Wanted — Your Unique Money Saving Ideas!

by Katy on September 26, 2012 · 145 comments

One thing that I really like about blogging is that I’m constantly learning new tricks. Whether it’s here or on The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group, new ideas are constantly flowing in.

So today is your turn. Have a tip or trick that saves you a few pennies or a few dollars? Please share your unique money saving ideas in the comments section below.

I’m sure we could all use a new idea or two, so please, share what works for you!

Here, I’ll start. My main money saving idea to to tweak my attitude. Instead of feeling bummed out about not having money for all the fun things I could be doing, (Hawaiian vacations, etc.) I choose to focus on how great it is to not have to work all the zillions of hours it would take to earn enough money for these kinds of expenses.

Tag, you’re it!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 145 comments… read them below or add one }

AnnDenee September 26, 2012 at 7:44 am

Turning off light switches.

It seems simple, but it’s really about developing a mindset about how to use electricity frugally. Because there’s not a meter at every switch/outlet, I didn’t always think about the fact I’m using a product which costs me money.

So, one day, I changed that. I made myself aware of electricity usage all over the house and took steps to reduce it. Did I really need the light to be on or was it just a habit? Did I need the overhead light or would a lamp with a lower watt bulb do the job?

All those little stand-by lights that glow red in the dark…. turn them off with a power strip. When I’m done watching a movie, I don’t just turn the tv/dvd player off (which leaves the light on). I turn off the power strip. I unplug the modem/router at night. (No one is using the internet while I am sleeping.)

I also chart my electricity usage. (I know, but I like the graph.) I have 6 years of usage charted in a spreadsheet with this year plus the last 3 years showing on a graph. This came in handy when the electric company wanted to raise my budget rate based on higher consumption during the winter (which I know happens). They were only looking back 12 months. I had 6 years of history that I could quote my kwh usage during summers which offsets the higher winter usage.

In my chart, I see an overall drop in electricity usage.


betsyohs September 26, 2012 at 9:08 am

This makes my heart sing! Energy geeks of the world, unite!


anexactinglife September 26, 2012 at 11:47 am

Wow, that is impressive. Yay for graphs!


Lesa September 26, 2012 at 7:51 am

I am a mystery shopper which provides my husband and I with free date nights! We’ve gone to see movies, eaten at tons of restaurants, gone to concerts, etc. Typically you not only are reimbursed but you also get paid! Check out http://www.mysteryshop.org to find legitimate companies! :0)


Cindy September 26, 2012 at 8:08 am

Sounds silly but being over 40 and of Italian descent I was spending an average of $20 per month at the salon getting waxed (lip, brows plus tip) For $60 I went to a beauty supply store and bought what i needed to do it myself. Over seven years later I am still at it and have needed very few additional supplies. 7 x 12 x 20 = $1,680.00 less approx @$150 in supplies = approx $1,530 saved and I won’t be buying more supplies for quite some time and can still I am not sacrificing.


Mr. Everyday Dollar September 26, 2012 at 8:11 am

I like to take the perspective of people who live in third world countries. They more or less have nothing and are happy to be alive, to have a full belly and a roof over their head. No correlation between money and happiness there. They only vie for the basic needs.

It makes that skinny caramel latte, that Hummer, that maid service and that fancy restaurant all seem like ridiculous excesses – which I would venture to say, are.


Sister X September 26, 2012 at 9:26 am

If you really want a place to admire, try Bhutan. They measure their society based on Gross National Happiness rather than GDP. The world would be a much better place if every country adopted that attitude.


AnnDenee September 26, 2012 at 11:31 am

I was just having a conversation with a friend about how GDP really doesn’t measure how successful this country is. It only measures production, not loss, not health, not happiness, not success, not food on tables, not sustainability.


Carla September 27, 2012 at 5:24 am

While I think you are trying to encourage people to be happy with the basics and not feel like fancy things are ‘needs’, please do not gloss over the wide range of living standards in ‘third world’ countries which basically amount to 2/3 of the world, and please do not romanticise the lives of people who live in poverty. The truth there are cities with people richer than many of the cities in North America in many third world countries, and yes there is poverty. And people who live in poverty are not usually happy to be poor, they are desperate for a better life that goes beyond the basic survival of a full belly and a roof over your head, education for their children, better jobs, money for medicine and health care, same as any other people you may know living in poverty. If they seem happy it may be because they are choosing to make the best of their situation, like most of us do, rather than dwell on the negatives, like many on this list try to do.


Katy September 27, 2012 at 7:34 am

I never “romanticize the lives of people who live in poverty.”

Seriously, what blog are you reading?!



Lola September 27, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I can’t speak for Carla, but as I read I assumed her comment was directed at Mr. Everyday Dollar. I took his comment as slightly over glossed as well, however I read a post on his blog and realized that there was more to the point he was making than what he expressed in his brief comment here.


Cindy September 26, 2012 at 8:23 am

I also bought a book, did some research and taught myself how to make cold process soap. I love the feel of homecrafted soap but it is quite expensive and not something I was able to spend money on when I lost me job. I learned how and now I make bars for a tiny fraction of what purchased ones cost with a very small time investment. A plus is that they make lovely gifts that are always well received. Soapmaking is a hobby that occupies my time, provides me with a nice product and satisfies my creative side.


betsyohs September 26, 2012 at 9:11 am

I don’t know where you live, but if you’re close to a farm or butcher, you can pick up tallow (and sometimes lard, although lard tends to be more expensive) for really, really cheap. You have to render it yourself, which is stinky, but it makes fantastic soap and is so much less expensive than olive oil or palm oil that I can’t bare to use those in soap any more.


Cindy September 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I haven’t been brave enough to use my own rendered tallow in soap, I am afraid there would be a smell (that fear may be completely unfounded) I do render tallow from the 1/2 cow we shared with a friend to make my own suet for the wild critters during the winter. My dogs get the cracklings and the birds get the suet cakes I make for them. I try to respect the fact that something died for us to eat and the time and energy we put into the money we had to earn to purchase the beef and everything else for that matter, to use every part of it to its fullest potential.


Linda in Mass September 27, 2012 at 7:51 am

I love making my own soap. It is easy and not very expensive. You are right, it makes great gifts!


Cindy September 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm

This is one of the ways I try to be as economical as possible without denying myself of something I really like. This way I don’t feel at all deprived or wanting when we are trying to be as frugal as possible.


Sacha September 26, 2012 at 8:25 am

I have a sort of silly “get more for your money” trick for eating out for lunch. Order the half sandwich rather than the whole. In most places, the kitchen staff are so programmed to put a certain amount of meat, cheese, veggies on a sandwich, that you usually end up with a full sandwich of filling with half the bread. And you usually still get the pickle and chips!

I also make fresh cheese from my milk if it looks like I’m not going to use it before it goes bad. All you need is lemon juice or citric acid (cheap in the bulk food section of most health food stores). Instead of nasty curdled milk that gets thrown out, I have something to spread on toast with some jam.


Rose September 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Ooh, we’re always winding up with a bit of milk that’s gone bad because we didn’t manage to use it up fast enough (and with set delivery dates from a local farm, we’d rather stubborn it out and use the stuff instead of running to the store). What’s your process for cheeseifying your almost-sour milk?

I’ve made yogurt lots of times, but never tried any sort of cheese. For some reason I’m intimidated by that.


Mary September 26, 2012 at 8:28 am

The thing that saves our family the most money is using cloth napkins instead of paper. After the initial small investment in clearance cloth napkins, there’s only a small cost to launder them thrown in with our towels.

