Miserly Tips:

Miserly Moms will feature a money or time saving tip submitted by our net readers. The guidelines for submitting a tip are listed here. Check back for new additions!

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For information on the storage life of most foods, click here. It has shelf life, freezer times, etc.


Americans like to shop. I found that we had more clothes than necessary so I stashed away extra socks, underwear and gloves, etc.. so that when our everyday clothing finally wears out, we will have clothing which we have previously stored. Also, the more clothes one has, the more laundry has. I really minimalized my husband's wardrobe and donated nearly half to charity ( a nice tax write-off using the new Turbotax free edition, even if you have to report the money back for the following tax year as "income.")... Now we have less laundry, more space in our dressers and much less of a mess. Clothing which is high quality/in style and/or re-sellable, goes to a local consignment shop and I receive a nice check every season (usually $35-$40 which is nice). Check your local consignment shop to see if they will consign your extra clothes.

Submitted by: Mary in Bethesda, MD


We just switched our telephone service over to Vonage...an internet based phone service. We got to keep our number and all the services we had before. No problem...just savings!

Submitted by: Sarah, Oregon

Reader Comments:
We switched but had trouble with reception. It would cut in and out, and there were days we had no service (internet OR telephone).
-Becky, North Carolina

Make sure you have registered your 911 caller location so that emergency services know where to find you.

My kids love fast food, but it is expensive and not very healthy. So, on the rare occasions when we do get fast food, I save the empty bags,clean napkins, and condiment packets. Then, when my 4 year old is begging me to stop at McDonalds, we go home and play McDonalds. I make his lunch (sometimes frozen chicken nuggets), wrap it up and put it in the bag along with the napkins, condiments, etc. I also save those little plastic stadium cups with lids for his drink. I include a "prize", such as a small candy or a prize that came in a cereal box. We role play ordering lunch and paying for it. This is fun, cheap, and healthier than going out for fast-food.

Submitted by: Elissa in Chandler, Az

These tips have been saving us both money and time:

We use a combined shampoo/conditioner. We save money because only one bottle needs to be purchased instead of two separate bottles. The conditioning step is eliminated, thus saving time. Wholesale clubs (i.e., CostCo, BJ's) often sell economy size bottles of a selection of combined shampoo/conditioner brands.

I use a combined powder/foundation makeup instead of seperate liquid or creme foundation plus powder. I save money by buying only one cosmetic item instead of two. Time is saved because the liquid or creme foundation application step is eliminated. I have found that the combined powder/foundation goes on thick enough to cover what the liquid or creme would have.

My husband uses 100% aloe vera gel in place of men's aftershave. We purchase a large container of aloe vera gel towards the end of the summer when the sun care products are on clearance. A large enough container could last through the following year. Additional benefits of aloe gel are the mild scent, it doesn't burn, it's soothing to sensitive skin. Women can also use it after shaving legs.

Many different brands of makeup are manufactured by the same limited number of subcontractors. Keep this in mind when selecting cosmetics. A considerable amount of money can be saved without sacrificing quality when selecting cosmetics from brands offered in the supermarket or WalMart versus the brands sold at expensive department store counters. Time is saved picking up cosmetic items at the supermarket when grocery shopping (look for those coupons!).

Submitted by: Anne in Pequannock Twsp, NJ

I am a stay-at-home mom of three, and my most important money saving strategy is to buy secondhand. When we need something, first I check to see if we can get it secondhand, and if we can't, then we get it new. I shop at a large thrift store called Savers and also at several smaller charity shops. In my opinion, privately owned stores tend to be too expensive on many items, charging almost as much for used things as they would be new on sale. I get almost all of our clothes used, the only thing I won't buy used is underwear. My pre-teen daughter proudly sports the latest styles from Limited Too, Gap and Old Navy. My two little boys wear Oshkosh and Gymboree. A bonus is that when my kids outgrow these clothes, I am often able to sell them to a private secondhand store or at a garage sale for as much or more than I paid for them.

If you are squeamish about buying secondhand, try a store such as Savers, which weeds out the dirty, torn and unfashionable stuff. When you see the great things you can get and the amount you can save, you will be won over.

Submitted by: Elissa in Chandler, Az

I love quality products, especially for my hair, but got tired of spending up to $20 for brand name salon hair products. I then discovered the "Generic" line of hair products at "Sally's" stores (specifically for cosmetologists but open to the public). The products come in black & white generic bottles and sell for about $2.79-3.99 but often go on sale for even less! I swear they are as good as the Paul Mitchel, Nexus,KMS,etc. If your hair is damaged from highlighing, perms, etc.,like mine, please give them a try-you'll be amazed!!!

