Habits (Dirty Secrets) of This Cheapskate Mom

When you have a family and a budget sometimes spending things on wrapping paper doesn’t make sense.  I mean you spend upwards of $5-$10 for a roll of wrapping paper only to have it ripped to shreds and thrown in the trash.  And napkins? You wipe your hands and faces with it and throw it away.  Still some things are necessary or convenient so we find ways to save money wherever we can.  Yes we’re the “cheapskate” moms. I started thinking about some of the things I do and just had to wonder, does anyone else do this?

Stashing fast food napkins I mean seriously taco bell will give you 12 tacos and 34 napkins (I might be exaggerating a little bit) I take all those napkins we don’t use, put them right into a freezer bag and store them away for bbq’s and lunchboxes.

Speaking of freezer bags does anyone reuse freezer bags?  My mom was also a mom of 4.  I used to wash her wash out freezer bags and dry them and reuse them. I thought she was the ultimate cheapskate until I became a mom of 4 a realized how much it cost for disposable plastic bags. I don’t reuse them if they had raw chicken or something in them but if I just used them to store extra clothes or something, yep, i sure do.

Saving tissue paper and gift bags yep, I do it.  I take the tissue paper out and fold it up, fold up the gift bag and store it in a tote.  I rarely buy wrapping paper except at Christmas time or larger gifts.

Hallmark can keep their $4 gift tags! It seemed like highway robbery for me to pay $2-4 for a 2×2″ gift tag for gifts especially for the kids when they don’t always bother to read the card anyway.  I bought myself a packet of those card stock squares (just a couple dollars) an acrylic blog and a few stamp shapes: birthday, thank you, happy anniversary, etc.  I cut out a cardstock square stamp it and attach it to the gift. Done. You pay maybe $6-8 for the initial investment (the small acrylic square and stamps are a $1 a piece at my local Michaels and I think the card stock scrap packet is about $4 and there’s probably 50 pieces of scrap cardstock in there) You’re making gift tags for pennies on the dollar.

cheapskate gift tags

Buying Holiday wrap in February yep, I told you I only buy wrapping paper at Christmas and for big gifts.  You can get Christmas wrap dirt cheap after the holiday is over in the holiday clearance section.  I bought a bunch of rolls: LEGO Christmas, Dora, etc for 70 cents a roll last year at Toys R US. PS you can also buy just plain red, green,silver, wrap too and use it any time during the year.

Stashing non-perishable snacks in your purse or diaper bag so you don’t have to pay for concessions and you’re not tempted to stop for fast food.  You know when you’re headed to the football game, the drive-in, wherever you think you can get away with it.  Fruit snacks, granola bars, dried fruit, whatever you can stash.

Buying reusable everything.  Fabric book covers for the kids for school, reusuable K-cup pod, washable nursing pads, steel or glass straws, whatever you can find.  I mean why buy book covers every year if you don’t have to? And disposable nursing pads are expensive! On a side not, you’re also living greener this way

Sticks, stick, sticks.  Seriously does anyone else do this?  I save popsicles sticks for the kids to use as crafts, to spread icing, make puppets, whatever (washed of course) I’ve received a few fruit bouquets and they had tons of those nice shish kabob and city chicken sticks in them and I saved them just for that purpose.

It was nice of country crock to give me this food storage container,  I LOVE those plastic containers with the lids that some of my grocery items come in: butter containers, cottage cheese containers, coffee containers, you get the idea.  They’re perfect for sending food to my dad’s or my father-in-laws house and not have to worry about if I get my good tupperware back.  Also good for crafts, sending to school with your kids, planting starter plants, etc.

cheapskate containers

Heading straight to the clearance section.  One of the first places I go when I’m looking for something in particular.  I need a nice picture frame for the boys’ school pictures, wonder if they have any decent ones in the clearance section.  Dang sugar bowl broke, I bet they have one in the clearance section..if not I’ll use my blue bonnet container and mark it.

Using up every last bit, It’s nut uncommon to see upside down ketchup bottles in my fridge, upside down shampoo bottles in the bathroom, a little water added to the hand soap pump, and a visibly empty (except to the cheapskate eye) eye shadow compact because, hey, there’s still 2 more application in there!

