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Topic: Littlest things to stretch your dollar?

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Date Posted: 9/21/2009 9:27 PM ET
Member Since: 12/15/2008
Posts: 16
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Get rid of cable or dish tv. I haven't had cable for 8 years. I don't miss it. And that's $75 I don't send out every month.

75 x 12 x 8 = $7,200 - I must have misplaced it because I can't find it anywhere.

My sister's cable network folded last work and they really miss it, but she says they go to bed early and are very well


Date Posted: 9/22/2009 7:25 AM ET
Member Since: 12/22/2008
Posts: 533
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We discontinued cable and sold the TV.  We just did not use it enough to justify the expense.  Yes, occasionally I miss it, but really enjoy the money saved.  Have no regrets.

Date Posted: 9/30/2009 10:12 AM ET
Member Since: 4/19/2006
Posts: 3,233
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I save the pre-addressed envelopes that come in junk mail and use them for sending money in to my kids' schools for lunch money, field trip money, etc.  It saves paying for new envelopes and it saves trees.  My mom used to do this all the time and now I've started the habit.  Every tiny bit helps, right?

I pay my bills online.  Saves time, paper, and stamps!

I save things like jars, milk cartons, etc. to use in kids' craft projects.  There are great ideas online.  This is particularly good when doing projects with a large group of kids, such as scouts.  Also, I discovered that Lowes lets people go through the scraps of wood and trim from when customers have had them cut.  They let us take stuff for free (don't know if all Lowes do this).  Hey, it's already been paid for, right?  A while ago I saved some plywood that recently came in very handy for my son's den when they made tool boxes.  They turned out great :)

I never go anywhere without at least bringing a drink and some snacks.  If I'm going for longer than a few hours, I pack a lunch, too.  This saves quite a bit on food, especially since I have 4 kids.

I save at least $20 a month by hanging most of our laundry out to dry.  Jeans especially take a lot of energy to dry in the dryer, but usually dry in one day if it is sunny.

You can make your own spray on conditioner for nearly no $$ by taking a nearly empty bottle of conditioner, add water and shake, then pour the water into a spray bottle. 

I bought byself a "snake" for fixing clogged drains.  I can't even begin to tell you how much money I have saved by not calling a plumber.  And I'm not using toxic chemicals.

I'll have to think of a few more.  I'm always doing quirky things to save money.

Last Edited on: 9/30/09 10:44 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 9/30/2009 1:00 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Great idea on the envelopes Veronika! I use them for making out my grocery list (the envelope is handy for keeping the coupons together) but hadn't thought about using them for sending forms/money/etc to school with the kiddos.

Little things I do: when we have small amounts of leftover vegetables I put them in a small freezer bag and add to it throughout the next week or two. I don't like to leave them in the freezer for more than a couple of weeks so once or twice a month I make soup that the vegetables would be good in. I also save all bread crusts, leftove buns, etc and make croutons - homemade croutons are so much better tasting than store bought and do not take a lot of time to make. My kids like them so much that they snack on them.

Date Posted: 10/8/2009 8:07 AM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
Posts: 1
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If you really want to save money go to black friday.

Date Posted: 10/19/2009 9:47 AM ET
Member Since: 4/19/2006
Posts: 3,233
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I was just printing out some labels for Swapadvd and remembered something else I do to save a tiny bit.  Not only do I print on paper that has something on the other side and I use draft quality (or "quick print") to lower the amount of ink I use, but I also only print the first page.  I don't think the 2nd page is necessary.  (Think about it, when you handwrite the address, you don't hand write the 2nd page, do you?)  Every little bit helps!

Date Posted: 10/19/2009 7:14 PM ET
Member Since: 6/11/2006
Posts: 12,826
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veronika that is true.

Date Posted: 10/22/2009 11:23 PM ET
Member Since: 4/19/2006
Posts: 3,233
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Today i packaged a book.  The label was printed on the back of a piece of junk mail.  I used an air bubble thingy (from packaging) for the waterproofing.  I reused an envelope that I removed the 2 previous labels from and found a handwritten address below (which meant I was the 4th person to use the envelope!).  I found a lot of the tape i removed (since it had been layered over more tape) was still really sticky, so I reused that to apply the label.  In the end, all i paid for was the ink and a piece of tape to secure the envelope shut.  I felt pretty good about that :)  Though i think it confirms that I am nuts, lol.  Both for saving money and for saving the environment.

