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True Frugality Considers the ROI

Frugal in Virginia's husband, Ryan, has another smashing piece up here which you'll want to go read. I found myself nodding along in agreement until I came to the sentence which said they don't reuse their Ziploc bags.

I had to stop and catch my breath for a second.

They don't reuse Ziploc bags?? Doesn't that break rule number 10454 in The Frugal Zealot's Handbook? Doesn't everyone know that you must get at least 543 uses out of a Ziploc bag before throwing it out? That's just what we frugal folks do. Anything else would be… well, it would just be unthinkable.

Jesting aside, the point of the piece was excellent: true frugality considers the ROI (return on investment of time) as the bottom line. There are thousands of ways to save a buck. But each family needs to carefully weigh how much time it is going to take to save that buck. Time is money, too.

So figure out which money-saving efforts are worth your time and stick with those. Don't feel guilted over the fact that you might not be doing all the frugal things some other family is doing. You can't do it all, so pick and choose what works for your family in the season of life you're in.

For me, it's not a big deal at all to reuse Ziploc bags. I do a lot of baking so when a freezer bag of baked goods is empty, I just dump the crumbs into the trash and stick the empty bag back into the freezer door to be at-the-ready for my next Baking Day spree. It probably takes me all of ten seconds and it means that I only buy a box of freezer bags twice a year–at the most.

But there are a lot of things I don't do. For instance, I don't use a clothesline, don't cloth diaper, and we do go out to eat once a week. Just like it seems weird to me that someone who considers themselves frugal would not also reuse their Ziploc bags, it probably seems strange to some of you that I don't hang my clothes out, use cloth diapers, or make every meal from scratch.

I've done each of those things before and might do them again in the future, but I've found they just don't work well for our family right now. And I'm okay with that. What works for one family, won't necessarily work for another family.

I love how Ryan ends his post:

Check up on yourself. Evaluate your frugal techniques. Which ones are really
worth it? If you wouldn’t accept $2 per hour as payment for your labor
from another, don’t accept it from yourself under the guise of
frugality. Valuing your time is the subtle and important difference
between being cheap and being frugal.

The frugal experience is about living better on less. If you miss the living better part, you’ve missed it entirely.

Just for fun: do you reuse your Ziploc bags? What common frugal techniques do you find to not work or be worth it to your family? Tell us about it in the comments.

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  • Jennifer says:

    I haven’t reused ziplocs in the past (it just never occured to me!), but I read (maybe on your baking day post?) that you do…so I plan to start! Thanks for the tip about storing them in the freezer door; I was wondering how to go about that. 🙂

  • We actually do reuse our freezer size ziploc bags {as long as they didn’t have some really icky meat in them}. 🙂

    My boys love washing them out, and sometimes I’ll flip them inside out and run them through the top rack of the dishwasher!

    I also love to take a minute to cut my laundry dryer sheets in half. They still work great, but the box lasts twice as long! 🙂

  • Melanie says:

    I call it my “but I won’t do that!” list. On that list: going without shampoo, dryer sheets; cutting the hair of family members; and probably a long list of other things that would get me kicked out of the Frugality Club. Oh, and I don’t reuse ziplocks, but I usually reserve using them for really messy items.

  • Julia says:

    I occasionally reuse Ziploc bags, but I’m really thinking hard about cloth diapering when we have our first baby next year! I don’t know if it’s worth the ROI though. Hmmm.

  • Becky Coon says:

    I had never reused Ziploc bags until your baking day post either, but now I’ve started. I did what the poster above mentioned and took my empty freezer bag that had held cooked ground beef, flipped it inside out and ran it in the top of the dishwasher. Now it’s back in the freezer with more cooked ground beef! Why didn’t I think of this? Thanks!

  • Olathe mom says:

    I reuse ziploc bags, but draw the line at washing them. 😉 I often use freezer bags for “stacking” frozen soups, and when I thaw I throw that goopy, drippy thing immediately into the trash.

    I try to stay on the “sane” side of many, many things. I TRY to recycle, TRY to be frugal, TRY to be superwoman. I am completely successful at NONE of these endeavors, and that is okay!!

    I also do not: take extra condiment packs and squeeze them into a ketchup bottle (read that one), save my soggy cereal remains for use in pancakes (read that one, too), or make my kids play-doh out of dryer lint.

    I don’t chase too many deals, either. I do try to serve my family by making our house a nice place to be (so we don’t need to run out continually) and I avoid spending whenever possible. After all, spending less is not actually saving, is it?

  • I just started reading your site & LOVE it! I definitely think it’s about what works for you. I do cloth diaper, but I am “weird” in that I enjoy doing laundry 🙂 For me, it’s all about balance…it seems like you could spend hours and hours a day doing “frugal” things but not have time to spend with your family.

  • Jeannie says:

    I reuse sometimes, probably not enough though. If they only have a few crumbs that I can wipe out, I normally will reuse. But if they are icky or the kids mauled them during their lunch at school, I usually throw them away.

  • Abby H says:

    I do the same thing you do with ziplock bags! They stay in the freezer, so why not!

  • Lea says:

    I do cut my family’s hair, but the few times we’ve paid (like when I’m 9 months preggo and can’t be on my feet that long) I’ve been so disappointed with the cuts we PAID for that I’ve vowed to never take at least the boys to a hair dresser again!

    On the issue of zip locks, I only reuse the ones my daughter uses for her goldfish – a bag that was used for anything “wet” gets tossed – but with MQs stacked with store Qs (our local Meijer) I typically get the 30-50 ct boxes for $.75 each, and a box lasts for months! Hardly worth the time and unclean feeling to wash raw chicken juice or hamburger blood out of a a $.02 bag, especially with the bits that get caught in the “zip” line!

  • sarah says:

    Heck yes I re use them! (minus the ones that had meat in them) Even my sons teacher sends the zip lock bags back home that I put his snacks in! WOOT!

  • michelle says:

    Washing them in the dishwasher or other hot water is probably not a good idea for chemical leeching.
    I only reuse if it had dry items in it. (c:

  • Margery says:

    I do reuse gallon ziplocks many times! I don’t reuse the sandwich ones, but I try to use reusable containers at least half of the time for packed lunches.

    I do cut hair 100% of the time for husband, 10-y.o. son, 8-y.o. daughter, and 5-y.o. daughter. They *all* *love* getting home haircuts!

    I don’t compost or hang my laundry, but frequently think about trying these things.

  • shawnna says:

    I reuse them, but not for food. They get used for litter box scooping

  • lee says:

    I try not to use ziplocs to begin with but when I do use them I try very hard to reuse them. Sometimes they get torn,. and honestly I catch my husband throwing them out. So if I want them I wash and put them away right away. We go through about 4-5 boxes of different sizes a year.

  • Leah says:

    I’m so glad you’re talking about this! So often I hear about someone going to 3 grocery stores across town, or driving out of the way to save $.05 on gas, and I wonder what the cost of their TIME is!

    I wrote something about this on my blog a while ago:

    I don’t re-use ziploc bags, mostly b/c I get them so cheaply at Harris Teeter triple-coupon days. I hate the toll on the environment, but it’s a small concession (I’m usually very environmental – natural cleaners, vegetarian lifestyle, etc.)

    Thanks again for the great conversation!

  • Need A Nap2 says:

    Why reuse Ziplocs when I can get them for free, double coupons at K-Mart (sale $2, $1 coupon)? But I do like your idea of sticking them back in the freezer! I reuse the bags a lot for things like chips and pretzels, throw the empty chip bag away and put in the new chip bag.

    There are lots of things I do that would not be considered frugal but I try to cut myself some slack, with homeschooling 4 kids age 8 and under I just can’t do everything. Probably what I feel the most guilty about – paper napkins and paper towels (just can’t face more laundry right now), not making from scratch as much (hamburger helper comes to mind), and using pre-made cleaning wipes. But I do try to find good deals!! 🙂

    Don’t feel guilty about – disposable diapers, not line-drying (allergies), using dishwasher drying agent (Jet Dry, I tried vinegar but it did NOT work for me), and the occasional eating out.

  • Honey says:

    Some frugal practices I am just not able to do because I have 5 small children (for a total of 7 people at my house). For instance, instead of running the dishwasher 3 times a day I choose to use disposable plates for breakfast and lunch. For dinner we use real plates and I am able to limit my dishwasher running to once a day. I’ve decided the time, detergent and energy saved is worth it to me. Thank you for making this a place where diverse practices are respected. We can learn from one another and then choose to do things that way in our homes or not.
    I know your post was about frugality, but for some that is closely linked to environmentalism. And I do not have a problem with that. What I do not like is the way some (get on websites, blogs and such) and make you feel less than human for not doing every radically frugal thing or every planet-saving thing they do. If a person wants to do something fine, if a person doesn’t or can’t then it’s fine, too. We recycle at about 50% and we hope to do more in the future, but I am not motivated by people’s guilt trips, pressure, or pious attitudes. And environmetalism is not my religion! Neither is frugality- although I enjoy being frugal. And I appreciate all your great ideas for doing so.

  • Jenny W says:

    Most people who pride themselves as frugal will think I am cmomitting a crime here, but I live with my boyfriend (no kids, just us) and we don’t have a washer/dryer. There is no one near us that I can visit to use, and there are only so many times you can wash your clothes while showering (er….I still do that, but only with delicates and quick drying fabrics!). After going to the laundromat and spending what seemed like my entire sunday sitting in a hot croweded place, I decided that my time and sanity on the weekends (i work full time + overtime M-F) and every 2 weeks i spring for the Wash-n-fold! I drop if off on sat afternoon, and the next day it’s folded and ready to put away. Seriously. Wash-n-fold is a splurge, but until i get a washer/dryer I will never give it up!

  • Jaycie says:

    I use most of my Ziploc bags on storing meat that I’ve bought in big quantities at a cheaper price. So I don’t re-use those. I just found a reusable snack bag on Etsy from Glowgirl and I’ve been using that to carry dry snacks for the kids when we travel. I guess if I can safely reuse them on dry items again, I will. Otherwise I just recycle.

    Loved this article. Thanks for sharing the link with us.


  • Holli Justice says:

    I almost never use ziplock bags. I’d rather buy a container like Tupperware one time and reuse it for a lifetime. They even replace their products for free if it ever breaks.

  • Cate says:

    Great post! I’m in-between on the Ziploc bags. I absolutely reuse bags for cheese–I keep a few labeled (“cheddar,” “mozzarella,” etc) quart-sized bags in the fridge and whenever we open a bar of a cheese, it goes into the designated bag. When we run out of cheese, the bag goes back into the fridge for when we use more–, bread, muffins, crackers, anything relatively dry. But I don’t wash out our Ziploc bags. It’s just not worth it to me. I do try to use Tupperware or other plastic containers for most wet foods, though.

    For us, cloth diapering IS worth it, but line drying is not. You’re right–it’s really just up to YOUR family and what works for YOU!

  • nanasewn says:

    Yes, I reuse about 3/4 of my ziplocks, because I wrap items to be frozen in other wrap or bag often and use zip for the outside layer, so the outside layer gets used over and over. I use 1/2 dryer sheets, always add water to shampoo bottles and hand soap, reuse plastic container for freezing some items, use 3/4 of the laundry detergent suggested on box/bottle.Usually make my own cleaners. thanks for asking

  • Jill says:

    My husband washes them out. I don’t!!!!

  • Cathy says:

    I WILL reuse the one or two gallon size freezer zip bags for something like baked goods. Other than that, we don’t reuse them.

