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Frugal Housekeeping: Six Things I No Longer Buy {And Maybe Neither Should You!}

Since living on a budget is key to us leading a simple and satisfying life, I’m constantly looking for ways to replace things that we buy with cheaper, more eco-friendly options. However, at the same time, I don’t like to compromise on health, safety and the sanity of our family. So, it isn’t easy but it sure is possible to live frugally.

Here are 6 things that I’ve since long stopped buying simply because it was easier, cheaper and better to make them at home or do without altogether.

Magazines

Yes. I don’t buy magazines. I do write for them, though .**laughing** However, I much rather cut down on paper clutter and costs by reading them online. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but magazines in India are expensive and when I discovered that I could very easily find pretty much the same stuff in the online versions of my favourite reads, I quickly stopped buying the paper version. 

Paper Towels

I use cloth dusters and dishcloths. I also turn old pillowcases, t-shirts and bed linen into kitchen dusters. So, in fact, I don’t buy either paper or cloth kitchen towels.  Big money-saver and super-easy way to go green.

Face and Body Scrubs

Since I don’t do regular (or irregular, for that matter) facials, I like using the occasional face or body scrub to remove dead skin cells and blackheads. However, I don’t buy them. I make my own. Very easy and economical too. For the face, I have a jar filled with a mix of gram flour, salt and turmeric. I just take a little out and rub the mix on my damp face and then rinse off with cold water. Leaves it clean and glowing (!). For the body scrub, I love a mixture of brown sugar and olive oil. Yum!

Chocolate Sauce

A house with a toddler and a woman with a sweet tooth can never be without chocolate sauce or syrup.  I used to buy good ole’ Hershey’s for a long time till I discovered how cheap and easy it is to make your own. Don’t believe me? Head over to Small Notebook and check out Rachel’s recipe. You’ll never pick up a bottle of chocolate syrup again. Promise!

Play Dough  

My daughter loves her play dough. She can spend hours with it. She also enjoys putting it into her mouth! So, when I introduced play dough to her, I used a home made version. Super easy, economical and eco-friendly too.  Here’s what I do:

1 cup flour

2-3 tablespoons baking soda

2-3 tablespoons oil

½ cup salt

1 cup water

In a heavy-bottomed pan, mix the flour, salt and water. Place the pan over medium heat. And gradually pour the water. Use a wooden spoon to mix till the dough becomes stiff. Turn onto a plate, let it cool down and then knead it into the desired consistency. I add food coloring sometimes to brighten the white dough up. Divide the dough and add a few drops of red, green, yellow and knead the colors in.  The entire activity takes me about 10 minutes and the dough lasts for at least a month. But don’t leave it uncovered or it’ll dry out.

Glass and All-Purpose Cleaners

If you’re still spending money on chemical-laden glass and window cleaners, maybe its time to change. To vinegar. I love my vinegar-water solution and use it for everything. Cleaning the glass (obviously), my toddler’s toys, high chair, the kitchen countertop, the bathroom faucets and pretty much anything that needs to be duster. Just mix equal quantities of white vinegar and water. Decant into spray bottles and use.

Check out these other store cupboard staples that I make and keep to save money and eat healthy at the same time.

What do you save money on? How do you make living frugally easy for your family and yourself? Do share!

Photo Credit: Carly Watson

Prerna


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Comments

  1. I enjoyed reading this post. As South Indians – you probably know that we make everything from scratch, including our breakfast porridge mix, sambar/rasam/masala powders and a whole range of ready-to-eat powders and preserve-able gravies that can be mixed with hot rice for an instantly nutritious meal.

    Frugal living is a way of life with us – regardless of whether we can afford something – purely for the “health” value. The cost savings don’t hurt, either :-) One of the first things we taught Vidur was to think about the millions who starve each time he didn’t want something on his plate. Best of all, making things at home is a great way to stay fit – and enjoy that togetherness which is priceless, really. As my grandmother always said – Waste not, want not!
    Vidya Sury recently posted..Incensed

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Vidya, thank you for sharing! It is indeed, wonderful that not only did you encourage frugal living and sensible spending in your own life but also passed it onto your son! Way to go. I’m hoping to inculcate the same values in my toddler and prayerfully, she should follow looking at our example. :-)

