? And rashes way down there? Lovely. Plus the cost. I’ll choose to save thousands, thank you.

    Anyreallypersonalcomment, the Diva is environmentally friendly AND creates less fuss and less mess than other disposable girl gear. I’ve done triathlons with mine. Can you even sleep soundly with your branded disposable? I dare you to “Have a Happy Period” and try the Diva. You’ll wish you found it sooner. Seriously.

  72. Brendan on July 16, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    If I can chime in here, I make a point of not cussing, burping, and other man things in front of a lady.
    I think it is reasonable to ask that the ladies refrain from talking about mensteral product solutions in our prescence.

    I would also like to add as a co owner of PG, and CL, I am strongly against reuseable products of any kind.

  73. Silicon Prairie on July 20, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Making salad dressings doesn’t just save money, it opens up a lot of new possibilities. The selections at a usual grocery store are limited and fairly plain, but with a few simple ingredients and some ideas found online you can have a lot more options. For that matter I’m disappointed by supermarkets in general because it’s hard to call half the things there “food” but I suppose it is cheap.

    We recently got a couple of cans of real maple syrup as a gift and after all the things we’ve tried with it I don’t know if any fake syrup can replace it – it was even good enough (compared to the usual cheap option) to get my fiancee to like syrup.

    There is one downside to cooking for yourself a lot – if you take it far enough and get creative with what you make, you might find your grocery bills creeping up as you need more and more unusual and imported ingredients (at least basing most of your meals on regular vegetables and meats can compensate for this a bit – the prices of some packaged foods are shocking). There are always substitutes but I can’t resist knowing what the real thing is like – sometimes it just takes time instead of money.

  74. Alexandra on July 20, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    71. Squawkfox – Rashes??? What are you talking about?? Of course we sleep soundly, and I don’t even understand how you would get a rash. It’s a tampon. It’s cotton. It’s no big deal. Storing a cup of blood in your hoo-ha…??? Yucky. I’m sorry, that’s just yucky…

  75. Kathryn on July 20, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Alexandra: Brendan has politely asked us to refrain from discussing the specifics on here which I will respect.

    If you like to reach Squawkfox here is a direct link to her post on the subject.


  76. Trish on July 21, 2009 at 4:54 am

    I thought the use of cloth nappies for the kids, and sleeping in the basement was a little extreme, but otherwise most of your ideas are really effective. I totally agree that living in a smaller space is more economical than owning a big house and having to clean in day after day.

  77. Silicon Prairie on July 21, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Sleeping in the basement doesn’t seem extreme unless you move the bed back and forth every day – of course for us it’s unfinished and we have a relative living there so it doesn’t work – I have considered it. It would be nice to stay cool without the noise of an air conditioner or a fan.

  78. Kathryn on July 22, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Silicon: Good point. We have a guest room in the basement so in the summer we only move back upstairs when we have company. :-)

  79. The First Million on August 8, 2009 at 2:01 am

    If you want to get real maple syrup, go to the sugar bush and get it from the farmer. Its about $20/litre which will last a long time for most people. In the grocery store I have seen “real” maple syrup for $10 for 200 ml! Sleeping in the basement to avoid heat seems a bit extreme for me. As well, my 1000 sq. ft. apartment is way to small and I am moving to a 1400 sq. ft. home in September. My best tip to being frugal is to shop directly from farms. If you need peppers/cukes/pumpkins etc, go to a farm and pick your own. I find the prices are always excellent.

  80. Dave on August 9, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    I think it’s funny how much effort some people go to to save pennys. Yes, I think saving is always better than spending but there is a line. I want to enjoy my life and living in a cold house in the winter, limiting our activities because we only have one car to move 5 people around in, etc is crazy – I work so I can enjoy my life and provide for my family not so I can die with a million dollars in the bank.

    FYI – tap water is not free, at least where I live.

    FYI 2 – for those of you that cut your own hair – trust me – we all know who you are, spend $10 at supercuts and let your co-workers find someone else to laugh at.

  81. Victor on August 9, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Tap water is either free or so close to free that it might as well be free when compared to the cost of bottled water. Bottled water, at least bought individually, costs you more by volume than the gas you used to drive to the store, yet most people complain about the gas, not the water that they could have gotten for free (or almost) from their tap. Lunacy.

    Ironically, I work with a guy named ‘Dave’ who cuts his own hair. Funnier still, I work with some others who have the same haircut as ‘Dave’, but pay to get it cut.

  82. Ben Hebert on August 9, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Personally, I have always cut my own hair as a way to save money while also washing all of my clothes on cold water setting. To save money on food I like to make a giant bowl of spaghetti and eat it all week. :) My personal favorite

  83. Evolution of Wealth on August 10, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Are you proud of these things? Is this what ‘frugal’ has come to mean? I don’t see the happiness in some of these activities. What I see is worrying. Worrying and concern about not having enough money whether it be now or later. To me it looks like money is ruling your life. Why don’t you live your life? You only get one. What gives you enjoyment? I couldn’t imagine it being this constant worry about money. Reading recent posts like this was the inspiration to my recent blog post titled “Redefining Frugal” http://evolutionofwealth.com/2009/08/09/redefining-frugal/


  84. Kathryn on August 10, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    I wouldn’t say ‘proud’ per say but yes, I’m very happy about these things. We are a happy that most of them are environmentally friendly as well.

