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As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to come to terms with something that I’ve put off admitting for years. I’m cheap. Some might consider it an insult, but the truth is that I take it as a compliment. To me, being cheap isn’t anything to be ashamed of and instead, is something to be proud of. I do what I can to save money for my family. I follow frugal (Six Dollar Family) living tips and budgeting advice to keep my family taken care of and living well. Those frugal living tips can be hard to follow sometimes though; especially when I am in a “I want it” kind of mood. When that happens, I scale back what I’m doing to follow the easy ones so I’m not super stressed about what I’m doing and don’t risk failure. Finding things to reuse to save money is one of the easiest frugal living (Six Dollar Family) tips I know of and honestly; it’s one of the best ways to save money at home hands down.
Last week, Steve was rinsing out an old milk jug. By now, he knows that I want to save them so he automatically rinses them instead of accidentally tossing them. I looked up and told him that I was proud of him for remembering that milk jugs are one of my favorite things to reuse to save money. He’s learning and that’s all that matters. For someone who wasn’t extremely frugal three months ago, he’s come a long way. I am lucky that he is able to make the connection between reusing things to save money and keeping our household budget afloat. If you’re having trouble with your household budget failing, one of the simplest ways to rescue it is to cut your expenses. It may not seem like it, but finding things to reuse to save money around your home is a fantastic way to do so. It can help you find new ways to save money at the grocery store, help you store your frugal pantry staples without fear of anything getting into it, help you with long term food storage and more.
Frugal Living Tips – 36 Things to Reuse to Save Money at Home
The thing about any frugal living tips (Six Dollar Family) that you’ll find on blogs like mine or in frugal living books you should read is that you have to actually be proactive about them. Saving money doesn’t just happen as much as we all wish it would. It can be hard though to keep all of the ones you want to follow in your mind since they’re so easy to forget about and bad habits can rear their ugly heads really easily. These things to reuse to save money are so easy to remember though that it will eventually become second nature to you and become one of your favorite ways to save money.
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These 36 things to reuse to save money really are the tip of the reusing iceberg. Once you get into the habit of reusing what you can, you’ll soon find yourself looking at everything you use in a new light. I know that is what happened to me when I started saving things to reuse after I stopped buying and started making things homemade to save money. You won’t make that connection though and you can’t save the money until you get started. The longer you wait, the less you’ll save.
Laundry Detergent Bottles – Old laundry detergent bottles are one of my favorite things to reuse to save money. If you make your own homemade laundry detergent recipe like THIS one, you need a place to put your finished product. By rinsing our old bottles and keeping them, you open up a more easier way for you to store your homemade product. In addition, laundry detergent bottles that have been rinsed are great for storing emergency cleaning water so you don’t have to bust into your potable water if your family does have an emergency.
Old Coffee Cups – It may not seem like it, but there are quite a few ways to use coffee cups aside from drinking your morning cup of joe. In fact, these are some of my favorite things to reuse to save money simply because they’re so unique!
Empty Glass Bottles – Reusing empty glass bottles is a staple of most frugal living tips for a reason. They’re so versatile because there are so many ways to use empty glass bottles out there!You can refill them with leftover sauces or liquids, make candles out of them and so much more!
Empty Milk Jugs – Like I’ve already said, empty milk jugs are one of my favorite things to reuse to save money. There are so many ways to use empty milk jugs! They’re great for storing emergency water, you can make a milk jug bird feeder, you can use them for painting and more!
Newspaper – Newspaper is another great thing you can reuse to save money. Use it to protect your furniture and floor when painting, make art from it, use it as gift wrap and more. In fact, I was actually surprised that there are so many ways to use newspaper as there are!
Old Sheets – We all have old sheets lying around and they’re perfect for adding to your list of things to reuse to save money. There are quite a few ways to use old sheets that you might be overlooking. I know it was surprings to me when I first started saving things to reuse.
K-Cup Pods – When I first made Steve coffee and rinsed out the used K-cup pod, I got a look that was part confusion, part intrigue. He asked me what I was doing since he had never thought that k-cups were one of the things you could reuse to save money. In truth, they are and they’re super easy to reuse! Just remove the filter then rinse and dry! They’re great for starting seeds, crafts and a lot of other ways to use K-Cups!
Juice Bottles – If your kids drink a lot of juice, reuse those bottles! Simply remove the label and rinse it well to reuse. You can use them to freeze sauces you make, add a wick to make a homemade lantern and more!