We also have used baby washcloths to clean our kids’ hands and faces after meals since they were babies. Now they are 6 and 4 and they still get a wet washcloth to clean themselves up after each meal. Still looking forward to the days when they make less of a mess, lol.

Not having to buy paper napkins has saved us tons of money… and I actually prefer to use the cloth ones now anyway.


Ashley S September 26, 2012 at 5:06 pm

We do the same thing! I picked up a set of small kitchen dishrags at the dollar store and they have held up so well we bought more. Though the kids prefer to just use their washcloths since they have characters on them. Every once in a while when we get takeout and end up with paper napkins sitting around forever since they never get used lol.


Megg September 26, 2012 at 6:59 pm

We only use cloth napkins, handkerchiefs! It saves a lot of money in the long run and it’s definitely better for the environment! I’m working on weaning my husband off paper towels next.


katzien September 26, 2012 at 8:36 am

I love my thrift store, and recently signed up for their member program. Card holders get extra discounts that regular shoppers don’t, such as 50% off all clothes today, so I’ll be doing some fall weather shopping after work. Also, when you make a donation you get two coupons. In order to make sure I have a coupon for every purchase, I keep an eye out for curb treasures. If it’s something I don’t want or need, but it’s in good condition, I’ll pick it up and make a thrift store donation…just so I get my coupons. I think that’s extra thrifty!


Linda in Indiana September 26, 2012 at 8:41 am

I have to think on this one….so many things just become second nature.
I try to do “planned overs” with all my leftover food…ergo, no waste and something tasty besides. Growing lots of our own food really helps stretch the dollar.
Taking a list when I stop at the thrift store or Goodwill…so I am not tempted by all the “goodies”.
Trading and bartering and being willing to accept what others view as castoffs…even if they take some reworking.
Reusing containers, zippy bags, etc instead of having to buy new ones.
Etc, etc.


Katy September 26, 2012 at 8:46 am

Planned-overs are the best! I made a lasagna last night, and am very excited about not having to make dinner tonight!



erin September 26, 2012 at 8:43 am

When we go to the grocery store we get the paper bags and then stock them up to use as garbage liners! Don’t have to buy expensive plastic trash bags. (only sometimes we run into trouble because I try to use my cloth grocery bags as much as possible lol) Also, we cut up old receiving blankets (as well a any other cloth clothes we turn into rags) to use as mop liners for my swiffer.


dusty September 26, 2012 at 10:49 am

I do the same thing with the paper bags, line our trashcans with them. I use the cloth grocery bags but hubby forgets so sometimes we end up with some plastic bags, which I use for trash bags. My hubby even made me a holder for the bags so I can put about 10 in at once. Much better than buying plastic garbage bags like I used to!


Monica September 27, 2012 at 6:35 am

You can use an empty cardboard tissue box to hold 30+ squished-up plastic shopping bags, and then just pull one out at a time.


Ruby J. September 26, 2012 at 8:50 am

Mine is fearless reuse of building materials. A couple of years ago when our house needed repainting on the inside, I went to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and bought nine quart tins of high-quality interior latex paint for a buck each. The colors — pumpkin, hunter green, cobalt blue and various shades of khaki — were not what I had in mind but were in the right color family, so I mixed my own paint, using some white and pale gray latex leftover from other projects as the base. The end result was five rooms painted for under $10 — it would have cost us at least $140 to buy “new” paint — and we got tons of compliments on the colors.


Katy September 26, 2012 at 8:59 am

That’s great, love it!



Diane September 26, 2012 at 8:58 am

I like your thinking, Katy….being crazy busy with work all the time in order to take a Hawaiian vacation is just not my cup of tea. I prefer to enjoy life on a daily basis, not rush so every day is just a blur.


Diedra B September 26, 2012 at 9:04 am

go natural!

I am Jamaican and have kinky/curly hair that I used to process for $45-80 quarterly (depending on trims, deep condition plus tips etc.). I would also have it washed and dried for me for $25-30 on occasion because chemically straightened hair needs a lot of blowdrying and ironing to be silky smooth and it was a pain to do it myself when I kept it long. Sometimes I processed it myself for about $12/kit. So I went from spending about $400+/annually to about $100 with the occasional wash and dry.

Then I “went natural”. Now all I have to buy is shampoo, conditioners, and cute accessories that I would have bought anyway! I also don’t have to worry about what the chemicals might be doing to my health. Not to mention the time I’ve saved!

I suggest people consider “going natural”. Whether it is by eschewing chemical straightening/curling, or ditching expensive hair coloring. Since I started getting the odd gray hair I’ve been looking around and seeing many beautiful women who have chosen not to hide their gray. They have gorgeous silver strands and I hope to have the same courage to remain natural as my hair changes.


anexactinglife September 26, 2012 at 11:53 am

I took the plunge and stopped colouring my hair 2 years ago at age 47, knowing I would be completely grey immediately, and I was. Most people say I look younger now!


dusty September 26, 2012 at 11:58 am

if my hair looked as good as yours does, I would stop coloring too. I would look like my grandmother and not in a good way.


Maureen September 27, 2012 at 4:20 am

I also stopped coloring my hair after my 50th birthday. It’s bright white with some gray underneith. I get so many compliments on my hair and how it looks good on me. And I’m saving so much money because I used to get a touch up every 2-1/2 weeks with a full color every 5 weeks. Expensive!!!


hmbalison September 26, 2012 at 9:08 am

I make my own cleaning supplies. It’s easy to go on the web and find recipes for window cleaner and even the stuff you put in the dishwasher for the rinse cycle. Most use really inexpensive ingredients that are better for the environment like vinegar or tea tree oil. And I put the supplies in recycled plastic spray bottles. It’s a win-win all around.


dusty September 26, 2012 at 10:52 am

Vinegar is bad for the environment? I use vinegar and water to clean by entire house and never thought it was wrong to use it. I guess I’ll have to do some investigating. Thanks


Kelly Sangree September 26, 2012 at 11:02 am

Dusty, hmbalison is saying that vinegar is GOOD – better than most other things – for the environment. You’re fine – keep using it!


dusty September 26, 2012 at 11:07 am

thanks kelly, i ready it again. time for my afternoon cup of joe


betsyohs September 26, 2012 at 9:15 am

My favorite thing right now is to can a whole bunch of tomatoes. I found “seconds” for $0.80/pound, and I’m about half way through my first batch of 100 pounds. (We eat a lot of tomatoes!) Once you’ve bought the jars, which can be expensive, this can save tons of money over a year – last year we didn’t buy a single can of tomatoes.


Erin September 26, 2012 at 10:52 am

I’ve also found great success in freezing my tomatoes. We grow a ton and I just take the stems off and throw them in a ziplock bag for future use. I go through tons of tomatoes for soups and stews all winter and avoided having to buy them for a year.


Lindsey September 26, 2012 at 9:28 am

1. Use rags instead of paper towels. Usually I wash and reuse, but with dog upchuck I confess to just throwing that cloth away.
2. Making and using cloth napkins.
3. Having a huge garden
4. Convincing the boss to let me work from home all but one day a week, which helps with gas, clothing and lunch costs.
5. Having a husband who is willing to make or repair just about anything, as long as I reward him with meatloaf and apple pie on repair weekends (which happen about once a month). I know, weird, but it makes both of us happy.
6. Unplugging as many things as possible, although I confess that I don’t unplug the microwave or the stove even though they have clocks that use electricity. Actually, it is because they have clocks that I don’t unplug them—the blinking that happens when I replug them drives me nuts.
7. We have work potlucks monthly, and I bring a bucket and ask folks to throw in their leftovers instead of throwing them away, so I can take them home to my chickens. I hestitated to do this, thinking it would horrify people, but I have found that if you give people an easy way to recycle/reuse, they will leap on it. It reduces food waste, it saves me feed money (not a lot, but every little bit helps), and it makes the chickens happy. (And the jealous dog, unhappy.)


