Continuing with last week’s article, below are more nifty tricks that our grandparents and parents used.
I grew up in a tiny country village. Doctors were almost non-existent, so we used many homemade remedies. I still use many of those remedies because they work equally as well as current prescription drugs with no side effects!
- I was able to take my homemade cough syrup to school with no concerns of being called to the principal’s office. My son had the same cough syrup and he never got in trouble, either.
- For severe upset stomachaches, my Mother gave me wintergreen in hot water. For mild stomach aches, she gave me hot tea.
- Mineral oil was used for earaches, oil of cloves for toothaches, baking soda for deodorant and toothpaste, cranberry juice (and increasing water intake) for urinary tract infections, and the list goes on.
- Baking soda was used for all sorts of things: whitens teeth, stops diarrhea, used for bee stings, and a host of other uses.
- Ice packs for sprains, strains, bumps on the noggin, and bloody noses were made from frozen packages of veggies. Frozen veggie packages fit tightly around knees and wrists.
Have you ever looked into why the vitamin market is so huge? Ads convince people that they will fall short of daily requirements without them. A cheaper, and better, way to solve that is to eat a wide variety of foods. And, before you think that you cannot afford “better foods”, some of the switches I made were things like utilizing legumes in a variety of ways, switching to olive oil as opposed to vegetable oil, going to the farmers’ market for my veggies, growing the herbs myself, etc. I did the research for daily requirements when I was told that I had to reduce my cholesterol level and no vitamins. As I adjusted things I was (and was not) eating, I easily met the daily vitamin requirements with food. Today, I only take calcium with vitamin D (vitamin D helps your system to digest the calcium). You can read how I did that in How I Lowered My Cholesterol by 16 Points in 1 Year, Part 1, and Part 2. If you still prefer taking vitamins, consider using non-brand name vitamins. Just check the strength of the vitamins you take and avoid exceeding recommended daily levels. Taking too much of anything will eventually cause problems.
Outlets were initially created by manufacturers as a method to dispose of their products that had flaws. They also cleared their factories for the new season’s products. I got my entire 12-piece silverware setting from the Oneida outlet by getting individual silverware pieces as they were released. Each time I went to the outlet, I found the same model forks, spoons, knives, and other pieces. That silverware set is the one I still use today! I did the same thing at Revere ware and Corning ware outlets. I never went to clothing outlets because I made all of my clothes.
Today, although there are outlets everywhere, you must know the regular prices. Many outlets sell their regular products as well. If you go to “outlet malls”, stop by their visitor’s office to get coupon booklets for stores in that mall. Today, we also have online stores, auctions, and social plans such as Groupon or LivingSocial.
You can save money with haircuts by going to local cosmetology or beauty schools. Many times, they charge minimal amounts so they can let their students practice real-time. Sometimes coupon books such as Valpak have coupons for discount haircuts.
If you are 55 years old or older, ask about a “senior discount” everywhere you spend money. Many merchants will give a discount as long as you can prove your age.
Some banks also have checking or savings accounts geared toward seniors. Benefits of those are things like: free checks and no service fee even without a minimum balance.
I prefer to order products online whenever cash back programs I use sponsor those merchants. Two of my favorite cash back companies are eBates and MrRebates. If either of the cash back companies do not offer cash back for a merchant where I want to buy something, I use MyPoints. [Note: if you use any of the links in this section, please use the links I provide. They are my referral codes. If any information in this article helps to save money for you, please use my links. The links do not change any of the benefits that you receive. I just receive a credit every time I refer someone to those websites. And, that helps me to supplement my retirement. Thank you!]
Back then there were no credit cards to use. The concept of “buying things on credit” began back in the 1500s with American Indian hunters and fur traders, shortly after Europeans discovered, and began to stay, in the USA. However, that’s another story for a different article. The first documented credit card to be used was the Diner’s Club in 1958. How our world has changed! Back in the 1920s-1930s, no one had credit cards. Today, most people have at least one credit card and most have more than one credit card.
