Learning to be Frugal. What do YOU do?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Hound dog, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Since things are tight everywhere, school is starting up, and holidays are approaching.......thought it wouldn't be a bad idea if we had a post on ways to tighten up the budget belt, reduce waste, ect. The kids being back in school and holidays always puts a strain on a budget, now even more so.

    I've always tried not to waste much. But this past year I've been discovering how much I DO waste, and I'm having issues not turning into a hoarder as far as this is concerned. Doing the big cleaning is putting this up in my face more. As we sort through the family room, when before I'd just toss items I didn't think would sell and we no longer had a use for.......now I'm looking at them 2 or 3 times to be certain I can't come up with a use for it, or someone else can't use it, before tossing it. This is NOT helping the cleaning go faster by the way. lol Nor is it helping husband's normal hoarding tendencies.

    I'm composting for the first time ever. I swore I never would, it was too much of a pain, ect, yet here I am doing it.

    I'm learning to can and do more from scratch cooking than ever, which since I did a LOT of from scratch cooking before........well.....yeah.

    I'm doing the coupon thing when I never dreamed I would.

    I'm unplugging appliances when not in use to reduce the electric bill. (trust me, it needs reduced as the rates went up yet again omg) Still thinking of how to make the plugs more accessible to do this with the computers ect when we're not using them.

    I'm preparing for the heat never to be set above 60 degrees this winter. Thinking of how to layer clothing, crocheting slippers ect to help stay warm. And hoping the baking I plan to be doing helps with the warmth thing as the gas rates have also jumped.

    Preparing a garden bed for next spring this fall so next spring it will be easier to get the thing started in case some other family crisis hits.

    Instead of telling husband he can't save soda cans, we're washing and saving them to recycle for cash. I, as in ME, found the darn recycling center place, and it's not far from us. So I'll drive them there if husband pulls his normal routine with them. Also if any computers go bad, after Travis salvages reusable parts, we're stripping them of the valuable metals inside and recycling it before tossing them out. The poor folks that come by and normally salvage it are going to be disappointed, but we're in the same boat and can use the extra cash ourselves.

    Seriously considering growing peach and pear tree in the back yard. husband is not so thrilled, but I can see the uses.....and I have several kids who can share the harvest as well as neighbors. And Nichole is not living here so I don't have to worry so much about bees.

    We're going to do our best to put in a wood stove before winter. Back up for bad weather, ect. Will have to remove the two backyard trees that are nearly up against the house, but will save the wood to use in the stove. The model I want will not only heat the house, but I can cook on it the way my grandma did. So THERE gas company with your huge price increases. Ha!

    I'm buying oil lamps and storing oil. (olive oil can also be used in such lamps but it's expensive to do) I'm picking up cheap candles and candle lamps at yard sales for next to nothing. Clearance sales too. This is being predicted as a nasty winter to come, colder temps with much more snowfall. I don't plan to sit in the dark. And I can use them if the electric bill gets too high.

    I already own (and have since we bought the house) the old fashioned type push mower that only requires man power. I'm searching yard sales for other yard tool items from yesteryear that don't require a plug or gas to run.

    I'm turning into to both my grandmother and mother in law as I'm eyeing cottage cheese containers, coffee containers, butter tubs.......and the like for potential future uses (such as food storage) instead of just tossing them out as I used to do. Which is sort of bad because I'm so anti hoarder that I swore I'd never do such a thing. I've also switched to mainly buying soda in 2 liter bottles (sales tend to be better) because those can be washed and are excellent and FEMA approved for food storage. Currently I'm using them for rice and beans. I'm trying to figure out if they're wide enough at the top for cereal ect as if winter is supposed to be as bad as they say the mice will attempt to move back into the house and I want it protected. And buying the containers is expensive fast.

    Most of this year's xmas presents have come from yard sales. Actually, I'm quite surprised at how well I've done with that Really nice stuff, really nice prices.

    The girls and I are planning a yard sale Labor Day weekend. They've been warned in advance, once the stuff is in the yard, it does NOT come back into my house. If it doesn't sell, and we plan to price super cheap to make sure it does indeed sell, it gets put at the curb with a huge FREE sign on it. The family room where this stuff has sat for years is being switched over to a storage room which means I need the space. If I let them bring it inside, even with the promise of taking it to goodwill the next day.....it will sit there for years again. (happens every darn time)

    I'd rather someone else get use out of it than it cluttering up my family room again.