Washing plastic flatware, I’ll be honest I didn’t always do this.  I have an aunt that does this.  I thought geez a box of plastic flatware is only $2 or $3 for the generic one at Walmart but the more I thought about it.  She’s right! So I wash them and store them in a freezer bag for a few more uses.

cheapskate plastic ware

Cutting off the kids torn jeans or sweatpants and hemming them to make them shorts for the summer.  They still fit, they just have a huge whole in both knees.  Cut them off, hem them and the kids have Levi’s jean shorts to play in this summer.

Who in the world buys cleaning cloths? Old towels, t-shirts with wholes, stained sweatshirts, cut them into pieces, whatever size works for you and you got yourself some new cleaning cloths.

Looking through your coupons to go out to eat.  It’s been a while, let’s all go out to eat.  Hold on let me check my coupon binder. I know I have coupons for a few places for free kids meals or 20% off our bill on Tuesdays.

Making old crayons new crayons, nothing like a fresh box of crayons but you have a container of broken crayon tips, crayons that broke in half, and crayon nubs.  The kids don’t want to use them.  Ok so you melt them down and use a candy mold or or soap mold to make cute shapes out of the nubs.  Hey kids check out these new crayons I got you!

Why would I keep buying bubbles?  You kids probably get bubbles in party favor bags, from school events, etc.  Save the bottles and wands and make your own over and over again with a blog of dish soap or bubble bath and some water.


As I was writing I kept thinking of more and more.  I got to 17 and thought, wow how many have I written.  I went back and started reading them and wasn’t sure if I should pat myself on the back or use a pen name so as not to embarrass my kids.

Tell me one of your “cheapskate” habits





10 Reuses for Peanut Butter Jars

Reusing items can be a fantastic way to save money.  One of my favorite items to reuse is empty peanut butter jars.  Really any jar similar to a peanut butter jar.


1. Coin Bank –  cut a slit into the middle of the lid and you have simple coin bank.  Decorate it yourself or allow your kids to decorate it for fun custom looks.

2.  Simple hanging lanterns –  This is a super inexpensive way to add some mood lighting outdoors or in.  Punch a small hole just under the neck of the jar and another directly across if you want to hang it.  Place a battery operated tealight, pumpkin light, or small strand of battery operated mini lights  inside the jar. Glue lace or ribbon around the opening of the jar.  If you’re hanging the jar use thin twine or raffia and thread through the holes.  You can use it as is or if you want you can add things to the inside of the jar like wired ribbon to give it more color.

3.  Storage – clean, empty peanut butter jars work well for organizing.  Store things like beads, buttons, nails, small toys, crafts supplies, and more.  You can even decorate the lids and label the jars.

4.  Bug Catching jars – I have 3 boys and they just love catching fireflies, potato bugs, grasshoppers, and other insects.  Have a few of these on hand for the summer.

5.  Mixing Solutions –  If you want to mix some paint, mix a cleaning product, or make your own laundry detergent peanut butter jars work great.  You can simply throw them away when done and no need to buy special bottles.

6.  Crafts –  There could be a hundred crafts to do with peanut butter jars: sand art, miniature dioramas, holiday things like jack-o-laterns or snowmen heads, and lots more.

7.  Science Experiments –  Just search the internet.  In just one search I found egg drop experiments, a cool little experiment called “swimming raisins“, and other common ones like growing crystals, salt water evaporation, and more.

8.  Timeout jars (or Calm down jars) –  I’ve seen these all over the internet.  Simply put water, food coloring, and fine glitter (not too big or it will only take a few seconds for it to settle) in the jar.  When you’re child needs to calm down shake it up, have them sit or lay down until the glitter settles on the bottom.

9.   Find-it jars for travel –  Really you can use and clear container.  I ended up using a clear liquid dish soap bottle when I did my how-to post for BMW of Belair,  But peanut butter jars work awesome for this.  Visit my guest post to see how and what you need for your own find-it jar.

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10.  Back up storage – Have you ever lost the lid to your coffee jar, maybe the bag of flour from the grocery trip broke open and your flour canister isn’t going to fit the whole bag, perhaps one of your bottle of floor cleaner has a leak, poor it into an empty peanut butter jar.  Just be sure to label it and store it away from children.  Don’t reuse it for anything other than cleaning products after.



Pay for Performance Chore Idea

As a mom of 4 who admittedly has made financial mistakes as a young know-it-all, the one things I wanted my kids to learn is that money doesn’t grow on trees, you don’t get money for nothing, you have to earn it…legitimately.  Having an allowance is fine but if you’re just giving them a set allowance no matter what they do, what are they learning from that. I made that mistake. I set an amount and that’s what they got every two weeks.  They expected the money but didn’t want to do anything to earn it.

