15 Seemingly Weird Ways to Save Time & Money!

15 Seemingly Weird Ways to Save Time & Money!

When it comes to saving time and money, everyone has their own little rituals and tricks that work for them. Whether you clip coupons to save money or pre-pack your gym bag and keep it by the door to save time, you’ve surely got a couple of these rituals yourself. Surely everyone shares some of these habits – they’re pretty commonplace.

What about the more fringe time or money savers, though? I’m not talking about re-using paper towels or renting your dog out as a clown (talk about frugal horror stories!), but what about never buying kids’ clothing from department stores? Ever considered raising worms to recycle your produce and make some top-quality fertilizer? Does it get weirder? Read on to find out some of our best-kept secrets for saving time and money and please note that the links below may be affiliate links, which means I could earn commission should you click through to make a purchase.

Unique and Interesting Ways to Save Your Family Money

Interesting ways to save money

Create an easy meal plan

Creating a meal plan is of course one the best ways to save time and money, but you can take it one step further by stacking the meals together so that one rolls into another. Monday evening roast a whole chicken with potatoes and onions, maybe some carrots and then use the leftovers. How, you might ask? Simple! Prep the leftover meat for enchiladas or fajitas the next day, and then take the leftovers and make bone broth. With a little pasta and some veggies, that’s 3 meals from one chicken.

Meal plan stacking is taking one great meal that has leftovers and making another great meal from them. Did you have shrimp tacos for dinner Tuesday? Make gumbo on Wednesday. Big pot roast with tons of leftovers? Toss it into the crock pot with some adobe seasoning and peppers, and have carnitas the next night. It will save you money and time AND be delicious!

Vinegar Uses

Vinegar has literally dozens of household uses, and at about $2/gallon, it is one of the best investments you can keep under your sink.

vinegar bottle aldi

Of course you can use vinegar in cooking but if you take an empty spray bottle and fill it with 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water and add some citrus peel or tea tree oil, you’ll have a cheap, incredibly effective cleaner and disinfectant. Most of what you’d buy in the store is about 5% acetic acid (white vinegar), which will kill most germs, but if you really want to be sure, you can look for something a bit more powerful. Health food and green living stores will often sell stronger vinegar.

Cleaning fruit with vinegar is also a great way to remove the waxy grossness from apples and a lot of the pesticide residue from both apples and strawberries. Considering both the aforementioned fruits routinely make it on the dirty dozen list for most contaminated foods, giving them a quick wash in a 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar solution can really decrease the pesticides your family ingests. Vinegar will also help your strawberries stay fresh longer!

Invest in a Water Cooler

We bought a water cooler when we had our son because we wanted an easy source of distilled water. Flash forward four years and we’re still using it daily.

We did the math and the water cooler was cheaper over the expected two years of needing bottles than filters for a faucet-mounted system. The trick is after using the jugs (we bought them at Lowes), instead of swapping them out for new filled ones ( at $6.99/apiece!) we disinfect them with vinegar and refill them at about .25c/gallon at a local grocery store.

The cooler we bought also has a tap for hot water, which makes it great when I’m in need of my daily matcha tea fix or just a nice cup of chamomile before bed!

Make Notes on Your Food

This one sounds ridiculous, but consider the number of times you look at something in the fridge and simply can’t remember when you cooked/opened/bought it. We realized we were throwing out stuff that might still be good, so we bought a Sharpie specifically for the kitchen. We glued a magnet to it so it sticks to the fridge and whenever we have leftovers or open a container, we date it. This makes sure we know when things are still good and when we should actually toss them.

Because my husband follows a keto diet, we also tend to have at least three containers of heavy cream in our fridge at any given time. It can be incredibly frustrating to have to open two containers only to realize its the third one that’s already open. It’s a simple thing, but marking the cap with an “O” really helps save time each and every day!

Vermiculture – Yes, We’re Talking Worm Farming!

If you’re unfamiliar with vermiculture, you’re likely not alone. It’s a fancy word for “worm farming” and it’s a really interesting way to reduce your food waste. It’s surprisingly simple to raise worms, and though they’re not cute and cuddly, they DO provide some fantastic benefits for growing your own garden.