Bellen September 26, 2012 at 10:35 am

I turn off my microwave clock – may not save anything much but makes me feel better.


AnnDenee September 26, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I’m with you, Bellen. The little things do add up.


Karen September 26, 2012 at 9:33 am

If you use fabric softener sheets, cut them in half and put them back in the box. Then use just one piece of softener per dryer load. You will be stretching the box contents to twice the number of uses, so save half the cost of one box.


canuck66 September 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I use vinegar in for my rinse in my frontloader, not only does it keep my clothes clean and my machine clean but it is so much cheaper and better for the environment.


Dusti September 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm

I do this, too! I thought I was so clever. LOL. A large box lasts almost a year. And if its scented, a whole sheet makes the clothes smell too strong anyway (IMHO)


Bethesda Locavore September 26, 2012 at 9:34 am

Hanging out in the library!

Making do with what I have in the refrigerator – really focusing on using up everything instead of letting things go to waste.

Perusing the kids’ consignment shops just before Halloween – they have lots of costumes that are great for inexpensive dress-up for the kids.

And I really like Mr. Everyday Dollar’s comment about keeping it all in perspective – I try to remember that in the global sense, I am FABULOUSLY wealthy and I really don’t need to treat myself to everything I see. Trying to redefine my idea of luxury.


tonya September 26, 2012 at 10:57 am

I can’t say it better than this! Excellent. 🙂 We are getting very laser focused on food waste at our house too.


Bellen September 26, 2012 at 9:36 am

It’s hard for me to state what I do because I’ve been doing so many things for so long.
First, keeping a Price Book for most everything – food, clothes, shoes, furniture, tools, books, magazines, etc. is essential to our spending plan.
It enable us to track how often regularly purchased items go on sale so we can combine sales and coupons. It also allows us to track prices of the other things we buy – and almost without an exception the other things are purchased used. That way we can determine if an item is fairly priced (and some people think their items are much more valuable than most people, even if it is the same item).

And, maybe more important than the Price Book is the fact that at this point in our lives we ONLY buy what is necessary. We are trying very hard to reduce our possessions to a minimum that allows us a personally fulfilled life.


AnnDenee September 26, 2012 at 11:36 am

ooohhhh… I would love to hear more about your price book. I’ve been trying to get one going, but find it overwhelming to do. How did you get started?


PQ September 27, 2012 at 6:06 am

I can’t speak for Bellen, but I started a pricebook for groceries because I had no idea of what was really a good price as opposed to what the sale ticket said was a good price. I started with a 3 ring binder organized into sections (fruits/veggies, meats, grains, etc.). Then I started to flip through the weekly sales circulars while I was watching TV. If the product on sale was something I would consider buying, I’d figure out the unit pricing and write that down.

Every product has it’s own page (one for apples, one for pork, one for aluminum foil, etc). I’d write down the brand (or generic) name, the unit price, and the store it was on sale at. Having it in the 3 ring binder helped because I could reorganize the pages as I went. Then if I bought stuff at the grocery store, I either brought the binder and wrote down the prices of the stuff I bought or I kept the receipt and logged it later.

After a few weeks I had a general baseline for the foods that I frequently bought and I stopped logging any new prices that weren’t a lower price than what I had already written down. Now when I walk into a grocery store I know about how much I’m willing to spend on any given item and I pay attention to the sales circulars and loss leaders to find out when i should stock up on a sale item. At this point I’m thinking of swithcing my binder over to a small notebook because I am not adding new products very often so i could just leave a couple pages blank at the end of each section for those.

As an added bonus, I’ve been noting the quality of the generic products I’ve been purchasing so I know when it’s better to pay a few cents more for brand name and when the generic is just as good.


Bellen September 27, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I did what PQ did and discovered that, with just my husband & I now, the number of items we buy on a regular basis is minimal.
I would start with just tracking the basics that you buy – keep your receipts for a month and you’ll see what you buy. I do put the price in pencil and note if I regularly use a coupon. We only shop at 2 stores – sorry but it’s Walmart and Sam’s Club – they have the best prices in our area. We don’t have an Aldi’s or Trader Joe’s but do have Publix and Winn Dixie whose prices are, on average, 10-15% higher than WalMart for the same brands.


AnnDenee September 27, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Thanks for the responses!


tna September 26, 2012 at 9:48 am

Once it sunk in that my western way of life was depleting the earth of it’s natural resources and not sustainable I tried to cut out everything I could.
I found the lowest cost products with the least chemicals on skin deep database. It’s amazing what you can do with a bar of soap and some water. I clean counters, walls, appliances, floors, dishes, clothes, myself, and someday I may try it on my hair…maybe. I love the simplicity of my bar of soap in it’s recyclable paper wrapper. It saves me a lot of money and the local landfill a lot of plastic cleaner containers. And it won’t hurt fuzzy kitty puff when he scampers across any surface. ^..^


Trish September 26, 2012 at 10:11 am

My mom, a depression baby, taught me thrift my whole life. She was a homemaker, mother of 4, with a self-employed husband. They did NOT live high, but we were happy. She taught me how to sew, and now I take in mending, and sewing for others, which allows me to help my husband, who is now the only worker in our home, as I was laid off, and am now physically unable to work a full-time job. We turned off the cable TV, I dry clothes on the porch of our apt on a rack, I save water in a bucket from heating up the shower, and put it in the washing machine, we always eat our leftovers, and we gave up eating out except for birthdays, when we do takeout, and usually get a free coupon from the B’day club! (Moe’s has a great B’day coupon). I also update my clothing by tailoring it to suit me. Sometimes just changing the buttons on an outfit can make a difference, and if you sign up for Hobby Lobby e-mail, they send a weekly 40% off coupon, which will buy a card of buttons for cents. Lots of ways to be thrifty and happy!


Linda in Mass September 27, 2012 at 8:04 am

I never thought of filling up the water from the shower in a bucket to throw into the washer. We use that water to water the plants and fill up my cat’s water pitcher but not the washing machine. Very interesting. I will need to try that!


Poor to Rich a Day at a Time September 26, 2012 at 10:13 am

Keeping a minimalist wardrobe not only saves money from buying clothes but also in the cost to launder them as well and then only wash when actually dirty.

I only keep 2 pair of jeans, 1 nice slacks, 1 pair shoes, 2 t-shirts, 2 sweat shirts and 2 nice heavy wintery casual sweaters, and 2 pr pj’s along with 1 winter coat. This does not apply to underwear or socks but it does help save alot of money, time and space as well!


dusty September 26, 2012 at 10:57 am

I totally agree with you. I live in Florida so most of the time I’m in shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops. I do have 2 pairs of jeans, 2 nice slacks, a couple of blouses, 4 pairs of nice shoes, 2 sweaters, 2 pj’s, 3 dresses for special occasions. My hubby has twice the amount of clothing that I have which I think is funny. Even some women who have been over to our home, look at me kind of funny when they see our huge walk in closet with most of the clothes belonging to my hubby. I don’t see the sense in having so many clothes.


tna September 26, 2012 at 11:36 am

Me three!..2 pair slacks, 1 pair shorts, 1 skirt, assorted tops, 1pair of sandals, 1 pair shoes. It’s nice with so much room in the closet that when I hang clothes up wet from washing they dry in a couple of hours.


