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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This may or may not work, but I thought I'd try to get a thread started that consolidates all of our best frugal tips into one list... and hopefully get it stuck up top.

Let's keep each tip in "short-and-sweet" bullet style, not long prose. I have a ton of these written down, but I'll start with a few to give you the idea...

- Use paper egg cartons to start your seeds for your spring garden. Cut each cup and plant, paper carton and all when it's time to put in garden beds.

- When shopping locally, all prices are negotiable.

- At your farmer's market, go late in the day and negotiate taking the "rest" of what a seller has... they don't want to take anything home.

- Learn how to make your own bath and laundry soap. Big savings there.

- Buy a 99 cent spray bottle and keep a mixture of vinegar and water in it for a quick, cheap, and environmentally friendly clean up solution.

- Check out the barter board on your local Craigslist. There are many things there you could possibly get for an exchange rather than a purchase.

- Don't forget that your wood ash from fireplace or woodburning stove can be used on your garden to bring the Ph in to balance.

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- Dish soap like dawn is concentrated. I have a small dish soap bottle, I fill about 1/5th or less of the little bottle with dish soap and the rest with water, the resulting mixture soaks right into the sponge instead of sitting on top and is still plenty soapy. I go through significantly less dish soap.

- I have a sponge life cycle. Sponges go into the dishwasher and the microwave (completely soak sponge in water, then 2 minutes), which keeps them from getting nasty and makes them last much longer. When the sponge has reached the end of its useful dish washing life, I cut the corners off to make it a 'yucky sponge' - these are used for cleaning floors or anything you wouldn't want to then wash your dishes after. Once a yucky sponge is on its last legs, I cut it in half and use the pieces as disposable one time sponges for truly nasty jobs.

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- wash platic ziploc bags in the laudry, I ated washing bags they were never clean enough when i did it by hand, this is easy and gets them super clean

-when your kids eat 1/2 a banana don't eat it! freeze it in a ziploc bag untill you have enough for banan bread

-you can make carrot cake or carrot muffins (cake without icing
) with carrot peelings

-FREECYCLE! in the past i have dressed both kids for 4 seasons now, gotten a new washing machine, bread machine, food, dishes, nursing bras, baby swing, toys, books, coth daipers... the list is endless

-if you plan to cloth diaper, ask around and irl MDCers or your local crunchy mom's group many people have some that with a little elastic work or patching will work just as well!

- the library is a great resource!

- local homeschooling groups usually plan great field trips for 1/2 the cost! we have gone to the zoo for free and a trip to Williamsburg for 16$ for 2 nights.

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1,771 Posts
Use cloth products. Diapers, baby wipes, TP, hankies, tea towels, etc.

For shower steam open the window instead of running the bathroom fan. It works better & is free.

Buy warm woolen clothes for the winter (from second hand stores if you can find it) and turn the heat way down in the winter.

Bake a lot in the winter. Not only is it yummy but the oven will warm your house.

Look into getting/building an outdoor oven for the summer. It will help keep your house cool.

Buy some ceiling fans & don't run air conditioning.

Buy a bike & don't drive your car.

Whenever you need something ask yourself, "Can I make this at home myself for cheaper than buying it?" If yes make it.

Just Stay Home.

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* use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without

* share with neighbors: periodical subscriptions, yard tools, kids clothes, bulk food orders, landscape materials, home improvement projects, information about local resources

* when crockpot cooking in the summer, cook outside

· Premium Member
10,171 Posts
Wow a lot of my favorites are already covered and thanks for starting the thread.

Also, I will divide mine out, maybe if we get a full blown list we can do this.


unplug things not in use. Most appliances still have energy running thru them and that eats up energy and it shows on your electric bill. DVRs do the same. If you do not program them, they will record things like a marathon showing of a show and you will use all that energy and end up deleting them anyhow. I switch shows to new shows only and I have noticed it right away.

If possible, line dry outside or set aside a place to hang things near your laundry to air dry. I love my line dried sheets. They smell soooo good!

If using the dryer, throw in a dry towel with the wet laundry and cut the time it needs to dry. Or throw in tennis balls.

Have a programmed thermostat. I also turn down the heat when we are leaving.

Our local electric company has a rebate during the summertime if you allow them to turn off your air conditioner while the rest of the community is using to much wattage. In 3 years, we still havent had it turned off but we enjoy a $20 a month rebate for partipating. Then again, we do not run the air all that much anyhow.

Insulate, repair holes, cracks, etc. You can save so much heat from escaping your home.


Every few months while bill paying "audit" your bills. See what can be eliminated, what you need to add etc. Call the company and find out what you can do to reduce your rates. IS there a bundled package, is there a better service plan etc. Do the same with your checking acct, banking, and ccs.

Save all your change. Divide it out, do whatever or let it pile up for a special treat. I personally use pennies to pay unwanted or unwarrented costs- I paid a parking ticket in pennies once. It was totally unfair but to go to court and prove was more expensive than paying the $15 in pennies. And now I have a story. I also paid an admission to a place that was free for years in pennies.

Freecycle, Craigslist, resales, ebay, trader posts, swaps for anything and everything.

I will add more later.

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-Wash clothes on the shortest wash setting/cold water/w less detergent

-Dry clothes on out-door line or on racks inside by heaters(we have the old style rads,so we set up an indoor rack in front of the rad in winter)

-Buy unisex toys(farm,dollhouse,puzzles)/clothes(plain color pjs) ect. Creates less clutter will last multiple kids

-Find when your grocery store gets the new produce in the "old" stuff will be marked down quite a lot.

