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Re-evaluate frugal tips

By on May 7, 2010


Some frugal tips aren’t practical for everyone. There are some that you probably think you’d never want to do. You might think they’re not worth your time or you’re simply not interested in doing them. Or maybe you might think they’re downright gross. As you master money-saving strategies and progress in your frugality, you might be more open to trying those same tips you thought you would never try. For example, you might be used to buying only boneless, skinless chicken, so buying a whole chicken isn’t appealing. But after a year or more of being frugal, you might revisit this option and then wonder why you waited so long to boil a chicken carcass to make homemade soup.

What tips won’t you use? Why?
Here are a few of the most commonly resisted frugal tips.

COLD-WATER LAUNDERING: Many people refuse to wash laundry in cold water because they don’t believe their clothes will be clean enough. Most laundry detergent doesn’t dissolve as easily in cold water. So add your detergent to the washer as the water fills. Use warm water until it fills a few inches to dissolve it, add your clothes, then switch the water temperature to cold. If you’re concerned about stain removal with cold water, pre-treat and soak stained clothing. Worried about germs? Hang your laundry outside in the sun or wash using a laundry detergent designed for cold water.

SKIP FLUSHING: The ick factor prevents many people from skipping a toilet flush to save water. For those who aren’t devout flushers, they tend to skip flushing when they’re home alone or at night.

REUSING BAGGIES: It’s not worth the time for some people to wash a baggie. You don’t have to reuse them for food. Heavy-duty freezer bags work wonderfully to hold various household items. And cereal bags? They replace wax paper easily, and all you have to do it shake them and make a couple of cuts with scissors.

SECONDHAND SHOES: You’ve seen them at garage sales or the thrift store and might pass them right by. You can clean and disinfect them. Use Lysol spray or bowling-shoe disinfectant or simply replace the insoles. To deodorize, use baking soda. You can also call your local shoe-repair shops and ask whether or not they clean shoes and how much they charge.

HOMEMADE CLEANERS: Some people think making homemade laundry soap or household cleaners is a bit over the top. But once they try a few recipes and get favorable results, they never look back. Supplies such as vinegar, baking soda, castile soap and Fels-Naptha become household staples. Visit and for tons of tips on how to use vinegar and baking soda in your home.

REGIFTING: This crosses the line for many people. But if you don’t like it or can’t use it and know someone who will appreciate it, give it. Just be as careful and considerate as you would be if you were giving any other gift.

POWDERED MILK: What is it about nonfat dry milk that makes people twitchy? It has a longer shelf life than fresh milk, and it’s fat-free and high in calcium. You can use it in cooking and baking. Look for the book “Cookin’ With Powdered Milk” by Peggy Layton (Peggy Layton, 1994), or visit for recipes.


photo by clairity


  1. Darlene

    5/7/2010 at 4:01 pm

    I’m not a fan of drinking regular powdered milk but if I do it must be very cold. I do however use powdered milk when cooking soups & casseroles and it’s a staple in baking bread in our bread machine. I love having it on hand.
    Cold water washer here. When kids were very young I did use it often but with just hubby and I we really don’t need the cleaning power/sanitizing action that hot water brings to the table.

  2. Carla

    5/7/2010 at 8:39 pm

    I’ll do anything except skip the flushing. 🙂

  3. LeslieC

    5/7/2010 at 11:36 pm

    I’m not easily grossed out – I used to wash baggies until I stopped using plastic and I used to skip the flushing for urine, until I realized all of my water I flush goes back into my yard anyway – I have septic. Most of my issues with frugal are related to being organic. Organic takes priority over frugal. That being said, I still look for deals and coupons.

  4. Karen

    5/8/2010 at 11:39 pm

    I would add that just because you tried something once or twice and it didn’t work out, that doesn’t mean you should necessarily give up on it if it’s something that could save you a lot of money over time. Some frugal practices involve learning new skills and you might have a few flops before you get it right. I tried making my own yogurt a couple of times years ago (pre-internet), wasn’t satisfied with the results, and gave up. Not long ago I decided I wanted to give it another shot, fiddled around with it, and got great results that my family loves. Wish I’d been more patient with the learning process the first time around!
    .-= Karen´s last blog ..Yard Sale Report for May 8, 2010 =-.

  5. Linda

    5/9/2010 at 6:50 am

    Re: Delayed flushing. We only do this in master bath, never in powder room that guests use. In areas where water/sewer costs are high, it’s a real money saver.