Today, to keep things under control when using credit cards, you have three choices:
- Use cash only: SAVE for the items you want to buy
- Use debit cards only: it hurts more to pay cash and you will be very careful about spending
- Use credit cards ONLY if you pay your balance in full each month
My personal favorite nifty trick is to use credit cards, buy online, and pay the entire balance every month. Sometimes I will physically go to a store so I can check out the quality of the item I want. I make a note of the model and then go back home to order that item online. The reason is I can usually get cash back or earn additional rewards points when I purchase things online. If I go to the store to buy those items, I don’t get cash back. If you use credit cards, be diligent about finding a credit card that works the best for you. I prefer credit cards with no annual fee, provide rewards points or credit, low interest rate. Why low interest rate if I pay the balance each month? Because if I have an emergency that costs more than I can pay each month, I want to pay the smallest APR possible.
Another nifty trick is; before going shopping to buy anything, peruse your house. Do you already have anything that you can recycle or repurpose? One other tip to use is before you buy anything, get the information you want, save the link, and then WAIT 1-2 days. Many times, a couple of days later, I decide that I really do not want that item. I was just caught up in the urgency of an advertisement I saw.
Back then, they had “general stores”. Those were precursors to dollar stores that we have today. Have you been to a dollar store lately? Although not top quality, you can get items that you will use for a limited time for less money. An example is kitchen sponges that you will only use for a limited time before trashing. Or holiday items used for decorating or stickers for kids’ art projects. However, other items are great buys, too. I got the box fan and oscillating fans that I talked about in last week’s article (that I still use YEARS later) at a Dollar General store. Many dried fruits came from dollar stores. Websites I use regularly are bookmarked so I can check their weekly circular ads for products I will need.
Techniques my grandparents used are now commonly used. This includes things such as: keeping my bathroom sink and shower drains clear, cleaning my stove top, to easily remove baked on stains on cookie sheets I used under apple pies, etc.
- Homemade cleaning solutions: Rather than using furniture polish for wood furniture, I use olive oil with a few drops of lemon juice in it. The lemon juice prevents the olive oil from going rancid.
- Baking soda and vinegar are now purchased in large quantities. Rather than buying window cleaner, I make my own using Dawn dish detergent, vinegar, water, and rubbing alcohol. Dawn cuts any grease, vinegar makes glass shine, and rubbing alcohol makes the liquid dry faster and prevents streaking.
- Ketchup magically cleans copper. Simply rub ketchup on the copper, let it sit for 10 minutes, and wipe off the ketchup with a dry cloth (made from my flannel nightgowns).
- Remove stubborn stains by spraying hydrogen peroxide on the stain and letting it sit overnight. The next morning, the stain is usually completely gone.
My point in all of the above is that there are MANY products that you most likely already have around home that have many, many different uses. I will be doing a variety of posts soon about many uses of salt, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, vinegar, etc. Stay tuned…
Pay Yourself First
From a very early age, I put change I got when I paid with dollar bills into a jar. When that change added up, I deposited it into my savings account. When I started working, I deposited money into that savings account, even if it was as little as $1 every paycheck. Slowly I was able to increase the $1 to $2 and then $3. When I paid off a loan, I continued making those monthly payments: into my savings account. Today, I pay for many services on an annual basis. By doing that, I save at least $12/year (amount merchants charge to generate monthly bills). Nominal amount of savings; however, by paying even 4 services annually, I automatically saved $48! I still deposit the monthly amount into my savings account. Not only does that ensure I have the money to make the annual payment, but it collects interest while it is just sitting in my savings account. Pennies add up!
