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Posts tagged with: money saving tips

Money Saving Tips

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a money-saving tip, but they’re still a big part of my life! When I first started blogging, I posted little things we did to save money all the time. Here are some examples (and for the record, I still do ALL of these things….with the exception of the homemade baby wipes since the kids have now outgrown diapers!!!):

Today I’ve got a different kind of tip. Instead of a DIY product or finding a way to make something myself, I’m sharing a way we stretch every last drop of a store-bought product.

You know when you get to the very end of your lotion and there’s simply no more that will come through the spout? That doesn’t actually mean the lotion is gone! No, no, no! On the contrary, there’s still a TON of lotion leftover inside the bottle! It’s just stuck to the side walls of the lotion container so it’s not being sucked up through the spout. But you can stretch your lotion another good week or so by cutting the bottle right in half and accessing the lotion that way!

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Look at all that lotion goop still stuck to the inside of the bottle! Pro tip: once you cut your bottle in half, the remaining lotion will dry out quickly! Extend the life of your lotion by putting a simple plastic baggie (or saran wrap) over the top to keep it fresh. Seriously – another week worth of lotion in there!

I know some of these tips seem a bit silly or extreme, and they definitely are! But all the little things really do add up! Even as we’ve started loosening our purse strings a bit this year (monthly date nights and plans to buy a house!!!), we’re still mindful to be frugal in other areas.

How do you like to save money around the house? Do you have any DIY or make-it-yourself money-saving tips to share?


More Money Saving Tricks

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I’ve got 3 quick tricks to share with you today. See more in the series here:  Part 1, 2, & 3

Saving Trick 1:  Never throw food away!!!!

Seems intuitive, right? But if you are honest with yourself, think about how easy it is to let food go to waste.

Example 1:  You buy a bunch of veggies, forget about them while they’re in the crisper, and only use half before the other half goes bad and gets tossed.

Example 2:  You buy a pizza, which comes with packets of parmesan cheese and red pepper. You only use half the packets and throw the other half away.

There are so many ways that we let food go to waste. Because so much of our budget is allocated toward food products (in the form of groceries and eating out),  when I started blogging here I really wanted to make a conscious effort to cut down on any and all forms of food waste!

In the case of Example 1 (above), if I discover that we have fruits or veggies nearing the end of their shelf life, I make a conscious effort to use them! They’re easy to toss into smoothies (I like to make fruit & veggie smoothies, so I might toss in a browning banana and/or some wilting spinach or lettuce….lots of options, so think outside the box!). I also try to incorporate them into meals. If we simply can’t find a way to eat them before they are going to go bad then I will wash and pre-chop them and throw them in the freezer!

In the case of Example 2, I have started saving any/all condiments that come with food from restaurants (side note:  obviously we’re trying to reduce our eating out, but we do have a budget for it, so if it fits in your budget then why not stretch it for all its worth?). For pizza, I have saved the packets of parmesan and red pepper flakes. I find its easy to end up having them thrown away, so I’ll open them (1 by 1) and dump them into our container of parmesan or container of red pepper flakes (which we already have anyway). I have done the same thing with salsas from a local Mexcian food restaurant. They have a red salsa and a green salsa. The red salsa gets dumped right into our regular salsa container:

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And I will dump the green salsas into a leftover baby food jar (the girls no longer eat baby food, but I always saved their old jars for uses just like this!)

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Then I can use them for homemade Mexican food feasts!

I recently did the same exact thing with some small containers of hot mustard and chili oil that came with some Chinese we had bought. The hot mustard was emptied into our spicy brown mustard bottle and I actually have a container of home-made hot chili oil (its just regular EVOO and red pepper flakes) that I made in an old oil bottle (which I repurposed after the oil was gone). So, I dumped the Chinese’s hot chili oil into our container at home.

I realize that a lot of this has to do with eating-out stuff and (again), we’re trying to minimize our amount of eating out. But if you’re going to eat out and you get condiments like this – you might as well put them to use instead of throwing away!!!

(also, side-note…..I didn’t save the little portion containers you see in the pictures, but it occurs to me that I could have and re-used them for things like salad dressing for days I plan to eat “at the office”…..I work from home currently, but this is something I totally would’ve done in the past!)

Saving Trick #2:  Buying Bulk

This is super common and I’m sure everyone knows about it already. But we have saved so much money lately on hand soap just by buying a big bulk bottle of it and refilling smaller bottles instead of buying new ones every time we run out.

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Saving Trick #3:  Make Water Fun!

Hope had posted awhile back about how she has given up her soda addiction in an effort to save money (Go, Hope!) We aren’t big soda drinkers but every once in awhile it slips into our grocery cart. More regularly, though, money has been spent on fruit juices (which is even more expensive than soda, particularly since I always buy the “all natural” kind). You know what’s way cheaper than fruit juice???? Water….with fruit in it!!!

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I’ve gotten into the habit of filling up this pitcher daily with water and adding some fruit to it to lightly flavor the water. Some days its a squeeze of a lemon or lime (both currently “in season” and cheap). I’ve also done it with slices of strawberry, slices of orange (shown here), and even slices of watermelon. You can also mix and match flavors! One of my favorites is strawberry-cucumber.