    On the clothesline thing, I’m not regular with it. In the spring when things start warming up, I usually have a burst of energy and line dry most loads. But in the heat of summer (weeks of 100+ temps) I slack off. With 4 children (3 little ones and a 9 YO) I feel the loads with their clothes have SO many small pieces that it can easily take me 15 or 20 minutes to hang the load. That might not sound like much, but it can easily take 40 minutes out of my day. And now that we really homeschool (the 5 and 9 YO, though the 3 YO thinks she “does school” and does do some activities), it’s hard to come by a spare 40 minutes. And I often think that 40 minutes can be better spent elsewhere, rather than saving $1 or $2 on electricity for the dryer. So (gasp!), I take the less frugal way out.

    Another area where the most frugal has not turned out to be the best for us is homemade laundry detergent. After losing several outfits to dinginess, I figured out it’s worth spending a bit more on sale-priced detergent to keep our clothes looking nice longer. Some would/will be appalled by that, but it works for me.

  • Kat says:

    One way to get out of the ziploc worries is to reuse every plastic container that our food comes in.The plastic containers with the #5 on the bottom are dishwasher and microwave useable. I know this because it is the same plastic that gladware is made of. They can be reused until they are stinky then tossed and replaced for free! 🙂

  • Abbie says:

    I DO:
    Cut my boy’s hair. Hubby and Son both like their hair very short, so I can just use clippers. I do splurge on a good haircut for myself about every 3-4 months.
    Sometimes reuse ziploc bags, especially the freezer ones, but only if they have something dry in them like bread or cereal. BTW, I got a bunch of Ziploc Evolve bags for really cheap a while back. They are such a waste! They usually fall apart on the first use. I can’t even use them for snacks in the diaper bag because they get big holes!
    I DON’T:
    Compost, line dry, or use cloth diapers. I am giving cloth diapers serious thought, since in the spring I will probably have three in diapers.

  • Suzette says:

    They are disposable! If you are truely frugal you get boxes of them for free. I have enough to last me long after the next deal. To me washing bags that cost 5 cents (regular price) has gone past thrifty and into cheap. Seems like a waste of water to me. There are also box tops on the box which helps my sons school. I like Margery’s idea for using them for cleaning the litter box.

  • Heather says:

    zip Lock bags are steril when that are new, but you can not get them sanitized again without spraying bleach or something in them. They are breeding grounds for bacteria! They are best if used only once to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria!

  • Audrey says:

    I reuse mine much like you do for baked goods. I have been known to wash a few too. I also do not use many paper towels as they are more expensive than using dish towels and washing them (I think). I have a billion dish cloths so I can always have a clean one. One year for my birthday a funny friend of mine gave me a triple roll pack of paper towels and a few boxes of ziplocs. We got a huge kick out of it but do you know how long it took me to use them? It was the gift that kept on giving.

    I go to a salon professional academy for $10 haircuts and $15 highlights. They do a great job at a great price!

  • jnc51247 says:

    I reuse ziplocks, but only after I count the costs of time to keep them. I don’t wash them out like my grandmother did and keep them in the drainer, but I do put them into the refrigerator or freezer IF I can see a need for that one in the near future.
    About dryer sheets, if it helps you save money to have a good reason NOT to use dryer sheets or fabric softner. My husband works for a major appliance repair service and says that the main reason for a short life in a dryer is plugged vents and overheating and overworking the dryer – that includes a dryer screen that you can put water on and not have it drip out because it is completely filmed over with these products. A good way to shorten the life of your washer is to gum it up with fabric softner. He’s a party-pooper I know – but, it helps us be frugel and save money on these products as well as repairing/replacing our appliances. (Shhh, I use these products on occasion, like company over.)

  • No way! The thought of reusing bags has grossed me out ever since I saw some mold growing in some at my grandma’s house. However, I try to keep an open mind. I just bought some huge 2-gallon ones for freezer meals and they weren’t cheap. I will probably reuse them if they don’t get too dirty!

  • Rochele says:

    Heck yeah I reuse my ziploc baggies! I have kids in school so I would go through 50 per week easy if I didn’t, and it only takes 1 second not 20 lol!

  • Denise says:

    I’m been re-using my Ziplocks (all sizes for years) unless they had meat in them – we have rows of them hung with clothespins to dry after washing! We hang most clothes to dry in the summer. I love a good deal but won’t drive from store to store just to get ONE great deal, otherwise I end up seeing things I “need” and spend more money than I would otherwise. I prefer to stick with a couple of stores and save as much as possible couponing there.

  • Lisette says:

    Have to say — I’m not really a huge Ziploc user. We tend to use the reusable cheap Gladware and Ziploc-ware instead. So much easier to wash. I find they hold up very well which makes them more cost effective. Plus, if you send Ziploc’s in a preschoolers lunch bag, the TEACHER will toss them. The teacher won’t toss tiny Gladware!

    On the off chance that we do use baggies, we re-use them when it’s “convenient.” I used to try to cart them back home from packed lunches, but I would always forget to take them OUT of my purse. I also am not a fan of washing them as I don’t like the clutter on my counter when they’re drying. Of course, that’s where we’re at now. I wouldn’t hesitate to wash and reuse if necessary!

  • Ashley says:

    Depending on what is in the bag- it could be dangerous to re-use. (Cheese is one of the worst offenders). We opt for glass storage most of the time (inert- no zeno-estrogens leeching from it, like with plastic) BUT when we do use plastic bags, it is often a judgement call- dry crackers, being replaced by more of the same is fine- but if you have to wash them there is too much possiblity for leeching, etching and contaminating the food you store. I think staying healthy is a big part of being frugal- sick costs money and time!

  • Challice says:

    I reuse my zip lock bags too! Except if they have had meat in them. I refuse to do that. I usually put my meat in the veggie bags thought that you can get at the store.

    I refuse to cloth diaper. Changing disposables are bad enough and dont even get me started on feminine reusable. I tip my hats and give awards to those that can.

    I do have a clothes line and when its not 116F outside I’ll use it.

    Frugal tips I have:
    If a certain beef you like is on sale (say Top London Broil) Take it to the meat dept. and ask them to ground it up. Really cheap ground beef taht way!
    Make a roast every sunday if you can afford too. Either a beef roast of some kind, a chicken roast, a turkey if need be. THen use all the leftovers the rest of the week. I fed our family of 4 on $5 roast this week + a meal for a family that just had a baby.

    Sometimes its the droplets that make an overflowing bucket.

  • Amanda says:

    I do not re-use zip locks! I do not have time to wash and dry zip loc baggies. Last week I got a 120 ct. box for $1.48 on clearance at Target. That’s like a penny each. Not worth washing!!!

  • Cassie says:

    We get ‘baggies’ (sandwhich size ones) for super duper cheap and sometimes free with coupons so I hardly ever reuse them. I will if they only had something simple in them.. like popcorn, crackers, etc. However, if any kind of residue is in them (say from cheese, sandwhiches, fruit, and of course meat), I will throw them out. Freezer bags on the other hand, we reuse them all the time (except the bags that have shredded cheese, bacon, in them – those we only use for a few weeks and then throw them out when they start getting yucky). I also keep empty bags in my freezer door once they are emptied out. Makes things much easier!

  • I do: cut everyone’s hair at home, compost, partially cloth diaper (though DD is nearly potty trained at almost 3 years old now), reuse ziplocks that have NOT had meat or egg in them (but if something in the bag got fuzzy, I toss that out too!), recycle, I have a worm farm, I clip my cats’ toenails myself, we go out to eat *maybe* 10 times per year (including birthday / anniversary), yard sale / thrift shop, garden, simple mending, breastfeed, can produce, bake bread from scratch… and I work full time outside the home too.

    I don’t: have a clothesline– I have clothing racks in my basement because we have nowhere outside to put a clothesline. I only use the dryer on socks/underwear and linens. I don’t make everything from scratch. I buy the ‘box potatoes’ and make them (actually I usually get them practically free after coupons)– especially on work days.

    We are living on half of our earnings and using the other half to pay down our mortgage.

    So it is worth it for us to do what we do to help get to our goal.

  • Corrine says:

    We usually re use the gallon bags from dry goods only. I also do not send baggies in my boys’ lunch boxes but send all of their stuff in ziplock containers that I can wash and re use. They also use a Klean Kanteen thermos, love them! I cut my kids and hubby’s hair, cloth diaper, do not use dryer sheets anymore (love your tip to dry on low and I don’t miss them), sale shop, buy beef from a local farmer by the 1/4, garden and can/freeze all we can from our garden, barter to get fresh peaches, apples, pears and such from local farmers and family. Isn’t it fun to save money! All this so that I can be a stay at home mom!!

  • Martha says:

    Whether or not I use the bags again depends entirely on what I used it for the first time. I bake my own bread and freeze it, so a bag that previously contained bread will certainly be used to hold bread again. A bag that was used to hold chicken breasts, on the other hand? no chance.

  • beth says:

    I absolutlely rinse out and reuse freezer bags, but have tried to cut down on sandwhich bags by packing sandwiches in reusable containers. In addition, I take all the 8 1/2x 11 paper out of the recycling bin at work and use it at home to print everything-my daughter’s homework, coupons, printed out agenda paper, etc. Also, i use whatever free samples i have for shampoo, lotion, conditioners. I haven’t purchase any in two years!

  • Sarah T says:

    My grandma has always washed and dried her bags- a product of the Depression. I have balked at this since I was a kid- probably because it was a “holier-than-thou” attitude that was passed on with the practice.

    Freezer bags are strictly for meat in our house. Everything else gets the rubbermaid treatment.

    I Do: cut the guys’ hair, use dryer balls rather than sheets
    I Have in the past: done cloth diapers
    I Won’t: Let myself get bent out of shape over missing out on a whale of a deal or a printable coupon.

  • Crystal says:

    I use cloth diapers. This works for our family and by my husband’s math has already saved use around 300 dollars in the six months she’s been alive. I do “cheat” when we go out for errands or are going to be out a lot on any given day and use a disposable. I feel like a “break” from them occassionally gives me the strength to keep on using them.

    Oh, and washing out Ziplocs…. oh yeah!! have some in the dish drainer now!

  • emily e. says:

    I reuse ziploc bags on occassion. Only if I think it’s worth it- if it needs cleaning to be reused, I’d rather just toss it. But if it can just be emptied and then used again, I’ll probably reuse it. It is all about the ROI. I don’t do a lot of frugal things because it’s just not worth it to me, and like you said, that’s a decision that every family has to make on their own.

  • Deal Queen says:

    While I totally agree that there must be consideration to ROI in calculating your frugal strategy I slightly disagree with her closing statement:
    “If you wouldn’t accept $2 per hour as payment for your labor from another, don’t accept it from yourself under the guise of frugality. Valuing your time is the subtle and important difference between being cheap and being frugal.”
    My billing rate is $60 per hour but I do hire myself to cut coupons for two or three hours which will result in savings of $10 to $20 on my weekly grocery bill. This does not mean I will reduce my billing rate to my clients to match what I pay myself for cutting coupons. Nor does it mean I will stop cutting coupons because it does not pay me in parity to my billing rate.

    My role as a steward of God’s resources is to make the most of each in a manner that honors him. If my hour cannot be used for a purpose that will produce a whole lot per hour I will certainly maximize it to produce the most that I can for that particular hours.

    This morning I worked for 6 hours and billed $360. This afternoon I will spend two hours shopping and probably save about $20 from retail. If my average savings is $80 per month and I invest this money on an account which yields 12% annual interest rate compounded monthly for a period of 50 years my heirs will receive $3,516,250.57 in savings by the time I turn 80.

    Have a blessed day ladies!

