Last month my goal was to spend $50 or less on toiletries, but I ended up spending over $140. So I thought brainstorming some ways that I currently save and some that I’d like to start saving in this area would help. For me I lump toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent ingredients, shampoo, make-up and such in this group.

You don't have to buy them anymore!

1. Make homemade products. I use vinegar as windex and baking soda for cleaning sinks, homemade reusable disinfecting wipes and I make my own laundry soap too.

2. Use less. I want to be more aware of how much shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper and paper towels we use. I have a post called How to Use Fewer Paper Towels.

Use rags instead of paper towels

3. Often I cut open tubes of lotion and toothpaste to get more out.

Cut tubes of toothpaste and lotion to get a few more uses out of them.

4. Water down soaps and shampoos just a little bit to stretch them a little further or do your own foaming hand soap.

Homemade foaming soap is extremely easy!

5. Sign up for freebies! Right now I’m using a bottle of face wash that I got as a freebie. The last one lasted me probably a couple of weeks. I also frequently receive free lotion, shampoo and conditioner.

I often get soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner as freebies.

 

6. Use my swagbucks*. I’ve used amazon gift cards earned from swagbucks towards purchases of make up and toilet paper.

 

7. Wash and reuse plastic baggies and aluminum foil. You can also use the plastic bags inside cereal and cracker boxes as wax paper.

 

Depending on what I use it for, I can often get a couple of uses out of a sheet of foil.

8. Buy in bulk. Often times things are cheaper in a bigger container. With dish soap I use a funnel to put it in a smaller container for easier handling.

Buy generic brands

9. Buy when prices are low. This might mean buying off-brand paper towels, on sale toilet paper or clipping coupons.

Re-usable swiffer cover made from yarn scraps.

10. Use reusable things instead of paper products. It’s super simple to crochet your own swiffer cover and it’s a great way to use up leftover bits of yarn. I like to save old socks or t-shirts to cut up into cleaning rags.

 

Bonus: Use Less Disposables in the Kitchen.

*Referral link

Linked at A Blossoming Life and Lady Bug Blessings.

 

A couple of years ago I began dabbling in the world of baking soda and vinegar as cleaning products, but didn’t get into it whole-heartedly. Then when we moved here I didn’t bring any cleaners with me and thought it’d be the perfect time to see how long I could go without buying any cleaners….well we’ve been here going on 9 months, and I’ve purchased almost none! So what have I been using the last 9 months? I’m glad you asked! :)

Vinegar

You can buy a nice big jug of distilled white vinegar for just a couple bucks.

I use it for:

  • Cleaning mirrors and windows, just keep it in a spray bottle for easy use.
  • Sometimes I clean my floor with just hot water, but sometimes I use vinegar too.
  • Pour some baking soda, vinegar and then hot water down a slow drain to help clear it out.
  • Use in place of fabric softener.

 

Vinegar makes great window/mirror cleaner!

Baking Soda

I like to buy the larger boxes of baking soda and use it not just for baking, but also for cleaning!

It works great on:

 

Keep baking soda in a spice jar for easy use.

Keeping baking soda in a spice bottle makes it easy to sprinkle around for cleaning!

 

Disinfecting Wipes

Disinfecting wipes are really the only store-bought cleaning supply I have right now (not counting dish soap). I know they’re not the most frugal choice, but they come in handy, like when we were chopping up meat from an entire deer on our kitchen table! I’ve been reading about various DIY disinfecting wipes and if I do try it, I’ll have to make a new post! :)

Any recommendations on homemade disinfecting wipes?

This post is linked at Frugally Sustainable and A Blossoming Life.

 

 

 

 

Amy 

 

There seems to be a big move towards home-made cleaning products. They’re cheaper, more natural and supposedly better for the environment, but to be honest sometimes the thought of making all my own cleaning products seems daunting. Mixing ingredients that I don’t usually have around the house, or cooking laundry soap over the stove kinda daunts me at this point. The good news is, I’ve discovered just because I don’t want to cook up my own cleaners, doesn’t mean that I have to buy all my cleaning products either!

Elbow Grease

We get in such a habit of using a special cleaning product for every surface that could ever be imagined. There’s floor cleaner, oven cleaner, window cleaner, furniture polish….. While it can be good to have some specific cleaners, it’s not always necessary. I usually wipe down my counters, tables or shelves with just a damp cloth…no cleaner at all. Unless I’m cleaning up raw chicken or a super gooey mess, a damp cloth and a little elbow grease usually does the trick!

Soaking

When I have to clean out my crock pot I usually fill it with water and maybe a little soap and let it sit! I let the soaking do most of the work for me. Then when I wash it out, usually most of the hardest gunk falls right off. Soaking can also be done with stained clothes.

Vinegar instead of Windex

I did a post on this before and in my post I mixed white vinegar and water, but I’ve changed that and now I just do all vinegar. Just put it in a spray bottle and spray your windows and mirrors then clean with an old newspaper or rag. I like using microfiber cloths. You can impress your friends by telling them you make your own windex, and they never have to know it’s just one ingredient!

