September 23, 2009

My Top 5 Ways to Save Money around the house

Okay, honestly this is a selfish post. I have been collecting money saving ideas for years now. (We have pretty much always been poor. It can be fun trying to find a way around that.) Here's the deal, I share my secrets and you share yours. I know you have them. So, here are the first few.

1. Use cloth napkins and rags. About 5 years ago, my MIL gave me permission to raid her scrap collection. I took decent sized scraps and cut them into rectangles and then surged around the edges and voile! Cloth napkins! If you don't have access to fabric scraps, you can buy remnants at the fabric store for less than regular yardage, or you can take a trip to the dollar store where you should be able to get napkins for about $0.50 each. (I admit that when I have large groups of people over or birthday parties I do buy paper napkins. I'm not a masochist.)

Some messes are just too gross for rags and require paper towels, but for the most part, using rags and sponges will save rolls and rolls of paper towels. If the sponges gross you out, disinfect them in the dishwasher or the microwave (get a sponge fairly wet and then put it in the microwave for a minute.) If that still grosses you out, get Clorox disinfecting wipes, but only use them for disinfecting purposes- not scrubbing the counter purposes.

2. Learn to love generic. Most generic products are just as good as the name brand. You just have to find the ones you care about. For us, all canned food is generic. I can't tell the difference. But I must have my Vlasic pickles and my Yoplait. Just figure out what you can't live with out and buy every thing else generic.

3. Use coupons wisely. This is a tricky one. If you don't' use them wisely, you wont' save anything. Here is the deal: Go through the ads each week and match coupons with ads. For example, if you have a coupon for yoplait, wait until it is on sale to buy it! And only use coupons for things that you were going to buy anyway. Generally, just buying generic is cheaper than buying name brand, even with a coupon.

4. Save all your receipts. This doesn't sound like much but I will give you two examples:
Once we went to dinner at Johnny Carino's. They charged us twice, accidentally. I didn't know until I got my credit card statement. Because I still had my receipt, they credited everything back to me.

Did you know that there was a lawsuit against Airborne, and that anyone that bought it during a particular span of time was eligible for a refund? I managed to dig up a receipt for it. And got a $14 check in the mail a few months later.

And that's not to mention returning things that you decide you don't' want anymore. . .

5. If they have one, switch your utilities bills to a monthly average. It will probably be less than you think. So instead of freaking out in January when your gas bill is $200, you have the comfort of knowing that it will be $60 every month.

Okay, it's your turn. What is your best tip to save money?


Karen said...

Unfortunately, all my tips are the same as your tips. Whenever I read money-saving ideas in a magazine I already do them all!

Kristina P. said...

I literally do none of these.

And how can I destroy the earth if I'm using cloth?

Liesl said...

People spend a LOT of money on snacks. Fruit Snacks, crackers, etc. My kids' favorite snack is popcorn. Not the microwave kind. Just regular popcorn with a little butter and salt and some apple slices or oranges. It's so cheap, it's a good source of fiber, protien and iron.

Also we use Quicken. We enter everything we spend and categorize our spending. It can be shocking to see where the money is going when you keep track of it. The dollars add up quick! Then you can consciously pare down spending.

Liesl said...

I'm only posting again because I forgot to click on "email follow-up comments" I want everyone's ideas too!

Lourie said...

I put gas in my car once a week no matter what. You get better mileage if you keep the tank full rather than run it down to empty. I also only buy regular. I should probably at least buy the mid grade once in a while, but when regular is over $3 you stick with regular.

Regular car maintenance. Oil changes cost around $40. Sure beats the heck out of $2000! There are usually flyers or coupons for oil changes even with your dealer.

If you want to buy dinner(fast food) don't buy the combos. Buy the sandwiches and a few large fries to share. Most of us have some kind of beverage at home.

Some grocery stores have "Manager's Specials" or an area set aside for bakery items that need to go and other misc. stuff. These things are usually marked way down.