  • Julie says:

    I have realized lately that my time is very valuable. I work at home 5 hours a day and try to fit everything else around that (my kids are older and one married). I was trying to fit in all the “deals”, but with running between CVS, Walgreens, Aldi’s, Shop Rite, and BJ’s, I was spending more time running around AND seaching on the internet for those all important deals/coupons than being home, and my house and sanity has suffered from it! I do try to be frugal in ways like almost all home cooking, hanging clothes on the line, reusing ziploc bags (althoughly admittedly only occasionally), and… yikes… cutting my own hair last week! Plus, now I only going out for the deals that I really need or can stock up on and grocery shop every two weeks!

  • Audra says:

    I don’t reuse ziplocks for consumables. But what I do with some of them is store the ‘wet’ item ones in the freezer to use for disposing of poopy diapers in. A few of the ‘dry’ ones are great for the diaper bag for one of those on the go events. Paper towels used to dry clean hands get tossed into a paper grocery bag. By the time I need them, they are dry and I only reuse them to absorb fat drippings collected from drained cooked beef. It’s much easier to throw that way than it is to pour it into a can and wait for it to cool and harden…less messy too.

  • Leigh Ann says:

    Yep Yep Yep! We reuse our Ziploc bags. I do try to reuse the same bag for the same item. Sort of like leaving the freezer bags in the freezer. For instance, there is a cheddar cheese bag that stays in the fridge for cheddar cheese only(unless it gets mold in it, then it goes in the trash). Cracker bags that stay by the cracker stash, etc…. My husband even washed out his first one a week ago. I was so proud of him 🙂

  • Michele says:

    My first concern is the environment. Cost is second. I use very few Ziploc-type bags. Mostly I use Tupperware or other containers to freeze thing and to put my husband and children’s lunches in. They get used over and over and over again. When my kids come home with a Ziploc bag of treats from a friend or something like that, I do reuse them.

    I definitely cloth diaper, but I use the dryer to keep them soft. I cut my girls’ hair but not my son’s (can’t figure that one out!).

    Everyone needs to do what is best for them. And it’s great to get a respectful exchange of ideas.

  • Christina says:

    I reuse some Ziploc bags. Like many others have said, if they’re used to store frozen baked goods, I’ll drump the crumbs and use them two or three times. For lunches, if I’m packing PB&J all week or pretzels all week, I will dump the crumbs each night and use the same bag all week. I also keep a gallon-size bag in the “snack” drawer of the fridge and it’s labeled “cookie dough.” Whenever we have an open pack of cookie dough, I use that same back for it. (The dough doesn’t touch the Ziploc; it stays in its original packaging, which goes into the bag.) I won’t reuse bags for produce, meat, dairy, sauces, etc.

    What won’t I do? I won’t make our own detergent, use cloth diapers, line dry clothes or cut our hair. I will trim my toddler son’s hair around his ears/neck, until it’s long enough all over to justify a full-fledged cut. And I splurge (to me) on my haircuts. I get no treatments, colors, processes done–just a wash, cut and dry–but I pay $40+tip at a salon. I keep my hair long enough that I only go every 5-6 months, which makes me feel a little better: only about $100 per year for my haircuts (plus another $80-ish for hubby) is reasonable in our house. We both work full-time outside the home, so we DO have to make some concessions on time.

  • jessica says:

    I do the same as you and stick them back in the freezer.

    I also LOVE to line dry. there’s just something magical about crunchy towels! I love how my husbands clothes never need ironed. And seeing a line of white onesies and tiny socks makes my heart feel full. (not to mention the great tan i got this summer!)

    I also believe that being too frugal can make me love money. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

  • Janice says:

    I have just been trying to use fewer ziploc bags…Reusable containers are easier for me, plus I HATE letting the ziplocs dry. It just rubs me wrong to see the things wasting my precious counter space for a couple of days for a penny or two return. We use more containers for snacks, lunches, etc which are easy to dry, and I only use ziplocs for specific things. I will reuse them if is something dry like pretzels, but toss them if something oily like baked goods has been in them. Yuck!

    But we do compost, cut the family’s hair (except for mine), use cloth towels instead of paper towels, etc. It is all a balance and everyone has a different tolerance level for certain things.

  • Allison Voges says:

    I use cloth diapers, but I buy store-brand disposables for going out and about. I don’t cut my dryer sheets, but I put them back in with the next load, until they’re raggedy little things. I would use a clothesline if I didn’t live in an apartment…I’m trying to figure out how to hang dry 2 dozen diapers inside! I open the windows when it’s nice outside, but my husband doesn’t like that too much because his computer overheats if the A/C isn’t on! I plan to buy some cheap washcloths for my kids faces instead of using paper towels up. I don’t save my ziploc bags-I grew up doing that, but hubby thinks it’s gross! We do what works for us! (I had noticed you not using cloth diapers…thanks for supporting us for doing what works best!)

  • jen says:

    I think by washing ziplocs – you just spent what you thought you saved in water and dish soap. It is just a few pennies per ziploc vs. a few pennies in the water/soap it took you to wash it. Might as well use a fresh one.

  • KimNC5 says:

    I had a different thought all together when i first read this post. I reuse not so much for the frugality…but the environmental side……while i dont push the recycling of every little piece of refuse (we live curbside pickup here- we haul all to county pick up site)…… i do see throwing that extra bit of plastic into the trash filling up the landfills for future generations to deal with.

    After reading the actual cost savgs vs cost per hour…..i tend to agree there…


    i can go either way on this one!

  • Michelle says:

    I do reuse some of my ziplocs, and others I toss. It all depends on how dirty they are, like a lot of your other readers mentioned.

    I also line dry clothes in the spring and summer but use my dryer in the winter. I enjoy going outside and the kids are all out there anyway. One thing I found particulary helpful with line drying is to have a big enough clothes line to hang 2 or 3 loads on so you’re not waiting forever for everything to dry before you can do the next load.

    I also use cloth diapers and love them. I throw dirty diapers in a lined trash can (I put a washable bag in the trash can) and every few days I dump the whole lot in the washer. I rinse on cold, wash on a hot, long cycle, hang or dry in the dryer and throw them in the drawer when they’re done. It’s quick, easy, doesn’t create a lot of stinky trash like disposals, and works well for me. For any of you considering cloth diapers, I highly recommend them, if you get enough so that you don’t have to wash every day, and you get a nice quality diaper that will work from newborn to toddler! I love my motherease dipes, but if I had all the money in the world I’d go for bumgenius all in ones. 🙂

    Thanks for your great site, Crystal. I’ve learned a ton from your posts.

  • tracy says:

    SUPER ZIPLOC BAG TRICK – I wash them in the washing machine!!! (by themselves without clothes – just the bags) We turn them inside out, yes… with all the greasy gunk inside and wash them on hot with soap and a bit of bleach to sanitize them! They come out great!! I flip them and hang them by their points so that any water left in them drips out. They are not liquid safe anymore but they are clean and ready to go. I have used the same bags for over 6 months – over and over and over again. Try it. You’ll never wash them by hand again!

  • Deborah says:

    Good point: It’s up to each individual family and what works for them! Another good point (besides saving time) is: Could you spend that time BETTER by ministering to someone else? Frugality can easily become idolatry if we’re not careful!

    Things we do regularly to save:
    Re-use Ziploc bags (only washing those that had bread, cookies, rice, etc. in them, putting others back into the fridge/freezer to re-use later)
    Buy paper towels ONLY when they’re the Penny Item at Publix
    Ration hand soap and dish soap
    Eat meatless meals on a regular basis
    Shop for clothes only at consignment stores and sales
    Get our toiletries free or almost-free at CVS (and sometimes Walgreens and Rite Aid)

    Things that aren’t usually worth the trouble:
    Washing clothes by hand
    Hanging clothes out on a clothes line
    Cutting our own hair

    We have done the above three before (and probably will again) but right now we have to do what works for our family — and our ministries!

    Thanks for a great post!

  • Courtney says:

    We used to reuse ziplocs but now with 4 kids I’ve given up and we’ve pretty much switched entirely to reusable tupperware-type containers. Those I can throw through the dishwasher and they stack nicely in the fridge/freezer.

    I do cut all of our kids’ hair and my husband’s hair. I no longer use dryer sheets or fabric softener because our clothes are still coming out okay without them. We do lots of recycling. Currently we don’t compost and I still have *gasp* some paper towels in the house. 😉

  • Laura Hills says:

    I reuse ziploc bags for freezer baking (scones, cookies, etc) and snacks. Great way to save.

    Another thing that I started doing is washing the frozen food containers (like Kid Cuisine, Healthy choice, etc) and reusing them. Since they take up little space in the dishwasher, I don’t have to run it as often. The containers with separate compartments are a hit. I have two boys and they think it’s a huge treat when I give them food/snacks in these containers. Yogurt cups and little fruit snack size containers are perfect for taking pretzel sticks, carrots or just about anything on the go. I recycle them when they start to overtake our cabinet space. ; )

  • Charlene says:

    I re-use some zip-locks, depending on what it was used for. Same thing for foil–if it touched wet or meat, it gets discarded.

    I use “real” plates, but paper napkins or paper towels.

    I tear my dryer sheets in half, except in the dead of winter when static cling gets bad. We line dry jeans and pull most dress clothes from the dryer to hand while still damp.

    I buy cleaning products when they’re on sale and I have coupons, but other than laundry and dishwashing detergents don’t use very many cleaning products.

  • Sheila says:

    I reuse ziplocks strictly because of the environmental impact. I HATE doing it (washing them and trying to get them dry!), and it is definitely not worth it from a financial perspective to me, but wow, that’s a lot of plastic in the landfill!

  • Patti says:

    I do reuse my ziploc bags; I wash them in the washer, inside out, then hang to dry. I also use a clothes line in all but the worst weather. However, I do not wash and then iron my husband’s work shirts. I figured out it took me about 25 minutes to iron each one (he’s 6’6″ tall; his shirts are LONG! LOL), which worked out to about $2.50 per hour at the going rate for laundering shirts at our local dry cleaners. So we get them laundered 2-3 times per year instead. And I hate ironing anyway!!

  • Catherine says:

    I reuse baggies (of all kinds), cling wrap, and aluminum foil as long as they haven’t touched raw meat and they aren’t extremely dirty. I definitely consider my ROI when being frugal, but sometimes I just enjoy some of my frugal tasks (like cutting coupons & reading your blog) so my time investment is also bringing me a little joy along with the few extra cents that I save.

  • Courtney says:

    Amen! I can’t stand re-using Ziplocs, though I do reuse plastic spoons and forks. 🙂 An interesting flip side of this discussion. There are some things that don’t get a high enough ROI to justify them as cost savers, but make fantastic hobbies for the interested. I would never encourage anyone to make their own bread or cheese out of frugality (though it is somewhat cheaper than store-bought), but I highly recommend it as a frugal hobby. Not only do you get the minuscule savings over store-bought, but hobby budget combines with grocery budget and you get to eat what you make rather than trying to find homes for your projects. I think other frugalities like sewing your own clothes, candy-making, and home brewing might fall in this category, even though I’ve never tried them. What do you think? Are there other good ideas that fall on that borderline?

  • Madeline says:

    I can’t deal with the idea of the bacteria that would accumulate over time in a ziploc bag, so I do not reuse them. Instead, I try to use reusable tupperware as much as possible.

  • Betsy says:

    Before baby #3 arrived, I purchased some really nice flannel for $1 a yard on Black Friday. I used each yard to make 3 nice sized burp cloths. They were very absorbant and were way cheaper than buying them. After we no longer needed them for that purpose, I put them away, knowing they would be great for something…then I read a post a few months back about not using paper towels. We now use these old burp cloths for spills, cleaning, anything you would grab a paper towel for. We have not purchased paper towels in months!!
    I reuse ziplocs for dry foods or frozen items like waffles or muffins. I recently purchased 66 boxes of ziploc bags and after coupons, catalinas and mail in rebates we made $31 on the deal. I still can’t just toss them.
    I use only 1/2 to 1 ounce of laundry soap per load (depends on brand), we make our own bubble bath, have a garden, raise our own beef and do once a month cooking.
    I am sure there are tons more I could be doing. I love reading your posts and comments to get new ideas!!

