Tag Archives: Frugal

Money matters moment – bathroom

                 In this money matters money I will tell you how we save by  making our own, and using simple techniques and tips to save your hard earned money in the bathroom.


While I am sure there other ways we haven’t tried yet, different versions, or even better techniques. I would be interested to hear them. There is always something new to learn. Leave a comment.

Deodorant – There are so many recopies out there for making your own deodorant. After years of spending $2-3 per bar of toxic gick (Paul Wheaton term) that I spread under my arms I opted for a simpler option. Gone are the days of buying bars of toxic substances and applying to my lymph nodes to be passed into my body. For $0.50/6 mo compared to $3/mo. I use simple rubbing alcohol purchased at the Dollar store or other places. I recycled an old red wine vinegar bottle from the recycle container and fill it up. A few shakes rub under the arm and I am good to go. Now, it doesn’t last the whole day and depending on the level of work I may need to re-apply. Have no worry, when I am away from home, I have a few alcohol pads in the car. Purchased on clearance for $1.00 for 200 pads I can apply as needed in a pinch. The test, the wife says she can’t notice and she is closer than anyone else should be. The smell isn’t from the sweat, it is from the bacteria that grow in the wet damp, areas. Sweat is a way for the body to cool itself and removes wastes. Side effect, and it may be from the non-chemical. I can smell everything now. When my daughter gets into the car from a weekend at her mother’s I can smell the lotion, hair conditioner and fabric softener as soon as the door is opened. When we go out, I can smell everything, and usually try to avoid isles in stores with lots of chemical fragrances. Benefit, flowers smell that much better, food smells better, and I notice things more. You can add a bit of essential oils, tea tree (be careful it can burn the skin) lavender, sandal wood or other fragrance. Beyond the fragrance most of essential oils have anti bacteria properties and makes the alcohol last that much longer. My wife seems to like a few dashes of lavender and vanilla in her mixture.

Toothpaste – Fluoride is extremely toxic. As a chemist background I can tell you this stuff is not something to mess with. A level 4 (out of 4) toxicity level it can kill. Yet we are forced to have it in our water. Fluoride that is added to our drinking water is a byproduct of toxic waste from industrial processes. Being forced to drink fluoride as a treatment for the surface of your teeth is the equivalent of being forced to drink Coppertone 60 for the prevention of sunburn. Have you ever noticed that the label on the toothpaste says if you swallow more than a pea sized portion contact poison control? So why force feed it into your water supply?  Ever noticed how there is water specifically without fluoride for babies? Why is that? We now make our own toothpaste and have had great results. Baking soda, water, and a few drops of essential oils. That is it. If I wanted to I could eat it and no harm. It is safe for kids of all ages, however not the tastiest. A few spoons of baking soda, and I like to use peppermint, Thieves, and vanilla essential oil and enough water to make a slurry. Done. I used to get canker sores all the time. Since switching, none. My teeth are smooth like when I visit the dentist. My wife recently went and she indicated far less scraping than she has ever had. Why? The essential oils kill the bacteria in your mouth preventing tooth decay, gingivitis, and canker sores. We did buy some xylitol (a natural sweetener that will not add to tooth decay) but haven’t tried using it yet. Each batch, maybe ¼ cup lasts a month or two and costs roughly $0.10 to make.

Cleaning products – Vinegar, and baking soda. These two will clean just about anything. Use apple cider vinegar every once in a while just to add something different. This is used to clean tub, tile, sink, toilet. Rather than spending $30-50 on cleaning products that are again toxic gick, and something you already have on hand. We buy both in bulk. We maybe spend $0.10-0.30 a month on cleaning products. Do you know what you get when you combine bleach and Windex? A version of mustard gas. Yes the same gas they used to kill people in WWII. Read the label. Again, my chemistry education. If you only knew the things you could make with household cleaning products. A bomb…yes…Nerve agents…yes…poisonous gas…yes…eat the paint off your car…yes…dissolve concrete…yes. Yet people use this every day and expose their family to them.