    Cold water laundering: I still use hot water for towels, sheets, kitchen towels, etc. Hot water + drying is good disinfecting and reduces chemical use. Everything else is cold/cool water unless extra dirty.

    My favorite frugal trick: less dryer use. I only dry clothing 5-10 minutes and then hang on hangers to finish drying. Clothes stay newer looking longer, are less wrinkled, and utilities go way down. Disadvantage: they can’t go directly to closet which works for me but maybe not for some.

    I’m trying other things that I think will help, such as: using crock pot more, exp. in summer to keep kitchen cooler, opening windows & doors more to reduce airconditioning use, opening blinds in winter for heat gain and closing in summer to reduce heat gain, interlining curtains/drapes for same reasons, growing more veggies/herbs & trading services for veggies with people with large gardens, etc. I’m trying to think of ways my parents/grandparents who went through the great depression would have coped, as well.

    My husband and I are very frugal, but have difficulty when it comes to spending on children/grandchildren.

  6. Becky

    5/10/2010 at 11:42 am

    I always use cold water to wash my clothes…that’s how my mom did it and I thought that was how everyone did it! I do wash my towels and sheets though in warm water.

  7. Anna

    5/12/2010 at 4:45 pm

    I use cold water for everything except the white sock/undie load. With three kids at that “skid mark” age, 1/4 cup bleach and hot water is prudent. The only other time I resort to hot water is to hand-wash something that I slobbered grease/oil onto (usually salad dressing). No matter how good the detergent and stain remover, nothing gets out a grease/oil stain like a couple drops of dish detergent and a good hand-scrub under the hot water faucet.

    We keep a quart of reconstituted “cooking milk” in the fridge at all times. It saves us around 1.5 gallons of fresh milk per week (more if I make pudding, quiche, custard of chowder) and helps keep my 12-week “disaster stash” of powdered milk rotated before it expires. I’ve been experimenting with homemade yogurt and, though yogurt made with pure powdered milk was rather pathetic, the yogurt where I added 1/3 cup of powdered milk to a quart of 1% milk came out the same consistency as yogurt made from whole milk. We also use a lot of powdered milk making up huge tubs of our own bulk pancake and cocoa mixes (you can find these recipes at the USDA link).

  8. Native Okie

    5/13/2010 at 6:53 pm

    Laundry in cold water, and use 1/2 the detergent recommended on the soap box (clothes are clean) I would like to add my favorite way to save money. Grocery money is for food only. I have a cleaning supply budget. Take $10 to the “everthings a dollar store” and buy 9 items. If you are making homemade cleaning supplies then buy baking soda, vinegar, sudsy amonia, pine oil, etc. If you want readymade then buy dish soap, laundry soap, laundry stain remover, window cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner. You will need to buy sponges, brooms, dust pans, mops and buckets from time to time, all of these can be bought for $1 each.. If you invest $10 every two weeks you will have plenty of cleaning supplies. These items may not be the national name brand but they will get the house clean without cleaning out your wallet.

  9. Christine

    5/14/2010 at 3:21 pm

    With our very small children, we call it “pee on top”. it’s not the water save it used to be when we had a five gallon flush toilet. My Mom always had us not flush, with a waste can for the paper becasue she was scared to death to flood the drain field. with five of us, that happened every time it rained if we flushed too much!

  10. Sue

    5/16/2010 at 7:51 pm

    The only thing I say a big thumbs down to is used shoes. It’s a really good way to get a toenail fungus and Lysol doesn’t kill fungus. A toenail fungus infection is pretty much for ever.

    • Melissa

      12/2/2010 at 9:14 am

      I buy used shoes all the time! Most of them still have the store tags on them and I use baby wipes to wipe them out and clean off the outside if they don’t. I wash them with ammonia if they are washable and let them air dry then spray with lysol. Heels, etc. I wipe down with ammonia and then spray with lysol. I have never gotten a fungus from shoes. “Toenail fungus causes also include tight, enclosed shoes or boots, which trap sweat and heat.” and “Toe nail fungus causes also have to do with your ability to maintain proper foot hygiene. This means you must thoroughly dry your feet off after bathing or showering. Nail fungus can easily be spread through wet towels or bathroom floors where an infected person’s bare feet has transmitted it to another pair of bare feet. This is how several people in one family can commonly get a nail fungus.”

