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Ten Extreme But Practical Frugal Tips

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.

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Comments (10)

I'm with you on all but the first. Bacteria can't be killed that easily.

Ranked #1 in Frugal Living

What about all the diapers that have been washed and reused over the years? Same bacteria. We survived. :)

Beverly Anne

I just can't wait for your tips and ideas gal. Good article...(but I still can't get rid of my baby wipes)

Well, Pat, while there are several biologically-based loop-holes in your diaper theory, I'll point out two of the more obvious: Firstly, babies have digestive engymes in their stomachs adults do not. What comes out of them is quite unlike what comes out of an adult. Secondly, babies guts are not full of rotting meat. What comes out of an adult is far more caustic, toxic, and potentially dangerous. You could wash your cloths in boiling Clorox and not kill the worst of the bacteria. Ask a chemist.

Ranked #1 in Frugal Living

Ok, I concede, James! LOL But people have survived worse. We tend to be germophobic these days, although I know that some diseases are caused by human waste. I wash white clothes in hot water with bleach and hang them in the sun to dry. Most people wash them in cold water and dry them in an automatic dryer and they're afraid that bleach will harm them. THAT is not safe. But I didn't intend to get into a full blown discussion about this - at least here. :)

Pat, I function under the premise that as conveyors of information we have a responsibility to be careful of what we advocate. I'm a scientist and know how extremely dangerous what you're suggesting could be. People have died from such behavior. But others who read our articles may not be as science-savvy and may make a life-threatening decision based on what we suggest. If you read my articles, you will see that they are well researched and can be trusted.

Jill

OK, I think using cloth toilet wipes is FINE. People did it before. As for the "toxic germs" folks...uh, if this apparently astoundingly dangerous adult poo could KILL or poison or whatever, my mother would have died years ago from washing my father's underwear. Many mean for some reason stripe their undies (my father says it's so he can get them on the right way round...brown in back). I don't know if this is from excessive gas passage picking up riders or ineffective wiping and I'm not about to investigate but I just don't think that poop is going to kill us. That said, I haven't gotten around to making and using my own cloth toilet paper because of laziness, lack of sewing skills, and a cootie factor. But logically and reasonably, I have enough old t-shirts and clothes that I could easily do this. For those of you with guts full of "rotting meat" per Mr. Coffey, perhaps a bran muffin would help. I think that the officianados of cloth wipes are largely not those eating buckets of meat, though there are some here in North Idaho, where I live, who make their living largely from hunting and may indeed be using cloth wipes. For the record, my brother has a hierarchy of cloth to use when wiping from his years driving truck and using various public bathrooms which were out of toilet paper. First option is the pocket on your t-shirt. Rip it off before use and discard after. Second, use the sleeves (again, remove from shirt prior to use). Third, I'm not sure what he'd use but I'd go for socks or sock tops depending on how much hiking/walking was left in the day. Fourth..use the undies or part of the undies. And yes, to facilitate the undies and the sock tops it's good to be carrying a knife. This is an interesting article. I'll be doing a blog post about the cloth toilet wipes on my site soon.

Quite an eye-opener, this article and comments! No-one seems to have mentioned sanitary protection. Not so long ago, women used rags - I'm assuming they were washed for re-use and not thrown away...I believe the Romans used a sponge on the end of a stick instead of toilet paper. More easily washable!

bett

I did something practical the other week that I'm "proud" of :) I found a really great site to buy cheap t-shirts (only $4) that are also really good quality (by American Apparel), at http://www.cottonage.com/T-Shirts/ and I tore all my old t-shirts to use for dusting the furniture and cleaning my car. 

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