Thursday, 7 November 2013

Another 26 Hints, Tips and Suggestions to Help you Save Money

Being Prepared for Frugal Living

Before we begin, let's get just one thing straight - moneysaving does not mean being mean, nor does frugal living. It's true that it is about living a more simple lifestyle and trying to be more frugal in a self-sustainable way, but this doesn't mean you need to sell all your possessions and move into mobile accommodation or live like a nomad. Despite this 'free of the rat race' sounding escapade, it isn't actually all that practical in our modern society, so we need to face facts and do the best we can with what we've already got. If unsustainable debts are what you've got, then your primary concern should be to get rid of them as quickly and painlessly as possible, even if it means one screaming penny at a time.

So, to follow on from my previous post of '20 Hints, Tips and Suggestions to Help you Save Money', I thought I would continue in that vein and post another 20, seeing as there's such an endless supply of things we can all do to help balance our own budgets.

Old nest of tables - before and after a frugal makeover.

 1. Recycling and upcycling can be much more fun than binning, burying or burning what's past its best, so I'd suggest taking a much closer look at anything that you think may need replacing soon, whether it's furniture, clothing or major appliances. Can any of it be fixed up in a way that changes it for the better? Can one thing be made into another? Can you create space for storing useful stuff? Even a neat pile of decorated cardboard boxes can look great when stacked in a corner of a room.
2. Vacuum Cleaners - Have you considered using a brush and pan occasionally,  instead of vacuuming? Modern vacuums can have motors well in excess of 2000w and that means it can cost you the best part of 10p every time you do quarter of an hour's vacuuming about the house!
3. Ironing can cost you over 20p for an hour, so why press everything when it doesn't need done? Air dry whenever possible and then fold it neatly to put it away before it gets crushed. Only the absolute essentials should need a quick press to make them presentable and there's always the old 'mattress trick' of lying jeans flat underneath for an overnight. Edited update - having checked the new, top of the range steam irons, I see some are 2800w. Once we factor in the standing charge for our electrical supplies, a steam iron set on high could cost some of us closer to 50p for an hour!
4. Hairdryers can be more powerful than some small electric heaters! Anything involving heat provides evidence that it's a big guzzler of energy, so just towel dry your hair and brush or comb it dry. If you are up to your eyes in debt, a posh hairdo won't make the finances better.
5. Vinegar Hair Rinse - A homemade vinegar rinse can put a shine on your hair and help keep the tangles at bay. Keep a jar made up handy by the sink. 2 cups of white or cider vinegar mixed with a few drops of your favourite essential oil can be stored in a glass jar then simply dilute about a tablespoon of the liquid in a cup of water to use in the final rinse. No need to blow dry, as allowing your hair to dry naturally helps give it more sheen.
6. Egg Hair Conditioner - Beat an egg yolk (not the white) with a tablespoonful of olive oil or baby oil and then mix with a cup of warm water. Use this to condition your hair as and when required. Use the egg white to make the micro-meringues included in the Frugaldom Food and Fun card sets.

7. Buying candles probably works out more expensive than investing in a wind-up torch for emergencies, but candles are, nonetheless, very handy to have during power cuts, especially if they are the only source of heat you have for warming your hands! Add them to your gift list in case anyone asks what you'd like. Practical gift are always more appreciated by we of the frugal lifestyles.
8. Grocery shopping - Why buy 2 for 1 if there is even the remotest chance that you could end up throwing the extra in the bin? Why not share shopping with a friend and each of you have one for half price?
9. Walking - Probably the cheapest form of transport but it needn't involve expensive footwear. With a bit of forethought and planning, it is possible to get a full year of travel out of one pair of boots for less than a tenner - just keep them clean, dry and supple after every outing.
10. Dressmaking patterns - Clothing is another big spend for many families, especially where children are concerned, but dressmaking doesn't need to be about fancy fabrics and making dresses!  Can't sew yet? Take the time to unpick an old item of clothing and there you have it - the correct pattern to copy and remake in your own choice of fabric that can be altered to size it up or down accordingly.

