I confess, I’m not always frugal

Every month I’m learning more about saving and frugality. I freely admit, though, that I’m not as frugal as I could be. Not by a long shot. There are plenty of choices that I make that aren’t the most frugal, but I continue to make them anyway. Some of them are out of convenience, others compromise. Some are simply weaknesses that I’m continually trying to improve on. Here are my worst offenses:

Paper towels

I use dish rags and cloths for a lot of things, but sometimes I just want a paper towel for particularly tough messes. I don’t like keeping dirty or wet rags around the kitchen, so if I was going to switch to completely reusable rags, I’d be washing them constantly. Sometimes it’s just easier to use a paper towel. Of course, I use coupons to buy them, I always look for sales, and I try to keep my use to a minimum. That’s my frugal compromise.

Cable television

We don’t spend a lot of money on entertainment or meals out. The compromise? We spring for cable television with DVR. It’s expensive at about $60 a month, but it certainly makes it easier to stay home instead of going out and spending money.

Brand Names

For most things, I don’t mind buying the generic version to save money. But there are some items (including paper towels, dog food, laundry detergent and shampoo) that I spring for the brand name. In my experimentation, I’ve discovered that I really can tell a difference. Most of the time I can’t tell a difference between brand names and their generic counterparts, but if there’s a considerable quality difference, then I’ll spend a little more for the better product.


The grocery store has always been our top weakness. We’ve worked really hard to cut our grocery spending down from $80-$90 a week to about $55-$60 a week. I wanted to cut it to $40 a week, but I found it to be too much of a struggle. So to make things easy on us, I decided to cut myself some slack. Somehow we still manage to go over budget on food every month, so this is definitely an area that I continue to work on. But I’ve stopped being quite so hard on myself about our failures. Every week is a learning experience.

I’m still working on doing better, and I continue to improve. But there are some things (like cable and paper towels) that I may never give up. Frugality is as much about compromise as it is about saving, so I try to keep a balance.

Do you have any frugal weaknesses?

7 thoughts on “I confess, I’m not always frugal

  1. Christina

    My list of things I do that aren’t frugal is very similar (and I am totally convinced my DVR has saved me a TON of money!)

    The other thing I do that isn’t frugal is haircuts. Everyone in my family goes to a professional for their haircuts. I know that I could probably do my husband’s and boys’ hair, but I just like how nice they all look when it’s professionally done.

    Christina’s last blog post..Northern Cheapskate’s Reading List

  2. terra jones

    I learned I’m a PTA – Paper Towel Addict. We use cloth towels for hand drying, and cloth wash cloths for deep cleaning, but I love my paper towels!!!!!

    We can’t afford the dvr right now, but when we had it, we LOVED it! We do have cable though….

    I’m doing better at groceries…

    but yeh – my PTA problem ;-)

    terra jones’s last blog post..Simple Woman’s Daybook for 12.8.08

  3. anne

    I feel the same way about paper towels… so we buy the kind with the small squares so you can choose how much to use at a time. I cannot buy generic TP or coffee. Has to be the good stuff…

  4. Margot

    I’m never frugal with dog or cat food. Given that I chose to be responsible for my pets until they die and that I control what they eat, it’s my responsibility to make sure they have healthy food. I would never buy them grocery store brands of pet food. The ingredients in that stuff are frightening! Plus, they are unhealthy — lots of corn, saw dust, mystery meat, chemicals, etc. I buy high-end dog and cat food that would be sold in boutique-type pet stores where the first ingredients are actually meat and the subsequent ingredients are recognizable and healthy. I often purchase the high-end food online with discount coupons.

  5. Susan

    Ha – do I ever have frugal weaknesses :) In my 20s, when I was single, I would save tons of my salary and then went to Europe several times during summers (I was a teacher). It seems out of character in a way, but on the other hand, I think rewarding yourself with the things that are truly important to you is a great reward for your normal frugality!

    Susan’s last blog post..Menu Plan Monday: Peppermint Bark

  6. LizzieK8

    I don’t use paper towels, and the only thing I miss them for is draining bacon! I’ve found a cooling rack over a plate does the trick.

    There are certain foods I’ll give up if I can’t have brand name (Hormel Chili for one). We buy name brand shampoo, etc. at the dollar store simply because it’s thicker than off brands so we use less per use. Studies state that shampoo isn’t on your hair long enough to make a difference one way or another. If one is going to spend money on hair stuff, spend it on conditioner which does stay on long enough to make a difference.

    We generally don’t use the heater all winter, or just enough to take the chill off the air in the early morning. But we use the TV and DVR alot and rarely go outside the house for entertainment. We get food stamps so grocery shopping isn’t an issue, but I do make bread, cookies, etc., from scratch, buy store brands for many things, and do without much of the junk food. Buy alot of our food in bulk, too.

    LizzieK8’s last blog post..Out with the old…

  7. Wani

    We have AT&T Uverse which is fiber-optic cable and internet together. Its only about $20 more than our old internet. I am addicted to the DVR! We’re so spoiled by it – we hardly ever watch live TV anymore. We’ll start a program 15minutes late and skip all the commercials! Love it!

    Wani’s last blog post..Dining Out for Less

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