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3 Ways You Can Save Money Without Changing Your Spending

Save money without even changing your spending habits! These are GREAT ideas!

Guest post by Rebekah

A frugal lifestyle is more than just refusing to spend money or going after the best deal. It is about being a good steward with all of your resources. Some people are unwilling or unable to change their spending budget. That doesn’t mean they can’t be frugal.

Here are three ways you can save money without changing your spending:

1. Use Less

There are some things that you just have to buy, but if you use a little less of them, you’ll stretch those products further. It is better to go back for a little more shampoo than to use too much to begin with!

Here are some ideas for things you can experiment with to see how little you can actually use while still getting the job done:

  • shampoo/conditioner
  • toothpaste
  • laundry detergent
  • hand soap
  • dish detergent
  • lotion
  • toilet paper
  • milk – in your cereal or coffee
  • electricity – Turn off lights and other devices when you’re not using them.
  • heat – Use a blanket, sweater, or hot drink to warm up.
  • baby wipes – Tear them in half and only use what you need.
  • gas – Crystal shared 15 ways to save money on gasoline here and here.
  • water – Turn off water when possible, take shorter showers, or recycle “gray” water.

2. Use it All

Don’t waste what you’ve already paid for! I shudder just thinking about how much money I’m “throwing away” each time I clean out my refrigerator. Food is the most obvious thing people struggle to use completely, but there are more.

Here are some ways you can be sure to get your money’s worth out of products by using all of it:

  • Keep a container in your freezer for leftover veggies that you can add to regularly. Then when the container is full, make soup.
  • Swish some water in your “empty” shampoo/conditioner bottle to get out the last drops.
  • Freeze over ripe bananas to use for baking or Crystal’s chocolate banana smoothies.
  • Peel off that last annoying, glued-to-the-roll square of toilet paper and add it to the next roll.
  • Cut the tops off your “empty” toothpaste, face wash, and lotion to access some hidden product. There is more left in there than you think!
  • Save stale bread for making bread crumbs or go on a duck feeding adventure.

3. Use it Twice

There are some things that you can truly only use once. That dab of toothpaste on your toothbrush? Yeah, I’d love to see you try to use that again! Then there are other things that really can be used again and it will save you money in the long run.

Here are some things around your house that can use twice or more:

  • laundry – Do a sniff test. If it passes, then what’s the harm in wearing it again?
  • paper towels – Do you use one to cover your food in the microwave? Use it over & over or use it as your napkin for that meal.
  • tin foil – Did you cover a dish without it getting messy? Fold it up & save it.
  • old t-shirts – Cut them into rags or make a necklace.
  • gift bags – Use them for a future gift. If they are too wrinkled or ugly you can use them to carry things around.
  • gift bows – Put a piece of tape on the back and use them over and over.
  • tissue paper – Did you know that you can iron tissue paper?
  • plastic food storage bags – I don’t recommend doing this with meat, but you can wash and reuse bags several times.
  • plastic grocery bags – Use them in small trash cans, to pick up behind your dog on walks, or as a “wet bag” in your diaper bag.
  • q-tips – If you use one end for touching up your make-up, save it to use the other end next time.
  • birthday candles & decorations – They are used for such a short time. Why not save them for the next birthday?
  • disposable swim diapers – Put swim diapers in your laundry and use them several times before throwing them out.

You don’t have to be a coupon queen or a penny pincher to save some cash! Those things certainly help, but when you’ve done everything you can to save money, try these three tactics to stretch your dollar even further.

What suggestions do you have for getting the most out of your products?

Rebekah is a stay-at-home mom who blogs about frugal lifestyle tips, going green baby steps, and all of life in between at SimplyRebekah.com.

All photos by Simply Rebekah.


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251 Comments

  • heather ballengee chandler says:

    We live in an old house and it takes a long time for the water to warm up when we turn on the taps.
    I keep pitchers and buckets by all tubs and sinks & catch the water that is cold.
    That water goes on the garden in the summer, into the washing maching in the winter. It is used almost daily to flush the toilet.
    When we started to do this, our water bill dropped by about $20 per billing cycle.

  • heather ballengee chandler says:

    Something else our family does for the holidays—
    Our Granny had a huge collection of pillowcases. She handed them out to everyone and now we use these to wrap Christmas presents instead of gift bags or paper. They just get traded around every year.

    • deborah says:

      That is a really fun idea! And there are some really pretty vintage pillowcases!

    • I have seen vintage tablecloths for $0.50 each at yard sales or thrift stores that would be awesome for wrapping gifts over and over!

    • Love it! I used newspaper last year. I thought it would look tacky, but I only used black & white print (avoided all color pictures) and then added cloth ribbon in white, black, or red. I thought they turned out pretty classy.

      Your Granny must have a LOT of pillow cases! 🙂

    • Lorie says:

      I save the comics from all the Sunday papers I get to use as wrapping paper. Also, at grocery stores, I ask for paper bags (only a few still will do that!) and turn them inside out and wrap with them. Then you can decorate with bows, ribbon, stamps, markers, or whatever else you choose. Also, thos cheap plastic tablecloths people use once for parties and throw away…not if I’m around…I wipe them off, dry them, fold them up and take them home to use for wrapping paper!

    • Dacia says:

      I had Christmas print material that had been passed down to me, or that I had purchased on sale for a steal thinking I would get some crafts done with them “sometime” = Two years ago I finally came up with that simple project and sewed up the sides and made bags that we use over and over with fabric ribbon that I also bought on clearance! Works great with plain colored fabrics, odd sizes, all occasions, etc – and I don’t have to worry about those paper gift bags getting wrinkled and ruined while trying to store them!

  • Heather says:

    One alternative to paper towels in the microwave is to not use them. When it gets dirty, here’s an easy way to clean it:

    Microwave a mug of water for about 5 minutes. Needs to come to a boil.
    Let it sit momentarily for safety reasons.
    All that hardened debris will wipe off very easily!

    • Tabatha says:

      Another thing you can do as well is place a bowl of vinegar in the microwave for about 30 seconds, it helps to sanitize your microwave as well and makes it really easy to clean! 🙂

      • Heather says:

        Did not know that! Only 30 seconds?

        • Tabatha says:

          I have an 1100 Watt microwave so 30 seconds is good. You may have to play with the time a little if you have a smaller microwave. You basically want it to start to steam. 🙂

        • I soak a rag in water, then wring it out some so it’s not totally dripping. Then I add a splash of vinegar, fold the rag up, and microwave it for 30 seconds. Yep, works like a charm – the steam loosens all the crud, then I give it a swipe with the hot rag and it’s all done!

          • Britt says:

            A slice of lemon in the water that you microwave works for cleaning the microwave as well. Plus, I love the way it smells! Better than vinegar.

      • Phaedra says:

        I keep hearing how many uses there are for vinegar…I need to start exploring some of them.

      • katie says:

        I’m a little skeptical about how much sanitizing vinegar can really do (or how necessary it is for your microwave anyway). However, baking soda is my pick for cleaning up microwave grease spatters. Alkaline products cut grease better than acid in general. Acids like vinegar work much better on mineral deposits, like lime scale.

        My money-saving tip is that I swept up all the baking soda (two pounds!) that my toddler dumped on the floor, sifted the big dust out with a mesh strainer, and it’s in a little jar labelled “for cleaning only.”

