THE HALF-PRICE LIFE (PART TWO)
In most households, you would find a cabinet full of cleaners. One of the best ways to save money (and space) is to make your own cleaners. Below are some of my favorite recipes for cheap cleaning:
Windows: Add 3 Tbsp. vinegar to one gallon of cool water. Pour into a spritzer bottle and wipe with balls of newspaper (saves paper towels and avoids streaks).
Floors: To one gallon of water, add 1/16 cup liquid soap and 1/8 cup white vinegar.
All purpose cleaner for countertops: To one quart warm water, add 4 Tbsp. baking soda.
Toilets: Sprinkle 1/4 cup borax (found in laundry aisle) and 1/4 cup baking soda on sides of bowl. Pour one cup of white vinegar on sides of bowl. Let bubble and soak, then swish. For cleaning under the rim, add one teaspoon of liquid dish soap instead of borax.
Tub and Tile: Mix 2/3 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup liquid soap and 1/2 cup water. As last step, add 2 Tbsp. vinegar. Then apply, scrub, and wipe.
Drain cleaner: Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain followed by 1 cup vinegar. Let bubble for 15 min. then rinse with hot water. This habit can prevent the need for toxic and expensive drain openers.
Time is the reason we reach for ready-made cleaners and convenience foods. But most of these things are cheaper when they're homemade. If you have the time or you're willing to make the time, you can save a lot of money. I love to make homemade pizza sauce, applesauce, and jam. My kitchen smells wonderful on those days. I also make waffles and freeze them between sheets of wax paper (to avoid freezer stick). Pop the waffles in the toaster and you have a quick breakfast.
Another money saver is homemade jello and canned fruit instead of the fruit and gel bowls that cost two dollars. For lunch box snacks, I store this in small Glad containers. This also works to convert large tubs of yougurt into smaller servings. To save on drinks, I buy frozen juice concentrate. My daughter's favorite drink is frozen orange juice mixed with equal parts of frozen strawberry drink. Yum!
Of course, with all the money you save, you'll want to treat yourself now and then to a restaurant meal or a fun vacation. But even then you'll find yourself taking the thrifty route. Saving money is like a brilliant sickness you can't kick. It becomes a challenge. Anyone can spend money. Saving takes skill. While others boast about expensive purchases, I get excited about yard sale finds I got for next to nothing.
To eat at a restaurant for next to nothing, use entertainment book coupons, sunday paper coupons, or sign up for the birthday club. Birthday club discounts can often be used all at once. Plan to go when the restaurant offers a special price ( usually mid-week). Order water instead of soda, and skip the appetizer and dessert. The highest mark up in a restaurant is dessert.
To eat cheap on vacation, check local newspapers for coupons and hotel lobbys for discount booklets. Eat breakfast out (it's the cheapest meal of the day). Then carry snacks to hold you over until dinner. You'll only pay for two meals a day, and dinner can be ordered as take out which you can eat in your hotel room. This saves the price of a waitress tip, which you can give to the maid instead.
See how creative saving money can be. Two more tips I recently read about but haven't tried is coupon combining and price comping. Combining manufacturers coupons and store coupons on the same item sounds too good to be true, but apparently, some stores will honor this. Just ask.
Price comping is when a store will match the price featured in a local competitors' ad. This allows you to buy all your products in one place instead of running to three different stores for individual bargains. Check with stores to see which ones will honor competitors' sale prices.
So there you have it, everything I learned about saving money so far. Oh and don't forget about prepaid phone cards, farmer's markets, yard sales, consignment stores, and shopping at places like Goodwill. You have an entire closet full of used clothes. Why not add more and save yourself some money. One dance with a washing machine can make any piece of clothing look new. If you work hard for your money, you should work just as hard to keep it.