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17 June 2016

5 Frugal Things & The Cruising Kitty

I typed this with my free word processing software.

One of the blogs I follow regularly is the Non-Consumer Advocate because it inspires me to embrace frugality. Every penny we don't spend is a penny that stays in our savings, which will allow us to cruise on our sailboat longer before we have to worry about topping the cruising kitty up again. (Don't you just love it that sailing type people call savings a cruising kitty? So cute.)

Leading a frugal life is multi-faceted. It can be about not buying things and doing without, doing something yourself instead of paying someone else to do it or going with a free or cheaper alternative to a product or service. Sometimes the savings are huge, other times it just pocket change. But, it all adds up.

While we regularly share how much we spend, I thought I'd share some of the things we've done recently to save money and keep our cruising kitty happy. Some of the things might seem insignificant in the scheme of things (like not eating fast food), but as Katy at the Non-Consumer Advocate says, "Just like you can nickel and dime yourself into the poorhouse, you can also nickel and dime yourself into financial freedom."


1 - Free OpenOffice Software

When I got my new laptop last month, it came with a 30 day trial version of Microsoft Office 365, after which it would cost $69.99 a year to keep processing my words, crunching numbers in my spreadsheets and making pretty presentations. That's $69.99 each year, not a one-off cost like it used to be.

I needed a better solution. Preferably a free one. Thankfully a friend told me about the open source Apache OpenOffice. It has the same programs, pretty much the same functionality and you can convert files so that they're usable in Microsoft. Sure, it doesn't looks as slick as the Microsoft version, but it's free. By going with OpenOffice, we're saving $69.99 a year which is a decent chunk of change.

2 - Filtering Water For Less

One of the things we need on our boat is a way to filter and purify our water to get rid of the nasties and make it taste better. This will be especially important once we're back out there cruising and filling up our water tanks from possibly questionable sources in other countries.

When I did some research on what system to get, I saw the Purest One and Seagull systems mentioned as being top of the line. They both sound like great systems, but they're really pricey. We're talking hundreds and hundreds of dollars for the system, plus the relatively expensive cost of replacement filters.

I just couldn't wrap my head around spending that much money, so I decided to go with a cheap and cheerful solution using a household water filter housing for less than $50. Filters are also a lot less expensive. (If you want to know more about water filtration on boats, check out The Boat Galley.)

3 - Canceling My Audible Membership

Amazon likes to tell you about all the exciting things you're missing out on - like audio books. They tantalized me with a free 30 day trial of their Audible Gold Membership. During the trial, you get to download two free audio books. If you decide to continue your membership, it will cost you $14.95 a month, which includes one free audio book of your choice each month.

I enjoyed listening to the books while working on sewing projects, but $14.95 seemed like a bit much to pay each month for one audio book, especially considering how many unread books I have lying around my boat. But, that's the great thing about free trials - you get to try a product or service out before you commit. Plus, I got to keep my two audio books which I can listen to again on long, boring passages.

4 - Eating Free Soup

When the lovely Vicky and Ed from Catching the Horizon were at Indiantown Marina storing their sailboat for hurricane season, they gifted me with a lot of food that they didn't want to leave on their boat. I'm not too proud to accept free food that would otherwise go to waste. It's saved me some money and every time I have some of the soup they left me I think of how much fun it was to meet them.

5 - Saying No To Fast Food

Did you ever have one of those days where you didn't want to cook and Burger King was calling your name? A Whopper Jr and fries sounded so good, but I resisted the temptation and ate leftovers instead. Not only did I save money, but I also did my heart a favor. Win-win all around.

What do you do to save money? Any frugal tips you want to share?


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30 comments:

  1. Fifteen bucks is a lot for one book.
    We don't eat fast food. At all. We'll go out to dinner now and then, but Chinese take out is the closest we come to fast food. I work with people who do fast food every day for lunch rather than bring a meal from home. That's over thirty bucks a week they're spending.

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    1. Fast food, lattes etc. can really add up. Getting a coffee with co-workers and eating out for lunch was a big drain on my budget when I was working. Not to mention often less healthy than something I would bring from home.

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  2. If you are interested in free audiobooks, check out audiobooks (I think). Volunteers read public domain books and put them up online there.

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  3. Audiovox, sorry. I'm on a phone that likes to think it's smarter than me.

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    1. That happens to me all the time. I think it's possible my phone is smarter than me :-)

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  4. Get a Palm Beach County library card and download all the audiobooks and ebooks toucan imagine for free. Hastings is listening to a Poirot story now, read by his namesake Hastings (Hugh Fraser). And then there's all the BBC radio productions with various actors. I haven't purchased a book or audiobook in years. (And 69$ a year for s program that sucks anyway? Bill Gates is evil!)

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    1. You can. Though toucans listening to audiobooks would be funny!

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    2. Or toucans narrating audio books would be funny too! I'll definitely check out what's on offer at the library.

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  5. I think everyone should look at what they spend each month and why. You do this and so do we. You'll be amazed at the things that you can eliminate if you just look at all you spend.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Being aware of what you spend is great so you can make educated choices about what you want to cut out of your budget and what you don't want to because it's important to you.

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  6. I second the library card suggestion. We check out everything from DVDs to e-magazines. It's great!

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  7. The fast food doesn't seem like it would be a lot, but it adds up quickly. Another vice we had was going to the movies. A trip for two to the show was about $30 with snacks. Glad we don't do that anymore.

