Red Lodge, Montana

The Thrifty Hippie

The Thrifty Hippie

by Liz Baker

This thrifty hippie is inviting Red Lodge residents to believe they can be frugal when buying local! Many people are trying to save money, but it’s important to not lose sight of where that money goes. I believe in supporting our community when we can, so I’m compiling ideas and recipes that will not only save you money, but also keep that money in Red Lodge. I started making many things at home when I found additives and unnecessary chemicals in products I used daily. As a consumer, you have the power to control what comes into your house. I had to ask myself every time I wipe something down or do a load of laundry, “How is this affecting my body? And my family’s bodies?” While this is a personal mission for me to take charge of my family’s health, saving money and supporting local businesses is an added bonus.

When I’ve mentioned projects I’m trying, or giving recipes for staple supplies around the house, I often get the response, “But I don’t have time to do that!” These recipes listed should not take you very long, and once you get used to making them, even less time is involved. Money is a resource, but so is time. If you want to save money, manage your time well.

Here are some tips:

  • Keep an open mind, and question what is normally accepted as a cleaning product. I have had people swear by bleach, but I assure you alternative methods work just fine and don’t contribute to bacteria becoming resistant to commercial household cleaners.
  • You need something to store your supplies in. Keep an eye out for useful containers, canning jars, and spray bottles. Over all, I trust glass containers. You could reuse the bottles you have, hit that end of the summer garage sale, list a quick ISO ["in search of"] ad on Red Lodge Classifieds, and don’t forget to check out the Senior Center Thrift Store.
  • If you plan on keeping different bottles and jars of cleaners, carefully label them. A good tip suggested to me was to add a few drops of food coloring, at least to the window cleaner to tell it apart. I like using masking tape and a sharpie. It’s simple.
  • I have picked up some specific tools from the thrift store to keep separate from my regular cooking utensils. Wooden spoons, a few one sided graters of different sizes, a large Pyrex measuring bowl, and measuring cups, to name a few. If you try these recipes and decide it is something you’d like to do regularly, I suggest doing the same.
  • I make laundry soap for our household every three months. It takes me three minutes from start to finish. If I wanted to set aside 10 minutes, I could make this less often in larger batches. At this point in my routine for home care, I do not mind doing this project more often. You can easily double or triple these recipes for your needs. Try and find a routine that fits your style and makes your life easier, not harder.
  • These recipes work for my family but everything is customizable, just make sure your product still serves its purpose. If you are not fond of lemon oil, there are alternatives!
  • I’ll often invite friends over if I need to get a batch of something done. Not only do I have help, but I’m sharing knowledge and afterwards we have a cup of tea. You can also enlist the help of your child if they are old enough.
  • Build your supplies slowly. Usually the same ingredients can be used for different things. Essential oils are a bit pricey no matter where you go. I started with tea tree, then when I had a little extra in my budget, I bought lemon oil and so on. I really like having different oils on hand so I can make things unique.


Laundry Soap

This recipe is high efficiency/front loading washer safe, it is also safe for septic tanks and fields. Borax at this pricing can be found at your local True Value. At this time I cannot find washing soda where I previously purchased it, but will see if a local business (True Value, Regis Café, Moon Lake Grocery, IGA) can order it for me soon, since I’ll need to make laundry soap in the next few weeks!

  • 2 cups washing soda
  • 2 cups borax
  • ½ bar of soap

Finely grate half a bar of soap, save the other half in a sealed bag for your next batch. Mix washing soda, borax, and grated soap with a fork in a large container. Stir gently as this can cause some dust, it is unpleasant to inhale. Keep in a sealed container. Use three tablespoons per load.

Note: you can basically choose any bar soap you want here. I prefer a natural soap. You can also add your own essential oils, but the bar I purchased had essential oils already in it, so I rarely add anything else. Soap prices do vary and can change the price per ounce, but I’ve never paid more than $2.00 for this project.

Walmart: 19 cents per ounce
Red Lodge: 7 cents per ounce

Fabric Softener

White distilled vinegar helps preserve colors, it also softens fabric, acts as a lint deterrent, and we aren’t purchasing dryer sheets. I get my vinegar at the IGA, the price per ounce is even lower if you catch a sale and bulk up. It is recommended to add ½ a cup of vinegar to your wash in the compartment meant for fabric softener. I personally use ¼ of a cup. For a load of whites add 1½ cups to the rinse cycle.

Walmart: 8 cents per ounce
IGA: 3 cents per ounce

All Purpose Surface/Glass Cleaner

This cleaner can be used in the kitchen, bathroom, front room and mudroom. Anywhere you need it, really! Vinegar effectively kills germs, mold, and viruses. Usually vinegar isn’t used because of its potent smell, but it is odorless once it is dried. And if you dry your windows well, there are no streaks. Just mix one cup of distilled white vinegar and one cup of water.

Note: If you are feeling creative, you can fill a small jar full of the peels of organic lemons or oranges, add the vinegar and let it sit for up to two weeks in a cool dark place. Give the jar a shake once or twice a day. After straining out the peels, add the cup of water. BONUS! This can also be used as a natural degreaser.

Walmart cleaner: 12 cents per ounce
Walmart degreaser: 64 cents per ounce
IGA: 3 cents per ounce

Wipes for the Bathroom/Kitchen

Mix ¾ cup distilled vinegar, ¾ cup filtered water, and 30 drops of tea tree essential oil (EO) in a wide-mouth mason jar. I like to get my essential oils at Regis Café after breakfast. Fold thin cotton squares that you have cut, and press them down into the jar to soak up the solution. Seal the jar and keep in a cool dark place. You can always flip the sealed jar up side down if they need to be soaked again.

During flu season, or if there is a particularly scary bug going around, I’ll take ¾ cup rubbing alcohol, ¾ cup filtered water, and skip the essential oil, since you wont smell it any way. This disinfectant has a powerful odor, but it’s temporary, and worth it.

Note: The pricing can depend on how many essential oils you use. I personally like a lemon 15/bergamot 8/lavender 8 combo, but if I should find my self out of other essential oils and only have one on hand it’s most likely tea tree oil.

Walmart: 7 cents per wipe, 30 wipes
IGA/Regis Café: 4 cents per wipe with EO, 30 wipes
IGA: 1 cent per wipe with rubbing alcohol, 30 wipes

Carpet Powder

  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 25 drops of essential oil
  • or 1 teaspoon of ground spices

After mixing in a container, an old spice container works fine. Sprinkle this on carpets, leave for 15 minutes then vacuum it up.

Note: Go half and half with baking soda and borax to get rid of fleas. Try ground cloves and cinnamon in this mix for a super yummy smell.

Walmart: 27 cents per ounce
True Value: 12 cents per ounce

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