A few more things I do that also help the environment (consider going to the Going Green forum for more green ways to save money):

  • I save about $20 a month by hanging out our laundry instead of using the dryer.  Since our electric bill is only about $70 - $80 a month (except in summer), this is a good 1/5th of our bill saved.
  • I must save at least $10 a month on feminine products by using a Diva Cup.
  • Use rechargable batteries.
  • Reuse gift bags and Christmas bows.
  • Keep A/C set to 79 in the summer and heat set to 69 in winter.
  • In summer, when possible, open windows at night (when it is below 70 outside) and run fans in order to cool the house.
  • do not use fabric softener or dryer sheets.
  • Use a snake to unclog drains instead of using drain cleaners.

Last Edited on: 10/22/09 11:25 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/6/2009 9:56 PM ET
Member Since: 4/19/2006
Posts: 3,233
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I wanted to mention how much i love the idea of using a junk mail envelope for grocery lists.  I started doing that and it is so much better than what I used to do - make a list and paperclip the coupons to it.

Subject: more stuff
Date Posted: 11/16/2009 3:01 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2009
Posts: 8
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  • If any of your electronics get wet i.e. cell, mp3, etc. open the back and put them in dry rice for a while.
  • Go to "dented can" stores. They're like the TJMaxx for food. If you can find one that takes coupons, you've hit the jackpot!  I found one and I routinly get completely free food items, sometimes I even get paid to buy them because my coupon is worth more than the items cost. It's a great way to be able to try new things. Just keep an eye on expiration dates!
  • Buy 2 or 3 liter  bottles and before you reclose them, squeeze the bottle until the soda reaches the top, then put the lid back on. It should keep more carbonation.
  • Wrap a pience of cardboard with tin foil, shiny side out and put it behind your furnace to save on heating.
  • When youre buying online, oor signing up for a new service, always look for a coupon code, you can usually find a discount for items, or money just for signing up.
  • Try not to use your brake when you drive, it's a waste of gas! Just anticipate the road. If the person in front of you puts their brake on, just let off the gas. If you're a proper distance from them, it shouldn't be a problem. Also don't use your brake just because it makes you feel better. 90% of the drivers I see do, even for curves that they could easily take at the speed they're at, but they're scared. (Of course, safety is ALWAYS first!)
  • Always think about what you purchase, lots of times, you have something in your house which can substitute it, i.e. that old t-shirt that just got a stain on it instead of wash cloths for cleaning house.
  • Don't pay for an anti-virus, get Avast Antivirus, it's totally free and works great. Just search google.
  • Don't buy cooking spray. Buy an empty spray bottle and fill it with regular old vegetable oil (or your favorite oil). It's waaaaay cheaper!

Last Edited on: 11/16/09 3:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Shaz H. (shaz) - ,
Subject: Fire Place Ashes
Date Posted: 11/26/2009 12:41 AM ET
Member Since: 4/17/2008
Posts: 119
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It's winter and when we can we use our fireplace.  When cleaning out the fireplace I save the ashes in old pickle bottles and use it to scrub pots and the sink. It scrubs really nice and leaves your pots and sinks nice and shiny. 

Date Posted: 11/27/2009 7:48 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2006
Posts: 534
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Great thread!! ...with lots of great ideas! Keep them coming guys :)

We pack our lunch for work. And we have cut way back on eating out. Whenever we do go to a resturant, we slpit an entree, the portions are more than 1 person should eat alone anyway. Or if we do get 2 entrees, we ask for a to-go container before we start and put about half of each aside, makes for the another meal at home!

Date Posted: 12/4/2009 7:47 PM ET
Member Since: 6/11/2006
Posts: 12,826
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let me tell you these thing rock.

Date Posted: 12/5/2009 12:17 AM ET
Member Since: 10/25/2009
Posts: 11
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I've found it really easy to train yourself to save money by developing new habits.

1. I started bring breakfast to the office and making fresh brewed coffee at home. It's amazing how much you spend for the same things you eat or drink just by bringing it vs. buying it. For ex. a 6 pk of bagels is$2  ( i use to pay $2 for just one bagel w/ cream cheese ) I can get a pound of gourmet coffee like starbucks or peets for $10 a pound ( That lb will last a lot longer than the 5 cups of coffee I'd get for the same money ) I've saved so much money by changing my habits.

2. I have learned to make use of my local library if you're patient and not too picky you can reserve movies, dvds and cds that you might have gotten using netflix in the past.  Somtimes you can discover gems in foreign films and old movies. When I really want to indulge in watching a new movie on dvd, I use the $1 redboxes and have a viewing party at home with friends. We make a frugal movie noght  out of it. Watch a new release and have a mini potluck as well.

