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100 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year – Part 3


I'm so enjoying writing this series on ways we've saved over the past six years of our marriage–and especially during those early law school days. It's been good to review various ideas which have worked well for us and I'm hopeful you're being inspired at the same time. If you've missed the previous two installments of this series, you can read them here and here.

13) Switch to Basic H for household cleaning. Those who have known me for some time have already heard me sign the praises of Basic H.
It's an all-purpose, all-natural, non-toxic cleaner which you can use
in place of pretty much every other cleaner in your home.

I like
it not only because it is all-natural and doesn't contain the harmful
chemicals most cleaners do, but it's also incredibly frugal. One 16-oz.
bottle of concentrate costs around $12 and makes 48 gallons of
cleaner–enough to last us for at least 3-4 years. That's quite a deal!

I don't sell this product, nor do I make a penny off promoting it. I
just personally really like it and highly recommend it. If you are
interested in reading more about it or purchasing it, go here.

14) Utilize Craigslist. Over the years, we've saved hundreds of dollars by purchasing big tickets items off of Craigslist for pennies on the dollar. Among other things, we've purchased exercise equipment, a living room set, and our kitchen table through Craigslist.

As always, if you don't need the items in the first place and can't afford them, don't even begin looking at Craigslist. But if you're in the market for something and have the cash set aside for it, definitely check out Craigslist. If you're patient, you'll likely be able to score quite a bargain!

If you're new to Craigslist, Carrie has a great post here with tips for buying on Craigslist.

15) Use Skype for long-distance phone calls. If you have a headset and a high speed internet connection, you can use Skype and drastically reduce your long-distance phone bills.

You can make Skype-to-Skype phone calls completely free of charge to anywhere in the world. If you want to call from your computer to a landline, you can use the pay-as-you-go plan and it's only about $0.02/minute for phone calls to 35 different countries. Or, you can sign up for an unlimited monthly plan for $2.95-$9.95 per month.

When my husband was in law school, my sister and her husband were living in Taiwan, so Skype was wonderful! Not only could my sister and I talk anytime–so long as we were both on the computer–but it was free of charge!

Skype does have its drawbacks: sometimes the reception isn't that great or there's a delay, but for free, who can complain?

16) Barter! One of my favorite ways to save money and help others out in the process is to use the old-fashioned bartering system. From hair cuts to babysitting to car maintenance, we've bartered just about everything under the sun over the years.

Bartering works especially well when you're friends with other frugal folks who would rather swap time or expertise instead of spending money. Not only is it a great way to save money, it also fosters camaraderie and community among friends.

So think about what areas you are gifted in and what areas some of your friends might be gifted in and then see if they'd be up for swapping services or other things.

To be continued…

photo by Refracted Moments

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  • April T says:

    Great recommendations, thanks for the link to the cleaner, I had never heard of it, but I have heard of Shaklee. I used to use Melaleuca cleaning products but it got expensive. I may have to try out the Basic H. I wish I had known about Craigslist before my son was born. My parents spent quite a bit of money to furnish the nursery for us with all brand new furniture and bedding. My daughter of course was able to use it also and my future kids will but now that I have found Craigslist, I try to find everything and anything we need on there. I no longer buy baby bedding for a new baby, I think all you need is crib sheets and blanket sleepers. Bumper pads are even a no-no nowadays because of SIDS. So those $200-$400 bedding sets are so unnecessary, I try to inform every new mom of the waste.

  • Emily says:

    It occurred to me the other day that I use plain old water for many cleaning tasks. I wipe down our windows with plain old water, wipe down the counters with plain old water (and the scouring side of my sponge at times!). To dust, I’ll generally moisten (but not wet) a cloth and wipe surfaces down. I clean mirrors with plain old water (o:

    I realized that cleaning windows and mirrors is do-able with just water once by accident because I was in a hurry to clean before company came over and I just used the sponge I was cleaning the kitchen with to wipe down the mirror and sliding glass windows. It worked! For mirrors and windows, your sponge must be squeezed of excess water.

    I am in the process of narrowing my other cleaning products down to the very natural basics ~ vinegar, baking soda, super washing soda and borax. …oh and I guess by-hand dish washing soap… If anyone has a natural (and less expensive than castille soap) alternative for this, I am all ears!

