How to Make Your Money Go Further – Part 4

Hard Core Tips for Those Who Take No Prisoners

In the first three posts of my series on How to Make Your Money Go Further, we talked about learning to cook for yourself in Part 1. Making your money stretch by buying second hand in Part 2. And asking for discounts from credit card and other providers and trying out alternative strategies like sharing in Part 3.

Getting Past the “ick” Factor = Saving

Think about the items you use every day. Do you buy something that gets thrown out after one use? That’s the best place to look for cost savings – especially if the item is expensive or terrible for the environment.


For anyone that cares for the environment, using cloth diapers is a must. Here are some sobering facts from

  • Disposable diapers are the third-largest single consumer item in landfills.
  • 92% of disposable diapers will ultimately get buried in landfills.
  • Disposable diapers are a $71 billion a year industry.
  • They take at least 500 years to decompose.
  • Disposable diapers for a single baby will cost around $70 a month and $840 a year.
  • Babies will use about 6000 diapers during their first two years of life.
  • 95% of mothers in the U.S. solely use disposable diapers for their children.
  • 1 in 3 mothers cut back on basic essentials to afford diapers for their children.
  • Cotton diapers can be reused around 50 to 200 times.

And a few more statistics from Unsustainable Magazine:

The Big Problem With Disposable Diapers

…Americans dispose of around a trillion diapers a year…In 2017, Americans disposed of over four million tons of used diapers, 80% of which just sits in landfills.

Conventional diapers take hundreds of years to break down, which means that the diapers that you wore as a baby are likely still intact, sitting in a landfill. 

Save, Save, Save

I sewed a few diapers of my own before my son was born but ended up with more than I could use because friends kept giving me theirs! Many people just couldn’t use them consistently. The key is to set up a system so that using your cloth diapers becomes an easy routine.

I was given diapers after they’d been through one or two kids already. They will last longer if they are not dried in the dryer but hung on a line to air dry.

I had a talented friend who wanted to patent a particularly easy style of diaper and she let me try them out on my daughter so that I could provide feedback. She also knitted breathable diaper covers for night time which were excellent to help prevent diaper rash.

Something else I want to mention is low-key potty training. I have watched people push, cajole, and almost fight with their children to get them to potty train because the cost of diapers is so high. Using cloth diapers allowed me to be kinder and more relaxed around potty training.

Of course, it’s been many years since I gave away all of my cloth diapers!

Make Your Own Menstrual Pads

Is there anything worse than paying money for menstrual products? Talk about an insult after an injury! Back before plastic and mass production, women made their own pads out of whatever materials they had on hand. This was before the convenience of washing machines, too!

After being fed up with the prices at our local grocery store in a remote town, I bought a few professional cloth menstrual pads. These were expensive but I used them as templates to make my own out of soft flannel.  If you use funky colours and patterns for your pads, it really helps hide stains and discolouration. My homemade pads were bulky but far more comfortable than wearing plastic. I even made special, larger ones for night-time use.

They do take special effort to soak and wash but if you have a washing machine, the extra water and effort is minimal. Water is used to make the disposable pads, too, so this offsets some of the water you use to wash the pads. Thinking about how much money you’re saving every few weeks will make the effort seem even less.

And, just like diapers, most pads today contain plastic and gel beads that will be sitting in landfills long after you and probably your children are dead and gone.  

Sobering Stats

How many periods does a woman have in her lifetime? Take a look at this from

The average woman menstruates from age 13 until age 51, about once a month, with each period lasting from three to seven days. All in all, this equals 456 periods over a span of 38 years, which amounts to roughly 6.25 years or 2,280 days of your life spent bleeding.

Cost of Hygiene Products

The list is endless – tampons, menstrual cups, sanitary pads, panty liners, period panties. These are a few of the menstrual hygiene items most women buy every month to survive one menstrual cycle. This is an unavoidable cost with getting your period. 

The Modern Period

My daughter swears by the menstrual cup and says she saves a lot of money with it. This was not an option for me! There are also alternatives like IUD’s that weren’t available.

Still, making a few small pads for light days would be a good idea for your budget and the environment.

Pee Rags

After I got fired for refusing to get vaccinated, I needed to conserve what little money I had saved. (Read my post about it, here : Vaccination: the 24/7 Helmet You Can Never Remove.) I started to look closely at how I lived and spent my money.

Being home a lot more, I realized I was going through the toilet paper way too quickly. One morning it hit me – I could make my own toilet rags!

Virgin Forest – What a Waste

Do you know that most toilet paper uses virgin forests, tons of water, as well as toxic chlorine bleach? According to Treehugger, to make one roll of toilet paper, 37 gallons of water and 1.25 pounds of wood fibre is used:

Living near a pulp mill, I can tell you firsthand how they stink. On a hot day in the summer, opening your windows will make you gag if the wind is blowing the wrong way.

