Saving Money By Reusing

Using egg cartons to start growing the tomatoes
Once you get into the habit of saving money, it starts to hurt when you have to spend money. Maybe not crippling pain, but at the very minimum it should extract a grimace.

Of course, once you get into the habit, you're always looking for ways to not spend money you don't need to to avoid the pain.

Sure, you need to eat, you need a roof over your head, etc.

However, what happens if we take some of the "scraps" from these needs and turn them into money savings?

Wifey and I eat eggs. We try to eat an egg a day. As a result, we have a lot of egg cartons going into the blue bin. This year, I took the egg cartons and filled them with soil and planted some tomato seeds. I've seen paper pots for sale at Walmart. This is essentially the same thing. The egg cartons are weak when wet, so you need to transport them with something solid underneath. I use a Pyrex baking dish. Although, anything that is solid will work. When the seedlings are big enough, you can even plant these carton directly into the ground! Yes, these egg cartons are biodegradable. Just don't try this with the plastic and Styrofoam (do they still make these) egg cartons.

With all the hard boiled eggs we eat, I keep the shells for our plants and garden. I remember my mom used to save the egg shells for her garden. I read up on it when I was younger. Seems the calcium in egg shells helps the plants being stronger. Turns out, calcium is not just for humans. This makes sense as there are some vegetables that contain calcium. Anyway, after peeling the egg shells I let them sit to dry out completely. Then I use a mortar and pestle to grind the shells into smaller bits. Sometimes the final mixture is powdery. I put some of this into the pots of our indoor plants and drop the rest into the garden. If the soil isn't growing anything, I'll till the soil to mix the egg shells around. It is important to note that we only keep the egg shells for hard boiled eggs. There is a concern of bacteria in the shell cracked from raw eggs. If you decide you keep the shells for raw eggs, you may need to disinfect the shells by using the oven.

Summer is approaching. Wifey really enjoys a tall glass of some cold beverage or another. Unfortunately, that means condensation and water rings on our furniture. You could always buy those paper coasters, but eventually, they get soggy and pieces get stuck on your furniture. You could also buy a pretty set but this is about saving money from buying these useless things. Over the years, we've appropriated plastic lids for this purpose. You do buy yogourt, or sour cream, or cream cheese right? Rather than throw the containers and lids in the blue bin, why not keep the lids and use them as coasters? Not only are they durable, but they also contain the moisture that drips down the side of your glass. Additionally, you can also have a second one to cover your glass to prevent bugs from dropping in or bubbles from popping out of your carbonated beverage. In addition to beverages, I also use these lids to hold household cleaners. In the past, some toilet bowl cleaners dripped down leaving blue rings in the bottom of the cabinet under the sink. These lids now hold the excess drip and keep the cabinets from staining. Speaking of staining, do you have rust stains on your bathroom counter top from your can of shaving cream? Guess how I prevent this? Yes, you got it. A plastic lid from a yogourt container.

In addition to the lid, you can also keep the plastic container to house stuff like coins, paper clips, pens, takeout utensils, etc. The options are endless. You don't even need to limit yourself to plastic. With glass containers, you can wash them out and reuse them to hold dried beans, spices, flour, nuts, etc.

Do your financial companies (credit cards, banks, etc.) send you a crazy amount of mail? Well, what happens with the return envelopes? I keep these envelopes and use them to store receipts*, when I save seed in the fall, and, for bigger envelopes (like the ones insurance companies send out), store all relevant documents in the same place.

Ever buy a 10lbs bag of potatoes or an 8kg bag of rice? Well, what happens to the string they use to close the bags? Garbage? Not in our house, we carefully remove the string and keep it. We've used the string for all sorts of things. Tying up some household plants, putting up some Christmas decorations, and even using it to tie up excess cardboard for recycle day. For cardboard, you'll need a lot of string, but if you eat as much rice as we do, you'll have what seems to be an endless supply of string. There's another use for string. Setting up a trellis for your garden.

A combination of reusing discarded branches and string
Reusing things isn't just limited to household items. A quick walk in the park will reveal an endless supply of broken tree branches. Since most of these fallen branches are shoved in the wood chipper and turned into mulch**, why not take some home and set up a make shift trellis for your garden? Last year, my father-in-law used the branches to set up a stand for the tomatoes. This year, I'm using them to set up a trellis for the snow peas I'm growing. Combined with the tree branches, I'm using the string to set up the levels for the vines to grab onto. I just set up the second level this past weekend. It's starting to look like a third level will be necessary this coming weekend.

There are plenty of other examples of saving money by reusing things.

Sometimes all it takes is a little creativity and imagination.

*You never know when you have to return something. Also, we use these receipts to break down our spending exactly to the penny.

**The mulch, in turn, is given away to residents. You just need to go there yourself and shovel as much as you need. So far, wifey and I have taken four grocery bags worth of mulch.


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