11. Simple sewing - Start off turning an old pillow slip into a reusable shopping bag, laundry bag, dumpling 'cloot' or even handkerchiefs for practicing your embroidery and you'll soon get into the swing of needlework. Save your oldest pair of jeans for cutting patches to embellish and strengthen subsequent pairs 'designer' fashion.
12. Growing your own - All you need is a sunny windowsill, a doorstep pot or a tiny corner of a garden - yours or anyone else's to get started. If you use herbs in your cooking, look out for bargain packs of fresh, still in the pot, supermarket special offers. These can be cut and will continue to grow and grow... my herb garden is full of such plants. Sprigs of rosemary will root easily in a glass of water and can then be transplanted into a pot on a windowsill for perpetual use, taking more cuttings each year it grows and then potting these up to give as gifts.

If you have the space, other food you can try growing are seeds from inside things like pumpkins (although pumpkin seeds can also be roasted for eating on their own), tomatoes and peppers, fruit pips, garlic cloves and even potato peelings. The root end chopped from spring onions can regrow more spring onions, the base of a celery can regrow more celery and the base of a cabbage or lettuce can grow more cabbage or lettuce. Nature is on your side in this game, it just needs fresh water to help it get started.
13. Reusing paper products may not sound like much but, over time, pennies add up into pounds. By stashing away all those envelopes, junk mail, cards and calendars etc. you can then try decoupage, handmade cards, papier mache (have you seen Penny the Penguin, Phil the Pig or our Cash Cow animal banks?), paper pots for seedlings, kindling for a fire, shredded bedding for pets, dry material for adding to compost bins, as a temporary sealant for draughty windows, for pattern making, homemade wrapping paper and, lest we forget, how many uses can one person find for cardboard inner tubes from toilet rolls and kitchen rolls? Homemade Christmas crackers anyone?

14. Chopping, slicing, dicing and grating - I'm not suggesting skimping on food to what's less than needed but, as a simple way of controlling portions to healthy levels, it is ideal. So many of us (myself included) tend to over-eat without being aware of that fact. I had no concept of what the Government health organisations recommend as sufficient by way of quantity of food served until I tried weighing things. Try weighing out 30g of breakfast cereal to see how it compares to your normal hapless servings and then you'll see how much further food would go if we restricted the portions to what's now said to be enough.

15. Cooking - add as much as possible to the one pan to cook a meal for less. This also ensures all the flavours are retained and shared, bringing a little extra creativity to your meals - never be afraid to mix and match - of course green beans will stir fry with onions and cucumber in your discounted sweet chilli sauce.

16. Alternative cooking energy - if you have a stove or log burner, make the absolute most of it. Low heat is slow heat, but it all cooks food.

17. Warm plates for warm meals - there's nothing nicer than a hot meal that stays hot even during the coldest weather, so warming the plates can seem extra special. For some, it seems an extravagance but why waste valuable heat if you're cooking up a meal anyway?

I can easily fit two large bowls or several smaller bowls over the top of my slow cooker, or on the top of my mini oven. so they get warmed up for free. Just use your common sense when lifting them.
18. Get Together - Organising family nights, date nights or social get togethers with friends and neighbours based around common interests is a great way of bringing extra entertainment into even the most cash-strapped household. It is especially helpful if you can invite others who, in turn, will host the next such event. A budget of £10 can easily provide sufficient snacks and refreshments for a party of a dozen. With some basic cooking or baking skills, you could hold a curry night, a traditional fare night, games night or even a themed party. Don't keep up with the Joneses - invite the Joneses to play along and take part in the challenge of hosting a get together on a £10 budget! Tell them it's 'the in thing' for trendsetters.
19. Charity Shopping - It isn't always about being skint, some folks shop in charity shops to actually help support charity! If you are decluttering, take along a few items to your nearest establishment and have a browse while there. Often, you can find fabulous items at ridiculously low prices, other times you may find crafting materials or cheap garments that can be turned into something else that you need - a duvet cover into curtains, for example. But a word of warning - remember nothing is a bargain if you aren't saving money on something you truly need.
20. Have a power out day once a week - probably best done during warmer months to begin with - switch off everything that doesn't absolutely need to be on and take a look at your lifestyle without electricity. Some people throw the main switch, disconnecting even their fridges and freezers so they know they're prepared for power cuts, but I don't subscribe to interfering intentionally with the running of appliances set to preserve food. What do you do? How do you get around the need for instant power? How do you stay warm if it's cold and the heating is off for 12 hours at a time? This is when you discover exactly why you knitted all those odd balls of wool into big, sloppy blankets.

