How We Save More By Using Less

posted by Andrea | 01/19/2013

I realize that although I’m not a coupon blog or a money-saving blog, I do still talk a lot about saving money… but that’s because it’s something I’m passionate about, and I realize that even small savings add up over many months and years. Plus, saving money and being good stewards of our finances is just a good habit to learn.

Some of you might easily be able to shave a few hundred dollars off your monthly spending… but I know there are others who might struggle to save even $25 more per month. Whatever the case,  I firmly believe that no matter how tight your budget is, there is always SOME way you can save a few cents here or an extra buck there.

Even if your budget is super tight, I figure there’s no harm in trying. The worst case scenario is that you’d shoot for saving an extra $25 and come up a little short — which would still be better than nothing at all!

One way we’ve been able to save more is simply by using less.

I know that statement might sound overly obvious… but have you ever tried it? I mean REALLY tried it? Below, I’ve listed several ways we save more by using less…

1. Dish Soap:

I only use about half the recommended amount of dish soap and dishwasher detergent and my dishes still come out sparkling clean.

2. Laundry Soap:

I usually use SoapNuts and vinegar for our laundry, but if I do need to use detergent, bleach, or fabric softener for something, I use about half the recommended amount — and I’ve never had any issues with our clothing not being clean.

3. Hand/Body Wash:

When the hand soap and body wash bottles are about half empty, I add in some water and shake it around to “thin down” the soap and make it last just a little bit longer. Our hands and bodies are still clean :)

4. Napkins:

We almost always use cloth napkins, but if for some reason we need paper napkins {for lunches or really messy foods} we rip the napkins in half — yes, we REALLY do this!!

5. Paper Towels:

I only buy the paper towels that are divided into 3 small towels and we almost never use more than one small section. If it’s a big mess, we’ll use t-shirt rags or real towels and then throw them in the wash.

6. Storage Containers:

We pack our lunches in re-usable lunch bags and use mostly re-usable storage containers as opposed to plastic bags. We also ALWAYS use reusable water bottles — this is my all-time favorite water bottle!

7. Cleaning Products:

I make most of our cleaning products, shampoo and conditioner, face wash, and other toiletries for pennies… which is a huge saving over expensive store-bought products.

8. Meat:

Whenever a recipe calls for ground beef, shredded chicken, or another type of meat, I almost always use 1/2 to 1/3 less meat and then add in extra beans, rice, veggies, etc. to make up the difference. No one ever notices and the meal is much cheaper that way!

9. Dairy Products:

I often use dried milk mixed with water or yogurt in many recipes that call for regular milk or sour cream. Dried milk is much cheaper and easier to keep on hand since it’s non-perishable.

10. Utilities: 

We ALWAYS turn of the lights when we’re not in a room, we turn down the heat when we’re sleeping or not home, we take very quick showers, and I run my washing machine and dishwasher on the “quick” cycle to save money on utilities.

11. Printer Ink:

Every time I have to buy printer ink, I’m always amazed at how expensive it is. And while I try not to print anything I don’t absolutely have to, when I DO print I always use the “fast draft” mode which uses about 1/2 as much ink. The documents still look completely fine — and you rarely have to worry about smudging wet ink!

12. Gas:

I used to spend one afternoon a week driving to different grocery stores getting all sorts of fabulous deals, driving around to different antique stores, or driving to pick up my fabulous Craigslist finds. And although I really enjoyed doing that, it’s just not practical for me these days (Nora’s not much of a shopper!). So we actually save quite a bit on gas just because I don’t go that many places anymore.

13. Baby Stuff:

I’ve hardly spent any money on baby things (besides diapers and wipes). Yes, we received clothing, books, toys, and other supplies as baby gifts, birthday gifts, and Christmas gifts… however, I’ve found that it really isn’t necessary to have SO MUCH STUFF. Nora’s favorite toys are kitchen items, blocks, and magnets — and her one small shelf of books is plenty. Obviously, as she gets older, her “stuff” will also get bigger, but I’m still convinced that kids can get by with a lot less stuff.

