Money Saving Tips From Readers

by Katy on November 25, 2008 · 2 comments




I ran a contest two weeks ago, and all you had to do was to send in some money saving ideas. (The winner was chosen randomly — congratulations to Marj!)

And readers, you did a terrific job!

Here’s an entry from just one person.

So thank you Shannon. Your well written tips are worth sharing with the entire Non-Consumer community:

One of my favorite things to do is to try to find as many ways as I can to save money. We have a very low-income, my priority at this time being to raise and homeschool my daughter.

Here are some of the tips that I have to help people to save money:

1. Pick up (at the library or second-hand), or borrow from a friend, a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczen. This, in my opinion, is the best source of tips ever. The prices are outdated, yes, but the ideas work for my family even today.

2. Walk everywhere you can. The article at If you scroll down a bit you will see the financial reasons why this important.

3. Living in Maine, I know that the winters can be extremely bad. To prepare my trailer (manufactured home, and people with houses do these things as well), I plug in the heat tape, bank the trailer, and put plastic in the windows. It is also a good idea to see about filling any holes in walls, as a lot of cold air can leak into your home this way. I am also looking into getting the foam inserts for the outlets, as this will also help to keep out unwanted cold air.

4. Freeze all of your leftovers, even the vegetable and past water could be used in making stews. Use it in place of broth/stock in soups/stews. With the vegetable and meat leftovers, you can make soups/stews/casseroles and fry-pan meals. With the fruit, you can make smoothies. With leftover potatoes and rice, you can make casseroles and fry-pan meals. Leftover beans can go into a bean soup or casserole.

5. Use the slowcooker as much as possible. If you don’t have one yet, check out yardsales and thrift shops. You can make almost any meal in a slowcooker. Small appliances use significantly less energy that a stovetop/oven will use.

6. By the cheap cuts of meat, if you are still eating meat. The butcher at the grocery store saw me comparing prices on roasts one day. He handed me the biggest, cheapest roast and told me to, either in the oven or the slowcooker, set it upside down, add liquid and whatnot, and roast. He assured me that it would turn out great, and he was right!!!!!

7. When you use the oven to bake a loaf a bread, do your other baking as well. A second rack comes in handy for this. I kept mine from the old stove when I bought the new one, so I have two racks. You can bake your bread once or twice a week this way, and baked bread is freezable. I sometimes bake a yeast bread, muffins and a couple of loaves of quick bread at a time. I freeze the quick breads and muffins, and thaw them the day before we want them. We use the yeast bread up first.

8. I grow as many fruits and vegetables on my tiny lot as I can, mostly in containers. Great fertilizers are used coffee and/or tea grounds and crushed egg shells.

9. I have a daycare, so I use the water that the children neglect to drink to water my houseplants. This saves a little, because I do have to pay for water. I also have buckets outside to catch water, and have a bucket under the shower to catch water. These bucket tactics save me a lot of money during gardening time around here. Also, I use pasta and vegetable water for this purpose, and used dishwasher is dumped on flowers.

10. I have pared down our personal hygeine necessities:
First, I bought myself the Diva Cup. It took a little getting used to, starting out being quite uncomfortable, but I was fine with it by the second month.
Then, I started using shampoo once every three days. And I only use a little. This saves me money. I do rinse my hair every day that I do not use shampoo, so I do not have the greasy or flaky look going on.
I only use soap on my face (I have oily skin) and the ‘important parts’, and there is no body odor problem.
The only other products that I use are toothpaste and toothbrushes. We buy the toothpaste at $1.00 or less, and only use a small amount at a time. And we buy 4-packs of toothbrushes at the $ store, and switch them out every 3-4 months. We also use lotion when necessary.
11. My cleaning products consist of: Homemade dishwasher and laundry detergent, homeade toilet and all purpose cleaner, dishwashing detergent (liquid, for hand washing).
My cleaning supplies consist of: bagless, reusable filtered vacuum, rags, broom and dustpan, a bucket, borax, washing soda, baking soda, fels naptha soap, liquid dishwashing detergent, vinegar, salt.
I save a huge amount of money using these things only.

12. I am planning to make quilts from scraps.

13. I am planning on making braided rugs from scraps.

14. I cook from scratch whenever I can.

15. I stock up on loss-leaders at the grocery stores; those items shown on the front and back of the sales paper. This is where I get the best deals, with or without coupons. Yes, sometimes these deals are on ‘convenience’ type foods, but they make a good treat once in a while. With coupons, I have been paying about .75 cents for things like rice and pasta sides, hamburger helpers and hot pockets, which will be used on our busiest days, when I won’t be home to cook. They are easy for children to prepare on their own, so I don’t mind purchasing them to have on hand when I wont be there. The only requirement is that they have 1 fruit or vegetable with their choice at lunch, or two at dinner.

16. I am searching out recipes for ‘convenience’ a,d other foods. Check out

17. I purchase most of our clothing at yardsales, $ stores, thrift/consignment shops and on clearance.

18. Put out the word that you are willing to help people with their moving tasks: Packing, moving and cleaning. I helped a neighbor do this, and she gave me tons of stuff!!!! Much of which is new and can be used as gifts this holiday season. She and her husband also gave my daughter a lot of stuff for her first apartment.

19. You could also offer to help people get organized, and may end up bringing things home.

20. I am not only making a price book, but I am also making a yardsale/other sale book. This is where I will list everything that we need/want, and a price that I don’t want to go over on each. I can then cross things off as I get them.

I hope these are helpful to some of you. I will now go and read what everyone else has posted so far.


Thank you so much Shannon, I think my next project will be to start baking bread!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

slb725writer November 25, 2008 at 10:42 am

Thank you. I am pleased that you enjoyed my post, and I want to congratulate Marj on the win.

I love your blog, by the way, and I read it religiously. You certainly know how to make a person think, in a good way.

Baking bread is easy, and quick (non-rising) breads are very simple to make if you have a good recipe.

We are baking these quick breads tomorrow, for Thursdays Thanksgiving meal: Apple, banana, pumpkin and possibly zuccini. We are also baking from scratch a couple of pies: apple and pumpkin.

We are saving money becuase:
1. We purchased the flour and sugar on sale.
2. We purchased the eggs, pumpkin, bananas and zucchini on sale. (the zucchini came from a local farmer’s market).
3. We should be able to bake it all up at once in the oven, saving on electricity.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Magdalena November 26, 2008 at 5:07 am

I’m a Maine native myself – it’s sometimes a challenge to save money on heating and auto fuels. Sounds like your family is really working at it! I now have a slow-cooker to use, and love it. It is great for spaghetti sauce, as the longer cooking time means a mellower sauce. I use it for baked beans, as this house does not have a woodburning cookstove. If you do heat with wood, remember that you can slow-cook meals on the top using a heavy saucepan or a dutch oven, which is a great investment. Make sure that the pot you use has all-metal handles, or you’ll risk melting the synthetic ones against a hot stovepipe. Keep potholders near the woodstove, and you’re all set.


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