Submitted by: Lori in Dunedin Fl

Americans like to shop. I found that we had more clothes than necessary so I stashed away extra socks, underwear and gloves, etc.. so that when our everyday clothing finally wears out, we will have clothing which we have previously stored. Also, the more clothes one has, the more laundry has. I really minimalized my husband's wardrobe and donated nearly half to charity ( a nice tax write-off even if you have to report the money back for the following tax year as "income.")... Now we have less laundry, more space in our dressers and much less of a mess. Clothing which is high quality/in style and/or re-sellable, goes to a local consignment shop and I receive a nice check every season (usually $35-$40 which is nice). Check your local consignment shop to see if they will consign your extra clothes.

Submitted by: Mary in Bethesda, MD

My best way to save money is to breastfeed your new baby. Not only will you save on average $600.00 to $1000.00 dollars on formula, but latest statistics show that families save over $500.00 in medical bills in the first year alone. Our family has many allergies and I feel that breastfeeding my baby saved us a fortune in medical bills.

Submitted by: Cheryl in Phoenix AZ

One of my favorite miserly ways is I make up my Christmas list right after Christmas every year...Every time I go to my favorite stores I always check the clearance racks.....I am usually able to by beautiful $20-$25 items for around $5....This way I am able to get everyone a much nicer gift than I could if I waited until just before Christmas....And spreading these purchases over several months is much easier, too. Instead of fighting the crowds, I just get all of my gifts out and enjoy wrapping them.

Submitted by: Laurie in SE OK

I am a new SAHM with one child. One of the things I am doing to save money is buying a gallon of whole milk each week (instead of the two I used to buy). When the gallon is half empty (or half full :) I mix a half gallon of non-fat powdered milk with it and have instant 2% milk! No one in my family has ever noticed the difference!

Submitted by: Tonya in Jackson, MS

I am a Stay at Home Mom now for nine years. I have found a great way to cut the cost of cleaning supplies in our home. To clean my house I use only three things.

I use a spray bottled of diluted rubbing alcohol (one part alcohol to five parts water) to pretty much clean my entire house. I clean windows, mirrors, bathroom fixtures - disinfect doorknobs, counters etc. I stock up on this alcohol when it goes on sale four or five bottles for a dollar. A very cheap disinfectant.

I also have a spray bottle of diluted white vinegar (one part vinegar to 4 parts water). I use this to clean my linoleum floors. I spray it on and wipe it off and leaves it with a great shine. Believe me I tried everything on the market and this is absolutely the best. A big gallon of vinegar at the store costs less than a buck. Yes there is an initial vinegar smell but it dissipates rather quickly. Amazing.

My most expensive item is a good scouring solution with bleach to clean the tubs, toilet and sinks. This has truly helped our budget!

Submitted by: Lisa of Orem, Utah

Readers Comment:
As a licensed cosmetologist for over 25 years, I have been studying and applying sanitation and sterilization methods for the same amount of years.
A lot of people think that rubbing alcohol is a disinfectant.  However, it is for "rubbing" tired muscles, etc.  For an alcohol to be used as a disinfectant, it must be a 70% grain or ethyl alcohol, or a 99% isopropyl alcohol.  It should not be diluted. I even got out my cosmetology book just to be sure.  Normally, the isopropl alcohol is near the rubbing alcohol, just read the label. 
Could you please pass this on?  Thank you so much.   

If you are interested in gardening or landscaping your yard...one of the best tips my mom ever gave me was to start with seeds. Not only are seeds extremely inexpensive (many seed packets are around $1.00 per pack) but you get a tremendous amount of seeds per pack and in many more varieties than are available at the garden center. If you can get a few friends together and share seeds, there will not be any wasted and you all will have many different plants for very little out-of-pocket cost. Also, if you accidentally murder your plant..or the dog or kids do it for you, you are not out as much money...it's a great way to experiment with new types of plants...and veggies...one sunny window sill and a basket planted with herbs or salad fixings...can cost well under $10.00 to create, while you get months worth of fresh veggies....healthy and cheap. Rewarding project for the kids to get involved in too. Happy gardening!

Submitted by: M.Gibson, Fort Benning GA

I am a SAHM of 4 and I have found several ways of helping myself with their school projects. How many times on Sunday night have your kids said, "oh I forgot I have to have a posterboard for tomorrow or I was supposed to do a project for school." That has happened here too many times. So now I am prepared. I have a stash hidden away from the kids that includes extra pencils, markers, glue, tape and even empty shoeboxes. I wait till they go on clearance and stock up and put them in hiding. I also hide posterboards. The fit perfect between the mattress and box springs of your bed and you will always have plenty of them on hand. I buy them about a dozen at a time at our local Dollar General Store. Not only does buying this stuff in advance help with the stress level is saves money and time because you aren't making a special trip to the store and we all know how hard it is to buy only what we went after.

