View Full Version : Ideas for saving money and/or wasting less

05-11-2009, 12:17 AM
Things are tight all over and was just wondering how y'all are pinching pennies. I'm learning new ways everyday and thought I'd be great to get everyone's input from here!

Tonight, as suggested in a Consumer's Reports mag, I cut all my dryer sheets in half. I usually try to use them at least twice, but this just makes it easier! I also use those daily facial clothes and cut those into fourths, they are still big enough to do the job. I buy pop top type bottled water every 2 months or so and refill them. They eventually get misplaced, or chewed up by a dog, then what's left is recycled. Milkbones started getting broken in half because I still give all of them potty treats. We haven't been out to dinner in forever and we order pizza a lot less. We actually broke our Pizzazz pizza oven we use it so much now.

Jan in CA
05-11-2009, 01:21 AM
Here's what I do -

I drink tap water and use reusable bottles
Run full loads only in the dishwasher
Turn water off when brushing teeth or doing dishes
I don't use facial cleansing cloths I use liquid face wash and my hands or a washcloth
Use generic when I can
Eat out less often
Use coupons when I can find them

05-11-2009, 09:09 AM
We are definitely feeling the crunch- & here is how we save money.

I shop at Save A Lot (http://save-a-lot.com/) (a discount grocery here) as well as the local store. Some of the deals are better at the regular store, so you have to be careful. I also cook 99.9% of the time- we don't eat out much at all. (Eating out is a killer for wasting money.) We also drink tap water- and iced tea because it's cheaper & better for you than pop. I also buy meat in bulk- see if a local church does Angel Food Ministries (http://www.angelfoodministries.com/n) (or something like it- where everyone goes in together & buys it wholesale, then the cost for it is much cheaper. We do this once a month and can get close to a week of groceries for $30.)

We also don't eat meat every day- a few veggie dinners really lower the food bill. Tonight we're having taco soup (2 cans of Rotel, corn, pinto beans, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 pack of ranch mix & 1 pack of taco mix. Don't drain anything- just throw it all together & serve w tortilla chips & cheese & a dollop of sour cream.) It's great & cheap. You can add meat but tonight we're not.

I do use coupons- but only for stuff I buy anyway. Sometimes name brand stuff is cheaper than the generic with a coupon. I also use generic most of the time. (except for certain things, like laundry detergent- because I tried that and ended up not being able to get some stains out & ruining a bunch of clothes.)

I combine errands on 1 or 2 days a week so I am not making tons of little trips. We also buy gas at the cheapest place & use their gift card to fill up. We also like to pack a cooler on trips.

We have one small window AC unit that only gets used when it's desperate or we have people over, and in the winter we set the thermostat on 60 degrees. (kids, get a sweater already!) The windows are open from spring to fall.

We are slowly changing over to the energy conscious bulbs as they burn out.

Household items:
We make do most of the time with whatever we have. (I don't even have a dishwasher) Freecycle (http://www.freecycle.org/) is a great way to get new things that are needed as well as bless others with what you don't need. I love it!

We buy almost all of our clothes at thrift stores or places like Ross (http://www.rossdressforless.com/) or Burke's Outlet. (http://www.burkesoutlet.com/) The clearance sales are great- I got a wardrobe of shirts for the kids at 2.99-4.99 each. We also don't have very many clothes- they're unnecessary and just clutter up our house. Even the teenager is cool with this and is very creative at creating her own style with accessories (most of which she makes.)

We never get a babysitter- I trade off with friends. Usually our "dates" are watching a movie after the kids are in bed. We also do a lot of free or low cost things, like festivals, going to the park, etc. Kids are happy hanging out with friends, or sometimes if it's really hot we'll head to the mall and ride up & down the escalator over & over (this makes the 6 yr old ecstatic!) or something similar. We went "skating" in the kitchen with socks and soapy water- kids loved that too. We don't usually do movies but do the Blockbuster Online thing to keep hubby happy. We also like board games. We use our library a lot too.

