Today, Share Your Money Saving Tips

by Katy on August 8, 2013 · 110 comments

In everywhere I go and everything I do, I am always focused on the frugal. I pull out my frequent purchase punch cards, I minimize driving, I scout floor coins and when I go thrifting (as I did yesterday) I hardly buy anything. I put off new purchases longer than I should, as evidenced by my falling apart sandals which are three years past their expiration date. I revel in minimizing our food waste and I fix instead of replace whenever possible, and even when it seems impossible.

And most of all, I’m always trying to find new and inventive methods to save money.

Just recently I:

  • Took a pair of my husband’s hardly worn flip flops and cut them down to fit my older son. This not only saved us a couple of bucks, but more importantly it kept a pair from having to be freshly manufactured.
  • Served my son a delicious snack made from a rock hard french bread end and the last of a wedge of brie. I simply cut the bread lengthwise, buttered it and then lay it in a heated cast iron skillet. I then placed a full tea kettle on the bread to squish it down. The resulting grilled bread was then spread the brie and served lovingly. Gone was the stale quality of the bread, and let me tell ya’, there were no complaints.
  • Have planned out a great, yet frugal date night for our twentieth anniversary, which is today. It includes happy hour in a beautiful and historic Portland restaurant, yet will set us back less than $20.

Today I want you to share your favorite money saving tips. They can be classic or fresh and new. Creatively inventive or what you consider to be glaringly obvious.

If it saves you money, I want to hear it! Consider it an anniversary present.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 111 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen August 8, 2013 at 7:39 am

I receive an advance copy of the weekly Walgreen’s ad, so was on the e-mail list this past Tuesday. Wednesday was Senior Day at Walgreen’s; show your Rewards Balance card or an AARP card and you receive an additional % off purchases, even those on sale.

Bought items that household was low on and non-perishable.

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Karen August 8, 2013 at 7:41 am

Be sure you qualify as a “Senior” by checking at Walgreens.com/BalanceRewards.

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Katy August 8, 2013 at 7:44 am

I am super excited for when I start qualifying for senior discounts! As early as 50 sometimes. Only 4-1/2 years to go!

Katy

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dusty August 8, 2013 at 10:53 am

The closest goodwill to use offers I believe a 10% discount to 55 and older. I’m not 55 and they gave it to me one day but then not the next time. I thought it was 50 and over but they corrected me and told me they did it the first time by mistake. I never get insulted, I take all my discounts. Used to get free drinks at taco bell not sure if they still do that or not. I don’t care if they think I’m 100 as long as I’m getting a discount!!

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Tracy August 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm

If your spouse is already 50 and qualifies for AARP you can also get a card even if you are only say 45 :).

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marie August 9, 2013 at 3:13 pm

I just found that out at taco bell. Never go to fast food, but been dreaming of tacos. My partially grey hair got me a free pepsi

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Ann Yawornitsky August 8, 2013 at 7:50 am

Happy Anniversary ! I also like senior discounts…and find myself not buying something at stores that offer them unless it is the day of the discount. I am 58 and you can get over 55 at Ross, and other stores. I call it “geezer day”….and LOVE IT !

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Michele August 9, 2013 at 5:32 am

If you are over 60 some Kroger stores give a 10% senior discount on all their store brands. This includes their organics. The day my husband turned 60 I made him sign up (I would have another 8 years to wait. Sometimes it pays to marry the old guy). This saves us about $5.00 a week in groceries or more.

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Tonya August 8, 2013 at 7:51 am

Congratulations on your anniversary! Sounds like a lovely and frugal celebration.

We keep an eye open for coupons (mail, email or otherwise) for restaurants near us that we might go to anyway. Then when we do treat ourselves, we have a coupon to use. We usually base our choice of restaurant on which coupon we have.

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Joy @ Joyfully Green August 8, 2013 at 7:53 am

Happy Anniversary, Katy!
As for how I save money, I’ve gotten into the practice of not putting myself in any situations where I’m presented with things to buy that are not on an intentional list. That means no random trips to the mall, no window-shopping for antiques, no slowing down the car for yard sales, no late-night mindless shopping trips around the Internet, and I’ve recently cut catalogs right out of my life (I posted it about it here, in case you’re interested: http://www.joyfullygreen.com/2013/07/how-to-free-yourself-of-catalogs.html). If I take away the temptations altogether, I find myself with much more money in the bank!

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Joyce August 9, 2013 at 3:37 am

This is EXACTLY what I do!!!

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Lydia @ Not Afraid of the Snow August 8, 2013 at 7:58 am

I love to use my clothesline. I think it saves a lot of money over the dryer. I just posted some tips on my blog. http://notafraidofthesnow.blogspot.com/2013/08/tips-for-hanging-out-laundry-on-you.html

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Heather August 8, 2013 at 8:07 am

Become friendly with your neighbors! We borrow and share with our neighbors regularly. We bring them extra produce from our garden, they let us use space in their green house. We borrow their truck, we change the oil and spark plugs in it and wash it. My husband is always swapping tools with our neighbors and then he doesn’t have to buy them. We have a neighbor who is letting us borrow his little boat to take our kids fishing. We’re the “young” family in the area and all the families with kids in high school and college love helping us out because they remember what it was like being new homeowners 🙂 Saves us $ and creates a community where we’re all looking out for each other.

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Joy @ Joyfully Green August 8, 2013 at 8:34 am

I so agree with this tip, Heather! Our neighbor joined a CSA and always had too many veggies for her to use, so she gave us the extras. We watch each other’s kids, saving on babysitters. Good neighbors are essential for saving money and resources!

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Jen August 8, 2013 at 8:55 am

I wish my neighbors were of this mindset! Sadly, around here it seems only the older generation is interested in practicing frugality. I do have one elderly neighbor who started giving me extra veggies from her garden after I dropped off some dog biscuits for her dogs one day. Just goes to show that sometimes you have to initiate sharing by being the first to make a gesture!