Water reducer – we use low flow shower heads and faucets to reduce the amount of water we use. When waiting for the water to get warm for a bath there is a 5 gal bucket. This bucket is used to water plants, put into the Berkey add to fish tanks. Don’t let the water simply go down the drain.

Hot Water – we turned down the thermostat to the highest setting we could stand straight out of tap on full hot. Rather than super heat water to cool it back down with cold water just use the hot water straight from the tap.

Other tips- When in the shower take an old dish sponge and wipe down the curtain and walls with a little soap on it. This will prevent mold and mildew from building up and additionally clean and soap scum, and mineral buildup as it starts. We also have shutoff valves on the showerhead. The water will stay hot and the same temperature you left it while you stop to lather up, shave, or shampoo the hair.

Make your own soap. Because several of us have sensitive skin, we use the plain basic soaps with no fragrance, and no unneeded chemicals. My wife has started making our own soaps. It was super easy. Many of the components we already had and I can make it without harsh components. Since we just started, I am so far on board with it. Still evaluating. But at 1/10 the cost of purchased soaps it is well worth it. Out at The Farm we hope to reuse gray water so having a more natural soap is really beneficial.

Conditioners and hair care. With a house of 4 women and girls conditioner and other products seemed necessary. Mayo, eggs, vinegar, chamomile tea all aid in their hair care rituals. I cannot speak to them. I use the bar soap for everything having short hair this works for me and the boy. Shaving, bathing, and shampoo. It all has worked for us.

Toilet paper – find one you like and buy in bulk. Not like it goes bad. No expiration date. Before you buy in bulk, make sure you like it. Nothing worse than using 20 grit sand paper because it was the cheapest alternative.


DIY – Laundry Soap

                With a price tag of $0.02 per load price tag I was curious about making my own laundry soap. I read about people making their own laundry soap for some time on various forms and blogs. I decided to give it a try. A while back I was in our local Rural King and saw a photocopied recipe in the laundry area just sitting on the shelf. Too many signs to not give it a try.

                There are many recipes based on what is in your water, ease of use, liquid vs. dry soaps and what type of machine you had. I decided to start simple and make a basic liquid soap and build from there. Below are the three ingredients plus water.   

Borax Washing Soda Naphtha Soap

Washing Soda
Naphtha Soap

 NOTE: Do not use your household appliances or utensils unless otherwise approved by the significant other. Lesson learned. It was later spelled out in detail what I was not permitted to use in experiments, non-food purposes, or otherwise non-edible by people activities.

  • Cheese grater (not appropriate for making laundry soap)
  • Kitchen pots/pans (not acceptable for laundry soap, bar soap, candle making)
  • Microwave (lots of cool experiments with these if you have a SPARE)
  • Blender (blending fish carcasses for fertilizer is not an acceptable application)
  • Food Processor (blending compost for worm food is not an acceptable use)
  • Crock pot (not acceptable for making fire starters, or candles)

Here is the process, it takes maybe 30-45 min total

  • 1st use a grater to grate 1/3 the naphtha bar soap.
  • Melt 1/3 bar sop in pan with 6 cups of water over medium heat (30 min or so)
  •  Add ½ cup Borax
  • Add ½ cup Washing soda and stir until dissolved
  • Pour mixture into 5 gal bucket
  • Add enough water to make 2 ½ gal and either put lid on or pour into empty laundry soap container (We bought the larger sizes with a dispenser and 2 ½ gal just fills a container.
  • It will look like egg drop soup
  • You will need to shake the container or stir the bucket before using
  • Use only ½ cup.  

You can use this in high efficiency front load washers is what we have, or top loaders.  The only complaint I have is that ONLY my towels come out stiff. To remedy that I add ¼ cup or so of vinegar to the fabric softener area of my washer when washing towels.  You can also add a few drops of essential oils to the mix if you wanted a more fragrant laundry. We tried and like adding the oils, but were perfectly fine with leaving them out. The clothes still smell clean and fresh, and even more so since we hang them to dry.

