Open Thread

Open Thread Update: Your Money Hacks!

Looks like lots of readers think being frugal is fun, and shared many of their money saving ideas.

Envelope Bonanza!

I was pleased to see that readers liked my envelope tip. I repurpose envelopes sent to me for bills I now pay by phone by using blank address labels to cover the window or the address. Quick note, though –  if there’s a bar code on the envelope, cover that too, because scanners look at the bar code not the address. My friend got my note to her in Jacksonville by way of St. Louis!)

Some take it several steps further and use them for scrap paper, like reader Rose, or Phyllis S.,

“..the junk mail envelope itself or the envelope inside for the many many medicare offers is usually white and blank on the back. I carefully disassemble them and use the white space as note paper…Have not bought paper in years!”

-Phyllis S.  

Money saving habits

Now that inflation is imminent, many readers are happy to share their tips. Although no one is at the level of Amy Dacyczyn and her “The Tightwad Gazette,” reader Rose comes close (scan down the comments for all her tips!). There still plenty of good money saving tips even Thrifty Amy might envy:

“I use liquid soap rather than shaving cream. It’s clear……allowing me to see better when I shape my beard. Over the years has saved some bucks. I also use gas to compare gas prices in my town vs. neighboring towns…”



One reader changed where she shops, and found savings…

“I use car window cleaner instead of buying household ones. Much stronger and cheaper!”

-Linda P.

…while reader Roberta K. swears by the Dollar Store.

It’s great to see how many people agree with me that being frugal is fun. Take a spin through the comments,  add your own  money saving tips, and let the savings begin!



Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send your suggestions for Open Threads to her at

Photo: Dmitry Demidko for Unsplash


20 responses to “Open Thread Update: Your Money Hacks!

  1. I haven’t bought a trash bag in 40 years! Because I have animals (chickens) I use the empty feed bags, but large dog and cat food bags also work. Those large bags that toilet paper and paper towels come in (from Costco, e.g.) make great trash bags. I use double bread bags for small trashcans in the house, too. A big part of making it work is to buy real food like fruits and vegetables, whatever type of protein (meat, tofu, etc.) you eat, and not the processed food. Cuts way down on the amount of trash you have.

  2. I use baking soda n Vinegar for cleaning, u scrub on the BS, let it dry (as long as u want, even overnite, ie, bathtub), then add little vinegar, scrub n clean;)

    Also, adding a little water to body lotion as using to make it last longer.

    There is r was a company that u could use to try n stop unwanted mailings, can’t remembr name:( Reusing for notes/lists also:))

    This is a great idea SP!

  3. I use liquid soap rather than shaving cream. It’s clear……allowing me to see better when I shape my beard. Over the years has saved some bucks. I also use gas to compare gas prices in my town vs. neighboring towns. Sometimes, prices vary as much as 30 cents per gallon. Quite a savings and well worth my while.

  4. Is there a Dollar Store you can get to? I go about every 3 months…for things I use ongoing, that don’t spoil or go bad.
    Envelopes, toiletries, detergents, paper towels, toilet tissue..
    I can get 24 bottled waters…for $1!

  5. Instead of throwing junk mail away unopened I check to see if any of the pages have only been used on one side. If so, I tear it in 3rds along the fold lines and use it for to-do lists, reminders to myself, and grocery lists. Thanks for the tip about also using the return window envelopes. I had not thought of that.

  6. I too reuse envelopes. Some are for note writing others to put a label on and send off.
    I am a plant rescuer – if a house is going to be torn down I see what I can bring to my garden. I also start roses/hydrangeas from clippings. I save seeds from flowers/beans and use them the following year.
    On my neighbourhood walks I have met a couple of gardeners – they have shared their lettuce/kale with me so I don’t have to buy it for a month.
    My VISA card is connected with a gas point card – I get 3 cents off on my gas per litre and get points on my VISA and points on the gas card which in turn I can get a prepaid gas card at some point or $ off a purchase.
    I have found it it far far cheaper to buy dishwasher detergent at a $ store than in the supermarket.
    If I have a lot of errands to do by car I try to do them on the same day = a loop.
    When out walking I pick up cans/bottles that have been discarded on the street – 10 cents per can/bottle adds up.

  7. I use the envelopes in another way, as well as the mailing of the unused ones.
    the junk mail envelope itself or the envelope inside for the many many medicare offers is usually white and blank on the back. I carefully disassemble them and use the white space as note paper. Used to buy those pads for grocery lists, etc, but now just use the backs of envelopes. I cut out the blank front part and use it as well. When you just need a small square for a note or a memo, helps a lot. Have not bought paper in years.

  8. I NEVER pay interest. I do charge things, but I pay my bill in full each month. I figure if I can’t pay for it now, I can wait until I can pay for it. I used to use the charge because I could leave my money in the bank collecting interest until the credit card was due, but not that we don’t get interest from the bank, I continue to do it because I get money back when I use the card. I have never paid interest on anything except a mortgage, which I paid off ASAP. Only paid cash for cars, and paid cash for the last house I bought.

    1. I agree Diana. Paying the rates of interest on credit cards is such a waste. We wait until we have funding and then pay off the full balance monthly. Frugality is a way of life we have adopted nearly 50 years ago due to need, now it’s by choice. We hate waste. A friend pays off the full balance just prior to the cut off date for the previous months charges end. He says this makes your balance look very small to the credit reporting agencies and raises your credit rating. We havn’t needed to do that as our rating is excellent from a history of paying in full!

  9. I do not buy items based on BOGO and % off. Show me the actual price. Usually, the base price is highly inflated, and it’s really not a bargain. This is particularly true when comparing a name-brand pharmacy with a box store such as Walmart. Frequently pharmacy sales involve the smaller sizes and even when the smaller size is on sale, buying the larger size, not on sale, is less expensive.

  10. Thanks for the tip on envelopes; I’ll try it. My pandemic tip–that I will use forever–is to use concentrate to mix my own bathroom and kitchen spray cleaner. It goes a long way for a fraction of the cost of pop-up wipes!

  11. I like to travel, but I don’t have a lot of discretionary cash to do it. So, I’ve discovered cruising. More bang for your buck (food included, lodging, transportation, entertainment – what’s not to love?) than anything else. I use a multi-airline credit card to rack up frequent flyer miles and use that to purchase the airline ticket. Then, when I check in, I also get credit on the airline’s own , frequent flyer program (I joined every single one of them). I put every bill I possibly can on my credit card, to accumulate miles. When you don’t have to pay for the flight, and the cruises are fairly reasonably priced, you can afford it. I go about every 12-18 months (except for the pandemic). I also have a budget that I stick with closely and track my money/expenses. At the end of the year, whatever I have budgeted, but not spent, goes into a travel savings account. This works really well for me, as I am retired and on a fixed income.

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