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Everyday Things I Do To Save Money

July 27, 2010 · 55 comments

in Money Saving Tips, Personal Finance

I usually don’t spend a whole lot of money, and I try to stretch what we have as far as possible.  I thought I would just share some of the everyday things I do around the house to save money.

  1. When drying laundry, I rip my Bounce sheet in half.  I found that half a sheet works just as well as a whole sheet, so the box lasts twice as long.  As a side note, I did try eliminating laundry sheets altogether by using 3 tennis balls in the dryer.  That worked ok, but wasn’t worth the savings.  I know some people also use less laundry soap or dishwasher detergent, but I have not gotten that brave yet.
  2. I try not to water the lawn/plants if I can help it.  But, when we are in a dry spell, I do all watering late in the evening.  That way, more water gets to the plants and less dries up in the sun.
  3. This is more of an annual thing, but I try to plan a year in advance and take advantage of my husband’s corporate health-care account.  This especially is important when I know a major expense will be coming up, like braces.  So I always communicate with our family’s doctors and dentists to try and predict when expenses may come up.  Unfortunately, this year my son will need his wisdom teeth removed, which kind of hit me by surprise.  That is a thousand dollar expense that I do not have covered in our health care account for this year.
  4. I blabber on and on about this, but I always combine sales and coupons when grocery shopping.  I also will not go into Kohl’s or other stores that always issue discounts unless I have a coupon in-hand.
  5. Almost all my books are obtained at the library, or with a gift card.  If I buy a new book, I read it fast and then sell it used on Amazon.  (Unless it is a book that I decide to loan out to a friend/family.)  I also take advantage of ‘Friends of Library’ sales and buy books for 50 cents or a dollar.
  6. I adjust the house thermostat when I am leaving for longer than an hour.  I do have a programmable thermostat that is set for times I know I will be gone everyday.  But I also adjust it manually for times that are not programmed in.
  7. I covered this in a post yesterday, but I don’t buy soft drinks at sit-down restaurants, unless it is a special occasion.  I also never buy alcohol at a restaurant either.
  8. Almost all my bill paying is automatic, which eliminates the chance of getting hit with late fees.

What are some of the clever things you do to save some money around the house? Please share!

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

bw July 27, 2010 at 8:05 am

Hi! I combine Target sales, manufacturer coupons, and Target coupons whenever possible. you can print Target coupons off of their website. Target is the only store that I know of that will let you combine their coupons and manufacturer coupons. You can usually get items either free or very close to free when you do this. Rite Aid has both a rebate program(all online, nothing to mail in) and a new card program where you earn dollars towards your next purchase by buying specific items. I am able to get items like toothpaste, shampoo, razors, etc for free or close to free using coupons, sale prices and their rebate and purchase program. It takes some planning, but it is usually worth it.

I converted to dryer balls quite a few years ago because fabric softener irritates my husband’s skin. They work great! However, I do sometimes miss the smell of fabric softener.

Both times I was pregnant, I signed up with all of the formula and other baby product companies to receive their coupons. I also signed up my family members so I could get additional coupons.

thanks for the other great ideas!

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Kris July 27, 2010 at 10:46 am

Great tips BW. I think Meijer also lets you combine mfg coupons with their own coupons.

The thing I hate about all fabric softener type things is the scent. I am super sensitive to any fragrance, and need everything to smell like nothing. Bounce Free is the only thing I can tolerate. Maybe I need to look at the dryer balls. When I used tennis balls, they didn’t completely get rid of the cling.

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alex February 14, 2011 at 5:47 am

Thanks BW, those are some great tips. I hadn’t realised this about Target. Pretty impressive that you can even get stuff free.

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finallygettingtoeven.com July 27, 2010 at 8:07 am

Catch the cold water from the sink in a pitcher while waiting to wash my face and dump it in the back of the toilet

Bought extra cheap dishes so that we run out of every dish before the dishwasher is full and I can run full loads

Every electronic on power strips, even microwave…no electronic clocks running around here except for the REAL clock (cable box does have to stay on 24/7 though)

Skipping the dryer on everything but towels- hang clothing on hangers and hang up around the house (not pretty but effective)

Combining all trips out and generally just no longer spending- finding an alternative to use at home on just about everything

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Kris July 27, 2010 at 10:43 am

FGTE – You are way better than me! You are not only saving money, but the earth too.

