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Sunday, January 15, 2012

What is the Strangest Thing You Do to Save Money?

I watched the Extreme Cheapskates special on TLC. True to reality TV, they presented and edited the people featured as weird in the lengths they go to save money even though I read many of those tips, like washing and reusing plastic zipper baggies (heck! I do it myself) on blogs and in The Tightwad Gazette books long before this show was a twinkle in a producer's eye.

Our green and frugal ways mean the amount of our weekly household trash is usually one small plastic bag of trash. 

Frugality, just like green living, is all about balance. What works and is normal for some, others just can’t go there. I’m all for boxing up and taking my restaurant leftovers home with me (a quick, easy, and cheap lunch option for the following day!) but I personally draw the line at asking other people for their leftovers at the restaurant, while one guy on the show does it all the time – to his wife’s embarrassment which makes good TV.

If I left these amazing homemade tortillas at the restaurant it would have been a crime!

I wish that they’d go into why  the people featured decided to go such lengths to save money (they touched on it for some) or if they have any current financial goals once they met the goal that got the savings ball rolling. For example, for us, I came into our relationship with a lot of debt because I put myself through college. I bumped up our green money saving ways to pay off those bills sooner than later. Once we paid things off, we stayed in our cheap apartment (despite the intense pressure to buy a house) to save money for travel – which we both love. Now that we are homeowners, the money we save goes toward building my blog business, rebuilding our emergency fund, DIY projects, and to sometimes spoiling Blitzkrieg.

Lisa made this blanket from scraps she had leftover from making Christmas gifts. Green? Cheap? I don't know. I just thanked for for the extra Christmas gift!

While we watched Extreme Cheapskates, Husband and I commented on what was on our personal That’s Normal but Some Might Think it’s Nuts vs. No Way No How am I Going to Such an Extreme to Save Money list. We also wondered if any of the people featured had things they save on in order to splurge on something else. For example, I buy most of our staple ingredient type food at Aldi. I put the savings toward buying fresh produce and environmentally friendly products I can’t or don’t have time to DIY. Or to sometimes spoil BlitzkriegJ.

For giggles, I put together a list of weird ways we save money. You might think these ideas are strange but now that they are part of routine, they are life as usual for us.

13 Strange Ways to Save Money

1. Make a money saving plan. This isn’t a weird way to save money, but this post is a good place to start - A Five-Step Plan for Saving Money and Paying Off Debt That Works! 

2. Clean and sterilize kitchen sponges in the top rack of the dishwasher to prolong their life. I can't stand yucky kitchen sponges but frequently tossing them is wasteful. The dishwasher takes care of that. When the sponges finally die, I compost the spent kitchen sponges if they are plant based.

3. I reduced my home’s natural gas and electric use by 32% using cheap home improvements and new habits in a year long project. Want to know how? Check the posts How I Slashed my Electric Bills Without Moving into a Yurt and 15 Habits That Lower Winter Utility Bills.


My favorite stay warm habit is cuddling up with Blitzkrieg

4. Fix broken items instead of replacing them with new. For example, Husband’s old boss gave him a broken laser printer she was going to throw away at work. For a $30 part kit and a little bit of Husband’s time we got a laser printer!

Craftsman Blogger Summit

5. I repop unpopped popcorn kernels.  


Popcorn is my snack crack of choice.

6. I use sunlight as a free solar space heater to warm my bedroom during the winter. 

I love hanging out in warm sun spots! 

7. Reuse morning coffee and the grounds. I freeze leftover coffee in ice cube trays to make homemade iced coffee drinks. Take that Starbucks! Then I use the spent coffee grounds to make Quickie Compost


8. Use a programmable thermostat. I keep it on the auto settings. It lowers our furnace to 58 degrees during the day in winter. I stay warm drinking hot tea, dressing in layers, and using the computer I built with its powerful processor as a space heater under my desk. For real. Check out my 9 New Habits to Keep You Warm During Winter


I built my computer with such a powerful processor that it acts like a space heater under my desk. What a happy accident!


9. I try to get a second use out of everything before we recycle, compost, or throw something away. That goes for things like finding 10 Ways to Reuse Orange Peels  to prettying up and repurposing  Four Recycled Bathroom Organizers to concentrating on using reusable items instead of disposables like my 6 Bottled Water Alternatives.

Even Blitzkrieg has his own water bottle with a dog dish attached!


10.I don’t buy furnace filters anymore. I clean our reusable furnace filter each month instead.

It is a super duper allergen grabbing filter too.

11. I make most of my household cleaners including HE laundry detergent, daily shower cleaner, Scrubbing Bubbles, and all purpose kitchen cleaner. Sometimes I use my homemade lavender essential oil or homemade orange essential oil to scent my cleaners.


A repurposed spray trigger fits directly on my vinegar bottle. Who knew?

12. Get receipts for qualified charitable donations. I always make an itemized list of the items we donate to charity thrift stores andask them for a receipt. That way I can take it off my taxes as a charitable donation.

13.  We eat our Halloween pumpkins. We toast the seeds for snacks or I use them to make bread. I freeze the pumpkin puree and use it to make an awesome pumpkin curry or pumpkin soup. One year I made crock pot pumpkin butter. It tastes great on a sandwich and makes an excellent impromptu hostess or holiday gift.
Pumpkin butter courtesy of my freezer

Do you have any strange ways you use to save money? Feel free to add your tips to the list!

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