-Have a list, not only will it stop impulse items, you'll remember everything and not have to make a run out to the store wasting time gas, and fighting the impulse items again

-Meal plan-Doing this I can make a single can of pasta sauce last multiple meals(I'm on my third and still have 1/2 a can)

-Go shopping in your families homes
I "shop" at my grandmas for magazines, yarn, kitchen stuff

-Ask family for practical gifts-things you usually spend money on ie-C.A.A(Triple A in the states?), My dad is paying/putting up a new clothes line for our family easter present.

-Try and cook many meal bases at once(chili/pasta sauce ect.) for freezing, saving take out trips/buying big cans of things is usually cheaper.

-Eat vegetarian a few meals a week

-Instead of buying a costco membership, go with someone who has a membership

-Plastic windows in winter, cover with thick blankets.

-Walk. Don't drive.

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5,311 Posts
Develop frugal hobbies. It's just as easy to develop the hobby of gardening as it is something else that is costlier, for example.

Refinishing furniture, thrifting, cooking, sewing. All these hobbies can save you money. (can cost you money, too...
...but can save you money)

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2,184 Posts

Originally Posted by mightymoo View Post
- Dish soap like dawn is concentrated. I have a small dish soap bottle, I fill about 1/5th or less of the little bottle with dish soap and the rest with water, the resulting mixture soaks right into the sponge instead of sitting on top and is still plenty soapy. I go through significantly less dish soap.
I have a couple of the Dawn foam pumps and I refill them like mightymoo describes (usually with 7th generation soap though
). It works great for both pans and washing your hands.

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332 Posts
My best frugal hint is to spend some time scoping out local resources:

Is there a free local paper? If it isn't delivered to your house, where can you pick one up? Local news, listings for upcoming rummage sales and garage sales, sales at the local businesses....a very valuable information source.

Where are the nearest thrift stores, and what are the best ones for the items you tend to need most? Also: antique stores (can often get sturdy old stuff for about the same price as the flimsy new stuff costs) and re-use centers.

I keep an eye out for small businesses when I'm driving around. Just in case I ever need something from one of them.

Is there a community clean-up day for large/hard-to-dispose of items, and is scavenging allowed? Is there a recycling center that has some things available for the taking? (Ours has free leftover paint.)

In the stores, where do they put the clearance items? Or even just the cheaper stuff: our grocery store has a whole case of cheaper cheese, that you don't see until you turn your back on the regular price cheese.

Library: wander around the stacks, get a sense of which books are where, especially the how-to books.

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Originally Posted by baileyann3 View Post

Buy next winter clothes when they go on sale in the spring

I do this with ALL seasons, especially things like lightweight long sleeve shirts or lightweight pants where they will easily be three season clothing, so, it doesn't matter if she doesn't *quite* grow into them by the time the "correct" season rolls around.

More tips:

Eat seasonally.

Plan expensive treats (such as cheesecake, or steaks) around sales.

Let people know (politely) that you are looking for particular items. Also, be sure to offer your stuff up. Whether it's karma or not, people tend to better remember that you gave/donated A and B when they're looking to get rid of XYZ later on.

Get familiar with any bank/credit card reward programs, and make them work for you.

Find out if there are any discounts for being in a particular profession. A lot of businesses offer discounts to military, LEO, EMT, teachers, more than you'd think (for example, we get a discount every month on our cell plan b/c DH is military), and not always advertised.

Get a group of friends together (online or IRL) and do coupon swaps. I often get multiple copies of coupon booklets by collecting from people who don't coupon at all, and then I can offer up to my friends what I don't use, and others send their extras to me.

Find out when freebie days are to local attractions/events. Many places have days a few times a year when they offer free admission, and others may offer half price admission on a particular, recurring schedule (ie. every third Wednesday, or something).

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My two cents: if you live near a medical/dental school (college or university), check into getting your dental work done by students. My own dad was a dental professor and all my life, I've had student dentists work on my teeth. Recently, I've had thousands of dollars worth of dental work done for only a few hundred dollars. It takes longer but in my opinion you get good care because the professors have to sign off on all the work and they make the students do it again if it was substandard.

People think DH and I are cheap but in essence, I can't see handing someone thousands of dollars for dental work when I can get it so much cheaper. We have a great medical plan but our dental plan is, um, almost non-existent.

And I should add: there's hardly anything that can't be re-used. DD and I use old newspapers to do paper mache and old magazines and circulars to make cool collages for cards!

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493 Posts
-use the library
-always pack water/snacks/lunches
-pay for things in full to avoid interest
-become part of a community and swap things
-swap child care
-don't watch commercials or read catalogs- they're designed to make you feel inferior

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2,378 Posts
raise your insurance deductibles as high as you can if it will lower your premiums

take advantage of u-pick crops and load up your freezer

if you're taking the family out to eat, go to breakfast or lunch; it's generally a lot less expensive than dinner

never co-sign a loan with anyone other than your spouse

a can of paint is the cheapest and most effective home redecorating technique around

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197 Posts
Great thread idea!! So many good ideas have already been are a couple to add...

- Save the bags storebought buns/bread come in. Use them to store your homemade bread/buns/other baking.

- Swap movies/games with friends and them from the discount bins (after Christmas is a good time to find marked down board games) and swap them once your family gets bored.

- Let your little ones join you/your partner in the shower - uses less water then running a full, seperate bath.

- Clean with baking soda and vinegar - its better for the environment, your family, and its cheap too!!
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