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13 Frugal Home Budgeting Tips You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

By Heather Levin

When it comes to frugal tips, there are some old tricks that have been practiced for a long time.

For instance, one of the many uses for baking soda is as a cleaning substitute to wash your countertops. Or, to give new life to your grungy sponges, you simply pop them in the microwave with some vinegar and lemons. Finally, using egg cartons instead of buying expensive indoor greenhouses is one of the many home gardening tips to save money on your gardening.

As I mentioned, many of us are already doing or have heard of many of these ideas that helping with saving money and living a greener life.

But wouldn’t it be cool to learn some new tips?

Well, I’ve got some for you. These are some of my favorite tips from one of my favorite books: Reader’s Digest’s Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things: 2317 Ways to Save Money and Time.

And listen, they’re not kidding about that title. There are some awesome tips in here that will truly help you save money and time. Take a look:

1. Make Your Own Dehumidifier
You don’t have to spend $100 or more buying a dehumidifier for your basement. Simply put some charcoal briquettes in a coffee can and punch a few holes in the lid. You’ll probably need several for a large basement or attic. All you have to do is to replace the charcoal briquettes every few months.

Extra Tip: You can also put a charcoal briquette in the bottom of a vase of water that you’re trying to reroot plants in. The charcoal will keep the water from getting stagnant and full of bacteria (which can kill cuttings). Genius!

2. Make Your Own Grilled Cheese
I take a lot of road trips back and forth to Louisiana. And being a vegetarian, cheese sandwiches are often my “go to” meal on the road. A lot of times, however, I pull into a hotel really late and am too tired to go out hunting for something to eat. And yet, I want something hot.

So, I make my own grilled cheese in my hotel room.

Simply make a few cheese sandwiches before you leave. Wrap them well in aluminum foil. When you get to your hotel room, use the room’s iron to heat up the sandwich through the foil. Instant grilled cheese!

3. Use Your Vicks!
I have two jars of Vicks VapoRub lying around the house that I rarely use.

But you can add new value to your VapoRub during the summer when you go outside. Smear the salve on your legs and boots to repel ticks, and on your skin to repel mosquitoes. Insects hate the smell of this stuff!

4. Getting Rid of Stains
Here’s the situation: your child just spilled spaghetti sauce all down the front of his shirt. You happen to have a spare shirt for your kid, but you won’t be able to make it home before the stain sets in.

The solution? Spray the shirt down with water and seal it in a Ziplock bag. By keeping the shirt wet, you’ll be able to get the stain out easily once you get home.

5. Freshening Your Thermos
You know that stale, musty smell that happens when you seal up a thermos for a long time? Well, you can prevent that by dropping a clove (or a teaspoon of salt) in there before you seal it up. When you open it next time, it will smell fresh and ready to go.

6. Treating Sunburn
Did you know that tea is soothing to sunburns? Yep. Simply apply a few wet tea bags to sunburned skin; it will take away the sting.

Along these lines, if you have one of those super-painful-whole-body-sunburns, then take a bath in tea water.

7. Hiding Your Valuables at the Gym (or at Home)
You’re at the gym and forgot to leave your expensive necklace at home, and you don’t have a lock for your gym bag.

You can hide valuables by making a small slice in a tennis ball and sliding your jewelry in there. To the casual observer it will look just like a regular tennis ball and they won’t give it a second look. How James Bond is that?

Extra Tip: You can also use tennis balls to make a better kickstand for your kids’ bikes. Simply slice the tennis ball open a bit and slide it onto the kickstand; this will enable your kids to park their bike in sand or soft dirt.

8. Cleaning Your Plants
This is one of my favorite tips! I have several large houseplants that regularly get dusty.

You can remove dust and shine leaves by rubbing them with the inside of a banana peel. Plus, they smell really good!

9. Melting Ice
If you run out of de-icer this winter and need to melt your steps and sidewalk, use baking soda instead. Plus, it’s safer for wood and concrete.

