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

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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 writer with over 15 years experience covering personal finance, natural health, parenting, and green living. She lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband and two young sons, where they're often wandering on frequent picnics to find feathers and wildflowers.

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