Submitted by: Dana in Harrodsburg, KY

I don't know if anyone has ever mentioned it but the Consumer Information Center in Pueblo Colorado puts out a lot of publications that are consumer oriented and oriented toward saving money and/ or using your money wisely. Some of the brochures you have to mail away for but a lot of them are available online so you can just read them. You can also access their files for brochures that may be out of print and some of them feature economical recipes which could be used or altered to your tastes.

Submitted by: J. Lawyer, Oregon City, OR

You can get free internet access in many cities in 47 states and Washington D.C. The only thing is you have to put up with a small in the corner of your screen while you are logged on. My last ISP cost 19.95 a month. That means I will save $239.40 in one year! I have never had any problems logging on and I have never been booted off. You only get one e-mail with your account, but at the price of free, you could have an account for every member of your family. Check it out at NetZero and see if its for you.

Submitted by: Kim of Frederick, MD

One thing that I have found is worthwhile is to check my phone bill monthly. For example, this month I was "slammed" by MCI, which means they were not my long distance carrier but they billed me, and their rates were much higher than my regular long distance carrier's rates are. When I called to question why I was being billed by MCI instead of my regular carrier, the MCI rep told me I had been "casually billed", which means they had just picked my calls out at random and had billed me at their (higher) rate. My local phone company told me this happens more frequently than people realize, and these big companies bank on people not paying attention. It is a shame that we have to do this, but my suggestion is to carefully go over your phone bill each month. This month my phone bill was over $100.00 higher than it should have been due to the higher daytime and evening rates charged by MCI vs. my regular carrier. It took about 20 minutes on the phone (on an 800 number) to get it straightened out, but I think 20 minutes to save over $100.00 is

Another tip is I never buy soda from a vending machine. Pop in a machine can cost $.50-$1.00 a can, I can buy a 12 pack on sale at a local supermarket for $1.49-1.99, which equals a cost of 10¢ to18¢ a can, which since I drink a soda for lunch every day, saves me quite a bit in the long run. I keep a few cans in my car so I am not tempted to use the vending machines.

Also, I never hardly ever buy anything at retail. Just about everything goes on sale at one point or another, so I wait till they are on sale. Of course, things like milk and bread you can't do this with, but you can with non-perishables. When canned vegetables are on sale, I stock up and almost always have enough to last until the next sale!

The grocery stores in our area double coupons up to $1.00. I check the ads on Sunday, compare which items are on sale that I have a coupon for, and then I will buy the item. For instance, last week the store had cereal on sale 2 for $4.00, I had a $1.00 coupon, which doubled was $2.00, so I got the box of cereal free. I usually stick to the loss leaders. Usually, they are cyclic, and what is on sale now will be on sale again in about a month or two, so I can generally get
most things at a good cost. I just don't buy them when they aren't on sale. Also, don't grocery shop when you are hungry! Have your list made out with your coupons ready and stick to it! Give yourself a set amount of time to shop and stick to it!

Also, gas prices are going up and down now. When they are low, I will fill up and stop frequently to keep my tank full, then when gas prices soar again, I don't have to stop to fill up. Usually I seem to last until the rates drop again.

Submitted by: C. Heath of Davison, MI

Buy generic. Start with the vegetables. Veggies are veggies. They all grow from the ground. I have found there is practically zero difference in the quality or taste between the brand name and generic, yet the price difference can be 30-40%. Next, take a look at generic over the counter medications. Compare the ingredients to the brand name equivalent. 99% of the time they are exactly the same, but with a $1-2 difference. On the other generic products I suggest trying them out 1 at a time to see if you find a difference with your normal brand. By doing this you can save several dollars on each grocery bill and the savings add up quick.

Submitted by: Kim of Frederick, MD

I'm not a stay at home mom yet, but I am pregnant with our first child and very much want to be. I have found some ways to cut corners in our bills that you may find useful as well.

First, I called my phone company to find out the LATEST saving options. It turns out that I was on a very old savings program that has been surpassed leaps and bounds by the latest ones. I'm now going to have unlimited calling in the two area codes I use most (all our family is close to us but not close enough to be a local call) for only $20 per month! I'll save money AND get to talk as much as I want without that guilty feeling.

Also, try examining your cable bill. Some companies such as ours charge an extra fee to send you a tv guide every month. Our bill will be knocked down a total of $7 per month by declining this tv guide and 2 extra (non premium) channels.

For general household savings the best secret I have is to keep generic baby wipes on hand. These will remove almost any stain from clothing! I have saved hundreds of dollars on clothing that would have had to be thrown out by using baby wipes to scrub the stain out before washing. One pack lasts us about 6-8 months easily. In fact, I have often bought shirts on the "as is" racks for less than $5 each that only had make up on a collar. I just take it home and use the baby wipe and wash as usual. Then I have a brand new garment for CHEAP!

