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Use it up, Wear it out, Make do, or Do without

8 February, 2008

This phrase embodies all that is frugal. While it might seem more fitting in the depression days, it suits us just as well now in the “noughties”.

Use It Up
Are you guilty, as I often am, of letting veggies go rotten in the bottom of the fridge, or leaving leftovers undiscovered in the fridge until they more closely resemble science projects? Firstly, article on Menu Planning can help avoid the problem. Planning your meals around what you have already, or using up all or an ingredient (such as buying a whole cauliflower, and using half in one recipe and half in another) is one way to ensure this doesn’t happen. It is also a wise idea to make sure you are not buying more than you can reasonably use before it is likely to be inedible.

There are other ways to use things up, however. This can involve reusing containers you bought food in, such as glass jars, instead of purchasing containers for the purpose of storing food (and throwing away or recycling the containers you bought food in). Anything that you could make use of that you would ordinarily throw in the bin can be seen as “use it up”. Also, more wise use of the resources you have can be using it up more responsibly. For example, rather than pouring a random amount of dishwasher powder in your dishwasher, you may find you use less (for the same results) if you measure the powder each time. Others have found savings in pouring their shampoo and conditioner into a pump pack. These are just a few examples, but there are many more.

Wear It Out
Using things until they wear out can save you a lot of money. Lets say that you always buy yourself a new pair of shoes at the start of the year. However, if you think about it, you could easily wear those shoes for another six months (perhaps combined with other shoes that aren’t worn out). If you do that twice (get 18mths wear out of a pair of shoes instead of 12mths) you’ve saved yourself the cost of a pair of shoes.

However, clothes are not the only thing you can “wear out”. Simply choosing to stick with your current mobile phone, TV, computer or car, instead of upgrading, and using the current item you have until it doesn’t work anymore, is another way of wearing things out. It can save you a fortune, depending on how regularly you upgrade technology that very quickly is superseded.

Make Do
I utilise the “make do” with my cooking most often. For example, if I am baking and the recipe calls for self raising flour, and yet I only have plain flour, I add baking powder to the plain flour instead of making a trip to the shop to buy some self raising flour. Or if I am out of baking powder, I can make my own. If I need honey in a recipe but have none left, I might replace it with molasses or golden syrup. There are many ingredients that are interchangeable and making do with what you have can save the cost of impulse purchases that we inevitably make.

Making do also forces us to think creatively. When a child needs a costume for a special event it is very easy to go to the shop and purchase a costume (often for $20 or more). However, a bit of time and research, and you could easily make your own. There are plenty of websites with ideas for costumes, and a local library is a fabulous resource for patterns. A batman costume can be made out of the child’s own clothes and a black plastic garbage bag (which can also be used to make a skeleton costume, a nun’s outfit and numerous other things). Needing more plant pots than you have makes you look differently at ice cream containers and egg cartons (great for starting seedlings in). Making do allows us to think of possibilities we have never considered.

Do Without
Doing without is what I think we find hardest in our society. Keeping up with the Jones’ is vital for our social survival (or so we believe). But is anyone going to notice that our car is six or seven years old instead of four or five? Is anyone going to care that we don’t have a 3 mega-pixel camera inside our phone, or the latest in fashion accessories or the biggest TV? Do we really need a tenth pair of shoes? A new umbrella? A new DVD? The fact is that many of the things we consider “essentials” these days are not at all essential to living, and are items that at least 60% of the world does without, daily. Re-evaluating what is really necessary is a great way to save money and hold our grasp of our things just that little bit more loosely.

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