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Katy August 8, 2013 at 9:41 am

We have been on our block the longest, therefor I very deliberately set the culture and tone. 😀

Katy

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AFS August 8, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Katy,
What does deliberatly setting the tone look like?
For instance what do you do when a new family moves in?

Lindsey August 8, 2013 at 10:00 am

Ditto for our neighbors. I have a huge, huge garden and greenhouse. I trade with one neighbor who is Korean and makes the best spring rolls on the planet. I trade with another who gives us salmon in return…and my husband has a riding mower so he takes care of the neighbors on both sides. (He is older than I am, and when he turned 65 I insisted he stop using a push mower. He feels guilty so it is a relief to be able to use it for other lawns) In return, they chopped wood for us. I had to laugh when a friend came over and dropped something by—she told me later that neighbors on both sides came out and asked her if she needed something, making it clear they were watching her. (One is retired, the other a stay at home mom so they are home most days.) I love knowing we have this little pod of concerned neighbors.

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Jane in Seattle August 8, 2013 at 8:13 am

When we go to dinner, we go on two for one steak night. Two steaks, baked potato, green salad and stir fry veggies and two drinks for twenty dollars. Or all you can eat tacos at Azteca. I look for deals at the grocery store and keep track of the free pile at work. I save my granddaughters clothes, so we don’t replace them. We take the ones she outgrows to the consignment store and trade them for the next size up , leap frogging. 12 months turn into 24 months. I buy things like denim jumpers on sale that can be made larger by lengthiness the straps and made dual season by adding a long sleeve t shirt and leggings. I use car towels for kitchen rags and recycle them to clean when they get too stained. My friend gets her watch batteries from the dollar store and pulls the stem every night to save the battery…I’m not quite that frugal! I just use my phone.

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Lynn D. August 8, 2013 at 8:17 am

I grew a boatload of basil this year; I’m sure I’ve harvested at least $200 worth so far and it’s still going strong. I’m freezing homemade pesto made with Costco olive oil and grana padano cheese. I make it with raw sunflower seeds which are just as good as the way more expensive pine nuts. I’m making so much that I think I’ll give some as Christmas gifts.

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Maureen August 8, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Wow, my 21 year old son is a Pesto addict. We’ve just agreed to try this. Love the sunflower seeds idea.

Katy, Happy Anniversary! Your column, in a way, is like having really great neighbors to trade & share with. Thanks!

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Trish August 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm

You can also freeze the basil leaves – I don’t have time to make pesto just now. I always use walnuts. In fact there was an article somewhere (maybe NPR website) about how expensive pine nuts are, and subbing pistachios was recommended.

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Kate August 8, 2013 at 8:35 am

I wait…and wait…and wait. I live in a small town where shopping – and thus, saving – opportunities are limited. So, unless it’s an urgent need, I keep my eyes open and my wallet closed until I find the perfect thing. I also sometimes set a rather arbitrary amount in my head that I’m willing to pay for something and often find it for just that amount. Once it was a new computer printer, found for exactly 2 cents less than my mental number and last night it was a KitchenAid mixer for $7.80 less than my number. It’s a silly game I play that helps me walk away from things that would work just fine, but would be more than I’m willing to pay.

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Ellie August 9, 2013 at 11:34 am

Exactly what I do – amazing how often my arbitrary amount shows up!

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Jen August 8, 2013 at 8:48 am

I stopped going to movie theaters a loooong time ago because the cost is not worth the experience for me…I’d rather rent a $1 DVD and snuggle up on the couch in my pajamas with a glass of wine. However, if you do enjoy seeing movies when they first come out, I’d recommend finding a drive-in theater near you. The drive-in closest to us allows you to see 2 first-run movies for only $8 (kids and seniors are less). They also give you plenty of room to set up chairs/blankets outside of your car, making it a fun, camping-under-the-stars evening out. Plus, it’s easy to bring food/drinks from home without having to hide them in your purse! They do encourage people to buy snacks from their snack bar because their profit margin on the films isn’t that high; I like to support local businesses so I’ll usually compromise and buy popcorn there. Anyway, just a suggestion if you are too excited about a movie to wait for the rental!

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Jen August 8, 2013 at 9:09 am

One more…My favorite trick this summer is to hit up community garage sales in ultra-affluent neighborhoods. Often, the families there are participating out of a sense of obligation and because it’s an opportunity to de-clutter–they usually price things ridiculously low. I’ve hauled in tons of tags-still-on-them Guess jewelry and Juicy Couture toiletries (they’ll be Christmas gifts for the label-lovers in my life), an entire new-looking set of expensive bathroom fixtures (towel racks, TP holder, etc.) for $4, and a huge, overstuffed armchair (the kind you can fit two people in) that looked to be nearly brand-new. It was almost exactly the style and color I wanted and it cost me only $20. The family was happy to get rid of it, and I was glad to oblige!

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dusty August 8, 2013 at 11:02 am

I totally agree with you about the movies. However, right before the Oscars I like to see the movies so I know what they’re talking about. What I usually do is check with Groupon, they will sometimes have tickets and popcorn for $5. If I can’t get a Groupon, I will go to the earliest show in the day to get a discount. Most of the time I don’t buy anything to eat or drink though, too expensive and I would rather go out to lunch afterwards and have something healthy.

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Stephanie August 8, 2013 at 9:41 am

once a year I designate a month to clean out the pantry/freezer – I’m only buying the minimum at the store because I’m trying to go through what I have unintentionally stockpiled. We’re going to start on the extra ham I froze at Easter next week. It’s actually looking like this ‘month’ might run into about 6 weeeks before we really get desparate. Which is just sad. I obviously need a smaller pantry.
My kids only get a new school backpack every other year if at all possible too. My daughter’s from last year is still in good shape and so she’s going to carry it again this year. I can’t say that she’s excited about it and my own mother thinks I’m being mean but I have a son starting school this year so it was his ‘turn’ to get a new lunch box/backpack set.

