By Daisy Luther
If you are having some difficulty with money right now, let me share one very valuable truth with you: It is a whole lot easier to save money than to make more money. Once you apply this theory, you have the keys to the kingdom, no matter what your budget looks like.
Of all the things that you can do to better prepare your family for the future, making the switch to a frugal lifestyle is the most important. But there’s a lot more to living the cheapskate dream than simply buying generic instead of name brand at the store.
You need to bring your frugal ways into your everyday activity. Find things for free (or at least a lot cheaper than other people pay), make it yourself, repair things instead of replacing them – make it a creative game and you’ll discover that a frugal score may become just as thrilling for you as scoring a designer purse is for some people.
You have at least some control over your personal situation. While we can’t always make MORE money, we can almost always spend less.
25 Unusual Ways to Save Money
Recently, I asked you, the readers, to give me your most creative and unusual ways to save money. Each idea won’t work for every family, but you’re sure to glean at least a couple of ideas from these suggestions.
- – Kate: I don’t know if it’s unique, but we use family cloths to save money. As a family we go through crazy amounts of toilet paper, and so I cut up old t-shirts and I crocheted squares. We only use it for number 1….haven’t quite had the guts (or the need) to use it for both yet, but, it has cut back so much on the TP that we use. We don’t use them during that time of the month and boy is there a difference.
- – Blue: Several years ago I stopped in at a few restaurants near my home and asked them to save glass jars for me. Some let me leave a plastic bin in an out of the way corner for collection points and I made sure to stop by frequently to keep up with the supply. Since then, I have gathered up over 8 dozen gallon size bottles (new lids are available) and several dozen quart size, all for the asking. They make great intermediate-term storage containers (a step-down size from 5-gallon buckets), don’t take on any odors, you can tell what they contain, and they can be made airtight. I always get a smile on my face when I look over my own little storehouse of FREE glass preserved foods.
- – Sherri: I buy clear, heavy duty, shower liners and put them on the windows. Light still gets in, cold stays out. If I want to see out more clearly it moves.
- – Rhonda: I save money by never buying fertilizer, for garden or fields. Nothing goes to waste here, so I don’t need to! Of course, animal manure (in my case, horses, chickens, a pack of foxhounds and another of sled dogs) is composted, along with the usual kitchen and garden waste. Lawn clippings are allowed to dry and are used for winter chicken bedding before composting (the chickens eagerly eat the tender dried clippings). We use a “humanure toilet” which goes to compost (check out “The Humanure Handbook“–it explains how to do this safely!) Urine, high in nitrogen, is diluted and goes on the garden, backyard orchard, or lawn. Wood ashes (friends save them for me) are spread out on the fields all winter, adding minerals to the soil. Leaves are composted by many–I shred ours and use it as the cover material for the humanure toilet first. Even eggshells don’t go to waste–some are fed back to the chickens for calcium, but the rest are dug into whatever bed will have tomatoes that year. Waste not, want not!
- – Kathy: Save your stained, holey T-shirts. Cut out napkin and paper towel sized pieces and use them instead of costly paper products, then just throw in the wash and use again and again.
- – Mary: I’m a knitter & when I get a hole in anything knitted that can’t be repaired I unravel the damaged sweater & reuse the yarn for a new garment or socks, etc.
- – Doug: Don’t shop the 1s & the 15th. They rise most of the prices. Pay cash when you can. Use the library. You can get books, movies, & many other services for free. Find your self a older person who has been through a lot & has wisdom. Then help them & learn all you can.
- – Diana: Groceries are the place where most families spend a large share of their paycheck. One thing I’ve found that saves money is this simple tip–prepare all those delicious veggies you bought when you get home from the store. Right now. They will be ready to quickly add to your meal instead being something unrecognizable in the back of the fridge that gets wasted. Plus you are more apt to eat more healthy foods if you don’t have to make a mess at each meal getting them ready. Added: all those trimmings except the smelly broccoli/cauliflower can go in a bag for making veggie broth lately. Easy and free.
- – Carrie: We use a reel mower to mow our lawn. No gas needed! It stays sharp for a while and it’s a great work out 🙂 The company also sent us a free handle replacement when ours was bent after a tornado hit our house.
- – Jan: I use rubber gloves all the time with my hands in water a lot washing dishes, etc. Being right handed, the right glove wears out way faster than the left one. When I have a few extra lefties, I just turn one inside out. Now it is a rightie! I tap a little powder or cornstarch in the inside-out new rightie so it will slip on easily. Makes a pair of rubber gloves last twice as long.
