I hate to throw away anything I haven't used whether I've gotten it free or paid for it. I'm a lark, so most mornings before getting the family up for the day, I find five quiet minutes to use something up. You could do this anytime during the day when it works for you, but this is when it works best for this working mom!
Some mornings I use a cup of hot water and swish it around a nearly empty bottle of hair conditioner and pour it into an empty spray bottle to use as de-tangling spray for my little curly-top daughter.
Other days, I dilute that last tablespoon of baby shampoo to make a quick floor cleaning solution to moisten a cloth and "swiff" the kitchen between regular cleanings. The free sample of liquid laundry softener dilutes to become a bottle of fabric freshener.
I have other frugal five-minute activities. A few drops of food coloring in a shaker of sugar will make colored sprinkles for cookies. A tablespoon of cinnamon in another shaker of sugar becomes the "sprinkles" for on top of my daughter's morning oatmeal. (I'm so fortunate that she's two years old and adding her own cinnamon-sugar to her oatmeal makes her whole morning!) Making a batch of baby wipes only takes a couple minutes as well. Just make sure that you won't need them before the paper towels get saturated and the hot water cools down! During the winter months, I might be mixing up a batch of homemade hot cocoa mix in the blender.
If I have ten to fifteen minutes, I can throw together a batch of homemade pancake syrup, homemade laundry soap, pretreater, window cleaner or all-purpose cleaner.
I also pop some rolled oats with milk and brown sugar in the microwave while I'm doing this, and when I'm done, my breakfast is done as well. This is so much healthier and less expensive than the store-bought oatmeal packets.
By picking one five-minute job a morning, I feel like I've already accomplished something to keep my home running smoothly before the day even begins and I haven't taken precious time that should have been spent with the ones I love the most.
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by mailto:MyStory@stretcher.com
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