Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

In Uncategorized by M.D. Creekmore14 Comments

Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

by Jim M

With the cost of everything going up and the future uncertain, stretching your resources and re-purposing items becomes more of a necessity. I am always looking for new ways to get the “max for the minimum.”

Some recent posts here reminded me of some of these things. My grandparents and parents were a young family when the great depression hit. What kinds of things did they do to make ends meet when things were expensive or scarce?

Unfortunately, many of them who went through this period in time are no longer with us. However, I remember a few things they did or heard of them doing, that now, looking back, were obviously brought about by the times they lived in. Even after times improved somewhat, some still stuck to certain ways of doing things. Old habits are hard to break.

Hunting and gardening were basically a given back then. Most everyone outside the city limits did one or both of this along with bartering services for goods. A little carpentry or plumbing work for a couple of chickens.

I remember my grandfather mixing his old used motor oil with a little bit of kerosene and spraying the underside and inner fender wells of his pick up truck just before winter. He claimed it helped protect the truck from incurring rust damage over the winter months. Getting more serviceable years out of the truck.

I am sure environmentalists would have a cow over this nowadays, but it was a way of taking something that didn’t appear to have any usefulness left, and yet, finding one more use for it. The county used to spray old used oil to keep the dust down on dirt roads during the spring and summer months. Don’t see that happening anymore.

My grandfather saved some wood ashes from his fireplace to sprinkle around his tomato plants in the garden. He claimed it brought more blooms, thus more tomatoes during the growing season.

My grandmother would take apples and make pie filling and apple sauce. She would then take the wasted apple skins and apple cores and boil them down in water to get enough juice to make apple jelly. Finally using the old boiled down skins and cores to slop the pigs along with other scraps.

That was really getting some serious mileage out of your apples. I am sure such things as corn cob jelly and jello came from the same kind of frugal thinking of, “If I could just find one more use for this material.” My grandmother never threw a tea bag out after only “one” use. She also used up every last bit of an orange. Eat the orange, use the zest of the skin in baking and boil the pithy part of the skin to give the kitchen a nice aroma.

I had uncles who made hard cider during prohibition and would play cards all night on the weekends. That was long before my time but seems they still knew how to have a good time even when things were tough. God bless them.

My parents had the 1970’s to deal with, huge interest rates on mortgages, gas lines, inflation, and crazy tax rates. My dad worked his hind end off and made pretty decent money. But by the time he paid for the weekly and monthly expenses, it sure didn’t seem that way.

Christmas was the time of year when me and my brothers would get new blue jeans. My mom would take the brand new jeans and wash them on a low load setting to get as much of the blue dye out of the new jeans. Before the washer would spin that water out, she would remove the new jeans and put any of our old faded jeans that still fit along with jean jackets in the dyed water to soak overnight. Gave old jeans and jackets a “little” darker blue look.

How about an old wire clothes hanger as an emergency exhaust hanger for your car. Works in a pinch to get the muffler from dragging on the road. Unfortunately, most clothes hangers they are making now are plastic.

A friend of mine has used old pinewood pallets to build cold frames. The wood was free and if you get a couple or a few years use out of it, all the better.

My brother-in-law reloads his own ammo.

Old newspapers can be used for a weed barrier in the garden, gift wrap and I would dare say make a good candidate for emergency toilet paper if cut or torn down into smaller sheets. So would old telephone book pages.

I have also seen some recipes on the net for making logs to burn made with old newspapers. We keep some around to start fires. Anyone remember the old Readers Digest Christmas Trees? They would fold the pages of a Readers Digest a certain way and spray paint and decorate them to look like a Christmas Tree.

I have the tank to an old shop vac that I use as a waste can next to my workbench in the basement. The motor is long gone but still found a use for the tank.

I have found that a simple tarp has many uses other than covering woodpiles. I have seen them used to stop a leaking roof until better weather comes along to address the problem properly. I have taken an old tarp that was starting to fray and cut a section out big enough to cover the windshield on my work car.

It sits out in the weather and this piece of tarp can be removed in the morning along with the frost. Now I don’t have to scrape ice or run the defroster for 10 minutes before I leave during the cold months.