Spice Bottles – If you’re like me, you like to buy your spices in bulk. Bulk spices though aren’t exactly the greatest at fitting into a chicken wire spice rack like I have. Instead, I purchased a smaller bottle of each spice I use and refill them with the spices from my bulk bags. While I’m using the smaller bottle, I store my spices in the freezer in mylar bags to help keep them fresh.
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Empty Cleaning Spray Bottles – If you make your own homemade cleaning products, you’ll need something to store them in and to clean your home with. Empty spray bottles from other cleaning supplies work perfectly well for this! Reusing empty spray bottles saves you money over having to buy spray bottles for cleaning!
Yogurt Cups – Yogurt cups, like K-Cups, are also a great addition to your list of things to reuse to save money! Again, they’re good for starting seeds, crafts, snack cups and more!
Bar Soap Slivers – You might not think that slivers of bar soap are a good addition to your list of things to reuse to save money, but they can be. If we’re talking about castile soap, save the slivers in a small bowl. Once you get enough, melt them down and make homemade liquid castile soap from them. You’ll save yourself around $20 for each batch of homemade that you make!
Vegetable Scraps – Aside from making compost, certain vegetable scraps are great to reuse. In fact, there are certain vegetables you can regrow from scraps. One of the best ways to save money on food is by growing your own food and there is no better way to do that than to reuse food you’ve already paid for to grow more.
Coffee Grounds – Coffee grounds are great in your compost pile, but did you know that they can also be a great homemade beauty item? Making a homemade coffee scrub is a great way to help yours skin look bright and awake every morning!
Egg Shells – Toss your used egg shells into the compost pile or your home garden and you’ll give your flowers or food a calcium boost. They’re also great for reusing for your dog too! If you make homemade dog food, crush up some egg shell to give your food a much needed boost of calcium too!
Clean water from your drain – Have you ever heard the term grey water? If you’re sitting there asking “what is grey water and how do you use it?” You’re not alone. In short, it is the clean water that goes down your drain. Now to be clear, I’m not talking about dirty water. I’m talking about clean water that you’re paying for but are sending down the drain. This water is great for washing the car with, watering plants with and more!
Old denim – Denim is a great addition to your list of things to reuse to save money! In fact, there are a ton of DIY upcycled denim projects you can do that will save! Everything from rugs to coasters and more! The more you make yourself, the less you have to buy!
Egg Cartons – Do you make homemade emergency candles? If so,save your cardboard egg cartons and reuse them! Fill them with clean dryer lint and pour paraffin wax over them. You have an instant emergency candle or fire starter! They’re also fantastic for holding craft supplies, sewing supplies and more!
Orange Peels – Yes, I even save orange peels to reuse! They’re fantastic for making a homemade orange oil cleaner or a homemade orange sugar scrub. You can use them to make homemade fire starters and you can use them to make homemade emergency candles. They also make a great homemade potpourri to make your home smell great!
Soup Cans – If you’re looking for a way to save on seed starters and planters, add soup and other tin cans to your list of things to reuse to save money! They’re the perfect size for getting your garden going and if you’re trying to start a garden on a budget, you know how important it is so find ways to save.
Cardboard Boxes – Cardboard boxes are everywhere so why not try to find a way to reuse them? They can be used as makeshift floor mats for your car and more. These ways to use cardboard boxes are just the tip of the iceberg for getting started re-purposing them.
Paper Grocery Bags – Some stores still give shoppers paper grocery bags so instead of throwing them away, add them to your list of things to reuse to save money! They’re great for gift wrap, trash bags, school book covers, or even broken down and re-glued to make homemade lunch bags.
Coffee Filters – Coffee filters are another one of my favorite things to reuse to save money. There are just so many ways to use coffee filters and I find new ones everyday. If you’re looking for ways to save money in your household budget, this is definitely one you’ll want to try out!
Certain Grease and Oils – I live in the south and down here, it’s considered good form to make your green beans with bacon grease and to use that bacon grease anytime you can. The reality is that certain greases and oils are great for reusing. In addition to bacon grease, chicken fat, beef fat and pork fat can all be rendered into lard. As I said earlier, the ,ore you make yourself, the less you have to bar!
Glass Jars – In addition to reusing glass bottles, jars are perfect to reuse! They’re great for freezing things or food dry good storage too! They’re actually great for anything you need to store – nuts, bolts, nails and even cleaners! In fact, a lot of the time, I put things like my homemade coconut shampoo and my Homemade Lavender Lemon All Purpose Cleaner in old peanut butter jars. It’s quick, easy and they seal easily! Just be sure that you’re only using glass jars to store anything that has essential oils in it since the EO can degrade the plastic.
