The Annual Mothering Frugal Ideas Contest - Mothering Forums
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Frugality & Finances > The Annual Mothering Frugal Ideas Contest
cynthia mosher's Avatar cynthia mosher 12:13 PM 01-16-2012

Mothering's Annual Top Frugal Tips Contestsqueezebucks.jpg


Do you have some great frugal tips to share? 


We have a contest for you!


Post your frugal, thrifty, money-saving tips (and a pic if you have one) and you will be entered into our Top Frugal Tips contest.


Three  winners will receive a Mothering Supporter Membership and a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate.




Please read the Contest Terms and Conditions before you participate. Post one tip per post. The winner will be determined by thumbs-ups for each posted idea (limit of one prize per entrant). So spread the word and thumbs-up your favorites!


Last date to post an entry is February 14th. US and Canadian residents only. 

Kara Z's Avatar Kara Z 03:38 PM 01-31-2012

Bountiful Baskets has been a real money saver! Not only do we not throw away produce anymore (read: $$$ down the trash), for less than $20 I can get a whole weeks worth of fruits and vegitables - enough to feed a family of four at least. Plus, having such a wonderful fresh food bounty encourages us to eat at home more and actually plan our meals ahead of time. Our grocery bill has been cut in half!

Radiant Lotus's Avatar Radiant Lotus 05:48 PM 01-31-2012
I'm doing upcycled cloth diapers the frugal way.  I tore retired and donated flannel sheets into squares to use as flats and folded them "origami" style, so they're dense down the center and trim on the sides. They agitate open to clean thoroughly and dry quickly.  Here is one of his seasonal snowman diapers:
snowman diapers.jpg
My covers are made from felted wool sweaters.  The arms sew into pants and the body becomes pull-up briefs. They work great and only need washing every week or two thanks to the antibacterial properties of lanolin.
I have spent under $30 since birth on my adorable full-time stash for my son who is 20 months old now.  I've even recouped that cost by selling some upcycled woolies.

lollie2357's Avatar lollie2357 08:48 PM 01-31-2012

dough gobs


We try not to buy too much junk food because its expensive - but we still like an occasional treat!  Whenever I make yeast bread, I pinch of a bit of dough first and make "doughnuts." I used the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day dough recipe, and Beard on Breads "dough gob" method for frying the dough. Easy peasy.  My loaf of bread is a little smaller, but my doughnuts were free.  :)

lollie2357's Avatar lollie2357 08:51 PM 01-31-2012



We don't buy many pre-made school supplies for our homeschooled preschooler.  We can make and teach just about anything with scissors, pencils, glue, and various papers.  These flowers were made by cutting up wrapping paper, tissue paper, construction paper and file folders we had around the house.  

gomamago's Avatar gomamago 03:22 AM 02-01-2012

Purging the clutter... We significantly simplified what we own by donating, selling or tossing what now adds up to more than 20 bags of "stuff" that we didn't need/use and we are far from hoarders. Example, the kids' books, we  now have about 25% of what we had and I see that number reaching a point of almost none in the near future. We sold those in great condition to a used bookstore for credit or used for birthday gifts and donated the rest. We rely heavily on the library for our reading materials. In the kitchen, we have 4 of each place setting, one for each of us. We have a few spare in storage for when guests come and the rest are gone. This has saved tons of time in cleaning and organizing and water bills. We've done the same with clothing and toys for the same reasons. It used to take my husband and I 4 hours each on Saturdays to clean our house. It was daunting and exhausting. Now, we literally spend an hour each for deeper cleaning which we never got to before without spending an entire day on the project. Not only does this save time and money, it has relieved a large stressor.

gomamago's Avatar gomamago 03:23 AM 02-01-2012

Sleep well...For us, sufficient sleep simply equals less waste. When I am overtired, and chronically so, dishes don't get done right away so we waste  more water dealing with dried messes, I forget to change the wash and have to rewash loads of laundry because they sat too long and I forget what is in my refrigerator because my brain is too tired to stay on top of things and food goes to waste at a much higher rate. We also eat out at a much higher rate when we are exhausted and pay in money and loss of nutrition. I also see a significant difference in incidence of sickness when we sleep well. So, our doctor bills are almost nonexistent. And last but not least, we also repurpose things more when our creative juices are flowing with sufficient sleep. These are so simple and intuitive yet, I think elude many people as they did us for too long.

