I was just thinking recently about how most people find it really strange when I tell them about some of the things I do to try to save my family money. Is it really so strange to make products yourself or to give up a half hour of your life each week in the name of keeping a little cash in your bank account?
It seems like most people would say yes. Not me, though. I’m trying to stay frugal, which means I’ll take any opportunity I can get to save money!
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Here are just 5 of the weird (and apparently unusual) things I do to save a buck:
1. Homemade Cleaning Products
I’ve read all over the interweb that making that making laundry detergent yourself really doesn’t save you any money, but I have been doing it for years and I adamantly disagree with those looneys!
My detergent costs just under $25 to make and lasts me about 4 months (it used to last me just over 6 months before Bee was born!). I used to spend a lot more than that on 4 months of detergent back when I bought it pre-made!
I also make my own carpet shampoo concentrate. A gallon costs me less than a dollar (depending on what products I use) and works JUST AS WELL as any of the stuff I’ve bought at the store.
2. Cut Dryer Sheets in Half
This one I learned from my mom growing up and was so excited to stop doing when I moved out of her house! I felt so cool throwing my ENTIRE dryer sheet into the dryer every single time I did laundry! But now that I’m not working, it’s hard to rationalize continuing this practice.
I’ve never had a single issue with using half a fabric softener sheet instead of a whole one. My clothes don’t come out super staticky or anything. And by turning one sheet into two sheets, I’m doubling how many sheets are in that $2.97 box.
3. Money Making Apps, People!!
I’m a HUGE supporter of the rebate app movement. It’s even gotten to a point where I’ll mail a rebate in just to get a couple bucks back!
My favorite app is Ibotta (and they’ll give you $10 free for signing up if you use this link!), but I also use Checkout 51. I tried Mobie Save and wasn’t impressed with their rebate selection, but they do send the money straight to your PayPal account, so that’s a plus. A downside to Ibotta is that you have to wait until you’ve reached $20 to cash out your money.
I’m a big fan of the Wal-Mart Savings Catcher, too. I’ve been told that people who live and shop in smaller towns don’t get much out of this, but I live just outside of and do all my shopping in a large metropolitan area. So when I scan a receipt into the Savings Catcher, Wal-Mart sees all 20-something of it’s competitors in my area and compares the prices I paid to what the other stores are offering. If I paid more than I would have at Target, I get the difference back from Wal-Mart.
Then there’s Receipt Hog. It doesn’t pay you huge amounts of money, but I have over $10 on there and all I had to do to earn it was take a picture of my receipt after shopping trips. It’s way easy and I might as well do something with my receipts before throwing them away, right?
4. Grocery Price Spreadsheets
Speaking of doing things with receipts prior to tossing them into the garbage can, I also keep track of what my groceries cost at various stores. Right now I only keep tabs on Wal-Mart, Albertsons and Winco (because they are the only places I really ever shop), but it’s come in handy multiple times!
I used to try to memorize which place had the cheapest gallon of milk or where I could buy the lowest priced Windex, but now all I have to do is open up my handy dandy spreadsheet and take a look.
It is time consuming… I double check the prices in my spreadsheet after every trip to one of those stores. Prices are always changing, so I try to keep up with them. I’m positive it’s saved me money, though, because it allows me to plan out a shopping trip where I hit all three stores and only purchase what I know will be cheapest there.
You can get a copy of my spreadsheets here!
5. Homemade Coffee Creamer
I started dabbling with this last fall. I haven’t found a good recipe for the french vanilla dairy creamer Hubby loves to use, but I came up with a great substitute for the chocolate powdered creamer he uses daily!
The Coffee Mate version is about $4 for 22 ounces. I can make my version for *roughly* $1.75 for those same 22 ounces! Hubby goes through about 22 ounces every week, so cutting the creamer price by over half helps a LOT.