Poor to Rich a Day at a Time September 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm

LOL Dusty my husband does too ! I always tell him when a man has 2 more drawers than his wife and he is STILL complaining there is something wrong with that picture! haha


Lilypad September 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I get so mad when I watch “House Hunters” on HGTV and some stupid, spoiled princess complains about the closet space and how it’s not big enough for all her clothes/shoes. And then she’ll say something like “where are you going to put your clothes?” to her husband. My husband has way more clothes than I do, because he works outside the home, and I don’t. I’m quite happy in my stained old clothes around the house (no need to worry about them getting dirtier when I’m cooking or cleaning) and I have a few outfits for going out into the world. That’s plenty for me. I wish I could have back all the money I wasted at Nordstrom and ordering stuff from catalogs when I was in my teens/early 20’s and thought I had to have new, fresh office clothes all the time!


Maggie September 26, 2012 at 10:26 am

My husband and I are on a tight military budget, and to save our pennies, we:
1. Save the envelopes that come with junk mail. It’s super easy to put a piece of scrap paper behind the clear window, or use a little white-out to make a Business Reply envelope serviceable as an envelope for regular mail.
2. Pick up treasures from the curb. My neighbors throw out a TON of useful stuff, like a baby bouncer that my newborn LOVES, a gorgeous coffee table, clothes, and a brand new box of diapers.
3. Sell any treasures that we don’t want on Craigslist. I can make about $50 extra dollars per month by picking up things that we don’t need, but that would sell on Craigslist.
4. Using cloth diapers.
5. Shopping at the thrift stores and clearance racks. I can’t remember the last time I bought something new at full price!
6. Having a vegetable garden. This would be particularly helpful if you had a little more space than we do, but even in our bathroom-sized garden, we still save quite a bit by growing our own!
7. Clipping coupons from the paper, and using them to buy things we eat. Any coupons we don’t use, I send to my cousin overseas. Military families overseas can use coupons up to six months after their expiration date, so if you find yourself recycling a bunch of expired coupons, look into mailing them to a military family!


Linda in Indiana September 26, 2012 at 11:17 am

Maggie, just a word of caution about #1…be sure to mark through the bar code on a business reply envelope. That bar code is how the mail is sorted by the machines and that is what sends your letter where it is to go…and it may really, really delay your letter arriving or make it be misdelivered….costing you a late fee, etc.


Dusti September 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I wondered how old coupons helped military families. That explains it. Is there an address to send them to?


Heather September 26, 2012 at 6:28 pm

the white-out would cost more than the one cent for a new envelope, though!


jen September 26, 2012 at 10:37 am

Selling used baby/children’s (and my own) clothes online! Of course there is Ebay and the like, but there are a lot of Facebook groups where you can do the same without being charged any fees. You simply create an album of pictures of your items, write your prices in the descriptions and buyers send those amounts plus the necessary shipping costs to your Paypal account. Paypal is linked up to the USPS so you can print out your postage and leave your packages in the mailbox. It’s so easy and I almost never buy anything new for my daughter anymore because I can buy from these groups using the money I make from them. Win win win!


Sara September 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Can you link to the Facebook groups? This is an AWESOME idea!!


AnnDenee September 27, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Do a search for “Buy and Sell in (your hometown)” group. If there isn’t one, you can start it and invite all your friends, asking them to spread the word to their friends.


Amanda October 2, 2012 at 10:30 am

Those groups are great! Be sure to note this though, I came across an article saying that those group sometimes violates fb rules so they get deleted. If I remember correctly it was something about it not being allowed to bid on the items in the comments, that it had to be on personal message instead. Although it could be something else that made it violate the rules, so just a little heads up to check that out so that your group doesn’t get deleted 🙂


tonya September 26, 2012 at 11:00 am

Learning who I am as a person and who we are a family (our values of togetherness, thriftiness, recycling) makes it easier to lead a thrifty lifestyle because I’m not so worried about what others think of me.


dusty September 26, 2012 at 11:04 am

I use the library alot. I can order any book online and when it is ready, my local library will call me for pickup. My hubby was going to buy me a kindle but there is just something about holding a book and the smell of the library. I also shop our local SPCA thrift store and they have hardcover books there for $1, which I then donate to the library and the friends of the library sell them at their book/bake sale. I feel like I am helping two organizations at the same time.


Jennifer B. September 26, 2012 at 11:10 am

Now that my son is too big for it, I’ve repurposed my bike trailer as a trunk for my bike. Now I do my grocery shopping/errand-running by bike which saves gas, plus I have no need of a gym membership.


Holly September 26, 2012 at 11:48 am

I don’t know if this is unique or not, but I have found that staying out of stores as much as possible saves me a lot of money! I shop only when absolutely necessary and then with a list. I get in and get out as quickly as I can – no browsing.

Another big money saver is not having cable or satellite TV. Not only do I not have that expense, I am not being bombarded by ads trying to make me believe I am not a worthwhile human being unless I have the latest phone, flat screen TV, car, etc.

I also do not have Internet at home as I can use my library’s free WiFi and even better is the fact that my library is within walking distance.


Pat September 26, 2012 at 1:05 pm

My tip, one everyone probably knows, is save all the bacon drippings in a tin can ( clean can good and dry good first!). I use it to grease all my pans and roasters before cooking. Don’t need the spray stuff. Plus you can put a lid on you can and use it forever. Mine sits right on the counter. Saves a little everytime I use it. We don’t eat much bacon, but it is amazing how far that grease will go!


Laura September 26, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I’m a big fan of going to museums as cheaply as possible. Either look for free days, or ask your local library if they have day passes to check out. Quite a few libraries have free passes to museums that you can check out for the day, totally free! It makes for a great day.

Also, I’m in the process of cleaning my free coffeemaker that I got from the free counter at work, and I couldn’t help but think of your blog! Keep up the fantastic work.


amy September 26, 2012 at 6:18 pm
Rose September 26, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Wow, I don’t know that I have much to add on top of everyone else’s fabulous suggestions.

I’m working on transitioning more to cloth napkins, as for the longest time we were buying the Costco paper towel packs and the cloth napkins just sat in the linen closet. Silly, I know. I wash out and re-use ziploc bags, for a few cycles at least. I’m looking into finding more genuinely reusable replacements for more things. Lunches are always packed in reusable containers — even sandwiches. We’re very far from a disposable-free household, but I do try to minimize waste.

We save bacon grease, of course. That stuff is tasty! And I usually remember the cloth shopping bags…

I mostly clean with vinegar and baking soda, and rinse my hair with homemade conditioner (diluted apple cider vinegar with a cinnamon stick, cloves, and splash of vanilla for scent). Unfortuantely, I doubt I’ll ever manage to wean the hubby away from his death-cleaning-chemicals. I suppose I should be happy that he’s so gung-ho about cleaning in the first place.

It’s not terribly unique, but I’ve found that tracking expenditures has worked wonders for my budget. I have data for my spending in all categories for about a year and a half now, and I get such a kick out of plotting trends over time and making pie charts of expense categories. Having that kind of concrete feedback (beyond the basic where-did-my-money-go hopelessness at the end of the month) has really helped me stay on track about curbing unnecessary spending. Accountability, it seems, is good for me.