I realize that many of you might think we’re a little crazy and TOO “cheap” {and that’s OK!} but if you’re looking for a few extremely simple ways to save at least a few bucks each week, these ideas will probably do the trick.

And while it might not sound like much, a few dollars each week can really add up after a few months or years. Plus, by using less of many of these products, you’re helping the environment too!

Do you have any simple ways to save more by using less?

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48 comments

  1. Debi

    01/22/2013

    If you buy lunch meats that come in a plastic container, re-use the containers for food storage or carrying left overs in your lunch.

    [Reply]

  2. Tina

    01/23/2013

    I make my own body/hand lotion. I also have been driving a bit closer to the speed limit and it really has saved me on gas. I take my lunch to work everyday this has saved me a lot of money and no wasted left-overs

    [Reply]

  3. Kristin

    01/24/2013

    First, while I’m relatively new to your blog I think we were separated at birth. I really appreciate your simple practical and straightforward approach to homemaking. Second, I do many of the things listed. We have saved and helped others save by swapping baby items when one family isn’t using them. We also regularly participate in local taste tests that allow us to make a few dollars and have fun all at the same time!

    [Reply]

  4. Kimberly

    01/25/2013

    I ordered soapnuts and I’m giving them a try. I’ve made my own laundry detergent in the past but didn’t think it got the clothes clean. So I’m excited to see how they work. Thanks for the information.

    [Reply]

  5. Katie

    01/27/2013

    Hi Andrea,

    I love your blog and I am so glad I found it. I was wondering if you have any frugal wedding advice or ideas from your own wedding? I haven’t seen any blog posts about it but I am a relatively new follower. I am getting married this year and just wanted to make sure I am not missing anything when it comes to saving money.

    Thanks!

    Katie

    [Reply]

  6. Julie

    02/28/2013

    My husband and boys love their OJ, but it’s so expensive. So, I add water to the jug. :) No one notices.

    [Reply]

    Lindsey Reply:

    Love it! What a great idea :-) I always buy the pure, not from concentrate stuff, so watering it down won’t affect the taste much at all. Thanks for sharing :-D

    [Reply]

  7. Lisa

    03/01/2013

    If you buy whole milk you can also add water after you use half then add water you will have 2Percent I think that’s what you can buy for low fat

    [Reply]

  8. Lindsey

    03/14/2013

    Andrea, I just discovered your blog yesterday, and I am hooked! I’m so sad that I haven’t know about this until now. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful ideas with us.

    My hubby and I decided to give up my SUV this past year. We are spending much less on gas because his car gots better MPG’s, saving on insurance costs, and personal property taxes. While it can be a little inconvenient for me to drop him off an hour before I have to be at work, we get to spend more time together, start our evenings when we get home (instead of debriefing first), and I do my devotions every morning in the peace and quiet of my car.

    [Reply]

  9. Luba

    05/23/2013

    What a wonderful post, Andrea! I made soup a few weeks ago, and my dad said that I used “too little meat.” I took that as a compliment! Also, I used to play the drugstore game and go to 3-4 stores per week, but now I am sticking to one store (getting only deals) per week. It saves on gas, money, and sanity too! God blessed me with a laser printer a few years ago, and it’s wonderful how long the cartridge lasts (2 years or more, and I print lots of coupons).

    [Reply]

  10. Bonnie Ash

    07/10/2013

    I buy refilled printer cartridges from shop4tech. At less than half, the shipping is free and I always receive a working, long lasting replacement.

    [Reply]

  11. Diane

    01/01/2014

    All of these suggestions fall into the “waste not want not” philosophy my parents and grandparents lived by. I have found that most condiments are easy to make (if you have time), and when I’m shopping, I always keep in mind that saving $3 a week on groceries or some other essential item adds up to a weeks worth of groceries for our family over the course of a year. Thanks Andrea.

    [Reply]

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