Saturday, February 27, 2021

Saturday, Silly things I do (or did)regularly to save money

  I do many things to save money and these are habits I developed long ago when I was trying to raise the girls.  Hubby never even made it to $40,000 a year before he retired and we always had to pay into state retirement which was more than SS.  So trying to live on less than $2000.00 a month was impossible without me working.  I must say I am very thankful for the State retirement benefits, that we paid into all those years.  They forced us to save. Here is a list of many of the things I did to save money over the years.  Some are pretty weird.

I breast fed each of my girls for more than a year,and made all their baby food.  Never bought baby food.

I was very good at wallpaper so I remember wallpapering for my dentist in exchange for some expensive dental work.

I taught dance in exchange for all my girls lessons.

I made costumes in exchange for expensive summer dance workshops for my girls.

We have always used cloth napkins.

Did not buy paper towels for years, it drove my family ( sisters and mother) crazy.  I still use then very sparingly.

I make wax wraps to cover things in the fridge. reusable

I use bowl covers I made out of plastic to cover things in the fridge. reusable

Cut my makeup remover pads in 1/2 or 4ths to save money.

I have cut panty hose in 1/2 when I ran the left leg and then the right leg.  I used the two good legs and basically wore two pairs.

Spray painted shoes to match formal dresses.  Painted one pair 4 times

Made all my girls prom dresses and many other nice dresses for special occasions.

Sewed all the bridesmaid dresses for a photographer's wedding in exchange for photographs of D#2's wedding

Sewed bridesmaid dresses for a new kitchen floor.

Sewed bridesmaid dresses for a plumber in exchange for needed plumbing 

Save all my grocery store plastic bags for small garbage can liners

Go to the dry cleaners for free used hangers for the shop so I do not have to buy

Grow a large garden and eat out of it as much as possible

can all my own jam with berries we pick, and also can all of my tomato products except ketchup.

Make most of my own bone broths

make all my own piecrusts, biscuits, cookies and things

grind my own wheat for bread from wheat berries

We used to have bees that were placed by farmers on our property  in exchange for free honey.

Exchanged alterations for sewing supplies and notions.

exchanged sewing for car repairs

reuse most plastic bags unless used for meat

Try to never buy anything in the clothing or shoes department that is not an sale 

Peruse second hand stores for needs before buying new

regularly get the oil changed on my car.  Maintenance is important always use a coupon and bring in cookies or cupcakes for the men.  $2.00 worth of baked goods goes a long way on car maintenance.

exchanged work hours in a nursery for free plants 

borrowed a tractor(front end loader) from work to  bull dose a driveway into my backyard.

gave dance lessons in exchange for haircuts and color

gave dance lessons for free photography 

exchanged alterations for a tune up on our rototiller 

Spray paint is my friend and I will spray paint anything to get what I want as far as decor goes.

never had cable TV.

Helped any contractor that was working on my house in exchange for part off labor.  I do step and fetch well.

We went to buy a car  and a flash flood came up during the sale, we slogged through water up to our knees, hurrying as it started to come into the dealership to quickly unplug all of the computers and raise everything up on desks.  Saving the dealership 1000's in computer hardware and software.  They gave us an additional $3000.00 off our car.

Made almost everything for all of our daughters weddings. dress, bridesmaid, flowers,food,linens, decorations, set up, clean up, invitations.

Did choreography for summer stock in exchange for a wedding cake and a grooms cake

Did yard work for a large apartment complex we lived in, in exchange for rent.

Did repairs on a house we lived in in exchange for part of the rent

sold 10-20 dozen night crawlers a day for several summers.  Earned about $300.00 a month. We picked them at night.

Took hand me downs when I could for my girls

My Sissie bought almost and still does buy almost all of my clothes

My Sissie bought almost all of my girls clothes

My Sissie put braces on my girls teeth

Cleaned apartments for a real estate company in exchange for rent on an apartment

Rode a bike when we only had one car and Hubs worked out of town

babysat for others when I was pregnant and too sick too work outside my home

took in foreign college students for a stipend

took in renters for unused bedrooms after girls left home.

upholstered many, many pieces of old furniture for my home.

refinished furniture for my home bought at second hand stores or given to me.

made my own sausage and hard salami with venison

made curtains and quilts for our house. OR remade things I bought second hand.

Taught piano lessons

Made many beautiful home made gifts for presents.

Made all my daughter's doll clothes when they were little

Make my own wreaths at Christmas

Sewed almost all my husbands outdoor/waterproof work gear, cruising vests, rain gear while he was working.

Patched many pairs of work pants over and over again, and turned the collars on work shirts for Hubs.

Hubs and I cleaned a government building 5 nights a week for over 20 years while the girls were in college.  2 hours every night.

Did sewing and mending for people in exchange for the use of their sewing machine.  Did not own my own machine until we had been married 12 years.

