Anyone Want to Share Their Best Penny Pinching Tips?

Updated on August 22, 2010
A.C. asks from Sterling Heights, MI
26 answers

Is anyone interested in sharing their best penny-pinching, why-didn't-I-think-of-that-myself tips? Here's mine, though I'm sure II'll add more later.

When you open the new box of dryer sheets, take a pair of scissors and cut them all in half. I heard somewhere that half a sheet works as well as a whole sheet, and after several months of trying it, I agree. It only saves you 2-3 cents per load, but every bit counts, right?

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answers from Detroit on

Foaming hand soap is 70% water & 30% soap. Instead of buying the bottles of foaming handsoap to refill dispensers, I get the big SoftSoap or Method soaps from Costco. Then I mix it with 70% (ish) water and refill my own dispensers. I also keep a dispenser in the kitchen for when I'm cooking with meat. In that one I use 30% of a dish soap. Makes the soap last almost 3 times as long.

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answers from Detroit on

I have cut my cell phone back to a very basic plan and when my contract is up in January, I plan to get a prepaid phone for occasional use.



answers from Detroit on

I haven't used dryer sheets in many, many years, or fabric softener. I hang things whenever possible, tumbling what matters for a couple of minutes first. This saves a bundle! I try not to buy things individually packaged but package them myself at home. I buy a lot of clothes at the Salvation Army on their specials days. I use coupons but only for things I really want. Sometimes the store brand is cheaper and just as good.

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answers from Boise on

After you finish a box of cereal, remove the plastic bag, shake it free of any cereal dust, and reuse it as you would a ziploc. You can rubberband the end, or I just fold the end under itself when placing the food in the fridge.
I also reuse sandwich bread wrappers the same way.

Leftover cereal dust in the bottom of cereal bags can be turned into toppings for muffins. (add sugar and butter)

If I do buy ziplocs, I wash them after use, dry them inside with a clean towel, and put them back in the drawer.

Use empty cardboard egg cartons to start new seedlings. rip off the lid and put it underneath as a drip pan.

Wash mayo jars and lids and reuse them for housing dry ingredients long term, liker popcorn, rice, certain kinds of flours that bugs get into, etc.

Make your own pizza dough and save money on those garbage store bought pizzas:

4 1/2 c lukewarm (not hot) water
2 1/4 T granulated yeast
1 7/8 T iodized salt
9 1/4 C all purpose flour
MIx it up in large 12 inch across bowl. Cover Very LOOSLY and let set on counter 2 hours . Put in fridge day it's ready to use. Flour your hands as it will be sticky- spread on greased cookie sheet.Dust with flour if needed. Use ragu pizza sauce, Monerey jack and cheddar, and pepperoni. At this point you can wrap tighly in foil and freeze it or bake at 425 for 15-22 minutes , depending on alititude.
This recipe makes 4-5 pizzas for me. I can even use it for a french loaf or cinnamon rolls. It can keep in the fridge ,covered, about 5-9 days.

I now use large 12x 15 x 5 inch high tupperware containers with lids for my flour and sugar containers. No more struggling to get a cup of sugar out of a bag or canister, and no more mess strewn all over the place. They stack nice in my cupboard too. I look for those containers at garage sales.

Use empty plastic milk jugs to make great fly catchers- cheap! Poke 5 small holes slightly smaller than a dime ,around the sides about 3-4 inches down, fill 1/3 full with liquid ( smll amount of vinegar and sugar) and water, or water and some raw hamburger, and place in the sun (cap on). Eventually it will start to turn rancid and attract flies. They can't find thier way out. Just throw in garbage after it is full.

I made homemade laundry soap- but i didnt think it was that great. So I added 2 cups of wisk to the 5 gallon bucket and now it is a good soap but still much cheaper than using full strength wisk. Bleach- dont ever use the amount they say on the bottle, unless you want your clothes to disentegrate.
Use half or less. I use a 1/4 cup, if that.

Someone on here said only run your washing machine water at half load- the problem with that , is that is very rough on the machine if you still pack it with clothes. You should never over stress a top load washer with too much clothes to water ratio, or you wear the machine down quickly and will be needing a repair man. You'd be better off in my opinion, to just wait until you have a full load, run it at full water capacity, and dont overload/pack the clothes in. If you have shirts with greasy food stains or grass stain knees, always pretreat with wisk and rub it in with a fingernail. Then you don't have to use hardly any soap because the rest of the clothing isn't that dirty(typically!)

