Living the frugal lifestyle means being the ultimate recycler.
Earth Day is April 22. On this day, but actually, every day, take the opportunity to learn ways you can recycle.
This is going beyond putting your papers, plastics and glass into your Herbie. Recycling to me is repurposing items over and over again. For example, I try to use all the original packaging of products multiple times. I can't tell you how many times my husband has opened that butter tub to find something other than butter inside.
When I started writing my column over five years ago, a woman called to thank me for validating her frugal lifestyle. She grew up in the Depression era where everything needed to have multiple uses.
She didn't stop her ways when she became financially comfortable. She told everyone at Christmas to carefully open the gifts so she could save the wrapping paper and she rinsed out aluminum foil to reuse. Her family called her cheap and crazy, but her recycling not only saved money, but helped save the planet.
Jeff Yeager, who's known as "The Ultimate Cheapskate," has written books and has a reality show talking about his cheapskate lifestyle. He doesn't waste anything. He believes that cheapskates are too self-confident and too smart to spend money on things they don't need and probably don't want.
Cheapskates believe that their time on Earth is too precious to waste chasing after more money and stuff than they really need. Some people, when talking about couponing or getting free samples, think that's wasteful because you're getting products that you normally might not use. But frugal people love free samples because it gives us a chance to try a product before purchasing.
On my website Fru-gal-friends.com, I regularly get comments about sharing free items. I share dozens of free subscriptions from all the free magazines —I receive over 30 magazines a month — I get. I enjoy reading them; then I take them to the Ronald McDonald House Family Room at University of Kentucky Children's Hospital. People there enjoy them, too.
I am vigilant about reusing boxes and packing materials, even those I receive from the freebies I am mailed from PinchMe.com and Smiley360.com.
Don't think that getting an item free means I am more likely to throw it away because it has no value to me. In fact, the opposite is true. Frugal people value everything by its use, not its monetary value. To be truly content with freebie hunting and make saving a long-term habit, you should put the same value on free items as if they purchased it full price. Think of it as a gift.
There are so many ways of recycling and saving money way beyond free samples and coupons. Next time you are about to throw something away, be resourceful or be frugal and use it again.
Savings and freebies:
■ Sign up at Terracycle.com to earn cash for your school or organization by sending used foil drink pouches to be used to make fashion products like pencil cases, purses and totes. http://bit.ly/1eqrjZL
■ Need help with your taxes? Beaumont Library is offering free tax help to low- and moderate-income taxpayers, especially those 60 and older, on Monday on a first come, first served. Sign ups begin at 9:30am. Call 1-888-227-7669.
■ Whole Foods is offering free cup of coffee on April 15.
■ Seattle's Best Coffee is offering the Great American Coffee Refund — a free sample of its Levels coffee delivered to your mailbox — to help make Tax Day a little brighter. Claiming the Great American Coffee Refund (which makes a 10-cup pot of coffee) doesn't require a W-2, tax forms or a calculator, just visit Seattle's Best Coffee's Facebook Page on April 15. While supplies last.
■ Home energy and water audit kits are available for 14-day checkout at any Lexington public library. Each energy kit includes guidebook, information sheets, laser thermometer, food thermometer, refrigerator thermometer, foot candle light meter and kill-a-watt meter. The water audit kit includes booklet, 5 sprinkler measuring gauges, 8 sprinkler flags, water leak detection kit, rain gauge/drip vial and flow gauge measuring bag. Using both of these kits will help you find energy or water loss in your home. http://bit.ly/1hvzN7u
■ Orange Leaf is offering customers the opportunity to fill a cup with frozen yogurt for only $4.15 on April 15. Visit the Orange Leaf Facebook page and download a coupon to claim the offer. http://on.fb.me/1ej4aq8
■ Great American Cookie specialty bakery will mark Tax Day by providing a free Original Chocolate Chip Cookie, while supplies last, to customers who stop by participating shops. There's a Great American Cookie store in the Fayette Mall. Greatamericancookies.com
Deborah Morris' weekly column, The Fru-Gal, can help you get through these economic hard times a little more easily. If you know of a way to save some money, feel free to share it on The Fru-Gal blog on BluegrassMoms.com and visit her Web site, Fru-gal-friends.com.