5 Ways to Save Money on Doing Laundry

Positive young woman doing the laundry at home

Guest post from Sarah of Saving Money Never Goes Out of Style

The laundry room may be one of the last places most people think of when it comes to saving money. The truth is though, it is one of the easiest places to pinch your pennies! Here are some tips for saving money in the laundry room:

1. Make your own detergent.

One of the easiest ways to save money in the laundry room is to make your own detergent. You can do this with just a few low-cost ingredients and it really gets your clothing clean very well! The cost of making your soap is just pennies per load and when you do it this way, you save yourself from needless chemicals as well.

When the weather is warm, you can also save money by giving up your dryer. Hanging clothes to dry not only saves you money off your energy bill, but might extend the life of your clothing as well because you won’t be using any high heat. Plus, taking a break from using your dryer also extends the dryer’s life!

If making your own detergent sounds like it won’t work for you, (although it really only takes about 15 minutes of your time!) make sure to stock up on sales and use coupons when you can. This last year, I have seen Tide on sale for $3.99 and with my dollar off coupon, it only ends up being $2.99 for a 32 ounce jug.

2. Use less.

This applies to soap, but it also applies to fabric softener. If you feel you need fabric softener, opt for dryer sheets instead of the bar and cut them in half. You still get the great scent and softening of clothes that you like, and this will make a box last twice as long.

Did you know you can make your own scented “dryer sheets”? While they may not have the same effect on clothes to soften them, most people like dryer sheets because of the scent.

To get the same effect, just have a couple rags or make your own wool balls and try this trick.  Drop a couple drops of essential oil onto your rag or wool ball and throw it in the dryer with your clothes. They will come out smelling amazing and each load costs you less than a cent!

3. Only do full loads.

You will be using the same amount of energy to wash and dry a half load as you will with a full load, so make sure each load that you do is full sized. That said, don’t over-stuff your machine as this damages it and could cost you more in repairs.

Doing a half-load doesn’t make much sense when you think about it in terms of saving money.

4. Have fewer clothes to wash in the first place.

Many of us have too many clothes! I know I was constantly doing the kids’ laundry and I wasn’t even sure how dirty it was.

One day, I just got sick of doing it every day. I thought to myself, “There’s no way they could possibly be wearing all these clothes.” Since then, I’ve scaled way back.

Each child is only allowed to have 20 outfits in their room at a time. That is almost 3 weeks of every day wear and more than plenty.

Believe it or not, I sold half of their clothes! I made money AND I don’t have to wash as many clothes!

5. Wear things more than once.

This is a money saver as well as a time saver. Some things can be worn or used multiple times before needing a good washing: jeans, bath towels, pajamas, etc. Even some things like what you wear to church for only one hour can sometimes be worn again before washing.

How do you like to save in the laundry room? Did I miss anything?

Sarah is a stay-at-home mom of two wonderful children. From homeless to well-off, this single debt-free mom is most known for her ability to live well on $18k/year. Sarah loves encouraging others that dreams do come true if they are willing to consistently work for it. Follow her blog: Saving Money Never Goes Out of Style.

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Gretchen’s $55 Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan

photo (10)


2 Cucumbers – $0.59 each (I will get $0.25 back from Checkout 51.)

1 lb Butter – $2.69

1 Honey Bear – $2.99

1 loaf Bread – $0.99

1 Cantaloupe – $0.99

2 Strawberries – $1.25 each

2 Avocados – $0.33 each

1 bag Flour Tortillas – $1.19

1 pkg Kitchen Trash Bags – $4.99

1 can Refried Beans – $0.79

1 pkg Roma Tomatoes – $1.19 (I will get $0.25 back from Checkout 51.)

1 pkg Carrots – $0.99

Total with tax ($1.51): $22.66

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2 half gallons Milk – $1.34 each

1 half gallon Buttermilk – Marked down to $0.10 (I couldn’t pass this up! I’m going to make buttermilk biscuits and pancakes to freeze. I don’t think I’ve ever bought buttermilk before since I always just make my own so I’m curious to see if it tastes any better with the real stuff.) :)

1 Kroger Cottage Cheese – $1.25

1 pkg Raspberries – $0.99

0.71 lb Broccoli @ $1.59/lb – $1.13

1 Lettuce – $0.99

1 Kroger Frozen Hashbrowns – $1.99

1 Kroger Dishwasher Detergent – $3.49

2 cans Green Beans – $0.44

1 Kentucky Legend Ham Steak – $2.99

1 lb Simple Truth Ground Beef – Marked down to $3.34

2 bags Kroger Shredded Cheese – $2 each

1 pkg Chicken Drumsticks – $5.59

1 bag Life Is Good Coffee – Marked down to $2.25 (I’ve never tried this coffee before. It is normally over $9 but they had all the Life Is Good coffee on clearance. I’m anxious to try it!)