Tip from repairman: only fill your dishwasher soap container 1/3 full. It actually was designed to use less soap and cleans better that way anyway. Dishwashing soap has an enzyme in it to break down foods. If you prerinse all your dishes and put them in clean- the soap wont work as well. I leave a dishpan in the sink full of water. used dishesgo into that, then go straight into the dishwasher (just enough glaze of greasy water to work good)- no more scrubbing unless it's a caked-on pan.

Cancel cable and do Netflix.

Shut down your computer every evening after use. unplug coffee pots and any other electronic until you are ready to use it.

Replace 100 watt bulbs with 25's or 40's. If you have a light bar that has a whole row of bulbs, only put a bulb in every other spot.

Try not to buy bottled water. If you can't stand the taste of the chlorine in the tap, fill a glass pitchure of water and let it sit, open, for 24 hours- the chlorine will dispipate. (probably best to have several containers/w/lids you can rotate)

Dont buy expensive liquid soft soap for handwashing- use regular bar soap and save TONS, Bar soap lasts forever.

Save your bacon grease/chicken grease/beef grease(in fridge) and reuse it.
I also save the drippings in a clean mayo jar in case I want to add chicken flavor to a dish or if I want to make soups.

Use a motion detector night light instead of one that stays on constantly.

I cut down food boxes like cereal boxes and such, to use as pencil or cosmetic trays in my Bath, kitchen and office dwawers, sock dwawers. (no need to buy plastic bins at the store.) A cut down oatmeal box holds my children's massive color pencil collection. Ziplock bags holds all my nylons in my sock dwarer. one for kneehighs- one for full panyhose.

Have your kids get dressed before breakfast. That way they wont get food all over them and can reuse their pajamas every night for a week.

Have kids make homemade cards to go on top of gifts and save 4 bucks. Much more thoughtful anyway.

If you are REALLY hurting for money- what did they do in the old days before they had hygenic paper products? they made their own.
You can find handmade feminine pads online out of fabric and they are washable/reusable.The ladies use a bucket of water next to the toilet with a lid, to hold/rinse them after use, and before tossing them into the washing machine. there are also patterns online to make your own. Those online that swear by them say they are more comfortable.

Romans used a bucket of saltwater and a stick with a sponge on the end to wipe their rears! Can't say we've had to get to that point yet but it is good to have a backup plan! HA!

Close your bedroom vents during the day, Open them at night and close your familiy room/kitchen vents. Close all bathroom heater/cooling vents.(not shower moisture vents)
Keep shades drawn on any windows that get sunshine. Plant a deciduous tree on the south side of your home. If that isnt possible, hang a wicker shade on your porch to keep the sun off your windows. Fill a tube sock with tiny beans or rice and tie off the end. Throw them at the base of a door that has a chilly breeze coming in under it. Take off light switch plates and fill the void with foam (insulate).

Dont buy expensive wood floor cleaner, just use a damp rag and your foot to clean your wood floor. Dry when done.

Buy your kids clothes at garage sales for pennies. Buy new/newer toys used on craigs list also and use them for thier presents.

Any coffee grounds, egg shells, and fruit rinds go into a pile out in the corner of my dirt outside. It will make great compost. Take a shovel once every two weeks and turn it over.

Have everyone take milirary showers- turn off the water while lathering and in beween rinsing.

Only keep pets that will return food (milk , eggs, ect)

Look online for homemade solar ovens.

Catch your rain in a rainbarrel and reuse the water for laundry, plants.

Buy future socks and underwear for your family NOW as prices of clothing is going to soar in the next 5 years due to the printing of all that money. You can always get used pants and shirts, but you can't get used socks and undies!! Look for shoes on clearance at the end of season and buy in advance. I always stock up on LOTS of flip flops at the end of summer for future use...when they are cleared out for 99 cents.

Those small Dank canned hams have a VERRRY long shelf life and are great for emergency food storage.

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answers from Chicago on

I make my own laundry detergent. 1/2 cup Borax, 1/2 Cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda and a bar of your favorite bar soap (I use Ivory) grated with a cheese grater. Mix together and use 1 tablespoon per load. You can wash clothes for pennies a load! I've been using it for a year and it works better than the name-brand stuff!

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answers from Boston on

We got rid of cable and our DVR boxes! We save about $87 per month and still watch all of the shows that we did before. Online sites like let you watch shows with only very short commercials for FREE! The only catch is that you can't watch the shows until the day following when they air. This worked out perfectly for us since we DVRd all of our shows anyway. We just bought a cheap PC to hook directly to our flat screen. We have a wireless keyboard and mouse, and voila! We paid for the computer and accessories in only a few months without cable!

