What new things are you doing to save $$$?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by susiestar, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I went around the house and put rubber bands on ANY pump type bottle. The hand soap ones dispense way more than we need, and of course the kids and husband think they need 2 pumps or the stuff won't work. So, I put a rubber band around the pump part where it goes into the bottle. This way it won't go down as far, and won't dispense as much.

    I also thinned out our handsoap 1/2 and 1/2 with water. I have a big jug of it, and I was thinning it in the pump bottle, then just shaking it. BUT if husband or the kids refills, they don't thin it. So as we were down to half a jug, I thinned it IN the jug.

    I also use any shampoo we get and don't like. Most of it is fine for hand soap anyway. We had a couple of bottle of cheap no-name (the brand is something I can't pronounce) tea tree shampoo. It is terrible on hair, but at 99 cents for 16 oz, it is fine for hand soap, esp thinned out.

    I also found that my mom had several of those bags the grocery stores sell to insulate your frozen foods until you get home. I snagged 2 from Mom and put one in each of our trunks. That way if we are going out, I can pop drinks in there with-o finding a cooler. I can also stick leftovers from a meal out in there and still finish the errands. The kids have not been eating as much in the hot weather, so this has helped on the rare occasions we eat out.

    I can also grab cold stuff AND run a very short errand with-o my milk going bad OR driving home and back out. Usually this isn't a big deal as I plan the shopping carefully now. But once in a while one of us springs an errand in unexpectedly. And then I can go get it done quickly.

    So what new (or old and forgotten but now remembered) things are you doing?
  2. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    No leftover gets thrown out ~ I've learned the fine art of making a different meal from leftovers. In fact, I plan it that way.

    I no longer buy Oil of Olay body wash though I miss it so.

    Plastic bags from the grocery store are used as trash bags at desks, in the bathroom & in bedrooms.

    Make my own ice.

    I use half the amount of dishwasher soap. I read somewhere (can't remember where off hand) that's all that is needed for day to day use. The same goes for laundry soap except in extremely soiled clothing.

    I always use refills.

    Lights & televisions not in use are turned off.

    I pull the blinds to keep out the sun in the extreme heat; I only use central air when absolutely necessary. Many times I can get away with a small window a/c upstairs & keep the central air off.

  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Im taking notes here!
  4. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    I use my laptop rather than my easy child when I'm just surfing around.
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    husband and a co-worker who lives nearby are ride sharing 3 times a week. I've got a big veggie garden. I'm shopping at the discount store for staples.
  6. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    We haven't turned on the air conditioner yet this year, despite some blazing hot days. We've been keeping the blinds down and lights off to keep the house cool during the day, and then opening the windows up to cool things down at night.

    husband and I prepare lots of basics for meals on the weekends (chopped veggies, cooked meat or chicken, salad greens, etc.) and keep them in small containers in the fridge. We can combine them to make several different meals during the week, and they're great for tossing in the cooler if we're going to be out all day. (With the business travel I've been doing, we've been packing the coolers for a week at a time, to save money on fast food and maintain a healthy diet)

    We've stopped eating out entirely.

    My city just introduced a new recycling collection program (a giant bin instead of clear blue recycling bags), so I have been using and re-using the clear bags as liners for our in-house recycling containers. I just take them out to the garage, up-end them into the bin, and put the liners back in the containers.

    Growing my own vegetables (beans, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers) and fruit (strawberries and raspberries)

    We've just stopped buying stuff we don't need. Before we buy anything, we do the test...do we already have something like it or something that will do the same thing? Do we really need it or is it just a whim? If the answers are Yes and No, then we don't get it.

    It's been a real eye opener.
  7. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I don't let easy child know when I am shopping. She usually can fill a cart on her own. It was funny one day when a young girl we know noticed that easy child had her own cart. What an interesting conversation with her mom.

    I also am starting to go shopping without difficult child when possible - he is getting into the "give-me" mode more often. "But you buy such and such for easy child, I should get this."

    easy child and difficult child do a good job at bargain shopping but not always.

