Discussion Forums - Money Saving Tips Money Saving Tips

Topic: Littlest things to stretch your dollar?

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
Page:   Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Kim (Mistry) -
Subject: Littlest things to stretch your dollar?
Date Posted: 7/26/2009 8:07 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2006
Posts: 4,127
Back To Top

  What are some of the tiniest things you do to stretch you dollar's worth?

  No one likes the heels in a loaf of bread, right? Well, I use them for my DD's grilled cheese sandwiches.  I just turn the heel inside to the cheese, and she never knows she's eating that "yucky" piece of bread!

  I also have a mini food processor so I take all the heels I've saved up and make my own fresh breadcrumbs to add to meatloaf, meatballs, to top mac and cheese, etc.

  I also cube them, sprinkle seasonings on them, spray with Pam, and toast in the oven to make my own croutons. 

  No waste and a yummy way to save a little bit more money.

Date Posted: 7/27/2009 8:40 AM ET
Member Since: 11/13/2005
Posts: 649
Back To Top

I feed my food scraps to the chickens, resulting in a slight stretching of the feed budget or a few more eggs a year, if you prefer, and slightly more guano, which gets soaked in water to make a liquid fertilizer, which I spray on the lawns to make the grass grow more, which I mow and feed to the horse, resulting in a slight stretching of the hay budget and a slightly more contented horse, which produces manure, which I compost and dig into my garden in the spring, resulting in more flowers for the bees and thus slighlty more honey production, moderately more vegetable production with a resultant stretching of the grocery budget and more food scraps, which get fed to the chickens...

Last Edited on: 7/27/09 8:41 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/27/2009 9:53 AM ET
Member Since: 9/1/2007
Posts: 394
Back To Top
  • I buy a bottle of liquid hand soap and then make my own foaming soap refill.  One bottle of soap from the Dollar Tree (name brand) for $1.00 stretches to 20 times or more of what it would have used straight on the counter.
  • Our area recycles newspapers but not the circulars that come in them.  I shred them and use them for packing material for shipping and for storage packing needs.
  • I bought a couple packs of washclothes from Walmart in a different color for each stack.  I use them daily to wipe down each room of the house (bathrooms, living room and kitchen) and each room has it's own color and the "rags" go into a load of laundry by themselves.  I dont' need fancy dusting wipes or clorox wipes every night (I give each bathroom a quick wipedown beforoe bedtime so it's fresh in the AM) to keep the place clean.  I do have a white set that I use to swipe the bathrooms down clorox water quickly as the last thing each night and the clorox water gets split between sink and showere drains to freshen  them.
  • With my grandaughter in the house, we go through a LOT of diaper wipes.  When we are feeding her, we have the tub handy.  I use ONE wipe and have a bucket of warm water next to it.  If you rinse it out (and yes even ring it out) it is ready to use again!  We use Huggies brand and it really works!!  If I was brave enough, I would use them for cleaning the bathrooms but I got the washclothes before the grandaughter! LOL
  • I switched our cell phone to a prepaid Go Phone.  I found we weren't using the phone as often as we thought we were.  I have had the prepaid phone for 2 months so far and have spent a whopping $21.00.  Now this will only work if you aren't a frequent cell user like we are.  We have the cell for emergencies and traveling and "in general".  If hubby goes to the store and I forgot to tell him something to pick up, I can call him.  It has forced us to make sure the "list" is done when we go out.  The plan I signed on for is $100 deposit into my account (doesn't expire for a year) and then $3.00/day when I use it.  I pay the $3 for the first call of any day and then the rest of the calls are free for that day.  And I can call nationwide, so I use it to call family instead of the long distance on the house phone.  If I've already paid for it, why not?
  • I use an old spary bottle cleaned out well and dilute Pine Sol cleaner to make a spray cleaner for the kitchen counters and appliances.
  • I was sucked into the "swiffer" thing for the floors and decided I didn't like the film it left on the floors once it dried.  Having the handle and not wanting to use the wipes, I found that the gripperrs hold material.  I got some cheaper kitchen towels from Big Lots and it works great for wiping floors and I can toss it in the laundry when I'm done instead of the trashcan.  I don't have to get on the floor to wash them as much, spills are easy to pick up and get rid of and I use less paper towels in the house also!