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answers from Cincinnati on

turn down your water heater, its pry set at 120. we turned ours down to 90 and barely notice a difference (except on our electric bill) try to line dry your clothes if you can, and make as many meals as you can without using the oven (ovens use a lot of electricity) we also save big shopping bags and use them as trash bags. we buy a lot of our groceries in bulk (frozen veggies, chicken, fish, rice) and only spend about $177 a month for three people. I even freeze bread and take it out one slice at a time to prevent wasting. and if your freezer is full it uses less electricity. you can learn to do little things yourself like oil changes, or small home repairs. example, our light stopped working in our bathroom. I called my cousin who is an electrician he said it was the switch and if I replaced it myself it would only cost about $10, as opposed to $70 for someone else to fix it. I googled it and it looks so simple (I haven't done it yet because I haven't had the $10 to buy the part)

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answers from Dallas on

I follow "moms need to know" blog on Facebook. She's always got good deals on there. Also, I check out walmart's free samples at I get samples of meds, laundry stuff, fem. products, etc. I clip coupons and follow ads. I saved $40 at Kroger yesterday. :)

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answers from Detroit on

Awesome tip I'm gonna try it. Heres one for shopiing this is what I do I think it works pretty good. I wright what we really need on a list than i go to kroger which they except any manufactures coupon thats expired up to a year old. I go through tons of coupons to see if i have a coupon for what i need. most of the time i have a coupon for half of my list if not all than when i go to the store i weigh do i really need whats on the list or can i wait till i have enough money. I also don't buy it if its not on sale. If theres 5 for 5 i get 2 or 3 not all five so i get a better deal. I feel meijers is really expensive and not fond of walmart at all. If I lived in alpena I would shop at walmart but on;ly because they have better value up there than down here. Well thats my tip

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answers from Las Vegas on

Also cut sponges & SOS pads in quarters, you never use the whole thing anyway and sponges just rip eventually. I go to the Costco business store and buy a gallon of dish soap and other cleaning products and refill my containers. I re-use dry cleaner bags by tying the open end and use them for waste papers type trash. They also work well as string for tying branches and palm tree prawns for trash day, for some reason they are strong. If you are still using commercial cleaning products, switch to powder comet or ajax, the powder is much cheaper than liquid.

I use a generic and brand dishwasher and laundry soap and run a 50/50 mix.

Buy on sale & Freeze tomatoes, onions, and peppers and use them for cooking. Never let them go bad.

Find someone to switch clothes with. I have a cousin with a daughter who is just a bit bigger than my daughter and one that is a bit smaller. We swap clothes for the girls all the time.

Make your own smoothies and lattes. I probably save $4.50 per day by making my own latte everyday and about that much by making my own smoothie. You can also freeze the ripe bananas and use them in your smoothie. Buy latte syrup at costco.

Pack all lunches, healthier and cheaper.

Use fans (safely), it keeps the air moving and keeps you cooler.

Of course...the greatest savings of all! Pay cash and don't pay extra interest charges.

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answers from Kansas City on

Coupons Coupons Coupons!!! Using coupons, I got so much free laundry soap and fabric softner (liquid and sheets) a few months ago, I won't have to buy any for at LEAST 18 months!! Additionally, I will never run out of free body wash, razors, shampoo, or conditioner.

Combining coupons with store incentives and sales, you can get much of your household needs for super cheap or free. You can cut your grocery bill by at least 40% - and up to 90%!! Timing is key!

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answers from Orlando on

Take each of the monthly bills that you pay (phone, cell phone, internet, etc) and call the company to see what they can do to lower your bill. If you have been a customer for a while with the same company, mention that. No matter how long you've been with them, they would rather get a bit less money from you than have you leave for another company with a lower rate. Sometimes they will drop your bill permanently and sometimes they will do it for 6 months or a year (and then you just call again and request another drop in fee). Also, if you aren't already doing so, find out about discounts for combining services, like home phone/cable/internet, etc (though it amazes me that people pay for cable with all of the other options out there-- we haven't had cable in years-- we watch much less TV than most other families we know, and you can watch most shows on your computer the day after they air anyway)... Also, call your electric company and ask them to come out for a free evaluation. They will come and tell you ways you can cut back on your monthly bill -- some things will be free (like turning up your thermostat during the day) and some will cost money (like maybe you need new windows or better insulation). Also, look into the annual plan where they charge you the same amount every month instead of having that huge spike from the summer a/c and winter heating bill

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answers from Toledo on

My best grocery tip is to make a menu and shop for ingredients from that. Saves on impulse buying.