    As all moms do, I again choose to go without a lot of things such as magazines, occassional candy bar, favorite snacks, new shoes, new clothes, ect. And like all moms, I don't mind, I don't miss them. They will be that much more special if I get them as a gift for Christmas or birthday.
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    We also dropped out of several clubs of the "wine of the month" type. I can buy a decent bottle of wine for $6 if I want it.
  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    easy child and I carpool to Aldi's. The closest one is 20 mins away. But when I can get twice as much stuff into my cart there than walmart....the 10 bucks in gas is worth it.

    I had Travis pick me up those Green Bags at walmart that keep your produce fresher longer.

    I lucked out. I didn't get my garden out. BUT I have a friend already giving me handout extras from their garden. :D

    Since the utilities are supposed to go up again, I've cracked down even harder. Lights, tv, ect gets shut off when not in use. That includes no tv as back ground noise people. (geez that annoys me) There is a time limit in the shower. (this is killing Travis lol) I still haven't let husband put in the window ac units. lol I keep blinds closed on whatever side of the house the sun is on. Keep window fans pulling in the cooler air at night and in the morning. Use the ceiling fans.

    My crockpot is getting ALOT of use. :D

    We don't eat out. Instead I'll buy frozen hamburger patties from Aldi's and fry potatoes, or buy Tony's frozen pizza for sometimes 2 for 5.00 and toss our own toppings on it.

    The only junk food in the house Travis or Nichole buy, and are kind enough to share. Still I've noticed it has greatly reduced.

    No unnecessary trips in the car. Period. Travis is also being affected by this one unfortunately. If he wants to go shopping or to the movies he has to walk or call a cab. But easy child said she'll try to help give him some rides too.

    Dog food is supplemented once again with table scraps. Sorry, I just can't bring myself to toss the food out after what I paid for it. Dogs ARE NOT complaining. lol I've noticed I'm not buying dog food as often.

    If we don't have to have it, we don't buy it. And when the going gets rough.....and it does at times.....sometimes even when we have to have it I don't buy it. I'm getting awfully crafty at substitution. lol

    But I'll tell ya what, you KNOW things are bad when Nichole uses her birthday money from grandma to buy things like facewash and deodorant. :rofl:
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I already have a Ford Escort (ten year old car--hub is a car mechanic...lol). It gets 33 mpg, at least. Car trips are minimized. Lots of bike riding and walking. Son will not get license until eighteen--he doesn't care and we don't need the extra insurance for an underage boy plus the extra gas.
    I shop at Aldis for almost everything, am thinking of starting a garden.
    I want to buy a scooter with our tax refund next year--100 mpg--they are going like hotcakes here. I can't ride it when it snows, but can dress up warm at all other times. We have fans all over the house. No a/c so far this year. We are saving it for 85 plus days only.
    Planning early for winter: We are going to put plastic over the windows and shove blankets under the doors, then, during the day, turn the thermostat down to 55% (to avoid frozen pipes). We will shut the doors of the unusued rooms and I'll have a few electric heaters on during the day. I'm the only one here and my house is small--it will work. At night heat will go on to about 66. I anticipate that heating bills will soar this year and want to be prepared.
    We are vacationing near home.
  11. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Panicking. No, not really panicking just yet and how would that help anyway? lol.

    I drive a small hybrid and do not use the AC.

    H doesn't use his truck outside of to and from work and he does not use the AC either.

    Our dogs are overweight so we've cut back on their diet, which will net us almost one additional week's worth of food for them (they are on raw). And we buy their biscuits in bulk and break them up into smaller pieces.

    We do a light check often and turn off any unnecessary lights. H is bad about leaving the garage lights on when he's working on the house!

    We put our outside lights on sensor, so they only pop on when we want them to or when one of us comes home, then they shut off.

    I unplug as many appliances as possible when not in use, such as the tv, dvd player, radio, stereo, toaster, etc. Even when they are turned off, they still draw power. I've noticed a reduction in our electrical use already.

