Do not read if you aren’t serious about saving money!

Regardless of one’s income, I believe it is just smart to be resourceful and frugal. I learned this from my parents whose parents lived during the Great Depression.

I’m not cheap or a miser. Quite the opposite actually. I enjoy giving to others as much as possible. Since I’m a nurse and my husband is a teacher, we know what it is like to put our own money into our work help our students/patients lives be just a little easier. We are able to do that simply by not wasting money. There are so many things people can do without, that they don’t even realize they would never miss. So many really easy ways to save a little here and there without even altering your lifestyle much.

I preface, before you read the list, keep in mind that we do spend money on the things we absolutely enjoy and feel are essential

Here are my personal tips (tried and true) for saving money on household items, cleaning products, personal products, etc.

They may seem like small things but believe me they do add up! Some will be reminders while others new to you.

This list is just the way I spend money. You don’t have to agree with it! Do what is right for you and YOUR budget. These are just “ideas” for you to springboard off of. It’s for those of you who wonder how others spend and save.

HOUSEHOLD

I don’t skimp on laundry soap or overload my washer. I love fresh smelling clothes, sheets and towels. Almost everything gets washed on cold except towels and sheets which are washed with hot water. Adding 1 cup of vinegar to the wash gets all odors out. I mean ALL odors, even those sweaty workout or work clothes!

Wash clothes only when needed. I can wear jeans a few times before washing. Some shirts, sweaters and light jackets can be worn 2 times. Febreeze works wonders. (So does Downy Wrinkle Release- but if you hang clothes to dry or hang them up as soon as they are done in the dryer you won’t need to iron or use wrinkle release!)

Buy a clothes rack and hang dry items that you can. Your clothes will last a lot longer and you’ll save electricity on the dryer.

I’ve tried making my own household cleaners but truly haven’t been satisfied with the cleaning power or scent. However, Fabuloso is about as cheap as you can get, smells great and cleans practically everything in the house! I dilute it with water and have a spray bottle in every bathroom and in the kitchen.

I also keep a spray bottle of scented bleach for areas I want to disinfect. I use the bleach spray first on counters, toilets etc then go over it again with Fabuloso for a super fresh scent. In the hospital we’ve been told that to truly get the antimicrobial properties of a bleach/water solution it should be used within 24 hours but I don’t live in a hospital. If there are some nasty viruses going around our house I will make a small fresh batch.

For my bathtub, I spray the diluted bleach solution after each bath and rarely, if ever, have to scrub.

Room sprays: If you have not yet invested in essential oils, I recommend you do so. You can easily make your own with rubbing alcohol and as many drops of oil or combination of oils that you like.

Essential oil diffusers are also a great investment. Buying plug-ins, room sprays, reed diffusers, etc is like throwing your money in the garbage. They don’t last long and most of them aren’t richly scented. Save your money on those and buy one luxurious candle to use for company or on special days you want to have a different kind of scent and vibe.

Speaking of candles, I save the jars of those nice candles and reuse them. You can use tea lights in them and will still have the same lovely jar as before. You can buy tea lights super cheap in bulk. I love them also because they just burn out on their own so you don’t have to constantly watch them to see if they are too low like you do a regular candle (as long as they are in a safe place to begin with, obviously).

Those same jars make great makeup brush containers. The larger ones are great for colored pencils or markers.

Switch to using cloth instead of paper towels. It is so easy. I don’t know why we didn’t do it sooner. We bought a huge pack of microfiber cloths from Lowes that were meant for use in a garage. ($15.00 for 50) We rewash them and store them in a basket on the counter. It’s nice because they are all the same size and color. If they get yucky we then use them in the garage. If you don’t like that idea, buy a set of flannel sheets in the color or pattern of your choice when they are on sale and cut them all to the same size. We use the flannel for napkins and microfiber for clean up.

Cut tee shirts and old flannel to use for dirty household cleaning. You can simply mark them with a black permanent marker so you know which ones are for dirty cleaning.

Use grocery store bags in small trash cans instead of buying small bags.

MEALS

If you’re a big drink pop drinker, try to quit. It is expensive in more ways than one. It is so bad for you that your health will suffer as well as your wallet. Either that or cut way back. I understand the challenge of quitting personally but my body is definitely thanking me for the extra water.

Grow your own vegetables. Even the smallest space can be a place to grow one or two veggies. Below are Rosemary, Red Peppers Tomatoes and Spaghetti Squash growing in pots on our deck.

