Trade in books for credit
photo by austinevan
Whether it’s diluting dish soap to get the last drops or using free samples, use up items you have on hand before purchasing something new. This is a way of life in our household. I’m happy to share a few reader-submitted tips for using what you already have or are doing without.
BOOK TRADE-IN: We’ve gathered used books from around our house to take to the used-book store for trade-in credit. We’ll give the book credit to my husband’s mom for Christmas. She loves to read, and it’s the perfect way to lower our Christmas budget. We get to declutter, too. — F.A. via e-mail
SHAKE THINGS UP: I am trying a new experiment. I have a bottle of make-up that is “empty,” but I am going to try to stretch it. I have dry skin, so I am going to put a few drops of baby oil in it and shake it up. I might get another week out of it. I also put a bit of milk in ranch-dressing bottles that are “empty” and get a few more servings of dressing. — Julie B., Maryland
REUSE OLD FURNITURE: I prefer to get creative before buying something. I’m setting up a basement guest bedroom to double as a writing center. In order to set it up, I went around the house to come up with the necessary furniture and accessories to decorate. Didn’t have to spend a cent! — P.T via e-mail
KEEP CLOTHES LIKE NEW: We wear our good clothes out in public. When we get home, we (including the parents) change into our older clothes. When the old clothes are too worn to wear, I cut them up for shop rags. — Michelle B., Oregon
EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK: I’m currently going through a period of using up food we have in the house before grocery shopping. I’ve got the family on board with egg-and-cheese omelet night, which has added an extra night to my meal plan. I’m using everything I can in the pantry and out of the freezer and am baking and using up what we have. Also, we don’t get the latest, greatest of anything. We use what we have and use it well. We don’t try to keep up with the Joneses and are happier for it. We’ve always been this way, and the result is that we’ve raised kids who don’t have the “gimmees.” — Amy Bozza, New Jersey
AVOID TEMPTATION: I find that people think it’s frugal to keep buying and buying because something is a great deal. This includes yard sales and thrift stores. I have learned that I can bargain shop all I’d like, but it’s not really a bargain if I truly don’t need something. It’s so much easier if I just stay away from the stores, thrift shops and yard sales. If I see, I want, and often will buy because it’s just so cheap. I do much better by being happy with what I already have and by staying away from shopping. — L.G. via e-mail
GIVE THE GIFT OF PLANT LIFE: Take cuttings from houseplants to make new plants that can be given away as gifts, or give bulbs to force during winter months. — Dorothy L., Idaho
STRETCH LEFTOVERS: I try and save all leftovers for a once-a-week potluck dinner. Leftover cornbread is great for making dressing. Turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving. I keep one in my freezer when I find it on sale, and it goes a long way. I make turkey enchiladas, turkey soup, turkey and dressing, turkey sandwiches, etc. — Kim S., Texas
HANDS OFF: I have a “don’t buy” list. This helps because I can convince myself that I need such and such, but if I take my list of “don’t buy,” I know what I already have. The “don’t buy” list reminds me that more of the same would be just plain greedy. — Karen P., Louisiana
What ways have you used up what you already have or done without?