Essentially the worms break down organic waste like apple cores, vegetable scraps, etc. into nutrient-rich castings which you can use as a fertilizer. They also produce a sort of waste fluid called “worm tea” that is a wonderful addition to plants, making them healthier and more vibrant.

blonde boy smiling brown hair girl smiling worm farm

We set up our worm farm using a couple totes, but you can also buy relatively inexpensive ones online if you don’t have the desire to DIY. 

If you DO want to DIY, you’ll want to check out this post on how to start your own worm farm.

Vermiculture is great because it helps you reduce your food waste while also making your garden significantly healthier, and if you don’t already garden, it’s a nice extra bit of encouragement.

Toilet Paper Tube Projects

Got some kids stuck in the house all day with nothing to do? Toss some art supplies at them and give them toilet paper tubes!

Ok, maybe that alone won’t help, but toilet paper tubes are very versatile pieces of cardboard. Some ideas include:

Poke two holes in the top (opposite each other) and run a string or piece of yarn through them. Smear peanut butter around the outside of the tube and then roll them in birdseed, and voila! You have a quick, simple bird feeder that will absolutely attract some feathered friends to your yard.

Decorate the outside of one by gluing on a strip of leftover fabric and use it to hold your excess extension cords, or when you store them!

Fold the undersides in at one end and fill them with soil, and use them as seed starters in the late winter to get a jump start on that garden!

Stuff them with dryer lint to use as campfire starters!

Use your imagination for a variety of artistic endeavors – their shape lends itself well to making candle holders, for instance. With some interesting decorations you can have a spooky candle holder for Halloween, a cheery one for Christmas, or a turkey for Thanksgiving. Of course use battery operated candles!

Encourage your children to use their imaginations and you’ll be surprised at what they’ll come up with. My kids love to create monsters with lots of googly eyes, of course!

Garage Sales

As long as we’ve had kids, we have been very intentional about buying presents and clothing ahead of time. Every time we’re at a garage sale, if we see something that will fit them, we typically pick it up if the price is right. I’m honestly not sure if our kids have ever had brand-new shoes, and that’s 100% fine with us.

If you have kids, trust me – you will WANT to sell all the clothes you get, and you’ll feel WAY less bad about selling them for .50c apiece if you bought them for .50c apiece.

garage sale

The “Present Tote”

Another way we make use of garage sales though is by taking a look at what toys and games our kids might eventually like. When they’re really little this is especially easy, but basically just buy up any cool toys or games you see that are super cheap, and store them in a “future presents tote“. For instance, we found about $50 of Play-doh toys and accessories for $5 a garage sale, and it happens that our kids love the stuff. Boom, big Christmas gift, bought and paid-for.

While you shouldn’t just buy anything all the time “because it’s on sale”, if you get a really good bargain on something you know your children will love, it will save you money in the long run. 

Multitasking Hurts

The single biggest time saver (and mind saver) you can invest your energy in is to avoid multitasking. Multitasking simply doesn’t work! There may be a few exceptions to the rule, but we’re essentially single-core processing units; undivided attention to a single task proves much better results than trying to do multiple things at once. Not only will you have better results, you’ll also get it done faster and more accurately, and then you can move onto the next task with undivided attention!

Make Use of In-Store Pick-Up

This one is two-fold — first of all, using in-store pick-up will help you avoid impulse purchases while also better ensuring you don’t forget something on your list because you’re too busy minding the kids to remember you need dish soap. It’s also a huge time saver, but did you know it can also save you money? Whenever you do in-store pick-up, check with Ebates first and you may very well earn a percentage back on your purchases (meaning FREE money!!)

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Using Gift Cards through Ebates

Speaking of Ebates, this is a great way to stack up your savings.

If you know ahead of time that you’ll be shopping at a certain retailer, be on the lookout for discounted gift cards through sites like Raise.com. Even if you don’t do a lot of online shopping, be sure to check out Raise.com – if you know you spend money on a regular basis somewhere (like a certain gas station!), why not buy gift cards for yourself and save even more?

For example, I recently purchased a $50 Sears Gift Card for $41.90. Then I made a purchase through Ebates for $53, using mainly that gift card and earning myself a nice $4.24 back. So instead of spending the full $53, I’m actually only looking at a total deficit of $37.66 – a savings of nearly 30% and that’s just on one purchase!