Money Matters Moment – Laundry

I have decided to post as regularly as I can ways to cuts costs and save money. The savings can be put towards other endeavors, such as getting out of debt, buying property, investments on the farm or homestead, or just making a buck stretch further.

Laundry is something that most of us have to do regularly. Some people take the laundry to be done elsewhere, some do it themselves, and some expect you to do it for them (kids). Not at our house. Eight years old and older do their own laundry. This was the result of picking out clothes and throwing in the laundry basket for us to wash, even though it was not dirty.

Wash your own – I used to take my dress clothes to someone to launder them and press them. I liked the nice creases. I was never taught how to use an iron, and after working in a drycleaner, I learned. It is not difficult. I actually found it somewhat relaxing. I would Iron my dress pants, and dress shirts. It would save me about $40 a week. I added to this by either watching a video while ironing or listening to a podcast. There are tons of free podcasts and videos available online to extend your education. I bought a used iron ad Goodwill for $5. I made my own ironing board out of scrap lumber and material remnants from a fabric store. $40/week x 52 weeks $2,080/yr saved. You can buy a used car for that!

Buy used –  After ironing much of my dress ware I had one favorite pair of pants. Wrinkle free Dockers. You could wash and dry and there was no need to iron. I wanted a few extra pairs, but wasn’t about to pay upwards of $40 a pair. Back to good will. It took me a few visits over a month but I found 6 more pairs for $4 each and sometimes $2 each when it was color of the day. Another $200 saved.

Line dry your clothes – Back in the day no one had electric or gas clothes dryers. It was hung out on a line. Remember movies, pictures from the 40’s and 50’s. EVERYONE had a clothes line in their back yard, balcony or apartment window. When doing some energy research I found the electric dryer was one of the most power hungry appliances. It is also a huge vampire drain on electricity. That is when an appliance draws energy whether it is on or not. Additionally, it made the whole house heat up. Now that we are in summer the AC was battling the dryer and both making the electric meter spin. We now line dry all our laundry. There are several added bonuses. If I were still wearing dress clothes, line drying removes much of the wrinkles, so less ironing. The AC works less keeping the house cool. The dryer has been unplugged, and no more vampire energy drains.

Get a vent switch for the dryer – This may be contrary to the above tip, but in winter months we vent our dryer exhaust into the house. When it is too cold outside to dry clothes effectively, usually winter months, we have a leaver that allows us to vent the moist warm air into the house. In winter here, the air can be quite dry. By venting into the house we add the needed moisture, and retain the otherwise wasted heat that was vented to the outside. You can get one at most home improvement stores for around $10.

Make your own laundry soap – I was a bit skeptical about this. But it is how it was done again in the old days.  I read about this in an online form (The Survival Podcast) and decided to give it a try. The ingredients are simple and used to be hard to find until more and more people started doing this. The recipes vary and you can experiment based on family laundry needs and what is in your water. 1 bar of soap (we use naphtha), washing soda, and borax. That is it. No harsh chemicals or dyes, or fragrances. Remember I said out 11 year olds do their own laundry? It is so simple that make their own soap too. I will post more on the DIY post soon.   This recipe allows me to do a load of laundry for about $0.02/load. We only wash in cold water, and have an energy efficient washer. The soap can be used in top, front, and high efficiency washers. Two of my kids and myself have somewhat sensitive skin and we were limited to a handful of laundry soaps or our skin would break out. No ill effects since switching. We also started to notice that once we started eliminating extra chemicals from our lives our skin clear up, we could smell things much better, we seem to feel better. Here is the recipe.

Wear more than once – This may not be for everyone, but if our clothes are not dirty, and we didn’t work and sweat in them, we will wear them again. Sometimes it is a lazy day and we just hang out at the homestead, inside and take it easy. No need to do a load of laundry. When I worked in a cube all day, I sat at my desk. No need to wash something that wasn’t soiled.