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Ed Burns July 27, 2010 at 8:09 am

On the same note as point #1, instead of using an entire cap-full of fabric softener in the wash, I fill it up half-way and add water to make it a full cup Works just as well!

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Dianna July 27, 2010 at 8:13 am

On the laundry theme, instead of fabric softener, we’ve been using white vinegar. About 1/4-1/2 cup and then fill the rest of the way with water. Works great and will also get rid of any stinky smells!

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Kris July 27, 2010 at 10:42 am

Dianna, I use vinegar to keep the washer clean (instead of Afresh) but have not tried it as fabric softener. Does it get rid of cling too??

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Barb Friedberg July 27, 2010 at 8:31 am

I am a sucker for anything “tips.” I challenge myself to go several days a week and spend nothing. Also, do some shopping at dollar stores. How can you pass up a brand name lipstick for $1, or a can of gourmet soup for $1?

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Kris July 27, 2010 at 10:41 am

Barb – I have got to start stopping by the dollar stores to check out the deals. I hear so much about them, but have only run in for a quick second to grab something specific.

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Budgeting in the Fun Stuff July 27, 2010 at 11:16 am

I re-use the same 5 pairs of pants (2 business slacks, 2 jeans, and one pair of sweat pants) until one wears out and is replaced every 2 years or so…the jeans last 3-5 years each. I have 25 or so shirts, so I can make a ton of different outfits and the shirts last FOREVER (I still wear a t-shirt from middle school 5-6 blouses from college…most of my other t-shirts are from Shirt Woot and make me laugh).

I only wash a pair of pants after 3 uses or they get dirty (like if I exercise in the sweat pants, that’s an immediate wash)…they last longer if they don’t get washed every time.

I “only” own 6 pairs of shoes (Crocs business flats, tennis shoes, Crocs closed-toe slip-ons, boots, and 2 pairs of dress heels). I only replace a pair after they wear out, which is about every 2 years for my business shoes and I-can’t-even-remember on the rest.

I only refresh my wardrobe from Goodwill, Kohl’s (w/ coupons of course and gift cards from my in-laws), and Dilliards for my $30 dress slacks (I love their Investments brand).

We use half the recommended Tide. Hubby is a Tide addict, but we compromise by buying it from Sam’s Club and using half so a big $17 container of powder lasts almost a year.

I buy our meat in bulk, we vacuum seal it in 2-people serving sizes, and we now have a chest freezer in the garage so we can stock up when we see amazing deals.

I snack on whatever is on sale that season. Right now, that’s fruit and veggies. In the winter, I usually make one-pot meals on Sundays and divide it up for my 5 lunches at work.

We use our Discover cash back to get CVS gift cards, Bath & Body Works gift cards (we are addicted to their hand soap), and Starbucks gift cards at a discount. One $50 Starbucks card ($45 through Discover) lasts Mr. BFS a whole year or more since he doesn’t order his Java Chips too often. I don’t like Starbucks.

I will shop for all our big purchases online and in person to get the best deal possible.

We don’t upgrade our electronics unless they die. We also don’t own smart phones or have internet service on our phones.

Great tips btw. Thanks for letting us all share!

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Kris July 28, 2010 at 11:48 am

BFS – if I wore a t-shirt from middle school, I would probably end up arrested. Or, my kids would move out of the house, and rightfully so!

I also hate spending money on clothes, and my wardrobe shows it. When people talk about splurging on shoes and such, I just don’t get it. But to each his own. I personally love to spend on stationary products, that is my achilles heel. I just love back to school sales!!

Thanks for sharing your tips! I am going to have to think about reducing the amount of detergent I use in the wash.

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Suba @ Wealth Informatics July 27, 2010 at 11:47 am

Great tips, Kris!

We use the “industrial” grade laundry powder we got in Costco. It is a big box for $15-20. Now I am tired of it, because it is still half full after 2 yrs.

We line dry a lot of clothes, most of the time only jeans and towels go in the dryer. We pay for the sun (living in CA) why not use it…

We don’t use the dishwasher at all, out of practice, I still wash them by hands. And paper towels only for messy things, otherwise its the dishrags (most of them were cut out from old worn clothes). Again these were not really to save money but out of habit.

Most of our electronics is on power strips, they get switched off when we don’t need them for a few hrs.