Sign up via my referral link for Ebates and you’ll earn an extra $10 back on your first purchase! Worried about a catch? There is NONE! Check out my Ebates review to learn more.

Use Bubble Wrap on Windows

Seems silly, yeah? Heh or maybe you’re like me and think it just seems fun! When I first heard about this trick, I was skeptical. I’m a fan of using shrinkwrap packs to insulate my home against the winter cold, but when you have bubblewrap for free thanks to holiday packages, I figured I’d give it a shot…and it worked! Click to learn more about how to use bubblewrap on your windows as insulation.

Winterize Your Home: The Bubblewrap Method

Winterize Your Home: The Bubblewrap Method

No Inside-Out Clothing!

This one might seem a little neurotic but I consistently demand that no one throw inside out clothing into the wash. While it might only take two seconds to flip the clothing right-side out, those seconds certainly add up when you have to do it as you’re folding an entire load. Make laundry easier by asking your family to right their clothing before it goes into the wash.

Six Smart Tricks to Tackling Laundry, Make Doing Laundry Easier and Faster, Do Laundry Quicker, Spend less time doing laundry!

Click to read more laundry hacks!

Sell-By Dates

It’s not secret that we love Aldi, and one of the things we love is that they drastically mark down their meat when it’s close to the “sell-by” date. Without getting into food waste politics and such, I will say that food doesn’t magically become inedible when it’s passed it’s “sell-by” date.

When you see great prices on food at your grocer, pick it up and freeze it, or work it into your current meal plan. Obviously use common sense when it comes to food, but don’t consider food automatically spoiled just because it’s 12 hours past the sell-by date.


Invest in Amazon Prime

One of the best ways to save time and money is to shop online. I do believe in shopping local whenever possible (particularly at our Farmer’s Markets) but I’m a work-at-home mom with two very young children – I’m lucky if I remember to brush my hair every day, let alone have the stamina to leave the house. Amazon’s reach is wide, and it makes getting what we need fast and affordable. Prime does that to the next level – offering free 2-day shipping on almost anything you buy from Amazon is a huge deal. The price is $99/year if you elect to enroll annually, or $12.99/month, and while that might seem steep, it does offer a great amount of discounts, including the free 2-day shipping which will pay for itself. You can check it out for yourself with this free 30-day trial!

 

What are some weird ways YOU save time and/or money?

Comment below and let me know!

How to Turn $5 Into an Hour of Peace & Quiet

How to Turn $5 Into an Hour of Peace & Quiet

With the school year drawing to a close, it also means my children will be home with me more…a lot more.

Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore my little ones (97% of the time), but I’m a work-at-home mom with no nanny, no daycare, and no family help.

To be frank – it sucks.

There are a lot of ways to survive as a WAHM, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I truly love that I had the ability to quit my job and become a professional blogger/online business owner, but trying to work when my children are around 24/7 is exhausting. And doing so after my husband gets home at 6pm? Ooph. I love client calls, those are always energizing, but sitting down to write a blog post or create some social media graphics just doesn’t happen after spending 12 hours chasing around two little ones.

So lately I’ve been combing through my Pinterest trying to find ideas on how to keep my kids entertained without A) spending a lot of money B) having them watch 6 hours of TV every day or C) having to invest a ton of my own energy to do so.

Well one thing I kept coming across was setting up a “washing station” for kids to wash their toys – KIDS. LOVE. BUBBLES. This much I know.

Summer Activity Idea for Kids

summer fun diy idea

I decided to take things one step further, though. I went online to the Dollar Store – yes, I shop online at the Dollar store, have I mentioned I’m usually short on time? – and was browsing around when I found these AMAZING Crayola Bath Tub Paints. So I picked up a few of those, a couple cute plastic tubs, some bubble bath, and a pack of sponges.

summer fun kid car wash

I decided I wouldn’t just set up a “car wash” but would in fact encourage they make a mess before then washing everything.

car wash fun

You can always tell when he’s concentrating when his tongue pops out…

car wash kid fun

I don’t know what was more fun – painting or washing!