    I feel a sense of freedom when I can just ignore advertisements for all of the other expensive cleaning products. Of course the big chemical companies want you to believe that you can’t live a proper life without a specific cleaner for each task!!

  • I love this series, I just hate waiting for an entire week to get to the next part of the series! hehe Well, we can all work on our patience so, thanks for all your hard work!

  • John says:

    Great tips! Gotta love Craigslist. We use it very often to both sell and buy stuff. Skype is wonderful. Heck, Skype sometimes have better voice quality than cheap phone carriers.

    PC World recently also has a list of several sites for bargain hunting and helpful tips, including one of my favorites:

    Anyway, maybe someone will find it useful. The PC World article is at:

  • Cee says:

    We love Skype, too! And we also use Google Chat, which is free as well.

  • Renee says:

    I sing the praises of not only Basic H, but the soaps as well…their products in general are well worth the $$.

  • deborah says:

    Thanks for sharing these tips! It’s been encouraging to read them and has gotten me thinking about what I already do and what I could start doing to save even more. Above all, I appreciate your emphasis on looking for ways to share and give; human nature would have us hoard the savings instead. Thank-you for your ministry.

    Here’s a tip I shared just today:

  • Sandra says:

    Thanks for this!

    I have added your link for these articles to my blog for my readers to enjoy! I hope you don’t mind.


  • Alison Armstrong says:

    Hi, I had been meaning to ask you and when I saw your shaklee link it reminded me, where do you get your supplements? I saw in another post that you took organic omega 369 and was wondering where you got it. Thanks!!

  • Cassie says:

    Can you really use the Basic H in place of normal bathroom cleaners too? I don’t know that I could change from using Comet in the tub and more gel-like toilet bowl cleaner.

    Money Saving Mom here: We use it for pretty much all of our cleaning. I also use Basic G if I want to do more of a disinfecting job or I also use baking soda if I have a deep cleaning job. Other than that, the only other cleaners we buy are dish detergent, laundry detergent, and Shout (it’s the only stain remover I’ve found which successfully removes every stain known to man–or at least every kind of stain we seem to have encountered in this household!).

  • Robyn says:

    I am a big proponent of ye olde barter system! Once every 4-6 weeks, I take a big Rubbermaid tub full of the deals I snag via Money Saving Mom to my stylist, and get color for myself, and cuts for the husbo and young’un, for an even swap. That’s over $100 worth of services for maybe $15.00 out of pocket on the products, plus it allows me to rolls ECBs at CVS on things I might not use myself, and still get the benefit of awesome hair!

  • Allyson says:

    I love your idea about bartering. A lot of people think this is just an old-fashion type of “commerce,” but we regularly barter for items and services with other frugal folks.

    Thanks for all of your great ideas,

  • Melissa says:

    You mentioned haircuts, and it made me remember that you can often get a free haircut if you donate the hair to Locks of Love. The hair has to be in a ponytail at least 10 inches long to qualify, so you would need to be willing to grow your hair out for a while. But it’s for a great cause AND a free haircut!

  • Tiffany says:


    I just read the part about the Basic H, and had to comment real quick. I agree 100%. I do use other cleaners, that I get for cheap or free. However this works great and its safe for my family. I love using this on the trim, doors, and even walls. I bought my first bottle when Liam started to set up so 3yrs ago. I will order more this year, but it has last a long time. I would also suggest Basic G. We have even more of that, left over. 🙂


  • Cher says:

    Does Basic H work on Linoleum?

    Money Saving Mom here: Yes, ma’am! So far, I’ve not found a surface it doesn’t work on. 🙂

  • Melissa says:

    We are finding ways to save money. My husband and I don’t have a land line. We have a cell phone plan that has roll-over minutes and we share the anytime minutes, which we never use all of. Many of our family members have the same company, so it’s free and the rest we just wait till after 9pm or the weekend to call. We do have 2 vehicles, but could easily do with just one if need be. I work outside the home and he’s on disability, so he is home most days. The truck is paid for and the insurance is cheap.
    We have started to cut back on how much we use of each product such as toothpaste, shampoo, etc. Items last longer and hence, don’t have buy as often. I am getting into CVS-ing and loving it. We have PT’s in our home, but rarely use them – a roll will last for months.
    Just find small ways, everyday to save. It all adds up before you know it.

