Monday, 11 August 2014

2 DIY Saving Money Tips

I love saving money... almost as much as I like to spend money! I try to stay on a budget, so I can spend more money on the things I like and less on the things I need.

Being on maternity leave has meant that I have really needed to tighten up my budget. Some things were obvious changes - eat out less, more coffee at home, and in general, less frivolous spending. Other savings have been a little more creative. 

With the help of Pinterest, I have found some ways of cutting out expensive "must-haves" and replacing them with DIY versions. Here are some of my favourites:

1) DIY Foam Soap: I love nice smelly soap. I especially like the foam soap that can be bought by the handful at the mall. Unfortunately, each one costs over $6! Sure, they go on sale, but then I spend even more money, because I can't pass up a good deal.  To top it off, you're left with all these plastic bottles. It seems very wasteful.

Earlier this year, I saw a Pin about how to make your own foam soap, so I jumped at the chance. This is all you need:

  • Liquid Castile soap - (~$12) I found Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile soap in the organic/natural section of the grocery store and have since found it at a natural store in town. It's certified fair trade and is made with organic oils. It comes in a lot of scents, like lavender, tea tree oil, peppermint, citrus, almond, and eucalyptus. I used the unscented one, because the store I bought my first bottle in didn't have many scents.
  • Essential oil (~$5) - I used tea tree, but I've seen recipes with mint, lavender, and various citrus scents. I think mint and rosemary would be nice.
  • Water (free!)
  • A foaming pump (free!) - I reused some from my store-bought foam soap.)
This is all you have to do:
1.  Fill 1/3 of the bottle with Castile soap and 2/3 with water.
2. Add some essential oil for smell. I used about 10 drops or so. If you're not sure how much you want, add some, swirl it around and smell. Too weak? Add some more!
3. Gently roll the bottle around in your palm so everything mixes, without foaming up.

Voila! You have your very own foam soap!

You can find various "recipes" for this online. Be careful, because some seem a bit strange - like the one I saw about using shampoo and food colouring for hand soap.

I use tea tree oil, because I love the smell of it, and it has disinfecting properties. I think that I'll use the Tea Tree Oil Castile Soap next time, and buy different essential oils that compliment the tea tree oil. Maybe I'll give the rosemary/mint combo a try! Really, the possibilities are endless! 

I have refilled my bottle about 6 times and can probably refill it again at least twice more with the one bottle of Castile soap. The essential oil is still very full. I would say that each refill of soap costs about $1.50.  That's a great deal, and as a bonus, there aren't the chemicals that you'd find in the store bought foam soap!

2) Vinegar & Baking Soda: I guess I knew that mixing baking soda and vinegar is kind of magical, but I hadn't really taken advantage of the fact that they can also replace some more expensive (and chemical-filled) cleaners. They're like the dream team of simple cleaning products.

Here are some of the ways I use vinegar and baking soda:

Washing Machine: I have a love/hate relationship with my front-load washing machine. One of the downsides is that they can start smelling not so fresh - not something you want in a washing machine. In addition to leaving the door open when it's not in use, every month or so, I sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda inside the washer and about 1/2 a cup of vinegar into the detergent dispenser. Then I turn it on to the hottest (but shortest) setting I can. I think it's usually perm press on hot wash, cold rinse. It cleans everything out. After a quick wipe of the rubber on the front of the drum, it's all fresh and ready to keep washing!

Dishwasher: Similar to the washing machine, you start by sprinkling a generous amount of baking soda in the bottom of the dishwasher. Then, fill a mug with vinegar and place in the top rack of the dishwasher. Start a cycle that uses a high heat (although I try for the shortest cycle, to avoid wasting power.) Your dishwasher will smell better and it will get rid of left over residue from food and soap.

Kitchen Sink/Ceramic Stove Top: For the sink and stove top, it's a similar process. Sprinkle baking soda in the sink and on the stove. Then, I use a spray bottle filled with vinegar to generously spray over the baking soda. You'll see little reactions happening. That's the fun part - (carefully) involve the kids! I let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub off with a cloth. The baking soda will help scrub and shine the sink, without scratching. If the stove has any spots where pots have boiled over and burned, I use a "Scrunge" sponge to scrub without being abrasive. (Note: Make sure the stove is cooled off... I'm not sure what vinegar and baking soda would do on a hot surface.)

Microwave: This is great, because it takes such a short amount of time! vinegar and water into a microwavable bowl (I usually do one part vinegar, two parts water) and pop it in the microwave for about a couple of minutes on high. It really depends on your microwave, but at the end of the minute, you should see that it's steamed up a bit in there. Don't let it boil too much - you don't want things getting too hot. You don't want any explosions! The steam softens up the hard crusty bits and the vinegar up the microwave, softening everything while the vinegar gets rid of odours. Wait a couple of minutes before opening the door - make sure it's not too hot, then wipe off the sides of your microwave. It will be SO easy!

The only issue I've ever had was using red wine vinegar instead of white to clean my microwave when pregnant. I'm not really sure what I was thinking. I should have just steamed it with water. Let's just say the smell was like nothing I'd ever smelled before, so without going into details, you can imagine what happened when my pregnant-self caught a whiff of it! Not fun! (To this day, I can't smell red wine vinegar without getting a little queasy!)

These have all worked for me, so I hope that someone else finds them handy! What have you done to finds ways to cut down on materials commonly used in your house? I'd love to know!

(My next DIY money-saving project is to make my own Diaper Genie refills. Those suckers are expensive! Do you have any tips?)

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