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5 Painless Frugal Hacks That Save Money

When writing about ideas that save money, it is very easy to go to the same ‘big ticket’ things like cancelling subscriptions you don’t use, readjusting thermostats, or the extreme like giving up a car.  And while those things are a good idea and do save money, some of them don’t apply like giving up  the gym membership my husband uses during his lunch break almost daily, or you’re already doing most of the frugal suggestions and are looking for something new. Also, it is sometimes less exciting for me to keep writing budget living articles with the same very good tips. There is only so many ways you can say, “consider getting rid of your landline telephone” and make it interesting.

For a month or so, I kept track of some of the practical things I did to save money around the house hoping I would find The One Perfect Budget Living Tip To Rule Them All (sorta like Lord of the Rings but without Hobbits or a volcano.)

In the end I had a list of little budget tips that are an idea of how to move into a frugal living mindset or how to keep the budget ball rolling  when you’ve done a lot of the big stuff like weather stripping widows and forget about the little stuff like doing a quick Internet search on how to make garden pest killers with what you have on hand instead of schlepping to the store to buy it.

 

5 painless hacks that save money
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I saved and repurposed several empty plastic containers to use as free storage:

  • I reused an empty protein powder container to store the rest of the bag of powdered milk I use to make yogurt when the bag’s zipper closure broke. I rinsed the bag out and will use it as a kitchen trash bag. It’s not a huge bag but it will work because we average filling a grocery store size bag with household trash every week. We try to repurpose everything we can within reason before it hits the trash/recycling bin and that practice also t  keeps our landfill trash low.  I have the same barely used same backup box of trash bags under the sink for years. 
  • I filled an empty milk jug with the rest of the compost tea concentrate I had leftover from making compost tea and feeding it to our outdoor plants.
  • I washed an empty vinegar gallon jug very, very well and filled it with the hot process liquid soap I made (the kind that starts with lye and ends with soap.) Soap making experts (which is so not me) say that you shouldn’t store homemade liquid soap in milk jugs because they are too thin.
  • In a desperate attempt to save the cabbage we’re growing from rooted stems from cabbage worms, I mixed 1 cup of water, 1 cup of the first vegetable oil I touched in the pantry, and 1 tablespoon of dish soap in a repurposed empty spray bottle and used it as a DIY bug killer garden spray. Crossing fingers it works!

My husband and I are foodies and we’re enjoying  meals made with practically free fancy herbs grown in our patio garden (the only plant I bought was basil when I discovered my seeds were too old to grow.)  The cheapest way to cook with unusual or more expensive herbs is to grow them.  While we like using fresh herbs the best, I’m also picking and drying herbs to use during the fall and winter in this exact dehydrator which I use more to preserve food than my canning supplies because it is just so darn easy and convenient to do.  (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.) Fortunately picking more herbs encourages the plants to grow even more and if I keep up with drying herbs, I should have enough to last us until next summer’s growing season.

Also on the garden front, I’m going to let my sweet fennel and romaine lettuce flower and go to seed this year so hopefully that’s a few less plants I have to buy/plant next spring.

 

how to dry fresh oregano

Golden oregano and a volunteer bean plant in a self watering planter I made

I like to make things and doing so has been a productive distraction during lock down and quarantine.  Some of my projects that are more involved started as a “hey, I wonder if I can do this” kind of thing. All of them saved us a little bit of cash:

  • I made eggless mayonnaise for a recipe just to see if I could do it. It was very easy, yummy,  and super cheap because the main ingredient is a liquid I’d normally drain off in the sink.
  • A sundress and a blouse I had all of the supplies for and never started. After sewing around 200 cloth face masks for family and friends that cleared a lot of fabric from my stash (yay!,) I’ve been a tear and have been looking for more practical sewing projects since my costuming projects are at zero. I’ve made 3 growler covers (one was a gift,) a sunglasses case (another gift,) a toy horse (another gift,) a pair of sleep shorts, and an embroidered can cozy.  I have plans for more clothing projects because, well, it’s not like I don’t have time…
  • I finally patched a worn spot in one of my favorite pairs of jeans and hemmed 2 pairs of new jeans from the last of my mending pile. I must be disparate when it comes to looking for projects to do mending!
  • I whipped up 6 batches of DIY powdered laundry detergent to refill the empty protein powder container I store it in. It took me about 15 minutes to make 6 months worth of powdered detergent.

 

how to make powdered HE laundry detergent

You can read my DIY Powdered Laundry Detergent Recipe here

 

  • I made a batch of hot process soap and it worked! (My last batch come out with the consistency of Flubber.)  Making hot or cold process soap may not save a ton of money and it can be a little more costly when you are learning because it is easy to ruin a batch of soap - want to guess how I know? Fortunately, I have been able to use my goofs as dog shampoo(I checked with a groomer first) so at least I didn’t waste money by having throw way whole batches. Yay for learning from mistakes because this last batch was much easier to make than I expected. Once it finishes sequestering it is good to go for humans and doggos! If you are interested in making liquid soap this is the exact soap making book I use and recommend.

 

Getting my Mad Scientist on!

 

  • I made a a batch of compost tea and used it to fertilize our patio garden and front flower beds. 

 

Plants love this stuff! 

Learn how to make compost tea plant fertilizer on my DIY blog Condo Blues here


I cleaned out part of the garage and listed and sold a few things. This is kinda a big deal because I am much better at buying stuff second hand than selling stuff. I’m famous for saying I’ll sell the stuff online, stick it in the garage for a time that never comes, and eventually donate it because I just want to get rid of it. Does anyone else do that?

I redeemed some warranties on broken goods.

  • One of our security cameras went off line and needed to be replaced. Fortunately it is still under warranty. Jumping through all of the hoops with customer service to try with them everything I tried on my own (after much Googling)  was worth it because the camera is dead, can’t be fixed (boo,) and they will send a free replacement – yay!
  •  After four months and three different trips to the repair shop, my sewing and embroidery machine is finally repaired.   After the first trip and payment, I had to keep bringing the machine back for the same issue two more times and I was not happy about that at all. I tried haggling with the manager on the third pickup to not pay anything additional since it took 3 tries to fix it but she countered with they didn’t charge me labor for Trips 2 and 3. Oh, well. I tried. The part wasn’t expensive so I paid it.

 

Rather buy than DIY? Check out the following money saving options – and more! – below!

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Comments

Frugal Hausfrau said…
You have been busy! I am remembering the time I mixed up compost tea in a glass jug and watered my plants. The doorbell rang and i set it out of site. About a 2 weeks later I could not figure out where the smell was coming from! By three weeks my search was desparate! Thanks for sharing at Fiesta Friday this week.

Mollie