Finicky Frugal Maneuverings

by Katy on August 4, 2011 · 27 comments

I have been a frugality geek since I was a kid, and certainly throughout my adult life. When I lived the glamorous life in New York City, (note the sarcasm) I would always bring my own lunch (usually a peanut butter and jelly sandwich) to work, and when my husband and I would go out on the town with friends, I would order maybe a single drink throughout the evening. I earned a whopping $18,000 per year, but I would direct deposit money into my savings with every paycheck and always had more than enough funds for whatever I wanted.

Fast forward twenty-some years and not much has changed. Sure, I now earn more money, and I have many more expenses related to home ownership and parenting, but my frugal radar is still always scanning the horizon for new ways to save money. 

For example, this week I cancelled our home phone service, which will save us $38.42 per month, and I also arranged to share a weekly garbage pickup with our next-door-neighbors, which will save us $4.15 per month. (And will save them $10.20 per month!) A grand total of $42.57 per month, or if you want to look at it annually, $510.84 per year!

Neither of these changes involve any sacrifice whatsoever, and sharing garbage service will actually better our lives a bit, as the monthly garbage service pickup was revoltingly smelly. (The ammonia smell from the cat litter had the potential to wipe out entire civilizations.) The neighbors had been paying for a weekly 20-gallon can pickup, and the 32-gallon pickup we’ll now share will be more than adequate for both our families.

I know that Netflix is on the verge of doubling their rates for the streaming video + one DVD-at-a-time plan that we enjoy. So I researched when this change takes effect, (September first) and will go online to change our account settings on August 31st, and even added a reminder onto our family calendar. This will save us $7.99 per month.

These finicky frugal maneuverings (F.F.M.) don’t mean that I shy away from spending money on the things that matter in life. These frugal maneuverings mean that I especially have the money for the things that do matter. We’re about to spend $266 to spend a night at Great Wolf Lodge, money which I already set aside in a “vacation fund.” And we also have regular charitable contributions every month.

In other words, save money on the things that don’t matter so you money is available for the things that do matter!

Have you recently found Finicky Frugal Maneuverings to work into your life? Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”


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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Elaine August 4, 2011 at 10:27 am

That’s exactly the kind of thing The Frugal Girl says, too. I know that I’ve tried to be super-frugal in the past, but found that cutting out all entertainment, eating out, etc. was just too hard, and it didn’t last. There are a lot of ways I’m economizing, so that I *will* have money for the fun things in life (or this month, the electric bill).

And with every load of laundry that doesn’t go in the dryer, I think of you!


Karen August 4, 2011 at 10:29 am

I love it. Power to the FFM. I totally get it. I save money one place to be able to spend it in another, if I want. It’s not that I don’t like to spend money, but I don’t like to spend more money on something than I absolutely have to spend!


Teresa August 4, 2011 at 10:32 am

Great post as usual Katy. I have been able to do some similar F.F.Ms myself in the last half-year. We cut our trash bill from $50+ per month and got on a recycling program that costs $24.95/month instead and we are helping the environment to boot. We cut tivo and netflix the beginning of the year as I have come to the conclusion that I am a lot better off when the tube stays off. We now have digital phone service for $3.50/month down from Verizon’s residential phone service of $66/month. None of these cuts have impaired the quality of our life, but instead cut out the unnecessary cash flow suck from our bank account. As you so eloquently pointed out, we now have more cash for the things that matter to us. One of my favorite quotes of all time from Poor Richard’s Almanack is, “Beware of little expenses: a small Leak will sink a great ship.”


Van August 4, 2011 at 10:41 am

I love my Finicky Frugal Maneuverings! They force you to be creative and they’re much funner than retail shopping for a solution. Here’s some finicky things I’ve done recently:

– Removed texting from my phone bill to reduce it to $14 or so per month. (I don’t text. EVAR.)

– Hunting friend/family’s homes for clothing bits before buying them at the thrift.

-Dumpster Diving!

Aaand much more, really I’m just a finicky frugal cheapass for life. 🙂


Katy August 4, 2011 at 11:00 am

Sadly, we need an unlimited texting plan, as there are four teenagers in the family.



Katy August 4, 2011 at 11:00 am

Gosh, I meant “two,” not “four.” Funny how they somewhat double their presence.



Tonya August 4, 2011 at 11:42 am

🙂 I thought you might be including you and your hubby’s texting habits in the “teenager” category!


Tracy August 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Seems to me that we could all save money if the cell companies would sell us a texting only plan for teenagers…that’s all mine want to do. We haven’t had a landline for the last 6 years and the trash/sewer/water is wrapped up in the rent we pay. I am down grading the Netflix in Sept. also but there is not much else I can do to save more money..except to keep a close eye on that grocery bill.


Holly H August 8, 2011 at 7:36 am

Some of the prepaid services offer monthly plans with unlimited texting and web but few talk mins and they aren’t too expensive (I think the Virgin Mobile one is $25/month). However if you don’t live in a place where those companies offer good service or if you are on a family plan they might not be a better option.

Kathryn August 4, 2011 at 12:56 pm

DH and I have been doing a lot of this lately because we’ve got a burning desire to pay off our mortgage early. So we just cancelled our satellite in favor of NetFlix and switched from traditional cell phone service to pre-paid. Total savings of about $70/month. Good stuff.