Make soups, stews and casseroles in larger quantities. Freeze leftovers.

Lemony Bok Choy Soup. Practically a staple for us.

Cabbage and Potato Vegetable (both are vegan and super nutritious)

Have a Smoothie for breakfast instead of s regular meal. You’ll get lots of nutrition in one go. We use frozen fruit and add fresh vegetables, chia seeds, cashews, flax, etc.

One of my made up recipes. We also like to use carrots, cucumbers, beets and whatever other veggies we have on hand. Eating this way adds to your health which in turn saves a lot!

PERSONAL/GROOMING

I personally haven’t found a huge difference between expensive shampoo and drugstore brands. Go for something sulfate free that smells amazing.

I’ve used that same great smelling shampoo as body wash. As long as I get the kind that says “adds moisture” or something similar, I haven’t had any problems with dry skin.

I condition my hair during the bath then rinse it last. The conditioner that runs down my body acts as a moisturizer for my skin.

Try using half the amount of shampoo that you’re used to.

Use conditioner instead of shaving cream for shaving cream for your legs.

I have one pricey hair product I can’t live without which is Small Talk. Other than that, I’ve replaced all expensive brands with drugstore brands and have been fine without them. The quality isn’t quite as good but the money I save is worth it. I buy Small Talk once a year when Ulta has their buy 2 get 1 free sale. It saves me around $15.00.

If you MUST have expensive brands of makeup, perfume and hair products, try saving them for special days and use the less expensive brands for everyday. Also, purchase them when they are on sale. Beauty Brands has a twice a year sale that is amazing. You can buy great quality, name brand, full size hair products for around $6.00!

Sign up for Beauty Brands, Ulta and Sephora email lists. Use a separate email just for stuff like this if you don’t want too much junk mail in your main box. Take advantage of sales and freebies. Sephora gives away really nice samples for your birthday. You can also get a free pair of underwear once a year from Victoria’s Secret.

A 5 or 6 blade disposable razor lasts twice as long as you think it will. Don’t change it til you need to! Don’t bother with the cheapest razors. They don’t work well and won’t last.

Use baby wipes instead of makeup remover pads. Add a little makeup remover if you’re removing heavy makeup then use an additional baby wipe after that.

I used to work for a dermatologist and learned that almost all products that claim to reduce wrinkles simply will not work due to the weakened elasticity in your skin which causes them. Don’t waste money on hype. I can’t stress this enough. There are huge psychological techniques that go into sales of merchandise. Don’t fall for it. One product with buying for your skin is Differin gel. It helps get rid of old skin cells so the plump new baby cells show which helps your skin look younger. It has slight whitening properties which helps reduce age spots. It prevents acne. It used to be by prescription only but is now available over the counter. I’m not claiming to look amazing or anything but many people comment that I look younger. It is not genetic. It’s because I don’t smoke, use sunscreen and Differin.

If you love bath bombs, learn to make them. I don’t even bother making them. I just dump the ingredients right into my tub! I use any combination of Epsom salt, baking soda, bubble bath, essential oils and whatever else I think of. You can add teeny sparkles made for that purpose or save and dry your flowers from the garden and crumple them up so they are good and tiny, add a few drops of bath bomb coloring (I’ve been told food coloring will stain), you can even add cupcake sprinkles like little hearts or cute tiny stars. Any ingredient you see in a bath bomb making tutorial will work. I don’t spend much on my bath experience but it is always a real treat. I light my tea light candles and use essential oils for for an amazing aroma. I think it’s probably healthier than store bought stuff anyway. Epsom salts are great for sore muscles not to mention the many benefits of essential oils.

I also use essential oils as a sort of perfume. I then save my “good perfume” for special occasions. Look for different essential oil recipes to get ideas on what to use. Be careful around babies and animals though. Some are poisonous to them! Do your research.

Tooth whitening- baking soda and peroxide on a tooth brush, if used on a couple times a week will keep your teeth white. Brush for 2 minutes then rinse well.

MISC.

Use coupons if possible.

Buy frequently used items in bulk.

Sometimes generic is just as good as name brand. You do have to kind of trial and error with different products though. I can personally attest for the following generic products:

Baking items like sugar, flour, baking soda etc (when I was eating those things which I no longer do). Same goes for snack items.

We’ve been fine with generic spices.

Sour cream, some cereals, oatmeal, raisins, dried fruits, jelly (when we ate them)

Store brand products like Up and Up (Target brand) tissues and baby wipes.