Date Posted: 7/27/2009 10:03 AM ET
Member Since: 9/1/2007
Posts: 394
Back To Top

I coudl probably fill the whole column with things I do being "frugal" but I don't wanna hog the page!  :)

Kim (Mistry) -
Date Posted: 7/27/2009 3:16 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2006
Posts: 4,127
Back To Top

I say hog away! I got some good ideas from you! I LOVE the colored washcloth trick! 

Last Edited on: 7/27/09 3:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/27/2009 8:08 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2007
Posts: 358
Back To Top

I enjoy reading ways to save money.



Date Posted: 7/27/2009 9:35 PM ET
Member Since: 9/27/2007
Posts: 277
Back To Top

Good tip with the swiffer!

Check out these little soaps that you dissolve in water to use with cloth wipes.



Date Posted: 7/28/2009 2:09 AM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
Back To Top

hog away as far as I'm concerned! I love reading tips whether or not I use them! and I've implemented several ideas from this forum and CMT.

I'm actually someone who likes the heals of bread for sandwiches but you only get 2 and by the time you work your way through to the bottom part the top is usually messed up. plus now I don't buy many loaves of bread though growing up it was a staple and I think my mom usually at them for a snack wtih cheese(the rest of us were basically sandwich use only)

I'd already stopped buying the convenient mixins from crystal lighta nd even the store brands and switched to the canisters (store brand) with 6 tubs at 2 quarts each..welll today I noticed the paper packets of wylers were 12 for $1 and are unsweetened. I added packets of Truvia to sweeten and it's ok(needed a bit more I think) but Ineed to price the stuff and see if I'm saving anything..maybe find it in bulk instead of the packets to divvy up into baggies if it turns out to be cheaper than the sugar free mixes. but 12 for $1 is super cheap I think!

Date Posted: 7/28/2009 9:43 AM ET
Member Since: 9/1/2007
Posts: 394
Back To Top

those washclothes at Walmart are only like $2/pack.  They are the "not so plush" ones that I wouldn't use for bathing but they work GREAT for cleaning and one bundle does a week's worth of wiping down (between weekly cleanings) and costs less than one pkg of Clorox wipes.  And, best part overall, it makes the weekly scrub down in the bathrooms a LOT less time consuming!  Anything that makes weekly cleaning easier is a BONUS in my book!  LOL

