Five top thrifty tips

Published by Rachel Lacey on 14 May 2010.
Last updated on 24 August 2011

Thrifty tip 1: Cut the cost of laundry

Washing powder is annoyingly expensive: a large pack of Ariel costs £6.92. Making your own costs considerably less and with the below ‘recipe’ you only need a small amount of Borax and soda crystals for each batch of powder, making it even more cost efficient. 

You will need:

* 1 bar of soap 45p
* Washing soda crystals 90p for 1kg
* Borax £1.52 for 500g
* A large 5–gallon bucket with lid

Pour four cups of water into a big pot on the stove and boil.
Shave strips off the soap into the water, making sure it’s kept just under boiling.
Once the whole soap bar has been shaved into the bowl, stir slowly until all of the soap is dissolved.

Pour three gallons of hot water into the bucket then carefully mix in the soapy water.
Add a cup of washing soda and stir.
Add ½ a cup of Borax - you can find this in the laundry aisle at larger supermarkets or go to - then stir for another few minutes. Let the mixture sit overnight then stir again in the morning.

Thrifty tip 2: Grow your own herbs

The flavour added by fresh herbs beats dried alternatives hands down. But buying them at the supermarket soon adds up to a tidy sum. Save money by buying plants and potting them out. Herbs are hardy but do die back in winter, so having them in pots makes it easier to bring them inside during the cold season. Good soil and plenty of water is required to stop the herbs drying out and keep them on a windowsill to ensure they get enough light. Then sit back and reap the rewards of your green fingers.

Thrifty tip 3: Cheaper toys for the kids

Homemade playdough is quick and easy and will last for much longer than the shop bought equivalent. You will need:

3 cups of flour
1.5 cups of salt
6 tsp cream of tartar
3tbsp oil
3 cups water
A few drops of food colouring

Dissolve the salt in water and then put all the ingredients into a large pan. Stir over a medium heat until the mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and knead the mixture until it becomes doughy in texture. To keep the playdough fresh for as long as possible, store in an airtight container.

Thrifty tip 4: Mood lighting on a budget

Rather than throwing away the butts of your candles, save them in a box then melt them down to make new ones

You will need:

-    Cooker hob
-    Old candle ends
-    Old saucepan and metal spoon
-    Sterilised jam jars
-    Wicks
-    Blue-tack and skewers or pencils

Heat the candle ends in an old saucepan over a moderate heat.
Once melted, skim off any imperfections floating on the surface with the spoon.
With blue-tack, stick one end of the wick to the centre of the jar-base.
Tie the other end to a pencil or skewer, leaving a few centimetres of excess wick, and balance the pencil on the jar-rim.

Pour the melted wax into the jar, being careful not to spill any hot wax.
Make as many candles as your wax allows and store overnight until hardened.
Once hard, trim the wick to leave one centimetre above the candle, light and enjoy.

Thrifty tip 5: A cheaper form of skincare

For pampering without the price tag, make your own facemask using aspirin.

Aspirin contains salicylic acid, which just happens to be one of the main components of pricey face creams and exfoliators and even acne cream. 

Blemish Complex Exfoliating Blemish Treatment Gel from Boots costs £38.66, for example, compared to 13p for a packet of aspirin tablets from your supermarket.

Crush six uncoated, plain aspirins with the back of a teaspoon then mix into a paste with a bit of water.

Apply to your face and leave for 10 minutes, making sure nothing gets in your mouth or eyes.

Wash away, exfoliating your skin as you do so and pat dry.

Use once a week and avoid if skin is sunburnt.

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