        • jen says:

          I love vinegar! I use it for fabric softner, rinse aid w my homemade laundry soap, cleaner, and more! A pple cider vinegar in a glass of water detoxes your kidneys and bladder. It also completely takes away kidney infections without taking antibiotics! Vinegar is safe, healthy, natural and cheap! I always have vinegar around my house!

        • Jenni says:

          This is going to sound un-American but I would also re-consider daily showers. After living overseas, I realized that my hair did better by shampooing it every other day rather than every day. If it’s hot and I’m sweating, that’s another story, but I don’t usually need a shower every day.

          • Tabatha says:

            Don’t feel bad I don’t shower every day either. Every other day here unless like you said I’m sweating and gross and actually I only wash my hair every 2 days because it doesn’t get greasy. 🙂

          • Becky says:

            I do shower daily but have really cut h2o consumption by just washing my hair every other day. I’m only 38, but my scalp was oily but hair dry. My hairdresser said that your scalp will adjust almost no matter how often you wash your hair (I suspect it’s the same with your skin) as long as you’re consistent with days between washes. My hair feels more nourished, my scalp just the same as when I was washing everyday, it takes less time to get ready in the morning on days “off”, & our water bill is a bit lower. Now onto working on only washing every 3rd day…

        • lindsey says:

          Many hospitals now use vinegar instead of bleach for sterilizing because it does the job but is far less toxic.

          • Sara says:

            Interesting…since vinegar doesn’t sanitize all surfaces nor kill all germs, I’m surprised that hospitals would risk using vinegar as their sterilization agent. There is too much liability and risk otherwise. Cleaning your bathtub with vinegar is one thing (though not completely effective, it still has some germicidal properties), but reusing medical tools that could be contaminated with diseases? I would RUN from the hospital that did that.

          • Andrea says:

            Sara…Tools are sterilized with steam in an autoclave, not with bleach or vinegar. But there are a lot of other surfaces to clean…floors, walls, etc. Some hospitals in Europe use lemon essential oil.

          • Jenni says:

            I agree with this – I read in a Cooks Illustrated review that a water/vinegar rinse cleaned just as much bacteria off of fruits and vegetables as an “anti-bacterial wash.”

        • Lea Stormhammer says:

          Actually it’s that acid in the vinegar that does a good job of killing many of the germs that we’re worried about. The combination of vinegar and baking soda will clean most things in the house well and without the toxic effects of some of the more ‘mainstream’ cleaners.

          Lea

          • Becky says:

            Plus, many hospitals are going to more natural cleaners to help prevent adding to super bug resistance. As I’m sure you know, when we continue to use toxic antibacterial cleaners, it kills all of the bacteria/viruses including the good. Only the strong survive, often times it’s the super bad ones, & they just gain in strength. Hence, the rise in infections in hospitals who use traditional commercial cleaners.

    • Lana says:

      For about $2 you can buy a plastic microwave cover that works better anyway. We’ve had ours for many years and it is used almost daily.

      • Rachel says:

        And you can throw it in the dishwasher!

      • I was thinking the same thing! My sister gave us one when we got married – so useful.

        Although, I never used to cover my food anyways! Oops… 😉

      • rkessler says:

        To stop splatters in the microwave I use cardboard instead of paper towels. Like the ones that cereal or cake mixes come in. When they get dirty you just throw them out and use another one. I think it is healthier than using plastic wrap over food.

      • Lorie says:

        That’s what I have and it was 79 cents at IKEA. My microwave never gets really messy because of this really neat cover!! I keep it in the microwave on the glass plate so no on forgets to use it – it is only out when it is in the DW.

      • Deb says:

        That is what I was going to say, they are so cheap, you can hand them out to anyone with a dirty microwave…which BTW grosses me out almost as much as a dirty refrigerator…….YUCK!

      • Guest says:

        That’s what we use also. I love it – we just pop it in the dishwasher when it needs to be cleaned.

      • Jessica R. says:

        A co-worker of mine uses a coffee filter to cover her food in the microwave as opposed to a paper towel. She said they’re cheaper and because of the shape of them, they don’t fall down into her soup like paper towels sometimes do! I thought that was a great idea.

    • Or purchase one of those plastic covers that keeps the splatters contained. Wash and reuse!

  • Lauren Meinecke says:

    Also use old t-shirts for t-shirt quilts

  • Heather says:

    I also keep paper towels in a cupboard. When they are not in sight, they last so much longer! Our consumption of paper towels has probably gone down 75%. I keep the rags in a lower cupboard, and have worked hard to train people to use them.

    • Meredith says:

      This revelation occurred to me about three weeks ago. I don’t see how people do without paper towels at all. I can use rags for most things but for mirrors and windows, I haven’t found anything that works on mine. Anyway, I put them away in my panty and they are going so much slower!

      • Jennifer says:

        Try using old newspaper for mirrors and windows…It gets them clean without any streaks!!

      • Amanda says:

        We cut up my husband’s old white t-shirts for rags and these work well on windows and mirrors, also!

        • Rachel says:

          Old cotton sheets & pillowcases (not cotton/polyester blend) cut up make great rags, too! The cotton/polyester blend doesn’t absorb well enough to be a cleaning rag 🙁

      • Lana says:

        You can buy a 2 pack of microfiber glass cleaning cloths at WalMart for about $5. They are in the hardware section with the janitorial supplies. You will never have to buy glass cleaner again and be amazed at how clean your glass is. I’ve had people walk into my storm doors because they are invisible.

      • A soft microfiber cloth works well for mirrors and windows and can be reused many times before needing washed. In college we cleaned our mirror for room inspection with just a hand towel – no windex. Those spots rub off easily!

        We don’t use any paper products in our house except toilet paper. It cuts down on expenses a lot. An old washcloth and a bottle of Fantastik work wonders!

    • Kristen says:

      I started keeping the current roll with the stored rolls, in the laundry room. If I have to make the effort to go get the towel, I’m more likely to make the effort to use a rag instead. 🙂 I’d like to get rid of them completely, but there are some things that I only use paper towels for, like cleaning up when my dogs get sick.

    • Monica says:

      I use rags and cloth napkins. The ONLY thing I use paper towel for is for the toilet and bathroom sink. I just can’t bear to use a rag for those things.

      • Diane says:

        The only thing I would use paper towels for was for my pump parts when I packed them for work. I use cloth towels/cleaning rags for cleaning the bathroom. We use cloth napkins and cleaning cloths, cloth wipes for my toddler (vs toilet paper).

    • Jennifer says:

      A few years ago I bought a 12-pack of washclothes on sale for $1.99 at Kohl’s – we keep those under the sink and use them for wiping hands, mouths, small spills, etc. Even my husband now reaches for them instead of the paper towel (which we do still buy, but we use about 3 rolls a year instead of a month now). Then they get popped in the wash and folded up and put back. Its great.

  • Meredith says:

    1. Practice portion control when you eat. Example…There are usually 12 servings of cereal per box. My husband used get 3-4 bowls out of a box and eat a banana with it too. I started measuring them out for him (he gets 1.5 servings now) with some fruit.
    2. Share bananas
    3. Don’t rinse and wash out everything before loading the dishwasher. Only do horrible sticky messes. Most dishwashers will do the work for you.
    4. If you use fabric softener sheets (I do I hate static), a half one works fine.
    5. Spend some extra money and buy a good brand if you need it. I loaded up on deodorants from couponing. Some were free, some I paid for. We hate all of them. Unused ones were donated. So if the hubby is out of degree and no coupons, I just spend the money and don’t worry about it.
    6. Use mail circulars, packaging materials, and unused mail for craft projects.

