Condo Blues: What is the Strangest Thing You Do to Save Money?

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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Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

The main thing I am doing right now is shopping my fabric stash first and using all my scraps to make quilts. I did see a little bit of that show the other day, some lady was cutting up fabric into squares to put in the bathroom as reuseable toilet cloth towels............UHHHH NO! I would give up meat and desserts for a whole month to be able to afford toilet paper for now. I guess it isn't much different than cloth diapers, but right now, not gonna go that far.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

I don't do laundry frequently enough with our small family to make family cloth not stink up the house. I know some that do it and like it though.

I sewed 17 pairs of Pj pants for Christmas gifts for the extended family. I lucked out and bought most of it on sale in July. I used the scraps to make dog toys for my sister's dogs and a blanket for Bltizkrieg.

Jen the CraftinCowgirl said...

Wonderful tips, thanks for sharing!

Robj98168 said...

Strange things I do? Really?

When I cook a turkey or a chicken, I completely use it. Meat for the first meal. Sandwich or slald meat for the second. Boil the carcass for soup. I think that is pretty strange. I also hate to throw out anything that might have a second use- including but not limited to cans, jars, bags.

Just Jaime said...

Great tips! I can't think of anything SUPER strange I do....

Sass - aka - Kathy said...

Love it! Won't you consider sharing with my readers at ?

Your sunshine lover and my friend Mr. Waddles have lots in common!



Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

I don't think I do anything as strange as the guy who washes, dries, and reuses paper towels either. I wonder why the guy doesn't use a dishrag or kitchen towel instead?

Mary said...

I don't think anything I do to save money is strange but I realize others might disagree. Most of what I do to save money also serves a dual purpose of being green - not using disposable towels & napkins, finding second uses for otherwise-disposable items (containers, etc.), buying at thrift stores, and, yes, washing out plastic bags. However, I do find the behavior of some other people really strange - like my in-laws who don't recycle or compost. After we eat dinner with them, all the food gets scraped right into the trash compactor along with bottles, cans, paper towels and everything else but the kitchen sink! I try not to watch because I'm sure they'd never understand why I look so horrified:(

vikki said...

Great ideas. It is interesting how little trash my husband and I generate. We compost, reuse and recycle as much as we can. One weird thing I have done for years since I raised five boys. I recycle their jeans into quilts. I have made one for each of them, twice, and for friends, relatives, and grandkids. Now that the boys are all grown it is harder to find the jeans, but people will give them to you if you ask. They make the best trunk quilts since you can't hurt them and they are so warm in the winter. It is funny since I grew up rather poor I rarely find a new saving money hint since my mother was queen of saving money. She should have written a book.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

I had an interesting conversation with a visitor over our cloth napkins. The person helpfully said, "you can buy those you know." meaning paper napkins. I said when I run out of napkins, I wash them and don't have to spend any money at all. They don't add much if anything to the amount of laundry I do. They save me a ton of money because Husband used to grap a wad of paper napkins instead of a sponge or towel to clean kitchen messes. No wonder we used to go through so many paper napkins!

Lisa said...

I just watched that and a few things I though, that's not a big deal but some were pretty extreme but if that works for them that's fine. :)

I do many of the things on your list. I do need to be better about getting donation receipts, the problem is I'm normally in a hurry and don't want to wait.

I use cloth products instead of disposable (other than TP and tissues for colds), make my own cleaners, cook mostly from scratch, and things like that. My big focus right now is cutting down on as much food waste as possible. I didn't know you could re-pop the un-popped popcorn, I'm a kick-ass popcorn maker and rarely have many left over but I will remember that for when I do! I did use leftover bacon grease the other day to cook popcorn in, that was yummy.

Kristel said...

I Love your ideas!!! I have been using vinegar to clean mirrors and such, and even thought to just make the bottle a spray bottle! Thanks for the inspiration!