Simple Savings: Use the last drops.

Day 25 of Simple Savings Series - Use the last drops.

We’re nearing the end of our monthly series! It’s hard to believe there is less than one week left in October – and therefore, less than one week  left to share ideas of how to save simply. Today’s tip is really a reminder to use the last drops.

I was reminded of how important this was recently when I realized my foundation was running low. When I picked it up one morning, I had to shake it to get enough out for the day. I did get enough out for the day and put foundation on my shopping list. Even though I picked up a new tube of foundation that week, I continued to use my old bottle and shake it each morning to get the last drops out. Would you believe that was a month ago when I thought I was almost out – and I’m still using the old bottle? This just goes to prove that there is often more left than you expect when you are determined to use the last drops. 

I found this an important reminder. So many times in our society today, we know we have more shampoo on the shelf, so we don’t concern ourselves with using every last drop. If we knew this was the very last bottle of shampoo (or anything for that matter), we would be careful to conserve it and use every drop wisely. In our affluent society, we often forget to use every bit of what we have.

Let’s all recommit to using the last drops. Squeeze your toothpaste until it is truly out. Store your foundation upside down so the last bit drips down. Add your sliver of soap to a new bar of soap rather than throwing it out. Shake out your condiments until every last bit is gone. Add water to your shampoo and conditioner to rinse out the bottle – and get another use or two out of the last drops.

The water tip is a good way to use the last drops. When I think my laundry detergent is all gone, I add a cap full of water and get 1 or 2 more loads out of the bottle. The same is true of my shampoo and conditioner. I add water to my ketchup bottle and shake it up to get another serving out of it. You can add water to many things to make your last drops go even further. Have you tried that before? Be creative and use your last drops to save!

To read the previous tips in this series, you can do so here.

31 Days of Simple Savings - A series of simple tips & tricks to help you save because every little bit counts

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One Shopping Trip to Kroger

This week, I headed up to school on a Wednesday morning, which is something I no longer do. Several students saw me and asked, “Do we have music today?” Nope. I was just there to quickly take a school picture (on make-up day) for the yearbook. Since Nathan and I were up and out, I decided we’d do our weekly grocery shopping at Kroger. I thought we could shop and be home before Nathan’s naptime. Well, he fell asleep in the car on the way from school to Kroger – and it’s only a 5 minute drive! Car rides tend to do that to him, lately. So, I decided to leisurely stroll the aisles of Kroger as Nathan napped in his car seat in the cart. I didn’t buy a lot but it was nice to look at the deals without rushing. Here’s what I bought.

Kroger - 10/22/14 - $13.51

The Psst brand of Kroger sugar was on sale for $1.25 for 4 pounds. I bought the limit of 4 bags. Sugar is sugar and at this price, I’ll start stocking up for my holiday baking! Now, I just need to find a great deal on flour. I’m hoping the 5 pound bags go on sale for $0.99 like they did last holiday season.

I used a couple free product coupons this trip. I picked up the Lands of Lake Saute Express to try. This free product coupon has been sitting in my coupon binder for months now as I could never find it on the shelf! I happened to stumble across it by the margarine and picked up the southwest variety. I had won two free Mars candy coupons in a sweepstakes months back, so I chose a free Snickers bar and free Twix bar with those coupons. Yum! I also got a free bottle of Suave 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner because it was on sale for $1.49 and I had a coupon for $1.50/1.

Milk was on sale for $2.79. Laughing cow cheese was on sale for $2.69 and I had $1.50/1 digital coupon on my Kroger card. That was my $1.19 splurge of the trip! I couldn’t find peaches in stock to feed Nathan and all the cans of peaches were in syrup, so I bought two jars of baby food at $0.62 each. (Side note: Target is the only brand that I’ve found to carry canned peaches in actual juice rather than syrup. Do you know of any other brands? That’s what Nathan will be eating from now on. I used a gift card to buy a can of peaches at Target.)

Finally, I did well with the close-outs at Kroger. Kroger always has much better close-outs than Meijer! I found a package of pita bread marked down from $2.49 to $0.49. Plus, it was made in my old town of Cincinnati on Galbraith Road! For some reason, pantyhose were marked down, so I picked up knee highs and a pair of regular pantyhose because those were great prices not to be missed.