    • If you use a timed dry and dry your clothes JUST until they are dry, you’ll never need dryer sheets. My husband taught me this after we were married. I didn’t believe him, but I tried it–and he was right!

      • You can also use tennis balls in the dryer instead of dryer sheets!

      • Lana says:

        The active ingredient in dryer sheets is formaldehyde–bleh–I don’t want that in my laundry!

        • Meredith says:

          I have severe eczema. The wax from the dryer sheets protects me from laundry detergent…which even the most natural and free and clear ones breaks me out. So, I actually do want that in my laundry!!!! I can see your point though!

          • Caroline says:

            Really? Our doctor just told us for our son with severe excema not to use dryer sheets. We can’t hang his clothes outside either because of too many allergens in the air. So we either dry without them or try to hang them on drying racks around the house.

          • I am allergic to most laundry soaps. I make homemade laundry soap, but instead of using Fels Naptha, I use an Oil of Olay bar (that doesn’t cause problems for me). I don’t add any fragrance to my homemade soap. This has helped me tremendously. I have been using this for 6 years now and it makes a huge difference to me. I switched to homemade soap when the one I was using started adding fragrances, and it made me have problems again. I couldn’t find anything else that didn’t cause me trouble until I started making my own.

          • Becky says:

            My son has eczema too, it used to be severe. Now, he rarely has flare ups. All we did was switch his laundry detergent to free & clear Seventh Generation (regular free & clear detergents also give him break outs) along with frequent application of Vanicream cream. They’re both kind of pricey but totally worth it since they’re way healthier for him than steroid creams, etc. Prevention is the key we found!

    • Carrie says:

      I think portion control is a very interesting point. Having a set grocery budget helps remind me not to overstuff myself at dinner — because I NEED those leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch!

    • Sara says:

      I wish we had luck with not rinsing dishes. We have a brand new dishwasher, and if I don’t rinse my dishes before putting them in, we have to rewash them 2-3 times to get all the hardened mess off. I know this works for a lot of people, but I wish I understood how!

      • Andrea says:

        Me, too! I’ve lived in eight different places in the last decade and never had a dishwasher that worked well enough to not rinse. I’ve tried all sorts of different detergents, too.

      • Deb says:

        We had recently bought a new Kitchen Aid dishwasher before we sold our house and we could go without rinsing, but the bad part is, the dishwasher in this house is not as good and everyone is out of the habit. ;(

      • Heather says:

        I think sometimes it has to do with other factors such as water and even your hot water heater.

      • nikki says:

        The trick I learned from reading my owner’s manual is to run the water in the sink nearest the dishwasher until it gets hot…and then turn on the dishwasher. Now I just need to start catching that not-yet-hot water and using it on my plants!

    • I completely agree with the portion control! We eat less meat and fill that gap with fruits and veggies. We feel healthier and it’s cheaper!

    • Sidney says:

      I just had to laugh at your #2 – “Share bananas” WHY??? Bananas are one of the cheapest fruits available, and extremely healthy. Why would I need to or want to share them?!? I eat one or two a day, almost every day.

      • Monica says:

        Lol! I thought that at first too but I think maybe she meant with the little kids since they are always wasting big chunks of them anyway!

        • Nicole says:

          True! My 2 1/2 year old will take one bite of a banana and want a “new” one. And does it again! So we have two opened bananas, and need to share them with mommy, daddy and sister to finish them.

  • Emily says:

    Actually, a few things on that list of things you just “have” to buy you don’t have to buy at all! 🙂 I’ve been using baking soda and apple cider vinegar instead of shampoo and conditioner since last spring and it works great! And since you use so little of each per wash it’s extremely cheap–not to mention better for you since it’s it’s not full of chemicals. You can also use cloth instead of toilet paper for #1 (I just cut up and old cotton shirt into squares and keep them in a container from some feminine wipes after they ran out) and then wash it with your laundry. I guess after using cloth diapers for my son this wasn’t that weird for me to adjust to! 🙂 And it’s amazing how much less TP we go through. You can also use cloth for baby wipes and make your own detergent…there are many others too. Just thought I’d throw that out there!

    • I agree Emily. Some of our biggest savings came when we reevaluated what we really needed to begin with. Not only are my cabinets much more empty, organized, and simplified… but we’re saving an awful lot.

      I also do the NO Poo and it has been great. Will never go back.

    • Monica says:

      That is so green. Reusing cloth napkins without washing used to gross me out but I got over it so maybe I could with that too!

    • The first list isn’t meant to be a collection of must buy essentials for your home, rather a list of things you might be able to use less of if you are buying them anyway. You do bring up good points though. Thinking outside the box about what you buy is always a good money saving tip.

      • Emily says:

        I figured you probably had heard of some of the things I mentioned but thought it was worth saying for others who hadn’t. I’ve only recently started to do some of these things and am grateful for the people who pointed me in that direction, so I thought I’d share! 🙂 There are definitely going to be people who won’t ever want to give those things up so I knew where you were coming from, too.

  • Emily says:

    Oh–and we use cloth napkins now instead of paper towels for everything that’s not super messy…like spaghetti sauce or something!

  • Kristen says:

    Good tips. Of course I’d be careful doing the sniff test on your husband’s clothes, I’ve regretted that a few times! Yuck! Lol

  • Susan says:

    I was about to throw out my concealer when I couldn’t just apply it from the applicator anymore. (It is a lipstick-container type.) Instead, I’m digging some out each morning with a beauty tool. I know I’ll get several more weeks of use out of it!

    • Patti says:

      I’ve been doing this with my lipstick … and haven’t had to replace it yet for months. I use a lipstick brush which I just read is better for you to use to apply lipstick anyway. There is about 1/4- 1/2 inch of lipstick past the edge of the tube.

    • Amanda says:

      I don’t really have the patience for digging makeup out of a container every day, but if you did it once, you could put it in a little container. You can also save broken eyeshadow and blush by crushing the powder, adding alcohol, smoothing out, and letting dey.

  • Kristen@DSG says:

    I try to save things all year round to make Christmas wrapping and decorating more fun, frugal, and green. Last year, Crystal shared my onion bag gift wrap, and the response inspired me to save more!

  • katie says:

    I’ve been dying to figure out how to get the rest of my lotion out of the pump bottles. I never thought of cutting them apart! Thanks!

    • I have used a tiny bit of water in mine. I also hear that you could warm it for a very short time in the microwave when you’re at the very end, but I haven’t tried it.

      • Heather says:

        I’ve used this on every bottle at the very end. Just do it in very short intervals until just warm and then allow a moment for it to cool back down a little. DON”T BURN YOURSELF!

    • Bethany says:

      I cut the bottoms off face wash/shampoo, etc… def good for a few more showers!

      • Rachel says:

        I turn my almost empty lotion pump bottles upside down in a small bowl to get the rest out and do a little digging in the bottle with my finger.

        Turn shampoo and conditioner bottles upside down in the shower to get more out. Then when that doesn’t work any more, add a little water and shake to get the last little bit out of it.

