Saturday, May 31, 2008

ATM fees

Today's tip isn't all that extreme, but it can be overlooked easily (as in "It's only a few dollars!")

ATM fees are on the way up. Never use an ATM that doesn't belong to your bank - some banks even charge their own customers. Plan ahead. If you go to the bank for any reason, get your cash there. It's cheaper.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Cheap facial scrub

Cheap only in cost; it's a quality treatment! Make a lather in your hand of inexpensive hand or face soap, then add a teaspoon or so of cornmeal, work it into the lather and scrub your face lightly with it. Use washcloth to remove most of the cornmeal before rinsing thoroughly with warm water. Moisturize if necessary. Cornmeal makes a gentle but thorough scrub and it's all natural - no chemicals to worry about.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

There's more to canned food than food

If you use food from cans (and who doesn't, now and then, anyway), don't just toss the can when it's empty. Whether it's a small can, like a tuna or cat food can, or a large one, the label is paper. Tear it off, trim the ragged torn edges and there you have a piece of paper for lists or notes.

Then wash and use the can to hold other things from candles to pencils to paint brushes. More on tuna and cat food cans later.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cheaper bread

If you don't bake all your own bread, go to a day old bakery outlet and see if they'll let you have or buy bakery items that would otherwise be thrown out. Some of these outlets won't; some will. Take advantage of what you can, you might be able to buy a truckload for a few dollars. Share with friends. They'll be more inclined to share their windfalls with you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Save water

Keep a bowl or container in the kitchen sink to catch water that would otherwise go down the drain. This can be used to wash dishes, mop the floor, or for other cleaning. Besides all that, it will make you more aware of how much clean water goes down the drain - a good place to start saving.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More about saving gas

As soon as you can see you'll need to stop, take your foot off the accelerator and let the car slow down under it's own compression. You'll still have to use the brake (unless you started slowing down way back there, but you won't be using gas to get that last 300 or so feet.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Marshmallows for hot chocolate

If you happen to wind up with hardened marshmallow peeps leftover from Easter, don't toss them. Save them for hot chocolate - they make a little different topping as to looks, but they taste the same and the heat and liquid softens them so they melt just like fresh marshmallows.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

All the apple

Peeling an apple? Save the peels. You can make jelly of them and the cores - no pectin needed. Save them in a plastic bag for a few days until you have enough. It won't matter if they brown a little, but you can sprinkle them with vinegar or lemon juice to stop that. When you're ready, cover them with water and boil until they're soft, adding a tiny pinch of salt. Strain the liquid or press through a jelly bag. Return to a boil and add 1 cup of sugar for each pound (approximately) of peelings and cores you started with. Cook until it sheets off a cold metal spoon, then pour into a jar or bowl and cool. That's it. You might want to skim off the foam. Put that on a cold plate and it will subside into jelly, too. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Stain pretreatment

Save those squirt dish soap bottles! One way to use them is to store solution to spot treat laundry stains. Fill the bottle with about a quarter cup of laundry detergent (NOT the kind with bleach in it) and a tablespoon or so of ammonia. Finish filling the bottle with water and use it like any commercial pretreatment: Squirt the solution directly on the stain, let it set for a minute, then launder.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Other frugal blogs

You can learn a lot just by reading other people's ideas. No matter how frugal we think we are, there always seems to be something to learn - or inspiration to gain.

I don't have the usual "blog roll" here, but I've linked to a few frugal blogs that I think are the best:

A different kind of blog roll


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Washing dishes

There was a study not long ago that claimed that it took less water to wash dishes in a dishwasher than by hand. I protest. Here's how to do it by hand and use much, much less than in the study (they estimated 12 gallons by hand!)

How to Save Water Washing Dishes By Hand

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Freebies are frugal! The internet is a fantastic way to sleuth them out. Toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and coffee samples can help stretch your budget. Don't be wasteful with them just because they're free. Use them carefully and put off the time when you'll have to replace the item.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Keeping a broom

Never stand a broom on its bristles. Hang it upside down on a rack or nails. Clean it when you've used it for real dirt - garage floors or sidewalks. Use a bucket with warm, soapy water, swish the broom in it several times, then rinse with clear water. Hang it to dry.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Save flour

When you knead bread dough or roll out pie crust or biscuit dough, use the flat side of a butter knife to scrape the flour from the board or table into a flour sifter, held over your flour container. The sifter will clean out any chunks and your flour board will be easier to clean up, too.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Grow garlic on a windowsill

Garlic will grow happily in a container on your windowsill. Buy fresh garlic from the grocery store and use the largest cloves to plant. Put the unpeeled clove, pointed side up, in light soil with the tip just showing. Keep the soil damp and in a few days you should see a green shoot. You can use this shoot as a mild garlic flavoring (Give it time to grow at least six inches first, then trim only a few inches at a time. If you don't trim this top, it might become quite long and topple over - that's ok. When it turns brown and dries up, dig the clove of garlic you planted and you should have a full bulb. Take a clove from that and start over! (Container grown garlic will make small cloves.)