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answers from Milwaukee on

Stay out of the drive-thru's and away from the vending machines. Skip the magazine or soft drink at the check-out. Turn lights off after leaving a room. Shop for your insurance--we switched companies and saved $800 a year on our homeowners--and have better coverage. Newspaper? Take a Sunday only subscription.



answers from Kalamazoo on

NEVER go to the grocery store without a list!!!!! :) I grew up in a family that just impulse bought groceries. We'd go home with hundreds of dollars of groceries, but nothing to make a meal with. My MIL taught me how to make a food plan and shopping list for the whole week to be sure to tackle it at one time. And DON'T stray, even when there are great clearance items, it always bites me back in the budget. ;)



answers from Detroit on

I do the same as another poster said with the soap. It allows me to save tons of $$$ on soap...especially since my girls like to use WAY more than needed. I keep one in every bathroom and on the kitchen counter. I especially like to do this with the expensive "fancy" soaps from Bath & Body. I get them as gifts sometimes and I love the scent so this makes them last much longer.

If I purchase the lunchmeat that comes in a plastic glad type container I reuse it as tupperware.

I make my own spaghetti sauce...costs WAY less and you control the amount of sodium that goes into it. I also jar my own tomatoes. For $30 I get about 100 large jars of fresh tomatoes to use all year round. You can look up how to jar tomatoes on-line. It's suprisingly easy.



answers from Boston on

Line dry. It cut $10 off our electric bill every month.



answers from Grand Rapids on

If you have Meijer close to you, you can check their weekly ad to see what's on sale. Also go to and search 'mealbox' to see the specials. They have online coupons that you can use along with the weekly specials to get quite a bit off certain items.



answers from Detroit on

Best tip is to go through Dave Ramsey's Financial University. Really helps to budget your money and teach your children how to budget money.



answers from Kansas City on

Target will stack coupons. I wait to buy diapers until they send me a coupon for $2 off and then stack a $3 manufacturers coupon on top of it and save $5!



answers from Saginaw on

also in the laundry room watch how much laundry detergent you's concentrated and most people use more than they need to.



answers from Austin on

I use a vinegar and water solution for all my cleaning. I also only use half the amount recommended for detergent.
We stopped buying paper towels and sponges. Now I cut up worn towels and old baby blankets. I haven't missed them.


answers from Detroit on

Oh... Where do I begin? I agree with the coupons, coupons, coupons comment.

If you use Kroger, sign up for Download coupons. Go to direct websites for laundry stuff... They send you books of coupons with no (or very far from now) expirations. I complimented Shedds Spread on their Honey Spread... They sent me an entire book of coupons for everything made by Kraft. is a website that I use for downloadable coupons AND printable coupons. Ask around... Most people throw a TON of coupons away from their newspaper. I get em from all kinds of people at work. P&G E-savers has a website you can download coupons to your card AND get free samples sent to your door every month. I have signed my mom up for that stuff. She's not computer savvy. I don't buy a newspaper. No need to. I have saved $100 on a $350 grocery shopping trip! That means... I paid $250 for what would cost me $350 if I hadn't taken the half hour or so to download and print some coupons. Once you're signed up for these sites, they send you emails to let you know when there's new coupons available.

I am also the "Manager's Special" queen. If I see something at Kroger that is on Manager's Special (about to expire)... and we'll use it right away... OH YEAH! I got 2 T-bone steaks for $10. That's what's for dinner! : )

We go through so much milk in our house, if I see a mgr's special on that... It's 55 cents rather than $1.77!


answers from Houston on

thats a great tip!, i like to make my food from scratch to save money, some things are awfully easy like pancake mix. Mustard, hot sauce, mayo, salad dressing, all of these are cheap to make expensive to buy



answers from Chicago on

My input on laundry savings:

* Wash all of your loads in cold water, except for bedding and towels which can be done in hot.
* Turn the water inflow valve to 1/2 capacity. Washers fill based on a timer, and you don't need as much water to clean your clothes as you think.
* Whatever the laundry detergent manufacturer recommends for an appropriate amount to use--use only 1/4 of that amt. Clothes will still get plenty clean

To save on meals like Zatarain's or Rice-a-Roni...make 1 box as directed and then add an extra 1-2 cups of plain white or brown rice to help dilute the sodium in the mix, as well as using a cheaper rice to help stretch the recipe.


answers from Dover on

My best advice is to switch stores to Melaleuca! You can save money while making your home and the environment safer for your family.

Example: Laundry only need 1/2 oz of MelaPower and one bottle goes as far as 3 of the leading brand and costs about 1/2 as much. There is your savings. AND all their products are safe/non-toxic for you and your home.

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