Saves me some time and a little gas money too. Word to the wise. Don’t put it on the car when they are forecasting freezing rain. Not nearly as easy to remove. I am sure tarps can be used for a temporary shelter in a survival situation.

A couple of years ago, I saw a man on TV claiming that he shaved an entire year with just one disposable razor. AN ENTIRE YEAR! He claimed that leaving the razor wet after you use it is what dulls the razor. The water deteriorates the sharp edge on the blade.

This sounded crazy to me so I decided to try this out. I did not get the same results this guy did by far, however, I will get through this year using a total of 5 replacement blades on my razor. This is based on shaving twice a week, not every day. Get your whiskers soft with hot water, use a shot of liquid hand soap to lather up and shave as normal. I believe the actual cutting of the whiskers is what dulls the blade, not the water.

So getting the whiskers as soft as possible with hot water and the lubrication of the hand soap is what helps keep the razor sharper for longer. Why are replacement razor blades so expensive? Don’t they mass produce these things by the billions?

My boss has been bringing me in empty plastic jugs that contained cat litter. They have the 2 HDPE marking on the bottom. So far, I have used these to store rainwater that we use on our garden. The jugs he brings me hold about 2.6 gallons of liquid. I have even taken old motor oil to Walmart for collection in these jugs. I’m sure there are probably many other uses for these.

We use old baby food jars to store herbs we grew in the garden. The really small jars (2 or 4 ounces?) are really good for this. I also keep my hardware sorted and orderly at the workbench with the larger jars. Kids have used them to make endless crafts, too.

We reuse storage bags when possible.

I use some of the leaves that come down in the fall to pack in my basement window wells. The basement windows are a cheap, thin glass window. And they are below ground level thus the wells on the outside. I pack these wells as tight as I can with dried leaves during the winter.

It keeps heat from wicking out the thin glass, acting as an insulator and deadens the sound from outside. In the spring. I remove the leaves, bag them with the mulching mower and till them into the garden.

I even heard of people using dried tree leaves as insulation during the depression to keep the lower floor of their homes warm. Surrounding the house with a temporary snow-type fencing and filling the void between the house and the fence with dried tree leaves. Then removing the fence and leaves in the spring.

With each passing generation, we lose a little bit of useful knowledge and common sense that was gained by the times in which they lived. I’m not sure of the severity of what’s coming, but I feel some of what they did could serve us well in days ahead.

I am very interested in finding out what you, the readers, could share about what you do and what your relatives did many years ago to cope and survive in uncertain times and stretch what resources are available to the max.

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  1. I do allot of shopping at the dollar tree. I recycle bottles and cans along with plastic water bottles.
    I do the majority of my own vehicle repairs and maintenance. I buy many candles at the dollar tree I usally buy scented candles so the house smells nice.That was handy with all of the pg&e blackouts.

  2. Good article. My daughter is a MacGyver. She always says anything has more than one use. She saves virtually everything from old furniture, appliance, or things she finds I would never notice. Saves a lot on our projects!

  3. Good Article MD! We use newspapers as a weed barrier in our gardens too. Also throw a couple of inches of grass clippings on top of that to keep it in place and hold in more moisture. Just turn it in with the dirt in the fall as additional fertilizer.

    Here is one that I’ve not seen too often. Reuse empty prescription bottles. $10 in quarters fits perfectly in them. I keep one in my desk at work, car, backpack. Comes in handy often and holds up better than those paper rolls. They can also be used to store matches, BBs and Pellets, and a hundred other ideas.

  4. quit smoking tobacco weed or the tires off your car. Learn to handload ammo and pickup useful brass. I found some 303, 3o8 and 7mm mag. I do not have those calibers but I may run into some one who does.