  • Jen says:

    Some great ideas.

    We definitely go with turning off lights in rooms we aren’t in. We also hookup our tvs and such to a power strip that we click off overnight – no more paying to keep the little red lights on all night.

    Also, be aware of how much your family eats before cooking. I know this is hard, but it helps a lot! We’re not huge on leftovers, so I have tried very hard to make sure I make enough to keep us full, but without much extra – esp of the expensive things like meat and fresh produce.

    Along those lines, experiment cooking with more beans and less meat. I love to throw beans into stew, soup or even spaghetti to fill in and use less meat.

    Turn down the water heater. You probably don’t really need it up as high as it is. Turn it down a touch and it’ll save you money.

    Last one – for the winters, don’t forget to put plastic up over all your windows. I know it can look tacky, but you’re probably going to have the curtains closed most of the time anyway. It saves a lot on heating bills since you don’t loose as much out the windows.

    • Bethany says:

      I read somewhere else to unplug some lightbulbs to cut down on costs. Our apt bathroom had NINE very bright bulbs, we took 5 out (every other- they are in a line) and it’s still bright! Would have never thought of that.

  • amy says:

    We havent bought papertowel in years. I buy towels on clearance at a local resale store and cut them up for washclothes to use for cleaning up messes.
    For cleaning mirrors we use wadded up newspaper.
    I only use conditioner on my hair if it’s an important “going out in public day”, and a regular size bottle lasts me about 2 months this way. I figure my kids and the checkers at the grocery store really arent too interested in what my hair looks like 🙂
    We use the water from the kids little round swimming pool (no chemicals added) to water the garden and flowers.
    I don’t really reuse ziploc bags, but my stepmom has done it for years. (She knows someone who reuses his garbage bags, we have a lot of dirty diapers so I don’t think I’d go that far lol!)
    I always rinse out my shampoo bottles, detergent bottles, etc. to get one extra washing.
    Also, be careful using vinegar and baking soda as your sole “cleaning” products. They get things clean, but there is no disinfecting qualities! You either have to add Thyme oil (? I think that’s the name?) or buy green products with thymol added. I like the 7th generation brand.

    • Andrea says:

      Regarding vinegar…it does have disinfecting properties. Probably not as many as bleach, but it does kill some germs.

      • Sara says:

        If I’m disinfecting and want to use “natural” products, I reach for rubbing alcohol instead of baking soda/vinegar. Especially in the kitchen/bathrooms.

    • Sara says:

      I just read that about the vinegar and baking soda as well. Especially during cold and flu season, the money I “saved by using cheap cleanser would certainly not make up for the risk of getting sick more often!

      • Johnlyn says:

        Actually now they are saying that we are “too clean” and you shouldn’t disinfect everything.

        • Some germs are helpful, which is why we don’t use antibacterial soap, just regular soap and water. But, I do find myself to be quite a germophobe when I’m pregnant because of my 46 weeks of combined pregnancy, I’ve been sick 12 of them, and it is a miserable existence to be sick and unable to take anything! 🙂

          • I see you were responding to another “Sara”. LOL.

          • Johnlyn says:

            Uggggg on morning sickness and trying to take care of a little one!

            I still wonder about being too clean. It seems like people are sick more often now than they were back in the day…who knows what they’ll say 10 years from now!

          • @Johnlyn
            Eyes on the prize, eyes on the prize 🙂

            I do take a lot of the recent “studies” with a grain of salt. Things change so quickly in the medical field that I’m sure we’re doing something now that will be “debunked” 20 years from now. Who knows! I’m blessed that we’ve been super healthy, though. Besides the anomaly of pregnancy, I average one cold every 5 years.

      • Andrea says:

        Use the money you save on cleansers to buy more fruits and vegetables and a Vitamin D supplement. 😉 I don’t clean very often and I only purposefully “disinfect” if someone’s got the plague.

      • Julie says:

        Vinegar actually has very good disinfecting properties. My son has asthma and once a week, I have to sterilize his nebulizer mask. The only thing I am permitted to use for the task is a vinegar/hot water solution.

    • Becky says:

      Vinegar does have disinfecting properties, & I’ve read that if you alternate cleaning with vinegar/baking soda and then hydrogen peroxide (watch out for the mild bleaching effect though), it’s as effective as using bleach but is much less toxic.

  • Jessi Slate says:

    Love the suggestions in this article!! To help stretch condiments such as peanut butter, jelly, butter, and etc. As far as they can go I have a small long neck rubber spatula. When anything gets down low I use it to scrape the sides and bottom of the jars to make sure I get every last bit out. Also when a cereal gets down low we save it and mix it with another kind of cereal that is down to less than a bowl. The kids have found some really great flavor combinations this way. Save the wax paper bags from the cereal to use to wrap meat and other items in before putting them in freezer bags as well, they’re double protected from freezer burn this way!

    • I thought I was the only one that mixed my cereal! (And not just when I’m running low.) 🙂

      • Angie D says:

        We are mixers too! My kids are usually begging to mix. I loaded up on Cheerios once and now I require them to have at least 1/2 a bowl of Cheerios before adding anything else. =)

    • becky k says:

      Great ideas! There are many uses for the wax paper bags from cereal. You can use them for whatever you would use waxed paper for. If you gently pull the bag apart at each seam and flatten it out you’ll have a nice, big piece of waxed paper. It’s not hard to do, and they usually come apart easily.

      • Michelle H. says:

        I did this just yesterday! I needed to decorate a frosted cake and had planned to cut a stencil in waxed paper to put over the top – and was out of waxed paper. I used the bag from an almost empty box of cereal, and added the leftover cereal into an unopened box of the same flavor so it didn’t get wasted.

  • A good one that I read recently: add vinegear and herbs to your empty mustard bottle, and swish it around to make a mustard vinagrette!

    Did you know that there are reusable swim diapers? They are basically PUL with terry cloth inside. They are very much washable, and I’ve used the same ones (I have 3; each is a different size) for 6 children! (They sell them by the swimsuits on the end cap at Target when they have suits).

    We have ironed tissue paper and packing paper to make decorations for parties. I put up a picture a few days ago; you can see it here:

    http://theprudenthomemaker.com/Birthdays.aspx

    I ironed some wrinkled packing paper just yesterday to use to wrap the top of a canning jar (tied with baker’s twine and some rosemary from the garden).

    Packing paper and tissue paper are both great to trace patterns. (Sewing patterns can be used more than once by tracing under them or over them for different sizes).

    You can make over clothing. I have made over sheets and old clothes into lots of things. I also keep buttons from old shirts to use on new projects.

    If you’re using evaporated milk in a recipe that calls for more liquid, you can fill the can with extra water and swish to get out the last of the milk to add nutrients to the meal.

    Reuse glass jars (such as spaghetti jars) as gift containers! (or use a pickle jar to make a terranium!)

    • Rachel says:

      Rachael Ray’s website has some good recipes that involve using the last little bit in a bunch of condiment jars 🙂

    • Jenni says:

      I must say, I checked out the birthday page she linked to here and it is BEAUTIFUL. So simple, so tasteful, so meaningful. We are on a much tighter budget this year for Christmas, and I want to hand-make most of my gifts, and this was just the encouragement I needed. BTW, Prudent Homemaker, is that a merry-go-round you have in your backyard? So fun! 😉

      • Thanks! I have tons of links on my site for homemade gifts (mostly using items you have on hand). I make most all of the gifts for birthdays and Christmas. I hope you can find some great ideas for your Christmas gifts.