3. I sometimes have regifting  parties with co-workers and friends. This is where we all trade things we have but don't want to can't for something that someone else has.This works for practially anything. Some people have gently used clothes or things that you want/ need .

4. I turn my change by loose change into coin star, but I chosse the free coin counting option. This way I don't pay a fee for the service and I can get a gift card for places like Starbucks,Borders or itunes using my losse change. I'm guilty of turning  those gift cards into gifts as needed.

5. I hunt out deals at the Dollar tree or th 98 and 99 cent stores, sometimes you can get great deals on the coolest things. I've picked up tech items like usb cables, cell phone chargers and puzzle books for plane rides.





Date Posted: 12/5/2009 9:18 PM ET
Member Since: 6/11/2006
Posts: 12,826
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rica these are awesome.i made dinner by steaming chicken leg with lemon and bake potato yum.

Date Posted: 12/6/2009 11:58 PM ET
Member Since: 6/29/2009
Posts: 53
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Discovering microfiber changed my life; watching Don Aslett on QVC, are you putting your cash in the trash?

He is the top janitorial cleaning company in the UsA & perhaps the world; designed to clean without chemicals they have 200,000 dirt & germ catching dots per square inch; you can get them in the auto section & I have got some at the $ store; they will still be good when you would have used 700,000 paper towels; and yes, I have used them on a friends swiffer mop before;  as I run around barefoot a lot, I simply add a tiny amount of vinegar in the water; it's an antiseptic;

Date Posted: 12/14/2009 2:05 PM ET
Member Since: 12/30/2007
Posts: 1,739
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 I only use half a dryer sheet.  I cut them in half when I buy them & put them back in the box.

Date Posted: 1/24/2010 7:39 PM ET
Member Since: 6/11/2006
Posts: 12,826
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this post got quiet . bought chicken tendder for 1.69 pound which i had more room for more.

Date Posted: 1/25/2010 7:38 AM ET
Member Since: 7/2/2006
Posts: 87
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IIRC, I found the laundry and shampoo tips in this forum months ago:

- Instead of fabric softener and dryer sheets, use 1/4-1/2 cup white vinegar in the rinse cycle and tennis balls in the dryer (you can also spry vinegar onto a washcloth instead of dryer sheets.) Your clothes will not come out smelling like vinegar. As a matter of fact, I saved a few pairs of an elderly woman's pants from eternal urine stench by soaking them in a bucket of water & vinegar (because no matter how many times you wash them with commercial detergent at no matter what temperature, they will still come out smelling awful.)

- Instead of expensive shampoo (which also harms your hair and the ecosystem), wash your hair with baking soda and water, and use a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water as a conditioner.

- There are plenty of online 'recipes' for homemade detergent. Some are time consuming and/or require hard-to-find chemicals (depending on where you live). The one I use with a bar of soap and baking soda is very cheap (pennies a load), especially if you buy the bars in bulk. However the soap leaves soap scum, but the baking soda and vinegar can reduce that. (I use the laundromat anyway, and since they're huge ripoffs and very customer un-friendly, I really don't feel bad.) You can store the detergent in old detergent or water bottles.

- You don't have to use expensive manilla or bubblewrap envelopes to mail PBS/SaCD/SaDVD items. I've used everything from paper bags to calendar pages to wrap books and CDs. It's a little more time consuming but it's worth it because envelopes are expensive, and the way some members tape their shipments together (and we can blame Media Mail abuse for that) it can be very hard to recover an envelope. I used to bring recovered envelopes (addresses removed or mangeled of course) to my old job (ILL).

- If you send CDs, send them without the jewel cases, you can save a lot on shipping (but pack them securely and tightly; using recovered cardboard and plastic wrap.) If you don't need the jewel cases afterward, there are tons of online guides for DIY projects with them, including photo frames and murals, mini calendars, plastic birdhouses, and mini-greenhouses for your outdoor plants. If you don't want to reuse them yourself, you can donate them to your library (whose CD cases get destroyed) or freecycle them (local independent bands can use them to package their CDs.)

- Instead of buying expensive but weak produce, grow your own veggie/fruit garden if you can. There are plenty of good online guides, and there must be some available on PBS.

- If you drink tea or coffee, re-use the leaves/grinds (taken out of their bags) for your compost pile if you garden. You can also use finely crunched egg shells for this purpose.

- Also for tea drinkers: you can use the tea leaves for 2-3 cups of tea if brewed correctly and stored properly (squeeze out extra moisture with a small paper towel and resuse within a day.) This is especially true for loose tea leaves (the tea tastes a lot better, and may be cheaper than bagged tea.)

