Do Your Frugal Habits Actually Save You Money?

Do Your Frugal Habits Save Your Money

You may have noticed by now, I wear my “Frugal” label proudly. Some of our frugal habits were developed by Growing Up “Poor.” However, while  tackling our overwhelming pile of debt. We have slowly adopted more and more frugal ways. Trying to save every last dollar to pay off our debt sooner.

There are a few frugal habits we do not include in our money saving techniques. Either because we think it is too extreme or it is not worth our time.

I shared last week on Facebook that we do not reuse Ziplock bags. One of my good friends gave me a hard time and had me seriously considering adopting this frugal habit. I started estimating how much we could save. I figured we used about 5 bags for non-meat items per month. Potentially, throughout a year we could save a box or two. So a couple dollars saved over a year.

The sad thing. I was seriously considering trying this method out. “Hey, a dollar is a dollar, right?” When I revealed my potential savings to my friend. She confidently stated “it’s not worth it.”

What? My friend who holds the title: “Queen of Frugalness” (in my book), told me “it’s not worth it.” She was right. My time and effort to wash and store a few bags was not worth it.

Do Frugal Habits Actually Save You Money?

This made me wonder if I had other frugal habits that are simply “not worth it.” Let’s take a peek at a few of the frugal habits I considered.

Home-Made Cleaners

I make multi-purpose, carpet, and shower cleaners. If bought from the store, it would cost $25/year. My home-made cleaners cost me approximately $5/year. Homemade cleaners take next to no time at all. They are free of harsh chemical odors, which I prefer. $20 SAVED = WORTH IT

Home-Made Dryer Sheets

This is a new frugal habit to me. A 50/50 mixture of fabric softner and water. Cut up a sponge and place it in your solution. When you need a dryer sheet. Squeeze out majority of liquid and throw it in the dryer with your clothes. I have to add more solution every few months, but takes minimal time. A year’s supply of dryer sheets would cost $10. My home-made dryer sheets cost less than $1/year. $9 SAVED = WORTH IT

Washing Dishes by Hand

Our dishwasher is estimated to use $56/year in electricity and 2.6 gallons of water/use, which is most likely less water than I use to hand wash. However, our dishwasher is horrible and in order to have clean dishes you have to thoroughly rinse (basically wash) to end up with clean dishes. We will assume the water use is equal. Dishwasher tablets are more expensive than hand dish soap. Handwashing dishes requires 30 minutes/day (180 hours/year). $60 SAVED ($.33/hour) = NOT WORTH IT

Brown Bag Lunches

If my husband purchased his lunch, the least expensive would be $4 (commissary) and most expensive $10+ (restaurant). We will estimate an average $7/lunch. When he brown bags his lunch. He takes leftovers from dinner (most meals are less than $1/serving. He also takes 2 pieces of fruit, and one other item: yogurt, almonds, or granola bar. His brown bag lunch costs $2.50. $1080 SAVED = WORTH IT

Hang Dry Clothes

I have horrible allergies here in England, so we do not hang dry clothes outside. We do hang dry inside. I machine dry clothes for 30 minutes and then hang dry. To become completely dry, clothes would need to be in the dryer for 60-80 minutes. I roughly cut the dryer use in half. Although this method takes longer for the clothes to dry, it does not directly take much more of my time. $100 SAVED = WORTH IT

Seasoning, Sauces & Dressings from Scratch

We make our own seasonings (tacos, fajitas), sauces (pizza, teriyaki) and salad dressings. Most of this has been developed out of “necessity.” Many of the sauces and seasonings we enjoy are not available in England and our options are limited at the commissary. Savings is minimal, but we love the taste and healthier options. $10 SAVED = WORTH IT

One Car Household

Having only one car is definitely inconvenient at times. However, when we made the decision to be a one-income household we knew there would have to be some sacrifices. Fortunately, there has always been a way to manage and public transportation in England is great when it is needed. (Insurance: $600, Taxes: $450, Maintenance/Repairs: $1000, Fuel: $600, Purchase: $2500) $3300/Year SAVED = WORTH IT

Coffee at Home

We have a single-serve Keurig. We use a refillable pod with ground coffee. We are not heavy coffee drinkers, about 5 cups/week between both of us. Compared to the $2 Starbucks coffee or even the $1 coffee at McDonalds or Shoppette. A cup of coffee costs us about $.05/cup when brewed at home. $250-$500 SAVED = WORTH IT

No Paid TV

In England, we have no paid for television or “live tv.” In England you are required to have a “tv license” to watch live tv in your home. This license is £145.50/year (~$220). State-side we had Netflix and averaged 3 Redbox rentals per month. In England, we borrow movies and tv series from the library and re-watch our massive movie collection. $380 SAVED = WORTH IT


If I worked outside our home and my time was more limited and therefore more valuable. A few of these, such as hang drying laundry, would land in the “NOT WORTH IT” category. When developing frugal habits, determine what your time is worth. Do not waste your time on any habits that do not provide a big enough savings.

What Do You Think?

Do you have a frugal habit that is “not worth it?”
What is your best money saving frugal habit?
Is there a frugal habit you would “never” try?  


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Shared at: Thrifty Thursday, The Thrifty Couple, Frugal Friday,

13 thoughts to “Do Your Frugal Habits Actually Save You Money?”