Do you have lots of prescriptions? Walmart has $4 prescriptions. See if any of yours make the list.

Get cash back at the grocery store rather than going to the ATM where you are charged as much as $3 for a service fee.

Those are the ones I can think of.

~Thought's By Dena~ said...

GREAT list..I already do most of those.....One thing that helps too is making a list before you go shopping..we use to just go and get whatever and wow what a difference it makes if you make a list of what you need and use the save money honestly...if you use the stores bags when you go shopping then re-use them to line garbage cans..we got rid of our landline because we all have cell phones so there was no need for it and that saves us $40 each month!!! When not in use, unplug electric appliances instead of just switching them off can save a lot of electricity of course you can only do this with SOME appliances not all of them! When not in a room, switch off the lights and the fan. Use a programmable thermostat to control your A/C and heater usage.
Well anyway theres my little bit of tips to add to yours!

heather said...

I really *should* do that cloth thing. I'm killing the earth with my paper towel habit.

Before summer hit I was really on the ball with the saving money thing. I even read a book written by a girl named Elle Kay -or something like that.

She had ALL KINDS of money saving ideas. Good ones.

I found that menu planning & sticking to the grocery list are super helpful. And paying attention to the ads.

I tried couponing for awhile, but the problem I ran into was that most coupons were for things we just don't use. OR the item was already less than it would be with the coupon at Wal-Mart.

I also like craigslist, garage sales & clearance racks.
And knowing exactly what I'm looking for -and not getting distracted with other wants.

Chief said...

I am not much of a saver. But I do not buy new books. I go to for every single book I buy. It saves me tons of money!

Carolyn said...

We don't eat out.
I have goats and ducks for eggs and milk.
I make almost everything from scratch.

Being cheap is exhausting.

The Boob Nazi said...

I do buy generic. That's about it.

Liz @ Sugarplum Creations said...

I'm a Yoplait girl, myself! I need to work on frugality, but I rarely every buy something if it's not on sale. I also don't grocery shop that often. I find that the more often I go, the more I spend, so I typically don't go more often than once every week and a half to two weeks. My babe is in cloth diapers which is saving us money AND I made my own cloth wipes. I don't *always* use them, but I do use them. Wipes are expensive!

Bloggin Betty said...

Yes yes yes! These are all great tips, most of which I do already. However, if I do have to buy something online, I ALWAYS look for a coupon code. is a great resource :)

P.S. I've got one up on you, Chief. I never buy books, period. Haven't you ever heard of the LIBRARY sis?

That Girl said...

Tupperware. We NEVER use baggies.

(And I love my cloths ... I think I've used maybe ONE roll of paper towels in three months? We use cloths for everything from counters to windows to toilets. I do a lot of laundry.)

And I'm glad you mentioned the microwaving tip on sponges. I zap mine every night after dinner.

glitterbygrammie said...

I have a few money saving ideas. I can only think of one right know. I have a bread machine and my family loves pizza. I buy bulk cheese because we eat alot of cheese, but also it is cheaper to grate your own and with my bread machine I make my own dough. Instead of buying pizza sauce I buy the cheap cans of hunts spaghetti sauce and use that. What
I don't use I freeze in containers and use the next time I make pizza.

Emma said...

Thanks for the ideas, always looking for a way to save!!

Jo said...

I LOVE this post. Check out Dave Ramsey's book, "The total money makeover" If you want to get out of debt. It's not easy but I know my family will get there someday. I make my own bread most of the time, I also use cloth diapers, and the biggest thing I have found that saves us bunches is I make my own laundry soap. All you need is one bar of soap, I use Ivory, grate it up. then add one cup Borax, one cup of baking soda, and one cup of washing soda. mix together then blend in a food processor to grind it up even more and mix it some more. Then you add one to two tablespoons to your laundry and your good! It costs about $.03 compared to $.20 a load.

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