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Reese August 8, 2013 at 10:15 am

My mom never bought into the “start of school” supply and clothing shopping. We got a new backpack when our old one gave way, regardless of the time of year. Same with shoes. Same with clothes. She hated that there was so much pressure on families to buy right then and there, things that they might not even NEED.

I didn’t care as a kid. To be honest, I can hardly remember her doing this. And she’d always let me pick one one fun thing (I remember the pencils that changed color when you held them. They were 50 cents more… ahem).

So only buy what you need to! I don’t think that’s a bad idea for any time really!

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Becky August 8, 2013 at 6:20 pm

I agree with Reese – what a waste (of resources and of money) to buy a new backpack every year if the old one is still in good shape! I used the same Jansport backpack through all 4 years of high school. 🙂

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Joyce August 9, 2013 at 3:47 am

Ditto!!!

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Erin February 24, 2014 at 9:19 pm

I used my jansport from 7th grade through college. Still have it 🙂

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Lisa Brooks August 11, 2013 at 5:15 am

We started buying LL Bean backpacks. They last for years. The kinds in the big box stores seemed to tear up before the school year was over. Quality saved us money and time. I don’t like to shop often and it saves time and gas money just to order some things online. Additionally, I am not tempted by other items I see while shopping in the store.

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Sue Robinson August 8, 2013 at 10:00 am

First of all, congratulations on your anniversary. Also, I love, love, love hearing about your frugal ways. You inspire me so much! I’m really trying hard to change my wasteful attitude. A lot of us ‘baby boomers’ grew up with the feeling that there was an unlimited abundance of ‘stuff’ all there for our taking. We came from families who were starting out post WW two and the world was burgeoning with opportunity and progress. But thanks to you and others like you, some of us are seeing the folly of our ways. Keep up the good work!

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Katy August 8, 2013 at 10:09 am

Wow, thanks for the kind words!

Katy

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Linda M August 8, 2013 at 10:04 am

Like Joy, I try to not go to shopping venues that often….out of sight, out of mind. We can and freeze lots of things…..and trade with neighbors….we start eating sweet corn and between the neighbors and ourselves, can have it continually all the rest of the summer. I ask when I am somewhere if they have senior discounts…usually it is not advertised…most places do….if not, they can always say no. I make my own fabric softener and lots of my cleaning supplies. I cut up old t-shirts for cleaning cloths. I try to only buy ingredients….not pre-prepped foods….those not only cost more but taste like cardboard. We enjoy getting together with friends for entertainment instead of going out. A potluck meal gives so many selections from good cooks and there is no need to pay a meal ticket or tip a waitress. I try to only wash full loads of clothes and try to hang dry most of the time….unless it is allergy season. I like to shop for clothing at the thrift store only if we need something….so I try to keep a list of needs in my purse….but will take advantage of a great bargain if I know we will need it down the line. I swap with friends if we both have a need and can fill it for one another. Sometimes I mention to friends I am thinking of purchasing something and they tell me to take the one they have as it is an extra or they are no longer using it. I unclutters their home and I get what I need. I also reciprocate for them.

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Carlene August 8, 2013 at 10:06 am

It’s been raining a lot here, which is good. We’ve needed rain for a while now. I’ve set a small bucket out to collect rain water to use to water my indoor plants.

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Linda M August 8, 2013 at 10:12 am

Also meant to wish you a very Happy Anniversary!! They don’t just happen…you have to work to make it happen! Congratulations and wishes for many more happy years together for you two!!!!

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michelle d August 8, 2013 at 10:34 am

I quit my job to save money. My last day is tomorrow. I have spent so much money on daycare, commuting, clothing etc. It’s going to be a major adjustment – that whole no paycheck thing – but I am excited to spend time with my kids and enjoy life in general.

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kris August 8, 2013 at 10:53 am

That is one decision you’ll never regret! Enjoy those short, precious years 🙂

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Sarah August 8, 2013 at 11:33 am

We drive small, older cars that are paid for. they don’t use much gas and they don’t cost much if a repair is needed. I don’t understand the mindset of people who spend so much money filling up the gas tank of an suv they don’t even need. if you have several kids that’s one thing, but for most, I think its just a statement of fashion or money.

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JaneUlness August 12, 2013 at 5:30 pm

I have a 12 yo metro! Amen. Great unless. U want to go over the mountains! Lol

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Sandra August 8, 2013 at 12:11 pm

We save money by maintaining the things we have. Regular oil changes and maintenance on the vehicles extends the useful life and improves gas mileage. Take care of that leaky faucet, loose button, etc before it becomes costly.

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Odette August 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm

If you are a member of AARP, see all the discounts you’re entitled to here:
http://discounts.aarp.org/index/index?intcmp=MBMainDIS

More added all the time!

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Van August 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm

I used Groupon for the first time today, yay! I’ve been e-mailing around trying to get some necessary business bits sponsored. Sometimes it works!

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Trish August 8, 2013 at 2:05 pm

I don’t really have any amazing and cool things I do to save money – I do the same as all the other commenters. Except that we rarely go out to eat. We live pretty far out in the country so it is a dubious pleasure. I was trying to think of something – and then it occurred to me. Since we don’t have neighbors and our house sits about 200 yards or so off the road, I have minimal window treatments. this especially saves money on our 2 huge front windows.

My favorite money saving thing is my garden. I mentioned my pickling – my husband and I are pickle fanatics and I have made 120 quarts so far. I would like to find a recipe for green tomato pickles. And while we aren’t very skilled at do it yourself projects, we have been able to help the people we hired to do home repairs by doing some of the demo- it’s fun too!

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Marianne August 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm

I am my child’s toy. We sing together, make funny faces, discover the outdoors, dance around the house, bake together, play with our hands, the list goes on and on. Totally free and beyond priceless.

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John Benton August 8, 2013 at 2:52 pm

We don’t buy anything we don’t need in my household. We purchase grocery store brands, shop sales and heavily use coupons.

