Because small things really can add up, the following are some basic, yet still maddening problems and easy, frugal ways to prevent or solve them.
- Smelly front loader. To prevent this, simply fold a small washcloth and lay it over the door opening of your front loading washing machine. It will prevent the door from closing tight, and allow all the water to dry, preventing that mildew smell. I have done this for over 5 years. Our washer has never smelled, and I don’t even notice the washcloth until I go to do the laundry.
- Stale chips. Don’t laugh. Chips are expensive. Invest in some good chip clips (I love mine from Ikea) that will stand the test of time, or use rubber bands or clothes pins. Even tape will do.
- Smelly shoes. Don’t toss them! Sprinkle with baking soda and set in the sun for a day or two.
- Stained Tupperware. Setting it in the direct sun really does work.
- Weeds in the cracks in your walkway and driveways. Spray white vinegar (do not dilute) on the weeds on a warm, sunny, calm day. Caution – this works on any greens (similar to Round-Up), so spray carefully.
- Dead houseplants. Every morning, I dump the leftover water from our glasses from the day or night before into our houseplants. Even though we have a well (and therefore does not save me any money), this simple step makes me feel like I am being the best steward of our abundant fresh water.
- Washing too many glasses. You know you had a perfectly good glass of water around here someplace, but which one is yours? We put names on coasters and set our glasses on our coasters through out the day. This way we rarely use more than one glass per person per day.
- Boring baths/expensive bath soaks. Add some essential oil (a drop or two to start – it is strong) to epsom salts for a very inexpensive alternative to those high end bath sales. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup to your bath – it smells great and makes you feel like you are enjoying a high end treat. Makes a great gift, too.
- Hungry kids on the go. Ugh! My kids are very prone to grazing – that is, leaving the table and asking for a snack less than an hour later. Most of the time, I make them wait. But, sometimes, I need them to be full in order to participate in the evening (or during the day) activities or because someone else will be with them and I don’t want that person to have to feed them. Pre-made snacks in baggies or reusable containers are fantastic to grab and go. We pack up things like popcorn, nuts, seeds and raisins. It has taken the pressure off many a request for a candy bar while on the go – “Sorry, but I have this delicious (nutritious) snack in my purse. If you are truly hungry, you will eat this.”
- Container mania. If you think a bit outside the box, you will find you have a lot more “containers” than you realize already on hand. For example, a casserole dish can hold leftovers for a day or two, a mason jar allows servings of soup to freeze beautifully (leave a bit of room for the liquid to expand), and that lovely, but relatively unused serving platter is a great piece to set by the entry to collect odds and ends when not serving meals for special occasions. Less to buy, less to store, plus you make the most use of what you already have.
How about you? What completely simple, frugal steps do you take to make life easier?