It took me all of two minutes to get them set up and they then played for NEARLY AN HOUR!! An hour in which they were too busy to pick on each other, whine about the sunshine, or beg for yet another cup of juice. It was heaven. Plus I didn’t have to give them a bath that night! 😉


What’s your go-to summer activity to keep kids busy?

I’d love to know in the comments below!

5 Ways To Heal Your Body Fast & Cheap

5 Ways To Heal Your Body Fast & Cheap

Today’s post is brought to you by Estefanía from Essentially Healed. Please note that these suggestions are simply that and you should always contact your doctor before making any changes to your exercise routine or diet. Thrifty Guardian in no way endorses the advice provided below.

(Please note this post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission should you click through to make a purchase.)

My name is Estefanía but you might know me as chefNia. I am honored to be sharing with you today here on Thrifty Guardian and grateful to Amber Temerity for the opportunity to shine some light on healing with you all. Let’s tell you just a little bit about me before we dive head first into 5 Ways To Heal Your Body Fast & Cheap!

I have lost 125 lbs all naturally by cutting sugar, flour and dairy out of my daily diet. Essentially Healed, my corner of the blogosphere, is my life beyond the scale! Through eHealed, I share healthy food recipes, fitness advice, weight loss motivation, essential oil healing, DIY projects, crafts tutorials, life hacks, travel tips, home decor and more.

There are so many different methods to heal your body from the inside out. I love anything that is inexpensive and quick to implement into my healthy lifestyle. It truly doesn’t take much but an ounce of determination and self-will to push forward to the end goal.

Beginning to heal your life is not an overnight process but there are certainly a few techniques that are affordable for you to start feeling better now and, if you truly want to, lose weight effectively. I can certainly attest to these five different steps changing my life over time. Today, I share with you five of the ways that helped me take the leap of faith to change my life for the better. One day at a time, you, too, can heal your body.

Here are 5 Ways To Heal Your Body Fast & Cheap:

Lemon water


From the very beginning of my weight loss journey, back in 2012, one of the first daily changes I made was implementing some morning lemon water. This was easy and cheap to do. How neat is that?

With just a couple dollars, I buy a sack of lemons every week at the grocery store. I use my handy dandy citrus squeezer to fill up mason jars with lemon water. Every morning, I open the fridge and grab one.

Lemon water is the first thing I drink every single morning and I can attest it is better than coffee. I still drink coffee but not on a daily basis anymore. I have seen tons of improvement in my overall health since implementing this simple, easy and tasty change.

These are some of the benefits of adding lemon water to your daily routine:

  •         Assists weight loss
  •         Cleanses body
  •         Enhances mood
  •         Boosts immune system
  •         Freshens breath
  •         Balances pH levels
  •         Clears skin
  •         Energizes you
  •         Promotes healing
  •         Hydrates lymph system
  •         Aids digestion

Now, who doesn’t want all of those benefits for the cost of a sack of lemons? For added benefits, I add raw local honey and ground cinnamon for my Warm Detox Drink.

Chia seeds


Oh golly! I love chia seeds. At first having heard of them, I was a tad weirded out. I also thought by the hipster-sounding name that it would only be available at high-end health food stores. I was so wrong. You can find chia seeds everywhere, even ordering through Amazon and having them delivered right to your doorstep!

These are some of the benefits of adding chia seeds to your weekly meal plan:

  •         Ancient superfood
  •         High in calcium
  •         Omega-3 fatty acids
  •         Raises good cholesterol
  •         Rich in antioxidants
  •         Full of fiber
  •         Great source of protein
  •         Aids weight loss

Wouldn’t you want to start enjoying the ancient superfood that kept the Aztecs and Mayans alive and healthy for so long?

Essential oils

I have been using essential oils for a very long time now, about six to seven years. They have changed absolutely everything about the way I see healing. When I get a cut, I don’t reach for the typical “first-aid kit”. I grab one of my essential oil roll-on blends and heal myself naturally.

I am living proof that using high-grade therapeutic essential oils is a great way to heal your body inexpensively and rather quickly, too. If you don’t feel you have easy access to good quality essential oils, they are also available for purchase on Amazon.