Get rid of cable. Try Netflix instead.

Get rid of your home phone unless you absolutely need it for business. Keep in mind that you can get a scanner instead of a fax machine. Almost everywhere accepts emailed documents.

Groom your dogs yourself. You’ll save so much money! They might look a teeny bit silly til you get the hang of it but it is so worth it. You can buy everything you need for the same price that you’d pay for 2 grooming sessions (electric hair clippers, nail clippers, good dog comb, good scissors). Just BE CAREFUL.

Don’t waste electricity. I’m surprised how many people do this. Once I went to a family members house. They weren’t home but it was a close family member so I went in. Every light in the house was on as well as a fan. I swear I thought there must have been an emergency and they left quickly without having time to turn them off. Nope. We turn lights off every time we leave a room. We don’t turn them on til we need them using as much natural light as possible. It’s not even a big deal. We just live this way.

Check out your local Facebook Free Market. Most towns have pages dedicated to free stuff. On Facebook, do a search for “Free in <insert name of your town here>” I have been able to find lots of free things that have saved us literally thousands of dollars. We got a flat screen TV as well as a couch set in addition to many other amazing things (clothing, household products, brand new makeup, glider rocking chair, journals and craft supplies, perfume, shoe organizer, coffee maker and coffee and so much more. I also collected many items for families in need this way; literally car full of items)

Use Groupon

Take advantage of sales.

Don’t skimp on your health. Eat fresh fruits and veggies, see your doctor as needed and take care of yourself.

Workout at home instead of the gym. You can find many exercise videos on YouTube. It would be more worth it to invest in a treadmill or rowing machine if you really love them (be wary of used equipment unless you REALLY check it out because many times it isn’t in that great of condition).

Other exercise ideas are an exercise ball, yoga, weights or good old fashioned callenetics. Planks, squats, bird dogs and pushups are all great for your core and more and do not require any equipment at all. Mix it up with the videos, walking your dog or jogging in your neighborhood. My husband jogs and does pull ups at the park. He’s had the same set of weights for 30 years. I got him a nice thick yoga mat for stretching from TJMax for around $10.00.

Use fans instead of air conditioning for as long as you can. Open your windows to get a nice cross breeze. This also freshens your house of any odors that may have lingered (from pets or cooking or whatever).

Use warmer blankets and dress appropriately in the winter rather than cranking the heat up. If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace, use it.

If you own a Keurig, be sure to buy the reusable K-cup so you can fill it with your favorite coffee. Those k-cups, though cheaper than a Starbucks, add up.

Try shopping at Ross, TJMaxx and Marshalls for clothing and home decor if you have them in your area. Just be careful. Some items are really good quality and others won’t last more than one wash. Look for quality stitching, fabrics that aren’t super thin (silky fabrics and thin cotton or linen aren’t durable). Don’t be tempted to buy something just because it’s cheap. Sometimes cheap does mean cheapy.

Try ordering items directly from China. I know it sounds crazy at first. I kind of felt badly about doing it thinking I was contributing to slave labor. Then I did a little research and realized half the things we buy from stores here in America (or elsewhere in the world) come from China. The prices are just really jacked up. Did you know that some companies actually send the tags that say “Made in America” to China for them to sew into garments? It’s really messed up but it is what it is. Unless you do your research on every single item you purchase, I can guarantee something you got was made in a China. If you are so inclined, check out AliExpress and Alibaba. You will be absolutely SHOCKED at the low prices of the EXACT same items you see here. Shop carefully though. I’ve purchased some amazing products from there for very little money like the set of bamboo crochet hooks I recently got. However, some items I’ve bought ended up being super low quality.

All of these were $10 total (no shipping charge).

DOLLAR STORE

Don’t be tempted to waste money on a lot of stuff from the dollar store. Do purchase things like gift bags (Careful- some are very thin. Avoid those) and party supplies, baskets for organizing, some office supplies and items you can get from there that you would purchase elsewhere.

CARS & TRAVEL

Using middle or high grade gas actually is better for your car and you ultimately use less fuel. I’ve been told this by a friend who is also a mechanic.

Obviously wash your own car. I use Dawn dish soap in a bucket of water for the outside and a few simple products for the inside (windex, etc) I have a container of car washing supplies in my garage which are simple brushes, a tootbrush and some rags and towels. It’s actually kind of zen to detail your car on a beautiful day.

I detailed my husband’s car for him which basically cost me nothing.

