Abundant Frugal Life

Finding Deals, Spending Less, Being Content

Nov
03

Saving $$ Room by Room

Posted by Lisa

You can save so much money in little ways. Pennies add up to dollars, and dollars add up to huge savings over the long haul – whether you’re talking weeks, months or years. You can start saving money right now. Here is a room by room frugality check. Please feel free to email me your additions.

BATHROOM

This is the smallest room, but can hold the biggest savings. Because I shop with coupons, I don’t pay for shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, make-up, toothpaste or toothbrushes. Either I shop at CVS for free, shop at Walgreens for free or I coupon shop the right way. Using coupons, I purchase toilet paper, kleenex and feminine hygiene items for pennies on the dollar.  By the way, save those old toothbrushes.  They’re great for cleaning.

In order to use less toilet paper, I wrap feminine hygiene items in newspaper. I’m amazed at how much TP that handy little trick alone can save. I think toilet paper is my biggest bathroom expense, though coupons help. Any ideas on how to eliminate that cost without going back to leaves or the Sears catalog?

Speaking of feminine hygiene, I wish I could bring myself to use a Diva cup, but I’m not there and I don’t know if I ever will be. I know there are women out there who swear by it. Maybe I’m too much a creature of habit. Another idea would be to use cloth pads. Again, pennies on the dollar (the way I shop) is much more appealing to me, but if you want to be even more frugal, have at it you diva.

I don’t use expensive toilet bowl cleaner. I use straight bleach.  You can also use baking soda and vinegar.

I don’t stock up on medicines because I end up throwing a lot away when they expire. I buy as needed since coupons are always in my file for what I need. The only meds I stock are Excedrin Migraine (a must have for me) and Advil. I prefer to stock up on supplements/alternative health products.

For cutting down on water usage, I don’t run water while I brush my teeth. Run it only for rinsing and spitting. Clean the shower while you’re in the shower. That’s much easier if you install a low-flow shower head with a turn off switch. Don’t use the bathtub. That’s painful for me because we have a big, huge tub and I love a hot bath on a cold night. It’s a once in a while treat instead of the put me to sleep every night kind of pampering I miss. Another water usage trick is to fill a plastic 1/2 gallon or gallon container and place it in your toilet tank. It will only save you a few dollars per year, but it’s a one time action which is worth it.

Let your bath towels hang to dry on a towel rack and reuse.  I’m not saying reuse them for a month, but I’m surprised at how many people wash their bath towels after each use.  Isn’t the whole point of taking a bath to be clean?  Well, your bath towel can’t be that dirty after you shower.  Let it air dry and reuse it.  It would be impossible for me to keep up with towel laundry if everyone in our family did that.

Use less product.  Even if you get something for free, you can still stretch it and make it last longer.  This goes for toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, soap, cleaners, over the counter meds, and yes ladies, even make-up (gasp!).

FAMILY ROOM

Cut cable and magazine subscriptions. Radical I know, but think about it. Unless you live in an area where you can’t watch any TV unless you have cable, what’s the use? Think about the quality and quantity of what you and your children watch. Necessary? I know family game night sounds canned, but it really is fun at our house. Special snacks and the challenge of who can beat Dad while he’s playing two strategy games at once, are two things we all look forward to. It doesn’t have to last all evening. Even 1-2 hours is loads of fun and children have your undivided attention.  It doesn’t have to be a game night.  You could do other things like bake something together, break out a hobby (modeling, origami, etc.), have a neighbor family over to cook out and share food, work on a political campaign, volunteer, or just play outside with your whole family (bikes, trampoline, hose, tennis, neighborhood park).

Got a fireplace? They’re warm and cozy on a cold night, but they can suck money right out of your house. Much of the heat escapes up the chimney, so most people only use their fireplaces when company comes. Buy a grate that sends the air back into the house for maximum energy efficiency so that you can actually use the fireplace to warm the house!  Now, if you don’t have a fireplace lucky you.  You could look into better alternatives.  Consider a Gel Fuel Fireplace or perhaps a pellet stove (though a bit more complex).

If you’re redecorating here is something that fascinates me. I’ve been living frugally for a while, but haven’t yet been through a redecorating phase. A friend of mine (Amy D.) did this. She picked the maker and style of furniture she wanted and bought everything on CraigsList. I, personally, am a little leery of buying used stuffed furniture (critters, smoke, etc.), but she challenged my mindset. She recently found $600 endtables, $600 coffee table, $600 sofa table for a total cost to her of $250. She sold her original furniture to recoup some of the cost. What an incredible savings! And we’re talking about nice furniture.

Last year we had water damage and ended up replacing carpet. After much research we decided on PET carpet which is cheaper, stain resistant, more durable and is made from recycled pop bottles. A total win-win for us. I love those occasions when going green is the better alternative for quality and is also more economical.

KITCHEN

This is a tough one to cover.  There are so many ways to save money in this room.  Where do I begin?

We have an open kitchen, so whenever I cook, the house gets heated.  Fine in the winter, but not in the heat of a Texas summer.  We have and use a grill.  Not only does it save on air conditioning, it also saves me from cleaning pots and pans.  Microwave cooking is another alternative, although I don’t recommend this for nutritional reasons.  However, it still saves on the air conditioning.

Line the bottom of an electric oven with foil.  This will catch spills and you won’t have to turn on the self cleaning cycle as often.

I try to use as little food wrap as possible.  We have very small to large food storage containers.  They’re dishwasher safe and reusable!  There are always coupons in the paper for Rubbermaid.  I’ve actually gotten some for free, and for as little as 10 cents/container at the grocery store and Walmart.