These are some of the benefits of adding essential oils to your first-aid kit:

  •         Balance hormones
  •         Fight cold/flu symptoms
  •         Relax body
  •         Headache relief
  •         Soothe sore muscles
  •         Cure chronic acne
  •         Heal skin conditions
  •         Assists weight loss
  •         Alleviate pain
  •         Improve digestion
  •         Reduce cellulite/wrinkles

Don’t you love the sound of that? And the list doesn’t even end there. This just merely scratches the surface of what essential oils are capable of.

Ginger caps


About two or three years ago, I began looking for a supplement to aid for cramps, pains and headaches. I truly did not like or feel comfortable having aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen around the house to “cure” ourselves anymore.

While shopping at the grocery store one day, I found ground ginger root capsules, bought the bottle and decided to do some research. What could it hurt to buy ground ginger root? Since that same day, my wife and I have eliminated the common household cures for aches or pains. I have been buying them for the low in bulk on Amazon ever since then.

These are some of the benefits of adding ginger caps to your medicine cabinet:

  •         Heals the gut*
  •         Digestive relief
  •         Cures motion sickness
  •         Relieves menstrual cramps
  •         Safe for pregnancy (!!)
  •         Reduces inflammation
  •         High in Vitamin C
  •         Treats diarrhea
  •         Decreases joint pain

* Ginger root is known to cure IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), colic, nausea or vomiting after intensive medical treatments or surgeries.

Shakeology


I certainly saved the best for last: Shakeology! This daily dose of dense nutrition has been one of the most recently incorporated piece to the puzzle of my healthy lifestyle. Reimplementing Shakeology in my meal plan has been the cornerstone of my success with the Beachbody On Demand workouts.

Shakeology is best used to replace one of your daily snacks or meals, for me a snack replacement is best. It comes in a ton of amazing flavors with Greenberry, Chocolate + Strawberry among the top three, they even have vegan flavors with Café Latte being one of them. Greenberry is truly my favorite!

The ingredients in Shakeology are all plant-derived agents that help the body to adapt or protect from antibodies including superfoods such as pomegranate, grape seed extract, green tea, maca root, goji berries, acai berries, yacon root, amaranth, camu-camu, sprouted quinoa, acerola cherry, bilberry, barley grass, blue-green algae, chia seeds (speaking of), chlorella, flax, hydrilla, spinach, spirulina, wheat grass, holy basil, pea fiber, papaya enzymes, ashwagandha and more.

These are some of the benefits of adding Shakeology to your daily diet:

  •         Improve skin/hair
  •         Reduces oxidative damage
  •         Melts fat away
  •         Supports optimal brain function
  •         Boosts immunity
  •         Detoxifying properties
  •         Gut healing
  •         Slows aging process
  •         Signs of improved mood
  •         Hormone balancing
  •         Fights disease
  •         Mental clarity
  •         Helps build lean muscle
  •         Increased nutritional absorption
  •         Reduced cravings/fatigue
  •         Stimulate growth of healthy bacteria

How else other than a daily dose of Shakeology can you get all of those macronutrients into your body in one single serving? You can work out every day & not see the full results if you’re not eating healthy, filling your body with the right wholesome foods and drinking plenty of water.

Using the 5 Ways To Heal Your Body Fast & Cheap can help get your body on the right path without forgetting Shakeology, the internal whole foods based drink that has been conditioning my body to be strong and healthy.

You don’t lose weight or begin to heal by starving your body of food but by only giving it the right food! In a nutshell, implementing these changes can curve the hunger, cut your cravings, boost your metabolism and heal your body through this tough journey that is called life.

XO

chefNia

Instagram: @citybeautifulgirl

Twitter: @_ehealed

Facebook: @chefNia

How to Garden on a Budget

How to Garden on a Budget

Growing a garden on a budget seems a bit “duh”, doesn’t it? Isn’t gardening an automatic money-saver, grow your own produce and all that? Well, not always…

When I quit my job to focus solely on Thrifty Guardian, our already-tight budgets were tightened a bit more to ensure we could maintain our savings and allow for a cushion should the momentum on my site slow.

