Easy Homemade Products: Reuse and Save

When you’re looking for easy ways to save, look no further than your recyclables. You might be surprised at how many easy homemade products you can make with items you’re about to throw out, not to mention the time and money you can save by repurposing them.

Save Your Change

Here’s a fitting first project. For a new place to hold your spare change, hold on to the next gallon milk jug you finish. Rinse it thoroughly with water and dry it. Then use a marker to label it with whatever you’re saving up for, like “New Computer,” “California Getaway” or “College Fund.” This easy homemade product can encourage you to keep track of your change and is a fun reminder of your savings goal.

Drop your loose change into the jug. Once it’s full, you can take it to the nearest Coinstar machine and turn it into paper currency. Or, for a more cost-effective method, ask your local bank branch for coin wrappers. Many banks provide free wrappers as a service to customers. Once you’ve sorted and rolled your loose change, you can deposit it into your savings account.

Turn Old Books into Quirky Picture Frames

If you have unwanted hardcover books, don’t toss them out yet. For this project, choose hardcover books with sturdy covers that have interesting colors or patterns. Remove the dust jacket.

Take the photo you want to frame and use a pencil to trace its outline on the inside of the book cover. Then, take an exacto knife and cut 1/8th of an inch inside the outline. It may take you a while to cut through the cover, depending on its thickness. Now you have the “window” of your picture frame.

Next grab a sheet protector, available at any office supply store. The sheet protector serves two purposes: It’s the “glass” in your picture frame and it makes a pocket where you can rest your photo. Lay the sheet protector so that it covers the window you’ve made in the book cover. Then fold it over on itself, forming a pocket. Trim off any excess sheet protector. Use glue to adhere two edges of the sheet protector together. Then use glue to affix the pocket to the hardcover book. Make sure you wait for the glue to completely dry before inserting your photo.

Then voila! You have an eye-catching DIY picture frame.

Bring Your Own Bags

In some states, if you don’t bring your own bags to the grocery store, you have to pay extra for them when you check out. It may seem like a small expense, but like all small expenses, it can add up — and that’s money you could be saving. If you don’t already own reusable grocery bags and don’t want to spend money on them at the store, dig through your drawers for some old T-shirts, which you can easily turn into bags for all your shopping trips.

First, turn an old T-shirt inside out. Use scissors to cut the sleeves and neckline off — the remaining shoulder straps will be your bag’s handles. Now cut the shirt along the bottom to whatever depth you’d like your shopping bag to be. A few inches is usually enough, but it may help to lay some of your usual grocery purchases on the shirt to see how much room you’ll need.

Next, cut fringe slits half an inch wide and a few inches long across the bottom of the shirt. When you do this, cut the fringe on both the front and back layers of the T-shirt at the same time so they’re equal in size and match up when aligned.

Tie the front and back pieces of the cut fringe together, working your way all the way across the bottom. Make sure all the knots are tight. Finally, turn your T-shirt right side out — and there you have yourself a fun and easy tote bag!

There’s no end to the easy homemade products you can make to save yourself time and money. Take a look around your home and get creative, thinking of ways to reuse items you might otherwise toss in the trash. Not everything you try will work out, but experimenting is part of the fun, especially if you have kids and get them involved.

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