At Kroger, I spent $13.51 and saved exactly 50%. I also got a dozen farm fresh eggs for $1.75 this week, which brings my total to $15.26 this week. For October, I have now spent $139.70. That leaves me with $40 for the final week of October. That was more than I expected to have remaining so I will be able to restock my fridge again. Andy has been gone at Teacher’s Conference in Indy these past two days so I was able to eat eclectically from the pantry while he was away. That’s another reason why I purchased so little this week! Another benefit of having a stock-pile, too!

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Simple Savings: Wash plastic bags.

24 - Wash plastic bags.

Today’s tip is short and yes, simple. Have I lived up to the name of this series? Are you learning different simple ways to save? I certainly hope so! In keeping on topic, I’m presenting another option that I learned from my Mom. Wash (and reuse) your plastic bags.

To be perfectly clear, I am talking about the Ziploc food bags here – not grocery bags. When you are washing your dinner dishes, wash out your ziploc bags and let them air dry so you can reuse them. Some would argue this is not worth their time, but I am always happy to save a little extra!

I have put a couple stipulations on this over the years. I try to buy my sandwich bags at less than $0.02 a bag so I don’t wash those. If I’m packing a sandwich from day to day in my lunch, I occasionally shake out the crumbs and reuse the sandwich bag. I do usually wash the quart bags and almost always wash the gallon size bags. There are only two times when I don’t wash and reuse my ziploc bags. I don’t reuse them if they have stored raw meat or if they got really sticky. Otherwise, I wash (and reuse) my plastic bags.

Time to confess. Does anyone else wash and reuse their plastic bags? I hope there are others (beside my family members) who do so!

To read the previous tips in this series, you can do so here.

31 Days of Simple Savings - A series of simple tips & tricks to help you save because every little bit counts

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Simple Savings: Reuse containers.

23 - Reuse food containers for storage.

I’m going to start today’s post with a disclaimer. To those of you who choose not to use plastic containers with your food, you may wish to skip today’s hint. Otherwise, here’s another simple savings tip for you. Reuse food containers for storage. 

We all have leftovers – and we want to eat them! Remember that hint? We can store them in glass mason jars (which I love) but I know not everyone has access to a large supply of hand-me-down canning jars like I do. We can store them in Tupperware or special food containers but those can be a quite pricey option. We can store them in plastic Glad or Ziploc containers (which are quite handy and more frugal than Tupperware) but we still have to spend some money on those. Consider reusing food containers for storage.

Wash those plastic sour cream and cottage cheese containers. Save those large yogurt tubs and plastic ice cream buckets. Take the labels off spaghetti and applesauce jars. Scrub the peanut butter containers and jam jars. There are countless options in our fridge waiting to be reused once the original food is gone from the original container.

I have tried to keep my plastic containers organized so I now save three sizes of food containers to reuse. I save my empty cool whip containers, sour cream & cottage cheese containers, and my large yogurt containers. They all stack nicely in my cupboard and wait to be reused. This is particularly nice for freezer cooking when you want to use a container instead of a bag but don’t want to tie up one of your nice containers. Instead of buying a new food storage container, use what you already have. 

If you prefer to use glass jars for storage, there are still options available to you! Reuse your spaghetti jars and applesauce jars and jam jars. There are many foods that still come in glass jars that can be reused.

In addition to reusing food containers in your refrigerator, you can easily re-purpose many of them for storage around the house. Use your wipe containers to store toys. Use your baby food jars to store spices. Use your peanut butter jars to store crayons. Look around the house and use what you have before spending money on something new! For what do you reuse containers?

To read the previous tips in this series, you can do so here.

31 Days of Simple Savings - A series of simple tips & tricks to help you save because every little bit counts

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Tiny Prints: Free Magnet for New Customers

Tiny Prints Free Magnet

Through October 31st, Tiny Print is offering one free magnet to all their new customers when you use the code FREEMAGNET. Again, think ahead to Christmas when you place your order!

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Recyclebank: 25 Candy Points

With a little creativity, you can keep the wrappers from your Halloween haul out of the landfill. Learn how and earn 25 points via the image above.

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50% Goodwill Sale Oct 24 & 25

Goodwill October 2014 Sale

If you’re looking for a good deal at the thrift store (and don’t mind some extra people), the Goodwill stores in Ft. Wayne are having a 50% off everything sale this Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25. You can view all the Ft. Wayne locations and hours here. If you’re not from Ft. Wayne, it may be worth a quick check to see if your local store is running the same sale.

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Simple Savings: Pay bills online.

22 - Pay bills online.

