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Frugal Ideas I’ve Always Wanted to Try

Posted By Jim On 12/22/2010 @ 7:21 am In Frugal Living | 54 Comments

One of the really fascinating parts of the recession is the effect it has had on news stories. During the boom, mainstream media focused heavily on the excesses of those who had money. You had stories of the most expensive wine or the most expensive dessert. There were stories about luxury cars and of fantastic mansions on enormous estates. Nowadays, the stories are focused on more pedestrian subjects. They’re focused on people who grow gardens on their deck or raise chickens in the city. I find those stories infinitely more interesting because it shows our creativity and our resourcefulness, not our ability to write a check or swipe a card.

The stories that share tips on reducing electricity are great – I try to use as many of the tips as I can to reduce our own bills. The stories about how to drive more efficiently are even better, who doesn’t like saving money at the pump. However, there are some ideas out there that fall in the category of “cool I’d like to try that” but I have yet to try. This is a post about those ideas (and why I have yet to try them).

Raising Chickens

Every few months I read an article about how you can raise your own chicken hens and enjoy eggs daily. While we don’t eat a tremendous number of eggs, our honeymoon two years ago to Hawaii taught me that fresh eggs (we had eggs that were an hour old) are absolutely delicious. You could, presumably, also sell the eggs at $4-5/dozen too, which is a nice side benefit that can supplement feeding and maintaining them.

Why I don’t do it now? Space. I live in a townhouse and we simply don’t have an area we can use to raise chickens.

Solar Panels

There are few things in life as reliable as the sun. It’s always up there, generating a tremendous amount of energy, and we should find ways to take advantage of this absolutely free resource. We don’t need to send human beings down hundreds of feet into the ground to pull sunshine out. We don’t need to leave people on rigs in the middle of the ocean to pump the stuff out. We simply stick a few black panels on a wall and the energy flows in. You get free electricity and you can sell some of it back to the grid if you can generate more than you need.

Why I don’t do it now? It’s just not financially viable where I live, we don’t get enough sunlight to be able to justify installing solar panels (assuming they are accepted in our HOA’s covenants). It might make sense in high sunshine areas like San Diego or Arizona, especially after federal subsidies, but it doesn’t make sense here in Maryland.

Hunting & Fishing

This is another one of those “live off the land” type of ideas and something I’ve always wanted to try. In most places you’ll need to get a license, understand the seasons, and practice before you’ll get any good at it. I’ve tried deer meat before, as both ground meat in chili and as a grilled steak, and I enjoy it. Sometimes people are put off by the “gamey” flavor but I personally enjoy it. It gives it character and a flavor you aren’t usually exposed to. (I added fishing, despite having fished before, because it’s the same idea and it’s something I haven’t done often)

Why I don’t do it now? I grew up on Long Island and never once even thought about hunting. There was a little bit of fishing but I was never exposed to it as a kid, so I never picked it up. Having gone to school in Pittsburgh, I met quite a few people who hunted but never tried it myself. I did, however, go salmon fishing with a good friend several years ago and had a blast. I chalk this up to just something I never tried simply because I never thought to try.

What are some frugal ideas that you really want to try but have yet to try?

(Photo: protohiro [3], waynenf [4], mrbeck [5])


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