Crazy Money-Saving Ideas
The Joys of Dryer Lint?
Creative and Crazy Ways to Save Money
I would like to hear what is the craziest, most unusual thing your readers do to save money. In my house, my husband can't believe that I save the Popsicle sticks after he eats a Popsicle. I wash them and use them to spread glue, use in crafts, etc. I also save dryer lint, old candles, and cardboard egg cartons to make fire starters for Christmas gifts. I'm sure there are wackier ideas out there. Actually, I'm just trying to prove to my husband that I'm not nuts!
Don't Throw the Wrapper
After removing the butter from the wrapper, I put the wrapper in the freezer in a resealable plastic bag. When I need to grease a pan, I use a butter wrapper from the freezer. I save all individual yogurt containers and use them for Popsicle forms. Slit the lid a put a Popsicle stick through.
My dad was a math nut and loved to save money. Dad used to tell us all to use the restroom before we left school, the mall, etc. because the first thing kids do is run to the bathroom when they get home. We only had one bathroom for four kids and two adults. He used the five-day rule. If we saved four flushes (4 children) per day after school or 20 flushes a week, we would save 80 flushes a month. I don't remember how much we would have saved, but to this day, I use the restroom before I leave work.
Daughter of a Math Whiz
A Little Here and A Little There
Our story isn't "crazy," as such, because so many people do the same thing. We save change. When cash is spent for any reason, we consciously pocket the change received, and store it away in a jar, coffee can, etc. We are currently saving for a Disney vacation using this method. We are going to Disney in January of 2008, and that will have involved three years of consciously saving pocket change.
Several years ago, we saved change for one year, not even as consciously as we are currently, and ended up with $497. Our last beach vacation was paid for with pocket change. It is always very interesting carrying that much change into a bank. Also, we roll the change ourselves. We don't trust the change counters that you see around these days.
Top Ten List
- I use car windshield sun blockers in my apartment windows to save on A/C costs. With light comes heat.
- Fluorescent lightbulbs are used everywhere except the refrigerator and bathroom. Mine are going on Year 9 of faithful service.
- Buying organic goods by the case (except perishables) lowers the per-item cost.
- I cook for my cats using a custom vet-designed diet. This has saved me many animal care dollars. Now all I pay for is shots, dental cleanings, and twice-annual blood and urine tests to make sure everything's okay inside (cat preventative maintenance).
- I drink tea in all its forms. At 17 cents per gallon (with warehouse-bought tea bags), it's hard to beat as a water alternative.
- Becoming friendly with my mechanic has saved me untold gas, oil, and breakdown headaches with preventative maintenance and "maximum MPG tuning."
- I have become "fluent" in the use of dental floss, toothpaste, and a "teeth-healthy" diet free of excess or added sugars, especially grains. It saved many dollars at the dentist.
- Cut through the "bull" about what we really need to eat, and how to store/prepare it with a minimum of fuss and bother. This saves me time, money, space, and energy (both personal and refrigerator/freezer). Salads are my best food friend.
- Embrace elastic. By this, I mean that my husband and I get away with sharing most of a wardrobe. Elastic is our friend, and knit shorts, t-shirts, sweat clothes, etc. are bought by the dozen and worn by both of us. This saves untold money on clothing and laundry.
- This last idea is not so crazy, but deserves mentioning. Learn to accept the word "no." Everybody can't have everything, in spite of good income and a stellar credit record. Extending yourself can come with dire consequences.
This Old Housewife
Maybe It's Hereditary
I was raised by a frugal mother, but I also got great ideas from The Tightwad Gazette, which operated on the premise that a lot of little things add up to great savings. Therefore, my crazy (and some not-so-crazy-just-common-sense) saving ideas are:
- I wash out and save baggies and bread bags, but not ones that held raw meat. My daughter's school lunch box has a note inside the lid that says, "Save the baggies!"
- Clean three-pound margarine tubs get used for leftovers in the fridge or freezer.
- Stained, unwearable clothes get cut into rags.
- I continue to use heavy-duty resealable baggies even after the closure breaks. I use a twist-tie.
- I wash and reuse unmarred foam paper plates, heavy plastic drinking cups, and plastic eating utensils.
- I save all egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, and vegetable and fruit scraps for our compost bin to be turned into rich organic soil for the garden.
- I use non-fat dry milk as the milk in baking and cooking.
- I cut up recycled paper from my husband's workplace for note-sized paper. My kids color and draw on the blank sides.
- I wipe down and reuse plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
- I get out my sewing kit, and with a simple needle and thread, mend a lot of ripped seams, detached buttons, and even ripped-out knees if I can.
I perform these crazy stunts (and more) so we can live on one income and I can stay at home with my two small kids until they're both in school.
The Beauty of Frugality
Rather than use a brush to get out the last of my lipstick, I save them until they reach critical mass. Then I dig out what little remains into a small glass jar and melt it in the microwave. Sometimes I might add entire new lipsticks in odd colors. I bought several purple and white lipsticks at a going out of business sale for 10 cents each. I don't wear purple or white, but by mixing them with my old reds, I got a nice burgundy shade. If you don't like the shade you come up with, you can melt it back down and add something else. Once I get a nice shade, I pour it back into the best lipstick cases and it looks like new. You can also add lip-gloss to make it softer if you like. This process is a bit messy, but you get to be creative and never have to hassle with a lip stick brush.
The Many Uses of Cereal Box Liners
I save and recycle so many items normally tossed (nylons, popsicle sticks, boxes, buttons, cards, plastic containers, plastic grocery bags, etc.). Here are some things I do with plastic cereal liners that come inside cereal boxes:
- Microwave hot dogs and sandwiches inside bag.
- Open the cereal liner and use to cover a dish to prevent splatters while microwaving.
- Use an open cereal liner to place homemade chocolate-covered candies and pretzels on to harden and cool. After the candy cools, just toss the liner for easy cleanup.
- Place no-bake cookies on an open liner to cool.
- Fill an unopened bag with crackers or nuts and crush with a rolling pin.
- Fill an unopened bag with seasoned bread or cracker crumbs. Use this to shake and bake meats such as fish or chicken or even vegetables.
- Fill an unopened bag with quartered potatoes. Drizzle olive oil and dump in a packet of onion soup mix or other seasonings. Shake to coat. Place in a slow cooker or in the oven to bake.
- Place sandwiches or other foods in the bag for your lunch instead of using sandwich bags.
- Open and use the bag when rolling out pie dough to prevent it from sticking to the counter top. Moisten the counter top before placing the liner on it to keep it from slipping. Sprinkle flour on the cereal bag and then put your dough on the liner.
- Use an opened bag for rolling out cookie dough to keep your counter top from getting messy.
- Use to separate hamburgers, cheese, or other meats when freezing.
- Use when pushing down Rice Krispies treats in a pan to keep the marshmallow mixture from sticking to your hands.
- If you are planning to take the cooled Rice Krispies treats to a picnic or party, use the cereal liner to keep the treats from sticking to each other and to make for easy removal of the treats. Cut the liner just slightly smaller than the container you're using. Place cut liners in the container between each layer of treats. No more clumps of stuck-together treats!
Debt from my past is preventing me from saving for my future! Tell us: Yes, debt is hindering my ability to save! or No, debt is not a problem but I am trying to get ahead financially!
Take the Next Step
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If you enjoyed this article you might also want to check out:
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- Saving Money is Fun
- Spending Time vs. Saving Money
- Saving Money and the Earth
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