If something is expensive and important, we do it. (for example- we travel to CA & NY to see family and took a trip to Europe last year.) If it wasn't for being able to live frugally, we never would have made it. We also have a pretty cool computer & fun games, I have my yarn, & the kids get that toy or dress they're dying to have on occasion. We do our best to prioritize and spend wisely. I know we're a little weird, but saving money is kind of fun.

05-11-2009, 03:59 PM
I try to use multiple use products for everything. Example, I used to have 3 or 4 different lotions, one for my hands, one for my feet, one for everything else and one heavy duty one. Now I just have one huge bottle of Vaseline brand lotion i bought with 2 coupons for everything except my face.

I use Simple Green for everything from the floors, to the bathroom and counters and the laundry.

I buy Purex laundry detergent when Target has the extra 30% free bottles with a coupon.

We rarely ever eat out and when we do it's never an expensive place.

I get books, movies, and magazines from the library.

This may upset people but the laundry mat I use (right next to my apt) has unsecured wi-fi so I use that instead of ordering my own. Also, we don't have cable.

I shop at a store called Sprouts that always has really good deals on fruits and veggies and a lot of bulk items. I bought fruits and veggies for 2 people for 2 weeks for about $35.

I buy things like oatmeal, rice, nuts, and dried fruits in bulk when I need them. They had oatmeal 2 pounds for a dollar a couple of weeks ago at sprouts.

I buy meat only when it's on sale and I try to go for the managers special. This is meat that only has a few days left on the expiration but if I cook it in the next couple of days then it's fine. I've made huge roasts in the crockpot for less than $4.00 this way. And, it feeds 2 people for at least 4 meals.

We don't have an AC and since we're in SoCal now in a proper house (our apt is the 1st floor of the house) we don't turn on the lights. Our electric bills are like $10 a month.

Even with yarn. I found a store near my house called Twist I think it's in Manhattan Beach. She has very beautiful yarns at very reasonable prices because she buys directly from the yarn Co-ops in Central and South America. So you're saving money and helping people in need.

There are lots of things you can do you just have to be a little creative.

05-13-2009, 01:07 AM

Shower with my hubby (ooo la-la!)
Use a quarter-sized amount of shampoo for my mid-back length hair
Use the same amount of conditioner
Only do laundry when I have a full load
Hang heavy items up to dry most of the way before putting them in the dryer to "fluff".
Use only a partial pump from the soap dispenser at home (half of the soap falls off anyway if I use a full pump!)
Reuse any packaging I get in the mail from things I've ordered. I haven't had to buy boxes or packing materials in a couple of years.
Reuse gift wrap/boxes/bags and tissue paper
Check online for my local grocery stores' weekly ads.
Go to www.slickdeals.net for other deals
Knit in the dark
Turn off computer if I'm not using it for more than half an hour

05-13-2009, 02:43 AM
I'm not living in US, but i do a few things to save money, especially now, that hubby is unemployed. We buy clothes rarely and only on sale. We don't have huge discount clothes stores like in the States, and those we have - i rather not buy there, because the clothes fall apart after 2 washes. I buy only basic food, with no extras. We buy veggies and fruit at the market. Meat if only on sale, the same with fish. I turn the lights off everywhere i'm not present at the moment. The same with water - shorter showers, no dishwasher, full load in the machine on half cycle. No yarn, unless it's a present, no models for hubby.
The only thing i'm not saving on is food for our pets - they get the best!

05-13-2009, 12:21 PM
Great suggestions from everyone!

We use cold water for all of clothes washing.

Also, for things that we use regularly (pet food, recycled paper products, etc), I use Amazon's subscription service. No delivery charge, and an extra 15% off their price. Their base price is usually better than our local stores anyway, they have a lot of things I can't find locally, and saves on errands.

05-13-2009, 12:41 PM
Ahh...great thread!!

I've been laid off twice since October, so pinching pennies is the name of the game.

