Men’s old cotton T-shirts and babies’ cloth diapers work well for dusting. They are soft and won’t scratch the furniture. On the same order, towels and washcloths beginning to show wear can still be used to clean sinks, bathtubs, or the car. If you have pets, old towels work fine to put on the bottom of the pet carrier. If the pet messes on them, the towels can be thrown out.
Years ago I worked at a discount store. It carried some clothing, but mainly knicknacks, artificial flowers, kitchen, bedroom and bath items. I marveled at the creative ways people could make low-cost gifts simply by putting different items together. For instance, for a wedding shower a person could buy towels, washcloths, sheets, and a few other goods, place them in a round laundry basket, and wrap the laundry basket with an extra-large vinyl disposable picnic tablecloth. A 54″by 108″ tablecloth did an admirable job of covering the basket, and there was even some tablecloth length to spare for tying the gift shut in a “bow”.
This is the time of year living in the Northern Hemisphere, especially if you live where it’s often cloudy, can bring on “cabin fever”. I’m sure it’s more prevalent this winter due to the lockdowns, etc. of COVID-19. When I worked at the discount store, people got some relief from cabin fever without spending a lot of money by purchasing artificial flowers, vases, and candles in the new spring colors. Sometimes people bought new tablecloths and placemats too. They were able to freshen their homes for under $20.
For many years I relied on clay litter when changing cat boxes. Eventually I had enough of choking on the dust. Fortunately I discovered an alternative—kitty litter made out of pine pellets. However, the 20-pound bags don’t last as long as I thought they would, and the only place I can buy them is some distance away. I discovered the local feed store carries 40-pound bags of pine-pellet horse bedding—at a cheaper price than the 20-pound bags of pine-pellet kitty litter. The man at the feed store told me a lot of people use the horse bedding for kitty litter. So on my next trip for bird food I bought a bag of horse bedding, and tried it out in Abby’s boxes. Abby’s OK with using it; I’m OK with the savings!
One tip that’s often listed as a way to save on car insurance is to review your policy and check rates from different companies for the same type of policy. You may find you can save significantly on your premiums by going with another company.
Another way to possibly gain some money is to review the continuation notice the insurance company sends. Make sure the information shown–for example, number of miles driven, what coverage is on the vehicle, and, if the vehicle is paid off, that no liens are listed against the auto–is correct. In my case, I discovered that although my car had been paid off for almost a year, there was still a lien listed on it. Correction of this error and another error on the notice resulted in a savings of $76.00. Taking the time to go over the information yielded money found. Why give the insurance company more of your hard-earned money than you have to?
Last month the premium for my car insurance increased. Reason given? “Change in distance driven”. Knowing I hadn’t been driving any more than usual, I drove over to the agent’s office and after I gave the secretary the odometer reading, the secretary entered the mileage in the system and the bill was reduced on the spot. Lesson learned: know my usage, and speak up if warranted.
Here’s a couple inexpensive, easy-to-obtain substitutes for more expensive products.
Talc powder is under increased scrutiny because of the ingredients in it. I use corn starch–used to thicken homemade pudding and in other food preparation–for dusting powder. Granted, it’s not as fine in texture as talc powder, though you could sift it and probably get it that way, but it works. I put corn starch in a small container with holes on the top and sprinkle it on.
Readers in the Southern Hemisphere and in warmer areas than here may appreciate this tip: medicated menthol ointment makes a good insect repellent. I read or heard that somewhere and decided to give it a try this past summer. I put it on my arms before doing yard work, and while the bugs come around, they don’t bite. They smell the ointment on my skin and leave! Now I keep a jar specifically for that purpose. Store-brand varieties work fine and are much lower in cost than brand names.
For those of us who don’t have garages for our vehicles, winter can bring challenges that people whose cars sit in garages don’t have to face. With that in mind, here’s a couple tips to make life a little easier on cold mornings.
If possible, park your car so the engine faces the morning sun. Even in very cold weather the sun warms the engine, making it easier to start. This tip came from a co-worker of my mother.
Many newer cars have a more aerodynamic design. For instance, the doors of my car are even with the body. There’s no overhang to protect the door seals from the elements. That presents a problem in winter when a storm hits: depending on the direction the snow or ice comes, the doors freeze shut even though unlocked. For awhile I sprayed cooking spray on the seals. That was a bad idea; a co-worker told me cooking spray deteriorates over time and draws moisture. He suggested buying a can of silicone spray from the auto parts store and applying that to the seals. While the silicone spray costs more than the cooking spray, it lubricates the seals better without breaking down. This is a case where spending a little bit more is worth it!
This next tip isn’t so much for the car, but for animals that may be around the car: Before starting the vehicle, bang the hood with your hands–make some noise. Cats are known to climb up around the car’s engine, seeking warmth, bringing death to themselves and costly damage to the engine when the vehicle starts. Taking a few extra seconds to warn any cat will save the cat and your engine.
This is one of those tips about money management I keep in mind when needing to make a major purchase. I thought I’d pass it along.
