Most of you probably reach for a tissue when you sneeze or have a runny nose, right? Want to cut costs? Then reach for toilet paper instead of that lotion-infused tissue in the decorator box. Yep, there's a cheaper way to blow your nose.
Teaching children to live frugally can be a fun game when you show them the math and the creative options. For example, a box of tissues usually has about 65 sheets at around 2 cents a sheet. A roll of toilet paper, which is fundamentally the same thing as tissue, has four times more sheets and is 50 percent cheaper. That may not seem like much, but in a tough economy, every little bit helps. You can cut out the cardboard tube and slip the roll inside your fancy tissue box.
Kids will love this one - more soap does not necessarily mean more clean. You'll save soap and water when you use liquid dish soap in a foam dispenser, which you can purchase or make your own. Mix 1/3 liquid soap with 2/3 water.
Speaking of soap, what about those antibacterial soaps that cost more than regular bar soap? Studies show that in order for the antibacterial soaps to work properly, you need to lather for two whole minutes before rinsing. Do your kids spend that much time washing their hands? I didn't think so. A 9-ounce bottle of antibacterial liquid soap retails for about $1.89. For the same price, you can get a three-pack of good, old-fashioned bar soap. Some recent studies also show that using antibacterial soap is partially responsible for the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA.
Rather than purchase expensive stain removers, just rub a fresh stain with a damp bar of soap before tossing it into the dirty clothes hamper. When the clothing comes out of the washing machine later, the stain should be gone.
You don't have to spend a fortune on cleaning products at the store when you and the kids can make your own for less and avoid caustic chemicals in your home. For example, instead of buying harsh oven cleaner, simply sprinkle baking soda all over the inside of the oven, spray with water and let it sit overnight. To clean your microwave oven, mix ½ cup vinegar and ½ cup water in a microwave safe bowl. Bring it to a boil in the microwave and leave it there for a few minutes. Wipe with a sponge and you're done.
Create a solution of half vinegar and half water in a spray bottle to clean your windows. That's a fraction of the cost of window cleaners. Pour four cups of vinegar in the toilet and let it sit overnight. Scrub the bowl in the morning and you'll see an amazing difference. Pour a little vinegar on your kitchen sponge or cloth to clean your counters.
Vinegar and baking soda are excellent cleansers, separately or together. To deep clean and deodorize your garbage disposal and sink, place ½ cup of baking soda in your garbage disposal. Pour ½ cup hot white vinegar down and you'll see some serious bubbling, cleaning action. This also makes for an entertaining science experience for your kids to watch. Let it sit for five minutes before you rinse and run the disposal again.
Sprinkle baking soda on your carpets and either let it sit for about 10 minutes or overnight before vacuuming. It's a terrific deodorizer and liquid absorber. Sprinkle some baking soda on a sponge and it becomes an effective scrubber to get stains off of shower curtains, countertops, and other surfaces.
Teaching children to look at expenses differently can be fun when you turn it into a real-world comparison experience. They'll take pride in being more clever than the average shopper and learn how to better manage their own money in the process.