  • Marie says:

    Do you use the Shaklee products for laundry as well? If not, what frugal and safe suggestions do you have for laundry products?

    Money Saving Mom here: I personally didn’t especially love the laundry products or feel they were really worth the extra expense. We just use regular laundry detergent right now. I normally get whatever I can snag for less than $2 (on sale with coupons) and we usually go with Arm and Hammer’s Perfume and Dye free for Sensitive Skin or Tide Free.

    I’ve tried making my own laundry detergent without success, but I know many folks who have done so very successfully. Tammy has a helpful tutorial here if you are interested:

  • Jenny says:

    Well it looks like I’ll be saving at least $100 this year! I’m going to buy me some Basic H! I had never heard of it before, but it sounds really great! I spend so much on cleaners in a year and now I won’t have to. Thanks so much!

  • RateNerd says:

    Thanks for the Skype tip – has anyone used the Magic Jack for phone service? The infomercial makes it seem like a great deal, and one that would be portable too.

  • Sherrie Duval says:

    How does this product do on making toilets and bathtubs white? This is our biggest problem with natural cleaners. We use them but those two places are never quite as clean.

    Money Saving Mom here: I’ve not had a problem keeping bathtubs and toilets white with Basic H, but if you are having trouble, you might try baking soda. It works really well on hard stains and grime and also seems to do a good job of whitening. Definitely try it out if you’ve not done so already!

  • amity t says:

    Hi Crystal…I was wondering if you use anything else from the Basic H Website such as the laundry detergent? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Also, how well does the Basic H work for streak free shine on windows and mirrors?

    Thanks for the great Blog

    amity t.

    Money Saving Mom here: Hi, Amity! I’ve tried most of the other cleaning products from Shaklee (someone generously sent me samples of the whole product line to try!), but found that I only really liked Basic H, with Basic G being a close second. The laundry detergent was pricey and didn’t seem to work any better than regular laundry detergent.

    As far as using Basic H on glass/mirrors, it takes a little getting used to to get the mirrors streak-free, but once you’ve got it, it works well.

  • Mindy says:

    We use MajicJack and love it! We just leave our computer on all day and it works great! Every once in awhile we have connection problems and we have to unplug the jack for a minute to reset it. The free long distance is great. We never have a phone bill, and I can check my messages on my email. I highly recommend it!

  • Wendy says:

    I love bartering! I trade babysitting services with a family whose husband is my “handyman”. He has completed several jobs which would have cost me so much in labor out-of-pocket. He’s installed 2 ceiling fans, a new track lighting system, and he always is helping me keep critters out of my attic.

  • Donna Wolfe says:

    I love you, there I said it. LOL. I bartered babysitting for my car! Yeah! I just wanted to a. say thanks for the basic H tip, that sounds less expensive than my homemade concoctions, and b. I wanted to share my tip on hard wate stains in the toilet (sorry, sounds crass but…) I have “hard” hard well water and I bought a house with HORRIBLE stains—I discovered dry wall sandpaper. Works unbelievably well with very little elbow grease required! Hope that helps someone!

  • Lyn says:

    I really like the Shaklee dishwasher detergent, too. It takes so very little of the detergent to do the whole dishwasher full, without rinsing.

    I use the Shaklee laundry products, too. They do take some extra care (basic H on stains), but I really like the environmentally safe aspect.

    The Shaklee Get Clean items were one of Oprah’s Favorite Things the last time she did them (2007).

  • Jenn says:

    I use Basic-H and water to clean fruit and veggies off before we eat them. Usually I’ll soak grapes in a bowl of water with a drop of Basic-H and you’d be amazed how much residue comes off of them after 10 minutes!

  • Jenae says:

    Great tips! I ordered the cleaner but was wondering for what specific purposes you use it…windows? toilet bowl? countertops? That would help me know what products I still need to purchase. Thanks!!!

    Oh, and I have an idea for your next installment of this series. How do you give gifts to people (family birthdays, Christmas, etc) without breaking the bank? We spend an average of $50 per person for each birthday and then again at Christmas. Any ideas? I don’t want to give a gift that looks like I am being cheap, but also would like to save a little. Hope you have some wonderful advice as usual!

