Category Archives: Money Saving Ideas

Princess Chandelier

Upon moving into our new house I told my five year old that she could decorate however she liked. She has gone through and remained in a “Princess” phase for quite sometime now. Her and I were looking through room ideas on Pinterest and this is what she decided she wanted…

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Alright, definitely not something I would have chose, but I want to make this move a positive experience so I agree. First things first, she wants a chandelier. Alright, this seems like a reasonable request so I start looking.

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Um, yeah pretty sure that’s not going to happen. I cannot believe how much a silly princess chandelier goes for! I then start looking locally as there are a few shops around the area that might have what I am in need of. That turns up to be just as expensive. So again being thrifty and frugal I start researching and looking into making my own chandelier.

My daughter’s and I take a quick trip to the Habitat for Humanity Restore and are pleasantly surprised. They have a lot of different orphaned chandeliers ranging from $15-$35 dollars. Now, this is my price range. She picks out:

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It’s really ugly right?! I text this picture to my husband, telling him we have found exactly what we are looking for. He immediately calls me and tries to talk me out of the purchase, but is too late. We have paid our $20 and are happily on our way.

Kind of a funny side note: so I purchase this chandelier and then remove all the glass and set it back on the counter and tell the cashier that I would like to donate it back to the store. The cashier looked at me like I was absolutely crazy, but accepts my donation. My husband opens the trunk of the car when we get home and inquires as to where the glass globes went. I tell him the story and I’m pretty sure he is mad at me. These people just don’t understand that I have a vision and I don’t need those pieces.

Anyway, our purchase sits in the garage for about two months before we finally get around to it. I had purchased an off white spray paint and some items to “decorate” the chandelier. I still needed to order the battery operated candles, but I’ll get there I tell myself.

One Saturday afternoon I head out to the shed to paint the chandelier, but my plan is quickly shut down….see a few years back I purchased some used folding chairs at the local thrift store. I then proceeded to sand them down and repaint them at the end of our drive-way apron on a somewhat windy day. My actions resulted in a film of spray paint being deposited on both mine and my husband’s vehicles windshields that needed to be removed with a razor blade. Another time I set out to spray paint something or other on a piece of cardboard out in our yard. I had a bit of an over spray that resulted in some dead grass. No big deal you would think right?!? Well, that’s where you are wrong. My husband spent hours on our yard and spent considerable time mowing a diamond into it. Therefore, my killing of the grass didn’t go over well. I figured the third time is the charm right? Yeah, we’ll never know for he and my daughter painted the chandelier alone, without me.

We allowed the paint to dry a for about a week before bringing the piece into the house to hang and decorate. In the meantime I found the perfect lights to add to the chandelier.

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I mean seriously, they have a remote! What child would not want this in their room. I didn’t realize it at the time, but these particular “candles” have various flicker speeds and options, as well as, a setting to not flicker. My daughter thinks it’s the greatest thing ever and I look good, everybody wins.

My husband assisted in hanging the chandelier and I decorated. I think that for about $50 we did an amazing job, but I’ll let you be the judge.

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It’s simple, elegant, exactly what she thought she needed and cost me next to nothing to make. This is my kind of craft. In fact this craft has inspired me to start looking at high end furniture and decorating websites and find ways to remake their products for a fraction of the price. It really feels good to turn something out that looks as good, if not better than the original product. However, I’ll have to save some of those projects for another day.

Homemade Reusable Napkins, Paper Towel and Say it isn’t so Toilet Paper?

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So for the past six years my family and I have been using reusable napkins. On top of being reusable they are also homemade. My sister-in-law gave us the original set with the “B” on our wedding in 2010 and then I asked for a second set one Christmas so there would be enough to last the week with our growing family.

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They really aren’t anything fancy. Pretty much unbleached muslin with a design stitched on. I am surprised at how well they wash up and how long they have lasted. Yeah there’s a few stains, the one has purple marker or something on it, but that’s fine. I can’t even begin to imagine how much money these have saved our family over the years.

After taking these photos I have determined that I need to gather material and make a few new ones as they are a little more dingy than I thought. This will have to be another, in my spare time projects, haha!

Something that I was looking at prior to our relocation was reusable paper towels. They are pretty sweet, it’s pretty much the same concept except they have snaps on them and then roll up on this plastic tube. They still sit on the holder like a normal paper towel, but you can wash them. I think now that things are pretty much back to normal this is something I need to purchase.

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I just did a quick Google search to pull the photo above and was pleasantly surprised to see that the prices have significantly dropped since I started considering them. Price was the main reason that I had originally held off. It was one of those items that I wasn’t really sure if I was ready to give up yet, ya know?

