Crazy ways to save money

Over the years I’ve gotten into the habit of always looking for the most affordable way to meet my family’s daily needs.  Well, almost always. I looooove books, and our budget could use a serious intervention.  I’ve got one planned.  After Christmas.  Ahem.

Anyhow.  When you habitually look for ways to do things affordably, the cool thing is that you’re going to find LOTS of ways to save money.  Some of the things that work well for us:

Being willing to look for creative and affordable solutions has saved us lots of money over the years. I highly recommend looking at life with a creative and flexible eye. We’ve gotten two years out of a $10 Craiglist microwave.  Recently when the start button fell off on the floor, my hubby performed a creative fix with a bit of plastic and a single screw to get more use out of that $10 find.

But there are moments when my creative mind pushes it a little too far, and I end up complicating my life unnecessarily.  One such moment:  the time I decided to to save money on vacuum cleaner bags by cutting the top off a used bag, emptying the contents, and stapling the bag back together to be reused.  This little plan used about a million staples, and ended up blowing out in the middle of use anyhow. Dirt everywhere.  Not pretty.

How about you?  What stellar ways have you discovered to save money?  Which ideas were ‘fails’ at your house?


  1. I have to ask, did you do that because you read it in The Tightwad Gazette? Because I’m pretty sure she suggests that in her book! πŸ™‚ Planning to cook everything from scratch occasionally backfires on me, because I won’t have time and I don’t have a backup plan. A better plan for me is to plan most things from scratch, and then have a few easy meal ingredients on hand.

  2. Amber Howard-McGinnis says:

    (More like a ‘long way to save money’). We raise pigs for meat. I also cook all of our food from scratch. Unfortunately I’m not the best cook/baker, and my meals are hit and miss. By keeping pigs and giving them my ‘mishaps in the kitchen’, we are making good use of food that would otherwise be wasted.

  3. I recently started making our own bread. I follow the 5 minute artisan bread recipe and it is so easy. It has saved us a LOT of money. Meal planning, grocery shopping with a list, cutting out impulse buys, shopping on craigslist, and most of all, being grateful for what we have (rather than succumbing to all those enticing ads) has saved us money.

    • Amber Howard-McGinnis says:

      I don’t why I didn’t think of it before…but to help with your buying–I use the website “”. It’s a free search engine that rewards you with ‘swagbucks’. You can trade these in for many different things but I use mine to get $5 e-gift cards. I stack the cards (which is allowed) and buy my stuff on with those! It doesn’t bring in a lot of money–about 1 or 2 gift cards a month but every little big helps! πŸ˜€ Heres my linky:

  4. I need to learn from everyone here! My best attempt lately has been only going to the store 1x a week. (Having only one car has made that necessary— oh another way to save moneY!)


    • alpidarkomama says:

      My two best – buying mostly 1- or 2-ingredient items at the grocery store, and (my favorite) roasting green coffee beans in a Whirlypop that I got at Good Will for $3. It only takes 10 minutes, and the beans are less than half what pre-roasted beans cost. The coffee also tastes FANTASTIC! πŸ™‚

  5. I don’t know what kind of vacuum you have and how it hooks in, so this might not be practical for you. When mine fills up, I detach it from the vacuum, take it over to the trash can, and pull all the dirt out from the hole where it hooks in. A good 75% of the stuff in the bag is animal hair, so it slides out pretty easily. Then I just sweep up the dusty bits that explode into the air and fall on the floor around the trash. No staples, and I can get at least 5 rounds of use before the hole gets weak and I have to replace the bag. If you have more actual dirt, that might not work so well for you, but it works for me.

    I loved the dryer rod idea when you posted it. I wish I could use it. As my “laundry room” is actually “closet in the dining room”, the rod would be lucky to fit 3 pairs of pants, so it is not practical. I would also be thrilled to use the fire starter idea, except I can’t find the cardboard egg containers. All the companies that supply my area use styrofoam.

  6. I make our bread and pizza dough–a huge savings! A loaf of good quality whole wheat bread costs about $4 at the store, and I can make it for about 30 cents. Ordering pizza can be over $20–making a pizza is only a few dollars, depending on toppings and size. The kids like it because we get to eat pizza much more often.

  7. Careful with the dryer lint fire starters – although they are a great idea and work wonderfully, you should really only use the lint from loads of 100% cotton items (like loads of towels or jeans) because the lint from synthetic fabrics can give off toxic chemicals in your home when burned.

  8. Never having a credit card.

  9. Stay Home!! Yes, doing this saves me gas, time and money. If I don’t see it I usually don’t think I need to buy it. It’s amazing how little I buy when I stay home!

