In the excellent Penny Pincher’s Book seasoned savers John and Irma Mustoe share their innovative (and sometimes eccentric) tips:
1 Steam iron (or freeze) woollen clothes during winter to kill moth eggs. It’s the larvae, not the flying moths, that do the damage. And conkers make very good ‘mothballs’.
2 Extend the useful life of empty scent bottles or talcum boxes by putting them into drawers to perfume the contents.
3 Refrigerate candles for a few hours before using and they will burn more slowly, drip less, and give you better value for money.
4 Plant lettuce seeds. A 15g packet of seeds produces about 2,000 lettuces and costs about the same as a single lettuce in shops.
5 Cut your speed from 70mph to 60 mph for a petrol saving of about 15 per cent.
6 The bags inside cereal boxes are excellent for storing bread and for using in the freezer.
7 Pour olive oil into a pepper shaker so that you can sprinkle it onto pizza, salads and so on, rather than glug it.
8 Tights last longer if you freeze them overnight before you wear them. We don’t know why, but since it costs nothing it’s worth doing.
9 When altering a hemline, dab vinegar on the crease and then iron dry. No telltale line left!
10 Don’t assume that just because it’s a ‘household hint’ it is a money saving one. Rubbing anything with a cut lemon to clean it is expensive.
11 Put on a pair of cotton gloves before you put on a shear pair of tights to prevent snagging.
12 Keep sliced bread in the freezer. It thaws in seconds, so take out only what you need.
13 Use old coathangers as skewers for cooking on the barbecue.
14 Toothpaste is not one of life’s necessities. Brush your teeth with bicarbonate of soda or half soda/half salt.
15 Store new bars of soap in the airing cupboard to make them hard. They last longer. Soft soap dissolves too quickly.
16 The best shower-door cleaner is white vinegar. Wipe it on, leave to soak for a few minutes if the door has disappeared under a layer of white gunge, then rinse well, using a squeegee blade and polish dry.
17 Patent leather can be cleaned with vaseline or the inside of a banana skin.
18 Nail polish lasts longer if kept in the fridge.
19 Lemon juice makes a super hair setting lotion. Use it neat.
20 Baby lotion is a good make-up remover, baby cream and baby oil and is quite suitable for grown-up faces.
21 Add a few drops of your favourite scent to unperfumed talcum powder and shake well instead of buying expensive talc.
22 For a cheap mouthwash, use one tablespoon of vinegar in a glass of water.
23 Honey is antiseptic. Spread a little over shaving nicks.
24 Aloe vera is a miracle plant. Keep one in the kitchen for breaking off a leaf and squeezing the juice onto burns or insect bites.
25 Change a 100W light bulb to a 60W one which costs 40 per cent less to operate.
26 Save a small fortune by 1) giving up smoking, and 2) not using the expensive nicotine gums – chew beeswax instead.
27 Sell clutter. As William Morris said: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
28 Save a few wine corks – stick them on the end of knitting needles to keep the stitches from sliding off. They also make a non-scratch scourer as well as being good firelighters.
29 Egg white makes an excellent glue for paper.
30 The best bird-scarer is free, biodegradable and very, very, quiet. First, obtain a dead bird. Attach one leg to a branch with a piece of string, letting the wings and head hang down to flap gently in the breeze.
31 Use sand, not salt, on icy paths – salt can damage or even kill nearby plants. The sand can be swept up and used again.
32 Used car oil is just as good as new oil for using on garden tools and bicycles.
33 Tights and stockings can make emergency fan belts for a car to get to a garage.
34 Buy anti-freeze in the summer. As temperatures drop, the price goes up!
35 A freezer is a money saver, especially if there is home- grown produce to preserve, as well as special offers from the butcher and greengrocer.
36 Remember that cheaper cuts of meat are just as nutritious as the expensive ones. You are not depriving yourself or your family of nourishment by choosing them.
37 You can re-use coffee grounds by baking them for half an hour or so in a moderate oven while something else is baking.
38 Line the bottom of the salad drawer in the fridge with newspaper or paper towels to help keep vegetables fresh for longer.
39 Leftover salad can be boiled and whizzed into a soup.
40 If you need to send a parcel there are lots of companies that will promise a super-efficient, overnight service. And they also charge you mightily for it. Very few parcels have to be delivered next day. Ask what their slow service would cost.
41 For keeping sweaters looking good, there is a wonderful little comb-like gadget called D.Fuzz.It, which costs a few pence.
42 Citrus fruit pips usually germinate into lovely plants.
43 Use an old calendar page as a pretty piece of wrapping paper.
44 Turn TVs and computers off. Equipment on stand-by may be using one third of the power of being on, but nobody is benefiting except the power companies.
45 Unless you are at Wimbledon, don’t buy strawberries during Wimbledon.
46 Glue a piece of felt to the bottom of a square ceramic tile to make a heat-resistant mat.
47 Old carpets make good insulation, or they can be cut up into squares and used as door mats.
48 Save quizzes or riddles from papers and magazines and store them for using in Christmas crackers.
49 For fast dusting, or brass polishing, slip an old pair of socks over your hands.
50 Buy British-grown foods in season. It’s economical and helps the country.
# ‘The Penny Pincher’s Book Revisited’ by John and Irma Mustoe (Souvenir Press) is available for ‘7.99 + 99p p&p.