    Money Saving Mom here: We use Basic H and Basic G for pretty much 100% of our cleaning. Basic H is an all-purpose cleaner, Basic G is a disinfectant. Between the two of those, that pretty much covers all the bases.

  • Heather says:

    I love the idea of the Basic H product! I’d been looking for more green cleaning products to use in my home, but didn’t want to spend the extra money. Who knew that I could save money!! As I’m looking at ordering it, I have a couple questions. Do I need the dispenser bottle with dropper to measure things out or does this come with the product itself, any other accessories needed, and is there any good reason to pay the $19.95 to become a member? Thank you for all your help!

  • Julia says:

    As far as bartering goes, you do have to be careful because the IRS counts certain types of barter as income, meaning you have to report it on your taxes. We’re facing that this year with our small business – I think it is true on a personal as well as business level, but not sure at all where the threshold is as far as what kind of bartering is taxable…

  • alyssa says:

    Perhaps this is off the subject, but bathroom cleaning reminded me. How do you get rid of pink mold on a plastic/vinyl shower curtain liner? I usually just end up replacing it now and then, it gets so gross.
    I’m considering switching to a cloth liner, like you’d see in a hotel. I’m thinking it would be easier to throw in the wash whenever needed. Anyone use a cloth liner? Does it last long enough to be worth the $ ?

  • I completely agree with Craigslist! It’s an amazing resource!

  • angie says:

    I just bartered today! My friend is a photographer and I am a jewelry artist. She took pics of my jewelry and I traded her jewelry…both things we could not comfortably afford without bartering. Now we both have professional, one of a kind work. We will both promote each others businesses so it is the gift that will keep on giving.

  • Amanda says:

    Just wanted to mention that Magic Jack is also a really cheap phone service that costs about $20 a year, and it has great reception. There is a startup cost when you purchase the equipment of $40, but after that, you only pay the yearly fee. Here’s what a friend of mine says about it:

    Basically, it is a little larger than a standard USB thumb drive or flash drive.
    You plug it into the USB port of any computer with high speed internet access, anywhere in the world.
    On the other side is a phone jack, like that which you plug your phone into the wall, at home
    You can then plug ANY phone into this jack, and make regular calls on that phone like normal to anywhere in the U.S. or Canada for free, just as you would with a regular landline phone.
    You are assigned a U.S. phone number, for which you pick from a large list of area codes in the U.S.
    Therefore, anyone can call you no matter where you are in the world, as if it were a local U.S. call (if they had the same area code as the number you picked) or long distance U.S. call.
    The product cost $40. This gives you unlimited calls for one year. Thereafter, it is $20 a year.

    For people settled outside of the U.S.:
    1) This would allow them to make unlimited calls to anywhere in the U.S. for $20/year
    2) The other person would NOT have to be a subscriber (i.e. you can call any cellphone or land line in the U.S.)
    3) There is no static or delay, as is common with programs like Skype
    4) People in the U.S. could call from their cellphone or land line to the person overseas with magicjack (the overseas person would have a U.S. phone number for this, making it local or U.S. long distance)

    For people who travel frequently overseas:
    If you take a laptop with you, and have access to high speed internet…then, you can take this small device with you (slightly bigger than a thumbdrive), plug it into your laptop, and then you can plug any landline phone into it to make unlimited calls back to the U.S.

    Even for people in the U.S.:
    You can get unlimited local and long-distance phone calls in the U.S. for $20/year (useful if you cellphone service has limited minutes, etc.)

    – – –
    *You must have high speed internet access for this; dial up connections won’t work
    *Your computer must be on, connected to the internet, with the product in your USB port, and phone plugged into it in order to make and receive phone calls from that phone.

  • Heather says:

    I recently bought a cloth liner and love it! I don’t know why I never did it before. I bought it from Target for only $4.99 or $5.99 and we can throw it right in the wash! You don’t have to keep replacing it or use toxic tilex to get it clean, you don’t get that nasty, toxic shower curtain smell and, a surprise bonus, showers are much quieter without the water pounding against the plastic. 🙂

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