Pam September 26, 2012 at 2:16 pm

I remind myself “you do not need the best of everything”. This really helps me put things in perspective!


Linda in Mass September 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I have not read through all the comments yet and this may have already been said…

When I want to buy ground beef, I get the least expensive cut of boneless beef and have the butcher grind it for me. It ends up being cheaper than the cheap ground beef but much leaner.


Mary September 26, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I do all my shopping with cash, and at the end of the day, throw all my change in a jar at home for a treat later on.


Danielle September 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Patience has become my money saving motto. When I want something, that I don’t really need, I just tell myself to wait before I buy it. The I look for that item at garage sales, thrift stores, clearance sales, etc. Lots of times I forget about the item and never end up purchasing it. A few years ago I really wanted a fire pit for our backyard. I never found one at a price I was willing to pay but this week my neighbor just gave me her old one. I am glad I waited!!


Erica September 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm

This might not actually be that unique, but I found it to be a really nice concept. We have been following the Dave Ramsey plan but found it a little exhausting. We still like paying with cash and having a budget, but having to track every single dollar, well, it got to us and burnt us out.

Now we round down our income and round up our payments. We are forced into saving money without feeling it as much. We’re trying to build up a little fatter emergency fund since we’ve had a few big financial blows lately, and we just want to be safe.


Dusti September 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I’m a nurse but I’m currently a SAHM. When I did work, I had two pairs of sneakers and alternated them. I got twice as much wear out of each pair so they lasted as long as 4 pairs. Since I quit my job, I have much more time to live a more frugal lifestyle. When we both worked full time, we were still overdrawing our checking account because we were shelling out so much money for conveniences- eating out about 3 times a week, cleaning lady, etc. Plus, two kids in daycare and buying them stuff because A) I wanted them to be quiet and B) that’s how time pressed, guilt ridden parents show love.
We recently took our kids camping near Mt. Hood, at a free campsite, during my husband’s stretch of off days (he’s also a nurse). We were only going to stay one night because it was our first time taking the kids. We enjoyed it so much we stayed until my hubby had to go back to work. This wasn’t something we could have done if I was still punching a clock. We’d been slowly amassing camping gear from yard sales, thrift stores, etc. as well as asking for it for gift occasions. All our trip cost was gas and food!


Paige September 26, 2012 at 3:49 pm

When I was a single mom I started researching cutting costs and found a couple of things to do. I started small by making my own dry laundry detergent and dishwashing detergent. They’re both made with the same ingredients so I buy a couple of items and it lasts me at least six months.

Now that I’m remarried, we have a large blended family (5 kids ages 12 to 3…youngest being ours together), so with daily laundry and dishes, this still helps. I now also bake my own bread and have started canning. I’m starting small with easy jelly recipes. The kids have also given the jelly as gifts to teachers this year and it’s gone over very well.

Being as busy as we are (we both have fulltime jobs and extra jobs), I know we can’t keep up with a traditional garden no matter how big or small, so I’m going to start growing tomatoes in a container to use to can tomato sauce and I’ll be trying my hand at canning peaches and pears soon. Like it was said before, the initial investment in jars might be pricey, but they do pay for themselves in the long run.

I also have a long term goal of selling some of what I make to be able to NOT have an extra job outside the home. It’s also something my kids can help with, so that we can spend time together and I can teach them how to save and do things themselves.


Linda in Mass September 27, 2012 at 8:21 am

Jars can be expensive but I got all my jars from my mother-in-law and mother who no longer want to can. I got some great pint and quart jars and rings for free. All I had to do was buy the lids.

Try telling people you are interested in canning and they may offer their old jars.


Paige September 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Thanks Linda I’m going to have to start putting word out that I’m starting this. So far I’ve got my mom searching garage sales for me and I’m saving some store bought jars.
Also do you have any good easy beginners recipes? Trying to also build my recipe box.


AFS September 27, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Goodwill stores in my area sell mason jars (all sizes) for 20 cents each. While your at thwe thrift store look for Better home & Garden or Family Circle Home canning cook books both are very easy to learn from.


Lesley September 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I know someone already mentioned this but I’ll second it: telecommuting. I realize that this isn’t an option for many occupations, but if you’re stuck at a computer all day, perhaps you could be stuck in a home office instead. Less overhead for the company, and for ME: no work clothes needed, no transportation expenses, no lunches out, and best of all … hanging my laundry while I wait for long reports to print! Putting a casserole in the oven to cook while I graph charts! Running my teens to various activities because I can catch up on the computer work later at night. The list is endless.


Lesley September 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Also, those dark green scrubby things for the kitchen sink: I cut mine into quarters. I usually only want a tiny bit of scrubber anyway so this works perfectly.


denise September 27, 2012 at 6:55 am

love this idea.


alexandra October 5, 2012 at 4:54 am

I know this reply is late but I stopped using the green scrubby things because I found I went through them too fast. I switched to the metal mesh scrubby things because I work in a commercial kitchen and that is what the dishwasher uses. Those things LAST. AND do a really bang up job on tough stuff.


Liz September 26, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I found a tutorial on youtube for how to cut my own medium length hair in layers. There are lots of how-to youtube layered hair videos. This is the one I use because its sooooo simple and it works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-GAilMmCqQ (or search HOW TO: Layered haircut in 5 minutes by tashlentine).


Sweta September 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Go to the library for books and dvds. No Amazon/Netflix for me.

Cook at home, brown bag lunches. if I do go out to eat it’s because I have some sort of coupon like Groupon, etc.


Michelle H. September 26, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Great post! I am loving the new ideas I’m seeing in the comments.
My ways to save a few $$:

Hiding the paper towels in a kitchen cabinet instead of hanging them on the wall, forcing my husband to use a kitchen towel to dry his hands instead of using 3 paper towels at a time.

Keeping a gallon jug on the counter next to the sink to pour water into instead of down the drain. I use the water to water plants and soak pots. We’re on septic and this diverts a few gallons a day anyway.

Making more things from scratch, i.e. taco seasoning, instant oatmeal packets, waffle mix, etc.

Keep the great ideas coming!


Renee CA September 27, 2012 at 6:36 am

I hide my paper towels as well. I keep an open top decorative metal box on the counter with about 20 small cloths in it (cut up rags with serged edges). A basket would work. I was surprised at how easy it was to make the transition. The rest of my Costco paper towels should last a long, long time.


Megg September 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm

We DO go on expensive vacations (well, we’ve been on 1 and are saving for another!) but my trick for saving money (I’m taking this literally now) is to put it away before you even see it. When we get paid the money is filtered into several accounts for various goals and bills and things like that and all we see is the end result in our main checking account, and we live off that.
Yeah, we don’t go on tons of vacations, but I’m happy to say that we are able to save money for big trips without working a zillion hours…in fact, I only work part time.


Kristin September 26, 2012 at 6:57 pm

The best thing we did was choose our house to be within walking distance of my husband’s work. This way, he gets exercise, has no stress or cost from traffic and parking, and we only need one car (which we paid cash for).

Another thing that saves so much money is knowing how to sew. You can repair or alter clothing, make stuff for your house like dish towels, pillows, curtains, placemats, lunch bags, quilts, and holiday decorations, and make inexpensive gifts like tote bags or stuffed animals.

