Frugal House and Garden Ideas

It takes a lot of "stuff" to set up housekeeping...furniture, curtains, dishes, silverware, pots and pans, etc. You could go to a store and spend LOTS of money on it all or you can follow the advice on these pages and have some money left to eat out or go to the movies (with discount tickets of course!).

Most of the ideas are sorted into the categories listed in the menu at the left. Some don't quite fit anywhere so are listed here.

Some Miscellaneous Ideas From Our Readers

From Lynn Lukins:I keep my eyes open for rebates. Our nearby Walgreens drug store offers rebates on household items at the same time manufacturers' coupons are offered on the same items in the newspaper. I usually buy items for almost free.

From Mary Jane : We are newly weds but at 44 and 49 years of age we have set ways and try to compromise on everything. We are still organizing our small house(we don't have a lot but...) and I need a little more cabinet space for the copper bottom pans. We decided on a pot rack. We tossed around all the possibilities! Pot racks can be heavy, too big, overpowering and down right expensive.We found some great ones for $49.00 but they looked out of place in our plain and simple kitchen so we went to a huge discount store and went to the storage area where they have the white wire coated shelving etc.We found a laundry shelf and placed it above the stove.On the shelf I put a huge piece of fiesta ware(Large round serving plate)that fit right in between the wires.I put 3 lids on the shelf with a steamer basket,hung two skillets and three pans and a wire whisk.The shelf cost $7.00 and the hooks we made from a white coat hanger.We are planning to buy another shelf just like it and putting it above the door in the bathroom for extra towels! My husband loves to find ways to use space wisely but makes it look eye appealing. I love his ideas and my penny pinching ways are rubbing off on him. The trick to all of this is to take time together and really study the options!

From an anonymous reader: I use ceiling tiles purchased for $1.90 each at the hardware store for bulletin boards I spray painted them different colors and nailed them up.

Kristy Michas sent this tip (that I sure could have used a few weeks earlier when I was stripping wallpaper: I have a good tip for people trying to remove wall paper from their walls...instead of buying that awful smelling and expensive wallpaper remover-use liquid fabric softner! It may sound nuts but my husband and I bought a gallon of the cheapeststuff we could find, slopped it on our papered walls with a soaked rag, waited 5 minutes and TA DAH! The wall paper scrapes right off. It's cheap, simple, and it smells good,too! The gallon made it through 4 rooms for us, and the rest can be used on the wash!

From Carrie: I recently tried using fabric softener to strip wallpaper. I tried it at different dilutions, as well as full strength. I had quite a lot of difficulty removing the paper. I found that just using plain old warm water worked by far better - and that the wall I used the warm water on didn't need more than one coat of primer. It turned out that the fabric softener left 'greasy' spots on the walls where it had been applied. It required 5 coats of primer to cover up the fabric softener walls. I had waited a week before priming thinking it was just wet spots that needed to dry up.

From Roxanne Millward: I went to Walmart to buy napkins and rings for a dinner party with twelve guests expected. The rings started at $3.00 each so it wasn't going to be cheap. I thought about it for a while then went to the shower department. I bought plastic shower curtain rings that clamp closed. I then went to the fabric department and bought scrap material to match my settings and material for contrasting napkins. I sewed sleeves for the rings that have a ruffle on each side and kind of tight on the middle. I made the material three times as long as the ring. This is like sliding a curtain on to a curtain rod except the ruffle is on both sides. I made twelve napkins out the the contrasting material and all of this for $4.00! The 12 rings were 99 cents and the scrap material was $3.00.

From C.P. Richardson: Use a couple squirts of ketchup on the copper bottom, smear with your fingers and let it stand a couple minutes... stubborn spots can be rubbed quickly with a non-metal scour pad. Keep a washcloth size cotton cloth scrap at the washer. Dampen it in the rinse water, wring out, and pour a tablespoon or two of liquid fabric softener on it. Put it in the dryer with the clothes. Repeat for every load to be dried. Saves a bunch.