The other frivolous item that I can’t seem to give up is a kleenex. I don’t know about you, but a hanky just seems really gross to me. My husband uses them profusely, but there’s just something (to me) about sticking my nose in a soiled linen and blowing it again?! I don’t call me strange. Also, I really appreciated the lotion in the kleenex. The few times I year that I get sick I get really sick and end up going through a lot of kleenex. I’m not really sure that I have the time or patience to wash a hanky?

Things could always change I suppose.

Don’t worry, I haven’t considered reusable toilet paper yet ūüėČ Hahaha, boy that would be an interesting topic to broach with the husband….

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However, again doing a quick Google search. (Man what did we do before Google?) Anyway, after doing a quick search there is such a thing. I had better stick a spare roll of toilet paper in my car because if I ever roll up to a friends house and see this……I’m sorry I’m not really sure I can come over anymore as this is a bit much, even for me.

Good-bye Cable…

I am happy to report that my family and I have been free of cable for the past six months and it feels great! Not only are we saving a great deal of money, but also our time. My oldest daughter was obsessed with the Disney channel. The endless commercials and push for material items was overwhelming, for all of us.

In place we use Netflix and Amazon Prime. I would like to just use Amazon Prime, however, I fear that our 5 year old who has no concept of money would purchase entirely too many movies/shows. I honestly haven’t spent much time trying to figure out if there is a way to password protect purchases on the site, but for $8 a month I keep Netflix for her. There are no commercials and therefore, no more fights about wanting this game, toy, shirt, et cetera.

I will be honest I use to enjoy watching “Swamp People” and a few other shows during the week. However, after a lengthly discussion my husband and I came to the realization that we were literally only watching cable a few hours a week and paying a ridiculous amount of money. I can get most all of my news online.

I will be honest we haven’t experienced a football season without cable yet, but soon will be as preseason is in full swing. I’m not sure if this is something we will miss too much. I think the plan is to hook up an old school antenna and watch the local channels when possible. I’m really not sure if they carry any of the games anymore these days, but I’m sure we can figure out something and make it work. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them and encourage you to share them.

This is yet another way that our family has chosen to save money. Again, I realize this might not be something for everyone, but there are definitely other options out there that are much less expensive and time consuming. I took us about two years and the move to actually decide to pull the plug, but I think our family has greatly benefited from the transition.

Envirosax

Another staple in my life are my reusable shopping bags (Envirosax).

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I carry them in a reusable thermal bag in my trunk with my reusable glass milk jug bags and my mesh produce bags. They conveniently roll-up and snap which makes them perfect to carry in your purse. I use to do this, but with two children I find there are too many essentials to carry around these days.

What I love about these bags are that they are ridiculously strong and come in super fun patterns. The original bag that my mother-in-law purchased for me is going on like six years old and it still looks like new. They hold an exuberant amount of grocery items. Often times I find that I am unable to fill them to capacity as they are then too heavy for me.

I occasionally wash my bags, again not putting them in the dryer. They have more than paid for themselves and best of all they keep plastic bags from over taking our garage. I realize they are a bit of an investment, but are well worth the money. They would also make a perfect gift (that’s how I got mine).

Reusable Produce Bags

As I stated on my progressive hippie page one of the first changes my family and I made was reusable produce bags.

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I have had this exact set of bags (well actually I possess like three sets because we purchase mass amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables). Anyway, I have had these bags for roughly five years. I use them every week and have no complaints. Actually, I do have one complaint I have not been able to find a comparable product locally.

I have left items in these bags past their expiration (they rotted) and everything washed out leaving them looking like new.  I have not put them in the dryer as they come out of the washing machine pretty much dry. These bags have become a staple in our Saturday morning grocery shopping.

Lunchskins

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 2.48.29 PMContinuing on with my pursuit of cutting “waste” I have recently invested in lunch skins¬†reusable sandwich bags. I have only purchased the velcro bags up until this point, but in putting together this post I have since discovered the also sell zippered bags. Which I will soon be purchasing so that I may put smaller items like raisins in a bag and know that they will not fall out.

The velcro ones have been amazing and have more than paid for themselves. They wash up nicely and come in fun bright patterns, which has assist me in keeping track of them. I recommend these over the disposable plastic bags.

doTERRA Essential Oils

So one area of our lives that we have recently started saving significant money on is cleaning supplies. I have found that by using doTERRA essential oils and common household items I can make just as effective and less harmful cleaners.