    Oh, and I'm getting so bad if I dry my hands (like from washing the dishes ect) on one paper towel, instead of tossing it away I set in on the counter to use again......like 3 or 4 times before tossing it. I wouldn't even buy the darn things if coupons didn't keep the cost way way down as it's cheaper to keep a clean dishtowel handy. Am I the only one who has noticed how ungodly high the price of paper towels lately?? omg!

    So? What are you all up to or planning to do to make that dollar last longer? I figure if we keep ideas going around on this we can learn new things from each other. And often one idea spawns other ideas and we all benefit. :)
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    One little thing I'm doing is using rags rather than paper towels where appropriate. I also bring a travel mug of coffee with me rather than buying a cup when I'm out and around. Duckie has seen the value of shopping yard sales and high-end thrift stores: she's been outfitted in Aeropostale, Abercrombie & Hollister with little purchased at the mall. We use our leftovers! And I plan a weekly menu to stop unnecessary trips to the grocery store. We even started a small garden this year. See this photo from the NY Times from 1995 (it makes me sick!):


    I buy fruit on sale and freeze it for smoothies. I stock up on back to school supplies for the year while they're on sale. We seldom eat out (we often too busy, anyway). We pack snacks where applicable. We combine errands to save gas. We have window units for air conditioning so we close the doors to the bathroom and husband's office when they aren't in use (why pay to cool those rooms then?). We use thermal curtains on most of our windows. We dress for the season so that we can more appropriately heat or cool the house. We use our pool and back yard for entertainment (often!). husband often works from home to save gas and commuting time. I pay most bills online to save postage.

    But truly, we've been doing most of these things for years.
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Classic answer is "power bars".
    This way, you don't even have to unplug - you just switch the power bar off.
    Often, power bar also provides power surge protection for the equipment...
    But - first you have to buy them, so compute out what its worth.
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Other ideas and notes:
    Anything that comes with FOOD in it, is usually safe to re-use for food - water bottles are an exception.
    Ice cream - buy it in pails, not boxes - the pails are great for all sorts of stuff.

    Re-use plastic cutlery - even if a few pieces get broken each time, its amazing how many rounds of use they will take.
    Pick up old melamine plates for picnics etc. - instead of paper plates.
    Pure white light-weight terry cloth makes good "bar mops" - or you can buy bar mops already made up. These are like small dish towels, but super absorbant. Use for any food-related clean-ups, as food washes out - use white because then you can bleach them to sanitize and/or get rid of stains.

    Use baking soda for cleaning - scrubbing tubs, getting rid of tea stains, etc. - cheap and environmentally friendly.

    Put up a clothes line.
  5. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Use a kitchen towel for hand drying instead of paper towels... Much cheaper to wash.

    Our paper towels are behind the dish rack, so if it's full, they don't get used. I'm going to have husband install it behind the cupboard door - out of sight, out of mind - and out of the way!

    I've been using more aluminum foil and less Ziploc bags... And I try to plan meals so there isn't much left over, because the leftovers get shoved to the back of the fridge and grow. GRR.
  6. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I use baking soda or vinegar or bleach as my major cleaners around the house.
  7. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I make my iced tea instead of always relying on Starbucks, and when I DO get tea there, I save the glass to reuse. I haven't found a trenta-sized glass yet...the biggest I can find that I can carry comfortably is 20 oz. and that's not enough for a day of subbing.

    Buy bottled water in really cool-looking bottles and reuse them. My favorite is one that looks like a giant ice cube; it's bottled in Wales but I don't remember the name of it. Because of its configuration, it's very easy for my carpal tunnel hands to hang on to.

    Hubby and I both take lunches; since I don't like to see more than one rerun of leftovers I usually cook enough for dinner and lunch the next day.

    We take only the local Sunday paper to save money, but my guilty pleasure is the San Francisco Chronicle...I savor that paper. I also get two sets of coupons. with my two papers.
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Make sure your "leftovers" are "planovers" - and they should really go in the freezer, not the fridge...
    Obvious biggies... like leftover meat, go into meal-sized packages in the freezer.
    Smaller bits of meat get chopped or ground for lunch-box "wraps" - and again, stored in the freezer in one-day packets.
    Start a "soup pot" container in the freezer - leftover veggies go into that one, along with any cooking water from veggies. When you want to make soup, you start with what you have...
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Buy NO commercial cleaning products unless a new spray bottle is needed because one broke. Use ammonia, baking soda, dish soap, bleach (NEVER with ammonia of course) and vinegar to clean the entire house. If you need something more abrasive than baking soda, use salt.. I keep a box of baking soda in the freezer. I change it about every 3 months but I DO NOT throw the old one away. It goes to scrub tubs, the porch, etc.... I don't use that on clothing stains or dishes or the kitchen sinks/counters because it has absorbed odors, but it is perfectly fine for cleaning other things.

