Friday, August 30, 2013

Ten Ways to 'Earn' Money by Not Spending

Thirty years ago, when our first child was born, my husband and I made an informed decision to live on one income.  Over time, we adapted our habits and found ways to avoid spending, thus freeing up dollars to use as we chose.  If you have more time than money (as the saying goes), using your time to contribute to the household economy is a smart way to earn by not spending.  

Here are ten ways to 'earn' money by not spending it :-)

1.  Drink water.
Drinking water and eliminating flavored drinks is one of the biggest boons to our budget.  My children were not raised to expect juice, tea, soft drinks, flavored sugar drinks, and all the thousands of liquids offered instead of plain water.   Occasionally we drink teas, and I like a nice cup of coffee in the morning. But all day long, water is our thirst quencher.  Water with a squeeze of fresh lemon is a real treat!

2.  Cook and bake from scratch using real ingredients.  
Serving real foods will provide more nutrition per meal and satisfy your hunger more thoroughly while keeping your dollars in your pocketbook.  Convenience foods are expensive!  It does not take much more time to measure and mix,  or chop and cook, and the end result is not chock-full of shelf stabilizing preservatives.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of healthy eating, making idea #3 possible. 

3.  Stay healthy and avoid expensive doctor visits. 
You are what you eat.  You really are. Eventually, constantly eating food that lacks nutritive value results in a body that lacks vigorous health.  Choose to eat for life!   Pack your own lunches, and take snacks when you're out shopping to avoid spending money on fast foods. 

4.  Reduce laundry by reusing bath towels.  
Toweling off clean bodies does not dirty a towel.  Assign a towel to each family member to use and hang up to dry.  The whole family gets clean towels twice a week.  This saves extra wash loads, lowering both water and electric consumption.  The towels last longer, too!

5.  Use cleaning cloths.  
We use both purchased microfiber cloths and retired bath and dish towels for cleaning.  Paper towels are reserved for greasy or nasty messes, making a roll of paper towels last many weeks.  Another plus--my boys and my husband know which "rags" they can use for outdoor work, and never grab the hand towels out of the bathroom, or the dish towels out of the kitchen.  Any more.  

6.  Have fun at home. 
Besides the obvious savings on gasoline and all the attendant costs to going out to movies, theme parks, and family amusements, constant go-go-going takes time away from activities at home. We wanted to give our children the gift of leisure time at home, time to pursue hobbies, play board games, time to lie on the grass and watch clouds or learn constellations, time to ride bikes and climb trees, time to get lost in a book.  Free time at home makes economic sense!  Watch a movie from your home or public library and pop your own corn!

7.  Use the library!  
I am a huge fan of our local library. As long as we return our items in a timely way, books, movies, magazines, and a host of other items are free!  There are free classes and clubs, and free wi-fi. 

8.  Treasure hunt. 
Embrace clothing hand-me-downs (especially for children), and the art of sharing with friends who are the same size as you are.  My favorite thrift store can quadruple the spending power of every dollar on quality goods.   Freecycle, garage sales, and swaps are all great ways to avoid spending full price on necessary clothing and household items. 

9.  Line dry your clothes. 
There is a trade-off in convenience vs. savings when line-drying clothes, and some neighborhoods prohibit this thrifty practice.  But my wind-powered-solar-clothes-dryer has provided fresh smelling crisp clothes while saving a bundle on bills.  When the children were young, the laundry hanging time was outdoor playing time, and as they grew tall enough to reach the clothesline, we shared the job.  

10.  Make it yourself. 
We make almost all of our cleaning products, and save more than I could through coupon use.  We make our own shampoos and hair conditioners.  Cultivating hobbies that save us money and contribute to the household allows us to make gifts at a great savings, whether clothing, home decor, food specialties, or toys.  With Pinterest and crafty bloggers, you'll never run out of ideas and recipes to use for gifts!  

We live in a two-income society, but it is possible to happily thrive on a small income.  It takes some out-of-the-box thinking, and purposeful living to change the way you think about and use money. 

My friend Holly, who is a fellow thrifty mom, blogs regularly on stretching those hard-earned dollars through couponing and gardening, and shares great thoughts and yummy recipes.  We thought it would be fun to post on the same topic, as we are all looking for ways to do the best we can with what we have.  Be sure to pop on over to WhollyHolly at 
and find her post on Ten Ways to Earn by not Spending!

I would love for you to share your ideas in the comments!!  


  1. I love it! Can I have your recipes for laundry detergent, shampoo, and conditioner? The laundry detergent recipe that I have used makes my towels not absorb water it repels it.... I don't know where it went wrong:( would love to start using my own again.

  2. Kathy, your towels may have built-up residue from detergents and fabric softeners. I can not recall where I learned this, but you can remove that buildup by washing them in hot water with 1 cup of vinegar and no detergent, and then washing again with hot water and a half cup of baking soda (no detergent). You may want to omit fabric softeners altogether for your towels; it can cost the fibers and make them less absorbent. If your towels are too stiff without some softener, use 1 cup vinegar in your rinse as a softener.
    I will happily share the recipes I'm using. They are no doubt a variation of what all of blog-land has posted. Stay tuned!

  3. If you try that vinegar wash/ baking soda wash, let us know how it works!