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Freegan-Inspired Ways to Save Money (Without Dumpster-Diving)

FreeganIf "skip that morning latte" is for you less of a money-saving tip and more of an act of common sense, most articles on how to pinch pennies are probably failing you. Advice in women's magazines on such topics tend to focus on foregoing luxuries. But what if you don't indulge in too many luxuries to begin with? Already do your hair color at home, clip coupons, and eat out less than once a week? Well, if you read a lot of blogs you'd think you were living at the poverty line. Not so.

Consuming a lot of fashion media can lead to a false sense of what is normal spending. Even if you can't afford a Louis Vuitton purse yourself, you do adopt this mindset where you understand that a $1,500 purse is "reasonable" in the grand scheme of fashion. That can make it jarring when you know that you can't really afford that Coach purse from Saks, but in your "fashion" mindset it's bargain basement pricing for a leather purse.

It might make you feel better to learn about Freegans. Adopting their name from Vegans, a philosophy which many in the Freegan community also subscribe to, Freegans boycott the traditional economic system to varying degrees. From Freegan.info: "Freeganism is a total boycott of an economic system where the profit motive has eclipsed ethical considerations … instead of avoiding the purchase of products from one bad company only to support another, we avoid buying anything to the greatest degree we are able."

Many Freegans "forage" for food. This could mean grocery store dumpsters, fruit trees in public spaces, or visiting independent bakeries at the end of the day to see if they're throwing out any baked goods. A less intense version of this might be grocery shopping with a friend so you can split that less expensive bulk bag of apples that you'd never finish by yourself, seriously eating all the leftovers from a meal before cooking a new one, or taking that half a lasagna to your Mom's if you know you won't finish it. She'll surely return the favor with one of your faves.

In general, Freegans also tend to consume less media and therefore less evil advertising. For you, this could look more like not buying media. Reading fashion blogs (hello there, reader!) instead of buying fashion magazines, researching recipes online instead of buying cookbooks, watching TV shows online instead of subscribing to cable, and listening to music on Spotify or Pandora instead of buying music. No one's saying some of these methods aren't less convenient than their pricey alternatives, but reconsidering the value and meaning of "convenience" is a big part of a major spending cut.

The hardest one for a lot of women is clothing. Freegans buy little to no clothing, they rarely throw out anything that isn't beyond threadbare, and often only accumulate hand-me-downs or bargain basement thrift store items when they absolutely must. This can mean ill-fitting clothing that is not the most of-the-moment fashions. You could perhaps take some ideas form this lifestyle and try shopping at a consignment store where you will find items of generally higher quality and brand than at a thrift store. When you find that like-new Ralph Lauren blazer for 60% off the original price you may become a convert. Also consider a clothing swap with friends where you bring items you no longer want in your closet, but are still in good shape, and trade for that dress of your BFF's you've been eyeing up.

Photo by Fred Benenson used under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

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