Thursday, 26 February 2015

My Ten Top Tips

I had an email asking me for my ten top tips for saving money (thanks B), and asking me if I really write about things I do or do I write about things I think I should do .... you little unbeliever B!!

Firstly YES I do write about things I do,

 Everything I write about here on my blog happens, sometimes once, sometimes a few times and sometimes, well mostly in the case of saving money, filling the freezer, cooking and day to day living over and over and over again.

So make yourself a cup of coffee, settle comfortably in your chair and read on .....

My Ten Top Tips ... That I Use or Have Used

ONE  For example tubes of hand cream are ALWAYS cut open and the cut off bit used a lid until ALL of the product is on my hands.

Containers are upended and drained, every last little drop into our main bottles or into the new one just purchased.  I have just worked out that we have had this pump top action large bottle of shampoo since 2008, filled and re-filled over and over again, but it still works so it will continue to live in the bathroom in daily use.

We pay for the packaging and the product inside it so it makes sense to get our moneys worth out of everything we buy.

TWO  Potatoes are dealt with as and when I buy them.  If I buy a full bag, because sometimes a bag is cheaper than buying just a couple of baking potatoes, I will use them for the week they are at their freshest and then I will process the rest and put them into the freezer.

These wedges were frozen raw and were eaten quite quickly (place on a baking tray, sprinkle with salt, pepper or a bit of paprika and roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes or so turning once during cooking).  But if they are to live in the freezer for any length of time I prefer them blanched and then frozen if I have the time.  To do this put them in a pan, pour over boiling water, boil for just a few minutes, five does the trick if they are chunky) and then strain them, put into a bowl of chilled water, dry and then open freeze.  If you have blanched your spuds you can reduce the cooking time by about 10 minutes.

I freeze chunky homemade chips, wedges, potato croquets, roasts, mash and potato soup.

THREE  Rubber gloves, 

I'm right handed so my right hand rubber glove tends to wear out first, rather than throw away a perfectly good left hand glove, I save it and then when the next right hand glove is no longer fit for purpose I turn one of my pair of left hand gloves inside out ... et voila ... a right hand glove.

Of course you can recycle rubber gloves even further and cut up the redundant holey gloves into gardening ties or elastic bands of various sizes by chopping them up with scissors, you get small elastic bands from the fingers and thumb and larger ones from the wrist section.  

When I have two leaking right hand gloves that I don't need to cut into bands I simply use them as a slightly more waterproof layer over cotton gardening gloves on days when I have to weed but the mud would make my normal gardening gloves wet within minutes.  (I hate soil down my nails so I always garden with gloves on.)

As a final resort I use them as a good whoosh maker for a garden bonfire, a dry rubber glove placed in with some twigs and paper will act as a brilliant firelighter.

FOUR  Open freezing lemons , limes or oranges is a brilliant way to get your moneys worth from those bargain nets of fruit.  They nearly always contain more than you actually need and by doing this you have a tub of ready to drop in your drink lemons, limes or orange slices. They flavour and chill your drink at the same time, if you like to start the day with a lemon slice in hot water, they cool the water down just enough to be able to drink it straight away.  And they are obviously very handy in the summer when it's Pimms season :-)

FIVE  Bread crusts never get thrown away in this house.  Quickly whizzed in the food processor with a handful of herbs they are ready for action whenever we need a topping for a Macaroni Cheese or a coating for chicken portions, fish or a veggie alternative.  Simply whizz and tip into a freezer proof bag or box.  They are usable straight from the freezer and stay free flowing.

If you don't have any herbs a few young, washed Dandelion leaves will work just as well for a touch of green freshness.

SIX  Buying supermarket basic lines.

Sometimes you can save money buy finding which of the supermarket basics your family will like. We have found that not all are good for our tastes ..... the beans swim in too much juice for us, the jars of pasta or curry sauce are too sweet tasting for me, I have lost my sweet tooth completely, but we do like the bran-flakes, the pasta is as good as many that cost three times the price and as for the custard, those 15p packets of custard powder in Tesco are so very, very tasty and turn a piece of slightly stale chocolate cake into a pudding fit for my man any night of the week.

SEVEN  Grow your own.

If you have a garden, or a yard with tubs and troughs, you can pretty much keep yourself fed with salad stuff throughout the warmer months, if you have acres of space or polytunnels you can feed your family and then some.  You could do what I do and sell your surplus at car boot sales and then use the money you make to buy next years seeds when the garden centres reduce them to 50p a pack in September.  Once you've done it the first year you are literally eating for free the next :-)

But what if you have none of that ..... a balcony or a window sill (inside or out) can still save you money.  Just buying yourself a packet of cress seeds for a pound or so can save you from having to buy a tub a week from the supermarket and you can grown these pretty much all year round.  So 52 tubs of cress from Tesco (priced this morning) would cost you £12.48 over the course of a year.  Not a lot, but when you start to add to your window sill and buy yourself a Chilli plant for a couple of pounds and then save yourself 60p a week for fresh chillies  (£31,20 for the year) it all starts to add up.