  • Jess says:

    Washing ziplocs in the dishwasher is a HUGE fire hazard!! People often think of the clothes dryer as causing a lot household fires, but actually a dishwasher causes many home fires as well! My husband is a firefighter and has been to fires that have been caused by something that falls and comes into contact with the heating element. Just my 2 cents!

  • Angela says:

    One thing I didn’t see anyone mention is stretching out mascara. My mom taught me as a teenager that when your mascara starts to dry out, dip the brush in water and then put it back in the mascara tube like normal. The next day it will have thinned out a bit and will get you another couple of week’s worth of use of that mascara. I actually do this probably 5-10 times (over maybe 8 weeks) before I finally break down and buy a new tube of mascara (on sale with a coupon, of course!)

    One other thing to think about…I used to NEVER wash clothes without fabric softener, until my oldest son and I began to develop an allergy to all fabric softeners and dryer sheets. (Our dermatologist said that people with eczema should never use them!) I’ve HAD to quit using them completely, but really can’t tell much of a difference in softness. I do have to deal with a bit more static, but I can live with that! I’ve been pleased with how much money this one thing is saving on my laundry supply bills.

  • One thing I don’t do just to be frugal is eat cheap, overprocessed food! I try to get wonderful, fresh wholesome food as inexpensively as possible by growing or buying produce in season, buying a portion of a hog or cow for our meat and only using coupons on good wholesome foods and occasional treats. I will spend more on good quality eggs, organic milk and organic produce and cut costs in other areas. Junk is still junk, even if it is free!

    As for cloth diapering, we do it and I have a couple bits of advice: invest in good quality diapers (we use BumGenius one-size) and get enough (we have 40) so you’re not doing laundry every other day. We do 2 loads a week and we don’t even notice the extra laundry.

  • Cindy says:

    I reuse my ziplocs. Also aluminum foil if it was used for something not very messy, like covering bread in the oven to keep it from browning too much. We don’t eat out very often, but I spend a little extra on groceries because I don’t want to live without things like wine, balsamic vinegar, and good olives. I’d rather eat my own cooking than the crud most restaurants serve, but I do have an emergency dining fund just for those nights when I’d rather die than clean the kitchen.

    I do hang my laundry when it’s warm and dry, and I don’t use dryer sheets. Haven’t noticed a difference, either, though most people say they need them.

    All told, I guess I’m pretty extreme (my dad makes fun of me), but one thing I wouldn’t dream of doing is cloth diapering. It’s just too much yuck for me.

  • Jenn says:

    I don’t reuse my bags. I reuse my bottle liners when I have babies (until they sprout holes and then I have to decide if it’s worth the time! About half way through I end up just tossing them and buying the cheap brand :)).
    I read a few of the comment and you are very right…every family is different! I asked my dad & grandpa to make me a clothesline b/c I didn’t have one! And I’ve used it a LOT. I also only have 2 kids. But I work from home part time AND we have 6-8 college “foster” kids from the local college every year, whose laundry I do. So it’s worth the extra time (and sweat!) it takes to hang things out in the spring and summer since I do so much. But that doesn’t mean everyone should be line-drying their clothes! It’s what works for us. My husband tries watering down the shampoo and soap but he waits too long and then it’s just water! So we don’t do that 🙂 One of our foster daughters likes to wash dishes by hand when she comes over–I’ll not argue with her about if it’s wasting water or time! She enjoys it and it relaxes her (not to mention gets my dishes clean without me doing it!).
    I know this is getting long…one more thing:) My grandma is the queen of frugalilty (bordering on cheap!). She can find a “re-use” for EVERYthing. She washes her baggies, she reuses foil, she even takes the elastic off my grandpa’s torn underwear and uses it! But hey, she lived through the Great Depression and raised 6 kids on a farm. I guarantee she made things work on a LOT less than I do (and think it’s so hard). She’s a great inspiration. Plus, even though they are debt free and have plenty of money, you’d never know it. They’re still very frugal and my grandpa can be just plain cheap (he complained that coffee at the local shop quit giving free refills–even though it’s only 25 cents a cup!)! 🙂
    You live, you learn, and you do what’s best for your family. And nobody else can tell you what’s best for you! Thanks for all your hard work on this website. It’s helped our family save a lot!

  • Melissa G says:

    There are things that I do for saving money, and there are things that I do for saving time. Ziploc bags to me are in the saving time category. So no, I don’t generally reuse them, except I will reuse them once or twice for the snack that I put in my hubbies lunch, but after that they go in the garbage. Pretty much every other time they just go in the garbage.

    I do buy frozen pizza and a few other select frozen meals. I find that there are times when I just DO NOT want to cook, and if I don’t have something easy on hand to pop in the oven for a quick meal then I’m way too tempted to do take out or something. So, though this may go against others sense of frugality, it actually does save us money by keeping me from spending more at restaurants or fast food.

    I don’t go to every store in the area to get the absolute best price deals. I stick with one grocery store and do my best to get the best deals at that store. I do go to both Walgreens and CVSfor my toiletry and medicinal needs, but I usually stop there on my way home from walking my son to preschool, since they are both within walking distance from my home and on the way to his school. That way I’m not making an extra trip in the car.

    I do use Platex drop-ins for my son. I have found that the time it saves in washing bottles with a bottle brush (I don’t have a dishwasher) is well worth the few dollars every few weeks to buy liners. I was especially thankful that I decided to go this route when I suffered from liver-failure this past year and barely had the energy to do dishes at all.

    So yeah, I definitely think that there are things that I won’t do because they just aren’t worth the amount of time it takes me to do them. . .

  • shelly says:

    I don’t reuse them but I want to. My parents reused them and I always had to wash them out. It was highly annoying as a teenager and somewhat embarrassing when people came over. So as much as I want to, I still don’t reuse them. But I do recycle paper, plastic, and aluminum and cook mainly from scratch. It’s all about what works for you. Oh and you can reuse dryer sheets at least twice…Just an FYI.

  • Janeen says:

    🙂 I do reuse them, some of the time. When I judge them to be too greasy or otherwise not user friendly (I never reuse ones used for meat, even cooked meat). My husband and I also try to best judge how to use our money. Sometimes, going out to eat isn’t the best decision (it’s a use of money that could be saved no matter what) but sometimes we decide going out with friends enhances the relationship enough to merit it. God gave us money as a tool. Saving money should never become an idol and get in the way of our flow of life! 🙂

  • Cortney says:

    I reuse ziplock bags for my baked goods b/c to me it isn’t really that big of a deal. I think its important to try and find ways to use what we have instead of constantly consuming more and more. But I do also use them for dividing meat for the freezer and I won’t reuse those obviously. I do try to be more conscious however and use my glass pans to marinade meat and tupperware for snacks etc. saving the bags for what I really need them for.
    I have been considering switching to dishtowels instead of papertowels also which to me are a waste of money! I love the idea of having a drawer in the kitchen with them, its convienent and thats half the battle. I just feel if I don’t NEED it why bother. I will buy them with a good sale but I could be using the money on something else.

  • One thing I do that I haven’t seen mentioned yet is to save the wrappers from butter sticks and then use them instead of Pam to grease cookie sheets and baking dishes. When the wrapper is empty, I just fold it up and put it back in the fridge until I need it.

  • Christina says:

    As others have noted, be careful about heating plastics! In addition to the fire hazards, there are toxin hazards as well. Most plastics (especially ones intended to be disposable or semi-disposable, like packaged food containers, plastic bags and even “Gladware” type containers, like the ones lunchmeat comes in) weren’t intended to stand up to high heat and microwaves. I do put “Gladware” containers in my dishwasher, but I wouldn’t dream of doing that with food packaging–and no plastic goes into the microwave unless it says “microwave safe”. Those waves can cause the plastic to warp, melt and emit BPA.

    I did think of another thing I do . . . I reuse restaurant cups for iced coffee. My husband and I occasionally pick up iced coffee from McDonald’s or Dunkin Donuts . . . I will hand-wash those cups and reuse them for our homemade iced coffees. I have a whole stack of them in my cabinet! On weekends, we can use regular cups without lids, but to take our iced coffee to go before work, we need lidded cups! I was washing and reusing the straws for a while, too. But the hubby teased me for that one. So I broke down and spent $1 for a box of 100 new straws.

  • Shannon says:

    We recycle all Ziploc except bags containing meat and I never thought about storing them in the freezer door..GENIUS!! I do line dry and keep a vegetable garden but composting was too much so I don’t anymore. I do all hair cuts for everyone but me in the house and I only get mine done every 6 months usually with a coupon! Instead of going out for a date night hubby and I will go out for an early breakfast while the grandparents watch the boys. When we do get out in the evenings we just share a muffin or something at Panera. Last week $5 for date night. Additionally 90% of all food around here is from scratch but we work it into home school lessons and the boys do a lot of the work… they also take care of much of the garden responsibilities as well. Big bulk baking days are a huge money saver and full of pleasant memories!

  • Megan says:

    I don’t usually reuse Ziplocs because my husband throws them away after lunch and I don’t really care. I will reuse some freezer bags sometimes if they just had baked goods in them.

    My non-frugal habits? I get expensive haircuts and highlights and I use thick, absorbent, Bounty paper towels like they’re going out of style!! I estimate I still only spend maybe $20 a year on them though so I refuse to stop! I’m also brand-loyal to Cottenelle tp. I’m just not frugal enough to buy cheap tp yet, ha!

    I do make my own cleaners and detergents, cook most meals from scratch, use frugal recipes, shop thrift, make do, and coupon. We don’t eat out very often or have expensive hobbies. I use the library, sell items to thrift shops, and line dry our clothes most of the year. My favorite date with my hubby is just walking the dog or getting a coffee after church, super cheap or free!

  • Holly says:

    I love reading all of these comments!

    I’ve been doing coupons –CVS game for a year now and we are starting to try other frugal things too.

    I use Ziploc bags for convenience so if I use it I know it will be thrown away. Otherwise I use tupperware etc. Besides I don’t think after fingers have been in the Ziploc bags that it stays “clean”. That’s just me!

    I have been cutting my husband’s hair for 9 years. His mother did it before I did. Who knew we were already frugal!

    Thanks to other bloggers we are now using washcloths instead of paper towels for dinners and other clean up messes. We still use paper towels when necessary but it helps make the roll last longer.

    We have nice black cloth napkins in the car.

    I use shampoo for just about everything Cleaning stains on clothes, body wash, and hand wash

    I just made my first 5 gallon batch of home-made detergent for about $2.

    I’m impressed Crystal that you don’t cloth diaper. I don’t cloth diaper for a couple reason including the fact I work full-time, the ick factor and and the initial cost since I’m getting disposables at a great price. I think I’ve spent under $200 on diapers this year -don’t have the exact price but still living in an expensive area– I thought I would be spending that per month!

  • Kim says:

    I love my tupperware sandwich holders and snack cups. I bought them for 1/2 price from a rep when they sell of their old lines and they work perfect. No baggies is cost effective and good for the environment.

  • Marie says:

    We are ziploc reusers too!

    I splurge on haircuts: $40 every 8 weeks. My hairdresser always gives me a beautiful haircut and that hour of relaxation and primping every two months is so worth it! Plus having that cute haircut kind of makes up for the fact that my clothes are getting stretched out, stained and faded from being worn over and over and over again.

    I have tried to cut my toddler’s hair, but it looked awful. I wait for those $6.99 great clips coupons that come every now and then.