One thing I cut (much to my husband’s dismay) was our previously robust gardening budget from previous years. Normally our gardening budget allotted for more than just vegetables and included landscaping – that we of course did ourselves but nevertheless could get pricey as we worked to turn our backyard into a sanctuary.

Gardening on a Budget

As I considered the cost of our garden versus what we’d end up spending at the Farmer’s Market for produce, I realized we still needed to allot something for the garden lest we go over-budget on food. We do almost all of our home shopping at Lowe’s and while I do love their prices (especially if you have their credit card and get 5% back!), we still had to find a way to cut back a bit.

So what are your options? Can you have a beautiful, bountiful yard on a budget?

Well, of course!

Gardens on a shoestring budget are how our grandparents and great-grandparents survived the Great Depression, and there are certainly some modern and some not-so-modern ways to get back to truly enjoying a gardening hobby without spending an absurd amount of money.

You might find the ingenuity needed to cheaply garden can be as rewarding as biting into a juicy tomato or the crisp green beans you grew yourself.

Getting Started – Garden Beds, Containers, and Soil

Gardening on a Budget

Raised beds made from store-bought lumber look beautiful and they’re quite useful (especially if you have a male dog who likes to “mark his territory”…), but fresh lumber is expensive.

There are a few other options that are readily available in most places that won’t cost you an arm and a leg:

  • Palettes – chances are good you know someone who is always making insanely cool stuff from palettes. Well, that’s because once you’re comfortable with it, they’re a cheap source of lumber that has a rustic appeal to it. Check out your local Facebook re-sale groups or Craigslist and you’re sure to find some at a low cost. Picking apart some decently fresh palettes and reassembling them into garden boxes of various sizes is a great way to cut out the price of raw materials, and it also allows you to be one of those people. Ya know… those people; Pinterest palette people.
  • Cinder blocks – these guys. LOVE them. They’re everywhere, and even brand new, they’re only about a dollar at Lowe’s. They’re great for many reasons, but here’s two: you can use them as the border of a raised bed, then use pond liner or tarp as a liner for the inside, creating a pretty easily constructed garden bed. OR you can use them as individual double-planters. We did this last year; I used some painter’s tape and spray paint to stencil on a cute little design. They’re great for planting in your front yard and can add a nice POP of color!
  • Containers for individual plants – those great little greenhouses with the individual cells are nice but of course cost money we don’t want to spend. A great way to start plants is in cardboard egg containers, just make sure you poke a hole in each bottom for drainage. Once you’ve got your young seedlings, you can widen the hole and then plant the entire carton in the ground. Cat litter containers are also great for individual plants that like space, like tomatoes, and are easy to move around as needed. Upcycle!

    yellow plastic litter container being used to grow plants

  • Get dirty with me – Soil is often easy to get ahold of if you look on Craigslist or Facebook resale groups. People are always moving tons of dirt when building, and will often welcome someone willing to come by and take it off their hands. While I don’t recommend using this soil when starting your seeds, it can be great to fill in beds, flesh out your lawn when re-seeding, or used to help landscape.

Frugal Seeds and Starts

Again, since quality seed packs can sometimes be expensive, finding other ways to get seeds and starts is essential.

three small red clay pots with seedlings growing

A few options are:

  • Joining a seed bank or trading group. Again, Craigslist or Facebook are great for this!
  • Better yet – talk to your neighbors! We have all sorts of plants, particularly hostas, that we gladly divide up and share with friends or neighbors. Let your friends and neighbors know you’re looking to flesh out your garden and they might have some plants they’d gladly give you starts of.
  • Use discarded food scraps. We got all of our tomato plants this year from a mushy tomato in the fridge. I literally tossed it into a pot of soil and about three weeks later we had a dozen healthy tomato starts to separate and transplant. Any fruit or veggie with seeds would work (in theory).
  • Some plants, like green onions, will grow back quickly if you just put the remaining roots in water after you’ve cut the green off.
  • Fresh basil (and other herbs for that matter) will often root easily when the bottoms are cut diagonally and placed in water. We have a few herbs outside this year that are remnants from store-bought herbs we had this winter, that we put in water, grew roots, and then transplanted.
  • Potatoes are great because they do the work for you. The “eyes” they grow are basically starts. Chop them into cubes and plant them (as long as they have eyes). You’ll have more stalks than you know what to do with.
  • Though a much more extensive topic than can be covered here, harvesting, drying, and storing seeds from your produce is a great way to ensure you have seeds for the next year, particularly if you’re growing heirloom varieties in their original forms.

