15 Clever Money Tips

What with the high cost of gas and runaway inflation, people are getting desperate. There's not a day goes by that I don't read that someone's car has been siphoned of its gas or a store's alarm chimes as someone is pushing his cart out the door. 

I can provide a tip for both scenarios. 

For gas thieves: Buy a locking gas cap for your car. The thieves might be ballsy enough to punch a hole in your gas tank, but it takes more time--time that could get them caught.

And stores: If you want to prevent theft, stop using self checkouts. And if you continue using self checkouts, don't be surprised if stuff walks out the door. You've created your own drama.

For the rest of us I've got some unique ways to save money.

By now, we all know to cancel cable and other subscriptions. You know to cook at home and garden to save on food costs. And you know to use your car to run all your errands in one trip rather than running out every day.

But here are some lesser used money tips.

  • Recycle aluminum. They're paying much higher prices now. This is a great project for kids to earn a little spending money and keep recyclables out of the landfill.

  • Learn to haggle. From garage sales to automobiles, prices are not always set in stone. You can save hundreds of dollars.

  • Repurpose. Before you throw something away, give it a long, hard look. Can you use it in any other way? I turn unsalvageable clothes into rags, plastic bottles into storage containers and cloches, plastic lidded containers for leftovers and bacon grease and for spent grease. (This way it doesn't clog my pipes.) Right now I'm saving and hunting for people's leftover glass windows and doors to someday make a small greenhouse.

  • Wash your clothes in cold water then dry them with a dry towel to speed up drying. You can also line dry. (A dryer is a huge energy hog.)

  • Cut your own hair, or let a student hair stylist do it. (They are supervised by their instructor.)

  • Use bar soap over body wash. It lasts longer.

  • Install a rain barrel or put out buckets during a rain shower. I water many of my plants this way.

  • Go trash picking. There's a neighborhood we regularly drive through that usually has a lot of great finds. I've picked up full bags of potting soil, fertilizer, pots, and loads of usable lumber and pipe.

  • Buy your clothes at a thrift store or yard sale. Older clothes are usually better made than the stuff they sell now.

  • Barter or rent your expertise. Occasionally, our neighbors need welding or some minor repair done. My husband always does it for free, but our neighbors are so grateful they insist on giving him a gift card. We do the same if anyone has to feed our farm animals.

  • Batch cook. The number one reason we ever have to eat out is because I'm too tired to cook. With batch cooking, I freeze the leftover meals in easy to reheat aluminum foil pans and take them out on really busy days. It's a good comfort meal without the hassle of preparing it.

  • Create a burner email account. I have one email account that I use strictly for getting coupons, deals, or free stuff from companies. I get the reward for giving out my email address without the worry of spam on my main accounts.

  • Google for free events in your area. Zoos, museums, and arboretums all have free or greatly reduced entrance fees if you pick the right day.

  • Do a No-Spend Month (or a week if you can't handle a month).

  • Sell your stuff. I've been to enough yard sales to see an uptick in older teenagers holding these sales. It's a good way to earn some money and learn a little bit about life and negotiating.

Have you done any of these things recently? What's your favorite way to save (or earn) money?


nightsmusic said…
I do several of those things. I also either grow my own or support our local farmers and buy my veggies from them and can my own veggies, or freeze them. I ferment my own cabbage, but that does get canned because I do about 30 quarts and 15 pints at a time. I'm spoiled in that I'm not willing to give up my washer/dryer. We're on a well for our water, but I lived my first 23 years with a wringer washers and no dryer, in Michigan, pulling frozen clothes off the line in winter. There are some concessions I just won't do now in my old age ;) We've been trader/barterers forever, I give away things that are in great condition I'll never use again and eventually get something from someone else I need so it comes back in kind. We've lived a fortunate life :)
Mike Keyton said…
No dryer. Check
Negotiating £10 reductions from Sky TV Check
Halving magazine subscription. Check
Keeping temperature no higher than 18 degrees centigrade. Check
Minimising food waste (at expense of waistline) Check
And here’s a question: what use could you find for likely spare kitchen tiles — inside or outside in the garden?
Maria Zannini said…
nightmusic: I love fermented cabbage! But I've never tried canning it afterward. Do you ferment than process in a pressure canner? I'd love to read about your process for canning.

I remember the old wringer washer. Got my arm caught in one as a child. Ahh...good times. LOL!