We have a plastic buckets in the bathroom to get the water before it gets warm enough for the shower. These buckets of water feeds my square foot gardening.

And my luxuries are funded by the gift cards from credit card company (meaning to post this for quite sometime, should do it soon).

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Kris July 28, 2010 at 11:45 am

Hey Suba!
I cannot imagine going back to hand washing my dishes. With the 5 of us, we go through so many dishes (we never use paper products) that most my day would be devoted to washing those dishes! I do need to look into the power strip idea. Part of the problem is my power strips are behind things and not easy to access. I need to think about that!

Thanks for the tips!

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Suba @ Wealth Informatics July 28, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Yeah as a first generation immigrant it is something I grew up doing, so not missing the dishwasher. But when kids come along I can totally see that changing… Right now, most of the sauces, jams, soups I make twice a month and freeze. The rest, we usually cook in batches during the weekend, so we do dishes once or twice a week max. Doing dishes is my husband’s um… specialty 🙂

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Kris July 29, 2010 at 10:03 am

Hey, if the husband is doing the dishes, I say, keep doing what you’re doing! 🙂 hee hee

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Money Reasons July 27, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Instead of drinking pop at work, I buy lipton single packet tea servings. Then I only use half of the package per serving. This cuts the cost down to around a nickel per glass. This works out well for me because the packets are too strong in flavor for me anyway.

Most of the things on your list I do too… Except for the coupons (someday hopefully I will), and we don’t have a programmable theromstat (although we should, especiall with both my son and daughter in school for a full day this winter)…

Great stuff 🙂

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Kris July 28, 2010 at 11:44 am

MR – I wish I liked tea. I will say I enjoy a can of coke each day, it is the monkey on my back. But since I don’t drink or smoke, I am allowed that, right?

You really should look into that programmable thermostat, it really is worth it!

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Money Reasons July 28, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Of course you’re allowed! We should all enjoy the little pleasures in life!

That’s what my wife says too! She has a coke a day. I think Warren Buffett also has at least 1 coke a day (but I think his choice is cherry coke).

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Kris July 29, 2010 at 10:00 am

Money Reasons – then I am in good company! Thank you!

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Steph July 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm

We have two adults, two cats, and a baby all in a one bedroom apartment. This unfortunately makes convenience more important on occasion.

I use rags instead if paper towels unless vomit is involved.
I hung a clothesline in the living room to air dry the cloth diapers.
I use less detergent. We wash our hair only a couple times a week.
I use a giant jug of castille soap to dilute and use for cleaning. I am down to three total cleaning products now for the whole house.

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Sandy L July 28, 2010 at 3:25 am

I do a lot of what is on BFS’s list. I also make my own sauces and freeze in smaller ziploc bags. I bake bread to supplement our main stash.

I also hate shopping for clothes, so that expense is pretty low for my whole family.

The biggest tip of all is live in smaller housing and don’t upgrade when your salary goes up. Our house payment is 11% of our income.

Second biggest is to shop tag sales and craigs list first before going to the store and buying things. This not only saves money initially, but if you don’t end up using said item, you can resell at the same price or more and not lose money. Just posted an article on my latest finds the other day.

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Kris July 28, 2010 at 11:41 am

Sandy – I too love to make big batches of sauce and freeze it. It is so convenient to then throw together a pan of mostaccioli or whatever.

I also did not go and buy the biggest house or mortgage broker told us we could afford. Thank God, because our housing market has been brutalized.

Thanks for visiting.

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Kris July 28, 2010 at 11:43 am

Steph – You really are in a small space, and it sounds like you are making the most of it.

I hate using paper towels, and I use rags for 90 percent of kitchen cleanup jobs. I scold the kids when they reach for the paper towels. 🙂

I have to wash my hair daily though, or I look frightful!

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Budgeting in the Fun Stuff July 28, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I can’t wash my hair everyday since I have an ususually dry scalp – I wash it about every 3-4 days and still get itchy…that does help my Pantene ProV last a long time. 🙂

We use paper towels a lot…we usually buy the huge packs from Sam’s Club for $15-$20 and that lasts us 4-6 months depending on how icky our dogs make the place…

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Kris July 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Picturing me in a middle school t-shirt and hair that is washed about every 3 or 4 days would send my family and friends running for the hills! 🙂 Good for you!

