Frugal Living

Innovative Sock Organization: The Crazy Trick for Socks That Saves Our Sanity

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Alex on August 12, 2014


Do the socks in your house drive you crazy?  Well, in our family of 7 and 7 sets of feet and the 14 pitter patters hundreds of times a day, the socks are an issue.

I know, I have tried so many things – washing in nets together (which only works if your family members keep them together to begin with), having the matched and unmatched bin and the sad and lonely unmatched socks, whom eventually get turned into cleaning rags or crafts if their mate doesn’t show up for eons.  It’s a sad fate for those little guys.  And it is a funny process to witness as the unmatched sock bin becomes more and more full each week.

Well, we finally found a solution (and one that we have done for a couple of years) and that also makes like easier, minimizes your “stuff” and makes life more enjoyable instead of a “hurry up” fight in the morning!

WARNING: it is a little weird.  I will totally admit that.  But at the same time, it is totally smart and totally makes sense.

And we can testify to the fact that IT TOTALLY WORKS! 

Are you ready for it?  Here it is…….

Throw out all of the socks in your house right now and go and buy a week’s worth of socks for every family member in your household.  BUT…. the new socks you buy need to be all one color or design per person and all different from each person.

Why?  Because, when you wash your socks with your laundry, and you go to fold and put away, it is super duper easy to identify whose socks are whose, it doesn’t matter if you have an odd number as they all become pairs (and maybe you will find the one that was missing, and if not still keep it for when another sock is lost and you will be even again ;)), it doesn’t even matter if you match them up! Better yet, throw them in a pile and tell your kids to come get their socks.  Our kids keep theirs in a gallon size bag in their drawer.  This makes it even easier!

It is a seriously easy, peasy, life-changing thing to do.

I know that throwing out old socks and buying new does not seem very thrifty – but the time and sanity you will save is worth it.  In fact, you know the old adage “time is money” and anything that saves time and helps you be more organized is worth the money.

But in terms of expense, this really is less than $10 per person.  Even high quality socks are not usually more than $10 for 7 pairs, but when we do refreshers on this (as the socks get old), we can typically get around $4-$5 per person with sales and bundled deals.

We have been doing this for a couple of years.  However, I drug my feet implementing this plan as I seriously thought was a bit extreme! 

But because of desperation to stop having the sock fight, to stop rummaging through bins of socks, to stop this insanity – I finally did it and it has been one of the best things ever for managing this area of life.

minimizing socks

There are a few things that are also learned from this experience:

Having less is more. I know it may sound silly, but there is real truth to that statement.  Just a lesson on minimizing socks has taught us this.  We feel like we have more with less socks, with less choices, with less laundry, with less “sock bins”…. it is more.  This concept can certainly carry over into other areas of our lives and we are still working on minimizing and simplifying other areas too.

How does being a minimalist/simple equal thriftiness? Well, in our opinion, you will spend less money (even if you are buying things for rock bottom prices), it trains your mind to not think you need to take advantage of every deal because you don’t want to have to deal with those extra things, you have less things to wash and take care of (which cost money!), and you are saving loads of time – which equals more money!

It also teaches yourself and your children to be content with what they have. This is a virtue that is often lost in the “stuff minded” world we live in! You cannot put a price on that!

We encourage you to join us to Be Intentional and get our lives simplified and more organized.  You can join our email list (we never sell your email or spam you – these are just personal emails from us to you about living a more frugal life – whatever the topic at hand be!) and our Facebook group to watch for updates and new challenges to encourage a more organized and simple life! 

What do you think of this idea? Do you think it is extreme?

Please share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions – we’d love to hear!


Alex & Cassie

26 Amazing Reasons to Have Lavender Essential Oils on Hand

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on July 9, 2014


As a frugal and trying to be healthy family, we do and have used essential oils in our home.

First, as mentioned many times before, we have used essential oils in cleaning for 8+ years now.

Second, a few years ago, we started using essential oils for personal care too! The combination of the two uses have been life-changing for our family and our health.  We are very thankful to have healthy, affordable and effective options.

So as we shared with the 17 Household Uses for Lemon Essential Oil, we wanted to talk about our favorite oil – Lavender!

Some of these uses can also be in the dried and fresh form, in fact, I am trying to grow lavender as well as there are many, many benefits to fresh and dried lavender.  But the benefit of the oil is that if you buy the right oils, you are getting a pure, unadulterated highly concentrated form of lavender that goes a long way and can be used much easier than a fresh or dried version – however, don’t throw out any dried or fresh lavender either!

The Details

Let’s talk about what lavender does (I am quoting my aromatherapy books and an essential oils encyclopedia where the hundreds of sources/tests/studies are listed).


