Hidden Tips for Saving Money at Home

 

DSCN2378When looking to save money on those necessities for the home and family, it’s always a good idea to do all of the usual things: price compare, use coupons, stock up on sales, and so forth.   At our house, we’ve got an extreme amount of debt to pay off right now, so we’ve had to get extra creative in saving money.

What we’ve found in the last 8 months is that there are ways to save money at home that are often overlooked by the average budgeter.  Here are some of our hidden tips for saving money on common household expenses:

Use less

With almost any household item, families can find a way to use less.

–          Use less shampoo by washing your hair every other day instead of every day

–          Cut your dryer sheets in half

–          Use a bit less detergent/dishwasher soap/bleach than what the package calls for

–          Use less electricity by hang drying your clothes and keeping the lights off unless necessary

–          Wash clothes less by wearing items more than once

–          Use less meat in your casseroles and soups than the recipe calls for

–          Hang blankets and comforters out on the line to air out instead of washing them so much

–          Use less water for your garden by utilizing a rain barrel

–          Use less dog/cat food by feeding your pet some table scraps (we did this often when I was growing up and our pets were happy and healthy, but you should check with your vet first)

–          Choose to eat a smaller portion of dinner and save the rest for tomorrow’s lunch

–          Use less water/milk/juice by feeding the family water with some meals

–          Use less power by hand-mixing baked good recipes instead of using an electric mixer

 

Substitute

We also try to save money by substituting more expensive items for less expensive ones.

–          In recipes, for instance, we’ll use one less tablespoon of butter and add an extra tablespoon of water for homemade biscuits or pie crusts.  In pancakes we’ll add one cup of water and one cup of milk instead of two cups of milk.  (With baked goods, this sometimes doesn’t work, so you’ll have to experiment.)

–          In the dishwasher we’ll use vinegar instead of dishwasher soap.  We sometimes do this in the washing machine too, with the whites by adding it to the bleach instead of traditional soap. (No, your clothes won’t smell like vinegar 🙂 )

–          Buying generic food can save a ton of money, especially on things like pasta, and prepared foods.  We’ve tried lots of different generic foods at our local Walmart and often find they taste as good, and sometimes better, than their name-brand counterparts, for a fraction of the cost.  This helps us to feed our family of six for less than $450 a month.

–          Substitute group sports for your kids with other less expensive activities.  Exercise is important, and so is family togetherness.  Cut down on the money you shell out for extracurricular activities, but stay active by doing other types of exercise-related sports that can be done for much less money.  Have a weekly hiking, biking, walking or running day.   One of our best family outings was when we spent the day trekking the woods for edible wild raspberries.  Not only did we get lots of exercise, we also got about $20-$30 worth of fresh raspberries for free.

By utilizing these and other money-saving strategies in our home, we’ve been able to put twice as much money toward our debt as we did last year.

What are your hidden money-saving tips in the home?

69 comments

  1. Great list Laurie! We do quite a number of these at home to save money. I did not think of the vinegar in the dish washer, so we’ll have to try that. For us, we freeze our milk. When it goes on sale we’ll buy extra and throw it in the deep freezer. When we need to thaw it, we pull it out and set it in a sink full of cold water overnight and it’s ready to go the next day. It has saved us a good bit as we go through milk all the time with three little ones running around.

  2. I tend to do most of these things on the list but I always have trouble not using the tumble dryer and hanging out clothes to dry. I never seem to have time to wait! Excuses I know! 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, I go through the same thing sometimes. 🙂 I just went 3 full days using the dryer instead of the line, simply out of laziness!! I guess we’ll just all have to do our best and accept the rest, huh? 🙂

  3. E.M. says:

    Great tips! I always try to use less, especially where soap, shampoo/conditioner, lotion, etc. are concerned. I was actually cutting dryer sheets in half when I lived with my parents. I always drink water and I don’t eat a full meal on a normal basis as I get full easily, so there’s usually leftovers as long as the boyfriend isn’t extra hungry. When I moved out I started buying generic brands to cut costs and I haven’t noticed much of a difference.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, we do that with our dryer sheets now. I agree about the generic brands too – most of it is pretty comparable to the name brand stuff. Thanks, E.M.!