We also have two shih-tzus and I groom them (give them a haircut) myself every 8-12 weeks, depending on the season. Good-quality clippers cost over $100, but paid for themselves after just one grooming session. It was a little sketchy at first, but the dogs quickly got used to it and now it is easy to groom them on the floor while I’m watching a show or two. Our dogs are 11 and 13, so I estimate I’ve saved close to $8000 doing this myself. I also cut my husband’s and three kids’ hair and that has saved hundreds of dollars over the past 12 years. I treat myself to a $10 Great Clips haircut (+tip) twice a year.

We also don’t have cable. I watch shows online or from Netflix, and the kids mostly watch VHS tapes from the thrift store that were $.25. They are much more durable than DVDs for little kids anyway.

We also do a million other things because we are a one income family, like nearly only drinking water instead of pop or juice, almost never eating out, only having one pre-paid cell phone, not carrying any debt other than our mortgage, buying most clothing, toys, and household items from the thrift store, travelling only to see family (although that might change when the kids are older), and not eating meat or dairy.

We are comfortable, but not swimming in cash. I don’t know how other people survive, honestly.


EcoCatLady September 26, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Wow, there are soooo many great ideas here… here are a few things I do that nobody else has mentioned.

1) Live Behind the Times. If you don’t have to have things the instant they become available, it’s really amazing how cheaply you can get them. This applies to movies & tv shows, technology, as well as fashion. If you’re willing to live 5-10 years in the past, most of the above can be had for free.

2) Sleep More & Do Less. Seriously, you’re not spending money while you’re sleeping – plus you’re generally not burning electricity either. I’ve started going to bed 2-3 hours earlier and I’m sooo much healthier, happier & less stressed – plus the electricity bill hit rock bottom!

3) Minimize Autopilot Expenses. Soooo many services these days have a “low monthly fee.” But when you really add it all up, you find that you’ve given yourself a huge nut to meet each month. So I try to keep “subscriptions” to a bare minimum and only choose the ones that I really need, or enjoy. I also include things like eating out regularly, or going out every weekend, or annual vacations in this category. Choose your treats consciously and they’re so much more meaningful!


CC September 27, 2012 at 1:42 am

No regular monthly spending is what I think saves me the most. I also pay some expenses once a year, insurance, internet, taxes. This makes the lean months easier and the flush ones we can save more.


Hannah September 26, 2012 at 8:24 pm

My money saving choices are usually based around trying to be environmentally friendly, so it’s a win-win!

1. Buy bulk and store in jars where you can see what you have.
2. Meal planning – helps us only buy what we need and utilize our…
3. Eat the Food challenge – find creative ways up to use up all your food before buying more
4. use cloth instead of paper towels
5. use vinegar and baking soda instead of detergents
6. keep track of your expenses for one day/week/month – really helps you see where your money goes!
7. Carpooling (HUGE gas saver, especially in the winter when we have to let all cars idle for a while before driving)
8. When I’m done baking, letting the hot oven dissipate heat into the house after it’s turned off.
9. Shower every other day, turn the shower off while you scrub, and only use shampoo, plain soap, and a washcloth. No makeup, no hair products, no worries!
10. Have clothing/jewelry/book swaps with friends. I get SO many neat things I would otherwise never buy but love!


Danielle September 26, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I already made one post but I wanted to post one more thing becasue it could really help someone. If you have to take a non generic medication, go to the website of the manufacturer and they may have coupons that either pay for the whole medication cost or to cover your co-pay. My mom got her co-pay covered for her medication for a whole year and I got my co-pay covered for one month. Since my co-pay was $50 it was a big help.


greenstrivings September 26, 2012 at 10:06 pm

It’s hard for me to single out special money-saving strategies because so often I think, “well, everyone does that” — until a guest sees me rinsing out the paper coffee filter for reuse and asks me what the heck I’m doing (that was before I got the permanent filter, yay!). The other commenters here just confirm my normalcy: cloth napkins, check; use the library, check; shop at thrift stores (and in fact we just picked up Halloween costumes at Goodwill), check; wash out and reuse ziploc baggies, check; make your own pantry staples, check…

So I’ll just add: I use freecycle.org. I also use half the recommended amount of laundry and dishwasher detergent. My twelve-year-old car is paid off and I invest in routine maintenance so I can keep it instead of having to get a new one. Oh yes, and I make friends with people whose kids are a year or two older than mine so we get great handmedowns! hahaha.


AFS September 27, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Make monthly “car payments” to a dedicated savings account so that when the car does need to be replaced you will have the cash. When the salesman asked “how are you going to finance your purchase? it felt SO good to say I’m paying CASH!


Deborah C. Williams September 27, 2012 at 4:37 am

I live on a farm and do a lot of cooking and preserving(I also work as a nurse). When I turn my oven on to bake I always make sure I have more than one dish to go in even if we are not going to eat it until later in the week. This helps me stay ahead cooking and saves electricity. I often bake a main dish and two sides together or a dessert and main dish.


marie September 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm

me too, though the enchilada’s did smell like the cinnamon in the zucchini bread


Jo September 27, 2012 at 5:02 am

These tips are great! After 5 years of doing many of the things others have mentioned, the biggest thing for us (two telecommuters with two tiny kids) has been building up margin in our lives. “Margin” for us means the difference between what we spend and what we earn, and the amount of time we commit to things vs. the amount of time we have. A small margin always meant we’d have to spend more- on eating out, on quickly replacing something in an emergency, on buying something for price rather than longevity. I know it’s nothing new, but my testimony is definitely that a life with progressively less is also progressively cheaper and, counter-intuitively, more productive (in the creative sense of productivity- in terms of work we actually love).


Lynne September 27, 2012 at 5:10 am

What a great concept, Jo! I love the idea of “margin” and think having that as a goal of being frugal will help keep me focused. In other words, I’m totally stealing it LOL!!


Megan September 27, 2012 at 5:06 am

Unique– I’d say to my IRL friends, cloth diapering and making my own baby food, cooking from scratch, and only owning 1 (paid off! gasp!) vehicle. They all think I’m a little “unique” LOL.

However- that sort of thing isn’t uncommon on here it seems. Guess that’s why I like it here!

I do support my digi-scrap habit by being on a creative team for artists, so I get their kits for free in exchange for working with them and advertising for them. Then I snag free photo book offers.


Melissa September 27, 2012 at 6:14 am

Think reusable instead of disposable, not only is it money saving but it’s much better for the enviroment as well. Natural cleaning products and swapping cloth napkins for paper ones. Every little bit adds up over time.


Kate in NYk September 27, 2012 at 7:09 am

This is not exactly a money-saving idea per se, but when I need a “tweak” in my frugal attitude, I love to make a cup of tea and spend a few minutes getting inspiration from my favorite non-consumerist bloggers and authors. In addition to Katy’s blog (of course!), I love onehundreddollarsamonth.com and down—to—earth.blogspot.com – they are all full of ideas and recipes and tips – but mostly, I love them for the sense of joy and contentment the writers find in their frugal lives. I also have a few dog-eared books that I turn to again and again – oldies like the Tightwad Gazette series and “Your Money of Your Life,”
and also books like “Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression” (Mildred Armstrong Kalish), “How to Be Free” by Tom Hodgkinson (radical – even a bit anarchic – but thrillingly inspirational and wise), “The New Good Life: Living Better than Ever in an Age of Less,” by John Robbins, and one of my absolute favorites, “Radical Homemakers,” by Shannon Hayes. I almost always take out my books from the library, but these I own!

Now we just need for Katy to write a book . . . I might even buy that one, too!


Lesley September 28, 2012 at 3:42 am

Kate, I have most of the same books and the two that I don’t have, I’m going to find at my local library! Always looking for a new good read for the same reason: an author content with his/her frugal lot in life.