We installed three retractable clothes lines in the garage. I have dogs that would have a field day if I tried hanging clothes in the back yard. We rarely use the dryer...the only one who did was severely reprimanded (the hubster). During the first two months of not using the dryer and adjusting the thermostat, we saved $100.

I try not to turn on the air, but I live in north Florida, and it's very humid here. I've relented to turning it on at night with the setting at 80. It's cheaper to run the ceiling fans than the AC. We froze during the winter but whatever.

We only wash clothes in cold water and, like others said, only full loads. We've starting unplugging our small appliances after using them.

We plan our meals every two weeks...as soon as my dh gets paid...and grocery shop around the meals. I know it's saved tons of money as we used to eat out a lot.

I've gone down to generic dog food. The kids do my grocery shopping for me, and they compare prices to get the best deals.

I've learned to search online for coupons for yarn stores. They're out there, and if you're trying to make gifts for people, well worth the hunt.

We cut down our cable service to the basic. I really want to get rid of it, but my dh would freak. It's his down-time, and he doesn't have hobbies, so what can I do? We also cut out the paper subscription last year.

Oh, and I've discovered that baking soda cleans almost anything! Such a cheap alternative too!

There are many ways you can cut...a little goes a long way.

05-13-2009, 02:10 PM
How to make 1 chicken last for 3 meals:

Remove breasts and use them for one meal. You can stretch 2 breasts into a meal for 4 by using them in a cassarole or stir-fry application.

Remove legs and use them for another. 2 legs & 2 thighs for 4 people, especially if 2 of them are children.

Use remainder to make chicken broth and use for a third. You can even pick any leftover meat from the bones and use it if you like. I add carrots, celery, onions, and herbs to the stock pot to make a rich broth, and use the broth to season beans, or make soup.

05-13-2009, 02:40 PM
How to make 1 chicken last for 3 meals:

Remove breasts and use them for one meal. You can stretch 2 breasts into a meal for 4 by using them in a cassarole or stir-fry application.

Remove legs and use them for another. 2 legs & 2 thighs for 4 people, especially if 2 of them are children.

Use remainder to make chicken broth and use for a third. You can even pick any leftover meat from the bones and use it if you like. I add carrots, celery, onions, and herbs to the stock pot to make a rich broth, and use the broth to season beans, or make soup.

Exactly what i do! If i make a whole chicken in the toaster oven, it's enough for 3 days too.

05-13-2009, 03:39 PM
I had this type of discussion with my father this morning. The ways that we have cut down:

-My mom buys concentrated cleaners. We use Mr.Clean with Febreeze. We got the concentrated on sale, two for five. That was three months ago and I'm still not onto the second bottle.

-When I wash dishes, I try not to use more water than necessary. I make sure there is a full load in the dishwasher before it runs. We use teflon pans, and they are a breeze to clean. laundry is done with full loads, and we switched to generic detergent.

-We buy most of the produce at farms in our area. We buy our eggs there, being that they are a dollar a dozen or less. Compair that to three dollars a dozen in the store! We also buy our meat in bulk. We got around 90lb of beef in the winter and it only cost $149. Portion the food out, and only buy what you need so nothing gets wasted.

05-14-2009, 03:05 PM
Let's see... For years we only have very basic cable..we do spend more on Internet but we actually use that.
We periodically check the garbage service and get the cheapest service, recycle everything we can.
We still have a ground phone line but don't pay for caller ID or any other extras--never have.
My husband does the shopping and is way better at knowing what's a good price than me and when things are likely to go on sale. We shop at Winco and get lots of basics at Bi-mart.
We buy rice by special order in 20 pound bags. Also beans. They are discounted by the co-op when we do this. Storage is an issue!
Soon the subscription garden will be starting. It's about 350 dollars paid in advance but every week from May to October a variety of fresh organic veggies and in terms of quantity way more than we could buy for the same price at the store. We then eat lots of dinners consisting of beans, rice, and veggies...very inexpensive and healthy.
We don't eat out more than once a month...and then we like it to be under 30 dollars for all 4 of us.
We recently had to cut our "fun" spending and sadly charitable donations because my husband was laid off.
Using the library more. We get only one movie at a time from Netflix...costs less.
Also my husband uses a budgeting program where all spending is charted, and we are spending money earned the previous month, not money earned during the current month. Ideally fun stuff like eating out is pre-budgeted in the program so few surprises.