  4. I had water to the dish soap and put it in the hand soap dispenser in the bathroom.

    I never use my dryer and I should sell it. I understand why you do because you have so much more laundry than I have.

    Every little penny counts when you are attacking debt. The Canadian government got rid of pennies recently so I guess it is now every little nickel counts.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yeah, I guess it is. Honestly, we could probably get by without our dryer too, but the towels get “crispy” when you hang dry them, and it drives me crazy. 🙂 Love the tip about adding water to the dishsoap and using it in the hand soap dispenser – great idea, Jane!

  5. except for a glass of milk at breakfast, we always drink water at meals. feeding Cats and dogs food scraps is something my family has done for over 25 years, and our animals have lived long, healthy lives. just make sure the food isn’t spicy!
    my way of saving some extra money in the home is to ask my parents to buy various things like soap, hair conditioners,hair color for me when they’re travelling from Spain to Norway; it’s a big price difference!

  6. Matt Becker says:

    We definitely do some of these things. I use a little less detergent when I do the laundry and try to use only half paper towels and things like that. But I’m not always the most conscious about these little things. One thing I have tinkered with a lot is the lunch I bring to work every day. I can get that daily cost pretty low at this point. The little things can definitely add up.

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, I know we’ve saved a ton of money with packing lunches for Rick too. We can usually feed him breakfast and lunch for under $3. And you’re right – the little things do indeed add up!

  7. Michelle says:

    Great tips! I have actually read in numerous articles that not washing your hair every day is actually better! I was my hair around 3 to 4 times a week (I still shower everyday).

    • Laurie says:

      It’s such a huge money saver, isn’t it, DC? We’ve been packing Rick’s lunches for nearly a year now, and I know we’ve saved several hundred dollars doing so.

  8. Iforonwy says:

    Have you heard about my half-pairs of tights (panyhose)? After washing out my tights, I inspect them for holes, ladders (runs) and then set about them with the scissors. I cut off the leg with the run/holes making sure that the “panty” part is still intact. I then wear two half pairs to make one good pair. This is especially good with thick winter tights as you have an extra layer of fabric around your middle to keep you warm!

  9. Great tips, Laurie. Often these little things can make a huge a difference over time. These changes will become habits and even after you eliminate your debt, you may continue to keep many of them, freeing up more money to spend on other things.

  10. Great tips!! I could do more of what you suggest but I definitely substitute drinks for water and don’t watch much TV. This means no cable and less electricity usage. Since I’m into fashion, I’ve been trying to create new outfits out of my existing wardrobe instead of buying new all the time. It not only saves money but makes me feel good about my creative abilities! 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      That’s a great way to save money on fashion, Kendal. With the right pieces, you can turn 5 or 6 great items into a huge wardrobe. Great tips!

    • Laurie says:

      We do that too with the laundry detergent, Mackenzie. One of these days I’m going to make the homemade stuff, when I get the time, LOL. 🙂

  11. Nice tips, Laurie! I am guilty of using too much shampoo (I wash my hair every day), washing liquid and washing powder/detergent. Since all my bills are included in the rent, I can use as much electricity/heating etc as I want to which is really great! 😛

    • Laurie says:

      Nice deal being able to not have to monitor your heating and electricity costs – makes for a cozy winter, I bet. 🙂 Thanks for the comment, Eva!

  12. Use Less and Substitute are great general tips for eco friendly & frugal approaches. By default, this cuts down on waste & nudges us to reconsider how much we really need. Thanks for the post!

  13. lyle @ the Joy of Simple says:

    Nice tips Laurie. I too use a few of the ideas you mention. As an example, I use very little shampoo when I wash my hair and it takes me a long, long time to use a complete bottle of shampoo. Mind you, I have very little hair to wash 🙁

    I also go easy on toothpaste which lasts me a long time as well. And during the summer, I wash most of my clothes by hand and air dry on my balcony.

    It’s true, but if you do a little of something here and there you could find yourself with a nice bunch of cash at the end of the month!

    Thanks for looking out for us :

    Take care and all the best.