Date Posted: 7/28/2009 11:24 AM ET
Member Since: 9/1/2007
Posts: 394
Back To Top
  • I have a basket near the front door for shoes.  When the kids (teenagers) and DH come in, it's shoes off and in the basket.  Sounds odd, but keeps them wrangled and prevents outside dirts from being tracked on my carpet hence easing vacuuming and less carpet cleaning needing to be done (carpet washing).
  • If a meal calls for olive oil (which my doctor wants me cooking with), I split it with Safron Oil or Canola oil unless it will be the "sauce" as in Shrimp Scampi or something like that. Both additive oils are healthy but cost WAY less stretching the expensive Olive oil a lot farther!
  • I reuse dryer sheets after they've gone through a dryer load and them to polish the "faux wood".  Furniture polish is too heavy for the wanna-be woods but there is just enough softner left in the sheets to spoof up the wannabes. 
  • When I purchase scrubber pad sponges for the sink, I cut them in half.  Makes them easier to handle and I get 2 for one. 
  • I don't buy expensive weed killer sprays, I mix clorox and water and spritz the buggers GOOD.  They die off and seldom come back.  This doesn't work in the yard but along sidewalks, in concrete cracks, in rock gardens, etc it works perfect.
  • With the "germ scare" that's going on (and I have always been a germ freak) I found that the hand sanitizer pumps pump out too much, so I found a spray bottle top that fits the hand sanitizer bottle and now we spritz cleaner on instead of gooping it on and use a little less each time.
  • I buy my glass cleaner at Dollar Tree  by the half gallon (for ONE DOLLAR) and then mix it with water in an emptied (and cleaned out) laundry deterent bottle.  I pour out what I need for cleaning and pour what is left back into the wide mouth bottle.  I use a blue washcloth (color coded to match glass cleaner) and use WAY less glass cleaner than spraying it and having most of it soak into a paper towel (which usually gets tossed aside before all of the cleaner has been used). I dry with a dry cloth or newspaper and have awesome results!
  • We have a front load washer that requires special detergent (has to say   "he"  on it -- high energy efficient) so it is less sudsy.  They are difficult to find and costly when you do.  I buy the ginormous sized regular detergent (almost $3 less than te he counterpart) and thin it out with water in a recycled smaller detergent bottle.  It stretches the detergent, is less sudsy and cleans all the same!
  • I switched the house to Kosher salt.  Unlike regular Iodized table salt, it doesn't dissolve immediately upon impact with food so you can SEE how much you are using.  We are told we eat with our eyes first, well seeing all that salt on the plate makes you use less!  And, aside from helping on the budget, it helps in the health issue!!
  • We use cloth table mats for place settings.  Well, with kids and hubby's, they don't stay all pretty and nice forever.  When it comes time to change them out, usually twice a year, stained doesn't mean "unusable"!  I send them out to the garage and we use them for outside rags.  Hubby uses it to wipe down the mower when he's done mowing, clean mud off his shoes and on the "sides" of the grill to catch grease instead of letting it sit on the wood.  I cut one in half and sewed each of those in half to make "mitts" for washing the car.
Date Posted: 7/28/2009 11:37 AM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
Posts: 724
Back To Top
  • I save newspapers to clean windows and mirrors with, they last longer than paper towels and don't leave streaks.
  • This is the perfect time of year to spruce up your flower beds or yards, most stores like Wal-mart or K-mart are putting their plants on clearance to clear out inventory.
  • I plan meals two weeks in advance, that way I can get two meals out of one, pinto beans one day, refried beans with tacos the next or baked chicken and chicken noodle soup or chicken and rice the next day. It also helps me to only buy what I need.
  • If you go out to yard sales, don't be afraid to offer a lower price for an item, all they can do is say no. Also, if you hit large rummage sales or church sales around noon, most items will sale by the bag, often for a very low price.
  • The Goodwill stores in this area sell all their clothes half-off on the last day of the month, check your local store for specials.
  • I never throw away clothing, once it's torn or stained it gets turned into rags, stuffed and turned into beds for the dogs or doll clothes for DD's Barbie dolls. I am currently working on a quilt made of our old jeans.
Date Posted: 7/28/2009 1:47 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2007
Posts: 8,139
Back To Top

Freezer mangagement: I know I've said this elsewhere, but I'll say it again.

When you freeze a meal or leftovers for future use, write it on the calendar a couple of months from when you freeze. It won't end up lost in the freezer and tossed many years downline when you can't figure out what it is anymore. ;)

Date Posted: 7/28/2009 10:13 PM ET
Member Since: 6/29/2008
Posts: 3
Back To Top

Since my husband got laid off in January, we have been doing a lot of things different. With one son in college and another getting ready to go, we have reevaluated a lot of things.

-I know this may seem to be a very little thing but, we unplug everything that is not in use. i.e. cell phone chargers, any fans that do not need to run.  When we were gone on vacation, we unplugged out tv in our room, alarm clock and anything that was plugged in. We also unplug the blow dryer. We unplug the coffee maker after we are done using it in the morning.