We don’t drive a lot, so we only use about ten gallons of gasoline a month. We buy our groceries from Fred Meyers that offers fuel discounts which saves us even more. The same store sends rewards of 1% of your purchases each quarter.

I shop thrift stores and garage sales frequently. I scored last week finding an almost new book for a buck, “Oregon’s Swimming Holes” and sold it on eBay for a hundred dollars.

I buy batteries at Harbor Freight for half the price of the name brands. They don’t last quite as long, but still cost less per use.

This site actually made me aware of Swagbucks. I participate in their surveys and watch videos from advertisers. This affords me enough rewards to get Amazon gift cards to purchase one American Eagle ounce of pure silver a month. So far I have eleven. I am bullish on bullion and believe the price will almost double in the next five years.

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Diane Mayer August 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm

I don’t suffer from allergies, but I’ve seen other posts about using the dryer because of allergy season. I’m wondering if an allergy sufferer can line or rack dry their clothes first and then put them in the dryer under the air fluff setting. Would that filter out the pollen? I’m not judging anyone, just wondering if it would save on the energy used to dry the clothes in the first place. I wish all of you well!

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Lynn D. August 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Don’t know about allergies, but if I want to soften up line-dried items I’ll put them on air-fluff for 5 minutes. Softens’em up and gets rid of some lint.

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Taylor-Made Ranch August 9, 2013 at 1:19 pm

I have severe ragweed allergies. I have a nice dryer but haven’t used it in over 5 years now, much preferring to line-dry our clothing. During “those” months I’ll dry our clothes on fold-out drying racks in the house. We have two of them that we purchased very inexpensively at a thrift store. Since we’re empty nesters I simply place the racks in our guest room and turn on the ceiling fan for a bit. Easy/peasy!

~Taylor-Made Ranch~
Wolfe City, Texas

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Linda from Mass August 18, 2013 at 6:55 am

I have about 5 clothes racks that I got from family and yard sales. I think I have paid a total of $2.50 for the racks. Great investment! In the summer, fall and spring, I line dry my clothes and in the winter, I have the racks. There are times I use my dryer but in 23 years, I think the dryer has had about 1 years worth of use. If it broke tomorrow, there would be no rush to buy another one.

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Liz August 8, 2013 at 3:45 pm

I mystery shop for almost everything. I get groceries, oil changes, food, clothing, hardware-just about anything. If I have to buy something that I can’t use, I just give it to a friend or relative, I get reimbursed anyway.

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Ellie August 9, 2013 at 11:40 am

What is “mystery shopping”?

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Jenzer August 8, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Happy anniversary to you both!

I recycle 16-ounce beverage bottles to make cold-brewed iced tea in our fridge. Our local Aldi sells boxes of 100 black tea bags for $2, so I can make a full bottle of refreshing beverage for only $.02.

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Lorraine August 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm

I started using my cloth napkins instead of paper napkins or paper towels. I still buy a roll of paper towels when I need them but I was surprised how long they last now – months!

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Jen August 9, 2013 at 5:06 am

I do this as well, except I only buy the paper towels when I have a coupon and they’re free or almost free. My mom was paper towel obsessed when I was growing up, and she HATES the fact that I don’t normally have them at my house. She actually brings a roll with her most times she visits hahaha. It’s just not worth it to have the around for me; if I do, my fiancé will go through the whole roll in about 2 days for no good reason, and if I don’t, he doesn’t even miss them. I use cloth napkins as well, and I find I can use my old newspapers for a lot of the jobs that the paper towels usually do: window cleaning, drying things, lining plates to soak up grease from fried food (just like they do in Britain for fish n chips!)

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dusty August 9, 2013 at 5:14 am

I totally agree with limiting the use of paper towels. I buy a select-a-size roll which is a little bit more money but sometimes you just need a small piece so I think it works out well. I usually wait until I have a coupon and the roll will sometimes last 2 months or more. Years ago I had a housekeeper and she would use an entire roll of paper towels cleaning our small house. It used to drive me crazy. She told me with her kids she would sometimes use a roll every day or two at home to clean up after them. What a waste of money and right into the landfill it goes.

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Joy @ Joyfully Green August 9, 2013 at 8:15 am

Dusty and Jen, I 100% agree with everything you said about the wastefulness of paper towels. I only buy the ones that are made of 100% recycled paper, are select-a-size, and use them ONLY for cleaning up dog barf (sorry, I know it’s gross!) and around the toilets (two boys in the house–enough said!). Everything else: Cloth napkins and rags. Even for parties, I use colorful cloth napkins instead of throwaways. More elegant and more frugal at the same time!

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Joy @ Joyfully Green August 9, 2013 at 8:17 am

Sorry–forgot to credit Lorraine for the original comment! I agree with her, too! 😉

Anne Weber-Falk August 9, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I use my select a sizes for cleaning up after the cat and the toilet area too. It cracks me up when the family comes and actually feels sorry for me because I don’t use paper anything-plates, cups, napkins, etc. They think I’m so inconvenienced but we’re all used to this here and now my kids question me when I cave once in a very rare while on paper. I love that.

Jennifer August 9, 2013 at 8:24 am

My parent’s buy paper towels when they visit! Hahaha.

We have used cloth napkins for years and I have rags for greasy spills that I can throw away or wash and resuse. Your post made me laugh because it’s totally our story too.

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Jen August 9, 2013 at 8:32 am

I cut holey socks down the back and use them as rags for pretty much everything! They are not pretty but they work great and are in constant supply so I do not feel so bad if I throw them away when they are yucky. The tall socks even work great on swiffer mops!