    DO NOT EVER purchase clorox 2 or other color safe bleaches. Put one cup hydrogen peroxide into a 32 ounce bottle, fill with water and use 1/2 to one cup per load instead of the store bought stuff. You can this mix straight onto stains or even use straight peroxide on some fabric, like underwear. It is awesome for blood and other protein based stains.

    Instead of taking the plastic seal off of the peroxide bottle, try poking a few holes in it with a pin. Or a slightly larger one with a pencil tip. This way you pour a LOT less out at a time.

    Keep peroxide in a small spray bottle (either the 97 cent one from the trial/travel product section of Walmart or one from a hair product) and use that on cuts and scrapes, stains, etc... You use a much smaller amount that way. We were going through a bottle every other month with all the scrapes thank you got into from the coordination/Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) issues, and when I switched to the spray bottle we used a bottle every 6-8 months and we used it on more things than we did before!

    Lisa, you have GOT to go and invest in that book I recommended. I am NOT KIDDING. Get easy child or Nichole to order it used online and then READ IT. It even deals with the saving butter tubs, etc... for use vs. hoarding issue. The title is The Complete Tightwad Gazette and even if you decide to go buy it at full price at a bookstore you will save more than the price of the book the first year.

    I take clothes taht we won't/can't wear and cut them up for dish towels, washcloths, gift bags, etc.... Yes, I could pass them on to others, but much of what I am cutting up came from freecycle/thrift stores etc... and are not likely to be purchased again due to hard use by my men. I do cut up some that could be usable by others, but I count the amt of gas to go drop them off and the weeks it will take for husband to go and do it (I don't drive unless it is an emergency anymore - just not a wise idea with medications and a couple of health issues.) and that works for us. Usually I sew a hem in the ones to be used for rags because I know the kids are NOT going to pick up the strings that would occur if they were not hemmed. I do the sewing by hand because I cannot stand to just sit and watch something on tv. I MUST have something to do or I go nuts.

    Clothes that are just in too bad a condition/shape to be made into rags, or the printed area of tshirts wehre it won't work as well as a cleaning rag and the design won't look good on a gift bag, get cut up into smaller squares to use as kleenex. We go through a TON of kleenex and it literally is $$ we just blow away. thank you and I , esp, get rubbed raw by even the softest tissues so these small scraps of fabric are esp nice to our sore noses. I don't choose to wash them but you could choose to do that. I just see it as getting one last use out of them.

    Go through clothes as you put them into the washer to pull out ones you need to throw away. Why pay for the water and soap to wash something that you won't use again? I tend to put stuff for thrift stores/garage sales into a separate pile so that I can just fold those items and put them itno a bag or box with-o having the kids or husband see them in the laundry as they fold it and beg to keep it or try to hide it so it won't be given away turned into rags. Clothes they truly love but don't fit go into a box for a tshirt/memory blanket, but sometimes they have something super ratty looking and won't get rid of it so I have to sneak it away, Know what I mean??

    I don't buy toilet bowl cleaner. Yes, it is nice to have that liquid to squirt up under the rim. But the products are so expensive and have to be hard on the environment. I have an old pump bottle from shampoo and I keep bleach water in it. I hold it over the bowl and give a few pumps, then use the brush to distribute it around the bowl, let it sit for ten min while I do something else, and then go back, brush the bowl, and flush.

    I don't buy those disinfecting wipes. I use babywipes for many cleaning things because they are cheaper. They are incredible for cleaning off the rim of the toilet and the outside where the guys miss, and for many other small cleaning jobs. They are esp good on the toilet outer surfaces because they are designed to clean that type of waste off of children. I have experimented with making my own, but it is not really worth the time it takes, and the paper towels, even the good quality ones like Bounty, tend to disintegrate if kept damp for very long.

    I prefer to use liquid hand soap rather than bars soap at the sinks. I dilute whatever soap I use with water, somewhere between equal amts water and soap to 1/3 water and 2/3 soap. Sometimes you have to stir it pretty well - put a marble or similar size pebble in the container to help mix them up when needed. I also put a rubber band around the pump so it cannot be pushed down all the way so that you get less soap per pump. A full pump from most hand soap dispensers that you would have at home gives a whole lot more soap than is needed for most adults. By putting the rubber band around it you adjust to a less wasteful amt of soap and then you don't have to discuss using only 1/2 a pump or whatever with your husband and kids. When I first started this I noticed that it cut our use of the hand soap by around half and if anything the number of times we washed hands went up because I was paying close attention to how often the kids washed their hands! Just do NOT use a ponytail holder - they are covered with fabric and mold/mildew will grow on them far faster than on a plain rubber band.
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Damn yall are good!

