Stupid, Pointless and Worthless Frugality Tips

by Matt B

Coffee GroundsFrugality is great. As far as I’m concerned, the less, the better rings true most of the time. It has been a long time since I was a person hampered by possessions and I do not miss those days at all. Frugality can help you learn new things, inspire creativity or even (in more extreme cases) lead to complete self-sufficiency.

“The Things You Own, End Up Owning You”

This quote is taken from my favorite author, Chuck Palanhiuk. It is most recognized in the film adaptation of his novel, Fight Club. In case you haven’t seen or read it, it’s a pretty intense experience that I highly recommend. This quote speaks of us being dragged down by debt from buying the newest, nicest and subsequently, most expensive crap. For those who practice frugality, this one line alone can help remind you that even though you may want it, you probably do not NEED it.

Even though I do enjoy finding alternative ways to save on “stuff” and conserve resources simultaneously, there are many “frugal tips” that I just can not abide by. I am always looking for a new and interesting way to save, even in the most un-noticeable areas of my life…but some just take it too far. Here are a few frugal tips that I just can not bring myself around to doing…I promise that all of these are REAL. That is, I have read all of these tips in a book, on a website or through word of mouth. Even the most ridiculous of them are genuine.

  • Re-use coffee grounds:

The promise of a hot, steaming cup of coffee in the morning is one of the few things that gets me up in the morning. To have this wonderful beverage insulted by using old coffee, or even half-new, half-used grounds is insulting to this great beverage. I have never, and will never give this a shot. Even if it saves me 50 cents on a pot, it is still not worth it to me.

  • Hypermiling:

If you are unfamiliar, hypermiling is the “art” of driving at maximum fuel-efficiency. These obnoxious morons will accelerate slower than your 93 year-old grandmother on heroine. Seriously, to be trapped behind a hypermiler is akin (in frustration) to having a shopping cart with 4 bad wheels. Fuel efficiency is important, but to take it to the extremes of hypermilers just pisses “normal” people like you and me off in a big way.

  • Shopping Around:

This does not count if you are house shopping or shopping online, but those who go from store to store to save $1.00 on a jar of pickles just perplex me. Isn’t the point to SAVE money? Well, that is the opposite of what you are doing if you are wasting gas and putting miles on your car for inconsequential savings. Think about how much you are saving, if anything by store hopping, or going to the gas station two miles away to save that one penny per gallon. This tip can be counterproductive to your frugality.

  • Stay Home:

I’m quite a homebody myself, but that does not stop me from taking the occasional road trip or flight. Do not take your frugality to “hermit” stage by denying yourself human contact with others or the experience of new and exciting places. The concept of a “staycation” is lost on me. Maybe that is because I have friends and family scattered all over the place.

  • “Dumpster Diving”:

If you are unaware, dumpster diving is exactly what it sounds like. Many people search for usable, recyclable or even valuable items in dumpsters. Apparently, the most lucrative dumpsters to crawl into are those of businesses, as they trash much more of value than the common household. I just can’t justify getting filthy in hopes of scoring a treasure. Some people may love doing it, and maybe they are great at it…but it is not for me.

  • Do it Yourself Home and Car Repairs

While you may be skilled at these repairs, many (like myself) are not. A trusted contractor or mechanic make much more fiscal sense to me than attempting a job that I am not capable of doing myself. If you have the capacity and talent, do it…if not, find someone you trust to take care of these tasks. Better they take care of it, than you eff it up yourself and have to hire them to fix your mistakes.

While most tips for frugality are great, there are a handful that I just can not give my vote of approval. If you have anything to add to this list, be it ridiculous, stupid, smelly, dirty or just counterproductive, feel free to add it in the comments. I’m sure there are a few that I missed.

Photo: INEEDCOFFEE/CoffeeHero

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JT Locke -- The Frugal Housewife August 13, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Frugality should not be about comprising your integrity to save a few bucks. To me, dumpster diving falls into that category. I’m sure there are people who are quite “lucrative” at it but no matter how you state it, it’s still getting in the trash dumpster and digging around in the trash. Not only that but think about the health risks that are associated with getting into the dumpster. You don’t know if there is broken glass or used needles in there. Just the thought of dumpster diving is grossing me out.

Matt B August 13, 2009 at 4:08 pm

EWW! You had to mention used needles, didn’t you! HAHA…seriously though, that is nasty.

The sister August 13, 2009 at 6:57 pm

I came across this site once that talked about extreme methods for saving money and avoiding waste. The bag that cereal comes in, for example, can be used for a variety of different uses, all of which I don’t remember but intrigued me at the time. I’ve also heard about people saving and re-using paper towels-yes, paper towels. They hung them up to dry in their living room. Mind you, I think that one came from the Depression era, so I suppose we could cut them some slack on that one. Some of that stuff is so time consuming, though, and requires a home with lots of storage space.
I will say one I have used is reusing the dryer sheets that have already gone through the dryer-they are great for cleaning your bathtub.

BeThisWay August 17, 2009 at 9:14 am

Everyone has their views about what is stupid, pointless and worthless. That makes it fun to see things you do the way someone else sees it!

I do several of the things you listed, but not obsessively. I do a little mild hypermiling (coasting to a red light, shutting off the engine instead of idling for long periods), but I also would hate to be behind someone accelerating at the speed of molasses. I also do shop around, but don’t really go out of my way to do it. I just have several regular stores I shop at, and buy things where it’s cheapest. And while I would not climb into a dumpster, I will and have taken items left at the curb.

I’ve even re-used plastic bags and other disposables, but not in the extreme. For example, I will reuse a bag that has held dry goods, and if a bag has only held ice I will allow it to air dry and reuse it. I will not, however, clean a dirty bag for re-use.

I do have a line, though, that I won’t cross, and I wrote about it in this post:


Matt B August 17, 2009 at 10:10 am

BeThisWay, What you described is not extreme, in my opinion…it is smart. Re-using plastic bags is fine if you do not have to wash them between uses, and what you described in the car is not hypermiling…it is just being smart with gas.

TJR August 18, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Organization Psychology sais work always will take up all available time. I guess some recently laid off people are using up their time trying to save a few pennies.

abdpbt personal finance August 19, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Great list, though I’m a little disappointed there aren’t any references to dryer sheets or white vinegar.

American Banking News August 19, 2009 at 7:40 pm

I definitely agree that some people take their frugality way too far. There are actually people that dry and re-use paper towels (talk about depression era saving!).

B Talbott July 12, 2012 at 10:48 am

Hi Matt,

This post amused me no end:) There are soo many frugality posts out there regurgitating the same old points over and over, but yours certainly breaks from the norm.Who on earth would resuse ground up old coffee?!! Then again I shouldn’t be surprised, as when I was at university in the UK there was a guy who would use the same teabag about 5 times! I kid you not.


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