10. Cleaning Your Shower
If you have a bottle of baby oil lying around that you’re not using, it makes a great shower cleaner. Simply put 1 teaspoon of oil on a moist cloth and wipe down your tub; it easily dissolves soap scum and dirt.

Make sure you rinse the tub well afterwords; the oil makes the tub quite slippery, which can be dangerous.

11. Preventing Splatters
Don’t waste money on a splatter screen for your kitchen. You can make one yourself out of an aluminum pie pan. Just poke some holes in it and turn it upside down over the food you’re frying so you don’t get burned.

12. Reuse Those Plastic Bottles
This is an awesome tip since winter is on the way.

If you have extra glass or plastic bottles lying around waiting to be recycled, keep a few on hand. You can fill them with hot (but not quite boiling) water and use them to warm up your feet by rolling the bottle back and forth under your feet, warm up your sheets before you climb into bed by letting them sit on the bed, or warm yourself up by holding them next to your neck or under your arms if you’re really cold.

13. Reuse That Half Gallon Milk Jug
If you do a lot of baking, then you’re going to love this tip. You can use a clean and completely dry half gallon milk jug to store sugar. Just make sure to fill the jug using a funnel.

Then, when you’re baking, the jug makes pouring the sugar out extremely easy because it has a handle and a small spout!

Last Word
Do any of you have some little-known frugal tips you’d like to share? If so, I’d love to hear them and I’m sure other readers would too!

(Photo credit: r-z)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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  • http://www.momsplans.com Melissa

    I loved this! I hadn’t heard of many of these tips, but I will be sure to use them now. I especially liked the baking soda for melting ice on the side walk.

    • Heather Levin

      Melissa, I’m so glad you’ll be able to use them! Thanks for reading. :)

  • http://www.gobankingrates.com/ HenryTalksMoney

    I like how these home remedies are also great ways to save money. Good post.

  • http://upfromsplat.com Ande Waggener

    Great list! I especially love #2 and #3. I didn’t know Vicks repelled insects. Since I live in the wet and mosquitoey Pacific Northwest, this is a biggie!

    And #2 reminded me of the movie, Benny & Joon, which I love. I thought ironing the cheese sandwiches was funny in the movie, but I never thought to do it for real. You can bet I will now!

    Oh, and #10, the baby oil as a shower cleaner–I didn’t know that either. I’ll give it a try.

    Thanks!

    • Heather Levin

      Ande, I love that movie Benny and Joon, and completely forgot about that scene! Thanks for the fun reminder. :)

  • Deb

    I just read an article that vicks vaporub is still a good remedy for colds. So if you have an infant or toddler with a cold using vicks is away to relieve the symptoms now that we can’t use OTC medicines for them any more. I do use it with my 2 year old and it works.

    I also love the idea of the plastic bottles and warm water. I am always cold I am going to use this idea to help me stay warmer.

    • Jwhite84

      It is also great for toe nail fungus

      • Jwhite84

        The vicks, that is!

  • Cricket Richards

    These were the best “tips” and the first list I’ve read in a long time that I hadn’t heard of most of them. Thanks! ; )

    • Heather Levin

      Cricket, great, thanks so much for reading!

  • http://thepennyhoarder.blogspot.com The Penny Hoarder

    I love the grilled cheese idea! I’m also a veggie and love my grilled cheese sandwiches, but I would have never thought of using the hotel iron. Brilliant!

    • Heather Levin

      The Penny Hoarder, I wish I could take credit for that one. It was a tip I found online years ago, and have been using every since. :)

      BTW, those grilled cheese sandwiches are also amazing with added tomato and avocado. Delicious!

  • ImJuniperNow

    I’m laughing hysterically at Number 12 – In the good old days, they used “hot water bottles” that looked like a flat balloon. I guess it’s true, everything old is new again!

    Any pet money saving tips out there?

  • Jwhite84

    I buy whole milk, and pour half into another gallon carton. Then I fill the two half gallons the rest ofthe way up with water. It tastes the same as 2% milk. No one notices the difference in my house, an we save about $3.

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