If you stick to “in season” fruits/veggies/herbs (I’ve heard lemon-rosemary water is good), or if you grow your own then its so, so, so inexpensive! And its much more “fun” and enticing than “plain” water. Plus, this has encouraged me to drink more water, in general, which is a good healthy habit to have. You can see the girls’ sippy cups in the back. They’ve gotten into the fruit-flavored water “craze” too! : )

How have you been saving money lately? 

 


Frugal Traits

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I’ve been a little on the frugal side for as long as I can remember.

When I was a young child, I remember always trying to conserve each precious page in my school notebooks and writing spirals. At the end of the school year if pages were leftover I refused to let them be wasted. Instead, I would use them for writing letters to friends, or writing poetry (one of my hobbies as a child). As an adult I have a little notebook I still use and now I consciously try to use every inch of every page. If a grocery list only covers half a page, I’ll tear off the bottom half and use it for something else (same thing for front/back). It’s always been a trait of mine.

But there are a couple other frugal traits that I didn’t pick up until I started blogging here, just over a month ago.

  1. I now wash and re-use ziplock bags. This doesn’t work as well with the generic bags (they break down faster due to inferior quality). But I had a stash of name-brand ziplocks already on-hand from before starting blogging. I used to use them all the time for all kinds of things and I would toss them when I was done. Now I make a conscious effort to use them sparingly (e.g., for leftover slices of pizza, I fit into a tupperware instead of throwing in a ziplock bag). When I do use them, I try to reuse them multiple times. I still feel weird about reusing bags that had meat in them (e.g., I buy a “family pack” of chicken breasts and appropriate out in sets of two into ziplock bags to freeze individually), but if its anything non-meat I will wash it out and re-use. I’ve found this handy for cheese (I buy blocks of cheese and shred it myself, then store in ziplocks that I wash and reuse), fruits and veggies (if I only use half a lemon, half an avocado, etc.), and more!
  2. In a similar vein, I’ve been saving the liners from cereal boxes. When a cereal is gone, instead of throwing away the plastic bag it was in, I wash it out and save it. I’ve found these to be perfect for storing my homemade bread (which is often too long to fit in a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Plus, its thicker than a regular ziplock and seems to hold up well to freezing.
  3. I have also started saving my baby’s bathwater to use for watering plants. I literally keep a big Home Depot bucket in my hall closet. After they have baths I will fill the bucket up and take it outside to water the big plants in our yard. I can usually get 2-2.5 buckets from one bath. I did a quick google search to make sure using leftover bath water wouldn’t hurt our plants (because there’s some soap in it), and it looks like its fine for our plants (but check for yourself, because it can be harmful to some plants). However, I found that this is actually a “thing,” called recylcing grey water (i.e., “waste-water collected separately from sewage that originates from a clothes washer, bathtub, shower, or sink, but not a kitchen skink, dishwasher, or toilet.”) Apparently this practice is illegal in some places. FYI, I looked up the law in Arizona and its not illegal here, although there are some stipulations… see this document:  http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/water/permits/download/graybro.pdf

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The neighbors probably think I’m crazy, but I’m trying to save our family some money. Every penny counts, right? Meanwhile, I’ve been extremely motivated to continue seeing our debt drop (particularly on our Wells Fargo credit card). Exciting progress really helps me increase my efforts!

 

What are some of your more frugal traits? Any other money-saving tips?


Ask the Reader: Frugal Kid’s Birthday Party Ideas

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My younger two share a birthday party every year, and that time is coming up in just a couple of months.  We’ve had combinations of paid party locations: Chuck E Cheese, local inflatables, Paint on Pottery, etc. as well as at home in the back yard type parties over the years.  I am definitely guilty of going overboard, but I have always rationalized and said that since it’s for two kids, it’s okay to spend a little more.

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This year, that is NOT happening.  Both kids have been told we are cutting back and I’ve asked them to start thinking of ideas for their party this year.  Here are the possibilities I’ve come up with:

  1. Homemade pinata – paper mache project we could do as school project for pretty much nothing so the only cost would be to fill it with goodies.
  2. Homemade water slide – big tarp laid down in our slightly sloping front yard with an adult spraying a water hose.
  3. Homemade cup cakes which everyone gets to decorate themselves – saves the cost of a “professional” cake/cupcake, but would require several frosting and some sprinkles
  4. Meet at the local park, invite the friends and just have a big playdate
  5. Invite one friend each to go to Rebounderz or Bounce House or a movie
  6. Buy a small canvas for each friend and having a  painting party in the back yard with snacks (kids weren’t keen on this one at all)

I guess the birthday party is the one part of their lives I have not let go of the “magical” childhood thing and it’s cost me plenty over the years.  I am determined to no only be frugal this time around but even CHEAP!  I have made it clear to both of them that I want to hear their input and desires, but I have to balance that with a very tight budget.  So I’m here asking for your help….

What frugal, yet magical ideas do you have for a child’s birthday party?  Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.