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dusty August 9, 2013 at 8:37 am

I use old socks as well for dusting, fit right over my hand. I didn’t think to try them on the swiffer, great idea

Jen August 9, 2013 at 10:59 am

Yeah, it’s funny, isn’t it? She always walks in the door with a bag of dog treats and a roll of paper towels. Then she washes her hands every time she pets the dog or the dog licks her and dries her hands with a paper towel. At least she only uses one…when my fiancé uses them to dry his hands he’ll rip off 3 or 4 of them! C’mon…use a hand towel people! Drives me nuts. I don’t know how my mom is the way she is, being raised by depression-era parents. The amount of food my mother throws away is criminal. When I visit her, I’m constantly over-stuffing myself or bringing food home for leftovers or the dog just so it won’t go to waste. Love my mom, but she drives me nuts with this kind of thing!

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dusty August 9, 2013 at 11:12 am

I hear ya. I have relatives who shop at Costco and then whatever food they don’t use, they throw away!! They said it still saves them money even if they toss it. They also leave the ceiling fans on in every room of the house, even the garage. These are older people also, don’t understand how they’re so wasteful. Drives me crazy.

Linda from Mass August 18, 2013 at 6:58 am

My mother does the same thing! She thinks I NEED paper towels!

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Jennifer @ Little Blog in the Big Woods August 8, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Happy Anniversary! Our 14th was yesterday! I canned green beans, made lasagna with sauce made with all kinds of yummy things from our garden and homemade blueberry crisp and homemade ice cream! So we had a homemade and frugal Anniversary too!

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cathy August 8, 2013 at 5:45 pm

We take care of what we have, and repair as often as possible. Grow a garden (veggies, herbs, fruit) and trade with friends.

Shop in the thrift stores, but only buy what’s necessary. (I’m like the mother of someone else who posted. I don’t buy into the whole back-to-school thing. Backpacks, lunch boxes, clothes, shoes all get replaced when they wear out. Not at some magical date in August. That said, there ARE some things that only go on the best sale for back-to-school like calculators and computers.)

We have old cars that we own outright; we batch errands. My husband either bikes or takes the bus to work (saving on both gas and a parking pass; the bus pass is free from his employer).

We cook/eat at home every day, and everyone packs lunches. We sell what we don’t need at yard sales or through local Craigslist-like classifieds. Kids go to public school, even though they are in special programs. We LOVE our local library for books, magazines, e-books, free music to download, and now free streaming movies. We have Netflix, but cut the cable cord over 20 years ago. Mostly we watch PBS–when we have time to watch.

One of my favorite frugal things is to take advantage of those coupons that offer a $25 gift card at the grocery store or Target or wherever when you fill a new or transferred prescription. Generally we don’t use coupons–because we don’t buy much brand-name packaged stuff–but we do shop with sales, and stock up when the price is super low; we love our chest freezer for this. And, yes, we eat our way through it.

I think, with frugality, a lot of it is in what you DON’T do. This is especially true with trends, whether in clothing or décor.

Happy Anniversary, Katy, and thanks for the continuing inspiration!

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cathy August 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm

One other thing is energy consumption. We have everything like computers and TV plugged into power strips. When the electronics are off for the night, the power strips get turned off so we don’t use phantom power. If phones or hand-held games don’t need to charge, the chargers are unplugged. We try to run laundry and the dishwasher at night during the off-peak hours. And whenever we possibly can, we open up the house and turn off the AC (or heat in the cooler months).

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TnA August 8, 2013 at 8:16 pm

I went with someone to a casino and took a book to read since I didn’t want to gamble. They had a real nice buffet and if you get one of their free rewards cards you get the buffet buy one get one free. They also loaded 15 bucks on the rewards card and you have 24 hours to use it. After eating the free amazing buffet I went to a penny slot machine and bet 1 cent on one line 1500 times and won the 15 bucks on the card, cashed out and filled the car with gas on the way home. ; )

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Denise August 9, 2013 at 3:01 am

Happy Anniversary! I hope you had a great time at your planned happy hour. I have been frugal for so long, that I tend to run out of ideas. It is just a constant mindset. I read blogs, like this one, to keep me motivated, and I am forever doing various “challenges”. I am currently doing a 21-day financial fast. I am on day 9, and have only purchased absolute necessities, such as food and medicine. Even though I am very frugal, I don’t realize until I do a challenge how many “leaks” there are in the budget sometimes. This particular challenge has been primarily aimed at reducing my grocery bill. Thanks for keeping me encouraged!

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Hannah August 10, 2013 at 11:55 am

Are you doing Michelle Singletary’s financial fast? Three years after reading that book I still write everything down I spend. Will never forget “Big Mama” 🙂

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Denise August 11, 2013 at 5:03 am

Hannah ~ yes, I am doing that particular fast! 🙂 I always think I’m doing a great job being super careful with money/purchases, but this book has forced me to really take a closer level of examination. “Big Mama” would be handy to have around!

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Denise August 11, 2013 at 5:06 am

Yes, I am doing that particular financial fast. I have enjoyed reading her book, and it has really forced me to take a closer examination of my money habits. “Big Mama” would be handy to have around!

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Denise August 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Yes, I have been reading her book and doing her challenge. I have stuck with it, for the most part, and have found it pretty easy to do. I know what you mean about “Big Mama”!

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Denise August 12, 2013 at 4:52 am

Yes, I have been doing her financial fast! I’ve stuck to it pretty well, and have enjoyed reading her book. “Big Mama” must have been a wise woman!

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Diane August 9, 2013 at 4:05 am

Staying out of stores of any kind…period!

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dusty August 9, 2013 at 4:21 am

I found a great website for flip-flops. The name of the company is Okabashi and they are in the US. Groupon had a deal on them and I think I paid about $17 and that included shipping. Now while this might sound like a lot of a pair of flip-fliops, they have a year warranty, totally vegan, and the only flip-flop endorsed by the American Podiatric Association. They come in great colors and styles and are really comfortable (they actually have an arch support in them unlike the cheap ones). The best part is when they wear out you send them back to the company and they recycle them into a new pair! I wear flip-flops almost year round here in Florida but I will never wear a cheap flimsy pair again. Gotta take care of your feet.