  • Anneliese says:

    I was hoping the IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT would be more heavily considered in this article, (and the original article), not just the ROI of time & money. It really bugs me to throw out a Ziploc bag to the landfill if the bag can be easily shaken clean and reused for the freezer again. Here’s an OCD for you: I can’t stand the thought of using (and throwing out) Sandwich bags, so my son & I use empty butter tubs for our lunchboxes: cookies, cut up fruit, Goldfish crackers … They come home, get rewashed, and stuffed w/yummies again the next day. Plus, there’s the bonus of nothing gettting crushed, which is likely w/the Sandwich bags :cD

  • eileen says:

    I do reuse ziplock bags as long as it did not contain and meat or poultry products. It takes all of a few seconds and I find it well worth my time.I store baked goods and also carrots ,peppers and grapes for quick snacks!

  • Kim says:

    I love being frugal!!! I agree that sometings work for everyone but not everything. To those that reuse plastics. My husband is a plastics developer and though a container may have a 5, all are not equal. If it has a scratch throw it out. It will release chemicals. If the product originally in it was frozen then it is ok to use that way again. Same with heat. The numbers refer only to the category of plastic in it. They add other chemicals to get the results they need. Don’t assume it is ok to heat something that didn’t come with those original directions. He makes me throw out even Tupperware and Rubbermade when they begin to look worn or get bubbles or scratches. Just thought everyone might like to know.

    I love this site and suggest it to everyone I know, even on facebook!

  • Kelly Hess says:

    My frugal habit that my husband depises is that I have to get every last bit of something out of a bottle. Whether it be ketchup, shampoo, soap, or dressing, I will turn the old bottle upside down on top of the new bottle until every last bit drips out!

  • Kim says:

    Oh! Question for Beth with the dryer ball. I have always wondered about those! How do they really work? We all are allergic to perfumes and O would love to ditch dryer sheets for good. Where do you get them?

  • jenn says:

    I don’t reuse ziploc baggies. I found a super cheap deal on them (a sale paired with coupons).

    I am frugal but I have a splurge : I get my hair highlighted and cut every 8 weeks! $55-$70 plus tip
    Worth every penny to me! 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    Yes, I reuse the gallon sized, freezer quality ones. I also do a lot of baking and gardening (which means a lot of freezing) and I don’t have a dishwasher, which means I am handwashing anyway. I do use cloth diapers and a clothes line, and we only go out to eat, even fast food, probably 4 times a year. I also cut everyone’s hair in our family (buzz cuts for the males!) and I have let my husband trim mine before.

  • betsy says:

    I reuse bags.

    And I love my cloth diapers. The convenience of never having to run to the store when we’re out is so worth it. I’m not a prepared-ahead sort of gal, so it’s very nice to know that, even if there are no diapers in the house, I can just run a load of laundry and have fresh clean ones.

  • Kellie says:

    I try to avoid ziplock bags. I use them mainly to store large packages of meat that I have divided up, and would never reuse those. I am leary of washing them and reusing after other items – I’m afraid they could leach chemicals or harbor bacteria (but that’s my own hangup). Frugal things worth it to us: cutting our boys’ hair, using cloth napkins, cooking from scratch, and air drying laundry year round in our basement. Things that aren’t worth my ROI: cloth diapering (but we should be done with diapers for good in about 6 months!) and driving to 4+ stores each week to snag a couple of deals at each.

  • Marie says:

    Well, it sounds like I won’t be in the minority like I thought that I would. But I most definitely DO NOT reuse ziploc bags. Occasionally I might if it was something simple like cookies or bread, but otherwise it goes right into the trash.

    I grew up in a house where my mom washed out ziploc bags religiously…even the ones that had meat in them. It thoroughly disgusted me! So when I got out on my own I knew that was one thing that I was not going to take with me into my adult life! Ick!

    I don’t have children yet, but I do like the idea of cloth diapering. We’ll see how far that idea goes once husband has to change his first poopy diaper and clean it out into the toilet (and then washing it!) versus wrapping it up and throwing it away.

  • Amber Howard-McGinnis says:

    I never reused my plastic bags until I read your blog….but it sure got the ball rolling….we don’t use paper napkins, paper towels, started using cloth diapers.
    I think its true that, you have to find what works for your family. Because for us, its not just about being frugal, its about keeping our sanity. So if being “frugal” in some areas adds alot of extra stress or work, we just don’t do it! : D

  • Kim61973 says:

    I used to save them all…. just like I used to hit every grocery store…..every week! Now, I save the ones that only had “dry goods” and will only hit every grocery store if I’m stocking up/sales are great/or I’m over there anyway. I began to add up the time it was taking from my family vs. the money I was saving and decided in the long run, the cost of throwing them away/shopping in one place was worth it! 🙂

  • Leigh says:

    I have always reused ziplocks and was actually shocked when I learned not every family did this and it was considered a money saving tip. For my family it was enviornmenal and not lazy (really, would you throw out your dishes after one use). It is nice to be able to toss them when they are really gross, but they are so easy to wash.
    I have a hard time with disposable objects. Which is one of the many reasons I cloth diaper. As for ROI, calculate an extra 2-3 loads of laundry with an extra rinse cycle and a savings of easily $1000 a year on disposables. And they smell way better.
    I find quality is better than the lowest price or quantity for most things and thus coupon clip for dry goods and have organic produce delivered.

  • I reuse Ziploc bags but I have to tell my husband not to throw them away almost every single time I see him empty one! For me, it’s not just about the frugality, it’s also about being a responsible citizen and not throwing away unnecessary items to fill up a landfill or use additional energy to truly recycle something.

    It takes all of 30 seconds to fill up a bag with water and a little soap, swish it around, then dump the water in the sink to continue doing dishes. I wish more people would understand that the life of a single bag is far longer than one single use!

  • Marnie says:

    I always feel bad about using Ziploc bags and paper towels and such, because of the whole “green” movement, but I have not stopped using them. I have never washed a Ziploc out! Maybe I will try to in the future. My mother-in-law washes and saves aluminum foil and reuses each sheet over and over! Cracks me up! I LOVE CLOTHES LINES!! There is nothing in the world that smells better than sun-dried sheets! I use mine all summer, and have to endure my sons’ complaints about having “crispy clothes.” But, I explain how we are saving money by not heating up the house all summer, plus saving wear and tear on the drier. One of my biggest frugal things I do, is that I buy those Olay Cleansing Cloths for my face, and I cut the cloths into four sections and get four times the use out of them. I have found that I never need the whole cloth, as I really don’t wear a ton of makeup.

  • Kristie says:

    I do reuse freezer bags for baked goods, and the bags I store the bread I bake in. Other than that, it really depends. I rarely pack lunches, so we don’t go through many unless we are traveling and I use them for car snacks.

    I DO cloth diaper and I line dry in the spring/summer. Soon we’ll have 2 in dipes full time, and one at night. My stash for all 3 will total less than $225, and it will cover the newest baby from birth to potty training. A big savings.

  • Marlene says:

    What a great post!!

    I reuse the ziplocs as long as they’re easy to wash and haven’t had meat in them or anything that got moldy.

    We cloth diaper, rarely eat out, turn our heat down, and keep lights off that we don’t need. I carefully spend our money, and even started an Etsy store awhile ago and have found that to be not only really fun, but also profitable. I also do lots of baking and some serious couponing. Goodwill, garage sales and consignment shops are the first place I turn to for a particular need. Christmas gifts this year are coming mostly from garage sales, something that would make my parents die in shock if they knew, I’m sure! At least, gifts for our kids.

    We just try to do our best to be wise with the resources God has blessed us with.

  • Ashley says:

    I work full time in a different area of town from my house, so catching the deals at all the different stores is a little easier because I have a broad range of stores that are near me. I normally take advantage of my lunch break to shop for non-refrigerated items, other things I go on my way home from work.

    As for reusing baggies, I just don’t do it. I use baggies to pack lunches or freeze things – which normally results in a nasty bag once it’s thawed. I would reuse them for things like travelling (storing shampoo, soap, etc) but not for food. Just isn’t worth it to me.

  • Tammy L says:

    I think we all have things that are more of a priority or things that we like better than other things. 🙂

    For example, our family splurges on certain things like food ingredients or driving quite a ways to church on the weekends (gas $$!), but cuts out things like eating out, cell phones, or professional haircuts. Others might be delighted to eat beans for a couple weeks and be able to afford that cut and highlights! 🙂

    As long as we’re doing what makes our family happy and is within our budget, there’s no need to compare or feel guilty! 🙂

  • mb78 says:

    I cut my husband’s hair all the time. And my husband cuts our son’s hair. After we took our son to his first haicut and paid $20 for it, my husband said I can do a better job and do it for free. His hair grows so fast that the cost would add up to insane amounts if we kept going to the barber’s. We don’t normally save ziplocs because we only use them for wet/messy foods. Most of the time we use gladware instead.

  • Jennifer says:

    I’ve figure out an effortless way (and a no-mess way) to reuse freezer bags. I’ll used baked goods as an example. If I make mini banana breads, I’ll place 3 of them in a regular sandwich bag. Then I’ll slip a few sandwich bags into a freezer bag. This keeps the mess (which can be crumbly and gooey when they thaw) inside the sandwich bag, leaving my freezer bag perfectly clean. Sandwich bags are cheap, cheap, cheap when compared to freezer bags! I do this with baked goods, cooked chicken, pizza sauce, shredded zucchini, and just about anything else that I can think of. For me, it’s not worth my time to have to wash freezer bags. This gets me the best of both worlds!

  • Jan says:

    We reuse baggies for dry things. Son uses a sandwich container, and I’m in the process of making sandwich wraps from novelty fabric and food-safe EVA vinyl (I’m cutting up a shower curtain as I couldn’t find EVA vinyl yardage!). Our church takes a lot of the recyclables that our trash hauler doesn’t, which is great. Gave up dryer sheets and used scraps of wool yarn to make dryer balls, which work great.

    I recently used a big pile of worn-out socks and towels to restuff the dog’s snuggle ball bed. She was so happy!

  • Blakely says:

    This post got me to thinking because my first thought would be “NO” I don’t reuse ziplock bags, but on further thought I do. When we travel I have quart size bags that say things like lotion, purell, shampoo, and many other items that my leak. I reuse these bags several times before I get rid of them. So I guess my answer would be yes I do reuse ziplock bags.

  • Jordan says:

    We put most things in tupperware. The only time I find us using ziplocs is for onions that have already been cut- I hate the way they make the tupperware smell. For that reason, i do not re-use ziplocs. If it just had something dry in there that doesn’t smell funky, I will re-use them. My mentality is less about frugality and more about saving earth’s resources!

  • lys says:

    I only reuse ziplocks if they don’t have to be washed… had a mom who always had baggies drying in the kitchen. 🙂 I cut my husbands hair, get $8 haircuts at the beauty school, and recycle as much as I can. I do use cloth diapers which dry on a folding rack inside, but absolutely use disposable wipes!

  • Sally says:

    I am a frugal-type who doesn’t re-use ziplocs… My mom, however was the opposite and re-used every bag when I was growing up. I was the only kid at school who brought my PB&J in the long bag the loaf of bread comes in.

  • Rochelle P says:

    I reuse ziplocs but not all the time. Many times it depends on if I really want to wash them or not.

  • Emily Kay says:

    “The frugal experience is about living better on less. If you miss the living better part, you’ve missed it entirely.”

    OH SO TRUE! I have to remind myself of this CONSTANTLY. I’m a high-stress type of individual, so I have to be very careful with how obsessed I get with saving money and such…because I can RUIN my family’s quality of life by being over-zealous.

  • Kathie Cherry says:

    I try to avoid using baggies but if i have too, i reuse them.

