Hidden Tips for Saving Money at Home: Part 2

DSCN2378Good morning, frugal friends!  Due to popular demand, we’ve put together a second addition of last week’s Hidden Tips for Saving Money at Home post.  Hope you like it just as much as the first edition. 🙂

The more we look, the more we find there’s always more ways to save money on things we use at home.  We really can get by on less if we are willing to sacrifice and make the effort, so here are some more money saving ideas that you and yours might find helpful.

Use Less:

–     Toilet paper.  John over at Frugal Rules talked today, ironically, on how much TP we Americans go through.  In an effort to save money and pay off our debt, this Frugal Farmer mom has become a bit of a TP Nazi.  My stepdad, a military man, talks about how one time, as a supply guy, he was substituting for the guy regularly scheduled to explain the frugal rules of military life to the incoming soldiers.  Lesson of the day?  How to Wipe Your Tail Using Only One Square of TP.  Oh, how I wish I were kidding.  I’m not quite that bad in the Frugal Farmer quest to spend less on TP, but we do have  a “strongly suggested” rule of 3 sheets for #1, and a promised effort of frugal cleanliness for #2. 🙂  This “anal” 🙂 practice has saved us roughly 30% over our normal TP costs.  In a family of six, that’s A LOT of TP!

–     power on heat by utilizing sweaters or blankets, turning down the heat when away or at night, and, if you’ve got an ample wood supply, installing a wood stove in your home.  Yes, you can handle the heat below 70.  We’ve got a friend who keeps his heat at roughly 58 in the winter.  Now, we’re not that “frugal” but we always remember him when we’re whining about our 68 degree house. 🙂

–     spend less on medical bills by eating more whole foods and exercising regularly.  Since we’ve improved our eating and exercising habits, we generally only end up at the doc for emergencies now.  Colds and viruses just don’t come around.

–     use less sauces and cheeses than your recipe calls for – you’ll likely not even notice a difference.

–     use less money on dental expenses by practicing good dental hygiene – flossing daily and brushing at least twice a daily.  If you’re faithful about this, you can get away with once a year dental cleanings instead of twice a year dental cleanings, and you’ll save money on other dental expenses as well.

–     use less cleaning products, such as window cleaner or hand soap, by watering them down.

–     milk by buying a “fattier” version and then watering it down.  For instance, if you usually buy skim milk, buy 2% and then water it down.

Substitute:

–     processed/prepared foods with homemade foods.  Mac and cheese, for instance, is much cheaper when made from scratch and better for you too, than the processed version. Same with homemade breads like biscuits, waffles and pancakes.

–     store bought veggies and fruits with home grown fruits and veggies.  You can reap double the benefit here when you can or freeze those homegrown veggies.  Double bonus if you can stuff like salsa and spaghetti sauce.

–     dump expensive makeup and improve your natural beauty instead by eating healthy, exercising and drinking water.  My makeup routine consists of mascara and occasionally lip gloss.  I’ve been on this “routine” for the past 5 years, and both my skin and my pocketbook are happier for it.

–     substitute the salon manicures, pedicures and brow waxes for DIY options.  Gals can easily save a few hundred bucks a year doing this.

–     substitute expensive cereals for oatmeal bought in bulk.  A $7.58 box of oatmeal feeds our 4 kids for an entire month.  We haven’t bought traditional cereal in years.

You all shared lots of hidden tips for saving money in the comments section last week.  Got any more tips to share with our readers?

56 comments

  1. Lol, I’ve heard the same thing from my stepdad who was in the Army and family was all military. That said, TP is one thing I’ll spend on. We go to my Mom’s house and the only option is one step up from sandpaper…no thank you. 😉 But, we all have things we like to spend on. 🙂 Another tip we use is if you like to eat cereal in the morning to buy the Malt-o-Meal cereals and not the name brand. We’ve tried virtually all of them and they taste as good, if not better than the name brand and for like 1/2 the price.

    • Laurie says:

      Eeww, I’m not much for the “crappy” stuff either. My mom and stepdad went the other route and they will only buy the ‘luxury’ brand of TP now. We find Angel Soft brand is a good balance between cheap and comfy. 🙂 Great tip on the Malt-o-Meal cereals. I’ve heard they’re much cheaper. Thanks for the tip, John!

  2. I cut out salon services for my eyebrows and saved a bunch of money. Kind of embarrassing when I think about how much I was spending for someone to pluck my eyebrows! But I’ve found that I need to buy a new mirror to help me DIY this. The new mirror will probably cost me what I would pay for 1 visit to the salon!

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, it gets so expensive, doesn’t it, Rebecca? I do feel better money-wise doing my own brows, but the pampering part of it is kind of nice. 🙂

  3. We water down our juice which probably saves a little bit, but also because it’s healthier as there is less sugar. Haven’t done it with milk, but can try that…though one store that we sometimes go to charges less for skim, slightly more for low fat milk and more for whole milk.

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, we’ve tried it before and it really doesn’t taste much different to me. But then again, we don’t drink a whole lot of milk anyway – it’s probably about $20 a month that we go through.

  4. Catherine says:

    ”use less money on dental expenses by practicing good dental hygiene – flossing daily and brushing at least twice a daily. If you’re faithful about this, you can get away with once a year dental cleanings instead of twice a year dental cleanings, and you’ll save money on other dental expenses as well”

    Preach it Laurie!!! (though despite some people’s efforts they still need to come every three-six months, depends on MANY factors).Regardless, practicing good oral hygiene will save buckets of money in many areas. people forget that the mouth is connected to the rest of the body- you let and infection fester in your mouth and it will travel!