Next Money Mattes Moment I will focus on the bathroom.  Lots to save there.


Getting more for less – Class scheduled

Here is a class to make your hard earned money stretch further. All the tips, techniques, and practices my family and I actually use. Demos will be available, handouts will be made available of the items we cover, the products, places to purchase, and recipes. This should be about 2 hours long. If you have missed out on the farm tours, you could hang out after, but it will not be the full 2 hour tours others have gotten, feel free to ask questions before, or after class. We will be sitting outside on our deck, and have bench seating and a picnic table. There is also room for folding chairs if you bring your own. Space is limited so it will be the first 25. There will also be home made pizza as an appetizer to demonstrate cost cutting. There is no public restroom available. Sorry. Cost is $10 per person or $15/couple, easily made up if you use the tips and techniques demonstrated. We have saved well over $700/year doing these activities. Fee free to park in the driveway, our cares will be parked elsewhere. Bonus, drawing at end of class.

We will cover just to name a few subjects/topics not everything is listed;

• Food and Grocery- bulk buying, making from scratch, coupons, discount programs, more

• Entertainment- kicking cable, discounted movies, free e-books

• Making your own-laundry soap (an 11 year old can do it), deodorant, toothpaste

• Cleaning supplies – household cleaners, eliminating harmful chemicals

• Gas- save on fuel for your car

• Utilities- gas, water, electric

• Gardening – how to get seeds for 50-75% off, how to get fruit trees 50-75% off


RSVP here


Why paying a consultant may be worth it.

Some may call me cheap, frugal, a tightwad even, but with today’s financial issues spending money on a consultant may make some people shake their head but that is exactly what I plan on doing.  Let me try to explain.

Consultants typically have a specialized field and have gained their knowledge through both education and experience. Often consultants are the rogues from corporate world who either weren’t challenged enough or we not able to execute their ides because of corporate bureaucracy and red tape.  They often get frustrated and consult rather than be suppressed. Let their creativity and nontraditional role be an asset for your needs.

Consultants may have connections you don’t. Often consultants have been in their field for years and have made great connections that you either don’t know about or cannot gain access to. For example, in permaculture earthworks knowing a skilled person with a 30 ton excavator can be the different of a 4 hr job and a 2 week job. This difference could save you hundreds if not thousands and time and energy. If you want to build a new addition to your building, who can you get into a room to review permits, look at designs, and get it all started in one day if you have never added onto a building before?

Connections usually come with references. Most good consultants will give references or testimony from past clients. Contact these past clients and find out about the person. Will they be the right match for you and your needs?  Brick and mortar companies are there to make money. They have overheads they need to cover. Consultants typically don’t and are looking for that referrals and testimonials to get the next client. They want to do the very best for you and get your repeat business.

Consultants have typically been there done that. Either from past experiences from prior positions held or from experience with other clients, consultants have usually seen a wide range of situations and topics. This both variability and repetition allows them to address a wider range of issues and adapt if necessary better than a specific business. For instance, it you are wanting to put in fencing for animals. Did you want traditional farming, paddock shift, mob grazing, free range? A properly trained consultant can give you the options and what works best for your individual situation if you have never raised livestock before. Fencing can be expensive, but the loss of livestock due to inadequate fencing could be a disaster.

Consultants are fixed duration. As opposed to hiring a full time or even part time employee for a project or situation, a consultant can come and go as you need them. If you need work for a project 3-4 times a year, but in-between there is not enough work, consider the consultant. They can come in help, and return with the knowledge when needed again.

Consultants have resources you may not. This could be in the form of knowledge, but also software, tools, documentation, or access to documentation. It could be a 3D printer, CAD software, access to a government database of information, or maps and charts. The consultant needs this information regularly, and your need may be a onetime event. This resource could be too costly to invest in the particular resource or resources and the project doesn’t move forward.

Consultants can save you money. Having the knowledge from a good consultant can sometimes save you double or more if you didn’t hire them. Between the knowledge, connections, and resources a consultant may be worth the time and money investing in.

