Money Saving Ideas, They Just Keep a’ Coming!

by Katy on May 7, 2010 · 30 comments

I am totally grooving on my current decluttering kick, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get a kick-and-a-half out of continuing to figure out different money savings tricks, (or “hacks” for my hipsters readers.) My favorite part is that I never seem to run out of new ways to save money!

Regular readers already know that I buy the pepperoni for my homemade pizzas from the Papa Murphy’s up the street. This little trick not only saves me a couple of bucks, but I also don’t end of buying three times the amount I actually need. Plus, I usually remember to bring my own container, which makes it packaging free! ย Win, win, win!

But today I learned that the Japanese restaurant a few blocks away would sell me a fairly sizable amount of wasabi and pickled ginger for a mere two dollars! We were making sushi for dinner, and the pickled ginger at the grocery store was not only six dollars for a jar, but looked kind of gross and soggy. I am super stoked to have figured this out, as the sushi making session was a huge hit with the whole family, and will most definitely be repeated.

I want to know what money saving tricks you’ve been employing lately? The Non-Consumer Advocate community always blows me away with its ideas, and I want to hear from you! Please share your wisdom in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellen May 7, 2010 at 6:32 am

I hav en’t bought envelopes in about 5 years. Every time we get mail and if the envelope is resusable I set it aside to use later. Or when we get pesky junk mail (besides being on the ‘do not mail’ list) that comes with return envelopes that i don’t need I save them and use them to mail letters in. Just tape a pieces of paper over the “old” address and write in your new address. Not only does it save money but it’s reusing something.


Rebecca May 7, 2010 at 1:23 pm

OMG that is brilliant!


WilliamB May 7, 2010 at 3:41 pm

I use labels to cover the address and the free mailing labels inefficient non-profts insist on sending me when asking me for money.

If you use a return envelope, be sure to scribble out or cover the computer-readable address line beneath the address. Or the post office will deliver it to there instead of where you want it.


Fred May 7, 2010 at 8:33 am

Don’t know if you’ve mentioned it yet, but we keep a bucket in the shower to catch water from running the tap to get hot water, and then use that water to flush the toilets. We’ve got old, inefficient toilets that we will eventually change to new efficient ones, but for now we can save money and water by using the shower bucket. Saving water is especially important because we live in Southern California.


Laura May 7, 2010 at 10:27 am

We do the same, but use the water for our garden.

I try and shop at neighborhood stores when possible. Some of them offer something free if you buy a certain amount, which is great for items I buy regularly. I buy our pet food at a neighborhood store where they offer “Buy 12, get one free.” I pay a little more per bag each time I buy, but the free bag more than offsets the extra I spend, plus I don’t have to drive very far to pick up food. I also buy my dog treats from the bulk section at the store which are W-A-Y cheaper than any bag of dog treats, and they’re all natural.


WilliamB May 7, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Same here, for the filter pitcher, for kitchen use, and for the garden. I used to use it for laundry but then I got a high-efficiency front loader. It doesn’t save me much on my water bill but I like the not wasting.


Sense of Home May 7, 2010 at 8:51 am

Like the above comment I reuse envelopes, collect rainwater for potted plants, use as little electricity as possible ($23 last month, sometimes it is below $20), grow a garden and cook nearly all our food from scratch.


Lisa May 7, 2010 at 9:33 am

I garden, cook from scratch (and never eat out), hang laundry outdoors, salvage envelopes for re-use, read magazines online (except Mother Earth News…I just can’t break my addiction to their magazine). I rent a room in my house to a relative. I walk rather than ride whenever possible. I borrow audiobooks from the Library of Congress. I exercise at home. I cut my own hair and went shampoo free a couple of years ago. I make my own cleaning products…including laundry soap. I make my own deodorant and beauty products. I make plarn (plastic yarn) from plastic shopping bags that people save for me then crochet it into rugs or market bags to give away or sell. Every once in a while I salvage old magazines, cut their pages into triangular strips, and make paper beads which I string onto saved strings from pet food bags before dipping in polyurethane. I make rugs and quilts from salvaged clothing. I mend and alter. I try to find a second life for nearly everything…and sometimes a third or fourth life. I re-use empty pet food sacks as garbage can liners. I compost. I save change. I make homemade wine. I forage for wild foods. You name it, and I do it!