    I've put all of our bills on a 'budget' so we're billed the same every month, no matter the time of year. It helps me to budget my money and keep track of which times of the year we use more energy than others.

    We only run the AC on unbearably sticky nights. Otherwise, we keep everything closed up all day and open things up once the sun goes down and crank up a fan or two to get the night's cooler air flowing. Using a fan still uses less energy than an AC unit and it's better for the environment.

    I make my own cleansers often (usually white vinegar, lemons, and baking soda). I only do laundry once a week - Saturday (sometimes overnight into Sunday) and do about 4 loads a week on average. Sometimes I can skip a week for whites and get away with 3 loads every other week.

    We use our pool a lot now and have a baby pool for the pups to cool off as well. When that water is 'used' I scoop it out to water my plants/garden instead of just dumping it.

    I only buy food items that are not fresh when they are on sale, such as rices, cereals, canned goods, etc. Mostly we buy organic produce, which is through the roof expensive, so for the season, we will buy from a local farm.

    We also have a large garden this year again and we've already gotten some string beans and lettuce. We will have more than we can eat so I will be canning for the winter months and making sauces, etc.

    I've been making H's sandwich bread every week and a pizza dough during the week, so we're not buying bread anymore. I can get the flours I need cheap at ocean state Job Lot and they are organic to boot! Yum. And I make most of our desserts from scratch too.

    When those little cans of diced petite tomatoes are on sale, I load up. Beans too. Great for all dishes. I freeze all leftovers no matter how small an amount. I can use them in future dishes.

    We have a large compost heap in the way back of our yard, so we always have clean, very nutrient rich soils for the gardens. And of course, we recycle everything we can and reuse many food containers for leftovers. We also make our own ice.

    I've cut meat from my diet altogether and the only meat H eats is cold cuts for lunches and the occasional grilled hamburger, so we're saving a lot there. We eat whole grains, which I buy at the discount store. I make a HUGE amount on Sundays and we eat it all week in other dishes. It's filling and good for you.

    I bought an excellent BPA free water bottle (made my camelbak) that has a flip top and straw. It's great, has a handle, easy to clean, dishwasher safe and I can refill it over and over again without it tasting funny or smelling bad like regular plastic water bottles. Well worth the one time $7 cost.

    I buy all snacks and nuts, trail mixes, cleaners, and other stupid household stuff at ocean state job lot for way cheap.

    I have printed out a few ideas below - there are some things I hadn't thought about!
  12. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I already had to cut a lot of things to send difficult child to private school. I earmarked some money I got from grandma's inheritance for difficult child's school last fall, so we have actually had a tiny bit "extra", but I am still cutting the corners as tho we didn't have that money for school.
    I am learning to do almost all the mechanical work on my vehicles. Thanks to 2 good friends who are mechanics and another who's a "shade-tree" mechanic, I can dive into about any problem and know that even if I can't fix it, they can. They are also good to call when I get stuck.
    I bought a $200 Taurus, fixed its "wrongs" (cost me another $100) and am driving it. It gets 25-30mpg, despite being ancient, loud, and without a radio. The a/c does work. lol. The truck is parked unless we're pulling the camper or stock trailer.
    I put out a garden this year. Hopefully will get plenty of veggies to can. I also make my own salsa and spagetti sauce in huge pots and can them up.
    I canned more deer meat last deer season. We will butcher a steer in January, and possibly a hog, and, of course, will hunt deer. All laundry is hung on the line if at all possible, except the whites (this means laundry day is scheduled by the weather lol). And when I had to replace my wash machine, I bought a front-load, which, if I do have to use the dryer, cuts the drying time in half. Everyone has to hang up their bath and beach towels and use them more than once. I've set up electric fence that can be moved around the yard, which cuts down on mowing AND feed for difficult child's old horse. We sold half our cows, so we shouldn't be short grass this year, which will cut down on hay we have to feed and put up. Have not turned on the a/c yet at all.
    We don't make any extra trips to town if they can be at all avoided. We don't "run up" to my brother's or to visit my mom as frequently as we did before (cut back on this a lot). If I need to run to the local grocery for a last minute item, I take the scooter, otherwise, I grocery shop during my lunch hour in the city where I can hit Aldi's or Hyvee. Both have the best prices.
    Of course, eggs have gone thru the roof, so unless we're hatching chicks, we're sure to use the eggs from the chickens (right now we're hatching some, so will have to buy eggs if we run out).
    Fourth of July is usually spent camping with my family, but we're all meeting at my mom's instead of the lake this year. So no hauling campers or boat riding this year, will cut down on costs for us all.
  13. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I coordinate any trips outside the house so I only have to make one long one rather than several short trips, and if I don't have to go anywhere...I don't.

