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The concept of consuming less seems really lost on most people these days. I suspect my frugal nature has a lot to do with my upbringing, including a mother who urged placing my weekly earnings in a boring bank account rather than buying candy and toys at the local corner store. I hated it at the time but those lessons are still with me today.

I really think a lot of the problems we have these days are attributed to consumers who have no discipline when it comes to shiny new items that come on the market. These days it seems, people see, people want, people buy. No one wants to wait and no one wants to do without.

So, let's make a concerted effort to save our money (like the guy from ING Direct says). Please post your examples of how you do this in your daily life. I'll get us started.

Grocery bags. Yes, I use plastic bags because I need plastic bags for household garbage. But I NEVER buy them nor do I buy those stupid cloth ones for $1 each that are barely big enough for more than milk and bread and need to be replaced after a couple spills. I shop at stores like Giant Tiger that supply good, free bags. After I get home the bags see a couple of re-uses.

-kitty litter
-garbage bags for those small apartment size cans
-a dozen or so go in the back of the car for next trip to a store which charges for bags. After returning from shopping at said store, the bags are then reused as covered herein.

What are your examples of consuming less in an era where consuming more seems to be the peer-pressure that prevails?
 

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nor do I buy those stupid cloth ones for $1 each that are barely big enough for more than milk and bread and need to be replaced after a couple spills.
We've been using the same cloth bags for five or six years now; if you get a spill you just put it in the wash! But the real heroes in our bag collection are the mesh-net "filet" bags -- they stow easily in a coat pocket and can carry an incredible amount of stuff and we've never broken one yet. I can carry a 6-pack of beer, a couple of liters of milk or orange juice, and some veggies and bread in one net bag.

We also use reusable containers wherever possible: there are a few shops that sell laundry soap, dishwashing soap, etc. in bulk, and we reuse the same containers over and over again.

We take a lot of effort to ensure that when we need to get rid of something, we do so responsibly (either donating it, recycling it, etc.), so this means whenever we buy something new we have to consider how much hassle it will be to dispose of it. That and our general (but not too strictly followed) rule of "get rid of one thing for every new thing you buy" helps put a brake on our purchases.

We also have a small house and are dead-set on keeping it uncluttered. We like the spare, simple look, and clutter tends to stress both of us out.

We keep a limited amount of bookshelf space. If we want to buy a new book and there's no room on the bookshelf, an existing book must go. I try selling books on Amazon; if that doesn't work and I can't donate them anywhere, I take them to the recycling center.
 

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My wife spends some effort looking for food sales to save a bit.

I think for us that most of our money savings comes not from what we do to save money, but from what we don't do - we don't eat out much, we don't buy much "stuff", we would love to get some work done on our house but we haven't done it etc etc.
 

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I organize clothing swaps with friends and acquaintances. Recently we've been talking about a "thing" swap (think small appliances) and a book swap. We did our first book swap this past Saturday.

Also, I haven't had cable for more than 10 years now. I still get TVO though. :)
 

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I think if people really want to save money, they need to track their spending via spreadsheet, writing it down etc. Even though we are frugal, we have a bad tendency to just pop by the grocery store often as it's close to our house. As a result, it's one of our biggest expenses which could be reduced with some planning.
 

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I think if people really want to save money, they need to track their spending via spreadsheet, writing it down etc. Even though we are frugal, we have a bad tendency to just pop by the grocery store often as it's close to our house. As a result, it's one of our biggest expenses which could be reduced with some planning.
Really, as long as individual food purchases are reasonable and you don't waste much food (let it spoil in your fridge, etc.) I don't see the harm in frequently going to the grocery store. I used to live in a rural area where the nearest grocery store was 20 minutes away, so when I moved to a neighbourhood with a grocery store on the corner I was spoiled by the ability to pick up more fresh food on more or less a whim.
 

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My wife spends some effort looking for food sales to save a bit.