    Also, I don’t read catalogs…they give me “the gimmes” and make me discontent with all that I already have.

    Finally, I do book reviews for Thomas Nelson publishers and get free books as fast as I can read them and review them. Anyone with a blog can sign up with The site is easy to use and they are fast and efficient.

  10. We have a mom’s gathering every Friday morning. We chat while the children play. Whatever unwanted item we find in our home during the week, we bring and set on a table Friday. Anyone is free to give and/or take from the table. Whatever is not picked goes to the thrift store.

    • I love this ideas! I am borrowing it for my playgroup!


      • Hello other Martian with no credit card! I am very glad you are liking our idea. Came back home with a box full today. Again.
        I see that like us, you do not have tv! My goodness! How great.
        Maybe we should make this a contest…we have no clothes dryer…!)

  11. As a book-lover myself (as well as a few others in my household), I have tried a couple of things to cut down on my book related expenses. 1) If the library has it, I don’t buy it unless there’s a really good reason to buy it 2) I have never minded reading the library’s not new books, so it dawned on me that it would save a lot of money if I bought the books I wanted pre-read (used). and both almost always have the books I want for $0.99 and coupons for taking a dollar off…read free book, plus 3.99 shipping. Way cheaper than new on most books. Amazon usually has links to used copies as well. BTW, with buying used from the sites I mentioned I always pick a seller with the highest rating and I’ve never been diappointed.

    • ColleenInWis says:

      Have you all tried If you have books you are willing to send to someone who requests them, you can earn credits that allow you to request books that someone else is willing to give to you! The only cost is the cost of shipping the book you are giving away… I have received (and given) many lovely books this way. It’s very easy to set up an account, list books you can give, and make a wishlist for books you desire. Also, SwapaCD and SwapaDVD are similar web sites.

  12. The majority of the kiddos presents will come from garage sales. Also, be slow to upgrade- we still use our VCR and tapes can be had sooo cheap!

  13. We almost never use the clothes dryer. This can get a bit tricky with a 6 month old who’s in cloth diapers and living in an apartment, but I make it work. It cuts down on our energy bill tremendously, and I get to use the savings toward other, more important things πŸ™‚

    • Although this is an archived thread, hopefully someone is still subscribed and can answer this…

      How do you do this? Drying racks? I’m interested….

      • My daughter has curtain rods strung across her laundry room for drying cloth diapers. They also sometimes turn on a space heater in the bathrooom overnight and hang things on the shower rod for quicker drying.

  14. I save money with my credit card! I pay off my bill every month, and have always done so (credit card companies do not like me). And we earn airline miles. This allows us to go to out of town
    family weddings and bar mitzvahs-a huge savings!

  15. Our family has taken on The 11 Month Project for 2012. It is a year (OK, 11 months) of not purchases any non-essential items. A year of rejoicing in the bountiful blessings that already clutter our home. A year of making due or doing without instead of mindlessly purchasing that “must have” item. A year of simple sizing.

  16. I totally understand your book/amazon issue! I feel like buying books is a good place to splurge because your kids are learning, or growing their imaginations and that’s good! Ways to save money on amazon: find books that are in the 4 for 3 promotion, buy used or paperback, get gift cards through swagbucks or mysurvey, or another survey site. I avoid using credit cards, but in Oct-Nov I used my amazon rewards card for a lot of things and paid for a lot of my christmas spending at amazon with those points. Now I’m back to not using it again.

    I guess I use newspaper as a fire starter. You can put dryer lint in your compost I’ve heard. My laundry room is also our “entry”, and it’s extremely small for even one of those purposes, let alone both, so I don’t think a laundry line would work. We’d be ducking under it to get in the door! I do hope to have a laundry line inside when our new home is finished – near our wood stove.

  17. Hi,

    Hello from Poland πŸ™‚
    I’ve read a part about wooden dryers and must say that here in Poland we rarely use tumble dryers, whereas 99% of houses use such a hanging dryers mounted to the roof. Depending on the space you have you might choose the size, but generally one big can take a full washing machine load, if you have two and another standing one on the floor than you can service even 3 loads. They will get dry within 24 hours and for our family (2+4) it is fair enough.

    Please see examples of such a dryers here:

    You can try to google them by putting a polish phrase ‘suszarka sufitowa’. Enjoy!


  18. The vacuum cleaner bag thing works for me if I fold it over a couple of times before stapling.

  19. We unplug our big appliances when not in use. Saves about $20 a month, believe it or not. Just unplug. For “big” deals … entertainment area (TV, DVD, etc) use a surge strip and unplug it. The same for the printer, computer area. An appliance turned off still uses about 40% of its potential energy.