-We burn a lot of our trash. We have a bag of trash about every 8 to 10 weeks. We look at everything, if we can burn it, we put all scraps in the garden or we try and recycle as much as possible.

-We have started looking for books for my son on, or course, this site but also on other cheap books, and any other place I can look to find what he needs.

-My son that has been in college for a year, we really encourage him to work. He does very well. His job is a cook in a restaurant so he does get some of his meals there. But when he is home we do some extra cooking and make homemade meals for him. His girlfriends' mother also sends leftovers home with him.

Date Posted: 7/29/2009 12:14 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,434
Back To Top

*Cut up old torn, stained, clothing and use that as rags/paper towels.  Have a laundry bag in the corner  of the kitchen to toss them in.  I use them for washing dishes as well, so no wet bacteria-breeding wash cloth around other times.

*Foaming soap.  I know this has been posted, but I post it again.  I really like it.  Buy one container of foaming soap, then fill it with mostly water and some normal soap.  I like foaming soap much better--it isn't as messy b/c it doesn't slide onto the sink.  It's also cheaper when you buy normal soap & dilute it.  Used slower and uses less per pump. Hooray! 

*More on soap, buy a big refill container, then use it to fill the little foaming pumps.  Our experience is they all run low about the same time, so we just go around and fill them all at once.

*And, a little bit more, buy non-anti-bacterial. It can be hard to find, but is often cheaper.  It's also more healthy, since it doesn't contribute to the making of super-bugs.  Most people don't wash their hands properly for anti-bacterial (not long enough) which really contributes to breeding resistance.

*Dunno if this is "little", but if you already have 'net, do you really need cable?  Many shows can be watched over the 'net for what you are already paying for access.   'net + NetFlix would cover many TV shows and most of the movies-and when you want them, not when they show them. 

*If you and a friend have PS3, split the downloaded content.  You are allowed to D/L to more than one PS3, so it can cut the cost in half if you are both buying the same thing.

*Plant a tomato.  Too late this year, but my mom just puts a tomato near the back door.  Not really any "work" other than checking to be sure it hasn't escaped its cage.   Duck most of the work of gardening, but still get some fresh food. 

*Squeeze the toothpaste from the end.  You can buy things to hook on to squeeze it flat.  Get it all out!


Kim (Mistry) -
Date Posted: 7/29/2009 6:44 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2006
Posts: 4,127
Back To Top

Thanks everyone! Keep them coming, I'm loving all these ideas!

Date Posted: 8/3/2009 12:54 PM ET
Member Since: 4/10/2008
Posts: 169
Back To Top

It's unfortunate that most of the couples I know eat out for almost every meal (lunch and dinner). We know one couple who eats out for -every- meal. No kidding. So we are -always- going out to eat whenever we hang out with them. :-(  Especially since the wife is pregnant.  

But now that we're actively trying to save money we've decided that we're going to do as much home-cooking as possible. (This is good for our health, too.)

1. So I've started baking bread at home. I was able to find a gently-used Zojirushi on Craigslist for $30. It's in perfect condition, and I made a perfect loaf of bread in my first attempt. It is incredibly easy to use and convenient since I'm away from home about 10 hours a day (work + commute). Buying all the ingredients (flour, gluten, yeast, etc) was a bit expensive at first, but it'll last me a long time and save money in the long run. I figure if this sticks, then I can buy them in bulk at Costco and save a little more money. 

 2. Our community delivers organic, local produce at $1/pound. Sometimes I find a few produce items at the store for less than $1/pound.

3. Our Vons has been selling bulk skinless and boneless chicken breasts for $1.50/pound on a semi-regular basis. This is cheaper than Costco prices. We've been stocking up on that and freezing it.

4. I've gottten into cooking dry beans. I'm not good at it yet, but they're a good source of protein and fiber and really easy to take to work for lunches (add a little salt and cheese). Dry beans are very cheap and go a long way!

5. Coupons, coupons, coupons... I never go to the store without coupons anymore. I once used a 55 cent coupon for Kelloggs cereal at Vons, and they bumped it up to $1.00 off. 

