Tuesday Talk: Tightwad Tips & T-Shirts

Heather says:

I think it’s time for a little fun. I have a few t-shirts of various sizes left in my giveaway stash; it’s almost time for me to order a new batch. Leave your favorite tightwad tip as a comment and you’re entered to win one of the Martha Who? Home-Ec101.com t-shirts. The giveaway closes at 11pm on Saturday February 6, 2010.

To get the ball rolling here are a few of my favorites:

  • To store onions, use an old (CLEAN!) pair of  panty-hose. Drop an onion down into the toe, tie a knot, and drop in the next, hang when full.  The knots keep the onions from laying on one another and the hose allows air to circulate.
  • If you have children, reduce the flow to the faucets they have access to, this prevents them from running and wasting water at full blast while they poke around doing whatever it is kids do in there.
  • Those mesh bags used to store produce make great pot scrubbers. Just snip off the metal clip and scrunch into a ball. If you need it to stay together, use a rubber band.

I don’t care how quirky it is, I want to hear it.


  1. ThatBobbieGirl on February 8, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    I love Scotch-brite scrub pads – the green ones, but they can get non-scrubby pretty soon. This really does make one go further: i cut each large pad into small ones, about 1" by 2", just big enough for my "scrubbing fingers" to fit on and they get stored in a cute tin in my kitchen. Each of these gets used until it just won't work any more, then I get out another one. You're wearing out only a small piece at a time, rather than the whole pad — it really does make them more economical!
    My recent post January 12 is Smack a Twilight Fan Day

  2. ~vee on February 5, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    If you get a membership to a "warehouse" type store, rather than get the two cards for husband and wife, split them between households. I'm the primary shopper and my husband NEVER took his card out to use – it was a waste. One person will be the Primary account holder, otherwise, I get full membership benefits for half the price.

    SORRY to post some many times! I had this all written out as one single post but apparently, it was too long. Since I'd gone through all the trouble to actually think…and then type it all out – I wanted to get it all submitted 🙂

  3. ~vee on February 5, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    With multiple children, hand-me-downs are a fact of life. The other fact seems to be that my son can't use jeans without blowing out the knees. Ribbon to the rescue! Use heat-n-bond, fabri-tak or a needle and thread to add ribbon around the edge of newly created capri's for my daughter. I get to create some unique and creative designs AND not throw the jeans out!

    Once a pair of jeans is completely shredded – I'll cut the denim into squares for quilts, the thick seam is cut into small strips to fabric glue into a "Texas" garland I've been adding to over the years and the pockets become cute accessories on a ton of other, small projects. I seem to like denim…

  4. ~vee on February 5, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    When I peel veggies/potatoes, onion ends etc, I save the scraps in a ziploc in my freezer. The next time I boil chicken bones for broth, I toss in the bag of peels. Makes me feel VERY frugal since I get two uses out of the veggies, there's tons of nutrients in those peels and I'm not using nice, whole veggies that are going to be thrown out anyways once the broth is made.

    Same with bread heels. No one will eat them, well…the dog will but that's beside the point :). I toss them in a ziploc to store in the freezer for breadcrumbs. They also thaw quickly for impromptu duck-feeding!

    My recent post Playing

  5. ~vee on February 5, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    If you have a fireplace, save your dryer lint! I keep a cute box on my dryer for this all year round. Also, add socks with giant, beyond-repair holes and maybe even small t-shirts that have been torn, stained etc. if you don't need more wash rags. Just make sure they're 100% cotton! I roll thin layers of lint and fabric between sheets of newspaper into small logs. The trick is to roll them up tightly enough that they burn slowly but not so tightly that they won't catch or just smolder and burn out. Depending on what I've used, I'll try to leave a tiny chunk of fabric hanging out as it catches fire faster than the rolled newspaper. Tie them closed with cotton string/yard and they're great, highly flammeable fire starter logs – all from free leftovers!

    My recent post Playing

  6. Andrea Watts on February 5, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I use half the recommended amount of laundry detergent.

  7. Andrea Watts on February 5, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    I freeze leftover vegetables for soups or stocks and I add to it and cook a big pot of soup when I have enough.

  8. Regina on February 5, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I recycle used envelopes to write my grocery list on and insert coupons in. I'm all set to go to the store!