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Kate August 9, 2013 at 5:44 am

Happy Anniversary! I don’t know if this is the rught place to ask this, but it seems like a lot of people here could help – what’s the best way to get frugal school supplies? My son has a page long list of things he needs…

I save money by reusing and not buying things mostly- but the school supplies are mandatory…

Katie

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Joy @ Joyfully Green August 9, 2013 at 8:40 am

Kate, I just came across this article on BlogHer that answers your question to some extent: http://www.blogher.com/7-ways-save-money-school-supplies?page=0,0

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Joy @ Joyfully Green August 9, 2013 at 8:44 am

I also recently found a really good article about making sure your kids’ school supplies are safe/non-toxic. I forget where it’s from but I’ll dig around for it–I know I recently linked to it on my blog’s Facebook page so I will find it and return later.

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Joy @ Joyfully Green August 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm

As promised, here is the article on safer school supplies–it’s from eco-novice: http://bit.ly/12YFN2d. (I never realized all of this harmful junk was in kids’ stuff–the nerve of some manufacturers!)

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Katie August 10, 2013 at 5:46 am

Thanks for the tips, especially the non toxic supply website. All the plastic packaging with the school supplies makes me crazy.

cathy August 9, 2013 at 9:43 pm

A lot of the office supply stores and even Target sell school supplies for ridiculously low prices–even as low as a penny. Depending on what you need, you can generally find most for a small amount. Also, check out yard sales. In my area, there are always a couple that sell school/office supplies this time of year. At my last yard sale, I sold a boatload of pencils and crayons (almost all that were given to my kids and unused).

If you’re really struggling with the expense, you might ask the teacher if any of the items are less important, or maybe things that won’t be needed for a few months. That way you could spread out your purchases. It seems most teachers also have some supplies to help out families that can’t afford to buy everything.

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Barb August 19, 2013 at 7:08 pm

I taught for years. Nearly every teacher I know has used supplies from previous years to help fill in the gaps. While I couldn’t afford to buy all the supplies for all my students, I often bought new things for kids whose families were struggling. Over all, you won’t find a more compassionate, selfless group of people than elementary teachers. ( Not bragging, it’s just who I’ve been surrounded by for years.)

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Katy @ Purposely Frugal August 9, 2013 at 6:07 am

Price-match
Wash and re-use ziploc bags and aluminum foil (most of the time)
Ask for books in the inter-library loan instead of buying them
Vinegar in place of windex
Learning new techniques for getting better gas mileage
Happy Anniversary!

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Jen August 9, 2013 at 6:47 am

I am currently digging lip gloss out of the bottom of the tube to use up the last little bit before I get a new one, and I hijacked a ziploc baggie from going in the trash at work. It only had cookies in it, so I’ll take it home and wash it to reuse!

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psmflowerlady/Tammy August 9, 2013 at 7:43 am

I live in a moderately rural area and public transit is essentially non-existant. I live 30 miles from work and drive a very fuel-efficient car (paid off) and last year began carpooling. Bam! 50% reduction in gasoline budget. Now if I could just get my 17 yo daughter to have that mindset….
BTW – love your website and sending best wishes for a long and happy marriage!

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Kailey August 9, 2013 at 7:57 am

On payday I immediately deposit money into my savings account, even if it’s only 20 dollars. That way I’m not waiting to see if I have money at the end of month to put in my savings. I’m forced to make everything work within the confines of my new total and usually do with more left over because it’s easier to decline offers to go out and avoid purchases if your chequing account isn’t full.

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Heidi August 9, 2013 at 9:50 am

We are pretty frugal all of the time too – my one really cheap trick, as my husband calls it, is throwing the whole laundry soap container into the washing machine with the load when it gets right down to that last little bit that you can’t shake loose. It’s usually enough to wash the load, plus it cleans out the container nicely for the recycling bin. I often make my own laundry soap too, but use this trick for the times when I’ve bought a jug of it.

I also always use the ‘quick wash’ setting on cold water and only about a tbsp. of soap for each load. Our appliance repair guy told us that was all that was needed in our HE washer and he’s been right so far (unless the clothes are extra-special dirty and need a longer wash).

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Bonnie August 9, 2013 at 10:14 am

We don’t have AC, just ceiling fans. Line dry the clothes in summer and inside in winter. Turn lights off and unplug everything that doesn’t have to plugged in. Use all of the left overs or freeze them, or give them to the chickens. Let the lawn grow somewhat long between cuttings (even though it bugs my dad when he visits!).
Not buying any new pencils for school, just the erasers to top off the old pencils and sharpen them all good. Buy a good quality backpack and use it for several years. Buy folders and tablets at the end of last season on clearance for this new season. All the little things really do add up to a lot of money and make life simpler. Simple is good and cheap besides. 🙂 Happy Anniversary.

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Sloan August 9, 2013 at 10:44 am

Hmmm, I can’t say there is anything crazy that I do to save money. However, we just paid off my husband’s car so we are now debt free (currently renting) and he just got a promotion and raise, so we are going to try to live on just his income and save mine. It will be hard, but I think so worth it when I see how much money we save! We’ve only been married a few months and we are working toward buying a house in the next year or so.

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Jen August 9, 2013 at 11:18 am

Congrats on your marriage! You can totally make it work on 1 income…we had to for a while after I quit my job. It was a tough, eye-opening experience…I cut cable, down-graded the Droids, spent only about $25 each week on groceries, started shopping for necessities at garage sales, etc.. Now my fiancé has a higher-paying job, and I work from home as a freelance writer, but we continue to live in much the same way because the whole experience made me realize how many “essentials” really aren’t essential. I used to be a HORRIBLE spendthrift…It makes me sick to think about how much money I’ve wasted over the years. Now, I’d rather have the extra money for savings, fun vacations or, like you said, a house!