05-15-2009, 11:10 AM
I am interested in your budgetting program. Can you tell us more about it? Is it software?

05-18-2009, 01:40 PM
We catch our water in the shower and use it to water our plants, green & economical. We also purchase concentrated house cleaners from Work at Home United (http://www.workathomeunited.com/audrak).

05-18-2009, 02:31 PM
Here is the web site for the program: http://www.youneedabudget.com/?AFFID=13464&gclid=CJ6tvqq_xpoCFRxNagodaGporw

My husband uses it not me. I believe it will interface with the bank and so forth if you want, but he is very nervous about financial/internet security so he doesn't do that. In fact he uses a completely separate computer that isn't on our net work for all our data on this...but those kinds of decisions are up to you.

05-18-2009, 02:58 PM
We keep the heat set on 65 in the winter, we dress warmer

We don't have central air but we do have ACs for the windows...last year though I started pulling the blinds when the sun would hit and it would keep it cool enough in here.

We switched out all our light bulbs to the energy ones

Dh brown bags it for lunch cut back on his eating out

Isaiah doesn't buy as many lunches at school either, he has favorites though that I still let him get

I shop for 2wks been doing this since we married and it actually works...I don't have to keep running back out for things and seeing other stuff I want.

I grocery shop without my husband and son...my daughter doesn't add to the buggy yet...

I use cloth shopper bags gets some change taken off my grocery bill

I don't go into Wal-mart/Target as much, cause I was too tempted buy other stuff...I save money by just shopping at the grocery store.

I started buying huge generic bags of cat food and they wouldn't eat it...so I then got a smaller bag of what they like and mix it into the generic...they eat it now still saves me money

I buy stuff on sale...always looking for the best priced items

I browse ads to figure out what store has the best deals that week

I freeze left overs...

If I make a roast the next day we will have BBQs...

I stock up on meat when it's on sale...

I buy the kids clothes on sale, never full price just 'cause I think it's awful how much they charge for kids clothes :teehee:

Being a SAHM I don't need new clothes...I do buy for my husband as he wears dress clothes...

Used to be I just bought yarn cause I liked it...lately I've noticed that I buy yarn only when I want to start a certain project.

We haven't cut any of our internet/tv pkgs...we have talked about the tv though.

My dad also has a huge garden so we get a lot of fresh veggies from him...I still had some of his greenbeans last summer for our Christmas meal :teehee:

05-18-2009, 04:21 PM
I was cleaning the rabbits today and forgot to mention that I use junk mail from our crisscross shredder as bedding in their litter boxes then when I clean them it's thrown into the compost pile. I also just made 2 rain barrels out of old barrels I picked up at a junk yard.

05-19-2009, 08:43 AM
I love saving money!

Grocery shopping:
- I check the flyers each week for our two local grocery stores, and plan meals for the week around what's on sale that week, especially meat.
- We buy chicken breasts frozen, in boxes of about 30 breasts. They taste just as good when they're cooked, and cost easily 1/2 of fresh.
- We buy fresh veggies and fruit only when they're in season/on sale. Otherwise we buy bags of frozen. Just as healthy, and when cooked in our veggie steamer, are just as tasty as fresh.
- We buy mostly generic brands, except for very few items (ie. Miracle Whip and Charmin Ultra toilet paper LOL)
- Don't grocery shop when hungry, and don't grocery shop without a list. You'll seriously buy more than you need if you do!

Household stuff:
- We cloth diaper. The initial investment was higher, but we've saved soooo much on diapers over the last 7 years (and counting, since our oldest was born).
- I clean almost everything with a spray bottle filled with vinegar and water. I also use baking soda for scrubbing purposes.