21. Basic essentials in the kitchen - sugar is sugar but you don't need to pay a fortune for butter when margarine will do instead. In fact, there are some recipes that can be followed using vegetable oil or lard when no butter is available. Milk is something else you can save on, as inexpensive whitener can be used in coffee or tea and reconstituted powdered milk can be used in almost all recipes where milk is listed as an ingredient. Then there's UHT - it lasts longer, doesn't need refrigerated and costs less, in most cases, than standard pasteurised milk.
22. Just add dumplings! Yes, I said dumplings! They're a simple mix of flour, suet and water with a bit of extra flavouring if preferred - you can even add some of your home grown herbs. They beef up a stew, can be served with gravy for supper, taste great in mince and can turn a bowl of broth into a very filling meal for any hungry Horace. And better still, they seem to cook anywhere there's heat - on the stove top, cooker top, log burner or slow cooker.

23. Corner cutting cooking - Switch kettles off as soon as they come to the boil, cook using a 3-tier steamer so you use only one ring of the cooker and learn to make the most of a microwave, as it probably uses less than half the energy required to cook in a conventional oven. A slow cooker can be used to cook most things on low power over several hours, but it also contributes to the overall heat of your kitchen, helping save on that. A mini-oven costs less to use than a full size oven... you get my drift. Just as you shouldn't cook more than you can store (or eat), you should also ensure you fill as much space as possible when cooking, or else downsize the cooking space.

24. Take a flask - How often do you go places and then find you want a hot cuppa or a snack? Take it with you. Even if you don't need it, you can have it once you get back home. At best, you'll have saved several pounds on the price of a sandwich and a cup of coffee or tea while you were out and about. A picnic or snack pack is a meal for all seasons.

25. Know anyone who knits? Knitting can be an expensive hobby but thousands of people do it and many never finish all the balls of wool they buy. Volunteer to take it off their hands and then get your pins out to make yourself a bitsy, piecy blanket that can be the shabby chic envy of all your friends.  They may even ask you to make them one if they buy their own wool and pay you a token sum as gratitude. That's when they'll realise the price of yarn and appreciate the true cost of hand crafted goods!

26. The price of bread! It's getting quite ridiculous, so what do you do if you run out, don't have yeast or don't have time to bake a loaf? Bake a big scone or some tortillas! This one is a simple recipe given to me by a friend (thanks, T) when I was in a hurry to make a hot lunch. A big cup of flour, half teaspoon each of salt and baking soda and some milk to mix. This frugal soda scone, or farl, was enough to feed four when sliced through and served with melted cheese. I cook mine in a lightly oiled frying pan over the multi-fuel stove, so no electricity required.

Well, this began as a post containing another 20 hints, tips and suggestions for moneysaving but, as you can see, I've now numbered them and discovered I ran over, slightly. Oops! There are just so many ways to save money.

My invite to you:

Don't be scared to comment with your own suggestions - I am fully aware of the fact that after many years of looking at ways of making things affordable, I still have a long, long way to go and much still to learn. Go ahead, have your say here or in the forums at where we have a section about frugal living, plus several other categories all about debt-busting, money saving and even some money making challenges.

NYK Media, Frugaldom


  1. I like the dumpling tip - don't forget, you can also add lentils and pulses to make the mea stew underneath stretch out.

    1. In the 'Nile Mince' thread on we have all sorts of 'bulk it out' ideas that could also be used with stew. The lot in the photo had a stack of beans added, as I'd had them soaking then boiled them the previous night. :)

  2. I hadn't realised it cost that much to do the ironing- it occurred to me last week that it probably wasn't worth ironing the teen's tops as he just recreases them in the drawer so a saving for me next week both in time and money!

    1. The cost of ironing is a phenomenal for all the need we have for it - some steam irons are 2800w of power, so a full hour of steam ironing on a high setting, say for sheets, duvet covers, towels etc. could be closer to 50p by the time we factor in standing charges for electrical supplies and the inevitable dilly dallying we all seem to do when standing or seated at an ironing board.

  3. Great tips, i'd also add have a seed swap with friends and family.

    1. We have a section about that on the frugal forums, too. :)

  4. Just to let you know I made some dumplings Today!Great tips.Thanks!
    Regards from Australia

  5. Glad to have been of some small help, hope you enjoyed your dumplings.:)

  6. I'm now hooked over egg hair conditioner. I think it works.

    1. Hope you used the egg white for trying the micro-meringues. :)


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