        Yes, that is a merry-go-round in our backyard. My husband made it and the swing set (it’s 10 feet tall, which is much taller than the ones at the parks here!). Those were some super-amazing homemade gifts! All of the grandparents helped contribute towards the materials on the merry-go-round.

  • becky k says:

    Great ideas! I do a lot of this. (Not so sure about reusing a disposable swim diaper, though.)

    Using less: a half bag of chocolate chips makes Toll House Cookie bars just as well as a full bag. My kids can’t tell the difference.

    Not using it at all: I have gone without using fabric softener for years, and haven’t noticed much difference. (DH is allergic to many fragrances.) Also, I rarely, if ever, buy paper towels. I have 4 kids ages 6 and under. With all the spills, I would be spending way too much on paper towels if I did buy them. Old bath towels clean up spills much better anyway. 🙂

  • Lisa-PanaMOM says:

    I love the leftover veg in the freezer idea!! I just dumped 4 containers of leftover vegetables. 🙁

  • Carrie says:

    Great post! We have let an unsoiled swim diaper dry out for reuse, but it didn’t occur to me that they could be washed in the machine! I have also found reusable swim diapers to be an easy money saver even for those who would never use cloth for everyday — since they are wearing them for such a short time that odds are they won’t get poopy.

    • Sarah says:

      hehe… odds are…. I have one though who seems to poop every time we take her swimming. The other kids watch us take it off and shout in the changing room (at least it seems like it!), “Mom! Is that poop??”

  • Jenny says:

    Great Tips! 🙂 Although I’ve read that bread is actually really bad for ducks. In fact our local park has a sign actually asking people not to feed bread to them.

    • Rachel says:

      Same here! The sign says it causes bloating and hurts them. I never knew that until recently.

    • That’s interesting! One local park says not to feed the wild life because they become dependent on it. However, another park close by says nothing about feeding the ducks and people do it all the time. I’ve never heard that is is bad for them to eat!

      • Maegen says:

        The big problem with duck feeding is that it leads to a lot of extra poop, which is bad for the water and the other animals that live in it, like fish. I’ve also seen geese get downright aggressive looking for bread hand outs.
        Here is more, if anyone else wants to be the duck police with me-lol.http://birding.about.com/od/birdfeeders/a/feedingducksbread.htm

        Using the stale bread for bread crumbs is a great idea, though. I also use bread heels and burned toast that no one wants to eat for bread crumbs. It all tastes fine as breading, and is definitely a money saver!

  • Jean says:

    My mom’s motto has become my own:

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

    I recently quit my job to stay home with our two sweet kiddos, so I am learning to live this! The other night at dinner, I told my husband not to use all the butter, ’cause that’s all I had until the next week. He said “So, I’m not supposed to use it up, so we don’t have to do without??” I think he’s getting the hang of our new lifestyle!

    But, really, when I think I *need* something, I try to look at the TONS of other stuff in my house and say, “What can I reuse or repurpose and make it do?” This has happened in the kitchen w/ food and appliances, cleaning supplies, etc… It makes me get a little creative! A lot of times I find that there are LOTS of things that I can do without!

    • Danielle B says:

      I stumbled across that saying almost two years ago in a cookbook dedicated to telling how women fed their families through the Depression. It’s been our family’s motto and it becomes more relevant with each passing month.

  • I never knew you could wash swim diapers! What a great tip!

  • Jessica says:

    Definitely some good ideas here, but I think it’s important to think it terms of getting the most bang for your buck. I’m not sure it’s safe or healthy to use toilet paper with glue on it, and it’s definitely not pleasant. Probably not worth it to save 17 cents a year, or whatever. Likewise, carrying around an ugly, wrinkled gift bag would make me feel poor, not frugal. And I can’t think how it would save any money.

    • Brandi says:

      If you fold the gift bag nicely when you receive it, it shouldn’t wrinkle. There are already fold marks in it anyways. I’ve never had gift bags wrinkle and I’ve reused tissue paper that wasn’t really wrinkled as well.

    • Kayla says:

      Gifts bags are really expensive, as well as tissue paper, bows etc. I think that’s what the author means by resusing these things to save money. I have always always reused bags and tissue paper. Even my not-so-frugal-mom does this. No one has ever complained or even noticed. I for sure don’t feel “poor” when I reuse a gift bag.

      • I can’t tell you the last time I did buy a gift bag – I simply reuse others! And they are great for lugging gifts in masse back from birthdays, holidays, trips. If something gets ripped, then it’s used as a one-time bag for trash!

    • Bethany says:

      I saved every large, beautiful gift bag from my wedding showers 2 yrs ago- still using them today! I just put someone in charge of taking the bag, folding up tissue paper and keep it in a drawer. Saves TONS!!

      • I’m not suggesting that you use a gift bag as a purse or anything. I mostly use them to carry food to someone I’m delivering a meal to. Or if I’ve borrowed something from a friend I’ll return it in a gift bag instead of a plastic bag (an attempt to be green also). However, you should always strive to feel good about yourself and the choices you are making. Not every frugal decision is for everyone. 🙂

    • Jessica says:

      I give away a lot of things on freecycle. I put them into wrinkly gift bags because they are sturdy and have handles.

  • Angie says:

    I do like paper towels for when I clean up, especially in the bathroom, but for napkins for my family and home daycare, I use all the “free” napkins from fastfood restaurants! They always seem to give you a million in the drive-thru and if we eat inside I’ll grab alot extra to take home, straws too! Another great use for used tissue paper from presents-I cut them into small squares and use them to dab oily spots on my face. They work wonderful and you don’t need to buy the very expensive oil absorbant papers from the stores! I only use white, but I’m sure all the other colors will work just as well!

    • lindsey says:

      To me good stewardship is not only saving my money but looking at environmental costs, so taking extra napkins to use at home still means using paper when cloth would do. And, to be frank, that is stealing to me. I would not take the extra roll of toilet paper in my movie theater bathroom home…

      • Kayla says:

        I agree. As the granddaughter of a restaurant owner I know we had customers that took silverware, decor off the walls, crackers, sugar packets, etc. The stolen sugar packets put a ping in the wallet just like everyone else did. It’s one thing to save the extra napkins, condiments and utensils sent in take-out orders. But to take something from a restaurant for future use? You may not realize it, but that’s stealing.

        • Who would take decor off the walls of a restaurant? That’s just wrong!

        • amber says:

          I agree with Kayla. Please don’t take more than you need– it comes out of the restaurant owner’s pocket (and I’ve been the restaurant owner!!). Most people don’t realize all of the little costs associated with their meal (napkins, ketchup, etc etc). If the drive-thru gives you too many napkins, great, take those home. But don’t “help yourself” to the pile of napkins intended for dine-in use.

      • Amy says:

        The poster did say the restaurant always gives tons – so she isn’t taking them or stealing them. She just isn’t throwing them away with her carryout trash.

        Might as well use them instead of pitching them and save from having to do a load of wash of your cloth ones.