EATING OUT

If you’re trying to save money I highly recommend that you don’t eat out or only eat out on special occasions. Also, there is nothing wrong with going out to lunch instead of dinner. Better yet, go out for breakfast for a change. It is a lot more affordable than dining out for supper.

GIFT GIVING

Plan ahead! I can’t stress this enough. Unless you just give cash, start looking for items you want to buy for someone and catch the sales. If you wait til the last minute you will undoubtedly spend way more than you planned or have less of a gift to give.

Also buy your cards, wrapping paper and gift bags and have them on hand. I store these things all year and it is so nice to be able to “shop” at home when gift giving as far as the wrapping goes.

INDULGENCES

It’s not worth it to buy cheap shoes. They are uncomfortable and don’t last long. If you want some cute cheap summer sandals or something go for it but just know they won’t last more than a season or two. Good quality shoes and boots will last for years if you take care of them. I’ve had good purses and shoes repaired/resoled at the shoe repair shop and they were like new. You can’t do that with cheap ones.

This Cole Haan bag and wallet can be used as a purse, briefcase/computer bag, overnight bag and so much more. It will never go out of style and will look great aged as well. (Note: I am now trying to go vegan but purchased this before. I know there are many non-leather alternatives and in the future will buy them).

Same goes for certain items of clothing. It’s better to invest in a few quality pieces than a bunch of cheap clothes. You can then accessorize with less expensive or vintage (ie thrift store) items. You’re wardrobe will be totally unique and “you” if you do this, rather than just buying whatever is trendy off the rack.

A few quality wardrobe staples would be: a good pair of jeans, coat, athletic shoes, dress shoes, casual shoes, purse/wallet, watch (if you wear one) cardigan, skirt/dress pants and button up shirt and jacket go with the dress outfit. When buying quality dress clothes think “interview.” You can always accessorize to change the look for different occasions. Your staples are on the basic side in shades of black (or navy), white and gray. You can add color with your coat and bag or less expensive items. You get texture and pattern from less expensive items as well. I personally love scarves. They can cha he an outfit instantly!

Jewelry: One gold and one silver chain can be used for many different pendants. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg for good jewelry either. Do your research and shopping online for the best prices or ask for a pendant for a gift if someone asks what you want. Don’t be shy or you’ll likely receive something you don’t want which is wasteful and won’t make you or the gift-giver feel very good.

I got this dainty Virgin Mary pendant from my brother when I was young. I have one simple gold chain and a few silver chains. I just switch out the pendants, which I store in an eyeglass case. The case in the photo is of my cross collection but I have other cases as well with different charms. These pendants can be passed down and used for generations.

My personal theory…If you’re going to the movies, get the popcorn and pop! It’s part of the experience. We save that experience for movies we know will be better on the big screen.

Nothing beats good quality cheeses (update: :sigh: this is the hardest part for me as far as going vegan) and chocolates.

I save on hair products and color my hair at home. For that reason, I don’t mind spending money on a great haircut by a qualified hair stylist. My hair is super tricky to cut so this is well worth it to me.

Always give a good tip when appropriate. Never less than 20%. Workers that have jobs that rely on tips depend on them as part of their income.

I’m going to come back and add things I can’t think of right now!

Do we have a big bank account because of these tips? Haha. No. But I am positive they do save us quite a bit of money. The biggest and hardest thing to do is to not give in to advertisements. Luckily, we do not subscribe to magazines or watch TV. We do watch movies and shows but not the ones with commercials. That helps a lot.

Do you agree or disagree with my ideas? What ways do you save and spend? I’m curious! Leave me a comment with your suggestions!

Be well! Chris for

PS Check out this link also!

How to save money like your Grandma did

Hardships and Gratitude

No life is without hardships. We all have to face our own birth and death and do it on our own. However, in between birth and death is this thing called life. And we are all in it together.

I have never felt like a strong person. I am not competitive in any way. I want everyone to win. If there were a race with 100 people, I would be rooting for a 100-way tie. (How awesome would that be?) I cry easily. I feel like giving up sometimes when things get hard in my life. There have been many times I have not felt good enough, smart enough or worthy of the beautiful people in my life. So, “strong” is not a word I have ever used to describe myself.

I have had hardships. I think quite a few of them. It feels like I’m always struggling personally, either with my health, finances, relationships or my career.

Things have happened in my life that have caused me to trust less and to be more skeptical, to not be as open and loving as I once was. It is very difficult for me to accept help from anyone or even tell anyone my problems. I hate feeling vulnerable because when I have opened myself up in the past, people took advantage of me. They used things against me in a hurtful way. Instead of blaming them for being self-centered and cruel, I blamed myself for being open, honest and trusting. Now I see that was wrong-thinking.