Recently I evaluated the costs of hiring a consultant vs. doing the project on my own. While I have researched and understand what I want to accomplish, I wanted the opinion and advice of someone who has done this before, and done it for a living. They had made connections I didn’t even begin to know where to start, They knew the ins and outs about regulations that would have taken me hours to try and go through. They had firsthand knowledge of what product NOT to buy because of failure rates. While I could have discovered all this on my own, there is a cost associated with my own time. If I considered my own hourly rate the consultant will have saved me 5-6 times what I will spend.

Frugal moment turns to family fun

Some say frugal is a bad word. Some also use the term cheap, tightwad, penny pincher, miser etc. You get the idea. I wasn’t always this way. When I was single I could buy and do as I pleased. I made more money than I knew what to do with.

Fast forward, four kids, a mortgage, bills etc. Money dries up pretty fast.
Not too long ago we stopped going out to the movies when they did away with the matinee. It just became too expensive to go to a move, and get snacks. My wife and I went a while back (several years actually) and at $9.75/ticket $8 lg popcorn, and $5 each for large drinks and we were out almost $40.
Today as a treat I wanted to take the kiddos out to a movie. No way we would ever set foot in the regular cinema. We went to the second run or the $1 movie. Tuesdays in our area are family specials, and not only are movies only $1 families of 3 or more get discounted, and there is a food discount for kids. They have been working hard and doing chores to help out, and it was a reward.
We get to the theater and the booth tells us that there is a delay due to a mechanical problem and they may be able to sell ticket if the projector gets working. OK, no big deal, I always get to the movies 30 min early to make sure I get snakes, and seated where I want way before the movie.
While we were waiting, I took out my smart phone and looked at the movies through Amazon Prime. We kicked cable to the curb a while ago. Will blog on that later. Funny thing, some of the movies that were at the second run were already on Amazon Prime. We could watch the same move for $3.99 in the comfort of our home. We can pause it if someone has to have a potty break, if the kids fall asleep we get the movie for 24-48 hours and they can watch it in the morning. Of if they choose watch it several times over. If we missed what someone said, we can rewind it. Two or three years ago my wife got me an air pop popcorn maker, and we buy the same salt and seasonings from the bulk restaurant store. We have left over candy from, name your holiday, Easter, valentine’s day, Halloween etc.
So sitting in the lobby of the movies looking at the snack board at a price of $5 per kids pack, $5 for tickets, and then a large popcorn for me $9 and a large drink $7.50 I ask the kids. How about we go home and have family movie night. We watch on big screen, you all can get bean bag chairs, and you can pick the candy or snack, then whatever flavor popcorn you want. All of them were in total favor of that. Here is the bonus, they found a FREE movie from Amazon prime they all wanted to watch.
What I originally thought of a treat going out and spending money for entertainment, it was more of a treat to have microwave smores, kettle corn air popped popcorn, a cold drink, and all the kids to enjoy a movie in their PJ’s on our own couch. A reward doesn’t have to be the money you spend, but the quality of the time you spend together.
If the wife ever lets me (I doubt that will EVER happen) I will have to post the video of all of us playing music videos on YouTube until late into the night. Kids heard “classics” they have never heard of, the adults acted like kids. Something that started off as showing the kids a song we used to listen to, became one of the best nights of our summer. If you can imagine the scene from Practical magic where the whole family was singing “Lime in the Coconut” that was all of us latterly, like 5 times over the night. From the oldest to the baby. We all took turns on selecting the next song. The 11 year old girls thought it was hilarious, and learned a few dance moves such as The Running man, The lawnmower, the sprinkler (although the boy thought you needed to use water in the mouth for accuracy), the worm and the list goes on. Yes we could go to an amusement park, we could go watch a movie but that was a great night and I will cherish it and it was FREE. We may have to have another one soon.

I guess in the end, how you value something really doesn’t need to have a price tag on it. Some things, the best things, are free. You just have to look for those moments.