        Of course, I usually stash them to use for picnics or other times convenience is important, instead…

        • Guest says:

          She also said if she goes inside she takes a lot extra including straws. It isn’t stealing if it is in your takeout bag but seems unethical to intentionally take an excessive amount of stuff.

    • Angie says:

      So, where I thought this site was for us to support eachother and get ideas for saving money, I now find myself wanting to leave. I have never been attacked like this before. I was just stating about how if we go to the Mcdonalds drive through, they give you a million napkins. Where as some people trash them, we keep them and re-use them. This is what this post was about, or so I thought, now it’s just an attack. If I am inside with my family, again at McDonalds, we take napkins and never use all of them, instead of throwing away, we take home. How many times have you seen napkins sitting on the table after people leave? I always feel bad b/c I know they will be thrown away! You guys are making it seem like I go into these private small family restaurants with a hat and mask and steal all their stuff!! My goodness!! Last time I post on here, and shame for you all saying these things. I didn’t get on anyone else’s ideas on here if I didn’t agree with them, that’s their choice and they thought someone might benefit from the idea. So sorry that my small idea offended all of you

      • Sarah says:

        I do the same thing. Esp. with young kids. If I try to be frugal and just take a few napkins and straws, we end up going back and forth multiple times and it’s a hassle. Sometimes I judge it just right and take just enough, but I usually take a few more than I think we’ll actually need in hopes that I won’t have to keep going back. And I’ll always take the extras home that I grab so I don’t waste them- because you’re right- they just throw them away.

        • Angie says:

          Thank you Sarah for understanding! I have 3 children and then 6 daycare children. If we are out I end up doing the same thing, take a few…..someone spillled…..go back for more……another spill, etc. This is how a collection of napkins can add up. Instead of throwing them away, I take them home.

      • Lanette says:

        To quote your October 26 post:

        …and if we eat inside I’ll grab alot extra to take home, straws too!

        I suppose it is the words “to take home” that gives the impression that you are grabbing them to, well, take home. Your October 27 post is quite a different scenario. One implies taking extras for the sole purpose of taking them home, while the other describes using leftover supplies instead of trashing them. I believe most were disagreeing with the former. If this was a communication error, then lesson learned regarding wording. If you really do take extras to stock your home, then maybe the comments from business owners will teach a different lesson. I hope you stick around. MSM really is quite a positive bunch.

  • Suzy says:

    Wow there are some great ideas! For our family we make our laundry detergent (works great and its so inexpensive!), also I make our household cleaners. I(we) shower every other day as well. We are about 90% paper towel free, I transitioned our family to using rags that I got on clearance instead for clean-up and cleaning. I do menu plan and budget our food, as well as with dinners we really love I will make a double batch and freeze it into 2 parts and have a 3rd for dinner. Also with things like ground turkey or ground beef, cook and season a couple pounds then divide maybe 1/2 into freezer bags and freeze all but what you need for dinner that evening (this is a HUGE money saver! You don’t realize just how much extra meat you use until you see how much is enough). Plus my husband loves meat with just about every meal and doesn’t even notice that I use less! 🙂

  • Rebecca says:

    CVS sells VO5 shampoo and conditioner for under a buck most of the time. Use your green bag tag each time you shop CVS and after 4 times you will have earned a $1 ExtraCare Buck. That would get you a free conditioner.

  • Janet says:

    On the tp thing the last little bit I have a small container I keep under that bathroom sink and I use this tiny bit as eye makeup remover pads sometimes.

    The swim diaper thing I tried but that does not seem to work (at least not for me)

    The paper towels again under the kitchen sink I have a small plastic container and I keep partially used towels in it. On cleaning day I drag these out with my rags when cleaning up. I buy on 3 to 4 rolls of paper towels per year! We are a family of 9. We do use cloth napkins and t-shirt rags and sponges a ton!

    Soap can be used instead of a number of cleaners . I use soap, baking soda , vinegar and bleach and I buy cleaners when they are .50 or less per bottle.

  • Great reminders especially when you’re trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents. I even pour my shampoo into smaller containers so my kids don’t use too much.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    • I do this! I use travel-sized bottles for the children’s bathrooms.

      • Amy B says:

        I have to try this!! It is no problem for ME to use less toothpaste, shampoo, etc. It is a whole other story trying to train my children to do it! It is a work in progress, but I think the small, “portion-controlled” bottles in the bathroom would definitely help. Thanks!

      • Dawn says:

        I love this idea!
        I installed a liquid hand soap type dispenser in my kids bathroom for their shampoo. They know to use 1 pump – it makes it last a long time.
        I got the dispenser from amazon with swagbucks.

      • Julie says:

        I put a rubberband at the top of my pump for hand soap and shampoo so that we do not use more than we need.

    • Carrie says:

      What a great idea. I get so upset when I coupon like crazy and one of my boys wastes a bottle of shampoo in the tub. I’ve been charging them the cost from their allowances, but I will try the smaller size bottles!

  • Laura says:

    I reuse papers for printing all my coupons. In grad school whenever I would get a graded paper back I would just remove the staple and set it aside for printing. It doesn’t matter what’s on the back of a coupon! I’d also use it to print assignments as long as the professor didn’t mind. It’s better for the environment and it saved me a lot of money.

  • Lana says:

    Yesterday I washed a Magic Erase sponge with the cleaning rags by accident. It went through the washer and the dryer and came out sparkling clean. I used it afterward to clean all the marks off my kitchen counters and it did fine. No more throwing those away because they are grimy!

  • Beth says:

    During warm weather, we started taking “water saving showers”. We turn the water on and wet ourselves down. Then we turn the water off and soap up. Finally, we rinse. We started this because our tankless water heater has issuses of getting the water too hot of it shuts off completely. If you use just enough to get wet, then there is enough warm water left in the line to rinse with. Saves water and natural gas.

    I made a long skirt from fleece to wear over my jeans in the colder months to keep my legs warm. Not attractive but very functional. I don’t have to turn the heat up to get warm.

    Regular tithing makes our things last longer in general. I love watching how God takes care of us. I had an empty can of hairspray that lasted for about 2 extra months. It felt so empty, but every time I tried spraying it, it had just enough in it. It finally ran completely out when I had enough money to buy another can. Other things have lasted like that as well. We have tried going halfsies on the tithing for about a month a few years back and what a mistake. Money just flew out the window for everything. We just thought things were bad. They got worse until we went back to our 10% tithe.

  • I keep a container in the freezer to put the leftover red sauces in. A lot of times we have just a few spoonfuls of sauce left after making pizza or pasta or maybe I just need 1/2 a can of tomato paste or tomatoes. All the leftover goes in this container. When I make spaghetti I put this in the sauce pan first and then just add whatever I need to to make enough for that night.

    • Dacia says:

      Great idea too! I hate finding that little bit of sauce that I meant to throw in with the next batch! Just throw it in the freezer in the first place – silly me!

  • dannielle says:

    We use MAYBE 1 roll of paper towels every 6 months because we bought about 24 white wash clothes from costco for $9.

    We use them in place of paper towels & bleach them after each use. I won’t use them to cover my food in the microwave, but for spills, cleaning and everything else, they work so well.