Total with tax ($2.18): $32.72

Total for all grocery items: $55.38 (And I will also get $0.50 back from Checkout 51.)

Menu Plan for This Week


Oatmeal, Scrambled Eggs/Fruit, Toast, Cereal, Smoothies


Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Macaroni & Cheese, Tossed Salad, Fruit/Veggies/Crackers, Leftovers


Baked Chicken Drumsticks (this package will last us 2 meals so I will freeze half of it), Fruit

Beef & Cheese Noodle Bake, Tossed Salad, Peas (from freezer)

Hashbrown Casserole (I will be doubling this and putting one casserole in the freezer), Buttermilk Biscuits, Cantaloupe

Spaghetti with Garlic Chicken Gravy, Green Beans, Tossed Salad

Deer Roast, Potatoes, Carrots, Blueberry Muffins

Brown Bag Burritos (I will make the full recipe and freeze half of them), Tossed Salad

Date Night (using a gift card I earned from MyPoints.com)

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The Cost of Raising a Child

How Much Does it Cost to Raise a Child?

I told you yesterday that I’d been asked to comment on a media story about the USDA’s prediction that it costs $245,000 to raise a child.

Your comments and thoughts on this topic were so interesting. There were lots of differing viewpoints and perspectives!

The article I was interviewed for was posted today on TheStir.com for those who are interested in reading it. Here’s a snippet:

Before even becoming a mom, one of the most common warnings you’ll hear from other parents is how expensive it can be to raise children. As it turns out, they’re right.

Families who had a baby in 2013 can expect to spend on average $245,340 until the child is 18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s just-released annual report, Expenditures on Children by Families. That’s between $12,800 and $14,970 a year for a middle-income family with two parents, depending on the kids’ ages.

Angela Hawkins, 33, a mom of three in the suburbs of Houston, is living proof that the numbers don’t lie.

She shared her household budget with The Stir and estimated that she and her husband Shane will spend about $270,000 per child by the time they turn 18.

“The figures can be overwhelming,” Angela admits.

So where exactly does all that money go?

Read the full post here for the price breakdown details on how much this family is spending and some tips from other money-saving folks on how to cut costs (with one on cutting your food costs from yours truly!)

I found the figures she shared interesting and insightful. And, of course, my frugal brain came up with lots of suggestions and ideas for ways to possibly lower those costs. :)

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Does it cost $245,340 to raise a child?

I was asked by a news outlet today if I would share some commentary around this recent report from the USDA on how much it costs to raise a child. Here’s the blurb on it from The Boston Globe:

A message for new parents: Get ready for sticker shock.

A child born in 2013 will cost a middle-income American family an average of $245,340 until he or she reaches age 18. And it’s more in the Northeast, roughly $282,480, according to a report out Monday.

The cost does not include college, or expenses if a child lives at home after age 17.

Those costs that are included — food, housing, child care, and education — rose 1.8 percent over the previous year, the Agriculture Department report said. Adjusting for projected inflation, a child born last year could cost a middle-income family an average of $304,480, the report added.

In 1960, the first year the report was issued, a middle-income family could spend about $25,230, equivalent to $198,560 in 2013 dollars, to raise a child. Housing costs are the greatest child-rearing expense, as they were in the 1960s, but current-day costs like child care were negligible back then. Housing expenses made up roughly 30 percent of the total cost of raising a child.

I found the prices fascinating and enjoyed getting to answer some questions on how to cut costs for this particular media piece. (I’ll let you know if and when it goes live — they may or may not use any of my commentary, but regardless, it was a great exercise to think through.)

What do YOU think? Does it cost $245,340 or more to raise a child to age 17? Have you ever calculated how much you’re spending on raising your kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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8 Ways to Use Your Garden Surplus

garden surplus

Guest post from of OneThingAlone.com

Are you drowning in produce?

Right about now, vegetable gardens around the country are bringing in their harvest. And if you’re a gardener, you probably have more cucumbers, zucchini, and tomatoes than you know what to do with.

Letting them go to waste is a shame, but exactly how many ways can you cook zucchini before you hear collective groans at the dinner table? With a little creativity, you can both save money and make others happy with your garden surplus:

1. Save it for later.

You don’t have to eat everything now, you know. Many veggies freeze well if blanched first.