And I will buy Katy’s someday!


Karen September 27, 2012 at 7:33 am

All good ideas. Will try to implement some of them bit by bit. Family rebels when too many changes happen at once.


PJ September 27, 2012 at 7:46 am

My favorite money saver has got to be our decision to not go digital when broadcast TV changed. By not upgrading I now watch no TV. My biggest savings come from no longer being exposed to all the things I don’t need but marketers made me want. I am much more content with our decision to live within my means when I am not constantly exposed to attractive products that I can not afford.


Meredith October 3, 2012 at 2:03 pm

PJ- We made a similar move in our household: instead of paying $150/month for cable-and-internet, we bought a Mac mini-computer for around $600, and hooked it up to our existing TV, receiver, and wifi booster. (I know, we’re not exactly non-consumer poster-children.) That way the mini-hard drive could ‘talk’ to our home computer, and we can watch TV via netflix, hulu, or regular old rabbit-ear transmission. It’s been a saver for my family in two different ways: economically and psychologically. We save about $800/year in cable charges (kept the internet connection), and never have to watch commercials anymore. We now watch far less TV, so what we do watch is of higher quality and/or priority, and we end up spending more time actively doing fun things together. After 3 years, we’ve saved about $2500, enough to pay for a vacation.


Tricia September 27, 2012 at 7:47 am

I love going to consignment sales for my young kids clothes/books/toys. In my area, the local mom’s groups and churches, have 2 consignment sales; one in the fall and one in the spring. I find awesome deals on gently used clothing and toys. I spend a fraction of what I would in the store and typically can buy the majority of their clothes for the season at these sales.
This time around I am consigning stuff myself and hope to make enough that what I buy will be offset by what I spend. ( maybe even make a buck or two)
At this point, my 4 yr old daughter doesn’t know the difference if it is bought from the store or a consignment sale. She is just excited to get something “new” to her. She went with me a couple weeks ago to one of the sales and loved picking out stuff for herself. Normally, I don’t take her with me because the sales are crazy busy!


Kate September 27, 2012 at 7:48 am

This habit started out of a desire to save water and then became a necessity. I noticed that even when my shower was fully on, water still trickled fairly heavily out of the faucet. So, one day, I placed a bucket under the faucet while I showered to see how much water was going straight down the drain. I don’t take very long showers and I noticed that each time I showered, I would have 3-5 gallons of water in the bucket. At first, I used this water to water the garden, mop the floors, top off the washing machine, etc. Then the inner workings of our toilet broke and the water would not stop running after a flush. We just turned the water off and use the water collected in our bucket to flush the toilet. (Our toilet is installed under a counter which make it very difficult to access in order to repair it.) So far, this works great and will buy us some time until we can replace our toilet!


Bonnie September 27, 2012 at 8:33 am

I cut up old dish towels to use as dish rags to wash my dishes and wipe off counters, etc. I can get 4 nice size dish rags out of one old stained dish towel.


Laurie Bennett September 27, 2012 at 8:50 am

I walked around the house & unplugged everything that wasn’ currently being used – the toaster, the clock and lamp in the guest room, etc. Anything that could run on rechargeable batteries instead of electricity was switched over. I put a surge protector with an on/off button in my office (for the computer, monitor, external drive, printer, shredder and fan). I turn off all those electrical items (they take electricity even when off, just by being plugged in) every night before I go to bed. I put another surge protector in the family room, and plugged in the TV, DVD player, stereo, CD player, and tape machine. Every night I turn this system off, and it often stays off until late afternoon the next day.


Meredith October 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I have thought of this method, too, but one thing stops me: What about all the CLOCKS?


Laurie Bennett September 27, 2012 at 8:51 am

I’ve always been a rare cell phone user. When used for personal, not business, reasons, it just seems that 90% of the things I want to say to someone can wait until I get home and can call or email them. So, I only use my phone when I am out of state trips and when I am lost or late. When my phone died a few months ago, I was able to find a new one on eBay for $19.99. And, I pay only $7 per month for my plan. It’s not fancy or as convenient, but it’s cheap and works for me.


Laurie Bennett September 27, 2012 at 8:53 am

I went through my house and collected all the things I didn’t love, didn’t use, didn’t need, and didn’t want. There was a lot, even for me who sees herself as a minimalist. I sent an blind copy email to all of my local friends, announcing my “online garage sale.” The email listed all the items I had to sell, a fair price, and a compressed photo. The first time I did this, I sold $220 worth of stuff and cleaned out half a small closet. Then, I listed the rest of the stuff on eBay or Amazon. I repeated this a few times over the year. Items that are not bulky or hard/heavy to ship are best. If you don’t know how to do this, ask a friend who does in exchange a 5-10% of the profit.


suzy September 27, 2012 at 11:24 am

I love a lot of these suggestions. While I’m not likely to use homemade detergent in my frontload washing machine, one suggestion I have is to use half to a quarter of the ‘recommended’ amount for a load. Unless you have very very dirty clothes, you don’t need much detergent, as it is the action of the washer and the water that gets most of the dirt or odor out. I have a Costco detergent container on my shelf and it will last me the rest of the year.


tna September 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I remember reading a rating of popular laundry detergents to see which performed the best. They washed a load with no detergent and used that as the base to judge all the detergents against. All loads had the exact same clothes and stains. I was really surprised to read that the base load with no detergent actually came out cleaner than some of the loads with laundry detergent added. It made me go hmmmmm?


Paige September 27, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Just in case you ever want to try homemade detergent, I have a friend who has the front load HE washer and she makes the liquid detergent and says it runs through just fine. I stick with the powder form because it’s quicker for me and I DON’T have the HE washer. LOL.


Katy September 27, 2012 at 12:41 pm

These are such great ideas, keep ’em coming!



Paige September 27, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I already posted once but I forgot one thing I put on my own blog as something I wanted to start utilizing more to cut costs. MY SODASTREAM!!! I bought one a couple years back and IT’S AWESOME!!! My husband TRULY enjoys his soft drinks and he won’t drink my sodastream drinks, but I can make a liter and bring it to work and I don’t spend $.75 a can while I’m on shift. I know I know…I shouldn’t be drinking them…especially with my fibromyalgia, but I’m an emergency dispatcher and one fo the few that don’t smoke…so my soft drink vice is all I have. LOL!
Anyway, one bottle of flavoring makes like 55 liters or something like that. AND when your carbination bottle goes empty, you can mail it back to the company for a refill. And they even have energy drinks, lemonade, crystal light flavors and now all natural flavors. It cuts down on plastic waste and tastes really good. Where I live, a 12 pk of coke is like $6, which is about what I pay for a flavor that gives me 55 liters. Not bad I say.


greenstrivings September 27, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Oh yes, we have a sodastream because our seltzer habit was out of control! Not only do we save money ($16 for a canister of CO2 that carbonates the equivalent of 350 cans), but we’re not producing all those empty cans, so our waste/recycling stream is reduced. We just drink the plain carbonated water and love it.


Cindy September 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I also put in a plug for the SodaStream. I don’t drink soda but we drink a lot of seltzer, usually with a slice of fruit or a squeeze of fruit juice in it. Tasty, inexpensive, no calorie and convenient!


Katy September 28, 2012 at 7:12 pm

My friends in New Hampshire had one and I drank many glasses of seltzer.



Meredith October 3, 2012 at 2:09 pm

We have one, too. It’s so nice to take my plastic reusable bottle with me on long car trips!