    Never buy papertowels~ we use old towels (cut), burp cloths, baby washcloths (soft for cleaning kiddos faces), ect. for everything.

    I keep items when we eat take out (not extra handfuls, just what they give us in the bag). We keep the paper napkins for the occassionally times a cloth won’t due (hazerdous spills or vistor throw-up —-yuck-ola!).I also save the plastic silverware for birthday parties. (i enjoy visiting instead of cleaning up and it is only one day a year for now!)

    I try to be frugal and ENVIRO~MENTALLY AWARE! Living frugal is often helpful to our environment by consuming less!

  • Melissa S. says:

    We cloth diapered part time…the mother’s day out I used to work for wouldn’t allow cloth diapers. 🙁 But whenever we were home they got them…so I know I saved some money.

    I don’t reuse my baggies…but we don’t use them that often. I use the plastic tubs with the lids.

    I only have one line on my clothesline, and 2 out of the 3 kids have allergies, so drying outside depends on several factors, including the allergy count for the day. If their particular allergens are absent that day, I’ll do it. I will dry on racks in the house if the humidity is not too high.

    I cut hubby’s hair, but the kids go to Supercuts…they are too squirmy for me.

  • Merlin says:

    I don’t re-use ziploc bags for sanitary reasons (as one poster said earlier).

  • Sarah says:

    I only reuse ziploc bags if they had something dry in them. If I have to rinse it out and use soap to reuse it, I find it to not be worth my time. But if something in it was dry then I try to reuse them.

    Also, we don’t air dry clothes but only because we don’t have a line to hang them on. I always let sweaters air dry and hang a few things around the house here and there but wish I could do more of that. We don’t cloth diaper and that is one thing me and my husband agree on – for us it is just not worth the hassle.

  • Kristy says:

    I reuse depending on the first use for them… if it’s something that left a mess in the bag, forget it. I won’t take the time to wash a bag out and reuse it.

  • Jack says:

    I agree you have to pick and choose which savings tips will work for your family.

  • Becky says:

    I will only reuse a Ziploc bag if it had non-edibles in it or dry snacks – like cereal/crackers. More often than not though I use my LunchSkins reusable sandwich bags. If you haven’t seen them look them up – they are fantastic! They are made out of a vinyl-type material & wash up great in the DW! I also try to use containers more than baggies or foils/plastic wraps.

    I will NOT: cloth diaper (when I have kids), clothesline, compost, or wash a ziploc. (At a certain point it just gets silly!) I do have to say that I DO drive to several stores to get the best deal. I know this wastes gas, but I a) drive a hybrid and b) enjoy shopping!

  • Donna says:

    Yes, I reuse my zip lock bags. I also save all my bread crusts as my family won’t eat them. I throw them in a pie tin in the oven and when I get enough (they get stale and sometimes toasty from the warm oven) I throw in the blender and make bread crumbs out of them. I haven’t bought bread crumbs in years.

  • Chiara says:

    Hehehe totally understand the ROI part!

    For the most part, I double bag all meats (first bag that touches the meat is regular sandwich bag, then freezer bag). If the second bag (freezer) is still clean once the meat is used, I’ll stick it back in the freezer for next time. The bags are labelled so I make sure not to mix meat bags with other bags. My baking bags end up in the freezer too, as long as it’s still in good condition.

    I don’t really do too many other frugal things. We don’t have room for a clothing line (live in a condo.) and we don’t have kids. I try to maximize my time on the weekends by preparing (chopping, slicing) veggies and storing them in containers to make it easier for me during the week.

    I’m hoping that someday we’ll be able to move to a bigger place and get a freezer to help with cooking at home. I get tired after cooking everyday 🙂

  • Chris says:

    Well I wash and reuse ziplocs if the intial contents were not too gloppy or contained raw meat.

    I used cloth diapers (past that stage now) and last year we pretty much quit using the drier. DH and both really enjoy hanging up laundry (I guess we are both geeks).

    We mostly use cloth napkins and right now I have 8-10 rolls of paper towels in my stockpile which I figure is about a 5 year supply.

    We also compost.

  • Beth F says:

    I reuse Ziplocs & give boys haircuts. Love the idea about using 1/2 dryer sheets. Someone mentioned using dryer balls. What are dryer balls?

  • Alaine says:

    I reuse ziplocs sometimes, but only if they were holding dry food – I won’t wash them. I try to avoid using them at all – I stick with the reusable tupperware, which is both better for the environment and cheaper in the long run! Plus, I hate it when my sandwiches get mushed in my bag – the tupperware helps keep it from squishing!
    I will however, squeeze ketchup packets into the bottle and cut my husband’s hair (he hasn’t paid for a haircut in YEARS) – can’t cut my own yet, but I would if I could!!

  • Jennifer says:

    We don’t reuse our bags, but we’re very lucky, my father worked for SC Johnson (who manufactures them) so we buy them at the company store for about 25c a box! Probably more reason I should reuse them and save more! I never thought to just dump the crumbs (we do a lot of baking as well) and put them in the freezer to reuse – I like that idea!

  • karen says:

    Cloth diapers are one of those frugal things that is actually worth it–so long as you aren’t running out to the laundromat! I’m not beating them against a rock, it only takes three minutes to start a load of laundry. I have approx $400 invested in my diapers, they have lasted through 2 kids (so far) and have resale value (around 50% of initial investment). All that being said, we still use ‘sposie every once in a while.

    I draw the line at frugal things that I don’t enjoy–collecting points and UPCs for mail in rebates= not so much fun, hanging out a load of laundry=no problem

  • Shelly says:

    We reuse Ziploc bags at our house all the time. It’s an easy and cost effective way to save!

  • angie says:

    I do use gallon ziplocs, but not the sandwich size. I caught my husband saving used saran wrap and aluminum foil! I re-use bread bags, produce bags, newspaper bags, etc. for cleaning up after the dog on walks.
    I do not consider it a good ROI to wash my car, when the very nearby car wash does the inside and outside for $5.

  • Karri Armstrong says:

    Yes, I reuse, but for a different reason than being frugal. We already put so much plastic in our dumps, which is literally changing our world, so I would rather not add to it by throwing out ziploc bags. I was proud of myself when I went from April to July without using one bag (which was HARD!) and I’ve made the commitment to only buy them twice a year now. If every family did that, can you imagine what an impact we’d make on the environment?

  • Jenny in Tx says:

    I do reuse baggies if it had crackers in it; meat, etc. no way. I like reading the tips on here! I also breastfeed my toddler (that saves on the milk like crazy and colds), recycle, and have been known to take eye cream samples and put them back in the jar. Saved myself a $50 Chanel eye cream jar once already. I also return things that break or fall apart. Most companies will allow a return. Hanna Anderson allowed a refund for pj’s that 4 children had worn after the crotch had a hole–I’m a customer of theirs now for life.

  • Lois says:

    Absolutely. except for meat. I don’t cut myself much slack these days because there are no kids residing in the house (I babysit my 3-year-old granddaughter here) and because my husband is laid off. I hang linens on a little line. in the warmer weather. I cut our hair–but I have easy hair to cut. Easier than his! I’ve learned lots from your posts!

  • Sarah B says:

    I love the freezer door idea…Last week I threw out some ziplocks that were just sitting on the counter begging for a new batch of bread or cookies. My house is small, I don’t have space for saving every bag, but “freezer bags”; I can do that.

  • Samantha says:

    SAVE YOUR KIDS BATH WATER!! My husband thought of the idea to save the water that we use to bathe our children. We save our Plastic Milk Jugs, and fill those up with the bath water. Then we use that bath water to fill up our toilet tank whenever we flush. I feel that we are saving a little bit of money this way. And I give two thumbs up for my husbands creativity!

  • Loretta Baker says:

    I wash and reuse my ziploc bags. It’s really not any extra work. I just wash them when I’m washing dishes anyway.

  • Stephanie says:

    I too admire the freezer as a great storage place for bags…I will start to reuse mine more now as well- I draw the line at anything wet- the ROI just isn’t there for me. I cut my young children’s hair and I am always on the lookout for coupons 6.99 is half price of a regular cut so I am OK with spending that much on my husband and older son. The two younger ones I always cut myself. Me, I go once a quarter. I am a fan of line drying towels- I can’t do everyone’s clothes or I would be doing it all day- not to mention that backyards are scarce and HOA’s abundant in Vegas I have a line in the garage. After they are dry we stick them in the dryer for 5 min with a wet rag to fluff them up and make them not so stiff. I LOVe using Vinegar for my laundry softener and I ALWAYS cut dryer sheets in half. I like my homemade laundry soap, but I don’t use it frequently. I just don’t have the time to dedicate to making it on a regular basis. (When I do, I switch it out with a regular soap every other week). I don’t have a place to compost and I will always garden when I have the opportunity. My frugality at any given moment depends on where my family is right now. In six months or six years we will be in a different place and have different needs. I will adapt my frugality to fit my family and our lifestyle. I agree with Ryan, It’s about changing my life to live BETTER on less.

  • Cricket says:

    We reuse zippys for things like crackers and cookies. When I empty a bag, I put it back in the cracker box for the next open sleeve. I don’t go to the extreme of washing. For a working mom it’s too much.

  • Mandy says:

    Making my own laundry soap! I followed the instructions from Trent at Simple Dollar, but I make up a powdered form. I don’t have room for a huge bucket of the gel. It is so cheap, and has been better for my clothes. Before, with the cheap detergent, the cotton knits were getting holes in them. (Other commenter’s Trent’s instructions had the same issue) I haven’t had a problem since switching to my homemade stuff. And using vinegar in a Downy Ball is shear genius – it helps with our very hard water, and acts as a fabric softener. It’s $3 for 2 gallons at Sam’s Club! And I promise, there is no vinegar smell at all.

  • Stephanie says:

    I do save ziploc bags but I also pack four lunches each day and containers in multiple kids boxes tend to come open and things are spilled in there lunch box. We stared doing more cloth napkins and my family did not see this as saving money but as fancy dining…I’ll take it.

  • Angie says:

    I reuse our bags but mainly because of the money but for the environmental concerns.

  • Annette says:

    I really enjoyed this post, I’ve recently been introduced to your blog by a friend. I am very grateful for the money saving tips, this year we really need them. I’ve always been a careful shopper but never knew about CVS extra bucks and stuff like that. I have been able to save a lot lately on basics we need! But I have found myself spending too much time trying to be frugal lately and I have to cut back. I have 4 children under 7 and I’m homeschooling and I need to keep my focus on them. I was thrilled to hear you go out to eat once a week, that made me feel better because we love to eat out! Yes, I do re-use some Ziploc bags, only ones used to store bread and stuff like that. Thanks for doing this blog, it has been a source of encouragement to me.

  • Bethany says:

    My husband is in the military so haircuts for him are a routine thing, and that can add up fast, even on base. So at home haircuts are a must for him! We totally reuse ziplock bags too!
    And I must ammit I’m guilty of cutting the edges off of Taco Bell Hot sauce and adding it to the jar I have at home, because its so expensive in the stores and we just love it, plus here we can’t buy the hot flavor and thats what we like, so we just bought a mild and add out hot too it! i don’t suggest doing this unless you know you will go through your hot sauce relativly quickly though!

  • Laura V. says:

    I do reuse most of my ziplocs (and most of the time my husband remembers to bring them home from his lunches – he’s catching on)!! I also cloth diaper, use mama cloth, recycle, buy in bulk when practical, use reusable shopping bags, grow a garden and can/preserve what we don’t get eaten during the summer, make the majority of our meals at home (we eat out 1-2 times per week), don’t use shampoo (but that’s more for a specific health reason) than frugality and only use fabric softener in hubs’ clothes (per his request).