    Lyle

  14. I like to substitute beans for meat in my recipes when possible. I don’t really like meat, so I don’t miss it in chili, casseroles etc. I also water down my juice-1/2 juice 1/2 water if I’m drinking clear fruit juices (apple, grape etc.) Cuts on the calories and the cost.

    • Laurie says:

      That’s a great tip, KK! We were watering down our juices, but the kids opted to drink it “full-strength” and have it less often as opposed to having it more often in a watered down state. Go figure!

  15. Kelly @Stayingonbudget says:

    These are great tips! It’s amazing how much extra of even little things can add up a lot over time!

  16. Dear Debt says:

    We use less of items as well, go to the dollar tree for basic items, cook in bulk and I only wash clothes when necessary…meaning if I wear something once, doesn’t mean it’s dirty, per se. I’ll also re-purpose and recycle things.

  17. Liquid says:

    Great ideas. I like the idea of washing my hair every other day. I also find it helps to do this if you have shorter hair 🙂 One way I save at home is to not use hand soap. I just wash dishes instead and my hands are cleaned as well 😀

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yes, that would do the trick in a lot of instances, wouldn’t it! I know at our house, a household of six, there’s always plenty of dishes to be done. You would think dirty hands should be non-existent at our house. 🙂

  18. Alexa says:

    I normally buy all generic food. Here lately I’ve been following Holly’s challenge and just trying to eat the food I have on hand and be creative. I’ve also thought about couponing again to create a small stockpile.

  19. Fehmeen - Loans and Lifestyle Blog says:

    These are really simple tips and pretty easy to follow. I have an addition for the hair washing idea. Along with washing it after every other day, dilute the shampoo with water and make loads of lather instead of applying shampoo directly. It gets the job done. To be honest, I know a great aunt who has never used shampoo and her hair is still healthy.

  20. Great tips, Laurie. I do many of these, but no hanging clothes outside. It’s hard to do that in an apartment. My mom does this when she can and I admit that while the clothes smelled great – I HATED helping her hang out clothes as a kid. I couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t use our perfectly good dryer! LOL! When you use vinegar in your dishwasher, you just fill it up with vinegar, nothing else? I had not heard of that but that sounds like a great money saving tip! I’ll have to give it a whirl when I run out of dishwasher tabs, which will pretty soon. Those suckers are spendy, so it would nice to swap out something cheaper instead.

    • Laurie says:

      Funny – my kids love to help me hang stuff on the line! And yes, just the vinegar, or sometimes I’ll do vinegar and a couple of drops of bleach. I’ve heard those dishwasher tabs are spendy. I’m going to be looking around for homemade dishwasher soap here soon, so if I find something, I’ll let you know.

  21. CF says:

    I didn’t know about substituting vinegar in the dishwasher. I’ve been using a giant thing of dishwashing detergent that I bought years ago… still haven’t used it up yet!

  22. Great tips Laurie! I also try to drink water instead of juice and with juice, sometimes I’ll add water to it. Part of it is for health reasons (there is a lot of sugar in juice) and it tastes the same as if I had bought the Apple Juice “Light” or “Reduced Sugar.” We also buy generic and usually they taste the same. No reason to buy name brand if you can’t tell the difference.

    • Laurie says:

      Great ideas, Andrew! We buy the generic lots too, and with most items, you can’t really tell the difference. Some of the generic products we even prefer over name brand!

  23. Those are some great tips. I think feeding the dog table scraps is a good idea. Most people treat their animals like family anyway. So why not feed them what the family feeds them.

  24. Isabella says:

    Great tips! Try hanging your towels until they are almost dry and then toss them in the dryer for 5 minutes. They won’t be so “crisp!”

    • Laurie says:

      Great tip, Kyle – thanks for sharing! We have a heavily treed yard, and I know it’s really helped us with the cooling bill. So nice to sit under a shady tree in the summer too. 🙂

  25. Brit says:

    Love this post. Thanks for the tips. I used leave in conditioner made from conditioner and water. I have curly hair and it works for me.

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  27. There are some really great tips! I’ve already implemented a lot of them in order to save us some money but I really need to get on board with doing the free at home or outdoor fitness. Gym and class memberships really kill a budget :/

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