Submitted by: M. Lunday, Northwest Oklahoma

My wife and I share many of the tasks of our home (and although we have no children, our time together is often limited due to work hours) but MY favorite is grocery shopping! I have discovered a little tip that saves us time and money. I have become a OAMC (Once A Month Cook) so that I can save an incredible amount of time! After working long hours, neither of us feel like coming home and cooking diner. However, in order for me to cook meals for an entire month I have to plan and cut corners where I can! We are both into eating healthy and we have found a brand of ground beef that is 96% Fat Free! The only problem is that it is EXTREMELY expensive (i.e. for 1 lbs. it usually runs around$4.00!!).

I frequently did our shopping late at night and had to pay full price. HOWEVER, I found out that if you hit the grocery store in the early morning during the weekday, you can get the "Manager's Meat Special." Ground meat must be out of the store by noon of the following day, so if you arrive early enough, you can find tons of meat that is usually marked down 50% to 75% off. I simply go before I have to be at work and can usually pick up about 5-6 lbs. for $2.00 or $3.00!! Just stick it in the freezer and use it when you are doing all your cooking (in my case, for the month!).

Hope this helps!

Submitted by: B. Moody, Memphis, Tennessee

I am a stay at home mom for 17 years for two boys, 16 and 7. Of course my kids like to eat after school snacks. They love pita pizzas that I make up ahead and freeze. This not only saves money, but time also. Here is the recipe: pkg. of any kind of pita bread, (english muffins work well too), pizza sauce (any brand you like), pepperoni, sausage, hamburger , etc. , any kind of cheese you prefer; After you put them together, place on a cookie sheet and place in freezer until frozen. Then place frozen pizzas in a ziplock for quick removal. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes . Longer depending on oven. Yum , yum the kids love them. Hope yours do too.

Submitted by: Edie, Dayton, Ohio

Set your water heater at 110 to 115 degrees and you will save a lot. When washing clothes use the warm water wash and cold water rinse for light clothes and for dark colored clothes, or red clothes use cold water wash and cold water rinse as the clothes will retain their appearance and will not lose color as much. Some detergents are formulated for all temperature washing. Read the labels.

Submitted by: J. Lawyer, Oregon City, OR

My kids love all those expensive drinks, which are not always all juice, but alot of sugar. I will buy just one each payday. I pour it into a gallon jug, and add the cheap store brand apple juice and about one cup water. It tastes the same. I have always filled the pitcher to the top when making orange juice, and not just three cans of water, so my kids are used to a weaker, but not weak juice.

Submitted by: D. Russell, Mobile AL

I purchase a gallon jug of bubble bath at the local discount store (K-Mart, Wal-Mart, etc.) for about a dollar and change. I use the bubble bath in many ways:

1. I re-fill soft-soap dispensers by each sink at our house.
2. I use it as a replacement for those expensive, "gotta-have" body washes. (No one has noticed a difference - especiallly if you buy a lightly-scented bubble bath that works for both sexes).
3. I use it to wash our two huge Black Labrador Retrievers...no skin problems to date.
4. In a pinch, we use it for shampoo...just use a little and rinse extra well.
5. It can be used as dish soap. (Read the labels...it's all the same ingredients, but the bubble bath is a lot milder).
6. AND...TA-DA...we use it as Bubble Bath!

Hope this secret gets out to lots of folks!

Submitted by: D. Nyberg, Oregon, WI

My name is Lynda and I have been a SAHM for 7 years. This year I have resolved to spend only what is necessary and to reduce as much as I can in the way of bills/extra belongings, etc. Just by making a few calls to my utilities I was able to shave off some $$ from our bills. I will give you a few examples.

Example #1 - The only added feature we have on our phone bill is voice mail and we have that due to the computer/being online. I called and found out that our local phone company now had 3 plans of voice mail (which they didn't advertise), so we reduced to the lowest which is going to save us $2 per month - a total of $24 per year. Not a lot of money, but if you realize that by trimming the fat on a few bills, it WILL add up to a lot!

Example #2 - I called the cable company next. I found out that there is a plan that if you pay by the year - you only pay for 11 months and get the 12th month free. Again, the company did not advertise this, so I only found out by asking. We also returned our converter box, which is used primarily for pay-per-view services and saved another $2.15 per month. All in all by making 2 calls I have saved almost $50 per year. That is a good return for my time, don't you think? Also, we have now decided to just rid of cable t.v. altogether. We have found that we truly don't accomplish as much by having t.v. around. We also find that we get into the "I want this" by watching too much t.v. What I have learned is that you don't know unless you ask, and it
doesn't hurt to ask!

