Some of your expenses such as mortgage repayments must be fixed, but you will be able to pinpoint other expenses you can reduce by following the ideas in this feature.
Replace frayed handles on handbags with inexpensive chain belts.
- Save the frames of old clutch bags and use them to make new bags out of suede, felt, corduroy, or other heavy fabrics.
- Remove buttons, zip-fasteners, belts, and other trimmings from old clothes destined for the rag bag.
- Save old and broken necklaces and try restringing them into new lengths.
- Take advantage of store testers, and advice from consultants to experiment with new cosmetics. Buying before trying is a reckless waste of money.
- Substitute baby oil for high-priced bath oil.
- Use plain petroleum jelly as a lip gloss and protection against chapping and cracking in cold weather.
- Don’t scoff at inexpensive cosmetics and toiletries.
- Stretch perfume that has begun to evaporate by adding a little pure alcohol (obtainable from a chemist).
- Add a little hot water to empty shampoo and detergent bottles for an additional washing or two.
- Buy absorbent cotton wool in rolls, it’s cheaper.
- Make your own cotton swabs from toothpicks and bits of cotton wool.
- Cut paper tissues into small squares for blotting your lipstick, to remove mascara smudges, and similar uses.
- Buy the cheaper brand of aspirin, antacids, and the like. Plain old baking soda can be as effective as most antacids – at a fraction of the cost.
- Try having your hair cut and set or tinted by a hairdressing trainee.
- Use plain talcum instead of perfumed bath powder when you’re not going anywhere special.
- Buy refills of cosmetics where possible. It’s wasteful to buy new cases and dispensers when the old ones are still perfectly good.
- Use a lipstick brush to get the last quarter inch or so out of the tube. It gives you a neater line and extends the life of the lipstick by several weeks.
- Stand nearly empty bottles of hand lotion, moisturizer, and other creamy substances on end for a few hours. The cap will accumulate enough to last another week or so.
- Put small bits and pieces of soap into an empty squeeze bottle with a little scalding water. Shake it vigorously, then use it to wash dishes, lingerie, and other washables.
Avoid using paper napkins, towels, plates, cups, and tissues whenever possible. Such throwaway items use up funds (and forests) at an extraordinary rate. As an alternative to paper napkins, for instance, try using colorful toweling face cloths.
- Save grocery and shopping bags for lining rubbish cans and taking out garbage. Heavy bags can also be cut up and used to wrap packages for mailing.
- Buy non-perishable items that you use regularly – liquor, cigarettes, pet food, detergent, toilet paper, etc – by the carton or case.
- Buy seconds and imperfects in cooking utensils, glassware, table linens, towels, sheets, and similar items. A bubble in your fruit-juice glass or an uneven hem on a pillow case won’t really lower your standard of living, will it?
- Use the good portions of torn towels to make face cloths, pot holders, or handy multi-layer pads for mopping up spills.
- Look for discards that can be converted into useful objects. A giant-size paint can covered with wallpaper, for instance, makes an attractive wastebasket.
- Make your own picture frames by cutting up cardboard boxes and pasting attractive fabric around the border.
- Put house plants in old jars, tin cans, or cheap clay pots, then conceal them inside attractive cache pots. The latter can be made from inexpensive baskets, spray-painted cylinders of corrugated cardboard, ice cream cartons covered with cut-out motifs.
READING, WRITING, and WRAPPING MATERIALS
- Go to the library to read expensive overseas magazines, as well as books. Buy second-hand books.
- Make your own greeting cards and gift tags. They take more time but the results are more personal than commercial cards.
- Save sturdy boxes and elaborate containers for packaging and mailing gifts.
- Use wallpaper samples, hand-stenciled shelf paper, and fabric scraps for original gift wrappings. And when you receive a package that’s almost too pretty to open, recycle the wrappings.
- Use remnants of yarn or fabric to make colorful bows for your gift packages.
- Go through the back issues of magazines in your library for directions on how to make your own ornaments and decorations for practically nothing.
- Consider borrowing infrequently used items such as a floor polisher, a large roasting pan, or a cut-glass punch bowl instead of buying your own. Your friends will probably be happy to oblige, especially if you have a few things they can borrow occasionally.
- Get up early and walk to work, school, church, or wherever you usually go by car or bus once in awhile. It’s healthy, too.
- Try growing your own herbs and miniature vegetables (such as cherry tomatoes) in small pots or window boxes.
If some of these suggestions seem too much trouble, or are just too parsimonious for your taste, forget them. With a little thought, you can probably come up with some good alternatives of your own.
Remember: A handful of pennies pinched every day will pay for a glorious extravagance once a week.