Ten ways to save money around the home

As a single-income family, frugal living is essential for us.

Here are ten ways I have learnt to keep costs down:

  • Dump the dryer!  It is widely known that tumble dryers eat up energy, and thus, money. I’ve been tumble dryer-free for about two years now, and it really is easy.  In good weather I hang the clothes outside, and in bad weather I make use of radiators, clothes drying racks, backs of chairs, stair banisters, and just about anything else I find to ‘hang’ on.  [EDIT: Please note that drying clothes indoors can contribute to damp and mold. We usually keep our windows open at least a crack all year round and this has not been a problem for us. However, mold is very damaging to health so use this tip at your own discretion.]
  • Learn to love white vinegar!  At just 9p/100 ml this wonder-product is a real bargain, and is much used in our house.  It’s a mould-killer, fabric softener, dishwasher rinse-aid, pesticide remover, and general all-purpose cleaner.

    My mother-in-law taught me the delight of a washing line full of clothes, blowing in the sunshiny breeze!

    My mother-in-law taught me the delight of a washing line full of clothes, blowing in the sunshiny breeze!

  • Drink water!  I’ve mentioned this in a previous budget post, but it really is a big one. Drinking water is cheap, healthy, and mess-free. It is very rare I spend money on any other drink (milk excepted), which frees up my grocery budget for more organic fruit and veg – yum! I also try to stick to a ‘drink water if you feel hungry between snack & meal times’ policy. Some days I’m better at this than others, but when we do it saves money on grazing our way through snacks, as well as being another healthy choice.
  • Eat your beans!  Organic beans are about half the price of organic beef. This is one of the reasons I rarely buy meat.  Instead I stock up on dried organic beans and lentils at our local ‘Taj the Grocerer’.  It has taken me years to get into the swing of remembering to soak the beans in advance, but I’m finally getting there.
  • Turn off lights!  My children know this is a bit of an obsession with me. I did some research on the idea that leaving a light on is more energy efficient than turning it off and on again, and found it is not really the case. Lights these days take only a small amount extra energy to switch on, so unless you are planning to return to the room in less than five minutes, then the best thing to do is turn it off. So we do.

    My little stash of beans - yum scrum!

    My little stash of beans – yum scrum!

  • Go eco!  This is not as simple as I would wish it to be, but overall we do find it saves money. When we returned to the UK from Canada we decided to invest in a hybrid car. The initial cost of this was more than other options, but we worked out the long-term costs and with reduced fuel bills and no car tax it works out better in the end. We are also blessed to have bought a house with solar panels and a solar water heater, so we carefully wait for the sun to come  out before putting on the dishwasher or washing machine, making the most of free electricity when it’s available. Even if you don’t have solar panels you might be able to switch to an energy tariff which gives you cheaper rates at night, and run your big appliances while you sleep! Buying eco-rated appliances and setting them on their most economical cycles is also helpful.
  • Don’t overcook!  This is not something I’ve measured in terms of savings, but is rather a common sense idea I had. Basically, the more I cook, the more gas/electricity I’m using. So I try to make quick-cooking meal choices. This is not always easy, and does not always happen. But I do try to be aware of the energy cost of the food we’re eating. Practically this means choices such as sandwiches more often that toast, pre-heating the oven for the bare minimum time, not over-cooking food (e.g. soups, curries, pasta), but turning them off as soon as they’re done.
  • Dress warm and keep moving! I really don’t like being cold. But instead of simply cranking up the heating we dress up in layers each day, and keep a chest full of snuggly blankets within easy reach. We also keep a basket of fresh slippers and socks to offer guests, so they don’t feel cold either. I also find that if I’m feeling cold, a little housework usually gets me warmed up rather efficiently 😉  For the kids, a quick game of ‘Simon Says’ involving lots of jumping, getting up and down and running on the spot warms them up fast, too.

    Blanket are so snuggly - and so are Princesses!

    Blanket are so snuggly – and so are Princesses!

  • Freecycle!  We are Freecycle lovers. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to do a quick bit of Googling to find out what it is, where your closest groups are, and how to sign up. We’ve been blessed with such a variety of Freecycle offering, from shower units to our lovely new bunny rabbits!
  • Say “no” to TV!  Saving money is just one of the reasons we choose not having a TV package at our house. Apart from saving money on the package itself, we also save on the TV licence. With online access to BBC iPlayer via the Wii (and ITV and Channel 4 via the laptop when we want to), we still get to watch many great programs on our TV screen, with the FANTASTIC added benefit of no adverts. Do you need any more convincing?! [Note: if you watch TV via the internet please check the laws regarding licences in your own area. In our case we never watch live programs as these require a licence, so we stick to catch-up only.]


  1. Rachelle said,

    March 12, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Do your clothes get stretched out by always line drying? I’ve gone through periods without a dryer, but nothing as long as two years. It seems like some cotton clothes get stretched out easily. Any tricks you could share?

    • DeneM said,

      March 12, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      Hi Rachelle,

      I haven’t had any trouble with clothes getting stretched so far! I asked my mother-in-law for her best clothes-hanging tips (she’s my guru on this topic!), and she had the following advice:

      – Always give each item a firm shake out before hanging it up.
      – Don’t ever stretch the item when hanging up. Rather than pulling it taught, let it lie at it’s natural width, or slightly in from that if you’re concerned about stretch.
      – For a particularly delicate dress/shirt there are two options: 1) If the item is heavy (say, woolen) then put it on your best broad-shouldered hanger and put the hanger on the line. 2) If the item is light, put a pair of tights in it with one leg through each arm, and the waistband sticking out of the neck. Then put the pegs on to the waistband and each foot, letting the item hang in a ‘T’ shape without being pegged itself.

      Hope these are helpful!

  2. March 12, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    I love drying our clothes on the line but I did start to struggle in the winter. We invested in a heated airer which is low cost to run but does save my sanity!

  3. sarahelisabeth65 said,

    March 13, 2014 at 12:33 am

    We line dry too but struggle to get everything dry in winter even with airers. We have a tumble dryer and do use it, a bit, in cold or wet weather.

    Try to reduce oven use or only use it full also helps. It is interesting to work out how much less energy a slow cooker uses than an oven.

  4. March 13, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    […] writing yesterday about the wonderful use of beans instead of meat, I have had some requests to share my favourite bean recipes with you. Since I very rarely work […]

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