Submitted by: Lynda, Lancaster, CA

We purchased an Ooma from Amazon.com. An Ooma is a VOIP device that gives you a phone signal off of your existing internet service. The cool thing is that once you have the Ooma, you don't have to pay a monthly phone bill. We bought ours about 2 years ago for $250, and haven't paid a monthly phone bill since, and it includes local and long-distance calls. Our previous phone bill was about $30 a month, not including long distance, so the Ooma paid for itself in about 8 months. Two years of phone bills at $30/month would be $720. When you deduct the cost of the device, we saved $470 over the last two years!
Thanks for everything, Miserly Moms!!!
Katie G.

I am a SAHM to 4 kids - 3 boys & 1 girl. This summer, when "shaves" were the preferred haircut around here, I bought a home grooming kit for less than $20 at Wal-Mart. I figured the worse thing that would happen is that I would make my kids bald :), and they would have time for their hair to grow out before school starts... I have no haircutting experience, and am not particularly talented when it comes to matters of grooming.

Well, this is one of the best investments I have ever made!!! The kit that I purchased came with a video and attachments to be placed on the clippers to adjust the cutting length. The first few haircuts were crewcuts only (for just the boys, of course), but as I've gotten more comfortable with the equipment, I've been able to allow their hair to grow longer and still trim it up - a real popular style around here right now is REAL (almost crewcut) short with bangs.... The clippers also make it real easy to trim my daughter's bangs - just pull her hair up with a comb (also came with kit), and run the clippers down the hair - fast & easy!!

This purchase has paid for itself many times over; it's also great because I don't have to worry about taking the boys (& girl) to the barbershop/salon, waiting our turn, dealing with bored kids, etc.... I just did my oldest son & daughter's hair before their baths tonight....

Submitted by: Sandy

Our power company has a program called WRAP... winter relief assistance program. They come out to your house and assess it. They checked the attic and found that we had insufficient insulation there and over our kitchen in the crawl space. They also found that shower heads replaced with water savers can save on hot water costs. They are now going to put the insulation, chalk and weather strip our windows and doors put a vent over the kitchen and replace the shower heads all for the low-cost of FREE!!!! you guessed it.... they want to help consumers save money on their electrical usage. So call your company and find out about it. Also putting my family on a budget plan helped by making our electric costs the same each month instead of a staggering high bill in the winter and low in the summer.

Submitted by: Laurie from Allentown PA

Find those energy leaks! 
My husband went into the basement, which is made of stone, and found all the air leaks.  He did it by using a smoking incense stick.  With the furnace/AC shut off, he held it around all the doors, windows and any other place that looked suspicious.  If the smoke rises smoothly, then there are no air leaks.  If the smoke blows, that means there's a leak.  Then he filled the gaps with foam sealant in a can, brand name, "Great Stuff."  The basement is now warm and comfortable when I do my laundry, and the energy bills went down noticably.
An added benefit was a huge reduction in the spider population down there!
Anita from Kansas City, MO

I am a new stay at home with years of frugal/tightwad/miserly experience. Breastfeeding is free! and it promotes health. Breast feed without giving solids for six months or more and you will have a happy and healthy child.

I enjoy sewing and have found some great discount fabric stores in our city's Little Italy. They sell fabric for $1.50 a yard (Canadian). Larger cities tend to have these types of stores. I stock up if I see a lovely fabric. You never know when it may come in handy.

I also enjoy sharing with neighbours. One neighbour and I have been trading baby and house items back and forth for quite a while. This works with people who have kids who are not the same as yours, so you can use the item when they don't need it.

I cancelled the cable -- finding that I watched too much TV anyway. We just bought a fairly good antenna and tape things onto the VCR from the 7 or 8 stations we can tune in.

If you garden make sure you make friends with other gardeners as you can subdivide your perennials and give them to each other. Perennials often spread very quickly and need to be divided. We found a woman living in a small town on one of our holidays who was dividing her perennials and paid just $2 each for large pots of perennials which have been blooming most of the summer.

Submitted by: Helen from Toronto, Canada

I've come up with a great idea, to print up gift certificates for gifts for things like foot massage, hand massage, baby sitting, car washing! There are heaps more. Just use your imagination, look at all the savings! Great for children to give family as gifts, that's truly what giving is all about, Giving of yourself. No cost involved!

Submitted by: Sherrie in Western Australia

I am a mother of one with one on the way. Before having kids, my husband and I noticed that we were throwing away tons of food every week that we just didn't get eaten before the food rotted. We decided we were wasting a lot of money so now I make a menu for one to two weeks at a time and then make the exact grocery list that we need to make those items. Our cupboards look a lot more bare but we never have to make those annoying quick trips to the store, we always know what we are going to make for supper, and we have shaved a ton of money from our grocery bill. No more
buying whatever looks good at the store and it has helped us get through supper much more smoothly!