Vinegar for Fabric Softener

I like to soak stinky shirts in white vinegar to help get rid of the smell, but it also has other benefits in laundry use, which you can read about here.

Baking Soda

Baking soda can be used for many a cleaning job. It  works good for scrubbing, especially when paired with an old toothbrush and it helps get rid of odors (as does vinegar). You can sprinkle some in the toilet bowl, clean sinks or counter tops with it. To make it handier to use you can keep it in an old spice bottle and sprinkle out as much as you need.

Keep baking soda in a spice jar for easy use.

Vinegar + Baking Soda

Mix the two ingredients and you have a bubbly reaction! I’ve used these two together to put down sink drains to get rid of odors and help keep the drains clear.

Easy Air Freshener

I’ve made my own Febreeze using fabric softener. It worked pretty well too.

Have you tried making home-made cleaners and detergents? Do you just buy them? Or do you meet in the middle, like me?

I’ve been meaning to talk more about living in tight quarters, so I thought today I’d share some reasons why I actually like it. Not that I always like it, there are times I wish I had a bigger oven, a little more counter space or more room for Gracia to spill her toys out, without it being in our way. But there definitely are things I really like about living in a tiny place:

Our current home.

  1. Less to clean! It takes probably 10-15 minutes to sweep, mop and vacuum my whole house.
  2. It helps you keep clutter under control. When you don’t have a lot of space to put stuff, you definitly think twice before buying something and I’m always looking for stuff to get rid of.
  3. Cheaper! First of all it’s usually cheaper to buy or rent a smaller place and on top of that you have smaller utility bills. The highest our electricity bill has ever been was $107, and that was last August when we were running our airconditioner a lot. When we’re not running the a.c. it’s around $35 (we heat with propane, so that doesn’t affect our electric bill).
  4. This one sounds weird, but I really do like it: I always know where Gracia is. Where we used to live (in an airplane hangar…yeah I know, we’ve lived in strange places) it was bigger than our trailer, but still not big. I really liked how as long as I kept the bathroom and bedroom doors closed I always knew where she was. I never had to buy those gates to keep her out of hallways or anything. Now that she’s older it doesn’t matter quite as much, but it’s still nice always being able to see her…so she gets in less trouble. =)
  5. It spurs creativity. We’ve had to do a lot of thinking about where to put stuff and the best way to make the most of our space. Thankfully my husband is a good troubleshooter and handyman! =)
  6. It encourages us to go outside more.One of the reasons living in a travel trailer looked more desirable to us than an apartment is that

    Gracia outside on the swing she got for her birthday.

    we have a yard, and most small apartments only have a tiny balcony. Because of this, Gracia can play outside, we can grill out, I can hang clothes on the line, and we can have a cat (hubby’s allergic, so we have to keep her outside most of the time). And we were lucky enough to get a lot with two big trees! =)

If you haven’t checked out our place yet, click here for the grand tour!

FYI: The house in the background of the picture with Gracia swinging is not our house, it’s our neighbors. I really need to get a picture up of the outside of our place.

To continue with the vinegar theme (this is national vinegar month). You can use baking soda and vinegar to clean a lot of things. I’ve used it in my kitchen and bathroom sink and tub. My favorite part is when you pour the vinegar over the baking soda and it bubbles and fizzes! =) I especially like using it in my kitchen sink because, when it goes down the drain it helps get rid of any bad smells.

Sometimes I make a kind of paste with the baking soda and little bit of water and scrub with that before adding the vinegar. And I like to save my old toothbrushes, they’re great for getting into little corners. This is a great way to clean if you’re trying to stay away from chemicals.

Awhile back I was talking to my mom on the phone and somehow got on the subject of smelly t-shirts. She suggested that I either soak them in a water/vinegar solution or put some vinegar in the fabric softener spot of my washing machine, since vinegar is a deodorizer. I’ve tried both of those for extra smelly clothes. It’s easy and cheap. Here’s an expert about vinegar in laundry I got from  http://www.rd.com/home/150-household-uses-for-vinegar/6/ .

“There are so many benefits to be reaped by adding 1 cup white vinegar to your washer’s rinse cycle that it’s surprising that you don’t find it prominently mentioned inside the owner’s manual of every washing machine sold. Here are the main ones:

  • A single cup of vinegar will kill off any bacteria that may be present in your wash load, especially if it includes cloth diapers and the like.
  • A cup of vinegar will keep your clothes coming out of the wash soft and smelling fresh — so you can kiss your fabric-softening liquids and sheets good-bye (unless, of course, you happen to like your clothes smelling of heavy perfumes).
  • A cup of vinegar will brighten small loads of white clothes.
  • Added to the last rinse, a cup of vinegar will keep your clothes lint- and static-free.
  • Adding a cupful of vinegar to the last rinse will set the color of your newly dyed fabrics.”

