Cut Costs By Being Resourceful

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The following is a guest post submitted by my wonderful and talented wife.  While writing a post on our personal blog, my wife accidentally wrote one that fits well with the overall purpose and theme of MH4C.  Please welcome Mrs. Ford to the MH4C writing team.

I’ve learned many lessons living in PNG.  One of them is that Papua New Guineans are much more resourceful than Americans.  It’s amazing what they can do with the little that they have (or find).  I’m also more hesitant now to throw any kind of container away because, surely, it could be used by someone for something.

Here are some of the most creative ways I’ve seen people save money:

  • use a banana leaf as an umbrella
  • a plastic container is transformed into a homemade watering can
  • a common sea shell now functions as a soap dish
  • the jam jar is used for saving seeds
  • newspapers replace coolers and are wrapped around frozen store products as insulation
  • the newspaper now functions as toilet paper [Editor’s Note: not recommended for flush toilets.  If you have a flush toilet you will do some serious damage to your plumbing]
  • a big piece of cloth doubles as a baby snugli
  • used milk containers serve as pots for plants
  • sticks and stones become Bible object lessons
  • plastic bags can be used for carrying anything in, or as packaging
  • old cloth diapers are given a second chance as rags
  • worn tires now become children’s swings
  • a tire and a stick become a children’s toy
  • rubber bands or plastic bags are made into balls for playing games
  • a margarine container becomes a mold for making ice blocks
  • empty baby wipe containers are now used for storage
  • long tree leaves are woven into fashionable and functional carrying bags
  • the useless water or coke bottle is now a carrying container for essentials, like kerosene
  • coconut is used for cleaning hands after peeling sticky vegetables
  • discarded cardboard is cut out and made into price tags at the market

This made me start thinking that even Americans could save more money by being a little more creative and resourceful, and a little less embarrassed by what other people think. I realize that not all of the ideas listed above are transferrable, but there are certainly items you use daily that could be recycled in some way.  For example, you should either use or recycle aluminum cansSo the next time you go to throw out a plastic container, ask yourself … “Could I use this to tidy up those miniature toys in my kids’ bedroom?” or “Will this come in handy on my next carpentry or scrapbooking project?”  If you can’t think of a use for the item, keep it long enough to at least ask a school teacher if they have a use for it.  Teachers are almost as resourceful as Papua New Guineans.

[Editors Note: In addition to saving money, a lot of these suggestions are also very eco friendly.  Any time you reuse a product you are making a valuable contribution to environmental conservation.]

Photo by Yen SOCUTE.

What items do you reuse?  How do you resourcefully save money?


  1. Netanya says

    If I think about the money I can save by reusing and being resourceful, I am amazed. I never thought of using a milk carton for more than one purpose, but your ideas and observations have made me think otherwise. Thanks for the ideas, and I’ll be sure to use them the next time I’m about to throw something away.

    Money Hackers Blog Ambassador

    • Craig says

      It is amazing how much stuff we just throw out that has the potential to be a money saving item. Yes, I think it is just about changing your perspective.

  2. says

    Excellent post, Mrs. Ford! I have at least a half dozen used baby wipe containers around my house. My kids have them for small toys. My daughter and I use them for make up and hair ties under the bathroom sinks. My husband uses them in the garage for screws, nails, etc.

  3. Andrew @ Financial Services says

    Now if everybody can just follow the same train of thought we would all be a bit richer and the earth would be a lot cleaner. I used to collect the usable pages from notebooks and then bound them together to make a perfectly usable new notebook. I even got to sell some of those pretty cheap for some fast cash!

    • Craig says

      Wouldn’t it be great if everyone would get on board and start being a little more resourceful? I like your suggestion on the usable pages.

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