10 Random Things I Do to Save Money

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I’m a big believer in the fact that little habits add up over time.  My research for this article was taking a closer look at myself and my habits over the course of a few days. Based on my observations, I wrote this article as potential inspiration for you, my fellow Frugalites!

Now, I know that we are a frugal bunch with many frugal habits. Once you read about my habits, I hope to hear about your own.

Making use of every last drop

This thrifty tip comes straight from my mother, who taught all of us kids to neatly roll our toothpaste tubes so we wouldn’t waste any. I now make my own toothpowder, but I have transferred that thrifty habit to many food items. 

For example, when I finish my jar of applesauce, it doesn’t end there. I add a bit of water and swish it around, and then I drink my applesauce drink. Voila! The jar is empty, and I have a few extra and tasty calories to fuel my further savings. The other way I use every “drop” is by scraping everything with my trusty spatula. Everything is also cleaner that way when it comes time to do the dishes!

Multiple uses for everything

My dishwashing brush is looking a little long in the tooth these days. When I decide to retire it, will it go in the garbage? Heck no! I have a three-step process for how I use my dishwashing brushes. Once it’s truly too old and splayed to wash my dishes, it gets sent out to my shed with a few other types of brushes where it will be assigned work like scrubbing the car or outdoor furniture. 

The first step in my dish brush process is that I use a brand new brush to scrub my vegetables and fruits. This sparkly new brush gets washed along with my other dishes and is used only for this purpose. When I retire the very old and tired dishwashing brush to the shed, you guessed it! This new one steps into the role of dishwasher. 

It doesn’t stop there, though! Here are 40 uses for bread tags. Here are all the different ways I use one bottle of Castile soap (that lasts me months, by the way!) and here’s a bunch of other stuff I use twice.

Knowing my prices and when to buy

Quick, what’s a good price for a roll of toilet paper in your area? How long does your favorite pound of coffee beans last you? How much do you save if you only buy those coffee beans on sale?

Yes, these are the kinds of questions I can answer in my sleep. I know the prices of what I buy inside and out and therefore, I know when to buy. This week, I was reading the flyers, as I always do, looking for some good bargains. Usually, those loss-leader items appear on the front page. I found my treasure on the third page today: my favorite applesauce on sale. It was just about half the price of the same stuff in the discount grocery in a nearby town. I actually changed my plans and went to a town around 12 minutes away to buy as much applesauce as they would let me buy. I am pretty sure we’ll never see this particular item for this price again. I now have enough to last me four months tucked away in a cupboard. Hurray!

Interested in how I maintain my food budget? Here’s how I would eat for $20 plus items out of my pantry, and here’s how I use mindful rationing of my foods when I need to cut costs.

Eating stuff others might not eat

Ya, I got told last week by my cousin that I was “weird” when I told him that I eat weeds. Yes, I do! They grow free in my garden and often do better than some of the plants that I am trying to grow. I don’t eat processed foods and consider food to be my medicine, so I’ll often throw in whatever I feel like I need – ground turmeric, Ceylon cinnamon, and cloves. All of those go into my home cultured kefir that I often eat for lunch.  

Having frugalite friends

When I saw the sale price of the applesauce in the flyer, what was the first thing that I did? Why, I called my Frugalite friend to give him the heads up, of course! It’s so fun to have Frugalite friends to share my bargains with. We love to save money and try to outbrag each other as to who is the best shopper. 

Buying quality footwear

I love chatting with folks when I’m thrift shopping. Just yesterday, I was talking with a married couple about our best footwear thrift buys in our local church-run thrift shop.  “Look at these sandals,” she said, showing off her sparkly silver ones. “I bought these at XXX thrift shop.” I showed her my sandals that I was wearing, a pair of plain brown leather Finn Comforts worth several hundred dollars, which I had bought at the same store. I believe I won that round of thrift shopping braggery, but I could be wrong. For tips on buying quality footwear at thrift stores, check this article out. Once you have them, take good care of them with tips from this great article.

Knowing when to let go of things

Times have been tough for me lately, and I’ve been short on cash. I am glad that I know when to let go of things, and I’ve been selling up a storm to make some money. I have a garage sale most Saturdays with some lower-priced items that attract some locals and tourists. I list other items that are worth more on the local “Yard Sale” groups and other online buy and sell websites.

Year-round gift shopping

I would not have the budget for buying holiday gifts unless I spread it out over the whole year, as I do. Shopping begins with bargain sales after Christmas, although you won’t find me anywhere that the stampedes might be dangerous. Beyond that, I’m usually at the thrift shops, remembering that my aunt likes the color yellow and is a huge fan of the Blue Jays baseball team. By shopping this way, I can usually find a lovely item for everyone on my list for a few bucks apiece. Spread over the year, it’s totally manageable.  

Cultivating good neighbors

I was so excited when I moved onto my Half-Acre Homestead because I had always wanted to have my own neighbors. It took a few years to get to know them. Now, we have a well-established and reciprocal relationship. We help each other. I know that when I need help with something, I have people I can ask.

This can be a lifesaver, like when my wonderful neighbor to the east comes over with his top-of-the-line snow blower after a big blizzard. (I only have a shovel!) When they go away, they know that they don’t need to hire a house sitter, as I’ll take good care of it and will keep an eagle eye on their place.

That gives both of us peace of mind, and we both save!

Being flexible with my expectations

Sometimes, there’s more money, and I can buy some extra treats or do some things I like to do. Sometimes, there’s not. I keep my eye on what truly matters to me: Frugalite friends, my family, my health, my homestead, and doing my best to help make the world a better place. I know what matters to me. Everything else, I can do without. 

Frugalites are as Frugalites do.