Eleanor August 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Katy, my husband turned sixty this year (I am a decade+ younger, for the record!) and we now do our grocery shopping on Wednesdays because the two grocery stores nearest our house give a 5% discount to seniors on Wednesdays. This saves us approximately $20 a month.
He is also a retired police officer. I encourage anyone working in public service (esp police officers, EMTs, firefighters, teachers, and nurses) to explain his/her profession and ask if the seller offers a discount to members of his/her profession. We are pleasantly surprised at how often they will immediately knock 5-10% off the bill.
Also, I have turned my hobby of altering and restyling clothing into a small and growing second income. When co-workers comment on my re-styled dresses (from Goodwill) I thank them and tell them that I restyled it myself. Within a month I earned $100 altering clothes for a co-worker who has lost some weight. I brought in some towels I embroidered for my nieces’ graduation gifts, and immediately received a request for sewing and monogramming two pillows, which will be $80.00. I also have a couple of orders pending for some blouses which are upcycled from mens shirts at Goodwill.
Service professions and hobbies: how can you benefit financially from yours?


NMPatricia August 4, 2011 at 3:00 pm

We also have a grocery store that gives “seniors” a discount on the first Wednesday of the month. I have figured out how to shop there once a month – buy OJ for a month and get the discount on it. Less trips to the grocery store means more savings.


Jo@simplybeingmum August 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Katy you have a new reader! I just called the hubby in to read this post. He himself could have written it…it’s uncanny!


Tracy August 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Our local trash companies specifically forbid sharing service, and go as far as saying that if sharing is discovered, they will prosecute for theft of services.


Katy August 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Umm . . don’t ask, don’t tell.



denise August 5, 2011 at 8:54 am

i was letting my neighbor put her trash (1 bag per week) in my trashcan and was ratted out by her sister who, by the way, takes her trash to grocery stores and puts in in their outside trash can. she also never runs her air conditioner and as we live in sc and the average temp for the past month has been 92, i’m hoping she develops a heat rash!


Jean August 4, 2011 at 10:04 pm

I also recently changed our trash service–not sharing as you are, but switched companies which saves me $5 per month, and even more importantly to me, switched from a national mega hauler to a locally owned business. And we fined tuned our cell plan, no texting, and went from unlimited minutes to a plan with an amount of minutes that we should never go over based on previous bills, which saved another $20 per month. Every little bit counts–since the record high heat this summer probably means we’ll have a record high utility bill too!


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl August 5, 2011 at 2:28 am

I wish we had options for our trash service. In my county, you pay taxes for trash pickup whether you produce 1 can or 10.


Linda August 5, 2011 at 3:00 am

Believe me, if you paid for separate trash service, your taxes would not go down…they would stay the same and then you would have the trash bill on top of the taxes.

My Mom has to pay for bags for her trash. Her taxes went up and she needs to pay more for trash!


Alison Wiley August 5, 2011 at 6:27 am

Well Katy, I think that I’ve broken new ground in FFM. I doubt that even the boldly frugal Non-Consumer Advocate has actively panhandled. See


Bellen August 5, 2011 at 6:41 am

I ‘read’ the local newspaper on line @$3/month vs $16/month to have it delivered. In reading the paper we found a simple, inexpensive cleaner for the rust stains from the sprinklers (this county’s water is very high in iron) that will save us 5 gallons of paint for the side of the house. Also we read that Lowe’s gives 10% off all purchases for Veterans with presenting a VA card and have been taking advantage of that when possible.

We don’t buy produce as we raise our own. Even with our paltry production due to high temps and little rain we’ve not spent $5.42 just this month and have enjoyed tomatoes, peppers, and a variety of lettuces and greens for salads.

We just bought our 5th drying rack – it holds a full load of towels or a set of king sized sheets – so the dryer never gets used.

We order a lot from Amazon – shopping here is rather poor and normally we must travel 40-50 miles round trip so we pay $79/year for Amazon Prime which gets us free shipping and free videos. We order vitamins, organic foods, tools, electronics and also use the automatic delivery for even better prices. We also downgraded Netlix to just Instant videos. We also cancelled our cable/satellite TV and have opted for an antenna and internet TV – saves us about $75 a month.

There’s lots more we do but as we’ve been doing it pretty much for the entire time we’ve been married, going on 44 years, it’s second nature.


Heidi August 6, 2011 at 4:23 am

On our recent vacation, we practiced many FFM’s even though we were not at home. I got the Sunday paper for the grocery flyers and coupons, brought my own stash of coupons from home, signed up for the cards at the grocery stores (my parents and brother will continue to use these) and we only ate out once (we had access to a full kitchen). When we wanted to go to the beach, we decided how long we would be there and went to the beach that has parking paid by the hour, not the all-day pass. I kept telling our sons, “Frugality never takes a vacation”.


Carla August 7, 2011 at 5:24 pm

My favourite is this: We always checked mail to see if the postage stamp has been marked, if it hasn’t we take it off right away and put it into our mailing box to reuse it when we have a card or something to mail out. I have been surprised how often an unmarked stamp shows up! every bit counts.


K.S. August 8, 2011 at 3:23 am

We are a family of two adults. I downgraded the Netflix after the trial period to 2 in-the-mail DVDs per billing period. The unlimited DVD was too much and we neve used the streaming video available. Really do not miss the “extra” media and sure don’t miss the expense.


Katy @ Purposely Frugal August 9, 2011 at 5:48 am

We just switched our Netflix to only getting movies off the internet, instead of that plus getting DVDs in the mail.
And we added my sister-in-law to our phone plan, so now we’ll split it 3 ways, saving us money and giving her a fairly cheap phone bill.


Erin August 9, 2011 at 8:57 am

Just a heads up about Netflix. Netflix does not prorate their services. So please pay attention to your normal billing date before downgrading so that you don’t miss out on services that you have already paid for! If you are normally billed for the next month of services on the 30th, but then cancel on the 31st, you will not get a refund! I too will be downgrading our Netflix, but because our bill date is the 3oth of the month, I will not cancel until September 29th and take advantage of the last month of the old pricing.


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