6. We always buy our nonperishable items (canned, herbs/spices, bathroom products, cleaning, etc) at Costco. Big savings there. Usually Costco has better prices than the grocery stores even when coupons and sales are used.

7. I LOVE the clearance items I find at Rite Aid or Longs Drugs.  

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 6:56 PM ET
Member Since: 6/18/2009
Posts: 229
Back To Top

1. Line dry sensible clothes.  We use the dryer only for underwear and baby clothes, and end up saving a bundle.
2. Nonperishables are bought @ Dollar General or Big Lots.  And since we get a family (employee) discount @ BL we save even more.
3. If it's not on the grocery list when I leave for the store, it doesn't get bought.  No arguments.  Everyone knows where it's located and what it's for, so there's no excuse not to use it.  I've save tons by not buying impulse items.
4. Blue jeans are bought @ Goodwill for $3-5 a piece.  Good condition and clean.  Can't be picky when saving money.
5. Instead of buying solely Gerber baby jars, I buy canned vegetables and fruits and blend them together.  I make three times as many meals with the same amount of money.
6. We have the most basic of cable packages, because between six people it gets watched maybe three hours a night.  Although I do so missed my food network and USA, I manage with Numb3rs& NCIS.
7. Reuse school supplies.  We have a whole cabinet with gently used school supplies that we're always digging into, whether it's for a notebook or some tabbed separators.

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 9:14 PM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2006
Posts: 125
Back To Top

I travel a lot and collect the hotel shower caps to use as bowl covers. Not all hotels provide them, so if I run low, I buy a package (10-12?) at the dollar store. A lot cheaper than the official "bowl covers," which come in a box of a variety of sizes, most of which are too small to use. Shower caps will fit a dinner plate and even a casserole dish easily.



Please check out my bookshelf...

Date Posted: 8/16/2009 11:45 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2005
Posts: 7,841
Back To Top

Pack a lunch for work and avoid take out or going out to lunch. Also pack a mid-day snack and take a beverage. 

Keep a coffee pot and a supply of coffee at work.

Have a toaster at work... it's great for pop tarts, bagels, english muffins and toast.

Shop at thrift strores. Seriously. I need business and dressy clothes for work.  I won't spend more than $10 for a suit or an outfit for work. If you need them, buy pantyhose in bulk at the outlets. 

Purchase food in large amounts when you can and freeze it (Sam's club, Costco, etc.).  We buy the large sirloin tip roast and cut it down into individual steaks. Ditto with the pork loin, we turn that into pork chops and small pork roasts.  Learn how to debone and skin chicken.

Cook from scratch and freeze what you won't need until later.

Clean with a vinegar/water solution.  It works great for kitchen counters, the door on the microwave and the sinks.

If you have an Aldi food store near, give it a chance.  Prices are usually (for most things) much less expensive, though there are bound to be some things you won't like.  We've found, so far, that canned and frozen veggies are good, the bread can be a bit stale and the applesauce sucks.  We do mix the Aldi brand of cat litter with the more expensive stuff to stetch it a bit.





Date Posted: 8/18/2009 6:42 AM ET
Member Since: 5/24/2006
Posts: 38
Back To Top

- Use a plastic bin to collect the clean water from rinsing dishes in the sink, this can be used to water the plants in the backyard.
- I use a mixture of dish soap, cooking oil, water to kill the bugs (aphids) on my hibiscus plants.  It really works, its economical and its environmentally safe. 
-I stopped buying drinks on the go by simply bringing my own thermos.
-Save computer paper that have already been printed and use the other blank side for scrap paper or for reprinting items such as PBS labels.
-Check out movies/books from the local library instead of renting or buying. 

