Introduction: My Money-Saving Habits

Picture of My Money-Saving Habits

I'm a frugal, "on a budget" type of gal. Here are just a few ways I've managed to pinch pennies over the years.

Step 1: I Learned How to Sew

Picture of I Learned How to Sew

I can't tell you what a valuable skill sewing has turned out to be.

I took a $60 beginner sewing class at my local fabric store more than 5 years ago, and it has paid for itself many, many times over.

I now save money by making my own:

--pillow cases


--furniture slip covers



Step 2: I Buy Used Clothes

Picture of I Buy Used Clothes

Not only is it great for the environment to buy used, it's also incredibly beneficial for one's bottom line.

Shopping retail on a tight budget can be painful. And let's face it, not every item on the sales rack is worthy fashion.

I was late to the eBay party, but now it is my "store" of choice.

Also great are the many online consignment shops (shoutout to as well as fashion recycling brick-and-mortar stores (Crossroads Trading Company is only a mile from my apartment).

Some of my favorite brands--French Connection, Theory, Tracy Reese, etc.--can be had for up to 70% off the original price!

Step 3: I Sell My Unused Items

Picture of I Sell My Unused Items

And speaking of eBay...

If stuff is just taking up space in your place, listing it for sale on eBay or Craigs List is a no-brainer.

I'm not a girl with a lot of possessions. I believe in simple living. Yet even I regularly list items on eBay to sell.

I even have a system in place to organize my selling operation--complete with used boxes and padded envelopes at the ready.

Step 4: I Create My Own Storage Containers

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I love the idea of getting organized, but I'm not about to spend a lot of money to do so.

Old shoes boxes and oat containers can be covered with wrapping paper or colored construction paper. Plastic food storage containers can be put to good use in the bathroom, holding all my makeup in one place.

Old water glasses and coffee mugs are perfect for holding pony tails, hair clips, cotton swabs, and q-tips.

Step 5: I Apply Oils Instead of Lotions

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Scented lotions used to be my favorite mall splurges. Walking into stores known for their scented body products immediately lifted my spirits.

But lotions really did little to hydrate and moisturize my skin. I used to apply globs to my arms and legs morning and night, but to little effect.

Switching to sesame, olive, and coconut oils has saved me both money and time.

A little goes a long way with oil. After showering but before toweling off, I place 1 tbsp. max of sesame or olive oil onto my loofa and give my whole body a once-over.

If I skip a day, my skin doesn't show it.

Once a month or so, I also liberally apply coconut oil all over for a deep moisturizing treatment.

If I ever long for "the scents of lotions past," I simply add a few drops of essential oil to the base oil.

Step 6: I Create My Own Art

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Over the years I've learned to decorate my place with what I have lying around.

I created collages out of black-and-white calendar prints and magazine photos.

I covered up a poorly painted bathroom wall by taping some textured fabric to a wood frame.

And I created a floating mobile by weaving some clear fishing line through some TableTopic cards.

Step 7: I Decided Not to Renew My Gym Membership

Picture of I Decided Not to Renew My Gym Membership

I was never much of a gym rat, but for some reason I felt having a fitness club membership went hand-in-hand with being in shape.

For almost a decade now, I've gone without the gym membership.

I replaced a short run on the treadmill with long walks around my neighborhood (often incorporating errands if needed).

I purchased some hand weights and resistance bands for at-home strength training.

And if I ever need guidance, I'll YouTube a yoga workout or dance routine.

My weight and energy have more or less stayed the same, and since giving up on the gym, I've completed 6 half-marathons and a 1-week bike tour across Iowa.

Step 8: I Use As Little As Possible of Everything

Picture of I Use As Little As Possible of Everything

Long gone are the days I trust brand-name companies to tell me how much and how often I need to use their products. And my wallet is the better for it.

I cut my dryer sheets in half, and they still work wonders on large loads.

I use a dime-size amount of shampoo and conditioner, and I only wash my hair when I feel it needs it (maybe twice a week). My hair is so much healthier and softer than when I washed it daily.

I experiment with how much laundry and dish washing soap to use, and I almost never feel I haven't used enough.

I even cut back slightly on the size of my meals and snacks. Better to eat a little bit more later than to overeat in the first place.

Step 9: I Use Instructables Religiously for Tips and Tricks

Picture of I Use Instructables Religiously for Tips and Tricks

My favorite website helped me make a blackboard out of an old door from my grandma's house, sew a textured pillow case, cook a million yummy dinners and snacks, and so much more.

Thank you Instructables for helping me save and teaching me new skills!