  9. Megan on February 5, 2010 at 7:44 am

    Hooray for Martha, Who? Shirts. HOOOORAY!

    When my microwave is funky (hello, leftover snapper!), I cut a lemon slice or two and put it in a shallow bowl with some water. I nuke it for about 3-4 minutes. The smell goes and suddenly the baked on bits of baked ziti aren't so, well, determined and are easy to clean off. (Baked ziti bits? Don't judge!) 🙂

    Thanks for the awesome blog. Keep on keepin' on!

  10. Heather on February 5, 2010 at 7:54 am

    I buy big containers of paint and then pour them into old dishwashing bottles, that way the kids can go crazy with a limited amount of paint, while they fingerpaint.

    I clean all the glass in my house with a vinegar/water solution. And mop floors with it. (I don't use a set solution, I eyeball it.) I also use old newspapers to dry glass (it leaves them streak free!)

    You can use dryer lint to make playdough. I got the recipe here… http://www.ehow.com/how_5696083_make-play-dough-d

  11. MmamaLlama on February 5, 2010 at 2:34 am

    I frequently sell items on Ebay that need to be packaged so they won't be damaged during shipping. The best materials I've found to use instead of bubblewrap or styrofoam peanuts are the gazillion FREE plastic shopping bags that seem to multiply in my pantry. I simply shake each bag out so it fluffs up with air and then stuff them in the box around whatever I'm shipping. Works awesomely and I've not had a buyer receive a damaged item to date.

  12. danish on February 4, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    I have been using an empty 24 oz Motts applesauce glass jar to make lemonade for the husband to bring to work, rather than cans of soda. He usually will stretch it out for 3 days. Less sugar for him and just pennies for the serving. Plus less waste.

  13. Melissa on February 4, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    I love to make smoothies, but I hate taking apart my blender to clean it. I'm fairly clumsy and often nick myself on the blades, and all those pieces take up a lot of room in the dishwasher, too. Instead, I leave the blender together after I make my smoothie, and rinse it well. Then I fill with a few cups of VERY hot water, add a few drops of dish detergent, and blend. After a good rinse to wash out the soap, I let it air dry on the counter. It comes out sparkling clean every time, and I only have to take it apart every few weeks to make sure it's clean under the gasket.

  14. reeder on February 4, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    I dump clean single socks into a section of my dresser and if they don’t get mated up in a month or so (or are too stretched out to wear) then I use them as cleaning rags. Just stick your hand inside and clean the blinds, nooks, etc. If you need a little more volume, you can shove a plastic grocery bag inside and hold it like a sponge.

  15. Need A Nap2 on February 4, 2010 at 6:35 am

    You might reconsider whether you NEED a cell phone. We're doing well with a Trac phone. We put a double minute card on it at the beginning so as we add minutes they actually double.

    A tip for those onions – chew a piece of gum and let your sink water run while you cut them, no tears! 🙂

  16. Bren on February 4, 2010 at 4:10 am

    I have always used white vinegar and water to clean my windows, faucets, mirrors, etc. I make it in a spray bottle with about 1/4 cup white vinegar and 32 oz. of water. My husband calls it Brendex. I also use white vinegar undiluted in my rinse holder in my dish washer. It works just like a rinse agenta you buy at the store, but a whole lot cheaper.

  17. vip2000 on February 4, 2010 at 2:27 am

    I re-use canola oil for sauteeing/frying by pouring it in a coffee filter placed over the top of an empty coffee can and storing it in the frig. Oil is clear and good as new for at least 3 more uses (not recommended if oil has been used for fish, though). Also, coffee filters are great for polishing windows and mirrors as they do not leave any lint or residue!

  18. Sandy on February 3, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Try adjusting the time your laundry wash cycle works. On some loads 6 minutes is more than enough time so why pay the electricity for 12.
    I make my own laundry soap.
    I wash my delicates at home, using hair conditioner in the wash cycle with my sweaters (wool is sheep hair) and it seems to keep them in great shape (buy cheap conditioner)
    I make my own shampoo.
    I bake bread from scratch for about 30 cents per loaf for whole grain.
    I save the liquid from vegies, rinsed out cans, etc. and use in soup.
    You can make simple cheeses like ricotta, cottage, and motzarella at home using dried nonfat milk. Easy, cheap and healthy.
    When printing on your computer make sure you use both sides of the paper before you put it in the recycle bin.
    Take this years Christmas cards you received and cut them into postcards for next year. Save on cards and postage.
    Buy a good vegetarian cookbook (Moosewood is great) and try more vegetarian meals to use less expensive meat.
    Look for a salvage grocery near you. An Amish area near me has two. You can find great deals there and the food is not all expired or maybe just expired last week (and that can happen with cereal in my cupboard). I save a fortune there.

