10 Ways We Save MORE By Using LESS

posted by Andrea | 01/19/2016
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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 expenses just by cutting back on restaurants, entertainment, clothing, and other “fun extras”. However, I know there are others who might struggle to save even $20 more per month because money is tight. 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 (without cutting anything out of our budget) 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. I also use vinegar instead of Jet Dry (which is ridiculously expensive at our grocery stores)… and I use vinegar to clean my dishwasher — which helps it run better and more efficiently.

2. Laundry Soap:

I usually use half the recommended amount of any type of laundry soap, bleach, detergent, OxiClean, etc. and I’ve never had any issues with our clothing not being clean.

3. Body Wash & Hand Soap:

When our body wash bottles are about 1/3 empty, I add in some water and shake it around to “thin down” the soap and make it last just a little bit longer.

And I’ve been using regular gel handsoap to make my own foaming hand soap — which is easier for kids to use AND stretches the soap SO much further.

4. Napkins:

We almost always use cloth napkins (yes, even with kids). Pizza is probably the only meal that we sometimes use paper napkins for — as well as when we have large groups of people over for a meal.

We each have our own napkin, we keep it on our chairs in between meals, and I swap them out every couple of days (or as they get too dirty).

5. Paper Towels:

I buy the paper towels that are divided into 3 small towels and we try not to use more than 1 small towel at a time.

We also use t-shirt rags for grosser messes (and trash them) and washable microfiber cloths for almost anything we need to clean or wipe.

6. Food Containers and Water Bottles:

We pack our lunches in re-usable lunch bags and (mostly) use re-usable storage containers as opposed to plastic bags.

We also almost 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 savings over expensive store-bought products.

I originally thought this might “waste” more time that it was worth — but after almost 5 years of making my own, I can honestly say that it only takes a minute or two to whip up another batch and I’m ready to go for a few more months.

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!

Please know that our family is probably the farthest thing from a vegetarian family… but even still, we have been able to save a good amount on our grocery bill without sacrificing flavor or “heartiness” in our meals!

9. Dairy Products:

I often use dried milk mixed with water or yogurt in many recipes that call for regular milk or sour cream (usually just for cooking, not baking). Dried milk is much cheaper and easier to keep on hand since it’s non-perishable.

 

10. 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 with 3 kids in tow.

There are honestly weeks when the only time I drive is to bring Nora to school 2 days a week (Dave picks her up). We either stay home or walk to places (when the weather is nice)… and even though gas has been much less expensive this past year, I’m positive we save more by simply staying home!

 

I realize that these ideas won’t work for everyone, but if you’re looking for a few extremely simple ways to save a little extra each week, these ideas (or something similar) might just work!

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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69 comments

  1. a woman

    01/27/2016

    smart ideas! I will keep these in my mind.

    Another idea is to have a menu for 2 weeks and shopping list for 2 weeks: I reduce the time, I reduce the money on the gas, and I reduce the risk to buy ‘extra items’. In plus, for certain items I ask my friends to buy for me to reduce the number of roads.

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  2. Lynn O.

    01/26/2016

    I am staying home more too as I noted on your post today I get to work from home two days a week. So, in doing that, one of the biggest changes I have made lately is making sure my driving errands are efficient. By that I mean when I work in town, I make sure to get all my stuff done in town the days I am there and don’t make a special trip for one errand, always combining them. That is a time and money saver! Since i do the cash envelope system, I really see it adding up!

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  3. Shereen

    01/21/2016

    Great article. Where do you get the drawer dividers in the first images. I’m moving soon and will be storing my dishes in a large drawer similar to the one you have.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Shereen! We LOVE the dish drawer in our kitchen… but that’s just how we ordered it when we renovated our kitchen 3 years ago. It’s basically just a peg board in the bottom of the drawer and then wooden dowels that screw into the peg board where ever it works. You could probably make your own if you found the dowles!

    You can see a better picture of the drawer in this post: http://andreadekker.com/i-heart-organized-drawers/
    Happy Moving!

