Thursday, 16 July 2009

3 Frugal Tips

As you might have read in one of my earlier posts, I embarked on the challenge of turning my life more frugal. So far I had some mishaps. I bought too many Belgian waffles and chocolate while in Belgium and had to throw away some curry, that I had forgotten to put in the fridge the night before. But there were also some successes: reduced food wastage, saved up money, repaired (and not thrown away) sandals.

Here are three tips that I found immensely helpful so far:

1. Plan your menu

Sit down once a week and plan what you are going to eat the following week. This gives you several advantages over the usual chaotic eating. First of all, you buy only the products that you need so you throw away less. Second of all, you don't need to shop every day which limits the temptations, transportation costs and you have more time for yourself. And thirdly, if you plan in advance where to shop you will be able to hunt for sales, offers and discounted goods and in general compare prices more effectively.

2. Don't let the marketers get to you

I don't think there is anyone in the Western World who doesn't know that marketers use incredible amount of mind traps to seduce the customer and sell the product. And we all know that not all of these techniques are designed to sell you the best value for money.
The first step to deal with the problem is to learn what tricks there are. Type "supermarket tricks" in google and you will get a list of articles and blog posts about sneaky marketing practices, along with a list of ways to avoid the traps.

My favorite tip so far was to look "outside the box" or at least outside the eye level. If you have a look below or above the usual eye-level, you will find products that are of the same or better quality only cheaper. This is so, because the big brands are able to pay the shop for a good shelf spot - and the bigger the brand, the higher the price.

3. Cool down your boiler

This tip only works for those of you who have boilers or water heaters at home and can regulate the temperature.

First, do a small experiment for me. Let the hottest water from your tab run for a moment. Now put your hand under the stream - hurts? Can you actually use water that is that hot? I bet good money that you can't.
We don't actually need the boiling water in our tabs and that means that we waste the energy that the boiler uses to heat it up to this point. Especially now, during summer, hot showers are not something you are really looking for in the mornings.
If you lower max temperature on your boiler, you will end up with lower bills and less wasted energy. You save your money and the environment. How cool is that?

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