Daily frugal habits and attitudes add up over time. Who are you as a Frugalite? Could you see yourself trying any of the thrifty tips offered here? Do you have one you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments section.

About Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, “Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture.” Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

Colette

Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, "Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture." Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

10 thoughts on “10 Random Things I Do to Save Money”

  1. Mary from Texas

    My 2 granddaughters in their early 20s are already frugal shoppers. One while in high school bought her prom dress at a thrift shop for $15. The other is a clotheshorse who buys everything at thrift stores and is much admired for how she dresses. While in a foreign country she discovered she lacked enough sweaters to carry her through. She found several wool sweaters for under $5 The best bargain was one with a small, easily mendable hole. She pointed this out to the clerk in order to get a discount and got it free—less than 5 minutes for an invisible mend. She’s also bought things that need partial hemming, again for a discount. She says a supply of thread and a few needles makes a thrift shop find like new and keeps her clothes budget at less than half that of friends who aren’t nearly as well dressed.
    I have a difficult time with cheap shoes so watch sales and only buy quality shoes in brands that fit well only at sale prices. I buy a coat for the next few years at the sale the nearby thrift store has in early spring.
    My son-in-law invested $30 in a quality hair cutting kit and has a daughter cut his hair—free and no tip. The rest of the family now also gets free haircuts as she is very good at it.
    I got a replacement lid for a Pyrex teapot out of the things a neighbor was throwing in the trash. My husband got a partial set of drill bits out of the same trash. Flower pots are also something that we have found on the curb on trash day. A quick scrub and as good as new! I got a chest of drawers free when a neighbors family cleared out her house in preparation for selling it. A grandchild got an expensive FlexibleFlyer sled on trash day in the neighborhood. A surprising number of usable furniture ends up on the curb in some neighborhoods. A friend’s talented daughter got a nice easel that way.

    1. Hi Mary, Thank you for this lovely post. I sat down and savoured it like a good cup of coffee! I smiled many times, especially when you replaced your Pyrex teapot lid for free out of the neighbour’s trash. In my book, that definitely gives you Frugalite bragging rights! (I would have been right in the pile with you, searching out treasures!) It is so fun to write posts like these and then enjoy the interactions that come after with this wonderful community. I appreciate your taking the time to share your own reflections. In these times, Frugalites have valuable skills and attitudes that I’m convinced can help others. Wishing you the best!

  2. The year-round gift shopping is a good idea, but be sure to remember where you store the items! I am currently in the process of cleaning out my parents’ house, and have come across not only toys she bought for the grandchildren and never gifted to them, but several very nice pairs of earrings she bought on a trip to Italy and, likewise, never gifted to anyone.

    1. Hi Alice, ha ha ha! That has already happened to me, where I opened a cupboard I don’t often go into and found a birthday gift for my aunt, a yellow blanket. Thank goodness it wasn’t already her birthday. Thanks so much for the warning. I wonder if I should keep a centralized list??? Wishing you the best!

  3. Random thing I try to do when possible: Research how to fix household appliances when they break. It doesn’t always work but when it does, it’s great! Case in point: My oven died. It was only because I recalled my dad fixing the same thing when I was a kid that I even bothered to look into it. Some research, a $30 dollar element, and a little elbow grease later, and my oven worked just fine again. It was dead simple and we did it with no trouble. A whole lot better than either buying a new old one, or heaven forbid, an actual new one, or even calling a repairman. Yet another reason to keep appliances without a ton of electronics on board.

    1. Hi Redbranch, Wow! I’m impressed! I hope that this inspires many who may not think that they are “handy” to give it a try. With so many things, even ovens, being disposable these days, your comment is a great example of exactly how much you can save if you are willing to go out of your comfort zone and give things a try. Good for you! I’m sure you dad would be very proud! Wishing you the best!

  4. I consider myself thrifty as well. One trick I’ve done this trick with tubes of hand cream or makeup, for as long as I can remember, when no more squeezes out I cut it in half enabling me to access the very last bit, I slip one side inside the other to “seal” until it’s all used up. Also when a lipstick is used up to being flat to the tube, I switch to using a lipstick brush to use up the rest in the tube.

    1. Hi Toni, Thanks so much for sharing your own tips for getting more out of tubes or cream or even lipstick. I’m sure that you’ve saved tons over the years doing this, rather than just throwing them away, paying for the cost of the lipstick brush many times over. Good for you! Wishing you the best!

  5. Grima Squeakersen

    First, I don’t call myself “frugal”, I am a cheap SOB, and damned proud of it! Next, in spite of that self-description, I have come to realize that it is easy to become overly obsessed with saving the next penny, to the detriment of overall value. What is truly important is your time (your ultimate resource of value) and how you spend that. If the time required to pinch that next penny is a better investment of that time than something else you could be doing with it, great! But if there is something else that you could do with that time to either earn/conserve more money than you are saving, or otherwise produce greater satisfaction with your life, do that. Don’t get myopic – that in itself is detrimental to survival.

    1. Hi Grima, YES!!!! I am so glad to receive your comment, from a proud and like-minded cheap SOB! Claim it with pride, I say! Your point is important because it is often missed: how much TIME does it take to do something? For example, in my case living out in a rural area….is is worth the time (and gas? and energy?) to drive to the nearest town to save $0.X0 on a grocery item? The answer is usually a resounding “NO!” As a freelance writer, I continually balance my desire to save money against the time it takes to write one of these articles. If the savings aren’t equal, then I’m better off producing more work than clipping that coupon or driving to the sale. Very much appreciate your no nonsense and to the point approach, Grima. Thanks for sharing with all of us. Wishing you a cheap and happy 2024!!!

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