Submitted by: Missy from Denver, Iowa

I find that it is very hard to control impulse buying. I give myself an allowance every week that covers lunches, dinners out, and ALL impulse buying. For anything else I want (not need), I must wait three days. It is amazing what you don't need after three days.

Submitted by: Diane from Indianapolis, Indiana

I am a SAHM with 3 kids (twin girls 3 and a 4 yr. old son) and these helpful hints have been handed down to me and really stretch your grocery dollar.

when making hamburgers always add bread crumbs, non-instant oatmeal or a combination of bread, whet germ & bran to your meat when mixing...this will take a little meat a long way...added benefit, the burger will stick together better and it's healthy for you.

If you find a packaged food you like, read the ingredients and make your own recipe...I make my own pizza sauce using the list on the back of my favorite brand...taste great and way cheaper...make a big batch and freeze.

Did you know that peppers freeze really well, I always buy on sale, clean and cube them and pop them into the freezer. They don't go soft, and are perfect for pizzas, stews, soups or whatever. Cheese will freeze, but it's better to be grated up first since it becomes crumbly. Milk freezes, just shake it up really well before using

Submitted by: Raye, Masset, B.C. Canada

I have always stayed at home with my two boys (ages 7 & 5 ). But it is increasingly harder to live on one income although my husband is well paid.

One area we have saved money in the last year is a trash can. It is a small trash can that uses plastic grocery bags for liners and fits nicely under the counter under the sink away from the dog.. I purchased it at my grocery store (Stater Bros.) for $5.00. When the courtesy clerk asks "Paper or Plastic ?" I tell them plastic, bring home my groceries and re use the bags for trash liners. Yes this does require the trash to get taken out allot more than with a larger can, but I feel it's worth the money. Besides, my boys & I get some well needed exercise walking the trash out to the can, and our apartment complex pays for trash pick up.

Submitted by: Franci, North Edwards, CA

I can't believe that no-one has mentioned using cloth diapers. If you have access to a washer, spending money on disposables is like throwing it down the drain. Modern diapers don't use pins; they're as easy to use and fit as well as the best quality disposables and there is a vast selection available from mail order companies on the web. After all, you can spend $200-$300 on a complete set of cloth diapers which will last your baby from birth to toilet training, or you can spend $700 - $900 a year on disposables. If you have more children, the diapers can be handed down at no extra cost.

There are many more, but just for an example, check out:

Baby J WeeShop for more information.

Also, American consumers should know that they can save up to 40% on baby products if they buy online or from a mail order catalogue in Canada thanks to the disparity in our currencies. Two companies that will send you print catalogues for free are:

Born To Love and Baby Love Products

Submitted by: Kari in Ottawa, Canada

Comment from a reader:
I wanted to share my free cloth diaper pattern.
It is printable with pictures that teach you how to make diapers.
It is 100 % free and I am not selling anything. It is meant to help families.
I am emailing you in an effort to help those whom it might help know about it.

This tip will save time and money. My husband and I are vegetarians so we eat a lot of vegetables all the time. When the stores are having a sale on vegetables we just buy a lot. Then I usually spend an evening cutting all the vegetables up and put them into huge ziploc bags. I take one bag of each vegetable and put it into the crisper in the refridgerator and the extras go into the freezer (you'd be surprised, no one will notice the taste). Then when we want individual salads, or a stir-fry for the family we just break out the veggies and voila! No prep work at all!

Submitted by: Kim in Virginia Beach, VA

My favorite way to save money is by using vinegar. I know it's an old trick but it really works. I fill a small bottle with 1 part vinegar to 4-5 parts water and place it beside my shampoo. After shampooing and rinsing, add a little of the vinegar mixture to your hair. Rinse. You will smell the vinegar but the rinsing removes the odor and your hair
does NOT retain the vinegar smell. This is a great cost saver in place of conditioner. Vinegar can be used for your automatic dishwasher. Use the cheapest brand of dishwashing detergent and add 2 tsp. of vinegar to the load for sparkling, odor free dishes.

One final tip is for the laundry. I buy the cheapest gallon of store brand fabric softener I can find, pour some into a large butter tub, and add a few small sponges. I squeeze out a sponge and toss it into the dryer with the wet clothes and it takes the place of those expensive dryer sheets.

Submitted by: Robin in Waverly Hall, GA

One way I have saved money is disposable toys for the kids. You know the covers to laundry detergent ? Wash them really good and you have great toys. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They are stackable and can fit inside eachother. You can also use hairspray covers and many others. Use your imagination. they are disposable so you dont have to worry about leaving them somewhere. I store them in the chubs wipes container. My kids love these toys as much if not more than most store bought toys!

