Frugality Wise

Tips, ideas, and resources for living frugally

Frugality Friday: The Toothbrush – A Trusty Tool For More Than Just Oral Care

Everyone knows that good oral care is important, and having a good toothbrush is one of the essential items to use in maintaining your oral hygiene. However, there is a lot more you can do with this trusty tool than brushing those pearly whites. A toothbrush can be used in a multitude of useful ways that I’m sure its inventor never even thought of!

Bye-bye Dry Flaky Lips!

Lips - sippakornYears and years ago I became aware of a new product that one of my favourite skin care companies was selling that would exfoliate flaky lips. I was immediately intrigued. It was in the shape of a tube of lipstick, which seemed so convenient. I purchased it….and wasn’t overly impressed with it. It didn’t seem to do the job I needed it to do. Perhaps I wasn’t using the product properly. I abandoned the product and never felt inclined to return to it. There are many beauty and skin care lines out there that offer lip scrubs and exfoliators, and while most might not break the bank if you purchase one of them, it seems pointless to purchase one when a simple toothbrush will get the job done. The Winter months can be especially hard on skin in cold climates, drying it out almost chronically. When my lips get flaky in such instances, in order to get them soft and smooth again I use the following simple, no-fuss technique.

  • Splash warm water onto my lips to soften the flaky, dead skin
  • Put on a generous amount of lip balm (The Vaseline brand has always worked well for me, whether I’m using it to exfoliate or just to moisturize.)
  • Use a soft and straight bristle toothbrush and rub the toothbrush around your lips and over the flakes in a gentle circular motion
  • Wipe away with a tissue any loose flakes that might be sticking to your lips because of the lip balm, and any flakes that might be trapped in your toothbrush
  • Add a layer of lip balm to rehydrate your lips (This step might not be needed if after exfoliating you still have enough product left on your lips.)

When I do this regularly, especially in the Winter, I’m able to keep my lips smooth and hydrated just by using a tool I already have in my home.

Here are other ways in which you can use a toothbrush:

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Moving Tips That Will Save You Money

Image courtesy of Ambro /

Moving is one of life’s stressful activities that we all have to go through at some point or another; some more frequently than others. I moved 8 months ago, and between the seemingly never-ending packing of all my possessions, trying to research and compare the infinite amount of professional moving companies out there (I eventually settled instead on a friend of my father who would do it at a reasonable rate), transferring my utilities from one address to another, arranging to have my mail re-routed by Canada Post, and all the other tasks involved with moving, I was feeling overwhelmed. Although moving is never a joy (I certainly have never heard anyone say that it’s their favourite way to spend an afternoon), moving doesn’t have to be costly. While some people can really rack up the expenses for their move, it is actually one of those activities where you can save money with a little organization, strategy, and common sense. The following are a few tips to save money on your next move.

Create lists.

Take inventory of all your possessions that need to be packed in a box and create a list of which items will be packed together and how many boxes are required. Do not plan to move with junk and things you no longer want or need. Instead, give away things that are still in good condition to a secondhand store, or have a garage sale. Also create an itinerary for your actual moving day so that you know what you’re doing and when, in order to keep on schedule as best as possible. Lists will keep you efficient, and it costs nothing to keep organized!

Scavenge everywhere for boxes.

There are moving supply and office supply companies that sell boxes, but buying boxes is a complete waste of money. Free boxes can be obtained by asking the staff/manager at your local grocery store, liquor store, large retailers such as bookstores and hardware stores, or in the mailroom of your workplace if you work in an office building. Don’t procrastinate and leave collecting boxes until the last minute. It may take a little time to collect all of the boxes that you need in various sizes. For me, collecting boxes became like my second full-time job!

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Frugality Friday: Castor Oil – The Ultimate Oil for Frugal You

In addition to my usual posts listing money-saving tips for different types of expenses and aspects of life, starting today I will be experimenting with a new weekly feature called “Frugality Friday”. On Fridays I will post and discuss one item that you can probably find lying around your home that can be used in multiple ways. Why spend money on different items for different purposes, when you can save money by using a single item for multiple purposes? With this feature, you may discover a certain way to use an item that you hadn’t ever before considered. Or a lightbulb might go off in your head and you think “Oh yeah, I used to do that years ago. I don’t remember why I stopped. I need to start doing that again!” So without further ado, this post is dedicated to what I consider to be the ultimate oil. I’m talking about good ol’ castor oil, of course!

Kicking Acne to the Curb

The first time I used castor oil was after I did some research on the internet, looking for ways to get rid of the adult acne that was affecting my self-esteem well into my mid-twenties. I figured at that age, I should no longer have to be dealing with the skin problems of adolescents. Even though we know that acne is a common occurrence in adults, we still associate it with the hormonal see-saw that is puberty. After years of buying over the counter topical treatments that either did nothing, did something but without significant results, or made my skin look worse, I bought a bottle of castor oil and did the following regimen in sequential order:

  • Washed my face with an oil-free cleanser
  • Gave my face a 10-minute steam with my electric facial steamer to open the pores, putting a towel over my head to trap in the steam
  • Rubbed about a loonie-sized amount of castor oil all over my face (For those not familiar with Canadian currency, a loonie is our $1 coin!)
  • Went back to the steamer to steam my face for another 10-minutes
  • Massaged the oil over my face some more before rinsing off with warm water, then a splash of cold water to close the pores; then pat dry with a facial tissue

Afterwards, there was still a little residue of the oil left on my face (it is a thick oil), but it didn’t make my face look like a shiny oil slick. Surprisingly, despite it being an oil, it doesn’t clog pores. (Otherwise, that would be counterproductive as a treatment for acne, now wouldn’t it?) After doing this regimen for a while my skin finally got smoother and my acne problems were finally behind me. I know not every solution works for everybody, but it doesn’t hurt to try if you’ve never used castor oil for acne before.