    We also have a set of cloth napkins we use at dinner time instead of paper towels. Soft on the face and easy to wash & no paper waste 🙂

  • Carrie says:

    I did a quick blog post this week on cutting down our energy cost as we get close to winter. One thing I learned was that using the crock pot, even if it take 4-8 hours to cook the meal saves considerably over an hour in the oven. I try to use the crock pot in the summer to keep from heating the house, but in the winter using the crock pot can save me on my electric bill as well!

    • rkessler says:

      Instead of heating up the regular oven, we use a large toaster oven. If I am making something large like a full size pizza or a casserole then I don’t have a choice.

    • Wanda says:

      Something I kind of learned by accident was to turn my crockpot lid upside down when I don’t have a large amount filling it up. It has less space to keep warm… and I also put my big heavy oven mitts on top of the lid and this keeps it insulated.

  • Bethany says:

    I’m am most pleased with the reusing swim diapers idea. We went swimming today and already tossed the diapers in the outdoor bin, but can’t wait for next week. This is a really good tip when you have 2 kiddos in diapers.

  • Great post! I never thought of cutting wipes in half or ironing tissue paper!
    Here’s a couple more tips:
    1. Always cook with a lid on.
    2. Turn the oven off a little before taking the food out and just let the already hot oven finish it.
    3. Use old maps (flight maps look really cool) to wrap gifts.

  • Becky says:

    Wow some of these are intense and i think you have to be really green/brown to try many of them.

    Although I do wear some clothes a couple times before washing. Shhh

    • Andrea says:

      Nothing on this list strikes me as intense. Waste not, want not.

    • To each his own 🙂 It’s about what you find to be comfortable for your family. We’re not comfortable using reusable toilet cloths or skipping showers, but I’ve seen some really good tips we’ll be able to put into action.

    • Lea Stormhammer says:

      I find your comment really interesting, Becky, because I think it shows that we’re all coming at this from a different perspective.

      For me, with parents who grew up during the Great Depression and WWII (born in 1932 and 1936), the things mentioned above were “the norm” we rarely threw anything out that couldn’t be used, rareful at out, made most things from scratch (clothes, food, etc) and had a 1/4 acre garden, which we ate from. I didn’t eat a store-bought vegetable until I was in college! My husband grew up in a family that was more than the exact opposite! We laugh now about my MIL not knowing what to do with fresh vegetables that her neighbor gave her and not knowing how to read a recipe. We’ve had to work hard over our 13+ years of marraige to find the happy medium. My husband still uses 3x the amount of shampoo and toothpaste that I was taught was “acceptable” but our happiness isn’t dependent on how many tubes of toothpaste we go through in a year – epsecially when I can get them for free with a coupon!

      Being frugal is a journey and every little bit helps, however that works for you is exactly what you should be doing!

      Lea

  • I never buy or use dryer sheets or fabric softener, even with coupons it just seems like a waste of money. we also dont use air fresheners – i feel like it just masks everything – we clean with a vinegar & baking soda recipe that is awesome & saves a TON of money – it literally costs about a $1 a month for most of my cleaning, totally ‘green’ and I save a TON of time just skipping the cleaning products coupon clippings!

    • Julie says:

      Re: air fresheners: my 20 year old daughter says it makes the bathroom smell like someone p**ped in a lilac bush! I just had to laugh! For nose wrinkling smells light a match and blow it out…the lingering smoke really helps.

  • I found a huge roll of butcher paper a few years ago that I use to wrap gifts with. It has lasted for years, and I’ve used maybe 1/4 of the roll! I let my daughter decorate the paper with drawings and stickers. It cost $20, but for how long it has lasted and probably will last, it would have cost the equivalent of buying one nice gift bag every year.

    Great article!

  • Patti says:

    One tip I haven’t seen mentioned… I made my own furniture polishing rags by cutting up flannel I bought very cheaply at WalMart. I put these rags in a glass jar and squirt lemon oil on them(also found at WalMart). They absorb the oil and then I use these to polish my wood furniture. It takes a few days for the oil to absorb throughout. After I dust, I wash them separately in the washing machine and reapply the oil so they are ready for the next week’s cleaning. These cloths have lasted for years and make my fine furniture look fabulous for just pennies.

  • Jan says:

    Save the plastic bags that bread comes in- use it to wrap and store food and leftovers in the frig- good for baked goods and sandwiches or your own bread. My grandmother always did this. Also she used to put our feet in a bread bag when we were little before we put our winter boots on to keep our socks dry- LOL!

  • Sarah says:

    I’ve started using the shout color catcher sheets, they really do work. So I can wash fewer large loads rather than several small loads. Also I cut the color catcher sheets in half so they last even longer.

  • Connie says:

    1. We don’t use paper towels here. Was trained to use cloth, for kitchen, bathroom etc…then wash and reuse.
    2. I don’t buy “things” just because it’s cheap unless I will use it.
    3. I have a good friend in the restaurant biz, and they have lots of slightly tarnished cloth napkins…he gives them to me, washed. I use them at home.
    4. I don’t use dryer sheet- cloggs the lint catcher. Been doing ok without.

    Great post and many useful and similar suggestions.

  • Samantha says:

    When we found out my daughter was allergic to baby wipes we went and bought a package of 25 wash cloths from the dollar store for $2.00 and use half of them for her butt and the other half for cleaning. =] We marked them too so we aren’t washing our kitchen table with a butt cloth (even though they are washed in super hot water and homemade laundry soap hubby couldn’t handle that thought).

    When I do our menu plan for the month I go into detail, such as making sure to cut the 1lb packs of ground sausage in half before we freeze it for biscuts and gravy and my hubby hasn’t noticed the smaller amount of sausage in there. =] He also takes leftover for lunch everyday, by request =]

    Always nice to be married to someone who honestly adores your cooking!

  • Wanda says:

    Use Ketchup for pizza sauce…
    When my sister had us stop unexpectedly near suppertime, she thought she’d make homemade pizza. However, living 30 miles from town and no pizza sauce in sight, she had to make some kind of substitute. She used ketchup! (I didn’t know). It was the most fabulous tasting pizza ever!
    Ever since then, I have always used ketchup and Italian seasoning and oregano and then loaded it up from there!
    I think it is a great way to always have pizza sauce on hand and you squeeze out just what you need instead of having some sauce leftover.

  • Angel G says:

    When making spagetti, I only use 2/3 the jar of sauce. The rest I put in an ice cub tray and freeze. I bag it and use it to make home made pizza or dip for garlic bread.

    Starting to cook from scratch. As I use the last of my store bought product, I save the containers to store the same homemade version of that product. Glass salad dressing jars are great to store syrup and other liquids…And are microwaveable.

    • Jennifer says:

      I wish I could do this. My husband likes his spaghetti very saucy and when the jars were reduced recently he noticed! I’m having to use a jar and a 1/3 now.

  • Julie says:

    Well, ladies, I have been taking notes! Great ideas.
    I make my own taco seasoning, garlic bread seasoning, pizza sauce, pancake syrup, etc. I found all the recipes at Allrecipes.com.
    I put a digital timer in the bathroom. The kids set the timer at a particular amount of minutes and when the alarm goes off it’s time to get out of the shower.
    I use whole chickens whenever possible.
    We have one car. Yes it is an adjustment. But I have been with one car now for almost three years—even with teenagers (we homeschool). Currently, I take the hubs to work twice a week. On those two days I get the shopping, volunteer work, school related activities, and sports, doctors’, hair, and vet appointments done. Of course not all of these activities are going on each time I have the car. I have had to be more purposeful with my time. This has saved us car payments, insurance, and gas. It has also saved me time, as I am home the rest of the days instead of growling while running yet more errands! This won’t be a fit for everyone but it really has been great for us.
    Loved the mention of tithing. It has been amazing how God provides.

