Frugal Living: Overused frugal tips: Captain Obvious strikes again

There's frugal mania out there. The problem is that some of the tips are the same suggestions being mentioned over and over. While they might be new for some people, seasoned frugalitarians think they're disappointing and obvious.

Tips seem repetitious because they're designed to become habitual. You're supposed to feel as if you can do them or good that you've been doing them for years. They aren't all brilliant. Some tips can be simple conversation starters. A tip might not be a new idea or practical for you, but it can be a way to support someone else that would like to make some changes in their life. Everyone starts somewhere.

What frugal tips make you roll your eyes?

Here are three tips that some of my readers hate seeing over and over.

Make your own coffee: One reader, Constance from New Jersey, shares: "I hate the 'Make your own gourmet coffee at home and save $5,000 this year!' idea. It's a bit hard to imagine that if the need arose to cut back somewhere a person wouldn't think it was obvious to give up $4 coffees. I'm glad the tips are out there, though, for those who are really clueless about money, but it's frustrating for me trying to wade through all the stupid tips to get to one I can actually use."

• Usefulness: You know the coffee costs a lot. But maybe your friend or spouse doesn't think much about it. Their daily coffee trip might be a habit. Seeing the frugal tip over and over might make it finally sink in. Maybe they'll cut back or be happy when they get a reusable travel mug and coffee as a gift and discover they prefer it. This simple tip might encourage someone to seek out delicious new coffee flavors, syrups, or creamers for at home or learn how to roast their own beans, reuse filters or coffee grounds. A small seed is planted and you never know what ideas can grow.

Reuse baggies: Another reader, Misa from Washington, says: "I HATE the 'wash the baggies' out thing. I'm thinking if you're going to re-use those bags, just invest in some containers. Re-use those."

• Usefulness: Some people consider these single-use items and have never thought about reusing them around the house. Maybe they don't have the money to buy a new set of containers or they prefer freezing food flat to have more space in the freezer. Sometimes a person might think the tip implies to reuse baggies for only food and they don't want to. But then some tips will share specific nonfood ideas to reuse them, which can lead to wanting to reuse more household items. Lynn from Wisconsin, confesses: "The general tips always frustrated me. Like 'reuse whatever you can.' It wasn't until I came to your website and saw what people were re-using and how, that I was able to start doing it myself."

Buy a whole chicken: Another reader, Jeanna from North Carolina, rants: "I think the tip I hate is buy a whole chicken instead of only chicken breasts because it is cheaper. Duh! But you will not save any money if no one will eat dark meat."

• Usefulness: The great thing about a whole chicken is that you can make soup from it and use the dark meat in dishes that place less emphasis on the chicken itself, such as fried rice, salad, soups, spaghetti sauce, casseroles, sandwiches, etc. The chicken is cut so small that no one really notices it's dark meat. This tip might encourage someone to find new chicken recipes that their family loves, too.

• Sara Noel is the owner of www.frugal To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016, or e-mail sara@frugal


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