  19. sashamae@gmail.com on February 3, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Most of the time we use reusable bags for our groceries because you get the 5-cents back. But sometimes we get plastic bags to use as trashcan liners as well as for when little miss has a messy diaper. We just but the messy diaper in there and tie the bag off. It is a lot cheaper than the diaper genie where you have to buy their special cartridges and a regular bag will fit in the diaper champ if you want to wait to throw out several at one time. I will also occasionally get my groceries sacked in a paper bag so that I have a bag to put our shredded paper in to put out with our recycling (they require it be in a bag in our area).

  20. Letty on February 3, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    My favourite tightwad/genius idea is this: I crochet reusable cotton pads to use on my Swiffer WetJet!
    I've cut a hole in the top of the bottle of cleaner and pour in my own mix of water and vegetable soap, slip on the pad, and off I go! Throw 'em in the laundry, and they're ready for next time! They look a bit like long crocheted dishcloths, with little pockets at the ends to slide over the (short) edges of the WetJet base. Not only is it cheap and eco-friendly, but it means my floors actually get clean when I don't have to get out the mop and bucket and torture my knees! (Added bonus- making your own cleaning fluid is dead easy and means you can make it pet- and child- friendly!)

  21. Tania on February 3, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    With 4 kids we did a lot of dishes. to cut back on some of the washing we gave each child a cup at the beginning of the day that was theirs to use. If they wanted something different to drink than what they had before they would just give a quick rinse to the cup before filling. We now only have to wash 4 of their cups after dinner instead of as many as 15 (yes, they would take a new cup EVERY time they had a new drink). Saves on dishes and money.

    • KellyH on February 4, 2010 at 12:56 pm

      I should do that…with my husband. 😉

  22. Tinkerschnitzel on February 3, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I cut sponges in half when I buy them. Once they get to that nasty point, but are still usable, they go through the dishwasher, and I have a perfectly clean germ free sponge to continue using.

    We use the plastic grocery bags as trashcan liners in the bathrooms and bedrooms.

    We only use the dryer during the winter or when it's raining. Otherwise, everything gets hung up on the line outside. Lint from the dryer goes into an empty coffee or baby formula can. When we go camping, a handful of the lint makes a great firestarter even on wet days. (Do this once, and you'll be rushing home to clean out the dryer hose!)

  23. Stacy on February 3, 2010 at 5:26 am

    Well, my most recent cheap tip is that I have almost stopped buying foods that are already prepared. I try to think whether or not I can make it myself instead, and I buy the ingredients. There are a few exceptions: bread, crackers, and chips. However, I have my eye on those too. Instead of cookies, I buy ingredients. Instead of pre-made frozen lunches or frozen prepared foods of any kind, I just prepare extra. Sometimes I miss the boxes and cans, but mostly I can make do without spending much more time. My most recent happy victory was making tortillas. They were way better than the ones I have bought at the store, and so cheap!

    • Stacy on February 3, 2010 at 5:30 am

      Oh, and one I got from this blog…I think…is to reuse oatmeal cannisters or coffee cans to store grocery store plastic bags. I do use my reusable bags, but sometimes I forget. I stuff the bags tight into the cannister and keep it in a cabinet. Mostly I used them for lunch bags and carrying things. When it gets too full, I bring the extras to our local market–a small corner market–where they reuse the bags regularly.

  24. Alice Dick on February 3, 2010 at 4:19 am

    I know this sounds crazy, but I swear it works. If you drink coffee, you can save money as follows: Day 1, make your regular pot of coffee but don't throw the grounds out. Leave them in the basket. Next day use half of the ground coffee that you normally use and put it on top of the old grounds. (In other words if you normally brew six cups of coffee you would put three scoops of fresh coffee on top of yesterday's six scoops.) It cuts your consumption by 25% and I can't tell the difference.