Simply drop a handful of veggies (carrots, green beans, peas) into boiling water, boil for 30-60 seconds, and then “shock” them ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain excess water and freeze in zip-lock bags. They should keep until the next harvest and will come in handy mid-winter.

You can also save spices like oregano and basil by placing them in an ice cube tray and covering them in olive oil. Once frozen, you can pop them out and store in a freezer-safe gallon-sized bag.

Fruit can be flash-frozen on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes and then stored in freezer bags for yummy smoothies, muffins, or healthy snacks throughout the year.

2. Make convenience items.

With just a bit of work, raw produce can become the base for many quick dinners. Use tomatoes to make a few batches of pizza sauce, tomato juice, or spaghetti sauce. Peppers can be sliced and bagged with onions for a fajita kit. Berries make delicious jams and great Christmas presents.

Veggies can also be used in lasagna, pre-made pizza toppings, and kebab kits. Simple, healthy, and money-savvy.

3. Bring them to work.

Obviously, not everyone has a vegetable garden in their backyard. While you may be up to your ears in cucumbers, others may have cukes on their shopping list. Be generous with what you have and make someone’s day.

Note: if you leave cabbage in the break room, check to make sure it’s gone by the end of the day so you don’t come back to a stench.

4. Invite friends into your garden.

I love bringing friends into my garden and letting them pick whatever they want for dinner that week. Nothing says friend like free food, right?

I get rid of extra veggies and they get dinner on the table with fresh, local, and organic produce.

5. Make a stir-fry or stew with remnants.

If all you have is a handful of peas or a small bowl of green beans, combine them all together for a quick stir-fry. Or throw them all in a pot, add some onions, seasonings and sausage, and make a stew!

Bonus: you can freeze half of the recipe for a later time when you don’t feel like cooking or when eating out tempts your wallet.

6. Double up and send it out

Whatever you’re cooking, make a double batch and surprise a friend with dinner. Whether it’s a new mama, a friend with sick kiddos, or your new neighbors, everyone can use a cooking-free night.

7. Try a new recipe

Whenever there’s a particular veggie that overproduces, try searching Pinterest for yummy recipes, print them all out, and have them handy to reference when the basket is full.

According to Google, there are 30,000,000 zucchini recipes out there, just waiting for you to give them a try. Who knew that zucchini fries, zucchini tortellini soup, and chocolate zucchini soup could taste so good?

8. “Auction” it online

Everyone likes free. Give your local Facebook friends something to smile about by “auctioning” off your produce surplus to the funniest comment or the most embarrassing mommy moment.

Create your own giveaway and make someone’s day, or offer it in exchange for babysitting, lawn services, or help with a freezer-cooking day. It’s a win-win either way.

With a bit of creativity and effort, your low-hanging veggies can save money, make smiles, and brighten days.

Asheritah is married to her high school sweetheart, Flaviu, and together with their daughter, Carissa, they make their home in Ohio. She blogs at OneThingAlone.com about the One Thing that makes laundry piles and midnight cries worth every second: walking with Jesus. 

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9 Money-Saving Vacation Tips

money-saving vacation tips

Guest post from Jackie of Mom on a Mission

Months ago, my daughter had a field trip to Charleston, SC, and the carriage ride was a part of her package cost. My teacher husband was one of the chaperones and after the carriage ride, he told the driver how much he enjoyed the tour and shared that our family was returning for a vacation.

The driver gave him a business card signed with admission for 4 adults. Wow, that was a $100 gift! It pays to compliment the driver.

When we arrived back in Charleston a month later, our two oldest kids served as the adult price and we decided to hold our 4-year-old for no charge and pay one child admission for our 6-year-old at $14.95. We could have paid $155, but only had to pay $14.95 thanks to my complimentary husband and a blessing from the driver.

We enjoy almost all our vacations in this fashion — knowing we are using our resources wisely and saving money while enjoying ourselves. If you’re planning an upcoming vacation, here are 9 ways we like to save that might work for you, too:

1. Plan Ahead With Freezer Meals.

When I’m on vacation I like to be in the kitchen as little as possible. By planning ahead with freezer meals, we not only save time and energy by having our meals prepped, we also save money for extra entertainment.

I pack a cooler full of frozen food of homemade versions of waffles, pizza bagel bites, lasagna, marinated meat or chicken, muffins and/or desserts or snacks. Once the cooler is packed to the brim, it doesn’t thaw. I’ve had frozen food last overnight when tightly packed with solid casseroles and such.