I think for us that most of our money savings comes not from what we do to save money, but from what we don't do - we don't eat out much, we don't buy much "stuff", we would love to get some work done on our house but we haven't done it etc etc.
I think if people really want to save money, they need to track their spending via spreadsheet, writing it down etc. Even though we are frugal, we have a bad tendency to just pop by the grocery store often as it's close to our house. As a result, it's one of our biggest expenses which could be reduced with some planning.
i think the OP is interested in finding out what steps we take to "consume less", not to "spend less" or save money.

i think a good measure of how much we consume is how much we dispose. as for ourselves, we bought a box of garbage bags when we bought our home 4 years ago and we still havent run out of that. there has never been a time where we had more than one garbage/recycle or green bag by our curb. i am amazed at seeing my neighbours' garbage disposals - half our family size but twice the dump!!! how do we do it? we hardly buy packaged food, bottled water etc or for that matter even frozen food. we too recycle shopping bags to garbage bags even though they do not "look good" on the curb. donate clothing. extensively use library for our kids. we are not crazy about gadgets. wife and me even carpool. we have only one ride even if we can easily afford 2. live close to work. so a full tank of gas lasts for over a week for us!! shop groceries on the way to work/home. hmm cant think of anything more in particular. i guess we just lead a simple lifestyle.
 

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i think the OP is interested in finding out what steps we take to "consume less", not to "spend less" or save money.

QUOTE]

You're right, so I'll pretend I did not read your post. :)

My biggest saving ever starts on July 1, 2010. I'm moving out from a $900 a month apartment to a $300 a month room. I know about all the new problems that I will arise. But I'm ready for them, and it's only for 5 years. I'll be saving $36,000 in that period. Oh yes, I have to add the $40 a month cable fees that I will no longer pay since it's included in the room fee, so an additional $2,500. Therefore the new total is $38,500. In 5 years, I intend to move back to a location a bit remote, but not too much, from my little hometown where houses are cheap, small ones (two bedrooms only) you can get for around $70,000. There I can get help from my family who can do everything that has to do with electricity, plumbing and house repairs.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Great responses everyone!

rookie brings up a great point. Indeed, what's in your garbage can is very telling. And no, I'm not talking about debit receipts and old phone bills lol. I'm talking about the empty containers that fill your recycle bin and what's in the trash. You can see if the person is overconsuming by the volume and type of trash they have.

Another trick is to use rewriteable DVDs and CDs rather than the one time use ones. It's amazing the uses you can find for these discs when you use the RW versions. No need to keep buying new discs. Reuse same ones, consume less. :)
 

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Another trick is to use rewriteable DVDs and CDs rather than the one time use ones.
And actually if you're using CDs and DVDs to store data as opposed to music or movies, you can just use a flash drive. I use a 64 gig flash drive for backups; it holds as much as 16 DVDs.

One word of warning on rewriteable DVDs and CDs: they tend to corrupt faster and don't have as long a shelf life as one-time use ones. I remember David Pogue of the NY Times did an article on that a few years ago; he pulled out some CDs he burned in 2000 and 2001 and about half of them were no longer readable. Most of those that were not readable were CD-RW.
 

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On the grocery bag thing. Never pay for them as use bins which makes for faster loading and unloading of car. Plus with a lid they can be stacked so can buy more at a time. Don't use grocery bags for under sink garbage use full size garbage bag. At end of week take it out and go around the house to small cans and use extra volume then.

Do use grocery or any other bags for dog poop. Have 3 dogs so go through lots of bags that way.
 

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Another thing to consider is to shift more of your expenditures from posessions to experiences. Possessions come and go, but your experiences and memories stay with you for life.

A few years ago I had some extra room in my music budget (I fund my spending on music with income I make from performing and teaching), and I was contemplating getting a new iPod. But instead, I decided to buy front-row seats at the opera for myself and my girlfriend. Neither of us had ever been to the opera before; I always disliked listening to opera singing and had no desire to go, but my girlfriend had brought up the idea several times so I bought the tickets as a birthday present. It was an incredible experience for both of us -- seeing an opera performed live is nothing like listening to it on a recording -- and one we will never forget. I am really, really glad I didn't spend that money on an iPod.
 

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Like Berubeland, I also avoid Shopping Mauls. I buy most of my groceries within walking distance of my house which (I think) helps keep impulse buys at bay. Rather than buy a second vehicle, both my husband and I bicycle to and from work (I drop my daughter off at daycare along the way - she LOVES going to school in the bike seat.... and her fellow daycare kids are actually jealous she gets to ride in a bike! heheehe) so that saves us from buying an additional vehicle and it saves us from consuming as much gasoline as we would if we were to drive everywhere.

I use cloth bags, love them more than plastic because they can hold heavier things and not break (and are better for attaching to my bike).

Since my daughter only needs play clothes for daycare and one or two "pretty" outfits for parties, church, etc I tend to get most of my clothes free (second hand) from friends as hand me downs.

