What I Don’t Use & Other Thrifty Tips

Arthur Sarnoff
A reader asked me the intriguing question, “What do you not use to save money?” 

·       I no longer use dryer sheets, but when I did, I cut them in half.  And then I used the USED dryer sheet on my swiffer to pick up dust bunnies under the bed before I used the Swiffer pads.  Now I use 1/3 cup of vinegar in the wash to control static cling and make clothes softer, instead of dryer sheets.  It works, too!

·       I no longer use Swiffer pads, either.  Now I use $1 micro-fiber cloth from the dollar store.  I bought 4 for dry mopping my wooden floors, 1 for mirrors, 1 for furniture, and 1 for wet mopping.  There are quite a variety and they work great. 

·       I never do drive thru!  I made it a rule that we cannot eat in the car.  I take water and snacks on every errand, fieldtrip, daytrip, and vacation.  I use a steel or glass thermos, blue ice, ice chest, and vintage picnic basket.  I keep an old quilt in my car for impromptu picnics.

.     I no longer use tin foil, esp. in my oven.  I use wax paper to wrap items that might touch food, and parchment paper in the oven.  I no longer wrap potatoes - I just cook them in their skins.

.    I no longer use zip lock type bags.  I buy the cheaper bags that use a twisty tie.  For me, the savings is worth it.

.    I no longer buy bakery cakes.  I think my "homemade" Duncan Hines cakes are much better, not to mention how much money it keeps in my pocket.  After my son's party he cleaned the cake plate exclaiming, "These are the best crumbs I ever ate!"  I am also going to try the truly homemade chocolate cupcakes and homemade piped vanilla buttercream frosting from www.ourredhouse.blogspot.com/2009_02_01_archive.html.

.    I no longer buy water bottles.  I refill both Thermos and stainless steel containers daily, and we bought a countertop filtration unit for the kitchen (that even filters out fluoride), as well as a filter for the shower.  Our savings from no more water delivery and no more water bottles quickly paid for filtration.  This was the best move we ever made!  Now even our cooking water and ice cubes are filtered, and we also aren't getting poisoned from warm plastic bottles.

.    We plan to get a Soda Stream instead of buying soda.  My husband really likes soda water, and we think this will be a cheaper alternative, not to mention better for us and for the environment.  Then, for parties and other occasions, we can make our own root beer, etc. as well. No more phosphorus, high fructose corn syrup, or paying CRV.

·       I bought 10 washcloths for $10 and use them to wipe up bathroom spills, instead of using the hand towels or toilet paper.

·       I use cheap baby wipes to clean the bathroom counters instead of skin-harming wipes.

·       I buy the 30-pack of toilet paper.  We use 24 rolls a month.  This means I can go 5 weeks if necessary before heading back to Target.  It also means I always have an excess of t.p. which means less stress.  My disaster stock includes plenty of food and toilet paper!  Just imagine the computers going down for days and you are unable to buy toilet paper…what would you do?!  Go stock up now!

·       I stock up on Kleenex at low prices.  When it is 10 for $10, I buy 30, even if it means cutting down in a different category. 

·       I store my fruit properly (see grocery shopping tips).

·       I dump from my little trash cans into a bigger one, instead of tossing the liner into the trash.  Trash bags are literally tossing money in the trash, right?  However, they are necessary.  I make them last a little longer by not tossing until used several weeks. 

·       I don’t have cable, etc.  We have the cheapest Netflix plan and we stream movies through Roku.

·       I run my washer, dryer and dishwasher before noon if possible.  I don’t use heat on the dishwasher.  But I DO wash sheets, towels, pajamas and whites in HOT water to kill dust mites and cut down on asthma and allergies.

·       I set my kitchen timer for 40 minutes to get clothes from the dryer – I don’t let it cycle on and on.

·       I cut a bath mat in half for the shower to last twice as long.  CVS has a great price.

·       I cut my vitamins in half and only take them every other day, because I feel like I get enough nutrition from my food.

·       I love paper towels, but since it is tossing money away, I make sure each sheet is only 1 cent.  I use hand towels and rags, but paper towels are so handy for germy and messy jobs.  I use the Ralphs store brand “Home Sense” because they work well.  I only use the Select-A-Sheet ones – most jobs only require a small sheet.  And sometimes I tear that in half, too.

What can you cut in half to make it last longer?  What disposable item can you stop buying?