Date Posted: 8/18/2009 1:00 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2005
Posts: 7,841
Back To Top

Thought of this one because I just bought a Christmas present over my lunch hour, LOL.  We shop for the holiday presents all year.   Lots are purchased on clearance during end-of-the-season sales, at the Outlet when we go on vacation and at local festivals.  Pay cash for them, if you can.  We haven't charged a cent for the holdays in years doing it this way.

Kim (Mistry) -
Date Posted: 8/19/2009 9:20 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2006
Posts: 4,127
Back To Top

 We started a Christmas club and have a little taken out each paycheck.  We don't miss it and this way nothing gets charged for Christmas, cash only!

  I've already bought my DD 5 Xmas gifts from the dollar store: a Dora the Explorer mouse pad, for $1, a cute little doorbell for her bedroom door for $1.50, 2 Dragon Tales DVD's for $6 each (reg. price $12 each!) and something else I can't remember, but all for about $15.    The Dollar Store is having a huge 70% off clearance sale and I've picked up a few things for the kids in the family for Christmas as well.

I'm also planning on making a lot of Christmas gifts myself this year.  With a yard of fleece, I can make scarves for all of DD's preschool friends, plus her teacher.  I'm yardsaling for china cups and plates and will make candles with them from wax bought at AC Moore, and a little etching cream and glasses from Goodwill round out some pretty monogrammed glasses for the weddings, housewarmings and Christmas gifts needed this year.

Also, taking 20 mins the night before Grocery Day to make a meal plan helps to make, and stick! to my grocery list.  No impulse items means big savings!

Date Posted: 8/19/2009 10:28 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2005
Posts: 7,841
Back To Top

Wow, there are lots of great ideas here.  Kim's post made me think of something that I've often slacked on and then ended up spending money needlessly.

Also, taking 20 mins the night before Grocery Day to make a meal plan helps to make, and stick! to my grocery list.  No impulse items means big savings!

We tend to build meal plans out of whatever is in the freezer.  We check the freezer and decide what meals to make from that.  But, I often forget to check the list against what we already have in the cabinets and end up frequently buying canned tomato products, chicken or beef broth, spices,  etc., when we already have them.  It isn't a biggie, as we will eventually use the extra stuff, but it can hurt a bit during lean months.

Date Posted: 8/29/2009 4:36 PM ET
Member Since: 6/11/2006
Posts: 12,826
Back To Top

buy garbage bag at bj i bought 200 for 8.00 and i try to buy cheap one but no luck with them . and when i buy them at supermarekt there expensive. and stink. i bought 150 big brown one for 7.00 and there so better quality. im doing alot of declutter and plan to do closet with clothes i dont wear someone is give me bunch of clothes they out grew not me outgrow.  and im pay just shipping and it 50 lb clothes for fall.

Last Edited on: 8/29/09 4:38 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/16/2009 4:21 PM ET
Member Since: 3/17/2009
Posts: 5
Back To Top

Ring tones: I was spending $1.99 on them, and sometimes I couldn't find the song I wanted. myxer.com lets you take any mp3 you have on your computer, cut out your favorite part, and use it as a ring tone. It's completely free. I love it.

Dog Toys: I have a 70 lb pit bull. I was trying to limit her toy budget to the dollar store and sales at petsmart, but those toys lasted for roughly two hours. I threw everything away and invested in two kong products. They've lasted the last 8 months. I also ask my cousin, who is a tennis pro at our country club, to bring me old tennis balls for the dog. He says he'd do it for people who aren't related if they ask- the balls just get thrown away anyway. Also, Old Navy makes surprisingly cheap, sturdy, dog toys.

Food: Good spices and grated sharp cheese can usually liven up any off-brand dish that may not be as good. Anything can be doctored to taste good.

Shopping: Almost all stores are starting to roll out awards cards that are separate from the store's credit cards. I don't ever use store credit cards, but the rewards cards are really great- I shop at Ann Taylor and NY&Co. for work a lot and routinely get great coupons from both.

Last Edited on: 9/16/09 4:24 PM ET - Total times edited: 1