    What I am happy to pay for: haircuts for everyone, a specific type of mostly healthy bread (that husband will eat willingly!).

  • I reuse some bags, but not others. When I get meat on sale at the store, I bring it home, separate it into freezer bags, and freeze it in appropriate portions. I do not reuse bags if they have had raw meat in them, especially chicken! I think the risk of cross-contamination is too much to risk. I do buy bags on sale, and I don’t mind using the cheap ones. For anyother reason, I wash and reuse my bags.

  • Amy says:

    I only reuse ziplocs if they had something in them that is super easy to clean out. Otherwise they go. They only cost a few cents each and I don’t use them much anyway. I bet we buy a box every couple months.

    I’m a sometimes cloth diaper user. I used to never buy a pack of disposables with my first 2 kids but then I had 6 kids and 1 washer and it seems like I’m always behind on laundry so I do pick up disposables when I can find good deals.

    We do not buy paper towels though. My kids can go through them like crazy so for me I don’t mind washing a load of rags a week because it saves buying at least 3 rolls of paper towels.

  • connie says:

    Sure do reuse the bags…if I know what was in there (dry goods etc) however like others, any meat, cheese, grease or residue and then I toss it. I still buy baggies on sale and I don’t make it into a big deal. My husband is not a fan of washing them out however he leaves his ziplocs out on the counter after work and I then decide what gets reused and what is garbaged, so he doesn’t have to deal with it, it is definitely not his passion to reuse in that way however it comes quite naturally to me.

  • Lisa says:

    I don’t reuse ziploc bags that have had raw meat or other messy items in them, but I do reuse ones that have been used for bread or other easy to clean out items.

  • Lisa says:

    I reuse my bags! Not all of them (if I have separated pork loin chops into freezer bags, I toss those but if I just used the bag for baked goods I’ll rinse and reuse!).

    Just last night a was talking to a friend at church about running errands (deal-shopping). She said, “oh, that’s being a good steward…” And, it is, but you also have to steward your time and I mentioned that to her. Sometimes my deal shopping / planning gets out of whack and I need to ask myself is this the best use of my time (also something I will give an account for).

    Thanks Money Saving Mom for being a great inspiration. You come up in my conversations often. I hope you win the blog contest… I’d like to see your savings go up a big notch this month, too!

    A big fan….

  • Tracey says:

    I don’t run from store to store to get every great deal for the week. I have chosen two stores to frequent, with a very occasional trip to a drug store thrown in. For me, in this season, it’s way too much trouble to be popping in and out of four or five different stores each week, even if I may save a couple more dollars. I love the way you approach this subject – each family should choose to do what works best for themselves in their current stage of life.

  • jennifer barham says:

    i re-use mine and always have. when i first got married (in the early 90’s), i was FRUGAL to the max! by the way, don’t stick rewashed ziplocs in the dryer to dry. don’t ask me how i know that.

  • Jody says:

    WE used to reuse them, but fear of germs got to me. Most of the time, it isn’t a big deal. Everyone knows not to reuse the really messy ones, but say you use them for cheese…news flash, mold will grow on your cheese. And there are several things you don’t want to pass on to your family. Freezing isn’t the answer. There are many germs that can be frozen and then come “back to life” when you defrost them. Talk about saving time, how much of your time will get eaten up by a sick kid or worse, a husband? For those of you with kids with breathing problems, be warned, this is an especially bid deal.

  • becca says:

    I reuse my bags but I don’t wash them. If they need washing, I toss. But if it had bread or tortillas or something like that in it, it isn’t a big deal to save it. I also save bags in the freezer for things like bacon (which I cut in half and leave in the original package so no meat actually touches the bag, and it stays in the freezer all the time) and onions and peppers (which I buy fresh and chop and freeze in season). I’ll reuse snack bags and such, but I do try to use more containers as well. As for line drying- I do it if it is hot enough. Sometimes though, it isn’t worth the time to hang it. We do cloth diapers during the day, and I actually prefer them to disposable. Baby seems happier in the cloth. And now that we have another on the way (will be 15 months apart) I can’t imagine not doing cloth because I really don’t want to shell out for two disposable bums.

  • Elsie says:

    I reuse ziplock bags like for baked goodies or fresh veggies only if there’s not any funky stuff like mold and mildew growing in it….LOL.

  • I reuse them if they only had crumbs in them or would be easy to rinse out. We put our pancake mix box in a ziploc to keep it fresh, and that just keeps getting reused for the same purpose. However, if it touched meat or is really slimy with something else, like veggie puree, then I throw it out.

    I do like reusing the Zip n Steam bags, which we use to steam broccoli on a regular basis. I’ve found you can reuse those MANY times before having to throw it out–just rinse right after you dump out the broccoli.

  • Naomi says:

    I reuse some of my ziploc bags. The ones that have had a meat product or something liquid in them I do not re-use but others I do.

    By the way, you are way ahead in the voting. Will be rooting for you to win the money

  • Shelly says:

    I go back and forth on this issue. Yes, we do reuse them if, like other posters, it was something dry. Meat bags get tossed as soon as the meat comes out of them. I will also toss them if I flat freeze soup or sauce in them. That being said, I try to use re-usable containers whenever possible. Kids lunches are plastic bag free at our house, we use tupperware lunch thingies and happy sacks that are machine washable for our goldfish or cookies. I also have a small stock of plastic lidded bowls for things like apple sauce and pudding, as with 4 kiddos in my house, the individual serving items are usually not frugal to purchase. Not only that, but I try to think of how much less waste there is when I dont use them. Even if I paid next to nothing for the bag, it will fester in some landfill for many many years to come, so we try to think long and hard before we use them to begin with. I dont line dry either, so I am not as frugal or “green” as I could or should be, but I do what works for me. And I never in my life used a cloth diaper (well, my mom used them, but I didnt on my kids) TOOO MUCH WORK!!! 🙂

  • I do re-use ziploc bags; there’s often a small sink load of pots to wash at the end of the day, so we wash the bags then. I do not use shampoo on my hair, but not to save money, but because my hair is very dry and shampoo isn’t good for it. Currently I make my own laundry detergent, but I’m not sure that will continue as it doesn’t seem to be doing as good a job.

    I do not line dry my clothes. I do not (usually) make meat marinades from scratch – I buy the bottle on sale w/ a coupon. And (gasp!) I use paper towels and paper napkins. I don’t use the towels for hand drying or cleaning counters – they get used mostly for patting dry chicken or soaking up bacon grease and such.

  • Wendy says:

    I don’t reuse ziploc bags – I think it’s probably a holdover from all the bags I washed & dried growing up. Thankfully, I don’t use all that many & I stocked up a month or two ago when they Hefty One-Zip were $1.00 at Kroger & I had $1.00/1 coupons.

    I do cut my own hair; I used to get it cut at the local vocational school, but a few years ago I found a student that was wonderful and after she graduated I kept having really bad luck with haircuts so I invested about $15 in cutting shears & thinning shears & do it myself. I’ve always colored my hair at home because it’s so easy.

    I love using a clothesline but I haven’t had one in about a year & a half. This has resulted in hanging clothes on hangers all around my back porch…LOL However, this does not work for towels & sheets 🙁 We’re facing a move very soon & I have stressed to my hubby that I really want a clothesline put up ASAP after the move. I’m somewhat picky about laundry supplies, so many people would not consider me “frugal” in that area, but that’s okay. I do what works for us; the satisfaction I get when I pull my laundry out of the dryer (or off the line when I have the chance) and love the way it looks & smells & feels makes doing the laundry much less of a chore for me.

    When I bake in the winter, I leave the oven door open while it’s cooling down after I’m finished; I see no reason to waste that heat. My parents heat with a wood stove, so shorts & tank tops are common in their living room in the winter, but my mother can stay warm without breaking the bank.

    I absolutely agree it’s all about figuring out what works for your family & not letting anyone make you feel bad about it.

  • Karen Rucker says:

    I used to HATE hanging my clothes out on a clothes line. Lugging a heavy basket of wet clothes through the grass and kicking up things I’m allergic to with every step was just torture, not to mention that my clothes would come in wrinkled, stiff, and sometimes covered in pollen, birdy poop, or bugs. And if I got busy and forgot them out there, they’d get wet in the rain or fade in the sun.

    However, I remembered having a clothes line as a kid and I didn’t remember it being such a chore for my mom. Then I remembered that she had one with a pulley. I bought a set of heavy duty pulleys and tried it again. Much, much, MUCH better this time around. No more lugging that basket. I stand on the end of my porch and hang them. Plus since I”m not kicking around in the grass my clothes don’t get pollen on them. I also learned to reel them in while they’re just a touch damp. No longer are they stiff and wrinkled, and since I’m keeping an eye out to make sure they come in early, they don’t fade, pooped on, or rained on.

    Long story short, once I learned how to do it the right way, it was worth the effort.

    However, I don’t reuse Ziplocs. We tend to store sauces and other gooey items in them so they would require actual washing. Not worth it in my book.

  • Kimiko says:

    I don’t reuse my ziploc bags, because they usually have something like raw meat in them. I’m a big germophobe when it comes to raw meat, so those bags go straight into the trash when I’m done with them!

    I DID, however, make all of my own baby food when my daughter was at that stage, and I plan on making baby food for all of our kids, if the Lord chooses to bless us with more. It’s so easy and so cheap! Don’t do cloth diapers, though. I figure that when the amount of time, water, energy, detergent, bleach, etc. are factored in, it’s not much of a savings (especially since I buy the cheap diapers!). I also save money by using vinegar to clean a lot of things (works well if you can stand the smell). Dawn dish detergent mixed with water also works well as an all-purpose cleaner.

  • Sarah says:

    I Do:
    Re-use freezer bags for the same item. Re-use snack bags for dry items.
    Do hubby’s and son’s hair at home. (Buzzz….)
    Only use dryer sheets on certain loads, and never on towels (they actually make towels less absorbent and ruin their quality).
    Use coupons, visit the MSM site multiple times a day!
    Save gift bags, tissue paper, and bows to re-use.
    Re-use foil, if it isn’t dirty.

    I Don’t:
    Go after every sale and great deal at Walgreens and CVS. Sometimes the deal is awesome, but we are almost out of budget for the month, don’t really need the items right away, and can’t spare the up-front cost to get the catalinas back. Sometimes it’s heart-breaking, but it just doesn’t make sense to me to overspend now for items I don’t HAVE to have.

  • barbjenn says:

    I refuse to reuse! But, I do have other ways of saving. One of my faves is using my solar oven. I live in Phoenix, and I use my solar oven to do my baking in the summer, from casseroles, to quick breads, to cookies and cobblers. I do not have to pay to heat up my oven, then cool my house. I let Mother Nature do my cooking. If I did not have that oven, I would not bake during the summer. As it is, I try not to use my oven at all from June through September, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.

  • Christine says:

    What has not worked for me is buying new, low quality clothing. It isn’t a bargin if I don’t find myself reaching for it every time I get dressed or if the buttons fall off or snags develop. Instead, I take the money I would spend on buying new cheap clothes and go to resale shops or thrift stores and buy previously owned, good quality clothes. This strategy has served me well for many years and it is also a great incentive to keep my weight down since there is always more selection in the smaller sizes!

  • Barb Simeon says:

    What a great conversation. I’m honestly struggling still with the time involved in searching out these deals — which would be much much more time if you weren’t doing this for us and posting links to others who do (I’m so grateful for all your hard work — and the repeat trips to the store. I find that some trips are a total waste, especially on Monday evening, when all the other shoppers have cleaned out the stock! Being in the big city, the deals are sometimes just not the same as what is posted in various places. (I have yet to find a 99 cent bottle of Sally Hansen nail polish!) And I seem to be spending so much time on my computer, scouring the web sites and printing coupons. I feel like I’m neglecting my kids. Still, I can’t help but get excited when I “corner the market” on a deal. I’m still struggling, I guess, to find that balance.

