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Frugal living tip #34. August 24, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. It’s Monday, and that means it’s time for another Frugal Living Tip here at Poor Richard’s Almanac. I’ll share some really sensible advice in a minute. But first, in the “this is too much” category, check out this “On the Cheap” story from our local newspaper, the Allentown, PA Morning Call.

According to the paper, an Allentown woman is still reusing the same red plastic utensils she bought in 1989. She points out that she bought high-quality plastic utensils and washes them in the dishwasher to sterilize them after every use. The paper estimates that, by never buying another plastic knife, fork or spoon, she’s saved about $400 in the past 20 years.

Now, as faithful readers know, our friend Ben and I are very partial to the color red. I didn’t realize that plastic utensils could hold up to the temperatures in a dishwasher, but if you’re going to use them, I think it’s great to treat them as real dishware rather than disposables and take good care of them.

So what’s my problem? This: It appears from the article that this family uses their plastic dishware instead of silverware, rather than saving it for picnics and potlucks. Eeeewww!!! That strikes me as a bit extreme. You can buy perfectly good sets of silverware at Goodwill and Salvation Army for just a few dollars, and can even buy new sets at places like Linens’n’Things, Pier 1, Big Lots, and the like for about $20 for a four-place set. Your mother probably has at least one set she’d love to offload on you for free. Stainless steel is a lot more safe, durable, and sustainable than plastic. Kudos to this family for conserving otherwise disposable plastic, but save it for the annual picnic, please.

Fortunately, the paper redeemed itself with an article on the best months to buy various items if you’re trying to save money. I’ll just hit on some highlights here; for the complete list, check out “The best season to buy?” on www.themorningcall.com.

August: Outdoor toys like swing sets and beach toys, as much as 75% off.

September: Appliances, since you can get end-of-model-year deals, and get even bigger bargains on “scratch and dent” models.

October: Great month for a deal on grills.

November: Candy, as in deep discounts on all that leftover Hallowe’en booty.

December: This is apparently the best month to get a great deal on computers, scoring up to 50% off or free printers, anti-virus software, or wireless routers.

January: Whether you’re trying to save big on your wedding, take advantage of furniture turnover in showrooms, or just save a buck or two on wrapping paper for next Christmas, January’s a big month for bargains.

February: Get deep discounts on digital cameras.

March: This is a great month for deals on winterwear like coats, hats, and gloves, but if your kids are growing and you never know what size they’ll be next year, you’d be better off stocking up on frozen food, on sale this month for National Frozen Food Month.

April: The best month to buy a used car.

May: Need a new mattress? You can not only find mattresses at up to 50% off this month, you can cash in on a promotion for free delivery or disposal of your old mattress.

June: The paper skipped June for some reason, but if I can add an observation here, this is a great month to buy fresh, local fruits and veggies in season. Buy more than you need and can, freeze, pickle, jell, and dry the extras, and keep it up throughout the harvest months so you’ll have plenty when the prices shoot up in fall.

July: Patio furniture usually goes on sale—up to 50% off—July 4th weekend, when there’s still plenty of nice weather left to enjoy it.

As noted, the article has lots of other good ideas, so check it out. Meanwhile, if you buy seasonally to save, please share your tips with us!

           ‘Til next time,




1. Becca - August 24, 2009

For parties, we always reuse the same plastic cups (until they develop cracks, that is). At parties, our friends always put their names on the cups to limit losing drinks. At first confused, our guests soon began to be amused and look for the names we hadn’t been able to remove from the plastic cups from previous parties!

Now, we use mason jars. Fun!

Mason jars, good deal!!! One of my favorite memories of local country inns is of being served planter’s punch in a Mason jar.

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