Chalex's Avatar Chalex 11:05 AM 02-01-2012

Take advantage of your library!  Free sources of entertainment for the whole family at the library...books, music, movies, internet access.  Our library has museum passes, children's programs, art group gathering.... 


My favorite part is being able to request my items online--because you know how hard it is to browse for items with kids in tow!

Chalex's Avatar Chalex 11:35 AM 02-01-2012

MEAL PLANNING!  We reduced our food waste dramatically by planning our menu each week.  Which, of course, saves us money. (stick to your grocery list!)


We can plan to have pasta one day and use up the rest of the sauce by having pizza a day or 2 later. 

Chicken one night can go into fajitas the next.

We know where and when we are going to eat those veggies and see at a glance where we need to add more. 


Take advantage of this website and the Meal Planning boards for inspiration! 

Chalex's Avatar Chalex 12:27 PM 02-01-2012

Check out churches for frugal entertainment.  (even if you don't belong to that church)

I've attended great parenting seminars, my son attended a wonderful week long summer camp--better than the ones we've paid triple the price for, and I'll soon be checking out a marriage/date night seminar with entertainment.

earthgirl's Avatar earthgirl 12:28 PM 02-01-2012

I used to do a weekly grocery shopping trip. Recently, I have started skipping every fourth week. This has helped in a lot of ways. For one, I've been mindful of freezing more leftovers, knowing that we will need them on that fourth week. But it also forces me to really use what we have on hand, and the result of that is a lot more food made from scratch. (For example, if we've run out of bread, then it's getting made from scratch.) This system is helping us save about $120 a month (our regular weekly grocery bill) and it is also forcing us to eat healthier.

Chalex's Avatar Chalex 12:31 PM 02-01-2012

LOL!  Enter free contests to win prizes you can use for gifts.  (or fun surprises for yourself :) )

There are lots of contest sites online, but sometimes you are luckier entering local contests (run by radio stations, grocery stores, sporting event venues, newspapers, etc.)

Start now for a stash for Christmas!  (usually contest run for a few months.  Don't forget to read the rules)

Mommel's Avatar Mommel 08:35 PM 02-01-2012

By using this free tool that walks me step by step through the process of raising my consciousness about what I have and don't have and what I continue to consume:


And by not buying stuff I don't need. Really.

Goddess3_2005's Avatar Goddess3_2005 08:22 AM 02-02-2012

Gardening! Its a great way to teach children about where their food comes from and you can save money on groceries too. We take old news papers to make seed starter cups and start our seeds early. We live in a climate where the soil is too poor to plant in, so to further save money we use old icing buckets we get from the grocery stores for free as our containers for our plants. Theres nothing better than fresh food from your garden!

youngspiritmom's Avatar youngspiritmom 12:51 PM 02-02-2012

We've been able to save a tremendous amount of money on groceries by using a simple strategy of combining coupons with items that are on sale. thumb.gif


While I'm by no means an extreme couponer, by using coupons for an item when the item is already significantly on sale, we have saved tons of money. There are many free sites that match sale items in your area with the coupon inserts from the Sunday paper, and this takes me only 15 minutes a week. geek.gif


We also shop in bulk, and buy more whole foods rather than packaged and processed foods. We save HUNDREDS of dollars on groceries each month which means more than one thousand dollars a year.


Happy frugal living!

cynthia mosher's Avatar cynthia mosher 08:23 PM 02-02-2012

I love these ideas! We'll be bringing them all together in an article to place on the site (with full credit of course). thumb.gif


Posting members - don't forget that you can post more than one frugal idea. Just place each idea in a separate post. Reading members - don't forget to vote for your favorites!

naturekate's Avatar naturekate 09:25 AM 02-03-2012

Thank you Mamas for these wonderful ideas.  Keep 'em coming! 