Tend Your Garden

Once you’ve gotten your containers and your seeds, it’s simply a matter of the day-to-day tending of your garden. Soon you’ll have bountiful crop of cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and all sorts of delicious goodies, allowing you to trade or sell your the excess of your bounty.

The simple act of gardening is a great way to get exercise (just make sure you wear some sunscreen!) and it provides a great return on a minimal investment, while allowing you to recycle things you were probably going to throw out anyway.

And if you’re looking to add in some decor, sign up for programs like SnagShout and there’s a good chance you can find a bunch of cheap (if not FREE) garden decor – it’s where we got all of ours from and we didn’t pay a cent! All it took was a few minutes of reviewing the product, which is something we often do anyway.

Add in a good compost heap (or create your own DIY warm farm!) for your food waste and you’ll reduce your spending, your carbon footprint, and your waistline – all of which of very thrifty ways to live!

My personal favorite thing about gardening is the time spent watering. Sometimes I let my son help, but often I’ll sneak out in the evenings, using the time to reflect on the day and enjoy a few moments of peace and sunshine to myself.

Do you garden? What do you most enjoy about it?

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Clever Ways to Use Mason Jars

Clever Ways to Use Mason Jars

The uses for mason jars are innumerable! I love to collect glass jars, specifically mason jars. Weird to some, maybe, but they’re just so incredibly useful! Now I know I’ve written on why you should declutter to save money, so maybe you’re thinking “Amber, I don’t need anything else!” but seriously there are just so many amazing ways to use these jars!

Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission should you click through to make a purchase; this in no way impacts your cost or my opinion of said products/services.

Build a window sill herb garden

Fresh herbs when you need them means saving time and money! This is especially easy if you already grow herbs in your summer garden. Before the first frost, take a snipping from each herb just below a joint. Put each herb in a jar and fill with just enough water to cover the joint. Swap out the water every few days and once roots appear, transfer to dirt.

You can take your gardening on a budget one step further by using yogurt cups or other used receptacles. Poke a few holes in the bottom, fill with dirt, plant your herbs, and set back in the mason jars. Mist every week or as needed, just be very careful not to over-water.

Make oatmeal jars

Oatmeal jars make for a perfect easy breakfast! I love how simple these are to modify and change up any time I find myself getting bored, there’s hundreds of recipes to be found online and it’s easy to figure out just how to make them to best suit you.

My favorite recipe is to sauté bananas in some coconut oil and brown sugar then fill a pint-size mason jar halfway with oatmeal, top with the bananas, add in some walnuts, and fill the jar with almond milk. Give it a good shake and let it set overnight. You can make five at a time to ensure breakfast is ready every day of the week.

Put leftover coffee to use

Pour some into an ice cube tray to freeze and the rest into a mason jar to stick in the fridge. In the morning, add the coffee cubes to the mason jar, pour in some heavy whipping cream or other favorite coffee add-ins, and you’ve got iced coffee ready to go! Yum!

Perfect for a gift exchange

Did you forget about the Secret Santa exchange at work? Grab a mason jar, toss in some hot cocoa mix and marshmallows, tie a ribbon around it and voila! A cute and easy gift that anyone will love. Don’t forget to grab a cute Hallmark greeting card from the Dollar Store!

Learn to can

Take advantage of the cheap summer produce and stock up to ensure you have access to healthy options all year round. Personally I love pickled foods (like seriously – my mouth waters at the idea of anything pickled!) but you can also make family-friendly treats, like crockpot apple butter!

Use them to store your homemade beauty products

I love to use apple cider vinegar as a facial toner and coconut oil as a moisturizer so I keep both stored in mason jars in my bathroom. This is also a great route to take if you’re into essential oils and need an air tight container for any blends you make.

Mason jar storage

Buy in bulk and use mason jars to store things like loose leaf tea, grains, sugar, etc. Bonus: glass jars are critter-proof!