I recently moved from Delaware to Florida, so this tip is even more important now. We have ceiling fans in most rooms. In the hot summer days, I flip a switch to rotate the ceiling fans so they go clockwise. Lifehacker explains how that works. When it starts to get “cold” here, I’ll flip the switch so the fans go counter clockwise. I leave the ceiling fans in the living and family rooms on 24/7 because it continually shuffles the air around, causing the A/C to work less hard. If you live in areas where winters are cold, be sure to position your furniture so it does NOT cover air vents. Seems common sense to me. However, I’m continually amazed at the number of people that I help with organization techniques who “never thought about that”!
Use less bleach when washing white clothing. How? Put the whites in your washer at night, pour in bleach, agitate the washer 1 minute to mix the bleach. Then, simply turn off the washer and let the clothes sit overnight. The next morning, turn the washer back on and wash the clothes as you normally would.
Spend Only Dollar Bills: I have always tossed change I ended up with at the end of each day into a jar. I try really hard not to use those coins for anything other than going on vacations. That is one way that I can have “found money” to play with while on vacation. If I have an emergency, that jar of change is the first thing I use.
You can save money by many Do It Yourself (DIY) tasks. There are loads of online resources you such as WikiHow, eHow, and YouTube. Home Depot also provides lots of free classes on all sorts of topics regarding home repair. If you plan to make a garden, check your local garden center for free classes. Check with natural parks in your area for a wide variety of community classes. Another example, when I moved to Florida, I attended a free Hurricane Training conference at The Shell Factory. Kitchen specialty stores, fabric stores, hobby stores, computer stores, craft stores, etc. all offer free classes. Not only will you find the free classes entertaining and helpful, but you might just surprise yourself and learn a new hobby along the way! Do a web search for “free classes on xxxxx” (enter the training you are interested in learning about).
Visit restaurants before they change from their “lunch menu” to their “dinner menu”. Many times, the serving sizes are exactly the same; however, lunch menus are always cheaper. Another trick we use if it is past “lunch” is to buy a variety of appetizers, which are always cheaper than entrees. We each get different appetizers and then share among ourselves. The variety is always fun. Another nifty trick we use is going to restaurants during Happy Hour. Normally, appetizers are half-price during Happy Hour. Food helps to prevent people from becoming inebriated. Their profits during Happy Hour is when people buy alcoholic beverages. Why do you think that Happy Hour is so popular no matter where you go?
Many state and national parks offer “Senior Passes”. Sadly, the government increased the cost of a lifetime senior pass from $10 to $80! If you are currently in the US Armed Forces or a Veteran, you can get into any national park for free. If you volunteer more than 250 yours/year, you can also get a free annual pass.
If you go to afternoon matinees, you save money. Theater managers want to make money all day long, so they discount entrance fees when most people are at work. You can also borrow movies for free by signing up with your local library. Just be sure to return the DVDs by the due date to avoid paying a penalty.
Another nifty trick I have always used is to “take it out in trade”. When I was young, my Mother told me that she would give me money to BUY ONE outfit at a store or to MAKE TWO outfits. That was a no-brainer. From her perspective, she would spend the same amount of money either way. She also knew that the quality of homemade clothing would be better quality than I could afford to buy.
That nifty trick has helped me many times throughout my life. Things were really tight after I got married. Because of my Mother’s technique, I was able to make most of my son’s clothes. As you know, when children are small, they outgrow their clothes almost weekly!!!
That nifty trick came in handy again after we moved to Las Vegas and became friends with horse ranch owners. My son was mesmerized by the horses. so, I worked out a deal with the horse trainer. I made jodhpurs for her and she gave my son horseback riding lessons.
I made a smoking jacket for a co-worker and in exchange, he made an amazing sewing center for me (photo on the right).
My point in all of the above information is: that is what the Depression-Era folks did. Think outside of the box and look at things differently. Look around home to find different uses for things you already have at home.
If you have other tips you use, please leave a comment to share with others.
- Depression Era Wisdom: Simple Ways to Stretch Your Dollars
- My Mother
- My Own Experience
- Keep Quality in Your Life with Old Fashion Awareness
- Traditionalist Generation
- 10-Step Supermarket Combination Technique