Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Five More Things You Never Need to Buy

Quart sized freezer bags. You probably throw them away every week if you buy frozen vegetables. Those bags are freezer bags. They wouldn't sell them in those bags if they weren't capable of keeping the vegetables fresh and frost free. Cut them carefully across the top when you open them and use a twist'em tie or rubber band to close them securely when you fill them.

Refrigerator containers. Cottage cheese, sour cream, yogurt and more come in resealable plastic containers that can be used over and over again. Get some cheap masking tape to label the contents. A bonus is that they're ultimately stackable and hold more than they look.

Canisters. Storage jars are free. Really. Check your local restaurants to see if they will save you a few gallon jars. They buy them with everthing from pickles to boiled eggs in them. Most come with sealing lids so your flour and sugar will be safe. You can also use them for beans, pasta and other food products.

Compost. Make your own, of course. That's a no-brainer, but sometimes it's hard to accomplish, especially if you have limited space or it isn't conveniently located. Invest in a bowl with a lid to hold your compostable kitchen scraps and simply dig a hole in an out of the way place in your yard and dump the goods in there. Cover them with dirt and that's it. It will take longer to make if you don't turn it now and then and if it's dry, but it will eventually make good compost. Hurry it by turning and keeping it moist.

House slippers. If you have a warm sweater or one that is felted accidentally or otherwise, simply make a pattern by standing on a newspaper and drawing around your foot. Cut two pieces to match this pattern, then measure along the side from toe all the way around and back to the toe and cut a strip about two to three inches wide this long. Sew the strip. starting at the toe, to the sole so it's the side, then gather the edges of this strip with a piece of sturdy yarn in a needle, weaving back and forth. Draw the yarn up so that the shoe fits your foot and tie a knot, then a bow. Done.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Five Things You Never Need to Buy

Paper towels. Use rags cut from old clothing, linens or towels. Cut and hem them and they will last a very long time, wash after wash. You will no doubt wind up with clothing or other material that isn't absorbent or won't wash well. Cut those up and save them for nasty jobs so you can throw them away like you would paper towels.

Paper napkins. A very simple solution is to cut some squares of cotton or other absorbent material and hem it. Voila! Instant cloth napkins. Some people buy washcloths in special colors to use as napkins, but making your own is cheaper; your choice. Wash them with the other kitchen items like dishcloths and teatowels. Also, it doesn't hurt to use the same one a couple or three times if everyone has their own color or design (unless it's a messy meal!)

Trash bags. For the smaller trash cans, use plastic grocery bags. They're a sturdy or sturdier than bags you buy and you have them already! They even have handles. For larger trash cans, save bags that dog food, bird seed, mulch, compost or other garden amendments come in. Anything that comes in a large enough bag works. I have used the large plastic bags from Goodwill or other thrift stores (or even retail stores!).

Pots for starting seeds. Use any small container that you can poke a hole in for drainage. Some people use egg cartons, putting soil and a seed into each egg compartments. This is enough to get started, but plants will need to be transplanted soon because there is little room for roots to grow. Think: Soft drink bottles, cut down, yogurt containers, cottage cheese and sour cream containers or any plastic container that you can cut down to size.

Bulletin boards. Need a place to pin up pictures, notes or lists? Get a piece of cardboard from a cardboard box that is the right size for your space and cover it with piece of solid color cloth. Better if the cloth comes from an old sheet or tablecloth that you were going to use for rags! Wrap the cloth around the cardboard and tape it down with duct tape. You can either poke holes in it to hang from or attach a string from each corner to hang it. A few pins or thumbtacks and you're in business.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring Bouquets: Get Them Cheap, Keep Them Longer

'Tis the season to bring those spring flowers inside to enjoy! If you don't have any of your own growing, you might be able to beg a few from someone who does, or finding some in a dumpster, but barring those things, go to the flower shop at your grocery store. Flowers and plants are much cheaper there than anywhere else.

Choose carefully so your bouquet will last as long as possible. Look at the flowers closely and get the freshest you can find and get the longest stems there are. Getting longer stems makes it possible make fresh cuts to allow the stems to take up more water and of course, the freshest blossoms will stay fresh longer.

When you get them home, immediately put them in water to wait until you have found your vase and whatever else you need. Use a solution of 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and a quart of tepid water. Make sure the sugar is dissolved, then trim the flowers and arrange in your vase.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Start Indoor Seedlings Cheaper

My south windows (well, all windows in this house) have very narrow ledges, so it's difficult to use them for anything. Earlier this year, I decided to sprout some sunflowers and found that I could use very small square containers set on a styrofoam meat tray, balanced on the narrow ledge. The pots get sunlight all day long and the sprouts grew well.