    There are lots of areas where we aren’t frugal
    1) We drink only VQA wine because it’s made from 100% local grapes
    2) We donate 8-10% of our income to charity yearly
    3) We support local arts and attend area concerts and art shows.
    4) For fun we go hiking in local conservation areas (which charge an entry fee)
    5) We have weakness for hardcover / rare and antique books
    6) Weekly we have friends over for dinner and serve great food .. with good wine.
    7) We love hosting out of town friends and family and take them around to see the local sights, often paying for all of their expenses.

    So, yes I’m very happy about my life. I’m not worrying and I am living my life. I’m hesitant to say ‘proud’ as it implies what I do is better than what others do. This isn’t true. It’s what works for us. It means we have more money to spend on the things that ARE important to us.

  85. Eddie Parker on August 10, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    I have to say how interesting it’s been reading people’s comments on this, particularly how emotional some of the response has been.

    I love hearing some of these suggestions, even if some of them aren’t for me.

    Good work everyone, and so long as you’re not less happy doing any of these things, keep it up.

  86. steve in W MA on August 11, 2009 at 5:11 am


    I would be careful about the fake economy of home-made unhealthy food like the fake maple syrup. The recipie made me shudder. It’s the best way to get fat diabetic kids. It’s just not worth it.


    I happen to love my fat diabetic kids quite a bit.
    Our family also makes our own sugar syrup, which costs less than a fourth of the stuff in the stores. We usually enjoy a glass of it after dinner before dessert.

  87. steve in W MA on August 11, 2009 at 5:23 am

    as to suggestion 2, “paying” yourself a car payment to savings so you can buy your next car in cash: you can use a service like ING Direct Orange Savings or Smartypig (not sure if Canadians can use Smartypig but it has the highest interest rates around, at least right now) to take this money aside and put it into a savings account that you name specifically for this goal.

    Quite handy and keeps the cash segregated, named, and out of sight/out of your monthly checking account.

  88. Rosa on August 11, 2009 at 11:57 am

    (I’m here from fivecentnickel) – we do all these things except we just eat jelly instead of syrup.

    The thing about not making your house a way different temperature from the outdoors is that you get acclimated as the seasons change and it’s actually way more comfortable overall – in winter if you’re already wearing warm clothes you’re more likely to venture outdoors, and I’m finding this summer working from home (with no AC) i don’t feel as hot as I did last summer when i’d come out of my arctic office into the blast of hot air – my body is used to it being hot and I feel fine most of the time.

    (ovary stuff) I love my menstrual cup, too – i got it for a long camping trip (no packing out dirty stuff!) but now i use it all the time. I don’t get how it’s more “gross” than a tampon.

  89. Annie G on August 11, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    I’m wondering if my F to C converter is wrong…

    I get 25 C is 77 F, and 19 C is 66.2 F.

    That doesn’t seem very radical to me. We have our AC on 85 F (29.4 C) and our heat on 65 F (18.3 C).

    Some people think our reel mower is radical, but we like that it’s quiet and doesn’t aggravate grass allergies like a powered mower.

    Probably the most radical thing we do is do without medications that would make our lives better because the prescriptions cost too much.

  90. Evolution of Wealth on August 11, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    @Kathryn I’m glad you are happy. Why not present it that way? Lead people to happiness and using these methods to find or spend more time and money on what makes people happy. You start the post comparing frugal to cheap. To me frugal is anything but cheap. The tone of the article is missing the way in which you posted your comments. I like what you said in the comments it sets the tone. I think it is more important the reasons why you are “frugal” than how you are “frugal”. Would you agree?

  91. Kathryn on August 12, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Evolution of Wealth: Have to you read my other posts?

    This one answers one of your concerns:

    This one answers the other:

  92. Garage Sales on August 31, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Instead of virtually doing it through kijijji I go to garage sales and yard sales finding them either from the classifieds in the paper, http://www.oodle.com and http://www.garagesalestracker.com

  93. Jacklyn on November 24, 2010 at 7:31 am

    Regarding #4….The Diva Cup…don’t be afraid, it is really worth trying. Will not be for everyone but it does have it’s place :)


  94. Mrs. Gryphon on November 27, 2010 at 11:50 am

    “My kids like it so much they they won’t eat the fake stuff anymore.”
    LOL But that IS fake. It’s vanilla-flavored sugar syrup, not even maple-flavored. Sorry, but in our house, that would be the height of nasty and Mr. Gryphon would refuse to eat it.

    For the person who said the best solution would be to plant maple trees – I believe a sugar maple has to be 50 years old before it can be tapped. So plant them for your grandchildren.

    Although I don’t do all of the same things (using cloth diapers/napkins when I live in an apartment and pay $4 per load of wash would be eco-friendly but anti-frugal), I don’t consider any of what you do radical. Except putting vanilla-flavored sugar syrup on pancakes. (Do you use real vanilla extract or is it the cheaper fake stuff?) We have one twelve-year-old car, don’t use air conditioning at all, use Freecycle and love it, drink unfiltered tap water, don’t have cable …

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