The one area I have always felt the strongest in is nursing. I’m a good nurse. I am the kind of nurse that I would want to have for myself or my family members. But where I feel I am strongest is advocating for my patients who can’t advocate for themselves. It’s gotten me in hot water with jobs in the past but I never cared about any repercussions for myself. I honestly don’t know where this strength comes from because I’m not this way in any other area of my life. At least I haven’t been until recently.

Recently, my husband and I have fallen on hard times. Well, we are “maybe” finally on the upswing but still have a long way to go. You see, my husband is an art teacher who has had a lot of difficulty finding work since we moved to Colorado. We underestimated how much it would cost to live here and how competitive the job market would be.

We would have been ok, however, my nursing job with one of my patients ended abruptly during the same time that my husband was unemployed as a teacher. We were just trying to make do with whatever he could earn as an Uber driver but very quickly realized that our world was collapsing around us.

The bills were all past due and we didn’t have enough money to pay them. We had some utilities shut off, bank overdrafts and even an eviction notice. It got bad VERY quickly. Within a month or two our world was falling apart. It got to the point that I had no choice but to tell people about my problems. Worse (or so I thought), I had to ask for help. My worst nightmare was coming true. Talk about feeling vulnerable.

I could always give help but didn’t want to receive it. When I’ve received help in the past there had always been a catch to it. Have you ever met people who were “generous” but never let you forget it? That’s why I learned (or wrongly thought) it’s not good to ask for help. Then there seems to be people who are just waiting for you to fail or worse, make you feel like a total loser because surely it must be your fault. At least that’s been my experience in the past (not with everyone, but it happened enough to make me feel awful for ever needing assistance of any kind).

I have received help recently though, because I had no other choice. I received free food from the community and help from family and friends. We have had to humble ourselves and ask people that we owe money to if they would accept smaller payments for now.

What this situation has done for me is to not only humble me, but it helped me to see who my true friends are (which in itself can be a painful process but very necessary). It has also allowed me to see and appreciate the grace and generosity of strangers. It has helped me to know what it’s like to feel you’re at the end of the rope when someone lovingly reaches out a strong hand. For that I am grateful.

This past year has made me stronger. I’m not more competitive and still cry easily, but it gave me strength to fight even harder for my patients because I know what it is like first hand to need someone’s strong hand lifting you up when you’ve given all you’ve got and don’t have any more strength of your own. It is a beautiful thing to receive and to give in those circumstances. It gave me bravery to write this blog post. It gave me immense appreciation for those helpers and we didn’t end up on the street or left hungry. It restored my faith in humanity by witnessing people give freely without judgment or asking for anything in return and without even expecting recognition.

I could feel sorry for myself. It would be easy to do. After all, it’s not easy to to start all over financially. It’s been embarrassing at times to be in the situation we’ve been in. It’s a bit embarrassing to write this in a blog for anyone to see, especially since I want to start a business. Not to mention it is incredibly stressful and difficult.

But you know what? I do feel strong in this moment because I’m not afraid to tell my truth. We didn’t do anything wrong. Hard times can happen to anyone. Your hardships may look different than my hardships but we all have them. You can pretend that you don’t or even believe that you don’t if you want to live the a fake world of social media but I’ve been around long enough to know that not one person on this earth is better than another, even if some people haven’t learned that truth yet.

If anything good can come out of this besides the good things I have already mentioned that are happening for me, it is worth being vulnerable in this post.

I want to say to anyone that may be having a hard time right now to do what Mr. Rogers’ mom used to tell him, “If you ever get in trouble, look for the helpers. There are always helpers.”

Not everyone is out to get you. Not everyone will relish in your hardships or use them against you. If they do, that’s when you know they are not your true friends. And who needs friends like that anyway? What mean people do is on them. Don’t take it personally.

It is ok to ask for help when you need it. When you’re doing ok, you can be the helper.

You can get through any obstacle you may be facing with the help of friends, family or even strangers. And when you come out on the other side, you will be stronger in ways you never thought you could be. You don’t have to suffer alone in silence. You can get through anything, no matter what your hardship may be and come out a better person because of it. There’s no reason to be ashamed. No one is perfect. We all have something to learn from each other.

Trust me.

This post is dedicated to Heidi. Thank you, Friend. You truly are an earth angel.