I try and repair something if I can, with my limited repair skills rather than buy something new.

About a year ago I read a blog of a couple who did a zero-waste/purchase nothing but food blog for a year and had no garbage (maybe recycling, not sure about that) so when their can opener broke, they had to fix it rather than buy a new one.
 

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About a year ago I read a blog of a couple who did a zero-waste/purchase nothing but food blog for a year and had no garbage (maybe recycling, not sure about that) so when their can opener broke, they had to fix it rather than buy a new one.
its funny you should mention this. back in where i come from, we fix and fix and fix and fix till the things are pretty much dead. once they are dead, we revive, resuscitate them and then fix and fix and fix and fix and reuse. this is simply because of affordability though. when i first went to the US, we were living in our company apartment where the plug for the rice cooker broke. we informed the caretaker hoping he would be able to get it fixed and mind you we were shocked, not surprised, when he just brought us a new one in the evening.

i just remembered another way/thing to consume less. TISSUE. i should mention again that i was shocked when i saw so much tissue being used left right and centre!!! a box of bounty from costco lasts us over 2 years. we prefer to use the cloth in the kitchen so we can wash and reuse.
 

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The concept of consuming less seems really lost on most people these days.

I really think a lot of the problems we have these days are attributed to consumers who have no discipline when it comes to shiny new items that come on the market. These days it seems, people see, people want, people buy. No one wants to wait and no one wants to do without.

What are your examples of consuming less in an era where consuming more seems to be the peer-pressure that prevails?
I try to consume less by doing my research before buying things and properly maintaining/fixing things myself.

I find that any professional now-a-days will not intice you to maintain/fix anything properly if you don't know better yourself but rather just replace everything when it wears out early.

I don't know how you can expect people to consume less in this day and age when every corporation is constantly scheming up ways to make them consume and replace as much as possible. The only way to change consumerism is to regulate businesses more.

A lot of times people can even burn more energy and resources when they think they're being green. High-efficiency appliances are a big trend now a days but no one considers how long that appliance will last


i should mention again that i was shocked when i saw so much tissue being used left right and centre!!! a box of bounty from costco lasts us over 2 years. we prefer to use the cloth in the kitchen so we can wash and reuse.
I also rarely buy paper towel. There was however an interesting video on TED and the introduction claimed you burn more energy washing the cloth
 

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I don't know how you can expect people to consume less in this day and age when every corporation is constantly scheming up ways to make them consume and replace as much as possible. The only way to change consumerism is to regulate businesses more.
We have the ability to control when and how often we open our wallets. I don't buy the idea that we are helpless victims of corporate marketing.

A lot of times people can even burn more energy and resources when they think they're being green. High-efficiency appliances are a big trend now a days but no one considers how long that appliance will last.
Actually a long time in most cases. I've been using an ENERGY STAR fridge and an ENERGY STAR front-loading washing machine for about 10 years now with zero problems; I wouldn't be surprised if they last another 10 years longer without any problems, though I might replace them before that if the efficiency gains of newer equipment are substantial enough.

There was however an interesting video on TED and the introduction claimed you burn more energy washing the cloth
http://www.ted.com/talks/catherine_mohr_builds_green.html

I think this might be the one you're referring to -- fun to watch, eye-opening, and only about 5 minutes.
 

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The only way to change consumerism is to regulate businesses more.
What what? This little libertarian-leaning lady says "no."

As for the wash cotton towels versus use and throw out paper towels, you have to be careful what assumptions you are using. I cloth-diapered my two kids (60 consecutive months) using handed-down cloth diapers (not ONE purchased new) and a high-efficiency (low-water) washing machine, line-drying most days. I'm pretty confident that I used less energy doing this.

/steps off high horse
 

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Yea it's funny how people immediately think being free and liberal means letting businesses do whatever they want with as few regulations as possible. I think we've hit the other end of the spectrum now

You definitely used less energy with cloth diapers I imagine, but I think a lot of times people don't look at the whole picture as that TED video shows (thanks for the link)

Lets all go buy an electric car now I'm sure Sudbury has enough nickel to power a billion cars and I'm sure we have enough coal power plants to recharge them all
 

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Possessions come and go, but your experiences and memories stay with you for life.
Ain't this the truth. I spend a lot on travel and I have many good memories of those rather than the payments on the car or other material goods. Now I live in a small place, I drive my car until it's into the ground, and use an ancient cell phone, for example, just to be able to spend more on experiences.
 
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