All sound like good reasons to keep some vinegar close to your washing machine! =)

So this morning,I was racking my brain trying to think of something to post, and even considered skipping a post today. And then while I was checking my facebook I saw that Country Woman (I’m facebook friends with them), said that the month of May is national vinegar month. It wasn’t long ago that all I thought of vinegar was that it was a cooking ingredient I only used once in a blue moon, but I’ve started learning all the amazing ways you can use it. Not only can it be used in baking (Vinegar Sugar Cookies),  but also in cleaning (homemade window cleaner) or even in laundry to help get ride of smells.

So over the next couple of days I’ll be highlighting some great (and frugal) ways to use this humble, yet amazing ingredient! =)

Vinegar Sugar Cookies

I bought a swiffer sweeper the other day. My sponge mop was getting old and gross. I decided on the sweeper rather than the wet jet, because it was so much cheaper. Then I found this pattern to crochet your own reusable covers, much cheaper than buying the disposable kind. If you don’t know how to crochet never fear, just search the internet for knit or sewn ones. Or if you really don’t want to make your own check out etsy.com, they have some pretty affordable ones there.

I’ve been using a spray bottle with a vinegar water solution to wet my floor. You could probably use a floor cleaner and water solution too. Or you could probably wet the cloth down before putting it on, but I haven’t tried this. So this saves you not only by not having to buy the disposable cloths, but also it uses less water. Then just throw the cover in the wash next time you do a load!

Happy Cleaning!

First of all the winner of the dishcloth giveaway is…..(drum roll please)…Amanda! Here’s her frugal tip, “My favorite money saving tip is to make double or triple the amount of a recipe if it freezes well.  If my kids have sports events, or I get too busy to cook, I grab a meal from the freezer instead of buying fast food. “

This week I’m not babysitting. The family I babysit for is on a trip, so I’m hoping to get lots of stuff done and post some good posts out there. Seems like lately my posts have been kinda thrown together. So keep checking in to see more posts like, making your own frozen pizzas (goes right along with Amanda’s tip) and handmade reusable swiffer covers.

Hope you had a great Easter!

So, I think a lot of times un-frugal people look at us tightwads shopping at Goodwill, folding our aluminum foil and putting it back in the drawer and scrubbing our windows with vinegar and think we’re strange.  And on top of that I think a lot of people don’t think we really save that much…after all buying windex doesn’t usually break the bank!

So here I made up a little example of how one might save a big chunk of cash in only one month by using some of those “little” tightwad strategies. I wanted to come up with accurate numbers, so I either used estimates of my personal experience or looked up prices. Obviously not everyone is going to save the same amount, you may have more people in your family or already be doing some of these, and prices vary in different places, but read on and if you’re already  tightwad like me, maybe you can add an “Amen!” to this, and if you’re not, maybe you’ll convert.

The bold numbers are the savings. Where necessary I’m assuming that this is for just 2 people (think of the savings if you’re a big family!).

Buying Generic Brand Rather than Name Brand: $10

Reduced for quick sale meat = $3

Making a meal instead of going out to eat (say you spend $25 on a meal out and only $8 on making a meal) =$17

Renting from Redbox instead of going to the theater ($19 for 2 adults, $1.08 for Redbox, including tax) = $17.92

Playing a game rather than renting a movie (1.08 for movie, do this once a week or four times a month) = $4.32

Not buying a drink at a restaurant ($1.50 per person) =$ 3


Drying clothes on the line (72 cents a load, do this once a week, or 4 times a month) = $2.88

Borrowing a book from the library rather than buying it = $15

Using half as many paper towels (instead of using 2 rolls in a month, you use 1 at 1.30 a roll for the cheaper kind)= $1.30

Buying gas at cheaper station (3.41 or 3.54 and you buy 3o gallons – these were actual prices last week in Midland) = $3.90

Buying less soda (buy one less 12 pack)= $3

Using grocery bags as trash can liners (10 cents per bag, say you use 1 bag a day)= $3

Mowing own lawn instead of hiring someone= $20

Cutting men’s hair (1 cut for 1 man) = $15

Give yourself a manicure ($15 for a manicure at a salon, let’s say instead you spend $3 buying a new nail polish color) = $12

Buy 1 pair of pants at Goodwill instead of new ($20 for new pants, $5 at Goodwill) = $15


Cooking with beans in place of meat (88 cents for 1 bag of beans instead of 2.25 for 1 lb. hamburger meat = $1.37 savings per meal, do this once a week or four times a month) = $5.48

Make a gift for someone instead of buying one ( $15 store bought gift, $5 for supplies to make one) = $10

Total Savings:  $161.80

Remember this is just for ONE month, and is not at all exclusive of all the ways to save, there’s lots others like planning your menu around sales, trading babysitting instead of hiring a sitter, reusing ziplocs ect…

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