  • I think that reusing disposable swim diapers is disgusting. Sometimes frugality can go too far. I have read of people re-using disposable diapers to save money also. Why would you do that to your child?

    Much better to purchase cloth swim diapers which are designed to be reusable, or use an old cloth diaper (pocket style) as a swim diaper. I have never purchased a swim diaper whether cloth or disposable because I use what I have on hand already.

    • Andrea, while I understand where you’re coming from, keep in mind that many public pools have rules stating that children need to be in a swim diaper. The regular disposable ones do not hold up well continuously in water.

    • Jennifer says:

      The swim diapers are made to absorb the water better than the disposable ones do. Thus, they can stand to be washed and dried, same as your underwear.

  • Great Ideas!!!! I do a lot of these, but there are several I didn’t think of.

  • lizajane says:

    I put a glass jar in the cupboard & dump in the crumbs from crackers, cereal, chips, etc, and then use it the same as I would use bread crumbs in any cooking recipe. Since most of the stuff has plenty of salt in it anyway, I don’t add any salt with the recipe

  • Sharon says:

    To save on dryer sheets rip them in half, a half one works just as well.

  • Corey says:

    I chop leftover meatloaf into cubes and put it in the next nights pasta sauce. The kids love the “mini-meatballs” and it gives the pasta a nice flavor….not to mention the bonus of using up all the leftovers!

  • Anne S. says:

    Our church uses plastic grocery bags to make mats for the homeless.

  • Lindsey says:

    I love thees ideas. There were some new ones I had never tried before and I’m excited to test them out.

  • Nicole says:

    Great post! I do almost all these things and didn’t realize how uncommon it was until I talked to other people. Did you know there is about two weeks worth of toothpaste left in a tube that the average person throws away? Just crazy!

  • Joanna says:

    I also wanted to add to make sure all the windows and doors have a good seal on them. It will save you money with heating/cooling if the air is not leaking out.

  • Leanne says:

    After our digital camera “eats” the batteries, I save them in a plastic bag. One “dead” AA battery has run our bathroom wall clock for a year.

  • Amanda says:

    Use soap nuts in your laundry. They are the most natural soap out there! Here’s a link http://www.ecohousekeeping.com/soapnuts.html
    Also for the dryer you can make dryer balls out of yarn that last forever and cut your drying time dramatically. We bought ours on etsy. You can scent them with essential oils and your clothes smell good. They cut the static too! Best investment we ever made!

  • Nancy B. says:

    I belong to paperbackswap and trade books with other people through the mail. When I have gift bags that are too wrinkled to use, I cut them up and wrap my books in them to mail!

  • Bethany Feustel says:

    As a Naturalist (and total bird nerd!), I have to make a small suggestion.
    Please don’t feed the ducks.
    I know it’s fun, maybe even tradition. But it’s harmful for both us and them!
    Here is a nice comprehensive article on the many reasons feeding waterfowl (and other species) can have deterimental results.

    http://audubonportland.org/backyardwildlife/brochures/waterfowl

    Thank you! 🙂

  • Christina says:

    I cut dryer sheets in half. They last longer and half of the sheet still has the same effect as a whole sheet.

  • Jennifer Morbeto says:

    We found our electric bill went down drastically when we put air units in a couple of windows during the summer instead of central air. We also found that using a lamp or a couple of nightlights in a room in the evening instead of using the overhead cealing light also saved electricity.

    I’m also amazed by the amount of shampoo and conditioner we have stocked up by remembering to bring home the bottles they give away in your room when you stay in a hotel, or the kleenex or toilet paper. You are paying to stay so these necessities don’t seem wrong to take home with you. Besides I don’t really feel comfortable leaving a half used tissue box or a a half used toilet roll for the next guest, so a new one will be put in there instead when we leave.

    How about the coffee, tea bags, sugar/creamer, pen/pads paper you also may receive during your stay!

    When we go on a trip we always bring our own drinks, food, snacks,etc., in a cooler and it saves big time on buying anything!

    • Rachel B says:

      Just for future reference, hotels are required to replace any unsealed shampoo/conditioner/soap products, so you should definitely take those with you! Otherwise, they will have to throw them out anyhow.

      As far as the toilet paper and kleenex go… I feel taking them is going a bit far. It seems to me to not be so different than taking a roll of toilet paper from any other business you frequent… like your local grocery store or bank.

  • Kimberly N says:

    Use it twice? How about 100x? What jumped out at me when I read this is cloth: cloth diapers, cloth wipes, cloth napkins, cloth towels. I estimate I used my son’s cloth diapers 150x each. The diapers were 2 extra loads of laundry a week. The napkins I just throw in the with the towels so it doesn’t seem like any extra work. I use cloth for environmental reasons first, but there are lots of other reasons, including money (not buying paper), and time (not going to the store to buy paper).

  • Laurie Roy says:

    When my children were in diapers, I didn’t EVER buy baby wipes. I would make my own. I now make them to use for our dogs as we show them. They are much more healthy for your child (& animals) than the wipes you buy from the store.
    1 roll of Brawny paper towels. Cut roll in half w/a sharp knife.
    (they are the only brand I’ve found to hold up to the wetness)
    1 cup of water
    1 TBS of any brand of baby soap
    Add water & baby soap to a round container that is deep enough to hold the 1/2 roll of paper towel and still be able to close.
    Place 1/2 roll of paper towel in the water mixture.
    Close the lid and tip container upside down to allow the water mixture to evenly soak up through the paper towel. (about 1 hour)
    Turn right side up and open container and remove the paper towel core.
    Walla….you have your own…VERY INEXPENSIVE baby wipes.

    • Rose says:

      When my kids were young, 25-30 years ago, I didn’t use disposable diapers or wipes. I had regular diapers, and I just cut up handy wipes and used them as wipes, then threw them in the wash with the diapers. I realize it’s pretty old school, but it’s very economical, and good for the environment. Needless to say, I breastfed my boys too, which is also economical and good for the environment.

  • shea says:

    Instead of using paper towels use cloth napkins. I have never bought paper towels. I think It is a total waste.

  • Vanoku says:

    We love to eat kale so I’ve planted 20 kale plants in my back yard. One bunch at the grocery store is usually around $1.49 to $2 and I have lots in my backyard. I started bringing some to work to give away to people as I don’t like frozen kale but I suppose you could freeze some as well to use for later. That’s over $200 in savings for us per year as we eat it at least once a week!!

    • Jen says:

      I love to make kale chips, just cut off the stems and swish the leaves in a little bit of olive oil with salt and pepper (I add granulated garlic too). Bake them at 350 for 15 minutes or until they are crispy, and they will last at least a month.

  • Dorothy Conway says:

    I have always cut up Brillo pads into halves or quarters. Also, I step on boxes and plastic bottles to make them flat, they take up less room in the trash bag.

  • Pam says:

    I have a lip brush in my make-up kit which I use to get the rest of the lipstick in the bottom of the tube. There is at least a month’s worth of usable product left when most women throw their lipstick away.

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