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    1. Completely agree. We only go to the movies these days if it's one of those blockbuster types that are better experienced on a big screen, but it's pretty rare. And half the time I've been disappointed my the movie. When we do go, we try to go on a day that they have discount or a matinee because otherwise it's just too much money.

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  8. Ugh. I'm going to hate giving up my audible subscription. I've been a member since 2007. that's a lot of money, but it's also a lot of love of books, and I have a huge listening library. I know I'll need to give it up soon.

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    1. I can see why you've been a member. I really enjoyed listening to the books. It's all about personal choices when it comes to what we spend money on. Audible is worth it to you. Someone else might want to spend their money on adult coloring books :-)

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  9. Well done! We do a few of those cost saving things too! I also use OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office. While we spend our 5 months in Canada for the summer, we don't eat out and we don't buy booze as both are extremely expensive. And, we never do fast food. Kevin also always looks for the best price on anything that we NEED not want, and we look for any great second hand deals at the local thrift shop like my new to me Merrell sandals that are worth around $75 and I managed to get at $3. :-)

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    1. You guys are the poster children for tracking your budget and controlling your spending :-) Awesome deal on the Merrell sandals!

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  10. You might want to check out LibreOffice as well. It has been a while, but the two were vying for the better free office suite. For Android tablets and phones, WPS Office isn't bad. Lots of decent and free open-source software out there for all platforms.

    We went with a household water filter as well. We filter (simple whole-house cartridge that screws on the end of our hose like in your link) and treat our tank water with bleach when filling and have a 3M cartridge filter attached directly to the cold water line on the galley sink. No extra taps to add and we've been happy with the results (and I am a bit of a water taste snob).

    Biggest single thing we've done to cut budget was to change cell phone plans. Went from ~$120/month for two smartphones down to an average ~$30/month. Went to a service that charges based on usage and started using WiFi (including for longer phone calls) and applications that don't need constant data connections for things like navigation (but we figured that even if we didn't change our cell habits at all, based on usage our bill would have dropped to under $40/month). If you are interested, I have several blog entries on my cell phone decision and plans here: http://thisratsailed.blogspot.com/search/label/cellular

    As Ruth mentioned, thrift stores (and Marine thrift stores) are also great places to find deals. Takes a bit more searching and patience, but Americans are good consumers and practically new or good condition stuff can often be found.

    Boy...as I keep thinking I come up with other things...finding lower cost solutions to things like LED lighting with the stick-on strips and building our hardtop (which saved us thousands but cost us some time) keep popping into my head. Guess I'd better stop writing. :-)

    Take care and keep being frugal!

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    1. Great tips Mike! I'm going to use the filter for when we fill up our tanks (we also use some other additive, can't remember the name just now). I'm thinking about whether to add in another filter connected to the galley sink to filter the water again, but need to see if I have enough room. I'll check out the 3M cartridge filter you mention. Thanks!

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  11. If you have a Kindle, or Kindle app on another device, sign up on Bookbub.com, and get email notifications of free books to download from Amazon. I am stocking up while I have wifi/cell data, for when I don't. I have over 500 books so far on my Kindle awaiting me.

    Donna/Denali Rose

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    1. Fantastic tip!!! I check Amazon from time to time to see what's free for, but it's kind of a pain. Love the idea of using Bookbub to notify me about free books.

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  12. Have you tried the public library for audio books? I'm not into audio books yet having just retired, but my mom gets hers from the public library.

    But I don't really know frugal yet, I'm still learning.

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    1. I'm definitely going to check out the library option - thanks! It was a process for me to become more frugal and took a while before I got in the groove. Tracking our spending really helped me to see where we spend our money and what we could cut back on.

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  13. We find the best way to save money is to actually be out cruising in remote areas living on the hook. There's no temptations. Throw your wallet in a draw and leave it there for weeks at a time. Luckily I still get to eat well because Karen is an awesome cook that loves being inventive with whatever provisions are on board. You can see many of her recipes on the Our Galley page of our blog. www.dreamtimesail.blogspot.com

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    1. I see the pics that Karen posts of the meals she makes on FB and they look so good!! You're a very lucky man to live with a wonderful chef like Karen :-)

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  14. Great idea for a blog post, Ellen. I might have to follow your lead one day. We save on whatever we can. It has been part of every lifestyle we live to allow us to feel free and travel heaps. Always buying local products, anchoring, fishing and collecting water while cruising. On land: we live rent-free while house sitting, buy mostly stuff that is on sale in the grocery stores (there is so much choice for every product that there is always a brand on sale), only buy stuff on the list, cut down on meat, rarely eat out, make our own lunches, bought a used Prius, so gas is cheap, only go to the store once every week or two, Work from home, so no commute... :-)

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    1. I "stole" it from Katy at the Non-Consumer Advocate so feel free to do some of your own 5 Frugal Thing posts :-) I've seen a lot of other bloggers do it as well and it's really interesting to see what things others do (big and small) to save money. Would love to see your take on this in your blog.

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  15. I love your tips! I shop at charity and second hand stores quite often. I have gotten T-shirts, blouses, jeans and some household items. It is like recycling in a way, and it does save money. Besides, you can wash any items purchased before wearing them and I always do, and we should do the same with brand new items sold in regular stores as well, as even though the items are new, people do try them on.

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