  25. laveniakaye on February 3, 2010 at 3:30 am

    Parchment paper is the best money saver! I purchased a box over 5 years ago at a local restaurant supply store for $40.00. I have never run out and use it daily. I line all my cookie sheets with it. Even if I am baking things that won't stick. I never have to scrub or wash a second time. Many times – if the pan isn't dirty, I just toss the sheet and put the pan back in the cabinet.
    My recent post Getting our wish

  26. Anne on February 3, 2010 at 2:15 am

    I always keep reusable bags in my car for all of my shopping. It took me a while to remember to bring them in the store, but now I bring them everywhere & use them for everything. Saves tons of plastic, and I get a $.05 discount for each bag used!

  27. julie on February 3, 2010 at 1:10 am

    I re-use the jars from like spaghetti sauce or salsa and hubby takes them to work when we have chili or beans-sometimes those plastic storeage lids leak and this saves him a mess….I use vinegar in household cleaning and in doing laundry….I also use baking soda in household cleaning—


  28. Gypsie on February 3, 2010 at 12:11 am

    Turn down the temperature on your water heater. You'll keep the kiddos from getting scalded and lower your power bill!

  29. Tink on February 2, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    I make my own all purpose cleaner for less than a dollar a gallon.

    In a clean one gallon container (old milk jugs are great!) mix:
    1 bottle rubbing alcohol
    1/2 cup ammonia
    couple of drops of dish soap
    fill the remainder of the jug with water.

    Pour into your own spray bottle and use for everything. Countertops, windows, mirrors, appliances etc etc.

    Also, for those with allergies or if you don't like the smell of rubbing alcohol…..mix vinegar with water in a spray bottle and use for just about anything..

    both are cheap cheap cheap and work wonderfully.

  30. Ashley on February 2, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    I give small plastic bottles to my dog to chew on. Less toxic and cheaper than vinyl chew toys, and she LOVES them!

    • Jackie on February 3, 2010 at 2:34 am

      Be careful with this as it can cause serious health problems, if they bite through it get rid of it, it can cause oral lacerations, and if they swallow any bit of it, it can cause a painful, fatal intestinal blockage.

  31. Anna on February 2, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Don't use elbow grease on your dining room table! Spray a little windex/all purpose cleaner/ammonia on the table, come back in five and wipe clean.

    (Spot check, of course, that it won't ruin the finish. It doesn't ruin my polyurethane finish.)

  32. Becki on February 2, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    I collect the tabs off of bread bags on the few occasions that I buy store bread (usually bagels). I keep them next to the sink and use them to scrape off baked-on gunk from pots and pans. They won't scratch, not even ceramic or Teflon coatings.
    My recent post 5 minute bread

  33. Princess Leia on February 2, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    My tightwad tip is just to not buy it. If I don't buy the bag of Doritos, then not only will I not _eat_ the whole thing myself, but I also save money! Keeps my tummy _and_ my wallet trim!
    My recent post Called Out

    • KellyH on February 4, 2010 at 12:52 pm

      I hear ya: that's why we never have Cheez-its in the house. 🙂

  34. Melanie on February 2, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    I use white vinegar instead of laundry softener (and glass cleaner, and limescale remover…) It leaves my clothes soft but doesn't leave the sort of synthetic smell that I hate.

  35. Michelle on February 2, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Who can afford beef jerky? It is such a wonderful and protein filled treat though… I buy London Broil when it is on sale for $1.99, have the meat department cut it up for jerky. Marinade it in Lowry's Marinade (steakhouse pepper is the one I like best) overnight. Put it in your dehydrator or oven until dry reaching 140 degrees. Make sure it does not dry out to a crisp. It is great, easy and so economical!

  36. Michelle on February 2, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Freshen up those cookie sheets and other baking dishes that often gathers "gunk" on the sides before you go out and buy new ones. Simply mix baking soda and a little elbow grease and work out all the build-up in the pans hard to clean corners.