THEJJRAT (author)2015-08-30

Francis12 (author)2015-07-24

The above money saving tips are too good.
But i often used to save money by using coupon code and discount deal.
According to my money saving habits:
Retailmenot and are best site for saving idea's.

fixfireleo (author)2015-02-19

The NUMBER ONE THING you can do to get rich is start a 401K account AS SOON AS YOU TURN 18! put something in it out of every check, even if it's a small amount while you are young and increasing as you get older. my dad told me this and, of course, i didnt listen. I waited until I was 35 to start and now I have to save a LOT out of each check and will have to work til 60-62. TIME is more important than how MUCH you save. Compounding interest is the most POWERFUL FORCE IN THE UNIVERSE! If you start at 18 and only save $20 a week until 30 and then up it to $50 a week, you will have OVER $500,000 at age 55 and OVER $767,000 at age 60!! (and most people save more than $50/week by their mid 30s to early 40s, especially if they start getting matching funds from an employer.) Dont make the mistake I made and so many others made. Dont force yourself to work until you are 65-70!!

flashcactus (author)fixfireleo2015-04-19

Just don't forget there are other places than the US in the world.

fixfireleo (author)flashcactus2015-04-19

i dont understand the intent of your comment. what would my comment have to do with someone who lives in the bush in africa?

Sam.anne.tha (author)fixfireleo2015-02-19

Yep. I hear ya. I started a little late too--around 30. If I ever have kids, I plan to open IRAs for them ASAP.

If you have any other tips for turning $1 into $2, you should write an instrucable. I'm a saver but not much of a "compounder" ... I'm probably not the only one who could use the advice.

fixfireleo (author)Sam.anne.tha2015-03-13

oh, and you NEED to be a compounder. compounding interest is the MOST POWERFUL FORCE IN THE UNIVERSE!! and that's not just hype! if you save $50 a month for 20 years in your savings account at the bank, you would have roughly $12,000 and possibly get about $1,545 in interest, so you would have $13,545. saving the SAME $50 a month for 20 years in a 401K with an average rate of 8% would net you $28,450!

fixfireleo (author)Sam.anne.tha2015-03-13

actually, i do. right now silver is running around $16.00 an ounce plus about $1.75 sales commission. the cost to PRODUCE an ounce of silver from the mine is about $25. the price is artificially low due to the economy being artificially propped up with stimulus. many of us believe silver could hit $30 an ounce easily as soon as they stop the stimulus. i buy from APMEX dt com. just be aware, the more you buy, the lower the sales commission and the lower the cost of shipping per item. (it's a flat rate for shipping.) so far, i have bought about 125 ounces. that wont make me rich if it doubles in price but turning $2250 into $4500 is still great!

as far as your 401K just make sure you DIVERSIFY! you need large cap, small cap, european markets, developing markets, and bonds. i would suggest about 30/30/15/5/20 for percentages. based on your risk tolerance. also, DONT BUY INDIVIDUAL STOCKS and try to avoid buying stock in YOUR company you work for. buy stock FUNDS which contain 100 or more individual stocks so if one company goes bust, it wont affect the overall fund too much. (and if you lose your job because YOUR company goes out of business you dont lose your job AND your retirement plan!)

also, you can download and listen to "the mutual fund store" radio program, it's kinda dry but if you stick with it, you will learn a LOT about money!

one more thing, NEVER buy a stock when it's doing well. that's when you SELL. buy when it sucks. buy low, sell high. same for real estate. the people who had money to invest in real estate in 2010 will be rich in just a few years.

fixfireleo (author)Sam.anne.tha2015-02-19

if you open an account the day your kid is born with $1000 and never put another cent in it, assuming an AVERAGE return of 8%, your kid would have over $100,000 at age 60. of course, the big thing is to set it up so THEY can contribute. at age 30, that account would be just over $10,000 which would be better than starting with a zero balance like we did. plus, family could be encouraged to make small contributions for birthdays and it would grow even more. just adding $100 per year until age 30 would give you a balance of $27,660 at age 30.

kost (author)fixfireleo2015-03-13

Do you have any suggestion for account with 8% return?

maven (author)2015-02-19

You could save even more by replacing your dryer softener sheets with 1/4 to 1/2 cup plain vinegar in the rinse cycle of your washer. It makes your towels softer, more absorbent, and doesn't gum up the dryer filter. Bonus is that if you have a front load washer, it cleans and deodorizes that too. The vinegar odor disappears in the dryer.

harmonious1 (author)maven2015-02-19

Using vinegar instead of fabric softener and/or dryer sheets also makes your machines last much, much longer.

Not to mention being so much nicer for the neighborhood air quality and healthier for you and your family . Fabric softener is toxic and yukky.

Sam.anne.tha (author)harmonious12015-02-19

After I get through my existing dryer sheet box, I'm going to look into more environmentally friendly ways to dry my clothes in the machine (unfortunately, air-drying them is not an option where I live). I've heard that tennis balls work well in reducing static.