Karen @ Abundance on a Dime May 7, 2010 at 10:21 am

Lisa, are you sure you’re not my long lost sister? LOL! You sound just like me ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve just entered the world of urban foraging – any good resources you could recommend? I’m not much good at identifying wild foodstuffs yet, save for dandelions (my lizard loves the flowers and we eat the greens).

I recently started making my own deodorant, too and that was my new trick I was going to share even before I read your comment. There is a good recipe here for anyone else who’s interested:
It’s super simple, all natural, and extremely frugal. Plus no more excessive plastic packaging – yay! My dh & I have been using this for a couple months and found it very effective. I add a couple drops each of tea tree and peppermint essential oil to the recipe I linked to.
I’ve also started making my own yogurt again, with much better success than the last time I tried it (as it turns out, it’s easier to get good results if you DON’T use a yogurt maker!) Cheaper, tastier, no plastic container!


WilliamB May 7, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Library of Congress lends out?!? When did that start?


Lisa May 8, 2010 at 9:04 am

@William- The Library of Congress has a lending program available for the blind and/or physically handicapped that’s free of charge. Every two months they send a catalog of titles available through your state’s library. Orders can be called in or mailed in. Recordings arrive through the mail and can be returned postage free. Plus they send out a big annual catalog that can be ordered from at any time. If you have a disability or are half blind (like me) this program is a godsend!


WilliamB May 8, 2010 at 9:59 am

I didn’t realize you qualified for that program. My grandfather loved it too – it was available long before all the wonderful chip-based aids.


amanda May 8, 2010 at 2:29 pm


Just curious. What do you use for shampoo? Do you just wet and let it dry or do you use a certain product? How long is your hair ? I’ve been toying with the idea but still not sure. I’ve done the vinegar rinse but it seems to leave an odor. Thanks for your time.



sandy May 7, 2010 at 10:31 am

Lately I’ve been making presents and cards from stuff I have lying around the house. I just created a card for my mother-in-law from the cover of an old calendar (spring flowers), a bit of fancy yarn, and some ancient construction paper (30 years old?). I have all these materials around that I hate to throw out because they might be useful for something, someday. Well, I decided it’s finally time to use them up. Not only does that lead to some decluttering, but I save money on buying an item, and I get to be creative. Fortunately these days people appreciate handmade items–unique things instead of mass-processed junk made in China.


CC May 7, 2010 at 11:37 am

What saves me the most is to use what I already have. If I want/need something I take a look around to see what might work. Sometimes it not a perfect fix but it is usually good enough.

Here is a good example This week I’m canning. I want to pick up all kinds of good stuff after reading a few books. (Canning & Preserving by Ashley English, which I got at the library is a good one thanks for listing it here). But I had some plums froze from last year and our tree will be ready in another month. So I made jam from those. Today I’m making salsa with some peppers from our garden. All this to say I will do a few other recipes but it seem silly to spend money when I can use what is here and we will be happy with it. This kept me from wasting food. Plus I got to have the fun of canning right away without spending any extra money.

Looking around at what I already own and using it has save me so much money and time over the years.


Anne Marie @ Married to the Empire May 7, 2010 at 12:05 pm

For me lately, it’s searching out cat litter rebates. We have a very sick cat, and we go through a TON of litter. I recently found that our main brand has a rebate, so I sent that in last week. (Refunds the full purchase price of one bag!) We recently bought a new brand along with a second litter box in an attempt to stop the peeing all over my house. Found a rebate today for the new litter. Again, a refund of the full purchase price, which is good because it was crazy expensive for cat litter!

I’ve also taken to shopping at the Asian market. I can get great deals on fresh fruits and veggies (less than the regular grocery store). I use some right away, then prep the rest for freezing. I have mangoes, bok choy, shiitake mushrooms in my freezer.


Rebecca May 7, 2010 at 2:32 pm

I forgot about Asian markets. Noodles, soy sauce, and GF flours like rice, tapioca etc are significantly cheaper, and better quality. The rice flour is milled soooo fine, its the best there is for GF baking, a real luxury on a tight budget. And the freshest tofu ever.