    The swamp cooler is only run part of the time.

    I hang laundry on my solar dryer instead of running the dryer.

    We get fruits and veggies at Farmer's Market instead of the grocery store.

    I could cut back on my newspapers...we take the local one, and Hubby picks up the San Francisco Chronicle for me every day...but I love my papers...and we do recycle them...
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We're expecting to save A LOT on heating and lighting, now that easy child 2/difficult child 2 & BF2 have moved out. We are also saving on hot water. Although we have solar hot water, easy child 2/difficult child 2 would ALWAYS insist on turning on the electric booster so she could run her bath at 42C. She then would sometimes wait an hour or more before getting in, which really annoyed me and husband. But simply without the extra bodies, we're finding a sunny winter's day still gives us enough hot water for showers for just about all of us. If the water's not quite hot enough, the booster on for half an hour is usually all we need for one more pleasantly hot shower.
    I try and shower during the day, so the water has more daylight to heat up again for the evening shower people.

    Cooking - I've been cooking in bulk so we can eat leftovers in various forms. It's been cheaper. It's also better in winter because cold nights and warm stews go well.
    Cheap recipes - I buy the cheapest beef of all - gravy beef - which isn't even on display in the shop, I have to ask for it. The butcher cuts it up for me into chunks and I use a number of different recipes, especially Indian/Sri Lankan curries, which I then leave to braise for a minimum of three to four hours, the surface barely moving. That way the meat doesn't dry out but it cooks through so it can almost fall apart. I also don't use curry powder, I follow the recipe that gives the individual spices, and make up the curry that way.

    I grow a lot of vegetables. Tonight I'm harvesting some bok choi for a stir-fry. I bought the meat in bulk on special, as a whole scotch fillet which I then cut into small 'medallions' and froze.
    Stir-fries are a good way to eat healthily and save money. We use a lot of fresh vegetables and not much meat. I thaw about 3-400g of meat for four people and as the meat is partly thawed, I cut it paper-thin. I put the meat into the dauce I am going to use - usually it's a mix of oyster sauce, soy sauce, a splash of sherry and a dash of sesame oil. The vegetables are cut up into chunks and we cook the vegetables first, then take them out of the wok. Any nuts are fried next, and then taken out and put with the vegetables. Then the meat (and sauce) goes in until the meat is almost done (very fast, if it's really thin) then the vegetables are thrown back in for a last quick warm-through. We serve it with steamed rice (cooked absorption method in the microwave).

    A fast, cheap, healthy meal.

    Clothes - I just bought a lot for difficult child 3, at the local op-shop. I took down some clothes that no longer fit anyone. I mend and patch clothes that can take it and keep old jeans and cut-off pieces of denim, especially to patch denim jeans. I also have a bag of leather scraps which I sometimes use to patch difficult child 3's jeans and trousers. I've also used leather scraps to make babies' shoes.

    We don't belong to wine clubs but do visit vineyards when we can. We only buy wine if we like it, and try to not worry too much about the price. However, we don't drink wine often, only on special occasions. At the moment I'm not drinking at all.