I have tried vinegar in the rinse, a rag or washcloth with a very weak softener and water solution as well as tennis balls, foil balls, and wool balls in the dryer. Vinegar in the rinse for life now. I like using wool dryer balls made from a skein of 100% wool yarn (not superwash). It took me 4 months of checking thrift stores and yard sales to find a skein cheap. I also like the foil balls. I have learned to make them BIG because they condense over time. Do not miss dryer sheets a'tall.

I prefer wool dryer balls too. Not a fan of the off-gasing of tennis or plastic balls. And if you attached a couple of safety pins, it will take care of any static cling. I shop Goodwill for wool sweaters I can unravel. Even cheaper than finding yarn on sale. Look for larger weaves though. The tight weaves are really hard to unravel.

BriannaV2 (author)Sam.anne.tha2015-03-02

I've used tin foil many times for towels and sheets, until i bought a couple of those noisy rubber ball thingys that make a gosh awful noise but work real well. Just toss a couple large pieces of tin foil onto the top of a dryer load and they will ball up during the dry cycle, then just keep using them over & over with each load.

Sam.anne.tha (author)maven2015-02-19

I love vinegar as a cleaning solution in general, but I have heard that it can be quite harsh on the machines. I live in an apartment and have to share laundry facilities, so I have to be very careful about experimenting with someone else's property.

rexrezner (author)2015-02-27

I see we have experienced same things in area of ʼn

we AZ humans tend to ( ADAPT) TO our surrounding s

you are frugal
as am I
ty instructctbles for opening my mind

westfw (author)2015-02-22

I'm surprised that you don't have "Learn to Cook" on your list. There is a whole hierarchy: heating up cans and frozen dinners is cheaper than fast food, cooking "convenience" foods (boneless/skinless xxx, etc) is much cheaper (and much better), and if you can take the time and effort to deal with whole chickens and such you'll be amazed. (Hmm. It looks like the last whole chicken I bought will do for about 10 meals, for about $7 (~6lb chicken!) Not counting soup.)

ntense99 (author)2015-02-22

Hey Sam, nice suggestions - I have done the same with regards to making my own art - if U can go to a local asian supermarket, they hand out calendars at the start of the year. I ripped off each month's asian woman and framed each of them. Made a nice staggered design (Pics in my album here: )

ALSO, check out my instructable(s) - one of them is a DIY outdoor wood boiler - I use this to heat my home INSTEAD of using my grid-connected heating system. Of course, there is an initial investment AND there is physical labor involved, but in the end, it pays for itself over 1 year of use. Check it out! Thanks, Tom

LadyLimpster (author)2015-02-21

Refill the foaming soap dispenser with 1/10 liquid soap (either hand soap or dish washing soap) and the rest water. It will foam just like before.

LadyLimpster (author)2015-02-21

Make crochet reusable dish rags and when they are dirty put them on the top shelf do the dishwasher to sterilize them and get them nice and clean. It works with sponges too.

rnorton2 (author)2015-02-20

Here's a tip a stock broker taught me. Get a credit card that offers sky miles. Buy everything that you use monthly on a credit card AND pay the balance at the end of each month. IE light bill, phone, gas, food, cell, cable. At the end of the year you can take a trip for free with all the miles buying stuff you would buy anyways. She usually took 2 or 3 trips a year. It requires discipline. Don't call me if you don't pay your bill.

tleet59 (author)2015-02-19

Wow! It's like you've been spying on me! ALL of your suggestions are a part of my repertoire. Each are excellent ideas, and easy to work into one's life.

Sam.anne.tha (author)tleet592015-02-19

Great minds think alike, right? Feel free to message me if you come up with a new money-saving habit. You can never have too many, in my opinion.

tleet59 (author)Sam.anne.tha2015-02-20

A couple of things:

Instead of buying lots of paper towels/napkins, we use cloth napkins from secondhand stores. They're reusable, and can be tossed in with the rest of the laundry.

Grow your own food. Large or small gardens can be tended in apartments or on acres of land. We have a big garden, but I also grow container plants to supplement our grocery bill. Lots of DYI gardening ideas here on Instructables for whatever size you can handle.

There are so many more, like the various uses for baking soda, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide instead of harsh cleaners and pesticides.

My goal is to have a small footprint on this Earth while not spending lots of money for things you can have fun doing on your own.

CatalinRO (author)2015-02-20

Dish washing liquid soap saving:

-take an empty plastic flexible bottle (0,5 liter (0,1 gallon maybe) should work)

-fill it with water about 4/5 of the bottle

-add the dish washing liquid soap until you will have about a finger of empty bottle.

