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Five Frugal Tips That Go Too Far

Hanging Out on the Boardwalk

I am all about saving money. I like to focus on the big wins like cancelling monthly recurring expenses (like cable) or paying a student loan off 8 years early to save thousands of dollars in interest. I usually don’t care about saving seven cents on soap by not showering. Here are some other crazy frugal tips that I would never, ever do.

Use the Bathroom at Work

I am all about using the bathroom at work, but I have read about people who avoid going #2 at home to save on toilet paper. That is just obnoxious. In a reasonable looking analysis, a guy used 49 rolls of toilet paper per year and spent about $52 on it. That is 14 cents per day. Suck it up and poo at home. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

While I am at it, I also buy soft, two ply toilet paper. There is no sandpaper in my bathroom, it is not worth a few bucks to sacrifice that kind of comfort.

Charge Your Gadgets at Work

I charge my phone at work because it would die if I didn’t, but I have read about people who skip the overnight charge at home to lower their power bill. At 8 cents per kilowatt-hour, the average overnight phone charge will cost you 52 cents for the entire year.

Probably not. Even at ten times that, or twenty times that, I can afford $10 per year to charge my cell phone. Is it really worth the hassle to make your employer foot the bill?


I will admit that I got on the hypermiling bandwagon when it was hot a couple of years back. For the uninitiated, hypermiling is the use of specific driving techniques to maximize your gas mileage while driving.

While it is cool that a guy figured out how to time red lights and stop signs to get 213 miles per gallon, it is a hassle and unsustainable practice. Doing a little light timing and keeping your car at a certain speed to save gas is not a big deal, but turning your car off to go down a hill in neutral and turning your car off at red lights can be unsafe. I put this in the frugal crazy bin.

Making Your Own Shampoo/Soap/Deodorant/Toothpaste

I like my chemicals, thank you very much. Maybe someone really, really likes the feeling of natural, organic, homemade toiletries. I, however, like the feeling of clean and disinfected living.

It might sound ethnocentric of me, but I really enjoy the comforts of Western living, including starting my day with a nice, hot shower with mass-produced, name brand soap and shampoo. And don’t even get me started on deodorant…


I am not talking about the people on the TV shows that don’t ever throw anything away, I am talking about the people who buy 753 gallons of ketchup on sale because they can get it for $1 off per gallon.

If it makes sense for you to stockpile a year supply of toothbrushes at Sam’s Club that you keep under the sink to avoid a trip to the store, more power to you. If you hoard enough cans of food to survive the rest of your life in a bomb shelter in the event on a nuclear attack, you belong in the frugal asylum.

What Do You Think?

Have you seen any frugal tips taken to the extreme? Where do you draw the line of frugality gone too far? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Image by Sustainable sanitation/flickr

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