My Money-Saving Habits




About: I love crafting and creating ... especially when it's simple, affordable, and useful.

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.

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Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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    84 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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!!

    7 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

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


    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.


    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!


    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.


    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.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    6 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    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.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    4 years ago

    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


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.)


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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