      I copied that from a website about fungus. Perhaps that would contribute to the problem more than used shoes?

    • Sharon

      12/19/2010 at 6:51 am

      I’ve been wearing thrift store shoes for ATLEAST ten years. Never a problem.

  11. BethanyGM

    5/28/2010 at 1:08 am

    Hot water in the washing machine is NOT HOT ENOUGH TO DISINFECT! It really isn’t. 😉 It is the soap and water that gets rid of the germs.

    I would add that more people ought to consider cloth diapering if they have babies. It is far better for environment and your wallet (The only major study to dispute this fact was one funded by the diaper companies.) People might be grossed out at first, but it really isn’t a big deal to wash dirty diapers. Hanging them out to dry in the sun is a great way to get rid of any stains, too.

    Instead of plastic baggies, perhaps they could invest in some reusable (non plastic) containers. Plastic isn’t exactly healthy to have next to your food. I do agree on using plastic bags for storage, though. I have done it.

    We tried vinegar, water, and castille soap for awhile and gave up. After our third try we stuck to it. We wanted to eliminate chemicals in the house because I was pregnant. Those natural cleaners really do an awesome job. I can’t fathom why people pay all that money for nasty chemicals to clean with anymore! (And do try baking soda and vinegar in a drain before resorting to the highly toxic drano stuff.)
    .-= BethanyGM´s last blog ..Pregnancy and Weight Gain =-.

    • cheryl kendrick

      3/17/2011 at 11:39 am

      I still recall however the horrible diaper rash my niece got from wearing cloth diapers ( she still has scars today, that bad) because the washer my sis in law used did not get out the amonia in the diapers. It was an older model that hooked to the kitchen sink and she was using ivory soap ( the one for baby clothes). Not saying that clothe diapers are bad but that you must be sure you wash them right and often to avoid such a crisis.

      • Lee Parker

        4/19/2011 at 2:07 pm

        We raised ours on cloth diapers…yup, they got irritated once in a while, but downright infected with disposables.

  12. Belinda

    5/29/2010 at 7:34 pm

    I’m as frugal as the next person, but dry milk is no longer a frugal option. The price has skyrocketed and is no longer frugal.

    • Ericka

      1/17/2011 at 11:43 pm

      I powdered milk is a necessity in my house because we don’t drink much milk. I might buy a quart every few weeks at 1.40 each. I waste so much milk that it makes sense to buy it for my cooking. I have noticed the price skyrocket here too but spoiled milk is expensive…

  13. Sara Noel

    5/29/2010 at 7:51 pm

    I agree that the cost has gone up, but it’s still a good pantry staple to have for emergencies or when you run out of milk and need some in a pinch. Many people stretch their milk with it, too. It definitely depends on where you live as far as price goes, too. A lot of my readers are able to get it cheap at Aldis and use it just for baking.

  14. Judy

    8/31/2010 at 3:22 pm

    the price of dry milk has gone up. I usually wait until the regular gallon of milk is half gone and then I mix it with the powered milk. You cannot taste the difference and it makes both your regular milk and powered milk go further.

    I grew up on a well and septic system so the flush only when necessary thing is just an old habit in my house. The paper in the basket too!

    I haven’t tried the cleaners yet…not sure what I’m waiting for.

  15. Joe

    9/2/2010 at 2:47 pm

    Powdered milk = awful taste. End of that one. I don’t care how frugal it is if it isn’t also tasty. I’m on board with everything else.

  16. Gramma Annie

    9/26/2010 at 10:41 pm

    I keep a box of powdered milk onhand to use in casseroles and to keep me out of the store. We will drink it if we have to between weekly shopping trips but really prefer liquid milk. Also, powdered milk used to be half the cost of liquid milk so it was frugal ten years ago. Because of the cost increase on the powdered stuff, the only cost advantage is in staying out of the store in the middle of the week.

  17. Jean

    5/6/2011 at 10:11 am

    Powdered milk is an overprocessed foodstuff. I do not go near it because my family’s health is worth much more than a few dollars. As a “trusted expert” please consider health implications in your articles.

  18. ANNO

    12/28/2012 at 5:22 pm

    We started buying whole milk and then I water it down significantly. I found that at about a 2:1 milk to water ratio it ends up tasting like one percent milk but costs me way less.

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