Starting out with the oils I did not know much about them, their uses or what each oil was recommended for. Therefore, my initial purchase was for the Family Physician Kit  and the following book:

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I really found this particular book useful as it lists each individual oil, how to use it (aromatic, ingested, topical, et cetera) and then a list of ailments that the oil is known to be good for. There is a nice quick reference guide to know which oils are safe during pregnancy. (Please note that not all of them are safe for a mother with child.) There is also a section for the blended oils and how to use them.

This book does not have any recipes enclosed, but I have done extensive research on how to make your own cleaners and will work on uploading them in a user friendly format in the near future.

I know some of the doTERRA essential oils can be a little pricey and that there are cheaper brands available. I have not used any other brand(s). I will tell you that I have had my kit for well over a year and have not had to re-order any oils. I didn’t use them as much when I was first learning about them as I do now, but when you use them it’s only a few drops at a time. In this instance, a little bit really does go a long way.

This past Christmas I received a doTERRA Lotus Diffuser.

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I absolutely love my diffuser and use it a minimum of twice a day. My favorite oil to run is On Guard. It’s a blend of¬†Wild Orange, Clove, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary essential oils, which smells amazing and promotes immune support. Anytime one of the girls starts to get sick I immediately turn this on and it seems to assist in keeping everyone from either catching the cold or passing it on to others. This blend can also be ingested, but I have not personally tried this as I have not had the need. In the event, I do start to get sick I will be trying this out and letting you know the outcome.

I’m very excited to try out their TerraShield¬†this summer and cut harmful insect repellents out of our lives. My mother-in-law swears by it and I’m going to give it a try. I would prefer to expose my children to this than Deet any day.

Goodbye Dryer Sheets

In my continued search to cut down on the “waste” in our life, I discovered one doesn’t need to buy dryer sheets. I’m not saying you should go without because we all know that would not work out so well. We started using wool dryer balls with a small amount of lavender essential oil when necessary.

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After a small amount of research it turns out this combination is better on your dryer than traditional dryer sheets. As you may have noticed dryer sheets are somewhat waxy feeling……well that film or wax or whatever it is (I’m not a professional, in case you were wondering) builds up in your dryer and can plug the screen. Just Google it…..it’s not good.

I find that the balls last about one year before needing to be replaced. Which isn’t terrible. I also find the smell more pleasant. For those un familiar with doTerra they have an array of scents that might better suit your needs.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe Included

After a brief conversation with a co-worker and a simple three ingredient recipe…..my family and I now make our own liquid laundry ¬†detergent. I takes maybe fifteen minutes from start to finish. The recipe makes a single five gallon bucket, which lasts the four of us approximately five to six months.

(Seeing that we make it so infrequently  I currently do not have any photos available. The next time we set out to make a batch I will be sure to take photos to post. 11-16-15 I have added photos of the process for your viewing pleasure.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup – Washing Soda (I use Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda as I’m unaware of any other brands)
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  • 1 cup – Borax
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  • One Bar of soap (We utilize Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap in Almond. There are many other scents available so you can pick one that¬†best suits you.)
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Materials:

  • Empty/Clean 5 gallon bucket w/lid
  • Mixing Spoon
  • Grater or Food Processor

Where we live I am able to purchase these three items fairly easily. Otherwise they are obviously available online, but I think the prices are significantly higher.

How to make the detergent:

  1. Prior to starting I grate my bar soap. My husband possess the upper body strength to do this using a hand grater. I do not wish to “feel the burn” therefore I use my food processor. Either way it gets the job done.
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  2. Take the grated soap and add to 2 quarts hot water in a pan. Heat the pan on medium-high. Be sure to continuously stir the mixture until the soap is completely dissolved.
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  3. In your 5 gallon bucket put 4.5 gallons of extremely hot tap water.  Add in the borax and washing soda and stir until dissolved.
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  4. Add the dissolved grated soap and water from your pan. Mix together well.
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  5. Cover and let stand over night – our recipe calls for this step, but if you don’t have time we have skipped it and nothing happens. As long as you make sure that your bucket is mixed well.

Done.

When doing laundry (we have a top load washer, I’m assuming you would use less for a front load. However, I don’t know for sure.) I used 1 cup of detergent for a large load and scale it back to 1/2 cup for a smaller load.

Also, we choose not to leave the detergent in the bucket, but rather use a funnel and pour into smaller, easier to move around containers. This is more a personal choice.

**More of a side note: Our family started doing this almost a year ago. We have made 2 batches and still have over half a box of borax and washing soda. Literally all I need to purchase is the bar soap at  roughly $3.00 USD. This could easily be cheaper depending on what brand of bar soap you choose.