If hotel/motel space is an issue for freezer cooking, a plug-in griddle, hot pot or sandwich maker could provide some quick inexpensive meals to offset dining costs.

2. Check Groupon & Living Social.

We scan our destination to look for entertainment or restaurant coupons. This year on Groupon, we saw the Children’s museum with half-price tickets. We opted out since we’ve done it several years in a row, but I’ve seen specials on everything from spas, plantation tours, riverboat cruises, and Aquariums.

It’s worth checking out.

3. Find Restaurant.com Deals or Local Specials.

We typically eat out at least once during our vacation week, and it’s often using a coupon from Restaurant.com or eat during the lunch hours. Another option is sharing a meal at night.

This year we splurged and took advantage of Sonic half-priced shakes after 8 p.m. for a family walk on the pier. We visit the water park on Tuesdays when admission is half-price and pack our own lunch. Visiting the restaurant or calling ahead about specials can save a great deal of money. Our theme park cost us $60, but it would have cost us $120 on a different day.

Another treat our older kids enjoyed was a reusable Kangaroo cup. The cup was $7 upfront and they enjoyed a bike ride to the gas station for a 25 cent slushy refill, which would have cost $5 each. I ended up giving in to the daily unhealthy splurge since it was a vacation and thankfully, there are no Kangaroo stations in NC.

4. Look for Free Movies/Music on the Beach.

We check out the local website to see what’s happening. An outdoor movie was showing and we popped our own popcorn and brought water. It was a frugal movie night for the whole family.

State parks offer fun activities for the whole family. The state park nearby cost $1 per person and there is a free water splash play area and playground. They also offered family and kid’s activities centered on nature, some which were free. It pays to do research before traveling.

5. Visit Chick-Fil-A on Cow Appreciation Day.

Chick-Fil-A Cow Appreciation Day only happens once a year. Dress like a cow for free chicken. You bet we jumped on the opportunity to wear spots on our black and white attire and sport a mask for any meal on the menu.

Our family of six saved over $45 for dinner. This is a franchise celebration so our cow attire traveled!

6. Pack Picnics with Frozen Water Bottles.

One of our favorite activities to do is go on picnics and rather than picking up lunch, we go for our own healthy options consisting of deli meat, cheese, and whole grain bread. I often pack grilled chicken pitas with leftover grilled chicken and shredded mozzarella cheese. I wrap them in foil and place them near a frozen water bottle to stay cool for hours.

A recycled juice bottle filled with water and frozen water stays cooler longer and you have fresh cold water when thawed.

7. Bring Your Own Bikes.

Bike rentals cost up to $30 a day. We purchased our own and take them with us. My husband found an inexpensive bike rack on Craigslist and we’ve picked up a bike or two from garage sales for less than $10. Our bikes go with is so our older kids and at least one parent can enjoy riding, saving us at least $100 per person for the week.

8. Make Breakfast To-Go and Snacks To-Go.

A fast food breakfast is not always the healthiest or most frugal. I plan ahead for an early morning departure and boil eggs, pack cheese sticks, unsalted almonds, mini-whole wheat bagels with light cream cheese or homemade muffins and reusable water bottles.

Snack ideas include homemade trail mix with low-sugar cereals, pretzels, nuts and dried fruit. I make no-bake granola bars and spread peanut butter crackers on whole wheat crackers to avoid vending machines.

If we want ice cream, we stop by the grocery store and for a box verses the vendor. Large families can benefit from a box of treats verses paying $5 each. I found a half-price box of sorbet pops and the kids enjoyed two treats.

9. Rent a Vacation Home With a Clean-it-Yourself Option.

We rent a house two rows back from the beach front — which is cheaper. Walking two streets over is great exercise. In addition, our home rental does not require a cleaning service so there is no additional fee. We clean it ourselves upon departure because we’d be doing it anyway at the end of the week at home. Everyone pitches in and it gets done quickly and saving anywhere from $60 to $100.

Consider a vacation rental in early August when the price drops. Homeschooling families can take advantage of late August or early September with fewer crowds and the best rates.

Camping is another frugal option that could be considered. We enjoy half-price savings at many campgrounds through Passport America.

How do you save money while on vacation?

Jackie Brown is a mom of four whom blogs at Mom on a Mission: sharing Christ through Freezer Cooking. She makes abundant freezer meals for her family while inspiring others to bless the poor and the needy with their freezer bounty.

photo source

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