    Water - we have a filter system installed (because our drinking water is sometimes too heavily chlorinated) and we use the filter to fill plastic drink bottles so we have always got a boxful of full water bottles in the car. We try to avoid buying water bottles when we go out. Sometimes the kids buy a particular variety of fruit drink (from Chinatown) and these make really attractive and useful water bottles afterwards. That way we throw out (ie put in the recycling) any old or damaged bottles, and change around to newer ones.

    We pack lunch when going somewhere, instead of planning to buy it. Or if we haven't had the time or the ingredients, we buy the ingredients and make lunch that way. For example, when grocery shopping I might buy a couple of bread rolls and a slab of gourmet cheese. A bag of salad greens and a kilo of tomatoes to be taken home - then I can make salad rolls from the cheese, the bread rolls, one of the tomatoes and maybe tear some leaves off a head of lettuce or the bag of salad greens.

    I'm growing my own mung bean sprouts.

    I don't buy shoes very often - op-shops when I can, Chinatown for my favourite flat black all-cotton shoes (A$18 a pair); thongs (aka flip-flops) or bare feet in summer, but I buy long ugg boots every few years for winter wear. We scotchgard the uggs so they will stay clean and water-proof. I've worn them in the snow for years now, whenever we make trips to the snow.

    Washing - we cold-wash, using a front loader. No dryer, we use the clothes line. If it's raining for weeks then we take the washing to a friend's place and use HER dryer.

    We've kept chooks in the past for eggs, but our current lot are too old to lay much now. We may go buy more young ones from a battery hen place nearby. We buy the retirees and give them a new lease of life, rather than see them slaughtered.

    Compost - we make our own. All vegetable scraps and weeds go into the compost, or into the chookhouse (which is like a giant compost heap in itself).

    I saw a really great mini-compost heap idea on TV the other night - fabulous for small gardens to have a compost heap hiding in plain sight!

    You get a post-hole digger and dig a hole. Submerge in the hole a large plastic paint bucket into which large holes have been drilled in the sides and base. Bury the bucket so only the rim is above the ground, but the bucket is still empty. Add a layer of gravel to the bottom of the bucket, then you can begin to fill the bucket with scraps. To cover the bucket - find a pot, or a large attractive dish which could be used as an ornament in the garden or maybe a low bird bath, and sit this over the bucket.

    The recommendation is to have several of these buckets going, started at different intervals. One could be in use, another could be maturing, the third could be storage for compost already made and ready to be used on the garden.
    You use the compost heap/bucket by throwing in your scraps and then covering them with newspaper and a bit of soil every so often. Aerating them is also good - we have a wire spiral thing which we can screw down into the heap then lift up, to turn it over. We use a larger tool in the chookhouse, to turn that over occasionally.

    And done right - no smell. Not even in the chookhouse. If it does smell, throw in a bit of garden lime.

    The buried bucket method can mean you have a productive, recycling garden in a very small space but nobody will know. It can look great. You can put plants all around the buckets, the dish can look like part of the landscaping.

    We also use plastic bags as bin liners. Lots of the other suggestions - also used.

    Shampoo & conditioner - I don't know when I last opened a bottle. I take all the "empties" and use those. I add water, shake it (gently) and let it stand. Then I wash my hair in the watered-down liquid. I can get sometimes ten washes out of what someone else would have thrown away.

    BUT - once you water it down, you MUST use it up fairly soon (a matter of months at most) because if it's sufficiently diiute, bacteria can grow in it and it can go "off" and smell awful. probably not tat good for you, either. The same rule goes for dishwashing detergent and liquid soap.

    We use super-concentrated dishwashing detergent, but the kids know to only use a drop.

    Some cheaper options can be false economy - you need to really assess whether going cheaper is the best option. Like buying cheap wine - if it tastes awful, you'd probably prefer water anyway.

    We do allow luxuries; the trade-off is, use less. So no compounded chocolate, only the really good stuff. But only a small square a day.

