There's more than one way to cut expenses

My Story: The R's of Reducing Expenses

contributed by Kathy H.

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  • Even though our two sons had long flown the coop, I still cooked as if there were four adults at home. By utilizing portion control, I was able to reduce our grocery bill along with our waistlines.
  • Experiment with using less detergent as suggested on the package. Our dishes and clothing are just as clean.
  • I found that if I washed my hair every other day, the color lasted longer.
  • Ditch the paper napkins and paper towels. A family of four can save up to $44/year using cloth versus paper napkins. Use sponges, microfiber towels, or kitchen towels instead of paper towels.


  • I steam most of our vegetables. The leftover water in the steamer, packed with nutrients, is used to water indoor and outdoor plants.
  • Plastic grocery bags are used for packaging gifts for mailing.
  • Two liter soda bottles are great toys for dogs; just remove the label, top, and plastic ring.
  • The last few drops of shampoo, conditioner, face wash, or toner are poured into travel sized bottles.


  • Old blankets and sheets are used for dog bedding. Bath towels, wash cloths, socks, and t-shirts are used for house cleaning rags.
  • Broken jewelry can be made into other pieces of jewelry or art. Or if gold or sterling silver, they can be sold for cash.
  • Consign clothing that is no longer worn.


  • Crystal ashtrays became coasters. Crystal bowls are filled with potpourri or seasonal decorations. A pair of brown slacks was altered for walking shorts.


  • This is especially important with high-ticket items that may only be used a couple of times. What do I have that I could substitute? Can I borrow this item from someone? Is this a need or a want? Do have I to buy "new" or can I find it used?
  • Recently I needed a black evening jacket, rather than buy one, I borrowed one from a friend. Another friend needed a power washer and borrowed ours.


  • Be smart and sensitive about regifting. However, if it is new and it is something you can't or won't use, give it to someone who will. Or donate it to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or another charity.


  • Gather up those items from the back of the closet and under the bed and return them. Each store has a different policy on returns. However, it is better to have a store credit/gift card to use for something you need than to have things you don't need taking up space in your home.
  • Can't return or don't want to regift? Sell on Craigslist, Amazon, eBay, consignment, or at a yard sale. Over the past few months, I've netted almost $850 from Amazon sales.

"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 to

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