Here are some other good uses for castor oil:

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Fun Frugal Fitness

Image courtesy of stockimages /

Image courtesy of stockimages /

Years ago I joined a gym. I can count on one hand how many times I actually went to the gym after joining. It was a waste of money. Fast-forward to today, and while admittedly I have an amazing fitness benefit through my employer ($500 per calendar year, which allows me to get reimbursement for gym membership fees, exercise DVDs, workout equipment, and workout clothes and accessories) I have no desire to join a gym. I guess I am not a gym person. You don’t need to spend money on an expensive gym membership to get in a good workout and stay fit. All you need is a little space, not much, to workout at home; or you can workout in the great outdoors. I exercise in my living room, and specifically bought a coffee table on wheels so it would be easy to push out of the way to give me more space to move when I do my exercises. So rather than paying for a gym membership and exercise classes, here are some frugal alternatives to staying fit.

Workout to exercise DVDs.

There are a variety of genres of exercise DVDs from step aerobics, to pilates, to yoga, to cardio dance, and pretty much any style under the sun. You will find something that suits your interest and fitness level. Personally, I love my cardio dance DVDs because it’s a fun workout without feeling like a chore, since I love to dance. I particularly enjoy the Pussycat Dolls workout, the Cardio Striptease workout, and my hip-hop dance workout, in addition to my beloved yoga. On the Amazon website, you can find good exercise DVDs for $10. In my opinion, it’s unnecessary to spend over $15 for an effective workout DVD.

Go for a brisk walk or a jog.

If it’s a nice day, put on your running shoes and go outdoors for a brisk walk or jog around your neighbourhood. The sights and sounds will keep your interest more than a treadmill. Bring an MP3 player and listen to your workout playlist to get you going. If you like company, bring a walking/jogging buddy with you – your spouse, a friend, or even your dog.

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How to Keep Costs Down on Your Utility Bill

Image courtesy of ponsulak /

Image courtesy of ponsulak /

Since moving into my own place, I’ve become hyper aware of my energy consumption. I used to be the kind of person who would run the water faucet just a little too long, or leave the light on in a room I was not occupying, or turn up the thermostat to a “tropical” setting because I couldn’t bear to be cold in the slightest…and the worst part is I didn’t give any of these actions a second thought. Funny how when your living situation changes from being a double-income household to a single-income household, as it did for me, you start thinking and caring about such things now that the onus is 100% on you to pay your monthly utility bill. Regardless of how much income you have as a household, we can all be more efficient in our energy consumption. The following are a few tips on keeping your utility costs down.

Turn off the lights.

There’s no need to keep a light on in a room that you’re not in; even if you were occupying a room and leave it with the intention to return to it in 5 minutes. You should be getting into the habit of turning off a light as you leave a room, regardless of how soon you will be returning to it.

Use energy-saving lightbulbs.

Replace your incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. In Canada, this decision was made for Canadians by the federal government, banning incandescent lightbulbs as of January 1, 2014. LED bulbs are more energy-efficient and last a very long time — we’re talking years here — and use up less electricity while providing you with an equivalent amount of illumination.

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Money-Saving Tips for Grocery Shopping

Image courtesy of Ambro /

Image courtesy of Ambro /

Food is a necessity of life. We’ve all gotta eat to nourish and fuel or bodies. However, the cost of food is ever-increasing. Groceries make up a significant amount of the monthly expenses for many households. While we may not be able to do anything about rising food costs, we can do something about the way we shop for food. The way you shop for food can have an effect on how much you end up spending on this expense. The following are some money-saving tips for grocery shopping.

Use coupons.

I wish I had the time to devote to extreme couponing, but that seems like it would be a full-time job! You don’t need to quit your job to devote to couponing, though. Even if you have a little time to spare, you can find some coupons that will save you a little money the next time you go grocery shopping. You can find coupons by going to online coupon sites, finding tear-away coupon pads in grocery stores, and by checking your local newspaper inserts. Sometimes a product will have a coupon available directly on or inside the packaging. Make sure to keep your coupons organized and in one place, and to keep track of the expiry date of your coupons.

Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach.

In the past when I’ve done so, I am so ravenous walking up and down the grocery aisles that I’m practically drooling at all the food I see! When you’re hungry and grocery shopping your cravings kick in and you think something along the lines of, “I need these cookies; they look soooo good! I think I’ll get a box or twenty!” Don’t step foot through those sliding glass doors without having eaten first. That way you will only spend money on items you need, not items you’re craving.

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