  2. I’m going to bookmark this and make that play dough recipe later today! Thanks :)

  3. I’ve stopped buying dryer sheets, and instead using white vinegar where the fabric softener goes in my washer. Works just as well!
    Vanderbilt Wife recently posted..Menu Plan Monday

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Oh yes! That is a brilliant idea. I’ve heard it is cheap and effective too. I air dry my laundry and don’t own a dryer, so haven’t had a chance to try it out. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • I’m curious about this idea–does it make your laundry smell like the vinegar at all? If not, I’d like to give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion!
      Hip Mom’s Guide recently posted..When Did I Get Like This

  4. I too, have stopped purchasing paper towels and my budget is happier for it. (I will admit I have a roll hidden though, though just in case for contagious situations)
    Storm recently posted..Book Review- Fashioned By Faith by Rachel Lee Carter

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Ahh, Storm, you gave me a good idea. I’m going to stash a roll or maybe stock up on those freebie paper towels that come with takeaways and keep them for “contagious situations”! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Great tips, thanks for posting!!
    Bod for tea recently posted..Silent Sunday

  6. Yes, vinegar in the rinse dispenser saves a lot of money over the course of the year. Use it in your dishwasher’s dispenser as well, instead of pricey drying agents like Jet-dry. A huge money saver is making your own laundry detergent. It is SO easy and SOOO inexpensive. You can make a year’s worth of laundry soap (for both Top and Front loading machines) for just a couple of bucks. Google “Duggar Family Recipes”. The detergent is the 3rd recipe down on the page.

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Jackie! Thanks for sharing. I have been making my own detergent but I’m going to check out your recipe as well. Always open to newer, better ways to save time and money!

  7. I would love to make homemade play doh with my kids one day. Maybe we could do it for a fun science project. :)

    And I would love to give up napkins…I just can’t. I’m so dependent on them.

  8. hmmm, making my own chocolate sauce. i have a 3-year-old who lives for her daily chocolate milk and the syrup goes fast. can’t wait to check out the recipe!
    Kerrie McLoughlin recently posted..Blogs Stealing Articles

  9. I am with you on all of those.
    I love learning new ways to buy less.

  10. I also am weaning myself from print magazines. I so prefer to hold what I’m reading in my hands but realized, like you, that most everything is available online. So this year I am allowing my few remaining subscriptions to expire. Less expense and less clutter – it’s a double-win!
    Crystal recently posted..A Gift from Doug

  11. Here’s my fun one: We’ve got no dishwasher, never have, so we have to have dishrags — a number of them, since they get yucky fast.

    I cut up the ratty dishtowels and bath towels into little squares and finish the edges with a serger — new rags from old! I always feel so industrious when I do this!

  12. hi
    Nice to see someone from India write, our problems and solutions are so different …
    Cleaning is a big issue as things tends to get spoilt and dirty almost everyday here…
    I loved your post THANKS FOR THE WRITE UP…
    I have a weakness and that is magazines I just cant stop myself from buying them and as you know space is a major problem here in India I have a tough time keeping them in order…
    can you give me the sites which you read for the magazines and which are the magazines that you write for?
    I have added you to my sidebar

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Mahek! Welcome to The Mom Writes. Glad you found the post useful. The magazines I read online include Better Homes and Gardens, Parents, Good Housekeeping and Prevention. However, I believe that several popular Indian-origin magazines, too, have their websites updated with content from the print versions. Femina, I think, is one but I haven’t yet checked it out. Hope you find this helpful!

  13. Great ideas! I don’t buy paper towels either, for the same reason. We also gave up buying disposable paper napkins. Now at mealtime, we have a damp washcloth that we share. At the end of the meal, I toss it in the laundry basket.
    Rochelle recently posted..Sweet Potato Apple Bake – Gluten Free Fridays Link Up

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Rochelle! Thanks so much… Love the idea of a damp washcloth for wiping hands after meals..Must try that, especially during art time with my daughter!

  14. Amber Reeves says:

    I always read posts on frugal ideas and I got some new tips from your. Thank you!
    I have stopped purchasing paper napkins and use cloth napkins which I purchased on clearance at World Market.
    I have also been using club soda in a squirt bottle for glass cleaning and it has been my favorite of all the home made glass cleaners.
    Thanks for the chocolate syrup recipe. I’ll be making it tomorrow. It may even make it’s way into my gift-giving this Christmas.

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