- I make my own laundry detergent:
1 cup Borax powder (found in the laundry aisle)
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT baking soda. Also found in the laundry aisle)
1 cup OxyClean powder
1/2 bar of Sunlight Laundry Soap (or Fels Naptha, but I like the citrusy scent of the Sunlight), finely grated.
Mix it all together. Use about 3/4 TBSP per load, or a full TBSP for really dirty clothes. It literally costs me less than 2 cents per load, and gets my clothes really clean. I also use vinegar in a Downey Ball in my wash instead of fabric softener. And instead of Bounce sheets in the dryer, I use knitted/felted dryer balls which work just as well and are reusable (and I got to knit them!).

- I use the outside clothesline to dry instead of the dryer whenever the weather allows.
- Only run the dishwasher when I have a full load.
- We cut our phone/cell/satellite/internet subscriptions down to the basics after evaluating exactly what we watch/use.

Misc stuff:
- We save up our Airmiles rewards for a year, then cash them in for a movie package (2 tickets, popcorn & 2 drinks) for a date night, and any extra for gift certs for our local grocery store.
- We trade off babysitting with family members.

05-19-2009, 10:25 AM
With the line break on the title of this thread I keep thinking you want to know about ways to WASTE money. I could help with that.

But on the saving money side ...
I don't have cable

I have the cheapest pay-as-you-go cell phone plan

I have pay-as-you-go long distance (which saves me from paying those months I don't make long distance calls)

I drive my car until it dies (though that's partly because I can never make up my mind what car I want next)

I don't eat meat

I buy patterns instead of materials for craft projects. My "first hobby" is cross-stitch, and I'll buy materials 1 project at a time, finish that project and buy materials for the next. I have a stash of patterns, but no costly fabric and threads that I might never use. (Note: I need to apply this philosophy to my yarn stash, too.)

I subscribe to very few magazines.

I'm moving and I'm packing everything myself. (My dad's secret: wrap every piece of glassware in cardboard, so it's a box within a box.) I got boxes from WalMart and work.

I save money on books by using Paperbackswap.com - I find this works better for me than the public library, and I'm spending much less on "junk books" than I used to.

I'm a believer in DIY projects and I'll do as many home improvement projects as I can myself - basic electrical work, basic plumbing, etc. There does reach a point when it's cheaper to hire someone, though.

Wasting money, on the other hand... :)

05-19-2009, 10:59 AM
- I make my own laundry detergent:
1 cup Borax powder (found in the laundry aisle)
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT baking soda. Also found in the laundry aisle)
1 cup OxyClean powder
1/2 bar of Sunlight Laundry Soap (or Fels Naptha, but I like the citrusy scent of the Sunlight), finely grated.
Mix it all together. Use about 3/4 TBSP per load, or a full TBSP for really dirty clothes. It literally costs me less than 2 cents per load, and gets my clothes really clean. I also use vinegar in a Downey Ball in my wash instead of fabric softener. And instead of Bounce sheets in the dryer, I use knitted/felted dryer balls which work just as well and are reusable (and I got to knit them!).

I was looking into making my own laundry soap, I thought I'd be fun! Also, where did you get the pattern for the dryer balls? How do they work???

I'd line dry our laundry, but the dryer gets a lot of the dog hair out and with 3+ dogs there is a lot of it! I can't wait til they invent a car that runs on dog hair :)

05-19-2009, 11:09 AM

I was talking yesterday with the lady I "work" for about how I didn't used to be so cheap. I think it started with my husband when we got married. It was a hard adjustment but I'm getting there (7 years so far). First thing he did was have me ("us") sell my ("our") brand new car for a used one. But if it wasn't for the way he handles money we would have never gotten thru when he got laid off 4 years ago.

