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Coupon Mom: 10 Innovative Ways to Save Money
I am all about saving money. I use coupons; I transfer the last bits of dish soap into the new bottle I just opened. I conserve shampoo. These are all common ways of saving money. I however, have learned over the years some innovative and extremely useful ways of saving money that you wouldn’t think of normally, from making your razor blades and milk last longer to getting out of bank and credit card fees. Here are ten useful ways to save money:
Refill Swiffer WetJet bottles
I used to have a Swiffer and honestly I loved it. I used it in between deep cleanings and it kept the floor from becoming sticky and gross. The thing I hated about the WetJet is buying their expensive bottles of cleaner. One day I was inspecting my all-too-soon empty bottle and realized that I could refill it! I played around with ways to open the bottle without ruining it and discovered this trick: The first time you refill it, hold the rubber top in boiling water for about ten seconds. This will soften it and you can twist it right off! It will go back on with no problem, and you never have to boil it again, you can just twist it off after that. Now, you can refill it with a Mr. Clean mixture, or whatever you have gotten on sale with coupons!
Get that awful smell out of your reusable containers! (Or that stain!)
Have you ever left something in your refrigerator for too long and then tried to wash out the dish only to find that the smell won’t go away? Don’t throw it out, you can fix it! Take an old newspaper and crumple it up. Add a few drops of water to the paper and stuff it in the container. Put the lid on and let it sit for a few days. I have found that placing the container in a sunny place helps. After two or three days wash out the container and the smell will be gone! If your containers are stained with tomato sauce (Sloppy Joe leftovers are notorious for this!) leave them in the sun for a few days and the color will be bleached out. They look like new, and with the newspaper trick they smell like new! No need to waste money buying new containers.
Get those fees forgiven!
Did you know that most banks will forgive one overdraft fee a year? Other companies will often forgive one late fee a year as well. If your bank account has been in good standing for the last three to six months, a bank will often be willing to forgive one overdraft fee if you go in and talk to them. I used to work for a bank and you would be surprised all the things they can offer you if you just ask. The same applies to bills as well. If you are rarely late on your payments you can call up your credit card company or the cable company and explain your situation. Maybe you had a rough month financially or something came up and it just slipped your mind. Be honest and tell them what happened and ask if they can help you with this fee just once. More often than not, they will. That is $35 saved!
Stretch your boxed pasta
Have you ever had to make two boxes of macaroni and cheese because one just won’t do? Instead of pulling out that second box, add a half a cup of elbow macaroni (Or whatever noodles you have on hand that you got with coupons) to the box and the cheese will cover it just fine! You aren’t wasting that second box, and plain noodles are much cheaper – one bag of pasta could stretch four or five boxes of macaroni and cheese.
Make double the food you usually eat
Did you know that nearly everything can be frozen? For a list of many freezer-friendly foods check this out. I used to eat out a lot because the thought of coming home and cooking a full meal was daunting after a long day at work and school. Then I discovered freezer meals and that changed. When I did cook for myself, I made twice the amount of food I would normally make. Then, before I sat down to eat I would package up half and throw it in the freezer. The reason I did it before I ate was for a few reasons. First, it’s better to freeze something when it is fresh. Second, I would often sit down to eat and then grow tired and forget about packaging up the rest and food would just go to waste. Now, when I came home tired and hungry I could just thaw whatever it was in the microwave or oven and in no time I had a healthy, home cooked meal. This also saves a lot of money because it is cheaper to cook “a little more” at one time than open the ingredients from new packages twice – usually what I had bought would easily make double.
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Make one bottle of liquid hand soap last a year!
I hate spending money on hand soap. There are rarely good coupons for it and they are just hard to get at a good price. Here is a great solution that has worked for me over the last few years. Buy a bottle of foaming hand liquid. The foaming part is important. Then once the bottle has run out buy a bottle of regular hand soap. You can also save a lot of money by buying the refills and not the dispenser bottles. In the foaming bottle add a tablespoon of the regular hand soap. Fill the rest of the bottle up with warm water and leave some space at the top. Shake it all up to mix it. Screw the lid back on and give the pump a few pumps to get it going. There you have it! Foaming hand soap at a fraction of the price. Your hands still get as clean as before but you don’t have to spend nearly as much money.
Dry your razor blade!
Now, while there is no hard proof that this works, I really think it does. I ran my own less than scientific test on this and I found it to be true. I got about four more shaves out of my razor when I dried it than if I had left it just sitting in the shower. Here is what I did: I took two identical disposable Bic Soliel razors. I’ve got two legs, so I used one razor on one leg, and one on the other. They were different colors so I could tell them apart. The pink one I dried with my towel and stored outside the shower. The blue one I left in the shower, no extra care for it. Oddly enough, even the little moisturizing strip stayed nicer on the one I dried, and once the blue one started giving my leg nicks, the pink one lasted almost and entire week longer. I don’t know why this is; maybe the blades start to rust when left in water. But it works, and saves a lot of money in razors!
Re-Use lunchmeat containers
Do you buy your lunch meat in those plastic containers? It seems many companies are doing this now. The best part about this is that they are exactly like the ones that you buy in the store for three and four dollars. In fact, some of them even say Glad on them! Once your lunchmeat (that you bought with coupons) is gone wash them out (I put them in the dishwasher on the top rack) and store them with your other containers. Now you can use these for leftovers, or for sending food home with guests. If you don’t get them back it doesn’t matter!
Extend the shelf life of your milk
I hate when I buy milk only to have it go bad before I can use it all. Thankfully there is a neat trick you can use to help it stay fresh longer. One of the reasons milk goes bad is because as the milk gets older, it begins to separate leaving particular enzymes to spoil on their own. Every time you get out the milk to do something, give it a good shake. This mixes the milk back up helping it stay fresher for longer!
Use old dryer sheets to get grime off of your pots and pans
This is one of my favorite tips, by far. You know how after leaving a pan out all night there is often dried on food or whatever stick to it? No need to buy a brillo pad, just grab an old dryer sheet. I have a tray on my dryer that I throw them in when I am finished. There is enough softener in them that they get the food off easily with little work! If I have a really big mess I use a new dryer sheet from the box. Then I just wash it really well with dish soap and water or throw it in the dishwasher.