March 1, 2009

Re-Use a Coffee Filter: How Far is Too Far?

I seriously did that this morning. I was looking forward to enjoying a new caramel-flavored coffee when I discovered I had no filters! I usually stock up before I run out, but have been brewing more coffee intra-day on these cold winter days. I had houseguests yesterday who rose before I did and kindly made coffee using the last filter, so I didn't realize I was out.

But it is snowing this morning, and I wanted coffee—now. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I rustled through the kitchen garbage and pulled out yesterday's coffee filter, untouched by discarded orange rinds. Rinsed out the grinds, which tore a hole in the bottom seam of the No. 4 filters. Stapled the hole shut, re-filled, and brewed away. (I'll make a stop at Trader Joe's en route home from church today to replenish. They've the best price for filters. I picked up the caramel coffee from Trader Joe's parent company—ALDI's, fyi.)

It worked; no grinds came through. But it reminded me of a tightwad tip I read in Amy Dacyczyn's book years ago that I actually considered trying on first thought (but not on second). Dacyczyn detailed how to save money by re-using a vaccuum cleaner bag. I'm thinking it is not worth the risk of an old bag bursting and damaging the motor / filter system of my vac. Plus in the emptying, I'd inhale all those dust mites.

It's good to be resourceful in a pinch, but craziness!? How far is too far? I could better spend my time watching my 401(k) investments go down the sinkhole than rustle through my garbage to save 3¢. Or is it in the saving of 3 or 4
¢ that I am sated with the sense that I do have control over some aspect of my finances? Nah, I haven't gone that far—yet.

I'd love to know the craziest money-saving thing you've tried and whether it backfired or succeeded. And
would you would do it again?

The snow flurries have picked up, and I'm gonna pour my second cup.

Afternoon update: Turns out the filters cost only 1.7 cents per. Although my Miele brand vac bags aren't cheap
about $3.50 each.


  1. Try a paper towel next time. That's a family secret of ours.

  2. Good thinking! I don't drink coffee but my husband always makes sure he has a stockpile of filters.

    Happy blogoversary!

  3. I bought a gold filter from BB&B-- $10 (and used a 20% off coupon.) I won't have to buy filters nor create more waste. (and I think it tastes better, too!)

  4. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do! I'll go to great lengths to have a cup of coffee. And I have - like ladychgo above - used a paper towel in a pinch. It works!