05-20-2009, 03:40 AM
*Paperback Swap rocks. No way around it, great site.
*If there is a movie we're dyeing to see, we buy the tickets at Costco, save $,and a bit of chocolate goes into my purse, no concession stand inflated price stuff.
*Dilute your shampoo by half, use same amount. My family can't tell the difference. I do buy good conditioner.
*We buy in bulk, then split stuff with my son's family.
*I still cook for four, then Dh and I eat the leftovers the next night. Can't cook for two after all these years, unless it's steak or something like that.
*Fill dishwasher FULL, let air dry. If there are a few spots, who cares?
*Dog is 14, she gets the best food available. :heart:
*Swap DVD's with friends and family. Same with magazines and books.
*We planted a large garden, I'll fill the freezer with my son's help. We swap my baking with what a friend bags in the Fall. That is a real help for both families.
*I've been wearing the same clothes for four or five years running now. I simply don't care, as long as I'm clean and not wrinkled! The clothes that is.

05-20-2009, 12:18 PM
I do quite a bit of "batch" cooking. I buy mass quantities of certain things (like when chicken thighs are on sale for $.69lb or something) and cook the whole batch. Some items are always a good buy, like beans, potatoes, cabbage, or eggs. Lots of nutrition for a good price. Refrige/freeze in whatever portions are sensible for the way your family works.

The way our family works is, we have 4 adults on totally different schedules and no one eats together. So we have mass quantities stacked up in the 'fridge. When they come home and are hungry, they go make themselves a plate.

Ideas for batch preparations:
Side Dishes
Bean salad
Tabbouleh salad
Fruit salad
Rice salad/pasta salad/potato salad/coleslaw/you-see-where-I'm-going-with-this-idea salad
chicken thighs/breasts
salmon fillets (on sale)
hard boiled eggs
hummus (garbanzo bean dip)
Chicken/Egg/Tuna/Salmon salad
Baby carrots/carrot sticks
celery sticks
red bell pepper strips
chopped tomatoes
diced onions
trimmed broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
(the person can then cook or not cook the veggies, as desired)
Green Salad
a large container of washed and spun salad greens - no dressing
a quart sized canning jar of homemade salad dressing

A creative person can cut up a chicken breast, throw it on top of the salad greens, add a few veggies and spoon on a dressing.
Or saute onions & peppers, strip the chicken breast and roll up in a tortilla,
Or make a super-quick chicken salad/egg salad sandwich.

Check your containers to make sure they fit in your fridge and in your dishwasher. Large, shallow (about 3-4" deep), rectangular containers with resealable lids seem to work the best. Train the 'fam' to burp the containers after they scoop out their portion. Spend an afternoon making whatever a week's supply would be in your household.

05-20-2009, 02:16 PM
*Dog is 14, she gets the best food available. :heart:

Awww, I totally understand! I still buy mine and the fosters good food but luckily there's a mill that sells the broken open bags at a huge discount. It's just hit or miss so you have to stop in often, and sometimes mix foods.

MoniDew, you're welcome to cook for me and ship it! I don't have the patients to cook lately, and I went to culinary school!!! :teehee:

05-21-2009, 10:19 PM
Brings back memories of my early days of marriage in the 70's and 80's when we struggled to survive. We really don't plan to cut back as we did that for the last 30+ years and have just started adding fat to the budget in the last few years. We now have cable and internet. I use a prepaid long distance card for home phone, it's about 7 cents a minute cheaper. I buy most of my clothes from Good Will or Value Village. I get my underwear from Costco. I grow a garden and have fruit trees. I bake my own bread and pizza and rarely eat out.
We've gotten most of our furniture and a lot of odds and ends at yard sales and 2nd hand stores. My husband can fix most anything and I'm pretty good at mending clothes right down to darning socks. We have not had any debt aside from mortgage in 35 years, if we can't pay cash we can't afford it. After 30 years of marriage we saved enough money to pay cash for our 1st new car, it's now 10 years old and has about 145,000 miles on it and still running strong.
You can only cut so far and then you have to find a way to increase income. That we do as well and have done many things over the years. Just don't ask me to disassemble engines and trannys for scrap metal again. I'm currently gardening for a neighbor for pin money. A number of my friends have done housecleaning to make extra money. I haven't done that for a while and doubt I'd be willing to do it again.