Make your own household cleaning products

Vinegar makes for a great cleaner and mason jars are perfect to store those solutions!

An easy (and great smelling) cleaner is to:

  • Fill your mason jar with orange peels, or any citrus you enjoy.
  • Cover the peels with vinegar, seal, and then store in a dark place for 2-4 weeks.
  • Strain the peels, add to a spray bottle, and you’re good to go!

Just like any cleaning products, though, make sure you label them properly and keep them out of reach of the children.

Mason jar organization

From holding pens to store paper clips, mason jars can go a long way in helping your work area stay organized.

Make your own cold brew coffee

Toss 1/3rd of a cup of coarse coffee grounds into a jar filled with 2.5 cups of water. Sit in the fridge for 8-24 hours (depending on how strong you want it) then strain with either a cheese cloth or a tea infuser and coffee filter. Way cheaper than going to a coffee shop!

Keep your crafting and art supplies organized with mason jars

Just like you can do with your office, mason jars are great at helping you keep things like paint brushes, beads, glue sticks, and such quite organized. The smaller ones also make for great containers for DIY finger paints for the kids!

DIY Mason Jar Ideas

Mason jar diy ideas

Salad jars

Remember those McDonald Salad Shakers from the early 2000s? Yum.

You can make them yourself and make five ahead of time so you’re set for the week, just make sure you put the dressing at the bottom and the greens at the top (add your usual mix-ins, like sesame seeds or cheese, in between).

Mason jar vase

Don’t toss those dandelion flowers your son picked for you! Grab a mason jar and display them proudly.

Mason jar tupperware

Use mason jars instead of plastic tupperware to store and tote leftovers. They’ll last longer than your traditional plastic tupperware and it’s so much better for the environment!

Make a rootbeer float

This is seriously an amazing dessert and with far less sugar than a traditional rootbear float (which is especially great if you’re just starting a keto diet!) Fill the bottom of the pint-sized mason jar with heavy whipping cream. Cover and shake for 30 seconds then slowly add your root beer. Trust me on this – it’s AMAZING.

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Make your own mason jar candles

These work great as presents or for your own use. Hearth and Vine has a great tutorial to make mason jar oil candle lanterns!

Or make your own hanging lanterns…

Punch two side-by-side holes in the top of your mason jar and thread wire through. Drop in a battery-operated tea light and you’re good to go with a beautiful hanging lantern, perfect for frugal Halloween decor or any time of the year!

Use mason jars instead of disposable cups

Not only is this better for the environment, but you can use a cupcake liner to keep bugs out of your drink. Simply use the jar’s outer lid to secure the cupcake liner and then poke a straw through. This is especially great if you have young children prone to spilling.

Use smaller glass jars to store your spices

You can even add magnets to the tops to keep them on the side of your fridge and take back some of your much-needed cabinet space.

Create a time capsule with your kids

Have them gather up a few things representative of this time period and seal them in a mason jar. Decide on when you’ll open it back up and then pick a spot in the backyard to bury it.

Have some fun with the kids and make your own butter.

Just add some heavy whipping cream to a glass jar and shake, shake, shake! Keep rockin’ it for a few minutes and you’ll have whipping cream, keep going for a bit longer and you’ll end up with whipped, delicious, easy-to-spread butter.

Use them to celebrate the holiday season.

Make snow globes with your little ones by gluing a cute scene or decor to the inside of the mason jar lid. Fill the jar with a bottle of clear Elmers glue, about a quarter of a small jar of glitter, and water. Hot glue the lid to the glass and you’re good to go!

Get a little fancy at your next dinner party…

Serve individual desserts in some of the smaller jars and you’ll really wow your dinner guests. You can bake cakes directly inside them or fill with ice cream, set out bowls of toppings, and have a DIY sundae bar.

Make a mason jar bird feeder

Pick up a poultry feeder base from your local farm store, fill a mason jar with bird seed, attach some wire, and you’ve got a great little bird feeder.

You can find mason jars in bulk online, but I recommend looking around the next time you head out to garage sales or do an ISO (I Seek Out) post in a local resale group. I guarantee you can find some amazing glass jars for an even more amazing price!

Do you use mason jars?

What’s your favorite way to make use of them?