Borrowed a vacuum for the first 12  years we were married, just swept up the carpet and then borrowed.

NOW I need to make a list of all the stupid things I did with money over the years.  It will be much longer than this list.

What are some things you have done to save money over the years?  Anything strange or unusual?  Have you used any of your skills to save money or to exchange for services? 

Have a great and productive day staying positive awhile you are in the negative.



  1. What a list!
    When we were at our very lowest income, I made all our bath soap and laundry soap from recycled hamburger and bacon fat and lye- it wasn’t nice homemade home but it worked.
    Back then, we never turned on our AC no matter how hot it got in OK and we heated with wood all winter.
    When we had 2 kids in college, I worked at 2 different fraternity houses as the cook- those jobs were never boring but I sure don’t want to do it again.

    1. Even tough we live in an arrid desert we never ran the air either becasue the water bill was so high. I finally live in a house with air and I am so happy. I have never made soap.

  2. Great list!! Way to barter over the years.

  3. Nothing in the list is silly as it got you your dreams. I've always worked outside the home but I don't have skills to be as ingenious as you. I save plastic bags for dog walking and bathroom garbage, and a few other frugal actions but your list is a wow. Your sister buying your clothes and kids braces was/is her choice, so a bit different from others, but I'm sure you do and did for her in other ways. That's family!

    1. My twin sister was a god send to me. She did not have children and she was and is so good to mine. I will never be able to repay her. But my kids know that they will be responsible for not only her care but mine when we get old. Oh fun!

  4. Kim, this is a great list and I am in awe of all that you've done to save money. You are an inspiration. I know this is how you paid off your house so quickly.

    I really like the idea of spray painted shoes to match formal dresses. I didn't know you could do that. My uncle Paul used rubber bands during the Great Depression to hold the tops of his shoes to the sole because they were so worn out. It is amazing wha you can do when you put your mind to it.

    1. Yes it is , we all do what we must to survive and thrive.

  5. What an amazing list! So inspiring!
    Thankful that my hubby is handy, as he has saved us a fortune by fixing things. He has kept appliances working. He finished our basement into a family room, which has expanded our living space and increased our home value. He has put in new flooring, hardwood and tile which has saved us labor costs. He has kept our cars maintained and made many many car repairs since we buy used cars. I'm mostly the helper assistant, as I have no mechanical skills. :)

    1. You are so blessed. My husband is a nightmare when it comes to fixing things. But he does play the violin well.

  6. Super impressive list. I'm not skilled in most of those ways at all. I'd say that I pushed myself to learn new skills at work, taking lots of free classes, slowly growing my income. Once I'd invested a few years in a skill set, I'd apply for another job (same company). I found out my company would contribute some to an MBA, so I saved & saved & cash flowed my MBA while still working. Got another job that paid more. And, kept doing that, by investing in work skills. So, a different lens, but worked well for me.

    1. I wish I had done what you did. I did go to college and obtained two degrees and then was put under so much pressure by hubs family to not work. I look back and shake my head.

  7. I made and sold fudge to pay my college tuition for a few years in the 80s.

    1. That is a great way to do it. Fudge recipe?

    2. Remarkable Fudge

      1 c. butter
      1 can evaporated milk
      ¼ c. milk
      4 c. sugar
      12 oz. chocolate chips
      7 c. mini marshmallows
      1 tsp. vanilla
      1 c. nuts
      candy thermometer

      Melt butter in saucepan. Add milks and sugar; stir often. Boil softly. Bring to 236 degrees. Remove from heat. Add marshmallows; stir quickly until melted in. Add chocolate chips; stir quickly until melted in. Add vanilla and stir. Pour into BUTTERED pan. Place on cooling rack. Cools in about 2 hours. Cut into bite size pieces and place in sealed container.
      I have a friend who says this freezes well. To freeze, cut into 4 large slabs and place in Ziplocs.

  8. It should be a saved and EARNED money list. '-)

  9. Respect to you Kim, - just respect. the U.K.

  10. Great list. The night crawlers was what stood out to me! And kudos to your twin sister, an unsung hero. Braces and clothing for growing children is not cheap. Isabella

    1. Yes it was a bad year and we would figure out what we needed the next day. Hubs would need $10.00 for gas and I would need a gallon of milk so we would pick 12 dozen night crawlers. They would be sold in the morning.