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Kristie September 29, 2010 at 3:48 pm

LOL! I scold my husband for using the paper towels on everything. I love my rags They save us so much!

I all so do cloth diapers with five kids 6 and under we have saved so much $$$$ just on this alone. their were times we would have three in diapers we would be spending $100 a month on diapers and wipes. That is BIG savings.

We will also by all clothes and gifts a year in advance. Sometimes this is a hard thing but so far with lots of planing and hitting big close out sales, hand me downs and so on we have saved tons. My husband jokes that I have the next two christmas already bot. Which isn’t true but close. That way I don’t ever have to stress and I can enjoy the holidays and don’t have to go to the stores unless I want to.

I’ve just started to make my own cleaners and hope to up a close line soon.

Thanks to everyone for posting your Idea’s.

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Kris September 29, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Wow, you have a lot of little ones – I am envious! I had 3 kids in 3.5 years, and loved it.

I glare at anyone that rips a paper towel off and uses it for something I think is cloth-worthy.

You are right, you can save a ton by purchasing presents ahead of time. I would just have to find really good hiding spots if I bought a year in advance.

Thanks for commenting!

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The Wealth Artisan July 28, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Hello Kris,

Excellent article! I have to say, my wife and I stopped drinking soda at restaurants earlier this year and it has made a huge dent in the restaurant section of our budget. Good work, and you’ve been stumbled 🙂

Thanks,
Timothy
Wealth Artisan Team Member
http://WealthArtisan.com

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Kris July 29, 2010 at 10:00 am

Hello Artisan- thanks for the stumbling! On the rare occasion I do buy a pop, like if I have a raging headache, I live with regret. Maybe I have issues… 🙂

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Holly July 31, 2010 at 12:17 pm

My tips would be along the lines others have mentioned: use less detergent, use retailmenot.com to get coupon/promotion codes prior to purchasing anything online, use a rewards card for anything you would be purchasing w/cash antway, ask for price matches, and research the best deals, etc.

One thing to add: Never turn down hand-me-downs, either for yourself or for the kids…my son has been clothed from head to foot by my sister-in-law practically since he was born (she has 3 boys)! This has saved us a huge amt. of moolah. My other sister-in-law works for rich people who cast off so much — all quality. I have several pairs of pants, skirts, and blouses that she has given me. I always laugh when they offer and say, “Hey, you know me! I’m not too proud…now hand ’em over!”

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Andrew September 28, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Good list, we also go to the library when we can, if only to preview books on the wish list. Also, good reminder on the soda, I slip up now and again and order the soft drink thinking about the refills.

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Kris September 28, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Andrew – sometimes a meal just calls for a soft drink though. 🙂

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William Roberts October 5, 2010 at 3:08 pm

power strips are very useful but they octopus connection is dangerous-‘*

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Alan February 23, 2011 at 12:44 am

Hey guys, really really good post. The automatic bill paying is a great idea. This website I found may be of interest to you guys too, it’s all money saving ideas and is updated all the time. Here’s the URL:
http://www.cash-strapped-blog.blogspot.com/

Alan

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Dmarie July 10, 2011 at 9:40 pm

I’m with you on paying for liquids at restaurants. we’re water drinkers, and it would have to be a special occasion before I’d buy a drink when out. I’d have to worry about driving, and besides, I don’t like paying “top shelf” prices for cut rate drinks!

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Kris July 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm

You aren’t kidding! When I look at the prices of any drink at a restaurant (or worse yet, if it isn’t listed), I suddenly have a craving for ice water!

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Nicole@BritainLoans April 26, 2012 at 6:15 am

Thank you for sharing your experience.As for me, to save money I concentrate on time,everybody knows that time is money. I think that the best saving tip is planning. When you plan you timing, expenses, budget you get a perfect combination.If you have a goal to save money the best advice is just stop and take a look around,sometimes we run and do not notice that around us there are a lot of simple things that help us to save money and save our time!The task is to create an organized lifestyle, when you do everything in time, you do not have to do many things at the same time. Organizing yourself and your time is to key for a successful life and helps to earn more money. When you have limited time for spending money and write off your expenses there’s almost no chance that you will buy things that you do not actually need.

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chocolate diamonds September 11, 2012 at 11:11 am

Fun piece, bookmarked, I will be returning later.

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Winchester Taxis January 19, 2013 at 10:29 am

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