If you do have a small space to grow one successional crop make it salad leaves.  For the price of a couple of packs of seeds you can have fresh mixed leaves all through the Summer and beyond.  At an average price of one pound a bag, and saying you usually buy two packs of ready washed leaves a week, over the course of the Summer you could save yourself at least £50.

Talking of car boot sales brings me to tip number EIGHT

Sell what you don't want.  Whether it is surplus veggies, old clothes, clothes the children have grown out of, books and magazines you have read, furniture you have no room for or things you have Marie Kondo'ed from your house.  Sell all the things you no longer use or want.

If you have never done a car boot sale before visit the one you think you might sell at.  Check that it has toilets if it is an all day affair, talk to stall holders to see how successful they are when they sell there, find out what time it is best to arrive and how much it is going to cost you for your pitch, and then plan when you will go and sell your stuff.

Pack everything into boxes or directly into the car boot if you have a small car.  Remembering to put your table (or ground sheet if you don't have a table) into the car last so it can come out first ready for setting up.  Get everything ready the night before, so come the ridiculously early setting off time, you can quickly make a flask and grab the packed lunch or wedges of cake from the fridge to stop you spending your newly earnt money on over priced refreshments and then simply get in the car and set off.  

If  you simply cannot resist the smell of the bacon butties wafting over from the hot food vendors and you have to have one, make that your breakfast and then eat your pack-up for lunch to save you cooking when you get home.

NINE  Save your pennies.  They add up they really do.

  Make it a habit when you get home to empty your purse or your pockets of any coins you don't want to be carrying around.  I put anything less than a 50p coin into our Sealed Pot and it's emptied once a year just before Christmas.  

But if you don't want to save your pennies spend them!!  Start paying with the right money sometimes rather than just handing over a note and accumulating yet more change.

But the thing is treat the pennies and small change as though it is real money ... because it is and it's your real money earned by you, so make it work for you in a way of your choosing!!

TEN  Don't spend!!

This follows on neatly from the last one.  A lot of people email and ask me what is the first way to get debt free and this is it,  STOP SPENDING YOUR MONEY !!

If you don't need something to survive ..... don't buy it.  

Start leaving money at home when you go out to walk the dogs or pick children up from school.  If you fancy a coffee after you've walked the dogs .... wait until you get home, sit down and enjoy it and put the £2.50 it would have cost you to buy one into your debt repayment pot.   If you know the children will want sweets after school, you can honestly say "sorry I've got no money on me, lets go home and see what we've got there".  Let them raid the fruit bowl or the biscuit tin instead and save yourself pounds each week, put £1 a day everyday that you do this into your debt repayment pot too.  They will soon get in the habit of doing this instead.  

At the end of a week put the money in the pot into the bank and pay it immediately off  the debt you are tackling first.

Use money you would have normally spent on unnecessary things to pay down your debts and start snowballing.  I did this and it worked for me.  One extra pound paid off a debt is one pound you will not be paying interest on for the next few months or years.

And remember .....

I had another email asking me about the lack of foodie/shopping  posts recently ... that is simply because I have not been shopping on a regular basis.  We have been eating our way through the freezers and cupboards since January and we still have lots to use up, I'm sure you would be totally fed up if you saw pictures of our purchases over the past few weeks.  Apart from last week, which was party week, the shopping has consisted of milk, bread, salad things and fruit and vegetables.

I am hoping that soon there will be posts about growing and eating our own foods, but in the meantime we will continue to plough our way through the chest freezer, one thing is sure that once we reach the bottom it will be unplugged and not restocked until we have enough of our own harvested crops to go in there.

Sue xx


  1. Thanks for these tips. I love the hand cream one, I got it from you ages ago and now never let a tube go until I've got everything out! :)

  2. Great tips Sue.

  3. Great great tips. May I give you a couple of mine? I use (clean new) Clothes Pegs in cupboards and freezer for closing packets and bags. We live in a very soft water area so we only use half the amount of washing powder. Stand all bottles from shampoo to washing-up liquid to ketchup etc on their heads. Over the years I have become quite adept at the balancing of the bottles upside down, if you are not sure stand in a small container to get every last drop out.

    1. SNAP!! I do all of those too, great that we're on the same wavelength :-)

      Although the 'thud' of falling up-ended bottles is known to echo around this house!!

