Let’s Talk Trash

I’ve shown you many of the things that we’ve rescued from other people’s curb piles over the years, but I haven’t shown you what we rescue from our own trash. And that’s as much a part of how we save money. So, let me take you through some of the things that we’ve deemed too good to throw out, and I’ll show you how we use them.

Washi Tape

Bread Tags

I stick them on the ends of my Washi tape rolls, so we don’t have to peel up the ends every time we use them. This saves us quite a bit of time when we’re preparing Etsy orders.

Gift Baskets

Take-Out Containers, Strawberry Boxes and Oatmeal Containers

This is my gift wrap of choice. Just add a little tissue paper, and you have the perfect presentation. Since these containers are food-safe, they also work beautifully for wrapping food gifts. Click here to see more examples.

Homemade Bug Repellent

Empty Deodorant Containers

I wash them out, and refill them with my homemade bug repellent sticks.

Board Game

Plastic Newspaper Sleeves

I use them to bundle small items together when we’re having a yard sale or participating in a consignment sale. Just tie a knot in the top, and you don’t have to worry about anything falling out.

Wintersowing Milk Jug Greenhouse

Milk Jugs

We save them all winter. Then, we use them to wintersow our garden seeds.

Eggs

Egg Cartons

Since we have chickens, we refill our cartons again and again until they’re worn out. Then, they go in the compost pile. Occasionally, I’ll use them to make fire starters. Just stuff the cups with dryer lint (something else I don’t throw away); pour melted wax over top; and you have a great fire starter.

Egg Shells

Egg Shells

Since egg shells are full of calcium, they’re the ideal fertilizer for tomatoes. And since broken egg shells are sharp to the touch, they’re also an excellent pest deterrent. Just grind them up, and sprinkle them around your vegetable plants throughout the growing season, to prevent blossom end rot and keep slugs, cats and other garden pests away.

Plastic Grocery Bags

Plastic Grocery Bags

Paying for trash bags pains me, so we use grocery bags in all of our small trash bags. That just leaves us buying bags for the kitchen trash can, which is painful enough.

Dried Herbs

Spice Jars (lids off parm cheese)

I grow and dry a lot of my own spices, so I wash and reuse my store-bought spice jars. I also keep the lids off of my empty Parmesan cheese containers. When you screw them onto a wide-mouth jar, you have the perfect container for storing bulk spices.

Candle Wax

Old Candles

When I’ve burned a candle all the way to the bottom, I melt down the remaining wax, and use it to make a new candle or a batch of fire starters.

So, those are some of the things that I don’t throw away, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a bunch more. Are there things that you refuse to throw out? I’d love to hear from you.

My Cleaning Kit

My Cleaning Kit

As my mad scientist skills have improved over the years, I’ve been able to replace many of the store-bought cleaners that I used to buy with homemade cleaning solutions. Here’s a look at what I keep in my cleaning kit these days. [Read more…]

Shopping for Car Parts at a Junk Yard

2002 Jeep Liberty

High-mileage vehicles – they’re kind of our thing. We buy used cars, and then we do whatever it takes to keep them on the road. A coat of wax twice a year keeps the paint looking nice, and some basic maintenance and upkeep helps us to avoid many expensive repairs.

So, when we bought our weekend homestead, and suddenly found we needed a vehicle with four-wheel drive (our other vehicle couldn’t make the drive in), we didn’t hesitate to buy another high-mileage vehicle – a 2002 Jeep Liberty with 189,00 miles. The body was good. It drove well, and it didn’t seem to have any major mechanical issues.

We paid just $2,900 for it – taxes and all, so we figured there was plenty of room to make repairs, if we needed, too. And you know what? We’ve been driving it for four months now, and in that time we’ve only had to replace one sensor. Can’t complain about that.

Having gained some confidence in our Jeep, we decided it was time to address some of the small issues that it came with. [Read more…]

How I Disaster-Proofed My House

How I Disaster-Proofed My House
In the 11 years that my husband and I have been homeowners, we’ve had:

  • Our neighbor’s tree fall on our house
  • Another neighbor’s tree fall on our garage
  • A sewer line back up
  • three gas leaks
  • A power surge fry our downstairs HVAC unit

So, it’s fair to say we have a bit of experience with the “what could go wrong?” side of homeownership, and because of that, we’ve taken a few extra precautionary measures to ensure that these problems (and others like it) don’t come up again. These are inexpensive fail-safes that I think everyone should implement, but unfortunately most people don’t even know they exist. So, let’s change that.

I’m going to tell you what we’ve done to protect our home, in the hopes that you’ll implement these measures in your home, and then tell your friends about them so they can do the same. Because spending a few bucks on preventatives is so much better than spending thousands on repairs.

And now, here’s what we did to diaster-proof our home. [Read more…]

How to Replace Washing Machine Hoses

How to Replace Washing Machine Hoses

Washing machine hoses. You probably bought a set when you bought your washing machine, installed them, and then forgot about them. Am I right? If so, you’re taking a major risk. Because washer hoses, they wear out.

Stand there and watch the next time your washing machine fills up, and you’ll see just how much pressure those hoses are under. It’s crazy!

And if your washing machine hoses are over five years old, you’re really flirting with disaster. Because if one of those hoses fails, guess where all of that water is going to go. Yep. Right into your house. That’s bad if your washer is in the basement, and really bad if your washer is located on another level of your home.

Because, let’s be clear on this point: If a hose fails, it will continue to pour water into your home, until you catch the problem and manually shut off the valve. There is nothing to stop it. No fail safe to save the day.

Just imagine how much damage could occur if a hose were to fail while you were at work or worse while you were on vacation. We’re talking catastrophic flooding. We’re talking call your insurance agent, pay your deductible and hire a construction crew to come tear out damaged dry wall and flooring. It is not a good way to spend your time or your money.

So, pay more attention to that washer hose. Replace it if it looks worn; and swap it out every five years, even if it looks fine. It’ll cost you $20 tops, and it could help you avoid thousands of dollars in damages.

According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, the average washing machine failure costs $5,308 after deductible

Suddenly inspired to replace your washer hose? Here’s how it’s done. [Read more…]