  11. Cleaned mother's house weekly so she would pay for kids' dance lessons.
    Cleaned Daddy's car once a week to pay insurance on my car.
    Cooked lunches for 3 companies to pay the mortgage after Garry died.
    Had the kids sleep down stairs in front room on sofa and love seat in the winter and not heat the upstairs except kersone heater in bathroom.
    Had the kids sleep down stairs on pallet beds on floor in east room during summer (was the coolest room in the house with the fan in the east window)
    We didn't have AC and only 3 fans for the 3000 sq ft home.
    Fixed all food from scratch, very little meat but plenty of dried beans.
    Soaps, shampoo etc was homemade. No makeup (couldn't afford it) Vaseline was the only "lotion" in the house.
    I do know what I did with the money saved... paid off $20,00 0 from Garry's negative estate and paid off and fixed the one step from demolishment house we bought 3 months before he dropped dead of heart attack. Mortgage was $30,000. House was worth $125,000 when we moved out.

    1. You and I jumped off the same star and I admire you so much. Hope you are doing well. We lived in a house growing up that had no heat to our bedroom, so when the glass of water froze that my mom put on our dresser we were required to sleep down in the formal front room.

  12. I did make my wedding dress and flower girl's dresss. I found a high priced dress in a Bride magazine and copied that.
    I made all my boy's clothing when he was a baby and he wore handmedowns a lady in church collected for me.
    Traded being secretary for tap and ballet for older daughter. This involved coming in for her lesson and the other class one day per week and answer the phone and collect payments. The teacher offered to teach my 18 month old for free just to see what a child that small could do. It turned out the baby could do everything.
    I made Barbie clothes for my daughter.
    She requested I make Barbie clothes to give as Birthday gifts.
    I crocheted a doll blanket for one birthday gift.
    Crocheted other for Christmas gift.
    Learned how to stretch tap and ballet shoes to save money, even clipped elastic in ballet shoes to wear for one more month, the last month of lessons for the year.
    Crocheted little wreath pins around curtain rings for children to give friends for Christmas. I crocheted those for everyone in family, both sides.
    Crocheted stockings about 1.5 inches long for gifts and for tree.
    Sewed for money for years.
    used sewing skills to support myself--make car and house payments, all bills.
    Hung wallpaper for teachers who paid me.
    Made patterns, made clothing from the patterns and put into a boutique. I also made and remade earrings to get to choose a pair for myself.
    I repaired lawn chairs instead of buying.
    Learned to upholster taking classes and could upholster nice antiques I could buy or trade for next to nothing.
    Bought antiques from yard sales and resold them.
    Traded tutoring for jobs around the house. The friend had a boy who was not going to make it into 9th grade. I tutored him five days a week for 6 weeks. He passed. The father put in my stove, did all sorts of jobs, mowed grass, repaired plumbing.
    When I did not have a computer, a friend had a word processor. She typed my papers in exchange for my making a pair of pants for a three page paper, and I supplied the fabric and notions. Once, I made a pattern for a dress for her and made the dress in exchange for typing.
    For one friend with a gift shop, she gave me below wholesale cost on items. When she thought things were stale in the shop, she asked me for help. I thought up, designed and made a prototype for her. If she wanted to make it, okay. Or, she could trade with me for the sewing.

    1. In college, I cleaned a church for tuition costs. I started dating husband and he cleaned it from the beginning, so I never set foot in there to clean. But, I am claiming it since I agreed to the deal for tuition. Or, maybe I got money. I cannot remember.

    2. You were a very good hard worker, with plenty of talent.

    3. Oh, did not say I made almost every stitch my girls and I wore.

  13. Great list, amazing how you did a bit of everything! Thanks for posting it, hope it helps give people ideas ;)

    1. Well where there is a will there is a way, sometimes not very fun.

  14. Love your list!!! I worked at a private Catholic school for free, as a teacher’s assistant, in exchange for free tuition for my children for a year. I graded papers, helped teach, etc. We had moved from one state to another and I was doing this while waiting to take the bar in our new ( my home) state, since we did not have reciprocity at the time. When I took the bar in my home state, I sent the kids to public school because I just was not gonna pay private tuition, and could not work all day for free tuition anymore. But the three older kids did go to private school for free for a couple of years. The youngest one was allowed to tag along with me in class because he was so quiet. Years ago, I got my general contractor’s license, to oversee the building of a log house I used to own (and sold to my ex, later.) I would not pay for vacations. We went to the beach every single year, but I was in class at a conference during the day, and the kids stayed with me for free. I was not paying for a hotel room so we all squished up in my free room. For a few years, I lived in a mobile home on the river with the kids because I did not want to pay fancy prices for a water home but wanted somewhere to swim, and go on long walks down dirt roads. Now, if I go on “vacation” it is to see my grandchild. If I am going to use my few vacation days off work, it is gonna be to see grandchild. So, I usually fly, for about $200 to $250 round trip, 4000 miles round trip. I hope COVID does not mess up my flight prices when I start flying again. My biggest money saver in the last few years, and the kids being in college (the two that went had full tuition scholarships) though has been living in a cheap, small house in a gritty, dilapidated, isolated, very small town, that is convenient for work. That means the house was dirt cheap. My house I currently live in cost $25,000, the price of a modest car. I know most folks look at houses as an investment and they can be, but I need live where I live, as long as I work. I always drive cheap, small cars also. Yaris and a Spark, and the next vehicle I buy will probably be a used small work truck because the roads are bad here. I only use my iphone 6s at the house and it is prepaid Straight Talk. I do not have cable nor internet bill. I do not have a washer, nor dryer, house is 912 sq ft and was not designed with pipe and electric connections. I do not have dishwasher, kitchen is too small. I do not have a disposal. I heat with a small window unit heater/ air conditioner combo I got at Lowes for under $500. I do have a backup portable electric heater. I do not have a tv. I usually buy my suits for work at a thrift store or at J.C. Penney’s. Cheap house and cheap cars are paid for so I am happy. It is not like any of us are trying to impress anyone.