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Belleln August 9, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Happy Anniversary!!
Growing up in a family where frugality was simply a way of life, getting a BS in Home Economics during Johnson’s War on Poverty so every course included how to do it for less, to being married having 3 boys, a good sized husband-built home, 2 cars and all the other stuff but still on less than $35,000 a year I’ve done all the money saving stuff. And now, being over 65 and married for 47 years we live on SS very comfortably. There is some additional income but we consider that our emergency fund. I haven’t been to the local mall for over 9 years, buy used almost exclusively, mostly cook from scratch, know how much water & electricity we use so we can keep the cost down, only use our vehicle once a week at most, maintain our health, exercise regularly, mend, repair, reuse, upcycle. Just a note: I am finally retiring my Williams-Sonoma dishtowels after 20 years of daily service. They will be used as cleaning cloths.

To everyone out there, my mantra from Loa-tzu
Manifest Plainness
Embrace simplicity
Reduce selfishness
Have few desires

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dusty August 9, 2013 at 12:51 pm

williams-sonoma has the best dishtowels!! I also love your mantra.

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Koliti August 9, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Hi Katy! Happy Anniversary to you & your hubby 🙂
I listen to the universe when it tells me – “You already have what you need” – there’s only a few times a year when I’m sure it’s mistaken and I purchase a needed arts & crafts supply 🙂

Car: Paid-off. Receive a discount on my insurance since I’m an RN. In the last 6 months I received 2 mailers to go to two reputable car dealers and take a test drive for a gift card – one for $20 & another for $25 – so I did and have made $45 on a car I am keeping 🙂

Phone: Canceled land-line. Use Tracfone pay-as-you-go phone.

Electricity: Time-of-Use Meter (utilize off-peak hours).

Water: I do not believe ALL the water supply lines to the house need to be fully open all the time – when not in use I close the washer lines and the toilet lines. I’ve tried to repair one toilet that seems to want to trickle a little water from the tank to the bowl without success – turning off the water all together solves that problem. Also follow the “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” mantra. Low-flow shower head. Turn off water when brushing teeth. Kitchen faucet water filter (bottle my own water).

Personal care: Use 1-ply toilet paper (at CVS: Earth Essentials 12 roll package = 1311.5 sq ft, on sale $5.50). Cut my own hair with a Flowbee(yep, they still make them & I LOVE mine!). Do not use make-up.

Entertainment: Do not have cable. Do not have internet. Do not go to movie theaters. Canceled newspaper delivery. Get together with friends. Go to library & utilize all media and their air conditioning 🙂

Cleaning: Do not use fabric softener. Do not use paper towels. Use microfiber cleaning cloths. Steam mop (only needs water). White vinegar for removing hard water build-up on faucet/shower heads & in hot water kettle.

Skills: Learned how to hem my work pants. Designed & sew my own little pocket purse (only takes 1/4 yd of fabric).

Beverages: When I want something refreshing with a little flavor, I fill a tall glass 3/4 with cold water + 1/4 fruit juice. Otherwise water and tea.

Shopping: Do not go to malls. Go to church rummage sells (often they will have “Fill a Bag for $2 or $5”) & thrift shops (no purchase necessary – I get a lot of inspiration & ideas). Go to Grocery Outlet (discount prices on food & small household items & personal care items, close-outs). Do not pay full retail – use a coupon & get a discount. Buy a plant or flowering plant or succulent (lasts a lot longer than flowers).

Money: Automatically put money into savings every payday. Pay off credit card in full every month & earn reward points. Auto-pay bills (no stamps).

Health: Get plenty of sleep. Eat well. Laugh often 🙂

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Taylor-Made Ranch August 9, 2013 at 1:23 pm

First off – happy anniversary to the both of you!! I’ve very much enjoyed reading everyone’s responses, there’s so much we can learn from each other. I’ve lived this way of life so long I really don’t think about it or consider it a savings thing anymore. I guess my biggest savings result from zero-waste cooking, gardening, line-drying clothing and making from scratch many of the things I used to buy in the store (meals, desserts, yogurt, cheese, soap, condiments, seasonings, etc) It’s almost become a game with myself to see how much I can provide for our household without resorting to buying that product. FUN!

~Taylor-Made Ranch~
Wolfe City, Texas

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Jen August 9, 2013 at 3:31 pm

It’s true. I always thought I was getting a great deal when I could buy those rice-side packets on sale with a coupon for 40-50 cents, and I had a light bulb moment when I realized that by bulk-buying rice and using a TBS of oil or butter and some seasonings I could make the same thing for around 20 cents. Cheaper, healthier and less waste! Plus, I feel good knowing my money is not going towards the salaries of overpaid CEO’s. Since then, I’ve gone on the make my own marinara sauce, chicken stock, seasoning packets, baked goods, etc. Now, I only use coupons for things like cheese, peanut butter, tomato sauce and tuna. I’m thinking about trying my hand at making some of my own cheeses, though. Any first-time recommendations??

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LazyretirementgirlJackie August 10, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Ricotta. Go to ” In Jennie’s Kitchen ” website and search for her recipe. Easy and yummy.

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Maggie August 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm

We use cloth diapers, many of which we bought secondhand! I use mama cloth, and we save the envelopes that come with junk mail, white out the front, and use them (my husband brings home the leftover bottles of white-out from work, so that saves us even more!). I coupon for all our groceries, we shop at the commissary, and we unplug things that aren’t being used. I only run our dryer at night, and we line dry our diapers and about half of our regular laundry. We grow our own tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini, and water down our shampoo, conditioner, dish soap, and cleaning supplies to make them last longer. I cut our sponges in half, and pick up coins I find on the ground (occasionally I find a $1 bill!). My favorite frugal endeavor, though, is picking up stuff on the curb on trash day, fixing and cleaning it, and selling it on Craigslist! I figure I’ve made over $1000 in a year that way!

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Jen August 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Hehehe…I always go for a nighttime walk before trash day to check out everybody’s throw-aways. Kudos to you, it’s fun! I also find that if there’s a garage sale in your neighborhood, and you check their curb afterwards before trash night, there is often a “Free–Please Take” box set up outside. I’ve found some great housewares, books, DVDs, etc. this way.