    In an effort to decrease our footprint we decided to see how much we could cut down on products that had a one time use such as bottles for beer, wine and soda. We now own two growlers in which we fill up every couple of days at our favorite local brewery. Our recycle tote fills up less, our tab at the grocery store went down and we spend less when we go out to eat because we have good beer at home!
    My recent post Coming out on top

    • julie on February 3, 2010 at 1:06 am

      will definately have to try that on my baking sheets…..drives me crazy!

    • Kim on February 7, 2010 at 3:18 am

      Growlers! Brilliant! We usually drink locally brewed beer anyway, so that's a fabulous tip. Thanks!

  37. NGS on February 2, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    We reuse the bags from bread and from the produce we buy to clean out the litter box. Gross, but true. That way we never waste any plastic in our house!

  38. christopher575 on February 2, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    I use a single section of select-a-size paper towel as a napkin for each meal and I noticed a long time ago that I never get them very dirty, sometimes I don't end up using them at all. Now I keep them and re-use them for cleaning later. The funny thing is, I end up with way more paper towels waiting to be used than I will ever need, so I might end up someday having to switch to cloth napkins.
    My recent post

  39. Jenn on February 2, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Back in the day when I was buying a lot of milk I used to make milk-carton blocks. Take two, clean and dry, cut off the tops, stick one inside the other to form a block. They're big, lightweight and cheap and we loved them. My brother was growing up when a gallon of milk came in a carton and those made great blocks! We used to stack them up in a wall and he'd drive his big wheel through.

    I save interesting (clean) garbage like styrafoam, clam shells and bottle lids for the local art school. They use it for kids crafts. It's great to see what the kids come up with using stuff I can't recycle.

  40. Taja on February 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    I store dried goods in old coffee cans with the plastic lids. I wash them out and remove the label or spray paint the to hide any painted on labels.

    Then I can label them with whatever I want to put inside. Because they are stored in the pantry, they are hidden from view, but are the perfect size for most of the dried goods I buy for my family.

    Also, another tip is to squash the toilet roll slightly before putting it on the holder. That way, the kids can't pull of yards and yards of paper in one go so there is less waste (and the toilet also doesn't get blocked with wads of paper).

  41. Sonja on February 2, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    I reuse the plastic bread bags to store hombaked bread. I also wash and reuse jelly jars and cool whip tubs. I'm turning into my grandmother,

  42. ThatBobbieGirl on February 2, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    When my baby girl was an actual, wee, not-quite-bald-but-fuzzy-headed baby (and not about to turn 20 TOMORROW), I had trouble getting her to sit up in her high chair. Her little bottom kept sliding forward in the seat and her chin would end up on the tray, eyes wide with "you gonna help me out here or what?"

    So, you know those little round rubber-ish disks you get with advertising on them? They're supposed to open jars, but they just kind of lay there on the jar lid, staring back at you. Anyway, I took one of those and put it on the high chair seat under my little fuzzhead's bottom. That kept her bottom in place and her chin off the tray.

    Unless she fell asleep in her food, which she did on occasion.
    (Grandpa has pictures, which he recently showed her fiance. He waited for years to be able to do that.)

    • moonablaze on February 2, 2010 at 5:39 pm

      THIS is why I can hardly wait to have kids. they do cute things when they're little, and then you get to embarrass them about it when they're older. 😀

      • Ceci on February 2, 2010 at 8:55 pm

        My brother got married June 08 and we did a photo slideshow during the rehersal dinner. His fiancee vetted her pictures, Rob did not and it was very obvious. I especially like the one my grandfather took when Rob was 2 of him in Mexico, asleep at the table with one ened of a straw in his mouth and the other in a margarita! Unfortunately grandpa passed away before we could share that picture with my SIL.

  43. Angela on February 2, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Too reduce the amount of time I heard, "mom, I'm thirsty" I bought each child a water bottle filled it in the morning and left it on the counter. This also reduced them trying to get their only water and letting the water run forever and the amount of times they asked for other drinks.

  44. KellyH on February 2, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    This might be a lame one, but I don't use the cap to measure laundry detergent. Most of the time, it seems like way more than you actually need! Eyeballing it seems to work much better for us, especially because our laundry is never heavily soiled. Speaking of laundry, another lame one: we use our bath towels a few times before throwing them in the laundry (hey, we're clean when we use them, so why not? 😉 )

    • julie on February 3, 2010 at 1:03 am

      I reuse my towels too-hubby won't do it though LOL

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