    1. It was actually free tuition for a year only, not two years. My mind is fumbling ...yikes!!!!!

    2. Your are amazing. You need to try the website Talbots. Expensive but great suit and work clothes. Wait for the 80% off sales. They fit petites well, all my clothes are 80% off Talbots.

  15. The funniest savings thing though involved my momma. Before she died she told me I had better not pay for a preacher, I had to do the ceremony. My ex nearly choked on his food when we were sitting in the hospital cafeteria, after she died, with our youngest. He started laughing because he knew how cheap momma could be. So, per momma’s instructions, she was not embalmed, she was refrigerated, and then buried in the family church graveyard ( which was free) where six generations of our family is buried. I did have to pay the funeral home 4 grand for picking her up from hospital, the casket, and vault, and $500 for the church gravedigger. Yours truly conducted the graveside ceremony, my daughter played “When the Saints Go Marching in” on the sax over FaceTime (she was in the navy band stationed in Hawaii, my son in law gave the opening prayer over FaceTime,) I read off momma’s list of rules. The first one was, Never pay for a preacher, the family broke into laughter, and we giggled through my very short eulogy. Her class President from high school came and told some rather risqué stories about momma in high school. We giggled. Momma was a character.

    1. What a great memory. She sounds like a real character.

  16. Mowed yards with our boys when they were teens for first car money, we mowed 18-20 a week, this was on top of my 40 hr week day job.
    Raised and sold sweet corn.
    Raised fryers and butchered for customers and our own use.
    Catered weddings on weekends.
    Sold eggs from our laying hens.
    Stayed on weekends as caregiver relief for Alzheimer’s patient.
    Bought clothes at secondhand stores.
    Didn’t buy extras like paper towels.
    Used bleach, vinegar or cheap comet to clean.
    Lined trash cans with grocery bags or paper sacks back when you could get.
    Cleaned the church for free (I counted as tithe)

  17. This brought back some memories of bartering mostly. When I was married to my first husband and my boys were 2 and 4 we lived in an old house for a year rent free. My mom worked at a greenhouse and when the owners parents both died within a few months of each other her boss didn't want to clean out the house and attic or work on the yard. My husband at the time thought it was a good deal and it was because I was home with the boys and I pretty much did all the work. Good deal for him anyway. lol. They got dumpster after dumpster delivered and boy did I fill them. Canning in the attic that was so old you couldn't tell what it was. They saved every butter wrapper and piece of string or anything they thought would be useful. It was very interesting. Got the house in pretty good shape and did a lot of scrubbing and painting inside and out. They bought all the materials. The yard was huge and an over grown mess but I tamed most of it back. I remember us all sleeping in the living room when it was real cold because there was a wood stove and the rest of the house was so cold! Cooking during the day helped and I cooked everything from scratch. Going in to take a shower was a bracing experience. 1 year free rent. Was it worth it - yep!

    Plus as a child my dad had me and my brothers set up in business - always something going on - selling rabbits, night crawlers, grapes, berries, suckers on the school bus and any thing else he could think of. I learned to barter from my mom. We lived in the country and got Milk (and lovely heavy cream), goat cheese, and anything else we didn't raise from the neighbors. They in turn received lots of produce from our huge garden, walnuts from our trees, we also had berries- Marion, black berry, raspberry, strawberries, etc..., pears, plums, apples, gooseberries, chickens and ducks - a few geese for a while. Our neighbors had Ostriches. Oh how my brother loved when my mom traded for those eggs. We shared a cider press in the neighborhood and never seemed to want for much. Mom and dad went grocery shopping every Friday night but never bought much other than staples for the pantry like flour, rice, pasta etc...

    Thanks for jogging my memory! Take care.

    1. How fun. Isn't it amazing the things we did? Our first house was about on those lines only we paid a very small rent.

  18. Wow! You are ALL light years ahead of me! I bow to your money-saving strategies!

    1. No, I just did what I had to to survive. I am always looking for new ways to save a buck, because I also like to spend money.