List of Penny-Pinching Ideas

This list is a compilation of ideas to save money. It changes and updates as time goes on, so be sure to check back. Try out the ideas you like and leave what you don’t.

-stop eating out

-have a budget

-stop buying coffee/tea/soda from stores

-measure out your coffee (try about 1 Tbsp per 2 cups of water-this is relatively strong, so adjust to taste)

-cut sponges in half to make 2 sponges

-instead of throwing away old clothes, cut them into rags for cleaning

-use rags to wash dishes

-water down soap

-rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher

-instead of dish washer pods, fill up the soap compartment with white vinegar

-set the dishwasher to cool dry

-turn the dishwasher off before the drying phase and let the dishes air dry

-make your own all-purpose, natural cleaner (put half white vinegar and half water in a squirt bottle

-instead of dish washer pods, put a couple drops of Dawn in the soap compartment and sprinkle 1 Tbsp of baking soda in the bottom of the washer

-keep livestock (or just keep chickens/rabbits in the backyard)

-compost

-grow a garden

-patch old clothes

-hang clothes to dry

-cook dried beans

-cook from scratch

-eat less meat

-buy in bulk

-look at unit prices, not overall prices

-make your own decorations for events

-make your own greeting cards

-shop thrift stores

-use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without

-pull the plug on cable

-unplug appliances when not in use

-put a container of water in the toilet tank

-stop buying bottled water

-buy large cuts of meat and break it down into smaller portions

-learn a new skill

-utilize the library

-wash out plastic bags

Ingenuity

I had a fantastic idea!

I have to eat gluten-free for reasons, and since changing my diet, I eat a lot of gits. Actually, I technically eat a lot of polenta, because I just use cornmeal instead of packaged grits. It’s basically the same thing, it’s just yellow instead of white.

A while back there was a sale on canned corn if you bought a whole case. Corn isn’t my favorite thing, but I’m ok with it, and I figured that I could use it to change up my diet and also to have food on hand pre-coronavirus, so I bought a case of canned corn.

I like corn, but a whole case is a lot of corn. It was going to sit on the shelf forever until I got around to it (which is fine since it’s canned), but then I had my brilliant idea. Cornmeal is just dried, ground corn. If I put a can of corn through the blender, I’ll have wet cornmeal, and I’d add cornmeal to liquid anyway, so I can make grits!

I put my corn through the blender (which I unplug after each use so it’s not using any more electricity) and dumped it into a pot on the stove. I added some salt and boiled it until it reduced down to grit-like consistency.

Now, some of you know that canned corn is sweeter than cornmeal – which I found out.

The “grits” I made were ok enough to eat today, but I won’t be doing this again.

To my credit, I think this would work just fine as an ingredient in a different recipe; however, the blended corn by itself didn’t taste like grits.

Even though this particular experiment didn’t work out, this is the kind of ingenuity that can help you be more frugal. If there’s a sale on something, don’t automatically pass it by if you don’t use it. Consider it for a moment: Is it a good price? Can you use it in place of something else? Would it be easy enough to use that you would actually do it?

Introducing (drumroll please) Katie

Hi. I’m Katie. I’d probably label myself as an extreme homemaker (at least, that’s what I try to be).

I’m in my 20s, and at that age, many people aren’t trying to begin homesteading or cut household expenses. However, I went through a serious medical crisis a few years back. I actually had to relearn how to walk… among other things… but that’s a story for another time. Anyway, that experience aged me by at least a decade.

Also, after I got out of the hospital, I married my high school sweetheart and moved an hour away from everything I know. Then my husband decided to surprise me with a dog, which eventually turned into two dogs. Due to my medical issues, I haven’t been able to find a job outside the home. My spouse’s one job went from comfortably supporting one to supporting four, and we were going through funds like water.

Our 1st dog – Pepper – he’s huge, over 100 lbs

As the person staying at home with a lot more time on my hands, I began looking at finances. I started cutting expenses left and right. I read so many frugality books and blogs (Kate Singh is fabulous) that my head spun. I’m still picking up new things, but I’ve learned a lot and want to share it.

Our 2nd dog – Camo – only a little smaller, about 60ish lbs

I’d like to tell you what I do to give you ideas for saving some money.

I’d also like to inspire you. There are lots of frugality blogs out there, but this one shows my personal journey.

I do all sorts of things, from sewing and cooking to gardening and painting and everything in between. I’m sure there’s something to interest you, so snuggle up under a blanket and enjoy.

How I Make My Coffee

I love a good cup of coffee. It’s so comforting. It reminds me of younger days.

I realize that doesn’t mean much because of my age, but I started drinking coffee pretty young – at age 7. My parents tried to keep me away from it, but we were at the visitation for a funeral and I found the coffee pot. Long story short, I’d had 5 cups of coffee by the time my parents found me.

After that, I guess they figured any damage was done (and it’s coffee, not cocaine) and I began drinking coffee in the mornings… and afternoons… and nights… I really like coffee.

Anyway, when I first got married I had a coffee pot. But my kitchen is really small, and I needed all the counterspace I could get, so I switched to a French press.

I loved that the French press didn’t need paper coffee filters, but after a year and a half, a dropped it in the sink while washing it. It was all glass, so it broke.

A French press is only about $20, but the frugal part of me didn’t want to replace it. I may in the future, but I had kept a pack of coffee filters from back before my super frugal days.

Every few days, I put some coffee grounds in the filters, and then I tie them up with some yarn. When I want to make coffee, I just throw one of these bundles into a cup and steep it like a tea bag.

Now let’s get into the nitty gritty. Using leftover coffee filters and making coffee camp style instead of replacing my French press isn’t the only way I save money here.

First off, not buying a French press did save me some money. However, the grounds I’ve used are a mix of different odds and ends. I had some half-caf grounds, some chicory granules, and some full-strength grounds that I really liked. I wasn’t a fan of the half-caf, and the chicory was fine, but it was in a separate bag that was easy to forget when making my coffee pouches.

I didn’t want any of these grounds to go to waste, although I couldn’t imagine drinking them alone, so I mixed the rest of the half-caf with the chicory and about half of the coffee that I really liked. It tastes so much better now (I can’t tell much of a difference between the franken-coffee and the coffee I really enjoy), and I significantly increased the amount of coffee I had.

The next way I saved money has to do with the yarn I used to tie the filters closed. A woman from my church had a yarn-spinning class, and I went. I ended up getting some free yarn out of the experience, but it was a poor initial try, and I couldn’t use it to make anything. So, I’m not wasting it either, and I’m using it to tie my coffee filters.

I’ve really taken the “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” slogan to heart.

I don’t even throw out my grounds once I’m finished making coffee. I keep a container in the kitchen where I put any food trash and I compost it in the yard.

That’s how I saved money on coffee today, but I also love making copycat recipes, both for coffee and everything else. I like the fancy coffees from coffee shops, but it pains me to pay $5 for a cup of coffee. I keep jars of homemade dry coffee creamers that make my coffee taste like it came from a restaurant.