    For that bottle KTmom...I have this bottle I simply cannot be without. I drink everything out of it. I got it at walmart in the section where they have all the funky plastic bottles and thermoses. It is 32 ounces I think. I know it holds more than a 20 ounce coke bottle. It has a flip up spout on it and a handle on the top that I can carry with my fingers. The spout folds in and I can just stick two fingers into the handle and carry it anywhere. Mine is bright red but they had a blue one and a green one.
  11. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I cut dishwashing liquid rather easily - when I discovered J using about 1/4 cup on the sponge... I pointed out that cold water was doing him no good, and it wasn't HOW MUCH soap but how much ELBOW GREASE. We had a dishwashing lesson Saturday, too. After he did the same pots & pans 3 times and they were still yucky. (And I also explained that doing it right the first time took less time than doing it over and over again, and I saw the light bulb go on this time...) OK I'm digressing.

    Hair stuff. I have long hair, curly, that tangles and frizzes BADLY. The frizz control serum, though, makes my hair look greasy... So... I have one of those travel-size spray bottles, with about a teaspoon of serum and the rest water. Spray on, comb - ta-da! Enough to work, not enough to grease up - and it lasts FOREVER that way.
  12. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'm no where as good as you guys are but I'm pretty darn good when it comes to food. I limit my purchases in the meat dept to Manager specials or awesome sales. I almost always cook ground meat all at once and then subdivide and freeze portions for taco's, casseroles, or quick preformed burgers. Roasts are treated the same way and poultry, too. It saves time and money. I know that aluminum foil isn't cheap but I am addicted to it's use. It keeps me from washing additional dishes when I use my foil packets...plus, I often can reuse it. We do use vinegar and water to mop the laminate floors and it works well. For the dryer, a few years ago I realized that the dryer sheets can be reused a bunch of times instead of being pitched out. I also buy smaller quantities of fresh produce to make sure the product doesn't go to waste. Of course I stalk easy child/difficult child and husband turning off unused lamps, tvs, etc.
    We've used coupons for twenty years and it really helps when it coincides with store specials. That's about it from my house. DDD
  13. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Oh, yes, reusing dryer sheets... LOL! A box of 40 lasts me (at 4 loads a week) about a year... Unless the kids get into them.
  14. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Check and repair your weather striping if needed. Major energy waster right there is drafts and whatnot.

    Leftover morning coffee either gets reheated or turned into iced coffee (and there's always some leftover, it's a matter of how much).

    I have a hand towel with a button loop, it's connected to the fridge so it's always easy to find. I grew up using similar towels instead of paper towels for this, paper towels are for cleaning up nasty messes. I'm still using the same roll of paper towels I've had for months because I just don't use them often. Simple wet messes like when Kiddo spills her water I grab a dirty towel out of the laundry to soak it up.

    Stale bread = bread crumbs for chicken.
  15. Jody

    Jody Active Member

    For health reasons and cost reasons, cooking from scratch. Using beans and mushrooms in place of meat. Using Oatmeal to make things go further and also to get the health benefit. Stopped drinking soda. Using as many coupons as I can find and stocking up when item is on sale. Shopping for buys all year for Christmas, so it doesn't hurt at the end of the year. Becoming more cost conscious of all things and saving what I can whenever I can. I used to be considered to have slight hoarder issues when it came to butter containers and such, but now a lot of people are going back to using them. I am growing my own herbs and some vegetables. Utilizing local farmers markets for produce. Going to a lot of garage sales and goodwill. Hardly ever buy something brand new and love, love love my bargains. I think that it is time that we go back to some of the old ways. My kids are less spoiled, and understand the value of a dollar more. I am more thrilled now when I get something that I have wanted for a long time, versus going out and just getting what I want when I want it. Of course not cars or anything like that, but an outfit or new drapes or movies/books whatever. I appreciate it more.
  16. Jody

    Jody Active Member

    I do use baking soda for cleaning. I also use my leftover lemons after squeezing for different recipes, for cleaning the sink and the garbage disposal. Fresh scent and squeaky clean.
  17. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Susie, darn good suggestions per the peroxide and be darned I'm kicking myself for not thinking to do that myself! The squirt bottles for it would be soooo handy in so many ways.

