15 Bizarre Frugal Activities People Inherited From Their Parents

Our parents affect everything we do. Even the way we spend money or relate to “frugal activities” is usually directly related to the way we were raised and the way our parents acted around money. This really comes into play when your parents are a little bit weird about money.

One person shared how their parent’s obsession with shutting off lights has affected them to this day, “I am compulsively shutting off lights when not in use, even though with today’s LED bulbs, the energy consumption is so minuscule it doesn’t even register on any modern voltage meter, nor will it make any dent on my energy bill,” said one person online. 

This important conversation about how our parent’s money habits affect us sparked an important discussion about the bizarre ways we act and how it’s closely tied to our upbringing. 

Saving Plastic Bags

The man used too many plastic bags that they filled up the entire kitchen.
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One person saves all their plastic bags, whether they need them or not. 

They shared,  “Saving plastic bags (the grocery store checkout kind). For as long as I’ve been alive, I have had a plastic bag, under the sink or in my pantry, filled with other plastic bags. There is no way I will ever use them all. Yet I continue to save every plastic bag that makes its way into my home.”

While it may be wasteful to throw out plastic bags, and indeed there are so many ways to reuse these bags, there comes a point when it is okay to throw them out instead of saving them. Of course, it would probably be best to invest in a reusable bag and use that instead!


Shocked curly haired woman stunned by big sales in second hand grabs clothes sticks out head through pile of yellow and black clothing poses indoor.
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Hoarding is a really big problem for many people who grew up with anxiety about money. They have a hard time acknowledging the difference between being wasteful and being a hoarder. One person shared how they find it hard to throw things away since their mantra growing up was, “Don’t throw it away; it can be used later.” 

To this day they say “Throwing stuff out gives me so much anxiety,” but they force themselves to do it because they “don’t want to be a hoarder!”

Re-Using Aluminum Foil

close up of aa aluminum foil on white background with clipping path.
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The Great Depression really worked a number on our parents and grandparents. While many great frugal living tips can be learned from The Great Depression it also caused an entire generation to have trauma regarding money. This really affected the way they lived their lives and they went to extremes to save money and food. 

“Does anybody else still reuse aluminum foil? How about putting a little water in the ketchup bottle (or any condiment really) to get every last bit? Thanks, depression-era parents!” adds another user

Saving Wood Scraps From Every Project

Hands holding wooden chips from eucalyptus trees as fuel for clean energy
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Another extreme example of saving things comes from saving scraps of items, especially scraps of stuff that is expensive, such as wood. One person shared how they can’t bear to throw away scraps from his woodworking. He shared, “My workroom is full of odd shapes of wood, big and small, thick and thin, different types – all in the hope that “someday” I will need a particular piece of wood and I will have it handy.”

Again, while some items might come in handy and you don’t want to waste them, there is a fine line between “not being wasteful” and being a “hoarder”. 

Cutting Kitchen Sponges in Third

Cleaning concept - hand in orange protective rubber glove washing glass window with sponge and detergent foam. Householding background, copy space.
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While some behaviors are extreme and can negatively affect your life one person shared an extreme behavior that they think has really helped them and they still do it deliberately.

They cut kitchen sponges into thirds to make them last longer. Even though sponges are relatively inexpensive, making them last longer can be a great way to be frugal and save money. 

“They get pretty gross immediately, so less waste. They move from countertop cleaning to sink, then when gross, use on the toilet then thrown away. My son automatically does this too, now,” he shared. 

Avoid Wastage

Couple throwing away raw meat in kitchen at home
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Food is usually a difficult issue for people who grew up with food insecurity (real or imagined) or with money anxiety. Throwing away food is a grave sin in many households and this causes kids and then adults to have issues surrounding throwing away food or “finishing their plate.”

Some people shared that they have a really hard getting rid of food that they really don’t like unless it’s visibly rotten. 

Saving Cereal Boxes

Grocery store shelf with boxes of various brands of breakfast cereal.
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Cereal boxes are great for crafts, especially if you have little kids, but beyond that? They are probably better in the recycling bin! 

But some people still can’t throw them away, even if they don’t have children who need art supplies. 

“My mom is a preschool teacher so having spare cardboard for crafts makes sense. I am an office drone so I have no idea why I need 30+ flattened Cheerio boxes,” one person shared.

Maybe you can find a neighbor who would love them!

Keeping Veggie Scraps and Chicken Bones

Happy young woman eating pumpkin soup in kitchen
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These make a mean broth, “My boyfriend thinks it’s ridiculous I keep veggie scraps and chicken bones in a freezer bag for soup, calls it ‘scrap soup’ or ‘garbage soup’ yet he loves it every time!”

Another adds, “Lol, I do the same thing with the freezer bag of bones, onion skins, carrot peels, and odds and ends. It’s hard to beat the taste of home-made stock made from what would otherwise go into the trash.”

Saving Screws and Nuts

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“Saving screws, nuts, bolts, etc. in case I need them someday. My father is like that, trying to stop since I have boxes of new screws and living in walking distance from a big hardware store. They still come in handy,” says one user

Another user adds, “My Husband just graduated from a baggie to an old coffee can full of old screws. I asked him if he feels like he’s finally growing in to his middle-aged manhood now, and he just laughed and strutted away! Lol”

Junk Drawer

A genuine kitchen junk drawer almost overflowing with junk.
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via DepositPhotos.com.

“Why hasn’t anyone said anything about the junk drawer. I grew up with junk drawer people. I am also a junk drawer person. My partner is a junk drawer person. In fact, I organized the drawer with a free organizer from a friend drawer organizer and it annoyed my partner off!  He said “It’s a JUNK drawer for Jimmenie’s sake!”’

Finishing the Plate Because Others Are Suffering

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One user feels guilty if they do not finish their plate, “Finishing my plate…it’s been a detriment to my weight but you don’t leave food because of starving kids in Africa. Another adds, “I had a teacher once (who was a mean guy), snatch a mostly eaten bag of chips I threw in the trash up and scream at me that “people in China are picking out of garbage cans and you are wasting food?!”

Shutting Off Lights

young woman holding lightbulb looking thoughtful
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One person wrote, “I’m crazy with shutting the lights off, too and I have LEDs in every single socket indoors and out. My energy use is so low that a solar salesman looked at my bill history and straight up said, “I don’t think solar is a good value for you over time because you have extremely low energy usage. How are you doing this?” I have a pretty big house, too.”

Drying Clothes on a Rack

Baby clothes are drying on the street. Selective focus. nature.
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“I dry most of my clothing outside, or on a drying rack. Clothes last much longer, esp. anything with elastic. Big savings on underwear; bras are expensive,” adds another user

Rotating Towels and Washcloths

woman in pink towel making turban on head after spa
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“My mom rotates towels, washcloths, underwear, socks, rags… anything that is used and washed fairly frequently. The freshly washed goes under the stuff waiting to be used so that everything gets worn semi-evenly and (in theory) lasts longer. The habit is so deeply ingrained, I caught myself rotating plates the other day and rolled my eyes at myself,” explains another user

Taking Napkins From a Restaurant

Girl wiping face with napkin after eating, hygiene and etiquette, happy client.
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“I always always always take any leftover napkins or even sauces (packets or in a cup) from a restaurant. My bf always looks at me funny, but when he has to blow his nose two hours later, who is there for him? Me and my saved napkins” says another

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Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is interviewed after the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting held at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. on Saturday, May 2, 2015.
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