Laura May 8, 2010 at 7:57 am

I shopped at the Asian market this past week, and loved overhearing a man tell some women who were commenting on how low the produce prices were that they prices were so low since almost everything was locally grown. All the produce there was cheaper than any place else in town, and they had a beautiful selection of meat as well (high quality, low per-pound price). I bought an amazing amount of good food there for very little.


Rebecca May 7, 2010 at 1:39 pm

I cut our entire family’s hair myself, 2 boys, 1 girl, husb and myself. I get tons of compliments and people want to know who cuts our hair! ME. I also color my own, though cutting back on that cuz it is still an extra cost. Make reusable diaper wipes, I use them instead of tp, much less irritating. Garden and lawn care ourselves, you can have a great lawn for a bag of Weed N Feed.

My parents are giving us a gift of remodeling our very old, broken bathroom. We could never afford to do this on our own, and our kitchen and bath are over 100 years old. Since I am very frugal, we are comming in far under our budget, and my mom is giving us the difference to work on our kitchen!

Wish I had room to quilt and make rugs. Just don’t have any space where the kids can’t get to it.

We have also been able to create a great therapy/ play room for our sons and daughter. Almost all the toys and therapy items have come from second hand places, we are able to get them what they need within our budget. Am actually thinking of blogging about raising special needs kids on a “special” budget.

One of our best places for “new” stuff for our home is our University’s SWAP shop, which is a warehouse for old anything the university of WI wants to be rid of. Med equip, black boards, old dorm furniture, computers everything! And since this stuff has gone through significant use, you know its built well. I suggest everyone find out how their state university system offloads old equip. Great Finds!


Shannon May 7, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Your decluttering has inspired me…today I sifted out 30 more items to add to my pile for next week’s garage sale, with the promise that all unsold items will be transferred directly to the husband’s truck bed for delivery to the local veteran’s thrift!
As far as money saving, there hasn’t been a ton of that lately, but I am climbing back on the horse!


Katy May 8, 2010 at 8:08 am

Yay, Good job with the deluttering. And I’m sure the frugality bug will hit you again. Even I go through phases of extreme frugality and normal folk frugality.



Laura May 7, 2010 at 3:01 pm

I had a hack at making my own laundry detergent, using directions I found on The Simple Dollar. It works just fine! I think I might take them a step further by using simple fat-and-lye soap instead of fancy grocery store soaps, but I like the idea of cutting down on the number of random chemicals in my detergent.


Cate May 7, 2010 at 4:01 pm

In addition to my usual habits of cooking from scratch, using cloth diapers, utilizing the library, walking when possible, etc., I just recently discovered the joys of Inter-Library Loan (seriously–I’ve had my own library card for 15 years and I’ve just now figured this out?!), I’ve been getting free digital subscriptions to magazines, and I made almost $100 selling old clutter last week!


Katy May 8, 2010 at 8:09 am

That’s awesome! I know I’m repeating myself, but don’t you love “crap out of the house, money in?!”



Sarah May 7, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Not an idea really – but wanted to let you (and readers) know that the pink pickled ginger like the kind in your picture has both nutrasweet and artificial colors in it – since ginger is not usually so sweet or pink. Just an FYI for those interested.


Katy May 8, 2010 at 8:06 am


I eat such a small amount of the ginger that I think I’ll be okay. Especially when you compare it to the amount of diet coke I drank from ages 15 – 30. ๐Ÿ˜‰



Hiptobeme May 7, 2010 at 8:36 pm

I recycle birthday wrapping and cards and envelopes. Seems silly to spend money on this for a six year old.


magdalenaperks May 8, 2010 at 2:54 am

I bought a clothes horse as well as put up the clotheslines, so I can dry indoors without the machine. Now that I have my beloved Pfaff again, I’m sewing my own aprons and clothes. My newest penny-pinching idea – knitting covers for that dust-collecting flat sweeper with a name that sounds life Sniffer. We have two long haired dogs, but I had stopped using the duster thing because of the expensive and nonrecyclable disposable sheets.


tammy May 8, 2010 at 11:01 am

All of you inspire me to be even MORE creative in the frugalista arts! I recycle cereal boxes into mailers. Cut the sides, staple and viola a mailing envelope. I seal the sides with tape and it makes a snazzy cardboard mailer.


Jessica Wolk-Stanley May 9, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Me likey that idea!


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