Plastic bowls and lids – If you’re frequently freezing leftovers, save your butter bowls, cottage cheese and sour cream containers. They freeze perfectly and don’t cost me a dime extra. I keep a few of them, all of them in different sizes on hand for when I’m freezer cooking or just need to store some leftovers. I also keep a set of Rubbermaid Easy Find bowls on hand too because you just never know when you’re going to need something “prettier” to use.
Aluminum foil – Aluminum foil is super expensive for the amount you get in each roll which begs the question, why are you wasting it. Most of the time when I use aluminum foil on a baking dish, it comes out clean. Instead of balling it up and tossing it, I rinse it and allow it to dry fully. After that, I simply fold and reuse it. Once I’m done cooking with it, I fold it one last time and use it to sharpen my scissors.
Ziploc bags – Here’s another one to add to your list of things to reuse to save money along the lines of the foil above. Most Ziploc style bags are very durable so if they’ve got something dry in them, reuse them! You can typically use each bag once or twice again and you’ll save some decent cash because buying storage and freezer bags can get really expensive. There is one caveat to this. Do not, under ANY circumstances, rinse and reuse a bag that has held raw meat. The chances of you and your family getting sick are not worth the savings from a few bags a year. To make drying easier on myself, I picked up a cheap baby bottle drying rack. The bags sit really nicely on it and dry pretty quickly.
Old, no longer wearable clothes – We resell a lot of our outgrown clothing on ThredUp.com or Swap.com and the ones we can’t sell, we donate to Schoola, but I also keep most clothes that are unwearable in a tote as well. Old t-shirts become my DIY Reusable Dryer Sheets. Old towels get used for one of these ways to use old towels. Old sheets get used for these ways to use old sheets. The only thing I don’t keep is underwear and socks. There really aren’t too many uses for them that my family would use so I don’t need to keep them.
Cereal bags – You know those really thick plastic bags that your cereal comes in? I have a stack of them sitting in a butter bowl on my counter because they’re great for keeping meat from being freezer burned if I happen to not feel like using the Foodsaver one day. They’re also awesome for covering your shoes if you’ve got to go someplace that its muddy, for wrapping bottles and tubes when you’re packing and more. Just give them a quick rinse and let them fully dry before you use them.
Non-food safe plastic containers- Here at our house, we generally use my homemade laundry detergent and my homemade dishwasher detergent so we’re always in need for containers that aren’t food safe. Facebook groups are a great way to find empty containers that other people have lying around. I grab them when I need to and replace them as needed. One word on this…do not EVER consider putting food in a container that is not marked food safe. I don’t care how many times you’ve rinsed it out. Again, it isn’t worth it.
Bread bags and other plastic bags – I’m sure that a lot of you already save those plastic shopping bags, but have you ever considered saving a bread bag? They’re awesome for when you’re packing the kids lunch and don’t have a Ziploc on hand. They also work really well for keeping food scraps from flying free in your trash bags and a ton of other things. Other plastic shopping bags work really well for smaller trash cans, lunch bags and more.
Buttons and other small items – As I’m cutting up the old clothes we save, I pull all of the buttons off of them. That way when I need a button for something, I don’t have to go buy one. They’re also really great for crafts like our Easy Kids United States Button Flag, so that helps cut down on my crafting expenses each year. I also tend to save nuts, bolts, nails and the like. I’ve actually been known to be getting rid of something and pull all of the nails or screws out of it. We’ve not had to buy a nail or screw in a LONG time. Its a little savings, but little savings adds up.
Shampoo bottles – Another use for them is homemade cleaners like a homemade soft scrub, homemade sunscreen or to use with my homemade shine boosting shampoo. I might store it on the shelf in a glass jar but I prefer the shampoo bottle for use in the shower. Keeping old shampoo bottles on hand is a great way to just fill it with my own mixture and go. To get all of the soap residue out of them after the commercial shampoo is used, rinse the inside of the bottle with a 50/50 mixture of hot water and white vinegar. Let it sit for a bit then rinse well.
Dinner – Finally we have one that a lot of families simply don’t do – reuse your dinner leftovers. Leftovers are a great way to save money on food and anytime you can feed your family twice out of one meal is a win. If you tend to have a lot of leftovers, designate one night a week as a leftover buffet. Warm them all up, set them out and let your family eat what they would like from them. If you’re not eating leftovers at least once a week, you’re wasting money. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
*Originally Published December 2014/Updated July 2018