Thursday, April 26, 2012

Frugal and Thrifty

"Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship." Benjamin Franklin

How much do I love this quote?!!  As I was searching for quotes on being frugal, I came upon this one and it fits my post today perfectly.

In today's economy, everyone is striving to find ways to be more frugal.  That's one of the main reasons why couponing has become such a huge trend.  I would say it is more of a necessity than it is a hobby.

I have been couponing since August of last year.  I have definitely calmed down a bit since I first began, but I still keep my eyes open for great deals and stick to buying things that are on sale for each week.  That's one of the ways I contribute to helping our finances.

I wanted to make a list of different ways that I try to keep costs down in our house.  These aren't huge revelations or anything, and some of these may even be "Duh" tips for you, but they're small ways to cut small costs.  Insert quote above. "Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship." Every. little. bit. helps. It really does.

These are going to be listed very randomly, but take what you can benefit from:

1. Use a bowl of water with your dishwashing detergent.  This tip is mainly for those of us who wash our dishes by hand.  Instead of having to squeeze detergent onto your sponge or washcloth after a few plates, get a bowl, put some water in it, squeeze some detergent into the water, and use that to dunk your sponge into to wash your dirty dishes.  This cuts down your use of dishwashing detergent.

2.  Mop your floors with a towel and soap and water.  I know somet of us do this, but some may not. This eliminates the need for a mop or those expensive refill pads and cleaning solution.  Just simply get an older towel you don't mind donating to the cause, rinse it in some hot water and soap, ring it out, fold it in half lengthwise, put one foot on each end of the towel, and slide your feet back and forth.  I remember doing this my entire childhood and washing my parents' kitchen floor one row of tile at a time.

3.  Reuse plastic containers.  This goes for any plastic containers.  I keep my Cool Whip tubs, my Hillshire Farm deli meat tubs, my coffee containers, everything.  I wash them out and put them to good use in whatever ways I find.  In my case, my husband always seems to forget all of his tupperware at work or in his car, so I can't get mad if it was just an old Cool Whip container.  See, it saves you money AND your sanity.

4.  Save your half drunken water bottles.  Whenever we have guests over, there is always a plethora of half empty water bottles left behind.  Instead of throwing out the water, I will usually combine all the bottles into a bigger gallon and save it for watering plants or whatever else I may need.  Of course, this excludes cooking - just wanted to make that clear.  But if you have pets, you can certainly use the water for your pets as well.

5.  Reuse your plastic grocery bags.  I am all about going green and using reusable bags at the grocery store, but I have to tell you that I love my plastic grocery bags.  I use them to tie up Sym's stinky diapers.  I've used them as "lunch bags." I also line all my small waste baskets with them. Here's a trick that I learned from my mom that definitely makes life a little easier for me.  Whenever I clean the bathroom, I always layer up the grocery bags into the waste basket.  So when the bag is full, I just pull the top bag out and I still have a few more bags left in it.  

6.  Exchange services.  This is something that has gotten my husband many things that we could never be able to afford with just one income.  He is a web designer, and a very talented one, I might add.  He has bartered his skills for tons of things.  He's received cash, tropical fish, corals for his reef tank, musical gear, studio stuff, and lots of other things.  If you have a skill set, use it to trade for something that you may need.  Maybe you can baby sit in return for a hair cut - or dog sit, or paint, or sew, or alter clothing, or anything!

7.  Don't be scared to buy second-hand.  I love thrift stores, the Goodwill, Salvation Army, yard sales, consignment stores...I love them all!  It is definitely more work to find pieces that actually fit you well, but sometimes you do find that diamond in the rough.  Another way to do second-hand, especially between moms, is get together a network of moms who are willing to pass down their baby items.  Whether it be swings, cribs, bouncey chairs, clothing, boppeys, gliders, whatever.  What one baby is not using, another baby might be ready for it.  Why go buy something brand new (we know how expensive baby items are), when we can share?  Sharing is caring.

8.  Coupons and sales.  Couponing has saved our family so much money.  It's ridiculous.  I have not bought laundry detergent nor shampoo since October of last year.  If you have not looked into couponing yet, I highly suggest that you do.  If not for groceries, atleast for personal hygiene items like shampoo, toothpaste, toiletries, etc.  Here are a few of my favorite couponing blogs that have all the information you need to get started and more:,,  If you just simply don't have the time to coupon (because it is pretty time consuming), then I suggest buying items that are on sale.  Look at the grocery store's weekly ads and plan your menu around that. 

9.  DIY.  Another way I try to keep costs down is by making my own things.  Whether it's cleaning solution, home decor, kids' costumes, or garlic bread, I've found that I can repurpose things around my house or find supplies/ingredients for much cheaper than buying the items already made.  For grease stains on clothes, I put a drop of dish soap on the spot, then sprinkle with baking soda, scrub with a toothbrush, and wash.  For my own garlic bread, I toast bread, cut a clove of garlic in half, rub the garlic on the warm toasted bread, then butter it.  Tastes great! Those are just a few examples.

Although we try our very best to be frugal, there are certain things that we cannot do without.  Like temperature control in our house.  If it's hot, the AC is coming on.  If it's cold, the heat is coming on.  We have tried to set our thermostats at certain temperatures in order to conserve energy and save money, but we like to be comfortable in our home.  That's just something that we can't do.  But it's ok.  Do what you can.  You're still saving a little bit of money somewhere, and that's what counts.

Please share any tips or ideas you may have on being thrifty and frugal.  I would love to add to my list! 


  1. Thanks for your tips Savannah. Even when you aren't trying to save money - sheer efficiency (no waste doctrine) and love for your planet may take precedence. My tips are:
    -Microwave your dish sponges once they get smelly. This kills bacteria and gets rid of the smell and makes it clean again. Although eventually you do have to throw it out, you will find that it makes the sponge last 3 to 4 times longer.
    -Make sure your toilets and faucets aren't leaking. One month our water bill was double its usual just because we had one leaky toilet. Yikes!
    -Buy store brands - Target's Up and Up are just as good if not better than Pampers and Huggies! Same goes for shampoo and hairspray.
    -One thing I won't skimp on are: my usual Polish Kielbasa (any other brand just doesn't taste the same)!; makeup - cheap stuff never works or looks right (although there are some gems out there); and never know how good the expensive ones are until you try it - Jcrew fishnets are the bomb. :)

  2. These are definitely wonderful tips! Thanks for sharing them! :)