  5. My mom, said after they churned the butter, to give it a yellow color, she would grate carrots, get the juice and add it to the butter, and put it in the butter mold, she was a little girl back in the 1940’s. Growing raspberries, you don’t need a whole lot of room, if you have a good fence, or next to your house you can get a great amount of raspberries after about 3 year’s, they really start producing, I just made 8 pints of jam, off my raspberries, and made raspberries Liqueur, and I still have a quart bag of berries left. A grape arbor, and planting a grape vine it took about 7 year’s, but I finally got grapes this year and cut off four huge bowlsfulls of grapes, and I even shared with neighbors and still had plenty to make grape jelly. Collecting seed pods, and saving your own seeds, can be a fun and cheap project too.

  6. Right now you can save big buying pork butt roasts, frequently on sale for $1 a pound. With a sharp boning knife, carefully remove the single bone. Bag the bone for a batch of beans. The now boneless roast will yield two large chunks that can be sliced into pork steaks, plus some raggedy stuff that can be cubed for stir fry or green chile stew. All w-a-a-y cheaper than the pre-cut stuff in the stores.

  7. Leaving your razor wet definitely helps dull it. Even though the blades are made of stainless steel, some corrosion still takes place at the micro level, and this is enough to impact the blade sharpness. I rinse my razor really well after each use and then wipe it down with alcohol (which evaporates quickly, taking the water with it). This both dries the blades and kills any bacteria. Doing that, I can use a cartridge anywhere from 4-6 weeks before seeing a noticeable drop-off in comfort.

  8. The best way to save money is to track your spending.

    When you know where very penny goes you may notice how much you are spending on things that are not very important and then it’s very easy to stop buying them.

    And you get a competitive feeling about how much you can cut costs which puts you in a frame of mind where you want to cut other things because you get more satisfaction from saving money than spending it.

  9. According to my grandfather oak leaves add acidity to your soil. He added his ashes to where he needed to “sweeten ” the soil. Which meant reduce acidity.

    He grew a sweet wine grapes and made his own wine.

    Leftover ashes went on the path to the outhouse and in the driveway. On top of the ash in the drive he would sprinkle sakrete. Next rain the drive self repaired.

    He raised 5 kids on his own garden and hens. My uncle raised rabbits for food. Everyone bartered meats. Having a cellar cold frames and a shed to keep everything that could be recycled was a must.
    As kids we never came in for a snack. There were gooseberries ,grapes, apples , and the best cherries I’ve ever had we ate things in the woods I don’t know if I could identify today. It just doesn’t grow anymore.

  10. I shower every morning, and after drying off, shave dry. My whiskers are still softened by the previous hot water and soap, and I get dozens of shaves out of one disposable blade. The just tap the razor on the side of sink to clear the shavings. It also exfoliates a lot of dead skin from my face this way.

  11. One of my favorite stories is how flour companies used to print pretty patterns on their cloth flour sacks because they realized people were reusing that fabric to make dresses. Google “flour sack dresses” to see and read about that wonderful history.

    In the modern tech age, the best money saving tips for me have been: 1. Purchase your own internet cable modem off Amazon. It pays for itself in 6 months. And 2. Get rid of cable TV or “cut-the-cord”. This reduced my TV bill by more than half. Get a streaming device like Roku or an HDTV antenna (or both).

  12. Take the wrappers off bars of soap as soon as you get them home from the store. They will then dry out as you store them and will last much longer when put to use.

  13. Wood ash is high in phosphorous which tomatoes love. My grandmother had me dump the ashes from the woodstove in her garden spot. She had been 19 with a new baby in 1929, but they were poor so the Great Depression wasn’t a drastic change excepting for job sharing so another family could have some income. Plus she had grown up in near-starvation in the mountains with a blind mother, deadbeat dad and 8 siblings.

    As to the razor, I get months from a disposable razor since I switched to using a brush and cake soap. Careful on shaving creams and recently some shave soaps, they leave your skin slack, or as they advertise soft, and that means you need the sharpest razor to get a clean cut. I haven’t figured out the ingredient that does this yet. Not sure if it isn’t intentional to sell razor blades. The brush lathers and lifts the hairs giving a clean cut with older blades. I store my razor upright so the blade dries.

  14. My boss used to roll the Sunday paper into a tight roll and dip it in kerosene. He burned it in his fireplace instead of logs.

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