    We bought ourselves a couple of digital cameras and this saves us buying and developing film. Similarly, an iPod has been a godsend. We play it in the car instead of playing our large supply of tapes.

    Many more ideas - I'll share them as I think of them. We do so much automatically, it's hard to sit down and analyse it all!

  15. ctmom05

    ctmom05 Member

    My idea is not new, but I am using it now because it works!

    Since hubby and I are empty nesting, cooking has become less of a focal point. There have been times when in a what-the-heck moment we say "let's not cook tonight, we will get Subway or pizza or something."

    Now when I go grocery shopping I make sure to include a few dinner items that are easy weasy to prepare and don't cost an arm and a leg, and taste great!
  16. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    I fill gallon jugs at the water machines outside the grocery rather than buying gallons. Costs me 25 cents per gallon, less than 1/3 of the price of the cheapest water the grocery sells and around a dollar cheaper than many brands. It's highly filtered regular tap water. And reusing the gallon containers is good for the environment. Interesting how saving money and being green work so well together.

    (Water around here is good enough most days to use straight from the tap and I do for everything except making tea and drinking by the glass.)
  17. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Great ideas here.
    We are not saving any more now, so to speak, than we always have ... it's a way of life.

    Use filtered city water for my own water bottles
    Make a huge pot of iced tea in the a.m. and drink it all day
    Use the dehumidifier to water the plants
    Drive a hybrid
    Rent movies cheaply instead of seeing 1st run pics at a higher price
    Keep the doors closed (heat and AC)
    Paint the walls myself

    I used to get the kids' clothes at second hand shops and even Vets stores, especially for my son, who ruined everything. Unbelievable, what people give away, brand new with-the tags on.
    I love shopping at high-end stores and getting a bargain. My husband got a pr of $120 Tommy Bahama trousers Sun. for $10, and last yr I got a blk evening dress from Brooks Bro's for $11. 3 yrs ago I got a $200 silk pantsuit from Talbot's for $20 and I wear it all the time.
  18. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    I once got a $320 Blue Willi jacket for $23, including shipping. And I love the thing. That's my best find, I think.

    Anyway.....I keep thinking about this thread as I go through my day. I don't put the air conditioning on in the car when I drive around town. I roll down the windows and open the roof. If I go on freeways, I use the AC because of the noise, but on regular streets and roads, it's open windows. It helps that my hair is on the short side and I comb it with my fingers. Can't really mess it up.
  19. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    My husband sat at the table last night and talked about the possible response of Iran to a strike by Israel. They said they'd cut off the oil import avenues. I thought that was a great idea, frankly.
    But husband said it would make our economy crash. My response was that it is high time we, as a supposedly highly evolved techno-society, found another source of fuel. Supposedly things will heat up (excuse the expression in the Middle East) in 6 mo's, which doesn't give us time to change everything, incl. farm equip. that runs on gas, but hey, we've had yrs.
    Then, there could be a serious nuclear incident in the MiddleEast, and between that and the lack of oil, the U.S. could go into a depression at least as bad at the 1929 crash.
    In which case, we would have to declare bankruptcy and husband would have to practice out of the house. I wonder what would happen to the ins. industry? And how much we would have to pay for our medications and difficult child's medications?
    A very sobering thought. It's so strange that entities so far away and removed can pretty much control our lives.
    Meanwhile, I'm just happy I have a hybrid and that we have running water and medications.
  20. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Summer programs for kids have yielded lots of freebies. Free movie/video game rentals for report card A's, coupons for gymnastics and a manicure plus free books at the library reading program. Ice skating lessons come with 6 free passes for skating and rentals.

    I get many of our dvd's at a local pawn shop which has them regular priced at $5 and when on sale 3 dor $10. We still rent new releases but this has been a great source for movies we want to watch more than once. When we no longer want them I take them back for store credit.

    Where I need to do better is less waste. I have a new fridge and I can see things so much easier so that should help. But I just had to rewash a load of laundry which I'd let sit overnight and it's smelliing sour.