Chicky2's Avatar Chicky2 11:59 AM 02-03-2012

For raised bed gardening, we use many items.  My favorite so far is old upright freezers that my dh takes the compressors out of and then puts drainage holes in the bottom.  Put them up on paver stones we got for free, and voila!  Instant mini greenhouses.  Can be covered easily w/plastic.015.JPG

Chicky2's Avatar Chicky2 12:00 PM 02-03-2012

For cheap and effective walkways in my garden area...old black plastic shelves used in Wmart's gardening center.  My FIL's son gets them for free and grinds them up to make floors for horse trailers.  I put them down in my garden so I don't have to get muddy if it's recently rained.  I have them on top of black vinyl sheets (again, we got for free) to prevent weeds.014.JPG

Chicky2's Avatar Chicky2 12:01 PM 02-03-2012

Another garden bed idea....old livestock water containers.  I will be harvesting greens at chest height--great for my back!  What to fill them with?  Goat barn rakings, that's what!  Free.016.JPG

Chicky2's Avatar Chicky2 12:03 PM 02-03-2012

We collect old washers, dryers, refrigerators, anything w/metal or compressors or engines or batteries.  We spend time tearing them down and hit the metal recycling yard.  Then we hit the grocery store.  We've made almost $2,000 this way in the last year!

Chicky2's Avatar Chicky2 12:07 PM 02-03-2012

Last but certainly not least.....I found these supers for beehives.  Rented a uhaul to go get them.  Spent $20 on the uhaul.  Sold 45 on Craigslist for $15 each.  The remaining 30 of them go tomorrow to be traded for a bred Nubian doe, which is a real steal!!!  The goat is worth $150 by herself, and she is pregnant.  She gives almost a gallon of milk a day!018.JPG017.JPG

AliceMay's Avatar AliceMay 12:08 PM 02-03-2012

Re-gift. I have been doing more of this lately, either giving things that we received or just that we own. Of course, I don't mean to simply fob off something you don't want/like on somebody else. My criteria is that it needs to be something specifically suited to the recipient. For example, we recently passed on some beautiful marble tea-light holders that were the *exact* right colour and style for our neighbours home decor. (And they were very pleased!) This way I do not feel like we are "cheating" or anything, since we are carefully selecting gifts, just not buying them. We moved this year and after several months we still have boxes and boxes that remain unpacked (what could possibly be in there?? We aren't missing anything!) so I've been dipping into those and seeing them as a good place to look for things that might please others. 

Chicky2's Avatar Chicky2 12:10 PM 02-03-2012

Thought of one more.  My dh pulled this flooring up at work.  Boss gave it to him.  I'm about to put on CL for $150.  013.JPG

Chalex's Avatar Chalex 12:27 PM 02-03-2012

Accept used children's clothes and pass 'em on after you are done.

Kids don't care about brand names.  And you'll be amazed at the beautiful clothes that are only worn once or twice, like at Christmas.

(I've been getting quite a bit of clothes from my SIL and then passing on to a cousin.)






MonarchMom's Avatar MonarchMom 01:29 PM 02-03-2012

Home hair cuts.  Hubby bought a cutter that you attach to the vacuum hose for around $35 a few years back.  Through trial and error (and watching YouTube) he taught himself to cut his own hair and mine.  Annual savings - at least $400.  Not to mention it is nice to have him hover over me and tend my tresses.

Chicky2's Avatar Chicky2 01:35 PM 02-03-2012

I went dready and save all kinds of $ on shampoos and conditioners.

Red Pajama's Avatar Red Pajama 01:35 PM 02-03-2012

Plan weekends carefully. Decide in advance if you're having a weekend out, or in. Make at least half of your weekends "in". When you do decide to go out and about, pack a lunch.


We've been pretending to be snowed in this January. I'm amazed at what we're able to save by not running in to town for this and that.

Chicky2's Avatar Chicky2 01:37 PM 02-03-2012

One that saves us probably at least $50 a month in the warmer months is to catch the condensation that drips off of our air conditioning lines. We must have a/c here, so we may as well save some $ somewhere else.  Even if we don't use a drop of water out here our base fee on our water bill is $40.  Anyway, hubby re ran some lines and catches the water off of 2 of our 3 units and we water all of our livestock with it.  It involves toting buckets of water, but that is well worth it!  We also water the garden with it.  That one is set up to drip into a big blue barrel and has a hose run off the bottom w/a shut off valve.  I can attach it to the soaker hoses in the garden beds.

Chicky2's Avatar Chicky2 01:45 PM 02-03-2012

Another thing we do is forage.  Recently someone posted her crab apple tree for picking on Freecycle.  We were the only ones to respond.  We also forage for dandelion greens, lamb's quarters, Indian bread root, cactus paddles and fruits, blackberries, grapes, persimmons, pecans, and kefir pears when we can.


017.JPG021.JPGNot only did we get apples, but we also got hot relish and pickled okra from the owners of the tree.  Sweet.

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