    I confess, there are some cleaning supplies I won't do without. I'm not a fan of bleach or vinegar, the odors will send me out of a house when they're in use faster than anything else. I only use bleach in Rowdy's kennel as it's outside and in the wide open like that the smell doesn't get to me. But I've gone back to my Mom's old stand by of comet scouring powder, cheap has heck and man does it work. Wish I could use it on the tub, but Awesome works for that so all is good. (darn fiberglass tubs I hate them!)

    I use half of what they tell me to with laundry soap. I read this article about how really with today's washers you really don't need soap at all cuz the agitator does all the work....soap is as much for smells and germs as dirt. Well, thought I'd give it a shot because that's back when soap was costing me a small fortune before coupons......and guess what? They're right! I use half though, won't go less cuz I want those germs dead. lol Casey made me think of this with the dish soap. My mom pounded it into us it does NOT take a ton of soap to wash dishes. Lots of HOT water, elbow grease and some soap does fine. I never use the cold faucet when washing dishes.

    I've started washing freezer / storage bags and re-using them. Not ones that go into the microwave or had any spoiled food ect.......damages the plastic. But the others, oh yeah. My Mom showed that one to me not long ago.

    Oh, and Darrin came up with uses for milk jugs : planters to start and grow herbs.

    These are very good ladies. :)
  18. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    It took me all of five minutes to make a bird feeder from a coffee can. I stopped buying Folger's and Maxwell House and started buying the $2/can coffee at WM. It's in a metal can, so when our feeder fell and broke I got out the triangle can opener thingy, popped some holes around the bottom of the can, put the lid back on and stuck it on the balcony. The cat is entertained.
  19. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I keep the dish soap in a pump bottle like hand soap comes in, with a rubber band around it, of course, to limit the amt per pump. We buy Dawn only, because it really is the best at cutting grease and it takes so much less than of the cheaper stuff. But I ONLY buy it in the gallon size from the automotive section at Sams. I have NO idea why it isn't in the cleaner area of Sams in the big pumps. They have it in two big bottles packed together in that area, but the gallon container has a big pump and is MUCH cheaper than those two bottles.

    Dishwashers need about 2 tablespoons of soap to work, NOT that entire cup in the door or both of those cups. I have limited the amt for years. It is one reason I hate those little soap balls that supposedly do one load of dishes. Using less soap doesn't mean you are not killing germs, it just means you are not wasting soap. Ditto laundry. That laundry soap recipe I posted a while back uses only 2 tablespoons of soap per load of laundry and it works great for very little money. If I buy commercial laundry soap I generally use half or a little less of what the directions say, and I have a big washing machine (not the super huge frontloader, but one of the larger size regular washers).

    If you get potatoes or onions or other produce in those plastic net bags, save the bags and use them to scrub things. Just wad them up in a ball and they are awesome for scrubbing things.

    Lemons are amazing and can be used for a ton of things. Unless you are using it for a garnish and need pretty lemon slices or wedges, every lemon should be run across a fine grater or zester or even had the outer layer of peel taken off with a vegetable peeler. Not down into the white part, but the yellow outer part. It is where the lemon oil is and much of the flavor and scent of the lemon. This can be kept in the freezer indefinitely in a baggie or small jar. Adding the lemon zest to baked goods helps give a light, fresh taste and it can also be added to almost any recipe to give just a touch of acidity and lemon flavor. Then warm the lemon in the microwave for about 15 to 30 seconds and roll it around firmly on the counter. Then squeeze the juice out - you will get more juice this way. I use a wire whisk to juice the lemons instead of buying a lemon reamer or juicer. After the juice is removed, you can rub the juice on your elbows to help exfoliate dead skin and then run it through the disposal. I knew a little old lady who put the lemon halves that she had taken the zest off of and removed the juice from (and NOT rubbed on her elbows!) and she kept them in a wide mouth jar with enough vodka to cover the lemons. This made AWESOME lemon vodka that was great to drink and in so many recipes. Her vodka sauce for pasta was the best I ever tried and it was partly because she used this lemon vodka.

    I don't buy vanilla extract. I got some good deals on vanilla beans and I keep them soaking in light rum or vodka (or a mixo f the two, whatever is on hand when needed). This works wonderfully in recipes and is what I hve done for years.
  20. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Great facial - puree a cucumber, skin and all. Keep it in the fridge in a tightly sealed container for a refreshing facial.