How many of you pay bills online? In today’s digital age, I would assume that many of us do. If you don’t already, today’s savings tip is do just that. Pay your bills online. 

You still have to pay your bills. Sorry. You can’t save here! Bills are an unfortunate fact of life. Along with that, remember to pay your bills on time so you don’t have any late fees added onto your bills.

I advocate saving on your bills by saving on postage. Stamps currently (as of October 2014) cost $0.49. For each bill that you pay by mail, you are spending $5.88 over the course of the year in postage to mail in your monthly payments. The flip side is to look at what you could be saving. For each bill that you pay online, you are saving $5.88 over the course of the year. Who wouldn’t like an extra $5 to add to their wallet? Multiply the number of companies you pay online by $5.88 and the savings really accumulates! I’ve started walking our small town water bill to town hall so that’s one bill on which we’re already saving!

I challenge you to look through all your bills and see how many of them you can pay online. Go ahead and set up online bill payments today if you are so inclined. If you are already paying bills online, add up how much you are saving on postage and give yourself a pat on the back!

To read the previous tips in this series, you can do so here.

31 Days of Simple Savings - A series of simple tips & tricks to help you save because every little bit counts

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Simple Savings: Unplug everything.

21 - Unplug everything.

Today’s saving strategy is one we’ve all heard about, but much like the cold water laundry issue, have probably wondered how much we’re really saving. Unplug things to save money. The savings vary depending on what and how much you unplug, but I can safely promise that when you do unplug things, you will save. Here are some facts to support that statement.

  • According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL), the average home contains 40 products constantly drawing power. These sleeping devices may account for as much as 10 percent of household energy use.
  • According to the LBL, laptop computers and cable boxes (particularly cable boxes with DVRs) are among the worst phantom power offenders, drawing an average of 9 watts and 44 watts in “off” mode, respectively.
  • According to the Energy Star Web site, the average U.S. household spends more than $100 each year to power devices that are turned off.

For more information on this topic, I encourage you to read the money article on How Stuff Works that explores the question “How much can you save by unplugging?” The ultimate suggestion to find out specifics is to rent / borrow a Kill-a-Watt reader. Fortunately, the Allen County Library recently began renting them out, compliments of our Indiana Michigan Power company.

I checked one out the other week to see what I would learn. I didn’t have time to test many appliances, but I did test two different key appliances. First, I figured out the $0.115 is our cost per kWh. (To see your cost, get a copy of your recent utility bill and divide the total dollar amount by the kWh used.) Then, I simply plugged the Kill-a-Watt reader into my wall and plugged the appliance into the reader. There were step-by-step instructions included with the reader that did make this process very simple.

I started by plugging in a power strip that plugs in our upstairs television and dvd player. I learned that without any use, it is costing us $0.02 a day or $0.19 a week and over $11 a year. That doesn’t seem like much day by day, but when you think we’re paying $11 for something to just sit there, it seems ridiculous!

Then, I tested my laptop and charger, which are almost constantly plugged in and powered on. I didn’t run that quite as long, but it also seemed to be costing me $0.02 a day, for another $11 a year. Just by unplugging these two devices when they aren’t in use, I’m saving us $22.

Using these numbers, and presuming I have the 40 phantom objects suggested by the LBL, I am paying over $100 – most likely nearly $200 a year – just in phantom energy costs. Knowing this, I am going to be much more intentional about unplugging things. I’ll follow with this disclaimer.

It would be a hassle to unplug my stove and reset my alarm clock each day. However, I easily unplug most lamps in my house as well as our cell phone chargers when they are not in use. I’m also going to turn off that TV power strip that I mentioned earlier to save money. I’m curious to keep using the Kill-a-Watt reader and see what other savings I could garner.

Here’s the challenge of today. Go around your house and see what you can quickly unplug that you don’t regularly use. Remember, every penny of phantom power saves. I’ll be curious to see our electric bill after a couple months of unplugging!

To read the previous tips in this series, you can do so here.

31 Days of Simple Savings - A series of simple tips & tricks to help you save because every little bit counts

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Hot $1/1 Ten Soda Coupon

10 Soda

Right now, there is a new $1/1 Ten Soda coupon available to print, when you share the copy via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Since this soda regularly goes on sale for $1, this coupon will mean free 2 liters! Once you share the coupon, you will receive a link to print your coupon. Since it is a Bricks coupon, be sure to press the back arrow and print your coupon again for 2 copies of the coupon.

Thanks, Hip 2 Save!

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