Carrie September 27, 2012 at 7:17 pm

I use cloth diapers with my daughter but I haven’t summoned the guts to use cloth wipes. However, I do throw the (non-ravaged) disposable wipes into the wash with the diapers and then use them as cleaning cloths for non-food surfaces–works well to buff/shine the shower runner and to swipe at the dust horses here and there. I’ve also tried them with the swiffer with decent success.


Sharon September 28, 2012 at 6:22 am

I hope I am not too late for a few tips. I cut up the wax bags from inside cereal or cracker boxes and use them in between hamburger patties that I pat out myself. I keep furnace set at 62. Heck that’s warm for WI! I have been hanging out wash to dry the last two months.


Madeline September 28, 2012 at 6:28 am

To save money I QUIT coupons! Yes! Coupons arrive in my email from Michael’s,Joanne’s,Chico’s, even Goodwill! and many more places I should be staying OUT OF. So I stopped printing coupons and got off the mail lists. I rarely buy the kinds of products that coupons are for, but I will use the $5 off a $30 grocery purchase types coupons.And I usually can find a coupon in the sunday paper for my hair color (I use a box a month. I stockpile coupons, wait for a sale and buy at least 6 boxes at a time.I have 9 boxes right now.) Also–biggest savings trick is to just stop shopping. I go to the library when the urge hits!

I even try to stay out of the Goodwill, and yard sales, since I really DON’T NEED ANYTHING right now. Just get into the “not shopping” mode.’ I try to ride my bike instead!

I also make as many of my products re-useable, as many of your readers do:cloth napkins, washcloths and rags instead of paper towels, my paper product bill is very small. I run a load of rag laundry once a week and bleach it all to sanitize. Vinegar to clean.

A simpler lifestyle just plain old feels good!


Katy September 28, 2012 at 6:43 am

Stop the presses! You get Goodwill coupons in the mail?!

Be still my heart. 😉



Jenzer September 28, 2012 at 8:15 am

Madeline, you beat me to it. I also gave up on using coupons and participating in 98% of rewards programs. Rather than saving me money, coupons and reward points draw my attention towards SPENDING it.

That said, I swear by Lands’ End outerwear for my kids during our Michigan winters, so I compile a list of items we want (gloves, boots, snowpants, etc.) and wait for LE coupon codes to arrive in my email before buying. I use the Ebates shopping portal for extra savings, and make sure to pay with the credit card that sends cash rebates directly to my IRA account.


Madeline September 28, 2012 at 10:11 am

Yes! Somehow I get Goodwill coupons each month on my email.I don’t recall signing up but I probably did at some point. I do hang on to that one. But I stay OUT of goodwill unless I have a specific need.Now, your article about MARBLES worth hundred s of dollars MAY get me back.. I actually needed a coffee pot a few months ago and found one almost new and had a 10% off coupon . But in general, I find coupons encourage me to stay in “shop” mode .


Cindy September 28, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I also stopped using coupons when I decided to concentrate my efforts to make from scratch rather than from boxes and cans. It took more time at first and there was a learning curve but now I can cook from scratch almost as fast or faster than from a box, the food is better, I have more control over what we eat and it is a fraction of the cost.


Michelle September 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm

After rinsing thoroughly, we repurpose plastic kitty litter jugs (of course, only the unused, clean litter has touched the jugs, inside and out) in a couple of ways:

1. Storage of old cooking oil used for deep frying, to be disposed in a non-messy way.

2. Fill about 85% with water, freeze in our chest deep freezer, and we have extra ice blocks (with handles!) to take up any empty space. While this helps the freezer run more efficiently by taking up the empty “air” space on an everyday basis, it works really well during power outages to keep the freezer colder and, thus, the food frozen longer. During lengthy power outages, we even take a couple out and place one inside the frig freezer and the frig itself. Works great to keep the contents cool, without having to buy block or dry ice. We live about 200 miles inland from the Gulf Coast and these jugs totally saved my freezer contents during Hurricane Rita in 2005. These ice jug blocks can also be used in ice chests for camping and picnics, etc. I have never actually cut away the plastic and used the ice and am not sure of the food grade safety, but in an emergency I don’t think it would be harmful in small amounts, since kitty litter is just clay. And as a plus, they are rectangular in shape and use the freezer space more efficiently, and the ice block jugs can be added and removed and then placed back in the freezer again to refreeze, according to your space needs.

3. As I am typing this, it occurred to me that these well-rinsed and then dried jugs could be used to store dry pet food or other dry products (or even liquids) that are not human food.

We live in a Southern rural area and don’t have many recycling options available, so we try to repurpose as many disposable items that we can.

P.S. I really enjoy your blog!


Bobbi September 29, 2012 at 8:15 am

I do lots of the same tips that people have already mentioned. I made white cloth napkins out of a Goodwill sheet. It’s nicer to use these compared to paper napkins, and I don’t figure that washing them adds to my water bill because they just get tossed into a load of towels or sheets that I would have been doing anyway.

I use the library a lot, but I rarely just pop in and browse. I request the book(s) I’m looking for through my library’s website, and pick them up once I get an email from the library that the books are waiting for me at my local branch.

Goodwill is my first stop when I do “need” something. I have a couple of really nice (designer!) dresses that I break out for special occasions, and they cost less than $10 each at Goodwill.

I cook from scratch. I have a crock pot I bought years ago for $10 at Goodwill, and I make a big batch of soup, chili, or curry once a week in the crock pot. I usually freeze half of what I make, and eat the other half over the next several days. That dish plus salad is my go-to meal!

The big-ticket items probably have the biggest impact on saving money, in terms of keeping my “overhead” low. I drive a reliable 9-year-old car that is paid off, and I plan to drive it for several more years. I don’t live in more house than I need. I feel “rich” in so many ways, that are unrelated to material objects, and more related to the people in my life.


Lindy September 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Well, today I went shopping for new tennis shoes (need, not want, ha) and I found a pair I liked in the ladies section and seen the exact same pair in the children’s section. I wear a 7 in ladies and I bought a 5 in the children’s. The children size was half price of the ladies!


Katy September 30, 2012 at 11:26 am

That’s great, although I wear a size 10.5/11, so I’ll have to shop in the giant/ogre section for my savings! 😉



JD October 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm

I buy “oops” paints when I see colors/types I know I will use and when they are cheap enough. My husband uses empty food cans to start garden plants in. I use vinegar as a clothes softener in my washer and to keep my dishes from spotting in the dishwasher. I make soup or pot pies from my leftovers. I make my own laundry detergent and shampoo. And if I can think of a way to re-use something, I will! I made cases for travel pillows (for those long trips to visit the grandparents) out of one old standard pillowcase, short curtains out of old long sheers, and got my husband to build a free-standing storage cabinet out of a large old wooden box and some scrap lumber and hinges we had. I’m currently making a key-rack cabinet out of an old spice cabinet. It’s fun!


Katy October 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Great projects, thanks for sharing!



Meredith October 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm

My local mothers of multiples group has a semi-annual consignment sale. And having twins creates both a large need for clothes, toys, and gear, and a HUGE amount of hand-me-downs. So last weekend was our Fall sale. We sold almost $400 in goods, and bought both girls’ Christmas presents (balance bikes), 2nd birthday presents (tricycles and helmets), clothes for the next 6 months, and miscellaneous stuffed animals for about $250. That’s $150 net gain. 🙂


Meredith October 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Oh, and we also bought their forward-facing carseat/booster combos. Fabulous deals!


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