- If you're going away to visit friends or family for a few weeks, instead of paying ridiculous baggage fees ask your host if there are goodwill/thrift stores where you can buy decent clothes for cheap. If you can get clothes for $1-2/article, you can get five sets of clothes for $10-$20. It's slightly cheaper than baggage check (depending on the airline), you won't have to buy luggage if you don't already have it, and not to mention less waiting time and one less poetential headache while traveling. And the money will go to a great cause! Pack undergarments in your carryon. Or if the weather permits, wear multiple layers and carryon a few extra pairs.

Last Edited on: 1/25/10 7:54 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 1/27/2010 7:50 PM ET
Member Since: 6/11/2006
Posts: 12,826
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nicole wow great tips.

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 9:32 PM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
Posts: 1
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  • Really learned to cook ( if you know how to fix food from scratch - you can not only enjoy better food but you can also save money)
  • Manage food that you buy- don't let the food in the fridge spoil.
  • Freeze what you cook or can not use ( saves time and money). I freeze meats that come with sauces, pasta sauce with meat in it already, freeze soups in containers. I also make filled dumplings to use in soups or to be eaten as boiled and fried in butter - I usually make 3 portiona and freeze 2 of them( it is important to freeze them before you boil them). PM me for an easy homemade dumpling receipe :)
  • Credit Cards: Call the cc companies and ask for lower percentage
  • Evaluate your bills, look for substitutes and call the companies and ask them to match an offer that you found ( or switch)

Something that I do not do but I think that would be smart: use paper bags ( or plastic bags) that they pack your groceries in to use as trashbags ( it will save you money and motivate to empty trash more often)

Date Posted: 2/19/2010 6:27 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2008
Posts: 2,800
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Taking a make-do attitudeand use/repair what we have with materials that are free or really cheap to us for everything that we can.

Print greeting cards from the computer

No Dixie cups in the bathroom for toothbrushing.

Using cloth napkins, cloth cleaning rags, really replacing anything disposable with something non-disposable is a save on money. We are working on that.

We're trying making our own laundry soap. I'm going to try to slowly move towards eliminating most commercial cleaner products, but Ineed to learn one methodat a time, so it's a work in progress

Mending and repairing things until they just can't be repaired any longer before replacing them.

Accepting hand-me-downs when offered

Buying used instead of new when possible

Staying away from any unnecessary services (even the internet connection has to earn it's cost somehow)

Utilizing the library to the fullest extent

Completely using the life out of things before throwing them away (what's left of them to discard, anyway)

Making a budget and sticking to it as if my future and the future of my children depends upon it (but wait, it does)

Including a sufficient "unbudgeted expenses" item in the budget to catch all those pesky things that happen to come up so that we are not left starving when one-time, medium expense things come up (unexpected dr. visit or replacing a flat tire, for example)

When there was a baby in the house, we used the cloth training pants and I knitted wool coverings for them to make reusable training pants for potty training.

Subject: Stain Remover
Date Posted: 2/22/2010 2:52 AM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2010
Posts: 8,662
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A bar of Ivory soap (not any bar will do - it needs to be real soap) is absolutely the best thing ever for getting most stains out of clothes. Excellent for getting out blood and bodily fluids along with many other stains. Great on baby stains. I rinse the stain with water (cold for blood and chocolate) until most of it has come out (do not wring out),rub the bar of Ivory soap on the stain until you see it start to loosen, rub with a nail brush if needed (still don't wring out), let it sit for awhile. Usually when I come back, the stain has just disappeared. If heavily soiled, you may need to repeat. Then launder as usual. One bar of Ivory soap, used only for this purpose, will last for a very long time.

Date Posted: 4/29/2010 5:44 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
Posts: 6,523
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This is a little thing, but...when I've used an emery board on my nails to the point that all the long edges are pretty much worn smooth, I snip off the edges, and can then use the middle of the board (which is virtually untouched, I guess my nails are pretty short!) for a few more nail filings.

Date Posted: 5/2/2010 11:21 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2009
Posts: 9
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Thrift stores!! I've found so many great things!! You have to go often and look thoroughly. I found a nice J.Crew sweater for $2.50. I found a set of  four dining room chairs for $35. Pyrex bowls and baking dishes and so much more for next to nothing.

More tips:

Use plastic grocery bags for small wastebaskets.

Buy the generic brands.


Buy thingsfrom Ebay. I got a 20GB ipod for 50 bucks and it works fine.

Dollar stores.


Last Edited on: 3/26/11 11:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 1