  1. I loved your closing statements. Time is definitely money and there are LOTS of things that save money that cost too much time. I can’t walk or bike to work – too far / too much time. I pay someone to clean my house because it doesn’t get done otherwise. Same with oil changes. But I love the idea of making my own cleaning supplies and dryer sheets. I think the time investment is minimal and you are set up for a while.
    Kirsten recently posted…Givling: Crowdsourcing Student Loan PayoffsMy Profile

    1. Thank you Kirsten. Absolutely, time is money. That’s funny you mention riding a bike to work. I’ve mentioned it to my husband that he should ride a bike to work. Of course I was completely kidding. It would probably take him 2 hours and on definitely not safe roads. But we could save almost $200/month 😉 LOL.

  2. I may have to try the dryer sheets thing, although, I LOVE the smell of Bounce sheets!! I would not hang dry my clothes= not worth it to me… But I do reuse some Ziploc bags. :/ Worth it bc I have to go to the store less often. 😉

    1. I was definitely surprised with how easy and effective the homemade dryer sheets were to incorporate. I have noticed I need to be a little careful about which fabrics I wash together to prevent static cling. Just in case you do decide to try it. 🙂

  3. I love your breakdown. I used to cloth diaper my daughter until she hit about 18 months. Then, no matter how I washed the diaper, stripped the diapers, etc., she leaked through the minute she peed. I was doing so much laundry between diapers and clothes and having to wash whatever she was sitting on when she leaked (often the sofa or carpet) that I wasn’t saving any money. I switched her fully to a cheap brand of disposables. It was no longer worth it to me, for financial and time reasons, not to mention the stress and frustration of spending so much energy dealing with it. Now she is 3 and daytime potty trained so saving on diapers all together! 😉

    (visiting from the Frugal Friday link-up)
    Julie @ Logger’s Wife recently posted…Princess Birthday Party on a BudgetMy Profile

    1. What a perfect example of re-evaluating our money-saving habits. They definitely change with every season of life. Time is definitely worth a lot more than the pennies we are saving at times.

  4. There are so many of these things that aren’t worth it to me. Maybe I’m a bit of a brat because I also work outside of the home. Homemade cleaners is #1 for me. Not that I begrudge anyone who uses them, but for the really tough stuff, I use store bought, and floors etc., I use “cleaning” grade vinegar, mostly because of the pets.

    This year I decided to make a challenge out of packing my lunch every work day though, and we’re saving an absurd amount of money…that I fully intend on using to pay someone to mow the lawn for us this summer! It’s not worth it for my allergies, or my husband’s pasty Scottish skin to mow in 100 degree summers. It’s worth $40.00 a month to have someone else do it! 😀

    We are also a 1 car household, and while I get sick of being a taxi, we are saving a lot of money!
    Jill recently posted…The Packed Lunch Challenge Week 12My Profile

    1. Absolutely we all have to decide what is “worth it” to us to save a few dollars. We have got into the habit of adopting too many frugal habits and not really figuring out if it is worth our time or not. So I enjoyed figuring out the real savings of some of our habits.

  5. I’ve always washed dishes by hand, mainly because that’s how I grew up and I have never really liked how dishes look after being washed in a dishwasher. But I really, really hate how much time it takes to wash. I’m sure we could save money by using a dishwasher, especially because I could be using that extra time to work! We just need to get it set up since it is not installed right now. I stopped buying salad dressing over a year ago, and I really like the homemade dressing we make.
    Charlee recently posted…When Saving Money Becomes a BurdenMy Profile

    1. I agree with you, the dishes do look a lot better when hand washed but it’s so time consuming! Our dishwasher in England is a cheap one that doesn’t do a good job. Leaves lots of food particles and doesn’t dry the dishes very well! I’ll probably continue to wash majority of our dishes by hand even though there isn’t much of a financial benefit. We’ve also stopped buying dressings. We eat so much more salad with they delicious homemade dressings! 🙂

  6. This is such a great article. I think that a lot of times, we can focus on the littler ways of saving money and completely miss the bigger ways of saving money. We must always proportionate it with our time. If I have to invest an hour of my time to save $5, no, it’s not worth it to me. That’s a different dollar amount for everyone, but a great thing to keep in mind. Thank you for sharing on Frugal Friday!
    Sarah @ recently posted…Frugal Friday Link Up Party {Week 33}My Profile

    1. Thank you Sarah! I definitely struggle with prioritizing my time in the best money saving techniques. I fall into the trap of thinking any money saved is “worth it.” So this was a good exercise for me to sit down and really consider how much I was saving versus how time consuming that habit is and if its “worth it.”

  7. When my kids were very young and I was not working outside the home, I hung our laundry outside on dryer racks in the warm weather months. I’m sure it saved us a lot of money, but I don’t have that time anymore and I find myself doing laundry in the evenings, so everything goes in the dryer. As far as bags go, I try to use reusable containers instead of bags. I try not to use a lot of plastic bags, but more for environmental reasons. Sometimes though they are needed.
    Kristia {Family Balance Sheet} recently posted…Find out How Brian & His Wife Paid off $109,000 in Credit Card DebtMy Profile

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