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  4. Karen

    01/20/2016

    I use many of your tips, but am grabbing a few more…….. 5 months each year our water bill runs right around $300 (ugh) so this past summer we cut down on plant, tree and grass watering and were surprised that we were able to keep things nice and green. I also started using the fast cycles on both my washing machine and dishwasher and I always machine wash everything in cold water unless someone has been sick. I have seen no difference in my clothes or dishes. I actually read that since I rinse my dishes well before placing them in the dishwasher it isn’t good for it to run and waste it’s energy doing the pre-rinses.

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow, that is a high water bill! glad you figured out a way to get that down a bit — and glad you gleaned a few useful tips from this post!

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  5. Daria Harvey

    01/20/2016

    I also use vinegar instead of JetDry! I make my own laundry detergent, dryer sheets, window cleaner and all purpose cleaner. Easy to do and much less expensive! I also use the library instead of buying books. Also, when planning my meals, I look into my pantry and see what I already have to create meals around. I spend much less at the grocery store this way.

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  6. Mrs. Frugalista

    01/20/2016

    Aside from strictly using drying racks to dry our clothes, my husband recently installed a line in our basement to hang bulkier items such as bed sheets. Our basement is dry, unusually warm for New Jersey winters and it is not musty. Also, I make my own stock using ham bones, turkey and chicken carcasses, turn off lights when not being used, shop around for the best heating oil prices, etc. Small changes can lead to long-term savings.

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  7. Chris K in Wisconsin

    01/19/2016

    I haven’t been shopping since before Christmas. But… I received the dreaded 30% from Kohls! So today we went and as I picked things up, I asked “is this something I need….. or is it just something I want?” It worked pretty well as I came home with just a few things (but, one of them was just a “want”), but I did buy it anyway and even after getting home, I was OK with it. After Christmas we went through every bin we have as we packed everything back up, and I ended up w/ a large garbage bag full as well as a lg box to take for donation. Why I would have to shop for ANYTHING is kind of crazy as we are retired and I can certainly wear the same 4 sweatshirts and sweatpants and jeans around the house ~ esp in the winter. I DO, after all, have a washer and dryer!! Also, we bought gift certificates at Culver’s before Christmas and got the free basket coupons with them. Again, being retired we can go out for lunches instead of suppers. The same food on the lunch menu is almost always less expensive in “sit down and order” restaurants than it is for supper/ dinner.
    I also wonder if people know how valuable their libraries are. I don’t purchase books very often, and instead get them from the library. As soon as a new book is released that I know I will want to read, I go on-line and put my name on the hold list. It might take a month or two, but I can wait! There are many videos (wonderful to use for kids) and audio books, too.
    It almost becomes a game to see how much we can save. Our house was paid off before we retired and we always pay cash for cars and any renovation projects, etc. We just wait until there is enough so we can pay and not borrow or use a credit card. My husband wanted to buy a car once with 0% financing. He tried to make it easier by telling me we had the money anyway, but this way we could hold onto our $$ without losing any interest. By the first weekend I was sick to my stomach thinking about a payment, and within 2 weeks we went in and paid it off!!
    Great post!!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — oh those Kohl’s coupons! I really am laughing at this though — because I just got the 30% off coupon AND I have $10 of “yes too” rewards that I need to spend by the end of the month, so I have it on my to-do list to go to Kohl’s on Friday (i’m already dreading it!)

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  8. Janet

    01/19/2016

    We use cloth napkins the same way you do! Love the $ savings and the space saved in my cabinet by not using paper napkins.

    Great post.

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  9. Jan Ramsey Brick

    01/19/2016

    These are all great ideas Andrea. I love vinegar. I use it in my laundry but never thought to use it in the dishwasher. I’m going go put some in right now. Thanks! 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’ve had really good luck using it in the dishwasher!

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  10. Nancy Johnson

    01/19/2016

    I do practically everything mentioned in your post (don’t do the homemade soaps). In addition, I use vinegar as a fabric softener in the laundry. Started doing it because perfumed fabric softeners on my sheets make me break out, and after buying the fragrance free softener for years, decided to try vinegar and the dryer balls you recommended. Works great, and no itchy skin!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yay! Glad the vinegar and dryer balls are working for you too!

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