Silly me. I finally decided to use that method to start some seedlings for the garden. i am experimenting now and if it works, I will save a little on the electricity it takes to run a second grow light.

Yesterday, I planted 8 radishes, a pinch of marigold seed and a few onion seeds that might be too old to sprout. I am saving the good seed for a little later.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Face it, we can only save so much money, no matter how frugal we are. We have to make money to be able to save it, but life isn't all about either making it or saving it.

But... how about doing both? I discovered a site called Chatabout that pays a little for doing a lot of easy things, even talking about frugal living!

If you consider yourself a true frugalite, this could be the place to bloom. Or at least to meet up with some friends and have fun while gathering up some cash and gift certificates. 

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

After Christmas

I always get a rush of ambition after Christmas. Maybe it's the new "stuff" or taking down the tree and decorations (and realizing just how dusty they got!), or maybe it's the very slightly longer days that call to my soul, but I always want to clean out cabinets and closets and organize things and repair things and do things like paint and get new curtains.

Of course, I don't actually do it all, but I want to.

Today, I got the last of the dirty pots and pans washed, and peeled the scotch tape from the floor. I located a lost bowling pin and a stocking, among other things. Just things that needed to be done and all the while, my mind was on sorting through a box of used wrapping paper to see what could be salvaged and wondering if some of the ribbon could be ironed.

I need to check last year's tax forms to find the medical payments that I think the hospital is trying to bill me for again, the pile of mending on the sewing machine has my attention and I really want to upend the old red chair to see what's the problem with it.

My list grows and the New Year looms. I'm not sure what my New Year's resolution should be. Maybe to be more content?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Frugal Gifts for Kids

Still need a few gifts for the kids? From stocking stuffers to "big" gifts, saving money while making the little ones happy is a challenge. Here are a few ideas to help:

If you have elastic thread, thread some pretty buttons or beads if you have them, for a necklace and/or bracelet for a little girl.

Boxes, boxes, boxes... all kids love boxes. To make them gift-worthy, cover them with cloth or paint. Be sure you start with something sturdy. If you can come up with some sizes that nest, so much the better. Make designs on them if you're crafty and put some homemade cookies in one.

Got wood blocks from a building project? They don't have to be painted or have numbers or letters on them for the kids to have fun with them. Do sand down the rough or splintered areas.

Art sets don't have to be fancy or from a store. Paper? How about that packing paper? Iron it and cut to size. You probably have a new pencil or two around. Pick up some dollar store crayons and plastic scissors and add a few stickers. Done.

More here:

Quick and Frugal Gifts for Kids

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Frugal Food Gifts

Large tins of gourmet popcorn and small tins of special (or not so special) cookies, fancy wrapped cheese logs and pretty containers of candies seem to be popular Christmas gifts. You can really spend a ton of money on them, though! Just go to a search engine and type in "food gifts" and you'll see what I mean.
Ouch. Talk about breaking the budget! How about if we do it ourselves and make food gifts just as special, or even more special, in our own kitchens for much less?
We can present our own food gifts just as nicely as any catalog, and homemade can taste much better, too.
A homemade food gift should be dressed up to present itself as something very unique. Look at the "higher quality" food gifts and mimic their presentation. Ribbons, elegant colors and decorated boxes make you feel as if you're the recipient of something really special.
To present your own food gifts, choose a theme - wrap a loaf of homemade bread in a piece of rough linen cloth and tie with a string, or cover a wax wrapped cheese log along with homemade crackers in a silk scarf and complete the effect with gold ribbon.
Wrap a cheese food box, or empty oatmeal container or anything similar, in wrapping paper inside and out and present your food gift in that.
Wrap individual candy pieces in foil or plastic wrap and put them in a unique container - teacup, dessert bowl, wine glass, flower vase, small serving dish, cloth bag or toy truck - use your imagination to suit the recipient.
Present fancy nuts the same way.
If you're giving cookies, line the container with tissue and fold a piece over every other cookie. Put a simple gift card inside the container, too.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Frugal Thanksgiving!

Got the turkey that was on sale and the fresh pumpkin you froze from Halloween? You're all set for a frugal Thanksgiving. Holidays seem to decree that we spend more money than ever, but it doesn't have to be that way. A frugal mindset can make even the most extensive meal cost mere pennies per dish.

Turkey is the most frugal meat when it's on sale right before Thanksgiving. If you can, grab an extra one or maybe two for later in the year. Turkey sandwiches taste good any time of year!

Don't let the other special sales get past you, either. Things like flour and sugar, olives and cranberry sauce can sometimes be found for a good price. Grab them, especially if you're going to need them for Christmas anyway.

Frugal shopping is more critical than ever in this economy, so don't let Thanksgiving sales slip past you without taking advantage of them.