Shake the bottle to get foam and squeeze the bottle to get the foam out on the dirty dishes without spilling any liquid from the plastic bottle - basically you will use the foam to wash the dishes, not the liquid content of the bottle.

You'll be amazed how good this trick works :) (if you use directly the liquid soap, you need to use much more water in order to clean the soap, you don't want to eat it. Also the time needed will decrease, because a lot of time is needed to rinse the dishes from the soap.)

Sam.anne.tha (author)2015-02-19

I'm sorry, someone else already asked me ... in the Comments section. Who taught you how to be this romantic!?!?!

fitz.pock (author)2015-02-19

Will you marry me??????????? Your artwork is super cool, and I can't wait to touch your soft hair............

Sam.anne.tha (author)fitz.pock2015-02-19

Sorry, I can't marry anyone until I've test-driven their instructables. :(

eib_instructable (author)2015-02-19

well, i'm inspired - and now armed with good ideas. As a single parent trying to raise two kids in a tiny apartment, just what I've been looking for. In fact, it was the title that got me.

Aww, thank you so much. I'm think about writing up a Part 2. A few people in the Comments are reminding me of so many habits I didn't put in. Stay tuned!

patmac (author)2015-02-19

Great tips!

I use baking soda for: shampoo, toothpaste, face exfoliator, deodorant, and drain cleaner along with vinegar. I buy the biggest bag I can to keep lots of plastic containers out of the landfill. I also use the plastic bags that bread etc. comes in instead of buying sandwich bags. Those 2 things have saved me many, many dollars over the course of several years.

Sam.anne.tha (author)patmac2015-02-19

You should write an Instructable! I would love to read all about different uses for baking soda. I wrote one about Coconut Oil more than a year ago. I mix it with baking soda to make my own deodorant. It's amazing how well it works.

Dark Conception (author)2015-02-19

I want to marry you. It all makes too much cents.

Hahaha. I wish I was clever enough with words to incorporate a "makes cents" pun in my Instructable.

lbrewer42 (author)2015-02-19

Good common sense - thanks! Also never spend a five dollar bill - let the pile up until the year's end.

Sam.anne.tha (author)lbrewer422015-02-19

I just started doing that! I put all those $5 bills in my IRA at the end of each month.

Sam.anne.tha (author)lbrewer422015-02-19

I just started doing that! I put the amount in my IRA at the end of each month. I'm a bit of a nerd for little tricks like that.

acabrera7 (author)2015-02-19

Instead of splurging money on food and gaining weight - go reverse.

So instead of a small meal for Brekky and Large for dinner (Med for lunch)

Go for a Large for Brekky and Smallish-Med for Dinner! (Go Moderate on your brekky though!)

hirenpanchal47 (author)2015-02-19

Nice tips...most of them i am doing..but sewing by self is new tip for me thanks, few more things to add,
-in india people uses water insteed of toilet paper, this can save money,
- kitchen garden
- you can make hand weights by your self
- many things we can make by ourself(instructables is there for help:)

Stick with the sewing. I was TERRIBLE when I first started. The more you practice, the sooner you'll be a proficient and really reap the benefits of the skill.

cpennock (author)2015-02-19

Regarding the dryer sheet comments here. Make felted wool dryer balls. They last for years and reduce drying time and static. Save even more money by salvaging old wool or unraveling a worn out wool sweater. Add some drops of essential oil to a piece of cloth for fragrance.

Sam.anne.tha (author)cpennock2015-02-19

Thank you so much for sharing that instructable. I have all the materials to do it right now.

venicedoll (author)2015-02-19

I stopped using drier sheets 3 years ago. 1/10 loads will have a bit more static. I air dry what a can this makes my clothes last longer (bras, undies, anything with elastic) the best part is that the towels work now they are not just fully and non-absorbent they are useful. I love you ebay station idea thank you for posting

Sam.anne.tha (author)venicedoll2015-02-19

Not using the dryer at all would be the best way to go. I should look into racks ... or perhaps a drying station next to my eBay station.

billie.nenninger (author)2015-02-19

Very good ideas, thanks!

Thank you.

Jethrooo (author)2015-02-17

nice list. Check out making your own laundry detergent. it's easy and saves a bundle.

Sam.anne.tha (author)Jethrooo2015-02-18

I've tried a few DIY laundry detergents and I wasn't too impressed. Is there a recipe you like? I'm more than willing to take suggestions.

About This Instructable




Bio: I love crafting and creating ... especially when it's simple, affordable, and useful.
More by Sam.anne.tha:Remove (and Save) Candle Wax From Glass ContainersSummer Greek Farro Salad (vegan optional)My Money-Saving Habits
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