Some of these tips are old and used, but are still great tips. Others are ones that I started myself, but I am sure they are common enough that I am not the only one using them!
1. Don’t buy plastic bags for small garbage cans. When possible, re-use the bags you get from the grocery store (most of us have them), or have washable bags in the cans (these look nicer too). You can make washable bags out of an old pillowcase and even add a drawstring. Dump the garbage into the big can before you take it out to the curb, and toss the cloth bag in the wash.
2. Don’t buy liquid HAND SOAP. I stopped buying liquid handsoap over a year ago. Instead, I buy an antibacterial liquid dish soap that smells nice and re-fill my FOAMING hand-soap pumps with a ratio of 1:10 soap to water. We have three dispensers that get used regularly and it took us almost 5 months to use the entire 30 fl oz bottle of dish soap (we used it on dishes too). The foaming hand soap pumps are not bought from a fancy home store, they are meant to be single-use pumps that we re-use. We’ve had two of the three for more than two years, so they will last much longer than single use!
3. Don’t buy paper towels. I know this is a stretch for most of us, but if you buy paper towels that actually do the job correctly and pick up liquid/don’t tear and don’t leave a mess when wiping things up off the carpet, then with the amount of money you are spending you might as well be cleaning up with dollar bills. We have two colors of microfiber cloths: blue and white. The blue cloths we use for dirty messes (spills, mud, food on the wall-don’t know how it got there mishaps,etc.). The white cloths we use for window/glass cleaning (work much better than paper towels), dusting (dust clings to it because of static), and other light tasks. Do you have to buy the cloths? Sometimes. Other times, you can pick a free one up at a homestore, repurpose a microfiber dishtowel, or get them from a friend who might want to part with them. You could have a “towel share” program.
4. Don’t subscribe to watch TV episodes. You can watch them for FREE at the website they were shown at! Some websites hold them for one month, some hold them for a few years depending on the show. Watch free movies and dramas on PBS! Sometimes you can even get free episodes on music download programs (like itunes).
5. Don’t buy your child’s next new toy. Seriously, my daughter had a connection to the empty oatmeal container for two weeks when she was eleven months old. She loved it. She played with it more than two toys I bought from a consignment for $5. She liked learning how to open the lid, put things inside, have me “hide” things inside so she could open the lid and “find” them. She liked sitting on it, talking loudly into in to magnify her voice and rolling it around the floor. Be creative. Give or entertain your child with a safe, reusable item that is age appropriate. They will also find creative ways to play with it and probably learn more from the “free” toy than they would from the hard plastic expensive electronic toy. She is still playing with the same oatmeal container two months later.
Share your tips! These are just a few I have been using every day to simplify life and save money. Please contribute your favorite tips, too!