One day a relative of mine told me of a time when he was working for a wealthy man. The man told my cousin that many people can afford to buy a nice, big house, or a nice luxury car. The maintenance costs after the purchase are often what breaks them. His tip: When thinking of making a major purchase, consider the maintenance costs also. How much will insurance be? How about regular upkeep? What about repairs?
This was food for thought for me in 2015 when my old car needed replacement, as it would no longer pass inspection. It helped steer me in the direction of buying a smaller car than I originally wanted.
One simple way to save money is to live below your means. I’m certainly not the first one to say this, but it’s so valuable it’s worth repeating. Consider this scenario: You want to buy a house. You’ve looked around at properties, talked to loan officers, and did some number-crunching. If you can afford a $200,000 house, think of buying a $150,000 house instead. This principle comes in handy especially if a couple is using two incomes to pay the bills. Circumstances do change and you may find yourself living on just one income. Choosing to live below your means requires discipline, but it gives you something back– it gives you breathing room you wouldn’t have otherwise. Peace of mind is precious.
Another way to save money is to appreciate the simple gifts God gives freely. I am blessed to see a sunset, to take a walk, to smell the freshness in the air after a summer rain, to discover a flower growing in a crack of the sidewalk. I appreciate everyday gifts such as shelter, a car, food, clothing, running water, heat, and electricity. I appreciate my health. With it, I can work to make my surroundings and others better. Gratitude and contentment save money. I am not so apt to run out and buy something I don’t need to satisfy a desire to “keep up with the Jones'”.
That sounds like a grocery list, right? How about a list of cleaning supplies?
A good and easy way to save money is : buy products that can be used for more than one purpose. All the products on the above list are cleaning items too.
White vinegar is a good cleanser and disinfectant. I use it in the laundry rinse water; it cuts soap residue. (It does the same thing when I rinse my hair with it after shampooing.) I also use white vinegar to clean the toilet bowl. Usually I pour about 1 cup in the bowl, let it set for at least 15 minutes, then brush. There’s no harsh chemical smell, and the vinegar gets the job done. White vinegar in hot water makes tile floors shine without any harsh smell, and there’s no danger to the paws of a resident cat or dog who strolls across the floor before it dries. Vinegar is an alternative cleaner for people bothered by the fumes from some manufactured cleansers. Plus, it costs less!
Lemons are also a disinfectant. They are good to use on countertops around food items.
I sprinkle baking soda on the carpets before running the sweeper. Baking soda is another good disinfectant and deodorizer which doesn’t have a harsh odor to it. I use baking soda in hot water to clean a variety of surfaces. I used to buy clay kitty litter. I sprinkled baking soda on the bottom of the pan before adding the litter. The baking soda helped the litter absorb odors longer.
I use cornstarch as a dry shampoo and as talcum powder. It’s effective and costs much less than products bought specifically for that.
As I thought about saving money, it occurred to me a useful trait to have is the willingness to be flexible.
What do I mean about being flexible?
Flexibility allows yourself to look for other options. It means saying to yourself, “I think I want or need (fill in the blank). Do I really have to have it? Can I get along without it? If I still need it or want it, can I use something I already have to fill that need or want? If I don’t have that choice, can I wait for awhile to save money to buy it? If it’s going to be on sale, can I wait until then? Are there less expensive options out there that will give me what I need or want and work just as well?
A practical example is shopping at thrift stores. The thrift stores in my area generally feature clothing, purses, household goods, furniture, decorations (seasonal and year-round) books, music, toys and electronics.
A former co-worker told me she routinely bought work pants at a thrift store; she got what she needed without paying high prices.
Years ago I bought a sweatshirt at a thrift store. The tag on it was a well-known, good quality brand. I was happy to pay just four or five dollars for it. Had I paid full price at that time, I would have spent twenty-five dollars. I was thrilled to get such a bargain! I still enjoy wearing it. Although that time I was aware of the brand, usually brand names don’t mean that much to me; in clothing, I buy whatever fits as long as it’s not expensive. That’s an example of being flexible.
Purchasing food is another area where the willingness to be flexible instead of just automatically reaching for national brands can give you some extra change when you leave the store. For example, store brand canned vegetables work well in homemade soups.
Flexibility works in many different buying categories. Money saved in one area means more money available for something else. It’s certainly worth trying!
Last year I took my trusty pruning saw and cut down a couple small (2″—3 ½”) diameter trees growing where I didn’t want them to. I left quite a bit of the stumps remaining. Wanting to ease the job of killing the stumps I poured ordinary table salt in holes or defects in the stumps. Given time, the table salt will eat away at the stumps and they will rot away.
Although this method is slow it is effective for places where time is not a major issue. There are no toxic chemicals involved, and the cost is very low.
For tile floors that shine without using expensive cleaners, simply add a cup of white vinegar to a gallon of hot water. White vinegar is a disinfectant, but is not harmful to children or pets who might walk across a floor before it’s completely dry. Nor is the vinegar/water combination likely to cause problems for people who have allergies.
I'm Joanna, a busy married mum of two beautiful boys aged four and three. I'm sharing my experiences as I navigate the wonderful world of motherhood! Mistakes, routines, mum / life hacks, cleaning, beauty...little bit of everything!