25 Little Things We Do to Save Money

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It’s snowing (again) and Bee and I are sick with some awful respiratory thing (again). Last night, while I was trailing around Wal-Mart getting groceries, I kept feeling progressively sicker. By the time I got home, I was so achy and weak that I had to call my husband to help me bring the groceries in. To make matters worse, I somehow chipped my bottom tooth a couple of days ago (I was eating an egg salad sandwich–I mean, does it get much softer than that? It’s not like it was a jawbreaker!) I have to go to the dentist this morning because it’s driving me nuts! It’s just a tiny chip, but, well… I’m very aware of it.

Anyway, last night while I was shopping, I was thinking about all of the little things I do to save money. Many people have the attitude that little things don’t make a significant impact on your overall financial picture, and therefore aren’t worth doing. I say they’re wrong.

I believe that all the little things we do add up to make a very big difference. Here are 25 little (to us) things that we do to save money:

1) When I buy a box of dryer sheets, I cut them in half with my kitchen shears. Half a sheet works just as well as a whole sheet.
2) I wash out and reuse plastic bags. I turn them inside out and wash them with my white clothes, using hot water and a little bleach (note – I only do this with BPA-free plastic bags, because heat deteriorates plastic).
3) I make my own baby wipes.
4) I use cloth diapers.
5) I grow vegetables.
6) I bake and decorate my kids’ birthday cakes, and we usually have their parties in our basement.
7) I cook almost everything from scratch.
8. We keep the thermostat set at 69 degrees instead of 70 degrees or higher. That one little degree makes a big difference.
9) I hang laundry to dry outdoors on the clothesline. In the winter, I hang it on a clothesline that my husband rigged up in the laundry room by stapling heavy duty twine to the rafters.
10) We use only compact fluorescent light bulbs. They cost more up front, but we saved almost $30 on our electric bill in the first month we had them!
11) We shop at garage sales, and buy almost everything used.
12) My husband and I don’t usually exchange gifts on holidays (except birthdays). We buy (or make) each other cards, and maybe a small item, but in general, we don’t see the point. We already have everything we want.
13) We print on both sides of paper.
14) We get haircuts at our local cosmetology college. They do very careful work because they’re being graded. I had a coupon, so my last haircut (with shampoo, conditioning treatment, scalp massage and blow dry) and eyebrow wax cost only $13.50.
15) I make pizzas instead of ordering them. I can make a homemade pizza with pepperoni, green olives, and mozzarella cheese for about $3.00. It tastes better too.
16) I rarely wear make-up. I usually just wear moisturizer with sunscreen, and lip balm. My husband thinks I’m beautiful just as I am, and he’s the only one whose opinion I care about!
17) We do our own landscaping–it’s really not that hard.
18) I make homemade play dough, silly putty, soap crayons, and other amusements for my children.
19) I use my slow cooker. A lot. It uses far less energy than the oven, is convenient, and the slow cooking makes less expensive cuts of meat tender, juicy and delicious!
20) We compost all of our food waste, except for animal products. We even compost our dryer lint! I keep a plastic ice cream bucket with a lid in my kitchen sink, and pitch all vegetable peelings, bread crusts and other scraps into it throughout the day. At the end of the day, we take it out and dump it in our homemade compost bin. It breaks down into rich fertilizer, which we till into our vegetable garden in the spring and fall. As my husband is fond of saying, most people throw out their garbage. We recycle ours.
21) I cut open toothpaste tubes to get the last little bit out. There is usually enough in there for a couple more brushes.
22) I use foaming hand soap. I bought some at Bath & Body Works when they had their 3 for $5 sale. When it was gone, I saved the bottles, and bought a gallon of liquid soap (Milk & Honey-smells good enough to eat) at Wal-Mart. Now I just keep refilling the bottles with one third soap, and two thirds water. The soap lasts 3 times as long!
23) I do our taxes. It’s drudgery, and I hate it, but it saves $225.
24) I love to read, and I’m a serious library user, but I rarely buy books. If I do, I buy them used, and check Book Finder to make sure I’m getting the best deal possible.
25) We don’t follow trends and we don’t keep up with the Joneses. As of this writing our TV is 15 years old, we don’t have IPods, and we’ll probably drive our cars until they fall apart. We’re fine with that.