Janine  www.keeping-house.blogspot.com


  1. I'm going to try the vinegar for fabric softener. I use Mrs. Meyer's right now (NOT CHEAP) because I hang all my clothes on the line and don't want crunchy towels and jeans.

  2. These are really great tips! We're currently on a really strict budget, and I had never really thought about some of these tips! Like reusing the trash bag to get more use out of it! Some really great tips!

    Also, I gave your blog an award on my blog today, so if you get a free chance feel free to check it out!

  3. This was a great read! I'm always looking for ways to cut back and save money and you have some great ideas! I still buy the ziploc bags but I may have to invest in the tie bags instead. Hmmm ... good stuff! :)

  4. Love this! I don't know why, but I've always loved saving money...I refuse to buy anything full price (except maybe once a year or so. teehee).

    I cook almost everything from scratch so I don't buy anything canned except when they're on MAJOR sale. No canned goods over $.50/ea.

    I also love buying clothes from Lands End's Overstock section. I haven't purchased a t-shirt for more than $5.00 in years and they last FOREVER! Last year I managed to get a brand new winter coat for $12! I check on their site every week just in case something is available at a great price in my size. They always run free shipping deals so I don't buy without that (because what would be the point?).

    Also, for beauty products, I either buy Suave with a coupon (making each bottle about a dollar) or I look out for near free coupon doubling deals on other brands combined with store specials.

    I reduced our weekly grocery bill from $140 to $65! There is still a lot of room for improvement, but I am not willing to compromise our health to get there.

    Happy Savings! xoxo

  5. Great tips!! I just found your blog and love it! Thanks for sharing!

  6. This is great! (When I had babies at home, I cut the baby wipes in half.)

  7. Hi Jeannine, Wow--what a super blog! I LOVE it! I'm totally impressed. And I agree... Funny, I've been thinking of doing the same thing... just making the cakes from scratch. I thought about doing a price comparison. Now, you've inspired me.

    I wanted to leave this long comment that I posted on my own blog in response to your grocery game question. I hope you don't mind. I didn't want you to miss it.

    Hi Jeanine, No, I don't get anything doubled that I know of. I just aim for 40 to 50% off with only the original coupon value off.

    As long as you are buying something on sale..and you have ANY cents off...that's a price worth stocking up on.

    I've noticed that they don't double coupons. My savings have all resulted without using the double off the coupon. Admittedly, it's not the same as getting to get double..but the savings are still tremendous. :o)

    Still, I do miss the good ole' days when they double our coupons. It really was fabulous.

    I know what you mean about the best deals being gone. Honestly, I never get the freebies. I just accept that as a given and don't try to get them. Target deals never work for me..and CVS or Walgreens tended to be disappointments.

    My savings comes from the solid 40% or 50% off items. Most of the time, I shop on Tuesday evenings! That's the worst possible time...because most of the super duper deals may be gone. But all of the good overall shopping + face value coupons x 3, still nets me 40-50% off consistently.

    I decided not to bother with anything but Krogers, Wal-mart (when it has a good deal), and Krogers or Randals. Every now and then I get something special free and it's always a treat. But that's not what I'm shopping for. I want to cut my whole grocery bill by half. That you can do. And happily, most stores give rain checks!

    I just had to decide not to be disappointed that the real 'steal's were gone. You would have to get up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning to do that..and it's overkill in my opinion. I don't have time for that sort of thing.

    Of course, every now and then..I get a freebie. I'd sure like to get that new Gain dishwashing liquid for free..but it's never there. LOL! If they still have the sale, I may apply for a raincheck.

    Have fun Jeannine! You sound like a true coupon queen. :o)

    4:05 PM

  8. Jeannine...I went to follow you and Lo and behold--There's my blog on your sidebar! What a sweetie you are for doing that. I'm touched..and honored.

    Donna @ Comin' Home

  9. Amanda, I love the tribute to your husband on your blog. Beautiful and well said. And his notes all over the house!!! Thanks for your kind words here.

    Caroline! I looked at your blogs and I remember all those Victoria 1993 pictures!!! Now, you do a post on your top tips starting with what you shared here! Suave has too many harsh chemicals for me, but I will check out Lands End. Thanks for the tips!

  10. Thank you everyone for your comments! Kim, I would love to hang my clothes on a line & admire women who do. My neighbor growing up always did this and when I visited her yesterday (she's 80 in a few days), there was the laundry flapping. One day I might get room to put up a line again.