I like to line dry in the summer. I actually wait for summer to wash and dry my comforters and heavy blankets. It takes forever in the dryer.
Maria Zannini said…
re: tiles
That's a great question. Here's how I've used mine.

If they're ceramic I've used them as liners inside the cabinet under my sink. My niece uses hers as a walkway in her garden. I thought they would break under people traffic but they seem to hold together.

If you're crafty, you can break them up and glue them into a birdbath or table as a mosaic.

If your tile is stone, I imagine you could use it as a pizza stone, or at least as a base under a grill or chiminea.

I love stone tile. There are probably a dozen places I could use it in the garden.
nightsmusic said…
Maria: I do my own fermenting first. I have an old, 12 gallon crock I got lucky enough to buy locally a few years ago at a great price and my father in law picked it up for me. I can still take it down off the shelf though hubs has to put it up when I'm done. But I have graduated from the old wood grater to a modern stainless one though I do it all by hand. I grate, salt, grate, salt until the crock is oh...3/4 full usually so that's 5-6 large heads that have been cleaned, quartered, cored and grated. And I squeeze them after I salt them to get the water in the cabbage to start releasing. Once I've got that done, if there's not enough liquid, I have a huge stock pot that I've boiled water and about a quarter cup coarse salt in that's cooled and I pour in enough to just cover the cabbage. I mash it with a wooden kraut masher, put an old glass dish about the diameter of my crock on top and then a ziplock bag full of water to help hold the dish down so the cabbage stays covered, cover that with a kitchen towel and it stays in the garage for about three weeks. Every few days I check it and taste a bit and when it tastes right, then I get it ready to can. I use an old granite canner though. Not a pressure canner. You don't have to pressure can anything that won't get botulism. So unless you're canning anything with meat in it, you really don't need to pressure can. Even my spaghetti sauce is done in the granite canner because I don't can it with meat. The old standby Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is still my go to if I'm not sure of a time or head space or anything else though I've been canning for years. But it's good to have.

I'll post my process this year on my blog with some pictures so you can get a chance to see what it looks like start to finish. And some of the other things I can as well. :)
Maria Zannini said…
nightmusic: I hope you do post it. I've fermented my cabbage, but I didn't know you could waterbath can it after the fact.

Now that I'm down to just one freezer, I plan to can a lot more this year.
nightsmusic said…
Maria: this is what's left of last year's canning. There's 13 quarts of sauerkraut, two pints, four pints of tomato jam and two quarts of tomato sauce. Most of that shelving will be or should be full by the end of fall again this year. I do freeze tomatoes whole in a ziplock freezer bag too. I just pick them, wash and dry them, toss them in the bag and stick them in the freezer. When I need a couple for soups or stews, I take a couple out, run them under hot water so the skin slips off and toss them in whatever I'm cooking. Easy peasy :)

Robin King Hunt said…
Hi Maria! I’m selling construction salvage from my husband’s remodel at a historic Odd Fellows Lodge in downtown Tyler. I have 100 year old doors for $40, Art Deco theater seats for $50 and window frames for $20. It’s been so interesting! Hope you are doing well. I just read that Empire Central is being torn down! I’d love to see you again. Trying to repurpose everything I can.
Maria Zannini said…
nightmusic: Good job! I freeze some tomatoes but I also dehydrate a lot of them. They add another deeper layer of flavor in pizza and pasta sauce.

I made the mistake of canning a lot of peppers one year, both hot and sweet--now hubby can't tolerate either because of indigestion or diabetes. I can't win!

The sweet ones are really good, but I'm only one person. \o/
Maria Zannini said…
Hi Robin! So good to hear from you!

I love old salvage pieces. I wish we lived a little closer so I could check it out. With gas prices as they are, we're not doing much traveling.

The hardest salvage pieces for me to find is architectural stone. My house might be full, but I have plenty of outdoor space for unusual pieces.

re: Empire Central
I didn't know that! Dallas real estate is too valuable for an old office building. I'm surprised it lasted this long.
Bernie Kringel said…
Just found your blog via the Frugal Girl blog. Nice to meet you!
Love the tip about adding a dry towel with the laundry. I am going to try that. Can't really hang clothes around here as I live in the Pacific Northwest and it is usually raining.

Enjoying poking around your blog! :-)
Maria Zannini said…
Bernie: Happy to meet you, Bernie. And welcome!