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Heather is a minimalist in love with a recovering packrat. 7 years ago, she and her husband sold pretty much anything that wasn't nailed down in order to pay off their mortgage, and they've been living happily debt-free ever since. They have 3 hilarious little kids who were conceived with the help of in vitro fertilization, and they haven't had a good night's sleep in the last decade. Heather is an anglophile who loves all things British, and spends her free time looking at real estate listings in Cornwall. Every day, she and her family work toward a simpler, more meaningful life. Some days are awesome, some are disastrous, and you can read about all of them here.

Have a question? Need a listening ear? Contact Heather, or visit Want What You Have on Facebook.

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14 comments… add one

  1. Heather March 6, 2008, 2:09 am

    What a need idea for foaming soap! I’ll have to try it out the next time I see a good sale.

    Reply
  2. Mommy of Three March 8, 2008, 2:33 am

    I chipped my tooth last week eating chili! And it really does feel very annoying!!! I hope you and your girls are feeling better.

    Reply
  3. Mgarneau December 6, 2011, 3:12 pm

    Been doing this since college — great to see others are too.

    Reply
  4. Stephani September 3, 2012, 6:56 am

    Your tv in the tour photos doesn’t look 15 years old.. just saying. love the Daily Schedule though

    Reply
    1. heatherlynnie September 3, 2012, 2:12 pm

      That’s because this post was written in 2008, and we purchased a new TV in 2010 after our old one broke. However, in true frugal fashion, we still use it in our basement to play VHS tapes for the kids, because it does work in that capacity. Now explain to me….why on earth would someone even take the time to make such a nitpicky comment on a stranger’s blog? I really would like to understand what your motivation was here. To discredit me?

      Reply
  5. Bill October 7, 2012, 5:09 am

    I think you could have stated your answer about the TV and left out the attack on someone’s nitpicky comment.

    Reply
    1. heatherlynnie October 7, 2012, 2:16 pm

      Why should I do that, Bill? This is MY blog, and I’m entitled to write what I wish, am I not? I pay for and maintain this platform after all, and that’s the whole point. Clearly the commenter felt free to say what SHE wanted, and YOU feel free to share your opinion about my “attack” on her nitpicky comment, so why should I not have the same privilege on my own blog?

      Reply
  6. Lauren November 26, 2012, 11:27 pm

    Woah, Everyone Calm Down!

    Reply
  7. Tricia January 2, 2013, 3:39 am

    I love the tip on the dryer sheets. Can’t believe I haven’t thought of that one. I started making homemade liquid laundry soup a few months back which is a huge savings over a years time. I will now add this tip to that to save even more. Thank you :)

    Reply
  8. Brittany January 14, 2013, 1:38 am

    That was really a great list! Thanks for that. are u on facebook?

    Reply
  9. Tonie February 24, 2013, 1:39 pm

    Did I understand correctly? Plastic bags in washing machine? I used to wash mine at the sink but have gotten lazy and haven’t done it in a long time, but when it is just kiddie snacks really we should probably reuse them.
    I do the dryer sheets thing too! It Is true. Half is fine and one time I had some that smelled really strong and I used 1/3. Normal ones I use1/2 though.

    Reply
  10. Thea March 22, 2013, 10:01 pm

    These tips are fantastic. I especially like the fact that you cook everything from scratch, not only is it healthier for you, but the savings are enormous.
    We saved so much money when we stopped eating out 2 times a week that we were able to take a nice 7 day vacation with them money. This really opened our eyes to what’s possible with a little determination and common sense!
    Thanks again!

    Reply
  11. Cherry Ann Ainsworth March 29, 2013, 4:45 pm

    I must say some of the things you do I am so clueless about but very anxious to try them out. I’m about to stay home in a few weeks and I’m so afraid. I’m not a big spender but I’m afraid with the grocery prices going up it’s hard to shop at the store without going crazy. I’m trying to buy more natural stuff but those are also expensive. Any ideas? Thanks for sharing. I believe that too many of us are trying to keep up with the Joneses and boy does that run us in trouble. Thanks again.

    Reply
  12. Happy Mommy May 31, 2013, 4:06 am

    Love the soap idea! I plan on trying it soon! Thanks… :)

    Reply

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