Submitted by: Doreen in Enfield, CT

I cut our electricy bill by 40% by making a routine of reading the electric meter at 12:00 noon every day. It soon got to be fun detective work to find out where all the power was going. It was amazing how many lights, recharging devices, and electric gadgets I discovered were left on for no reason. I got everyone in the house to join in the game.

I also cut driving down by about 40% by keeping a log of every trip and its purpose. Soon I found I was making many trips for a single purpose (e.g.1 to buy suger, another next day to buy milk), that could becombined. So I made a rule that every trip in the car had to be for at least two purposes (e.g. shopping AND returning the video rental). Now I am working on three at a time. This saves gas, tires, service, and helps the car last longer.

Submitted by: Sandy in Fremont, NH

We are at a point in our lives where every penny is counted and, if possible, saved. This isn't such a horrible thing as we are learning a whole lot about what is important and what isn't. The children have learned that they won't die if they eat at home (especially since I've had to learn to cook!). At any rate, here's what I've found to be a resource and money saver in the printing paper department.

I have become increasingly disgusted with the amount of computer paper that is used and discarded, regardless of the amount of ink printed on it. Since the reams of paper we buy are not cheap and resources are something we'd like to teach our children to respect, I've decided to save the paper we use and flip it over for a second trip through the printer. We haven't had any problem with the paper jamming Most of the stuff we print is just goodies for personal use, so this saves us a few bucks and a few trees.

Submitted by: Jan in Eugene, Oregon

Here are some miscellaneous tips that I've used at our house:

1. I use dryer sheets at least twice. I'll dry 2 loads with a new sheet; then toss both used sheet into the 3rd load. Everything still smells great and feels just as soft as if I'd used a new sheet each time.

2. When buying winter coats for the kids, I get them big. Then we can usually get 2 winter's use out of them and pass them down to the next child. With 4 children (1 son and 3 daughters), this helps alot.

3. I try to save any old paper (junk mail, computer paper that's used, etc.) that's only been printed on one side for the kids' artwork. Then we hang the artwork on the project room wall for decorations.
Even though I still work part-time, the hours are few and variable. Knowing how to stretch a dollar to cover our family of 6 has helped!

Submitted by: Cindy in West Virginia

I left my part-time job several months ago when I found out I was pregnant with our first child. Now that my due date is quickly approaching, and the purchase of our first home, I need to learn more ways to save! Some of the best tricks I've discovered so far:

1. We had our long-distance disconnected and switched to using prepaid calling cards instead. I've found a local grocery store that carries 250 minutes for $10 (yup, that's $.04 per minute) with no surcharge for connecting the call. Also, it announces each time you make a call how much time you have left, and it's made me much more aware of how much I'm spending. I still pay for local calling (about $25/month) but I can usually get by with one to two $10 cards a month, so I cut my monthly phone total from $75-$100 down to less than $50.

2. I recycled an empty soft-soap bottle and filled it with laundry detergent, and set it next to the clothes hamper. Now when I need to pre-treat a stain I can just squirt a little detergent on it, throw it in with the dirty clothes, and it can wait till laundry day. It works well and saves on those expensive stain-treatment sticks and gels.

3. I save empty 20-oz or liter size soft-drink bottles and refill them for car trips. They work great for bottled water or juice, and you can freeze them ahead of time (don't fill all the way, or they'll burst!) so it's good and cold.

Submitted by: Jennifer in Cogan Station, PA

Frequently I save glass jars for storage. We do not have a recycling program in our area, and I like that I can see through the jar to see what I have stored. No more mystery! In order to remove the label, I soak the jar in warm soapy water. Frequently the glue or paste is left behind. Remembering a product my husband brought home that contained citrus, I used a zester to remove the rind of an orange. Taking the orange I rubbed the zested side of the fruit on the glue. The citrus oil works very well to remove that sticky residue. I don't have to worry about harsh chemicals, and oranges are always on hand.

Submitted by: Terr in Reynolds,GA

I have found a great tip for all those presents you have to give -birthdays, weddings, Christmas, etc. I went to our town's paper store and bought plain white bags with handles (.15 to .35 each) and a jumbo roll of plain white paper. I found some wonderful stamps at our discount store for all holidays and seasons as well as different colored stamp pads. Each time we have to send a present, we "stamp" up the bag or paper for the appropriate occasion! The kids love to stamp and I never run out of the "Christmas, birthday, etc." paper or gift bags! For easy birthday paper or bags I just hold 4 Jumbo markers in one hand and draw streamers and dot confetti on the paper or bag!

Submitted by: Wendy in Mt. Pleasant, SC

One way our family has reduced time and expenses is to make and freeze homemade soup instead of buying canned. I make a large kettle of a stew or chicken noodle, then freeze in individual containers. I've found that the small containers cake icing comes in are great to reuse and freeze soup in. This works great for my family as we like to eat a lot of soup.