Keep your refrigerator and freezer stocked.  Even if you have little food, keep containers of water in there.  The more food (matter) you have in there, the longer your unit will go without turning on to cool.

Tun off the heat dry switch on your dishwasher.  Open it up and let the dishes air dry, and don’t  run it if you don’t have a full load.  Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?  Same with using ice in your drinks to help keep you cool.

Keep a vegetable & herb garden (also consider medicinal herbs) and grow fruit bearing trees/vines/shrubs.  Start up cost can be high, but payoff is rich!  Our first garden was cheap.  A gardening friend told me, “Just clear the grass and plant some seeds.  See what comes up and go from there.”  That was great advice.  Even though we have Texas clay soil, we had great growth of certain items and I didn’t spend a lot of money starting up.  We have since graduated to raised beds.  Gardening can be fun for the entire family.  If you live in the city, research urban farming and container gardening.

Cook and eat frugally.  Learn the frugal foods.  Here is a list.  Drink water at meals.  Learn the best way to coupon shop and keep a price book.  If you eat out, use a coupon.  There are so many buy one, get one coupons available.  Save and eat leftovers.  Food is a category of it’s own.  Difficult to lump it in with a room by room list.

Use cloth napkins instead of paper and don’t use paper plates.  Oh, I’m busted.  Our family of five is at home every day, all day.  I typically serve three meals daily.  It is so much easier to use the paper plates, but I know it’s not frugal.  This is one of those items that’s just worth it to me.  The shame.

LAUNDRY ROOM

One thing goes on in this room – the washing and drying of clothes.  Not a lot of room for frugal tips here, but I’ll give you what I have.  Even in this little room you can’t afford to let money go down the drain :)   (couldn’t resist).

For washing, use cold water whenever possible.  Difficult in our home as we have two stinky boys.  Boy clothes smell worse than any other.  However, when I can, I do use cold water.  Wash only full loads.  You can really cut the soap cost if you make your own detergent.  It takes less than five minutes to make and instead of buying $14-17 detergent, you can spend about $2 for the same 75 loads.

For drying, I skip the fabric softeners and dryer sheets.  They really don’t help that much, if at all.  Clean out your lint trap.  Consider line drying your clothes and linens.  Avoid clothes that require dry cleaning.

BEDROOM

Turn down the heat, or turn up the air conditioner while you sleep.  You could also turn off the heater entirely and use a space heater if/when necessary.  This is another room where a ceiling fan really pays off.

A newborn doesn’t need a room of his or her own.  Newborns usually sleep with parents until they’re sleeping through the night.  It’s just easier.  At that point, they only need a crib and can share a room with an older sibling.  Their tiny little clothes fit in small spaces, so not much is needed for furniture.

In closets, I buy long bars that connect to the top bar and hang halfway to the floor, doubling hanging space.  You could triple stack in children’s rooms.  By the way, those are great gifts to buy as shower gifts if you go to one for a woman who already has children.

The backs of doors can house shoe racks and pocket panels.  Stackable shelving is wonderful space saving storage in any tight area.

HOME OFFICE

For furniture, one word…CraigsList!  Buy it used.  Same with all the computer hoopla.  In fact, you could easily get free printers from people who upgrade.  Look into free software.

Use virtual phone service.  Skype and Vonage can give you more numbers with no extra physical lines.  Get a cell phone plan that will serve you.

Recycle and reuse paper.  Print only when necessary.

Stock office supplies during deep discount sales.  Staples has Dollar Days promos and there are a ton of back to school sales.  Learn the sale cycles and gather when items are their cheapest.

THROUGHOUT THE HOUSE

Unscrew light bulbs. Not only should you switch to longer lasting, more efficient bulbs, but unscrew what you don’t need. It seems that every switch in our house turns on at least five bulbs. That can be unnecessary. In the evenings we unscrew all but one of the bulbs in the fixture over our kitchen table. It serves as a night light before my husband and I go to bed. After that, we leave all our outside lights on and that lights the inside of the house as well. Bathroom lighting is most excessive at our house. We’ve unscrewed all the unnecessary bulbs in both bathrooms.

Use smaller trashcans even in the kitchen and recycle your grocery bags as trash bags. No need to buy tall kitchen bags if you have a small garbage can. Our family of 5 can survive taking two trash trips per day instead of one. Small cans are throughout the house – bathrooms, bedrooms, office, etc. We only need to have one roll of tall bags and one roll of huge black bags on hand for those big cleaning-out jobs.

Use old towels and rags to clean with and cut the cost of paper towels.  I haven’t yet mastered this one, but I’m on my way.  Certain things are just too disgusting to clean with a towel that will go in my washer.  It’s worth it to me to throw it away, but I’ve cut way down on my usage.  Now, to train the kids….

Install ceiling fans and save on your cooling bill. It’s a large upfront cost, but the longterm payoff is rich especially for us in warmer climates. Seriously, they can make a room feel at least 5 degrees cooler.

Close vents in rooms you don’t need heated/cooled.  We have a large walk-in closet that doesn’t need to be heated/cooled.  It has a vent which now stays closed.

Energy efficient appliances are something to consider when an old one wears out.  I can’t wait to get a tankless water heater.  Even though we keep our water heater wrapped, we could save so much more.  Check with your city to see if they have a partial reimbursement program for those who buy energy efficient HVAC units.  Those programs save homeowners thousands of dollars.

Again, feel free to email me any money saving tips you have in any room of the house.
This page will be updated as I add rooms and others’ tips.

Add A Comment