    • Laurie says:

      Glad to hear the thoughts of a professional – thanks, Catherine! Yes, it’s amazing how dental health affects the rest of the body. Have you done a post on that?

    • Laurie says:

      Yes indeed they do, Shannon! We’re working on training ours up in that area, though. 🙂 And you’re right on about the healthy eating and exercising – big difference!

  5. Lol! Love the Toilet Paper suggestion! And watering down milk – I’m definitely going to give that one a try. I use the same tea bag for making two cups of tea for me and my hubby!

    • Laurie says:

      Great idea about the tea bags! Not sure if that one would work on the kids though – they just think it’s fun to dip the bag in and out of the tea while they’re sipping. 🙂

  6. I would love it if you’d share a homemade mac & cheese recipe that you guys like. I unfortunately still use the Kraft stuff but would love to save money & enjoy a better meal, too.

    • Laurie says:

      DB40, it’s on the site! Just look under Frugal Food. Or click here. Add more of any kind of cheese if you want it creamier. It’s delish! My kids hate the Kraft stuff now, believe it or not. 🙂

  7. MonicaOnMoney says:

    Laurie- Thanks for a creative new list of ideas! I love it!! I always try to save on heating by wearing sweaters but the TP is another cost that adds up. I’m still laughing at Holly’s comment above 🙂

  8. Jake @ Ca$h Funny says:

    Awesome tips, Laurie. I think the toughest one for my wife and I is substituting processed foods with homemade foods. It’s just so tough for me to want to make a home cooked meal after a long day at work. We’re trying to get better at this, though, because we know it’ll not only help our pocketbook, but our overall health as well.

    • Laurie says:

      I can totally understand that, Jake. It does make a difference when you’re gone all day. You guys could try spending a few hours on the weekends making meals that you can freeze for the week…..

  9. Bf and I have found that we actually like the less expensive TP, as opposed to the fancy pricer versions. I think we use the same amount no mater how thick it is (habit), so I’d rather buy the Charmin “basic” for a cheaper price than the “ultra” or whatever the more expensive version is called. Plus it’s less likely to back up your plumbing (I have a friend who’s a plumper and curses “nice” TP-well actually he loves it because it makes him lots of money ;-), but he won’t use it in his home). Good tips!

    • Laurie says:

      Interesting about the nice TP being not so good for the pluming systems – I had no idea! Our Angel Soft brand is middle of the road and reasonably priced and we love it.

    • Laurie says:

      Those paper towels are so expensive! We’ve gone to using rags instead and saved TONS of money this year by not buying paper towels anymore.

  10. We just rediscovered oatmeal…AND it brought back some great childhood memories for me. Saturday mornings were special when I was a kid because that was the day I usually asked my mom for oatmeal for breakfast. Man, I miss being a kid. 🙂

  11. Kelly @Stayingonbudget says:

    Great tips, Laurie! I never buy mac and cheese anymore at the store, homemade is so much better!

  12. Great tips! We are already practicing some, like preparing our own food and next year we hope to be able to start growing our own vegetables – they are also a lot healthier than those in supermarkets which are sprayed with all sorts of nasty things to keep the bugs away and keep them fresh…

    The temperature though is something that’s impossible for me to handle (if it’s too low, of course). Both me and my wife hate being cold and usually 70 degrees is tough to handle. We’re aiming to about 75 degrees during the winter, but we do have a wood heating system which is a lot cheaper than any other option here in Romania.

    • Laurie says:

      I agree about the temp stuff. We are installing a wood stove soon and I am SO excited to be extra toasty all winter for the price of some hard work chopping and stacking logs. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      I’m still too nervous to color my own hair, but I’m getting desperately sick of my dishwater blondeness, so I may resort to it sooner or later. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Great tip, Jane, about the sunscreen. Mostly we try and limit our time in the sun to 15-20 minutes a day, but when we’re out longer we definitely use it. Only the spendy, more natural stuff though – the cheap sunscreens are full of cancer causing chemicals!

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  14. Matt Becker says:

    Haha, “anal practice”. You crack me up Laurie. In all seriousness though, I think the health point is a really good one. Staying in shape and eating well can have a HUGE impact on long-term medical costs.

  15. Jane Savers made a really good point. Skin cancer treatment is really expensive so good sunscreen is definitely a must, especially if you don’t use a foundation or bb cream.

    I was curious though on the freezing your homegrown veggies do you usually chop them up as a meal prep or just freeze the entire vegetable? We always have a ton of extra peppers and tomatoes and I tend to just give them away because they become overwhelming taking over my counters.

  16. While I agree that there are some health problems that can be avoided by eating right and exercising, unfortunately some simply cannot be. I maxed out my insurance the past two years from sinus surgeries and really the only way I can get better is by taking allergy shots (which I have been doing). At our house we do turn the heat way down at night as well as when we leave for work.

    • Laurie says:

      DC, I totally get the sinus issues: I had them for years. This may or may not work for you, but by cutting out flour and sugar from my diet, and processed foods, my sinus problems have all but disappeared. The only time I have issues now is when I eat too much junk, usually around the holidays. But that’s just my case, and for some people yes, those things just do not help. 🙁

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