- – Terri: My tip is this: to truly get a grip on your finances first you have to know exactly where your money is going. Set up a spreadsheet with categories that list every penny you spend. Break it down so that you can see exactly how much you spend on each thing. On the second sheet of the spreadsheet, I take each of my grocery receipts and rewrite it for that day, including size of product, cost, coupons, and total for that item. The total of the receipt is then posted on the first sheet under groceries. This allows you to see if you can get that item cheaper somewhere else. I total each month’s categories and compare it to that month’s income.Since starting the spreadsheet, my husband and I became much more conscious of how much money we were spending. We now constantly look for more ways to save money.
- – Wandakate: Instead of using Fluoride toothpaste, just mix regular baking soda with hydrogen peroxide. It works just as well, last a whole lot longer and isn’t expensive either.
- – Karen: We set up a drying room in our basement. There is a dehumidifier running constantly down there as well as a ceiling fan. We hung sturdy clothes lines through one entire area of the basement and can hang-dry 3 loads at once. That way, we don’t have to use the dryer all the time, saving electricity, and line-drying makes your clothes last longer.
- – Maggie: If you or your spouse is a veteran, look into the local discounts that may be available to you. Check if you can get a veteran’s discount on your property taxes. Check if your grocery store offers a veteran’s discount (and if not, suggest it). Movie theaters may offer a veteran’s discount. Some beaches and parks with access fees offer a veteran’s discount. Everywhere I spend money, I first ask if there’s a veteran’s discount. Be patient, as the youngster manning the cash register is sure to not know, so politely ask him to call the manager. Also, even when the shop’s veteran’s discount is plainly advertised, the youngster at the cash register will most likely not recognize the proof you offer of your veteran status. If your state will print the word “veteran” on your driver’s license, get that done.
- – Doug: Change your attitude. If your having a really bad day just look around.. you will find someone who has it much harder.
And like the old song says. ” Count your blessings, name them 1 by 1. Count your many blessings & see what God has done.
- – Tina: I sell my daughter’s and my used clothes, shoes, toys, housewares etc., on eBay or Facebook local groups. Sometimes I find thrift store finds to flip. It helps to supplement the expenses of a growing child and allows us to save up for other things we need that don’t fall in our normal budget!
- – Guy: Buy your gold and silver coins at coin shows, the premium will likely be lower. Shop around at the show too because the table next to the door is frequently a little higher. Bring cash as coin dealers don’t accept checks or credit cards! Besides, cash makes your purchase anonymous.
- – Beverly: Here is my tip-if you pay for trash pick-up in your area (w/o being included in your taxes) see if you and a neighbor would like to split the bill. We have a compost pile and we take our recycling to the dump (this is free in my area) so the leftover trash is very little so I just add to my neighbor’s can. save about $200 a year. [Note from Daisy: When our trash pick-up bill went up to $45 per month, we stopped the service and went to the dump every two weeks for only $8 per trip.]
- – Dawn: We’ve used dryer lint to help insulate the attic.
- – Beth W.: I catch the rinse water from my washer in the laundry sink (move the drain hose), then siphon it back into the washer to re-use as the wash water for the next load…unless it’s real murky. I use HALF the water!
- – Beth M.: I got rid of my car. I ride my bicycle everywhere. Saves me over $100 a month. I bought a trailer for it so I can do grocery shopping. I live in a rural area but the stores I need for fresh, refrigerated and frozen foods are within three miles. Most of the rest I order a online.
- – Doug: Buy your gas when it’s the coldest. This way you get more because when liquid is cold its condensed. Coast when you can . Saves gas
- – Antoinette: Make own liquid hand wash soap saving about $100 annually, replant veg scraps, grow your own fruits, herbs and vegetables. Can everything and have water tank with a five filter water filtration system. Saves buying bottled water. Download free books from the Internet and have WiFi contract of 20 gigs data per month for home which we all use and saves on cost of separate data.
- – Ken: Before I throw anything out, I remove the hardware. Hinges, screws, nuts, bolts – anything that might be useful in the future. I keep them in little baby food jars that my daughter in law gives me so that they stay organized. I also keep rubber bands and paperclips from the mail.
- – Toni: We put curtains up to separate rooms we don’t use all time so we don’t have to heat them. I also put one in my hallway near the front door so the cold stays out in the entry and top of the stairs too so the bedrooms don’t have to be heated as much.
Do you have some unusual ideas for saving money?
Share them in the comments section below and maybe you’ll inspire someone else!