  4. Good tips, Sue. I'm not as frugal as I might be, but I spent many years making ends meet when there wasn't a lot. Some of the habits from that time in my life are still in use.

  5. Im freezing all of my potatos from now on!

  6. Wow... great tips here. Thanks for the "how to" with blanching your own wedges/chunky chips. I make a big batch of mash, weigh it (for calorie control), bag/box it up and freeze it. I'm not a mash lover (hubby is) much prefer wedges/chunky chips - now we can both have our favourites. I'm pleased that I'm not the only one who scrapes the last little bit out of the toiletry bottle (I'm not "odd" after all). More of the money saving tips please! CMW

  7. This is a wonderful post, very true & very timely!
    Thanks for sharing.
    I do most of this already, but always need to be reminded & improve what I'm doing!

  8. I agree great tips, I must try open freezing when I have the space! Isn't it great that you can pick up a new frugal tip which then becomes a way of life. Thanks, Sue.

  9. Please do more tips!! These are wonderful and have made me realise what a wasteful person I am. The lemons I have chucked, the potatoes I have binned, the bottles of toiletries I have slung out....well no more! First job tonight is slicing 2 lemons that are looking rather sad having never been used on pancake day and which were heading for the bin shortly. A really good post you have written here!!!! (Mrs L H)

  10. good tips, pleased to see I do a number of the same things.

  11. Great tips, I do most of them, but there are a few I have never thought of and am definitely going to use, thanks :)

  12. As per the first one - cutting the lotion container. You could save yourself a ton of money by making your own lotion. One ounce of cosmetic grade organic bees wax (ordered on Amazon by the chunk) and 3/4 cup oil (I like olive or coconut). Put a pan of water on the stove and heat it to simmer, put a jar (canning or well cleaned used) in the water and add the bees wax and oil to the jar. With a clean, bamboo skewer, stir occasionally as the bees wax and oil melt together. Once melted, take it out of the pan and let cool. Every ten minutes (and more often as it comes together) stir the mixture. When it's done you'll have a lovely lotion. To use it; take a small amount into your hand and massage it. Then put your hands under the warm water of the faucet (this adds the moisture you need to make any lotion a moisturizer) and rub together and then apply. Do not add water to your lotion mixture as it will only last a short time with water in it. Been using this for years with fab results. D.

  13. Really nice roundup, Sue!

  14. Great tips Sue. I'm not very good at 'really frugal', but I agree that cutting the top off lotion containers is worth the hassle. I get at east another 20% out of my cleanser, and mySP foundation cream by doing that ... and no-one needs bother telling me a generic will work as well! Allergy difficulties mean I have to be very careful, and I've wasted more trying cheaper versions than I care to think about.
    Don't know how I'd cope in a kitchen with no freezer, but it does need to be labelled and I need to keep a list of what's where and when it went in.

  15. I really love your post! I should try with freezing potatoes, lemon and orange...I've never done that but I suppose it can save a certain amount of money. Thanks for sharing your frugal tips :)

  16. When we were desperately trying to save every penny in an effort to get out of debt, I began cutting dishcloths in 2, sponge scrubbers into 3, dishwasher tablets in half and stored in an empty ice cream tub, soap filled pads in 3 and kitchen towel in half (pile 6 squares on top of each other and cut) and stored in an empty paper tissue box. And I've kept up this habit even though we're out of debt. As soon as I buy a new packet of sponges or dishcloths, I take them all out of the packaging and divide them up. It doesn't take long. Great tips Sue x

  17. never thought of freezing the potatoes. will do in future. thanks.

    1. My motto has always been, if something will be thrown away because it hasn't been used in time or won't be used before it goes off or it's 'Use By' date is up ..... why not try freezing it first. I mean what's the worst that can happen ... it gets thrown away further down the line, so it's always worth trying to freeze things :-)

  18. These are all solid tips; I had not thought of the hand cream one. We do the same as you with our shampoo, I smiled when I saw your photo. We do that with liquid dish washing soap too.

  19. Only a cup of coffee whilst reading this post? I needed my sandwhiches as well LOL.
    I do
    No 1
    a version of No 3 - I keep the good one and wait until I can pair it up later as I don't always wear the same one out each time.
    No 5
    No 6 - I buy the own brand but not often the basics does that count!
    No 7
    No 8 - a long time ago and still recovering
    No 9
    No 10 - I keep trying on this one.
    Great l o n g post Sue expect you have gone for a lay down now!

  20. I love this post.Thought I was the only one who cut the tube in half and turn the rubber glove inside out. Haha, great minds think alike. :)


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