Ten extremely frugal tips that are also practical and guaranteed to make a difference in how much money you need to spend.
Think you're as frugal as can be but you still can't save enough money? Nonsense. I've been "in the business" for years and I still find frugal tips I'd never thought of. You may find some of these tips extreme, but they're completely practical and totally frugal.
1. Use cloth "toilet paper." How's that for an extreme opening shocker? It's practical, though, especially for women. Cloth can be washed and reused many times over and that's frugal. Tip: You can make these from flannel or cotton. Cut a four or five inch square and sew two pieces together at the edges with a selvedge hem. Keep a container handy to put them in once they're used and wash them with underwear and handkerchiefs.
2. Yes, handkerchiefs. Those paper tissues are not practical or frugal, either in terms of money or the environment. Why buy something to throw away? Once you've used cloth handkerchiefs, you'll never go back to paper, no matter how plush (and expensive) it is. Extreme? Maybe. Practical? Absolutely.
3. Frugal gift wrapping tip: Never buy wrapping paper. That can be as expensive as the gift and that doesn't make frugal sense. Make your own or use newspaper or brown paper bags. A good tip: you can sometimes get roll ends of newsprint from you local newspaper. It's frugal and makes great wrapping paper which you can decorate according to the occasion. A container of water paints is cheap and will go a long ways to make your gift wrapping awesome.
4. This tip isn't extreme, but not many people do it: Make your own cream soups. A quick, frugal recipe: One cube of chicken bouillon, 1 TBS cornstarch, a cup of milk, a teaspoon of onion powder and pepper to taste. Mix cornstarch with cold milk, add the rest of the ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thick. Add other ingredients: Mushrooms, chicken, asparagaus, tomatoes or whatever.
5. Here's a practical and frugal tip: Clean your bathroom with shampoo that you don't like. Soap is soap and shampoo is excellent for cleaning tubs, sinks, walls and floors. More extreme tip: You can use it mixed with water for a liquid hand soap.
6. Do you think it's extreme to use baking soda in place of scrubbing cleansers, antacids, deodorizers and laundry boosters? It's a lot more frugal and it's very practical, since it's safe, has no chemical smell and it works.
7. Use vinegar in place of window cleaner, meat tenderizer, hair rinse and a lightener for age spots, among other things. Tips for using vinegar frugally are all over the internet, but basically, it's an acid that eats away minerals (hard water deposits, bones...), a mild bleaching agent and a frugal but effective grease cutting cleaner.
8. Really extreme grocery tip: Don't buy water at a thousand times the cost. When you buy produce by the pound that's been sprayed with water, shake the water from it so you don't have to pay for it, too. Avoid meat that has water added. Another extreme tip: When you buy drinks or other liquids in clear containers, pay attention and choose the one that's the fullest.
9. Extreme tip for saving water: If you need to water gardens or houseplants, keep a container under the kitchen faucet. You'll be amazed at how much clean water otherwise goes down the drain. You can use it to clean or for pets, too.
10. Dishcloths and washcloths were once called dish rags and wash rags. Guess why? Made from discarded pieces of clothing, they were used to wash dishes, bodies and walls, floors or whatever else needed it. If you're frugal, you'll still use real, homemade, hemmed rags for cleaning. Tip: Don't use the same rag to wash dishes as you use for other cleaning! And don't buy rags. Go through the clothes you've set aside for donations or to throw away and make your own. Natural materials are usually better than manmade.
Frugal tips are extreme only if you don't feel confortable using them and that's okay. Everyone has their own idea of what's acceptable. If you're in a bind financially, though, rethink your limits. Practical frugality can make a big difference in your bottom line.