Submitted by: Kendra in Cleveland, TN

While I am not yet a mom myself, I have a few great tips which I learned from my mother and grandmother.

(1) Buy Christmas wrapping paper AFTER the holiday is over and when the stores have 50% - 90% off all the gift wrap ribbon, and trims. We enjoy finding creative ways to use our bargain trims and beautiful ribbons. Most of the gifts under our Christmas trees look like they were wrapped at a department store!

(2) You can also buy solid color ribbons and wraps (red, white, purple, stripes, metallics) to use for other holidays and birthdays throughout the year without paying exorbitant prices for rolls of gift wrap and spools of ribbon.

(3) We also SAVE and REUSE our fancy ribbon creations at least once. This way you get double the use on you bargain decorations!

Happy Gift Wrapping!

Submitted by: Melanie in Kentucky

I have a 3 year old boy and instead of buying color books I just print of a color page off the internet. Crayola has a great site for preschoolers with their A,B,C color pages and their 1,2,3 color pages. I will take one page a week and devote that week to that letter or number depending on what we are doing.

Submitted by: Bonnie in Phoenix, AZ

Editors Note: Another source of coloring pages is http://www.thecolor.com

My hubby, bless his heart, is famous for emptying change from his pockets anywhere and everywhere in the house. I immediately follow up, scoop it up, and drop it into a jar I have hiding in my closet. (Don't tell them, they may sneak the change heehee!). After the last three months of saving I have $43.00 in change!!!!!

A couple months before Christmas, we use the same idea and use the change to buy our Christmas tree..which is always an extra cost for the family. So much is spent on presents, it's nice to not have to worry about the cost of the tree! And we NEVER cash it in for dollar bills! It is more fun to show up with all that jingling change!!! Last year we had so much, we bought a tree for the neighbors too and still had enough for a treat after picking out the tree!

Submitted by: Lisa in Kingsport, TN

I am a stay at home mom for 5 years now and have 3 children. My miserly tip is to use one package of chicken breasts or ground beef for two meals. I cook it all up at once. If its chicken, I cut it up into strips and stir fry it, bake it, grill it, whatever and then divide it up season it use one portion that night and freeze the other for future use or later in the week. If its ground beef, I use half of it for tacos and the other half for sloppy joes.

This saves you money, and my hungry family of 5 never complains that there wasn't enough. Plus, it saves you time when you have cooked the meat for the future already! But here is my favorite bonus...I never waste money by throwing out leftovers that nobody will eat because we've had it for the umteenth time! Just one package of meat can feed one family of 5 twice!

Submitted by: Karen in Mansfield, Ohio

I am a stay at home mom to 4 children, the youngest being 3 months old. As you can imagine, we have A LOT of laundry. This tip may seem obvious, but I line-dry everything!! I saved $20 on last month's electric bill because the weather had been nice and I only had to run the dryer a few times.

I used to "schedule" my laundry days, but I have it is better for me to do my laundry according to the weather. On a nice, warm day, I will do all the laundry in the house. If afternoon thunderstorms are expected, I will start the laundry at 7 am and have it dry before the rain comes.

If you *have* to have soft towels, you can dry them in the dryer a little
first, then line-dry them. My husband thinks they absorb better when they are completely line-dried, and I love it because I know how much I am saving!

Submitted by: Rachel in Virginia Beach, Virginia

When using a flavored rice or noodle mix (yes, I do buy generic mixes for fast meals) I add a handful of rice (or noodles) and increase the water. There is no difference in taste (and there is a reduction in sodium). I also like to use them as a base for a 1 skillet meal, add cut up cooked chicken, sliced veggies (we like carrots), cook as usual. A meal in one. we also add hamburg and veggies to beef rice mix> tuna & peas or chiken & broccoli to alfredo noodles. Yummy & quick

Submitted by: Melissa in Ohio

I am a working lady. I have being frugal all my life. I grew up on a farm. The best time to buy clothes out of a stores: You buy opposite of the season, buy your winter clothes in the summer time and buy your summer clothes in the winter time. This way you will save a lot of money. I always go shopping after Christmas,to get all the sales. Then I buy my gifts for next years.

Also I love yard sales, estate sales, moving sales and garage sales. You can go to these different types of sales and really find good bargins. You can also buy winter and summer clothes from all of these sales. Churches has the best sales. If you want any type of house furniture go to a moving sales, they always have good deals.

If you go to certain grocery stores early in the morning they marked there meats prices down. Because they must be sold buy a certain date. If you have a freezer you can just fill it up. These are just some of my frugal tips.

Submitted by: Janice from Arkansas

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