  • Erika says:

    I reuse Ziplocs on dry items like baked goods and I have one that never comes out of my freezer that I keep home made popsicles in for the kids.

    I do cloth diaper combined with disposables. I do the cloth diapers when I get a chance to fold the laundry and stuff the diapers (I use pocket diapers…think disposable convience combined with cloth 🙂 and then just use the cloth diapers for a few days and just try to do that as often as I can. I do NOT use cloth diapers when I’m out and about…I tried it when my daughter was born and honestly? The idea of carrying around an icky diaper in a ziploc bag just didn’t work for me. So, to disposable convience I go.

    I have cut my own hair, lived off a camper washer to wash my clothes when I didn’t have a washer or dryer (because I got tired of shelling out more money and time than I ever wanted to at a laundry mat) and have even washed my clothes in the sink in my bathroom if I had to.

    I make all my kid’s popsicles now unless I absolutely have NO room in my freezer (I make sugar free ones) to freeze the molds. I clip coupons obsessively. I try to bake and cook and freeze as much as I can. I found my bread maker was the best investment I’ve made in my lifetime because between that and getting a 17.00, 50 lb bag of bread flour at Costco…I’m set on bread for a while :-).

    And I try to cut myself some slack most of all. I try to do everything and no matter how hard I try my house is always a mess, I have masses of clean clothes to fold and other stuff to do. But, my kids are happy and well adjusted. So, it’s a give and take.

    Thanks for the guest post. He brought up a lot of good points.

  • Rebecca says:

    I reuse them but only to wrap a poopy diaper in before throwing it away.

  • Clara Auty says:

    Yes, but for raw meat only because I know I will cook whatever germs might be left in the bag.
    I agree the ROI of time has to be considered, but when both of us are in between jobs, really my attitude is unless it is truly unsanitary or otherwise a threat to our long term well being (like unhealthy food), we need to try to do everything we can. My main issue is figuring out if monetarily some of the frugal things we try to do really save money in the long run.

  • Amber says:

    I personally do not reuse ziploc bags.

    My grandma however who barely survived the depression throws nothing out. She reuses plastic forks and spoons, at holidays if she catches anyone trying to throw them out she retrieves them. She reuses plastic disposable cups and baggies. If goes to a restaurant and they give her condiments in her bag it all goes home and is put away for later use. I admit I used to roll my eyes at her but I totally understand now that I am older. She was taught not to waste anything, ever.

  • M Evans says:

    Yes we reuse them because we believe in frugality of ALL resources not just money. The 1 minute it takes to keep one perfectly reusable ziploc from the landfill is time well spent.

  • carrie says:

    We always re use the zip locks bags, in fact, I was feeling so passionate about it one day that I actually did a whole blog post on it! 🙂 see it

    The other one that we ‘always’ do that I’ve been surprised that some folks don’t, is reusing their towels! One day I’ll do a live comedy show on this one: ( if I ever become a comedian!) we spend countless dollars on soaps, body washes, shampoo, scrubs, thick washclothes and water. Then, when it’s all done and over, we wipe the CLEAN water off ourselves and suddenly that clean towel is D I R T Y! Have never figured out the magic here… but… must be in some houses! 🙂 Ok.. it’s all in fun.. but it is one of my little frugal quirks!

  • Jackie M says:

    I don’t reuse Ziploc bags–I find it kind of gross! But I wouldn’t call myself a “frugal” person either. I enjoy couponing and snagging good deals. We both work and have no kids so we can eat out multiple times a week, etc. It’s amazing to read through the comments though and see what other people do. I can’t imagine the how much work and sacrifice it takes to be truly “frugal!”

  • Michelle says:

    The only thing I use ziploc bags for is my wool yarn (to keep the moths out), so they get reused.

    If I used them in the kitchen, I probably would not reuse them.

  • tina b says:

    We don’t use a whole lot of plastic baggies to begin with (we try not to use plastic in contact with our food). But, when we do use them, they are mostly for freezing items, and man are freezer quality bags expensive!! So, I do try to re-use those when I can. Like you said, if it just had some muffin crumbs in it from the freezer, just dump it out and use it again! I do not, however, re-use baggies that have been in contact with other things that require washing. Personally, I am concerned about the properties of the plastic changing when I use hot water on the baggies. So, dishwasher-ing is out for me 😛

    I did have a question about your baking pans, though. I’m referring to the aluminum ones I see in your pictures of lasagnas and such that you freeze. Do you re-use those? Are you able to find them on a good deal anywhere specific? Just curious…I’m a novice meal-freezer 🙂

  • Jennifer H. says:

    Yes, this is a good post. I started getting overwhelmed and spent too much time deal-chasing and I’ve relaxed in the past 2 months. My hubby had a heart-to-heart with my about it and I really appreciated it!

    I rarely re-use the bags, but I don’t use many anyway, so it doesn’t make much difference. When I take homemade bread to work in a baggy, I re-use it, but that’s no big deal to me. Anything that needs washing gets tossed.

    We are frugal in many ways, but don’t line-dry all clothes. I bought a 23-pound bucket of laundry detergent from Sam’s Club for $13 and we’re about half-way finished with it. I started using it in February and use it for my husband and I. I qualify my purchase as a bargain. 🙂

  • Cathe says:

    It probably depends on why you are frugal and your attitude about work and income. Paying myself $2 an hour is better than no income at all.

  • Michelle says:

    I LOVE this post! It is amazing how many people don’t take that into consideration when they start trying to live more frugally. Coupons are especially a downfall for most people. I hear friends talking about how much money they saved, but they don’t consider if they will even use it or they end up spending more money because they don’t calculate the price per ounce or piece. I love to see how you are very methodical about how you spend your money. It isn’t as easy as it appears from the surface!

  • Mrs. Shannon H. says:

    I agree with “Posted by: Ashley | October 15, 2009 at 12:32 PM” above: ” We opt for glass storage most of the time (inert- no zeno-estrogens leeching from it, like with plastic)”….”if you have to wash them there is too much possiblity for leeching, etching and contaminating the food you store. I think staying healthy is a big part of being frugal- sick costs money and time! ”

    Re-using plastic food containers worries me for the same reasons.

    The older I have gotten, the more I have become concerned about overall health as well as frugality.

    I have health issues that stemmed, in part, from unhealthy habits learned as a child. (My mom did her absolute best, but she did not have a very good home life as a child.) I have attempted to teach my children, now 19 and 13, healthier living so they may not face the struggles I do in this area.

    We have gradually made the switch to glass. You can still freeze in glass, leaving plenty of head room for expansion, no accelerated temperature changes like freezer to microwave, etc. My glassware has plastic lids, but with the headroom, there is no contact with the food. Microwaving plastic, whether it says it’s okay or not, worries me as well. My family has damaged tupperware storageware in the microwave, so we quit it also.

  • Elisa Smith says:

    I refuse to reuse zip lock bags!!! My father in law washes and reuses every single one he ever buys unless I throw them out first. I can’t tell you how many of them he’s washed and put back that have mold growing in them. I will never put my families health at risk just to save a buck. Think about all the plastic the breaks down use after use and gets in your food, washing with a maybe not so clean cloth or mold….sorry there is no way!

  • Holly says:

    “If my average savings is $80 per month and I invest this money on an account which yields 12% annual interest rate compounded monthly for a period of 50 years my heirs will receive $3,516,250.57 in savings by the time I turn 80.”

    Please tell me where you are getting a 12% interest rate!!

  • Carollynn says:

    My Non-Frugal vice? Paper towels. I haven’t learned to live without them! When I run out it drives me crazy til I can buy more. Everyone has their own “issues” don’t they? ; )

  • tonya says:

    My Mom is a hoard monster. I washed out plain fold sandwich bags growing up. Every drawer, box, closet, bowl whatever had several zip lock bags in them with everything from change, and barbies to crackers. I think everyone needs to be frugal or an enviromentalist or whatever you chose to be. Do it with a delicate balence of comoon sence and reality. Its very easy to “overdue” it. Dont risk your familys health by re-using meat bags. Dont buy expensive zip lock bags every week to put 3 in your kids lunch. Its all common sence. Find a balance. Do what works for you and yours. What my Mom did only worked for her. Not for us. It was humiliating to even have a friend over. Our family should never suffer from our attempts to “improve” thier lives. Every thing we do effects our family from finacial to emotional in someway. Just keep it balanced and do what works for your family.

  • On the cloth diapers -we ended up going about 50-50 (cloth @ home, disposable on the run/daycare). It works for us.

    On the ziplock baggies, we use them a lot as I freeze seasonal produce. For that I’ll rinse and reuse. For broths/meat/etc., no dice.

  • Challice says:

    I am also curious. How is he calculating this? I dont do a special wash for my ziplocks. they usually are the first things washed for me (I’m the dishwasher of the family) and hubby dries them along with a couple of our big items so it isnt like I’m doing a special load or something.

  • Beth Moss says:

    I quit reusing plastic bags (along with other things I have changed) due to the dangerous cancer causing chemicals that are released out of the plastic in which certain items are made. I have cancer, and as important it is to me to be frugal, the health of my family in more. I have become a bit OCD with it. It’s a great way to save, just be careful…

  • Kris says:

    what a great topic!

    for me, it is a balance between three things – cost, time (ROI), and not wanting to be wasteful. so, even though we can get zip bags cheap or free with coupons, i still won’t just toss them because i feel that it is wasteful. i even reuse plastic straws -weird, i know!

    but, i use a ton of paper towels which i’m sure many would consider wasteful. i do use dish rags and have tried to use them exclusively, but i just can’t stand wet rags mildewing in the sink. the smell drives me crazy. so, i guess i need to add a fourth thing to my list -my own level of sanity! sometimes, that one trumps all the others.

    i recently did a unit with my girl scouts on reduce, reuse, recycle. we talked about how recycling gets all the pr, but that the best place to start is with reducing what we use in the first place. yeah! because for me, that’s the easiest one to do.

    again, great post! and, thanks for all your hard work on this site. you have helped me save so much money at drugstores that i have been able to donate tons of stuff to shelters. (i couldn’t stick with the grocery store part – it was too much for me). i started in january and have gotten over $600 of products for $0 OOP – you read that right! zero! i started with a couple of gift cards by transferring prescriptions and have let it grow from there!

    thank you!! thank you!

  • Charlotte says:

    I reuse a ziploc only if I am refilling it with what was in it, I buy meat in bulk from a meat market and precook that and I toss those when I make a meal, my family’s safety is much more valuable than a few sents, When hubby was working I invested in a fit and fresh lunch box system, it gave him a full ice packed meal and was reusable, we used cloth diapers when my little one was tiny and most of our curriculum was hands on and frugal, now as our family dynamic has changed, we had to spend more and adjust, but it works for us and what we need now.

  • kriswithmany says:

    I cut the kids’ hair, make most meals from scratch, shop at the thrift store or make clothes or buy clearance. But I don’t wash ziplock bags, cloth diaper, compost, or line dry my clothes. I have limited time, and I have to choose what I want to do most.

  • Jennifer says:

    I don’t reuse ziplocks. I occasionally feel guilty about throwing them away, but I am really bothered by clutter, so it is just all around easier for me to throw them away. I try to use reusable storage containers more than ziplocks, and I almost never pay full price for them. I usually get my ziplock bags at grocery outlets. Thanks for this post. I think it is a great reminder that we all have priorities and some people reuse ziplocks so they can eat out, while other people don’t eat out so they don’t have to reuse ziplocks.

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