Posts Tagged ‘consumerism’

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Best investment ever. The footstool

October 26, 2009

I originally bought this stool with a 70s ‘lazy-boy’ design, waaaay back when I came home from Melbourne. Since then I’ve constantly lambasted anyone who’ll listen with the tale of the one that got away, a matching armchair and stool. Now, this is mostly because it is extremely comfy, and only cost $15, an absolute steal.

Since that time, i’m come to regret it more. This is because this stool has become the most oft-used piece of furniture in the apartment. In addition to serving as a footstool, it has been:

  • a seat for parents watching a wee man in the bath
  • a seat for parents feeding a wee man at his high chair
  • a spare chair at the dinner table when people come over

And, most importantly:

  • A zimmer frame for a wee man learning to walk about the house.

So why is this on Frugal Me you ask?

Because today I saw a walking-toy for boddlers (babies who aren’t quite toddlers), for a whooping $120!! And I asked myself, why in the hell spend that money when you have the superfootstool hanging about the place?

Again – the best damn investment I ever made.

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It pays to check

May 10, 2009

For a fair while now my spread of choice has been Olivani. It’s a good product, is reliably on the shelf at the supermarket, and always seemed reasonably priced compared to petro-chemical random-oil-based alternative like margarine. The main reason for eating it though is the lack of dairy.

Dairy being evil and all.

Ok, I admit that I’m a teeny bit lactose intolerant. But not enough to complain about. The main reason is to keep healthy. Why eat fats when you can eat oils?

Consequently I have to come clean and admit to performing the slavish behaviour I’m quick to criticise others for, and just buying a product because I’m in the habit. Now, not only is this bad, it’s downright stupid.

You can imagine my chagrin to discover yesterday that there is in fact a competitor on the shelf, and it is called Olivite. And… that it’s $2 cheaper for the same weight.

My name is Che, and I am a bad and stupid slavish consumer.

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Frugal Face Furniture

February 3, 2009

One place we men have it over women is the price of our consumables. Most products the ordinary man needs are usually far cheaper than a comparable item for women. Razors are an example.

But just because we have it a little easier, it doesn’t mean we can’t pash the antelope a little further.

My own preference consists of the simple item you see to the right.

My first shaving brush was purchased some 15 years ago, and since that time I’ve had to buy one more, as depicted. It was bought somewhere for about $5 if I remember right.

Personally I’ve never ben one for straight-edge razors, so I can’t cut back on costs there (boom boom), but I realised long ago that buying shaving foam was a conspicuous waste of money. In fact, I’m not actually sure how much it costs these days…

Whatever it costs, I haven’t have to buy a single can in the last 15 years. Instead I’ve used good old, manly, soap.

At first I used ordinary bathroom soap, but it was… “a little rough” on the skin. So instead I went to the chemist and bought a slightly flash bar of soap for maybe $10? Who knows! It was 15 years ago and it lasted for about 3 before it gave up the ghost.

Since that time those handy liquid soaps have hit the market, and they’re pretty easy on the skin. A tiny squirt when lathering is usually enough to get a decent covering going, and then tada! Clean-shaved and happy. Who knows how long this lasts, but it’s sure as heck easier than constantly buying cream.

Even better, I haven’t consigned a thousand tin-cans to the tip.

And that’s frugal and green.

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Reusable vs. Disposable nappies

December 10, 2008

I’m hardly on old hand at this parenting business, but I think I’ve realised the financial benefit of making sensible decisions about convenience versus cost.

The main thing, and the philosophy of Frugal Me, is to think through what you’re doing and spending.

So here’s the thing. I just bought infant disposable nappies on special from New World and they were $10 for 30. Not bad, right? $0.34 per change. But with a minimum of 8 changes a day that adds up pretty quickly.

That pack of disposals might last for three days if we were using it exclusively.

But what we have been using is these Real Nappies. They have a reusable padding that’s extremely good at catching all the liquids, and these liners that catch any solids. You chuck the liners down the toilet (they’re paper so break down quickly), and wash the padding.

In total, we were given a Top-Up Pack, and bought an Essentials Pack. In total this costs, $118, and should last until the wee tacker is around 9kg, which is a fair old way off (hopefully). Once he gets that big we’ll just replace the outer pocket, and keep using the old padding.

So how much do we expect to save? Current estimates are around $2000. The boy is only 6 days old, and that would have cost us ~$16 in disposal nappies. If he keeps using nappies at the same rate we should have paid off the investment in around 20 days. Considering that he’s going to be in nappies for at very very least a year, we’ll be saving money (even considering washing the nappies – hot water and detergent), we’re still up.

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Making the most of what you’ve got

October 8, 2008

I’m going to be frank and say that if you don’t know what the starred bit in the photo is for, then you’re not actually frugal.

What seems to have come with the new, post 1950s disposal economy is the willingness to throw “stuff” out because it isn’t as perfect as “the one in the picture”. Consequently supermarkets will only buy up the most ideally marketable fruit and veges, and not buy the rest. This leads to large amounts of waste at the farm or orchard gate in the name of “adding value” through quality control.

I know this from working for years in kiwifruit, where the tiniest blemish on a fruit can lead to it becoming a ‘reject’. There’s not actually anything wrong with the fruit it in question, it will still taste like crap the way all kiwifruit do, but it looks subjectively ‘odd’. I remember seeing bins of fruit being given away because it couldn’t be exported to Japan.

And that always pissed me off, because all they’re doing is inflating prices and limiting some consumers choices in order to make more money. Mind you, it means they transport less stock, but… they shouldn’t be transporting produce huge distances anyhow. It’s crazy to buy oranges from the USA when we grow perfectly good, though slightly ugly and harder to peel oranges here.

The wee appendage on the potato peeler is there to dig out the crappy bits of the spud that you don’t want to eat. Because it’s full of dirt for example. Or might be too hard to chew. Or might make the spud discolour when you cook it.

And why is that important? Because often the cheaper fruit and vegetables are the ones that are a little blemished, and if they sold more blemished fruit overall, then prices would be lower. What you want to do is deliberately choose the cheaper produce, but consider how much waste you’ll be digging out with that nobble. If the level of waste is too high, then you’re doing no-one any favours.

Mind you, I’m not recommending you never buy flash produce. Sometimes it’s exactly what you need for a meal like summer salads. But always consider what you can do with the crappier stuff, such as pickling, preserving, or stewing.