I read some books, finance for kids type stuff.  For the summer I decided to try a different approach.  I started this about 3 summers ago. I write chores down that need done for the day.  Things I know they could handle like vacuum the living room, sweep and mop kitchen floor, dust furniture in the living room, etc. I assign an amount to each chore depending on how hard the chore is.  One chore that no one likes to do is the dishes and there is always a mountain of them so I assign this one a bigger price tag than dusting the furniture.  They are not REQUIRED to do any of the chores BUT they also don’t earn anything if they don’t do anything.  IF they do a chore listed they initial it.  I then record that days earning for each one in a notebook so when pay day comes, I know how much they earned. This worked so much better than a set allowance.  This is more of a “pay for performance” approach.  I explained to them that it has the potential to earn them a lot more than a set allowance but they could also get less if they choose not to do anything.

I have a separate list for my youngest son who just turned 5. He gets the chores like picking up the toys in the living room, gathering dirty dishes around the house, etc.  You can assign what your budget allows for each chore.  I usually do 25 cents for the easy chores that are usually first pick in our house like dusting.  Chores that require more effort like sweep and mop the kitchen floor would be assigned 50 cents.  Chores like the dishes that no one likes, and most likely won’t get done is assigned $2.  There are stipulations.  If it says “Sweep and mop” but they only sweep then they on get half of the assigned amount.  I list about 5-6 chores the two older boys can choose from.  If they finish them and they want more, I can always add more.

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I use a chalkboard wall sticky for my list but things like regular chalkboards, dry erase boards, or even a paper taped somewhere would work for this.  I found this to be a great way to teach my kids that they have to work if they want to earn money. If they want to be lazy, (they have the option) but they don’t get money.

How do you do allowance at your house?  Do your kids get allowance?

Another way to save money–double (or even triple benefits)

I realize I’ve been doing a lot of review and giveaways lately so i don’t want to stray from the heart of my blog.  Saving money!  Another tip is getting double or even triple benefits from your savings.  Let me give you a few examples with things that i do. 

–I know I keep talking about mypoints.com but I honestly love it.  One reason is the added savings benefit.  Mypoints.com has a coupon section.  For every coupon you print and redeem you earn 10 mypoints.

So savings point #1 coupons  saving point #2 mypoints then the mypoints go into your mypoints account that you can save and redeem for a gc of your choice.  I always use my mypoints.com account like a holiday club, which is savings point #3.  I save it up all year and redeem it a month or 2 before christmas.  The last 2 years with this year being no exception I’ve been able to get at least $100 worth of gc’s.  Now that doesn’t all come from the ooupons but also from the free points in emails, shopping like i normally would but through their site, etc. 

–Another one of my favorites, Famous Footwear.  Famous Footwear sells brand name shoes. If you are lucky enough to have one near you (or are willing to shop for shoes online) get their rewards card.  It’s free.  You earn gift cards for every so many points you get from purchases—savings point #1.  Then several times through out the year they have buy 1 get 1 half off sales.  This is great for back to school, sports shoes, etc.  They normally have it around back to school time so families can def take advantage of this deal—savings point #2.  Then if you have their rewards card and sign up for emails you get coupons every so often too that you are allowed to use during the buy 1 get 1 half off sales.  I took my 2 school age boys to Famous Footwear to get their back to school shoes at the buy 1 get 1 half off sale.  I also had a 20% off coupon i printed from an email I received.  Used that too along with my rewards card to earn points toward my free gc. 

—Giant Eagle grocery stores and Get go.  If anyone has these stores near them when you shop at Giant Eagle grocery store you earn what’s called fuelperks.  For every $50 you spend in groceries you earn 10 cents off per gallon of fuel at Get go has stations.  It cumulative so you don’t have to spend $50 in one shot.  Giant Eagle is a bit more expensive so take your coupons! Then when you pump gas at Get Go you also earn Food Perks at giant eagle.  For every 10 gallons you pump you earn 1% off in food perks (which is also cumulative but i know it stops at 20% or i think it’s 60 days then you lose it so you have to use it).  Also if you buy a drink in the Get Go has station you earn 1 cent off per gallon of gas too.  So you get a cup of coffee that’s another 1 cent off your gas. 

There’s lot of programs out there.  Some people don’t know that much about. Some people don’t take full advantage of.  I’d love to hear about the programs you know of that give more than one benefit. 

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