Thrifty. Frugal. Sensible. Not words with a great deal of pulling power. But, as we get older, they acquire a
certain allure. Are there pockets of wastefulness around the house that can be eliminated? Are you ignoring extra uses for
everyday household objects, like clothes pegs? These questions can keep people up at night once they become home-owners or
middle aged (which will soon be concurrent events, as house prices climb ever upwards).
Here are 42 very useful tips which will save you money around the home, and may also go some little way towards helping the planet too. A word of caution, however. An enthusiasm for penny-pinching, if taken to extremes, can start to look like - how to
say it? - a personality disorder. It springs from the same well as train-spotting, and is at least its equal in putting off potential mates and lovers. So by all means practice the tips below - but when you start reusing teabags three times or
stockpiling slivers of soap to stick together later, then it's probably time for your family and friends to stage an
Waste Not, Want Not
Keep a money jar by main light switches, and fine family members each time a light is left on in an empty room.
Don't leave the tap running while you brush your teeth.
Use leftover water in jugs and kettles to water indoor plants.
Better yet, boil only as much water as you need in the kettle.
Pour cool, leftover tea from the teapot into houseplants to give them a boost. (Don't do it too often though - the caffeine
in tea may be too strong for them.)
The water from boiled eggs (cooled) is also nutritious for plants.
To get the last bit of paste out of a tube, use a rolling pin to push the contents up to the top.
Don't throw away old wrapping paper - you can reuse it. Simply iron out the creases with a warm iron. This will also help to
remove the adhesive tape. It's unlikely you can reuse the old tag, however.
If postage stamps have stuck together, don't fret. Put a piece of thin paper over them and press with a warm iron until they
come apart easily.
It's much cheaper to buy rolls of surgical cotton wool than cotton wool balls.
If you use steel-wool pads for cleaning, cut them in half before use. Once used, they'll rust, so this trick should make
them go twice as far.
Save old toothbrushes, sterilise them with boiling water and use as cleaners. They are ideal for cleaning around taps and,
in the kitchen, for cleaning graters.
Scrunched up newspaper is just as good for cleaning windows and mirror as a chamois leather cloth.
You can remove dirt marks on wallpaper and items like playing cards with scrunched up, crustless white bread. No, really!
Keep light bulbs dusted and regularly cleaned. Dirty light bulbs can reduce lighting efficiency by up to 50%.
Bicarbonate of soda makes a good alternative to carpet freshener. Sprinkle liberally all over your carpet, leave for 15
minutes and then vacuum up.
Green air freshener: Leave a small container of vinegar in each room of the house to keep it smelling fresh.
You can freshen stale bread by brushing with water, wrapping in aluminium foil and heating in a medium over for 10
Freshen up old crackers or stale cereal by spreading on a baking sheet and placing in a medium oven for a few
If honey hardens in the jar, you can make it runny by standing the jar in recently boiled water for several minutes.
Dry peanut butter can be softened with a spoonful of runny honey. Be sure to stir the honey in well.
If the knob on a saucepan lid comes off, a cork makes a good heat-resistant replacement.
You can improvise a rolling-pin with a straight-sided wine bottle, ideally filled with chilled water (which keeps the pastry
Don't waste a whole lemon if you just need a smidgen of juice for a recipe. Stick a skewer into the lemon and squeeze out
the juice you need. Wrap the lemon in foil and keep in the refrigerator until you need the rest of it.
Lemons freeze well, so you can always store unused portions in the freezer, cut into quarters if you only use small bits at
Freeze left-over pieces of cake until you have enough to make a trifle.
Marshmallows also freeze well - worth remembering if you use them regularly to decorate cakes and desserts.
If your kitchen drying-up cloths are worn, double them and sew the edges together to get another few months' use out of them.
You can lengthen the life of a child's winter coat by sewing ready-made cuffs to the sleeves.
Turn ordinary wire hangers into non-slip ones by simply winding two or three rubber bands around both ends of the
Don't spend money on boot trees to keep your boots in shape - rolled up newspapers do the job just as well.
If you're throwing out garments that are beyond use, snip off the buttons in case they can be used at a later date.
Unwrap new soap and store it in your linen cupboard. The soap will scent the linen and at the same time harden to become
You can make your own plumbline by tying a pair of household scissors to a string.
You can wear old pyjamas over your clothes if you don't want to invest in a pair of overalls for painting. And, once you
don't mind looking, well, a bit mad, you can wear a shower cap to keep paint off your hair instead of a cap.
You can use an old pair of tights to strain paint that has become lumpy or has debris on it.
If you don't want to use plastic bubble wrap to pack fragile items, use egg cartons or stale popcorn instead.
Use ordinary clothes pegs to keep opened food packets closed - much cheaper that specially made clips for food bags, and
just as effective.
Make your own draught excluder quickly using the cut-off sleeve from an old coat. Stuff with wadding and sew up both
Use petroleum jelly, smoothed over lipstick, instead of lip gloss. Alternatively, check out this Entry on How to Make Lip Gloss.
You don't have to throw away a glass just because of a small chip. Rub the chip with extra-fine sand paper until it's
smooth, then rub the surrounding area to make the repair less obvious.
If you're good at sewing, turn old tablecloths into napkins or tea towels.