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Maggie August 10, 2013 at 8:28 am

It’s totally amazing what people will throw away! We live on a military base, and people will put perfectly good furniture out on the curb rather than moving it across the country on short notice! We also get most of our son’s toys from the curb, and the bouncer he used for a few months!

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sheri August 9, 2013 at 5:32 pm

I think my most frugal savings is cooking from scratch. I do a lot of freezer cooking. I have a 3-4 favorite (healthy) soup recipes. I make enough to freeze in individual glass containers for 2-3 weeks. I pull as needed. I make burritos, quiches, lasagna, casseroles, breads, etc. and freeze. I also freeze fruit when on sale to be used for smoothies. I only eat fresh foods, nothing processed. This saves hundreds of dollars a year.

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DeMonika August 9, 2013 at 9:57 pm

I take my old sheets to make rags by tearing them into strips and crocheting into squares. I also put vegetable scraps in a bag in the freezer and when I have enough I make stock out of it.

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Koliti August 10, 2013 at 10:16 am

Here’s a few more…
– Need to get your teeth cleaned but don’t have dental insurance? Check if your community college has a Dental Hygienist Program – ours does and it only costs $35 to get your teeth cleaned.
– Product containers (shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, etc) that let you dispense liberal quantities only encourage you to use too much. Put these products into pump dispensers (takes less than 1/2 pump to dispense the hair conditioner I need).
– Liquid Clothes Detergent is notorious for difficult measurement markings on the caps – save one and clearly mark with a Sharpie where a one ounce mark is – use it to measure for each load.
– You only need a pea-size amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush.

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J. Pario August 10, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Congratulations on your anniversary! (And I love your blog–you aren’t afraid to be completely yourself.)

My favorite money-saving tactic is making my own clothes from reclaimed fabric.

I just finished a skirt I’m so proud of made from shorts that I would have given to the thrift store because they were too short (I don’t even know how I ended up with them) and cotton reclaimed from men’s cotton shirts with stains, etc. that even the thrift store didn’t want.

Here’s the link to my blog with some photos:
http://paintingontheceiling.blogspot.com/2013/08/finished-country-cute-skirt.html

Oohing and ahhing is welcome and encouraged! 🙂

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Diane C August 10, 2013 at 11:02 pm

First, Happy Anniversary! I hope you will celebrate many more with the likes of us.
Second, totally understand the neighbor thing. Ours fancies himself an urban farmer and has beehives, rabbits and chickens, complete with rooster. He also has little regard for legally established limits in our suburban neighborhood. I’d trade mine for yours any day. At least yours don’t stink to high heaven and start crowing at 3:30 in the morning!
Third, and I really have saved the best for last, we finally closed on our new house and are working on it feverishly so that we can move in soon. DH is a painting contractor by trade and can figure out how to fix just about anything on his own. We noticed a lot of coins around the house and decided to collect them. Our goal was $1.00, but we are up to $1.73! Thanks for giving me an excuse to share my excitement with Coin Girl. We’re not sure if we will return it to the previous owners (along with the teaspoon I found in the dishwasher), or come up with some other creative use. Any suggestions?

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Karen August 11, 2013 at 1:59 pm

I love this blog post. So many good ideas but I haven’t read any of these, all deal with the yard. I save seed and start my own plants. I have a mature yard with so many plant from various family and friends and now I can pay back and give my plants to people. Since I think about the people who gave me the various plants (esp. when they bloom) I am glad to be in other yards and hope they think about me. I have a rain barrel and these plants are watered for free. I have made a pledge this year to have something from my yard in the house, in an arrangement (so no bought flowers this year), Even in the dead of winter I can have a bouquet of rosemary.

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stephanie August 13, 2013 at 8:28 am

Happy anniversary!
We have little kids and one of the ways we save money on them are clothing and toy/book limits. We only have as many toys as they can put away themselves and that they actually play with. We have only as many books as can fit on the shelves and they each have a certain amount of clothing and it all has to fit in their drawers/closet. We start out with around 3-4 outfits each and between gifts/hand me downs they have a ton of clothes. We buy up to two sizes ahead and store the future clothes and we do birthday/holiday shopping year round- that came in handy when my husband was unemployed last November and December and the gift budget became zero.
paperbackswap.com is a great way to unload books you don’t want for books you do. We use the library all the time for books, movies and museum passes. I will preview books I think I may want to own and about 3/4 of the time I end up not wanting to own the book after all. If we are checking out a particular book multiple times then it goes on the purchase list. We cook from scratch as much as possible and work hard on the food waste. The cars are paid for and mine will not be replaced (we were warned last time my 1996 Geo is unlikely to pass inspection again).
The single biggest thing we did was not upgrade the house when the last child was born. We are a family of five in a three bedroom house and so many people were trying to convince us that we needed to move to a larger four bedroom. My stepson has the smallest bedroom, the girls share the bigger bedroom and my husband and I have the other bedroom. We need to move now due to my medical issues but we will still be in a three bedroom just without stairs.

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Betty Winslow August 15, 2013 at 11:29 am

My favorite money-saving tip: shop garage/estate/rummage sales, but do it with a list in hand, to avoid buying something just because it’s cool/cheap/a real deal. So far this year I’ve gotten tfour wonderful Xmas gifts for family members, some jewelry to upcycle into new designs for my Etsy store, and a much-needed small shelving unit.

My best tip for the kitchen: start three large plastic containers in the freezer, one for soup, one for chili, one for spaghetti. Tiny amounts of left-overs go into the appropriate containers: corn, peas, a little bit of rice into the soup, a few tablespoons of spaghetti sauce and a 1/4 c. of left-over tomato juice into the spaghetti, and bits of ground beef, beans, and grilled onions into the chili. I keep adding as we go along (and if you eat a lot of chicken, you can do one beef soup and one chicken). When a container is full, I thaw, add seasoning as needed and some broth or tomato sauce, and voila! A basically free meal!

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