This article from Tushy is particularly compelling:

You can read about the devastating impacts of toilet paper on climate here:

Toilet Paper Alternatives

I had already been buying alternative toilet paper like bamboo or 2nd generation wood pulp paper. But these are costly and can be difficult to find.

How could I uphold my values to be environmentally sustainable when I no longer had employment to pay for this option?

I Googled “toilet paper alternatives” and saw that others were making their own “paper” from cloth!

Now, I had plenty of old towels around my house and these were perfect for me to experiment making my own toilet “paper.” I used my sewing machine to zigzag the edges of each piece but really, it’s not necessary.

I keep a bucket by my toilet and simply toss the used rags into it. Currently, I only use mine for “number one” and wash them by themselves with an extra rinse. I am lucky to have a washing machine that conserves water by only adding as much as is needed for the size of the load.

Three Surprising Things About Using Your Own Toilet Rags

I am surprised by how much money I literally flushed down the toilet over the years. I had tried to conserve paper, since I was paying over a dollar per roll, but even then, I went through almost a roll a day. Part of this is because I am trying to drink my 8 cups of water! When I was at work all day, I hadn’t noticed so I am grateful for the wake-up call.

It’s shocking how much less I have to flush the toilet. I already didn’t flush with every #1 but because my house and plumbing is old – or maybe because I was using bamboo or non-dissolvable paper – many times my toilet would have a hard time flushing so much toilet paper if I left it for three flushes. I had to flush at least every 2nd time. This always bothered me so I am happy to be wasting less water.

On the down side, I need to wash my toilet bowl a lot more often! Luckily, I can do that without harsh chemicals – see my tip for that in the Cleaning section, below.

On my wish list: a bidet attachment for my toilet. Bidets are even more environmentally friendly than cloth. Hey! A girl’s gotta dream!

Tissue Blues

Another single use item I honed in on was “facial” tissue. I really can’t stand my nose being “dirty” and am constantly wiping it. Truthfully, I rarely bought “Kleenex” because I’d just use toilet paper but a friend of my daughters told me she made herself handkerchiefs and kept them in a jar. Here is a blog post from Zero Waste Nerd that will walk you through the How-to:


When I was young, I had a weekend job cleaning at our local hospital. We cleaned all glass and mirrors with vinegar and water. It worked beautifully. I still make up my own spray and when I do smell the usual brand people buy, can’t believe how strong and annoying it is.

All my towels are old so it’s easy for me to cut up a couple of the worst ones for rags. I use these for just about every chore so that I don’t have to buy paper towels.

Lately I use a concentrated “green” cleaning product and mix it with water in a spray bottle for things like dusting furniture, sanitizing countertops, or cleaning my toilet bowl!

You can make a toilet “bomb” using vinegar and baking soda. There are so many great uses for cleaning with baking soda and it is cheap to buy! Here are 50 ideas from Taste of Home:

I found a vacuum that doesn’t take bags and has a canister and reusable filters that I wash out. Did you know that the contents of your vacuum cleaner canister can be composted? So can the lint from your dryer filter!

One thing I have not tried is lining garbage bins with newspaper. I have reused plastic grocery store bags for garbage can liners for years and wondered, “What did people do before there WERE plastic bags?” Well! Sure enough, YouTube has videos showing people folding newspaper origami-like into amazing liners! I like this one to line a compost bin, demonstrated by a kid:

Dumpster Diving

And finally – something for the truly brave!

At the beginning of the pandemic I was surprised when nearly everything shut down. All stores, including thrift stores and even the bins for collecting clothes and blankets were not available. This was a mistake because most people were at home, and, finding themselves with extra time, they cleaned out storage areas. Maybe to make room for a home office!

I was still going into the office every day, throughout all phases of the pandemic, and working alone. Our landlord had a dumpster out back and one day, when I was taking out our small garbage bag, I saw that the bin was so full that the lid couldn’t even close. This was strange because I was literally the only person in the building for weeks on end.

That’s when I saw the stuff. Someone had come along and thrown out some beautiful cloth napkins and several tablecloths. I pulled these out of the bin and realized there were two boxes of dishes under them! Next thing I knew, I had unloaded several boxes, garbage bags full of clothing, and many decorative items. I was outfitting my rental suite so this was really convenient! See my post:  No Income: How to Survive Being Fired by Renting to Others

I took what I could and gave the rest away or brought to the thrift store when it opened again (getting a 20% off coupon for my efforts).

My daughter tells me that she has a friend that waits behind a grocery store for the produce and other things they are discarding. This kid is a millennial. That creative streak is going to serve them very well in the future, the way things are going.

Never Go Hungry

I still have one of the pretty mugs to remind me that some great things can be found in dumpsters.

Maybe it’s disgusting to most people but it kind of comforts me to know that I will never go hungry, as long as I can make it to the dumpster the bakery uses!


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