The properties of lavender essential oil are that it has acted as an analgesic, anticoagulant, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anti-fungal, antihistamine, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitoxic, antitumor, cardiotonic, regenerative and sedative in hundreds of studies and tests.

Historical Uses

It has been used for thousands of years for homeopathic care and everyday use.  In a nutshell, lavender has been traditionally used for emotional issues, calming, cardiovascular functions, nervous system and for the skin.


First, always use an oil that is approved and certified for internal use or therapeutic use before you use an oil for the purpose (see notes below).

Second, evidence suggests that long term use of lavender has shown to be beneficial for hormones for women, but cause hormonal imbalance in males.  With that, we would suggest using it sparingly with young children and males.

Qualities of oils

I wanted to mention something very important – the types of qualities of essential oils that you purchase and use. First, these are not fragrance oils and you cannot get them at big box or grocery stores – those are different. Essential oils can be purchased at health food stores and online.

Cleaning Grade Essential Oils

For cleaning and many household uses, I will buy the more affordable pure essential oils that are about 1/2 the cost as the very high quality oils.  The reason why is that I am not convinced it is totally necessary to use the highest quality of essential oils for cleaning.  If you can afford the highest quality, then by all means, but for those on a budget like us, then a pure essential oil works just fine.

Essential Oils for Personal Use

For any personal, aromatherapy use – this is where I personally draw a hard fast line.  I think it is essential (no pun intended :)) to use the highest quality oils that you can get.  They already offer a more affordable option than medicines, and so this is not a place to skimp.  I am talking about when the oils touch your body or taken internally.

Where to get these different grades of oils?

I have quite a collection of both my cleaning grade and higher quality personal use oils.  Both companies that I purchase from are also available internationally (for those that have asked in the past).


For cleaning grade, I have purchased all of them from Vitacost website and they are affordable, convenient to get and have worked well.  You should also be able to get them at health food stores and from Amazon. For the best deal, see our post HERE on the 7 Best Essential Oils for Cleaning. 


For the higher quality oils, we understand that a few companies meet this criteria.  We personally have only tried doTerra, which is once such company that offers the highest quality of pure, therapeutic grade essential oils that are safe for personal use and even consumption. These have worked well for us.  We get the purest quality of oils from doTerra HERE (aff link).  They can seem to be pricey, but note that a 15ml bottle contains about 300 drops – so these really do last a very long time!

How Households Can Utilize Lavender Essential Oils Today

We personally find that we use lavender the most, or rather for the most purposes.  If anyone were to ask what one oil they should start with or have on hand, it would be lavender.

Personal Uses (we would only use the highest quality, pure, therapeutic grade oils for these) 

  1. Use lavender oil to help with sleep issues and sleeplessness. The main use that most everyone knows about is for anxiety and help with sleeping.  We have used it for this purpose for a very long time! It’s WONDERFUL this way! This is also a great use for the fresh and dried leaves, as well as the oil! We simply diffuse the oil or place on a cottonball and stick in pillowcases.
  2. Relieve headaches naturally.  I get headaches a lot.  Lavender oil has been my go-to natural drug.  I don’t like using OTC meds too often due to risks associated with them.  However, lavender has been amazing and I am so grateful and thankful that don’t have to worry about it being to harsh on other parts of my body.  When I have a headache, I rub diluted lavender oil in a rollerball (I dilute with fractionaed coconut oil, but many carrier oils will work) and roll this on my temples, the base of the back of my neck and sometimes my feet/toes. I was so amazed at how well this works. In fact, I used this even today as I was blogging (I get headaches from working on the computer :)) and I had relief in 15 minutes – you can see my picture on Instagram HEREAre you following us on Instagram yet? It’s a great place to see what we are up to each day! 
  3. Heal and relieve burns. If myself or anyone else gets accidentally burned from a pan or something, a drop of lavender oil will help to heal the burn and heal much quicker.
  4. Heal, clean and relieve cuts. If there is a skin abrasion, this is the go-to oil! We will sometimes use others in addition to lavender for further help per issue, but on it’s own is mighty fine!
  5. Help clear acne. Due to it’s antimicrobial and healing properties, it can clean out the acne and help your skin to recover.
  6. Help relieve and heal sunburns. We have also used vinegar, but we will follow some burns with lavender because of how helpful lavender is for the skin.  In this case, it is best to apply by spraying. Dilute the lavender in a glass bottle with purified water.
  7. Seasonal allergy reliever! Smelling lavender, diffusing lavender oil and even rubbing it on your feet or temples helps to relieve seasonal/environmental allergies like hay fever.  Honestly, this works sometimes, and sometimes this works best when combined with allergy meds too.  We only have to take allergy meds a couple of times a year (assuming this must be our extreme allergy time) and the rest of the year, the other reactions are often relieved with lavender!
  8. Menstrual cramp reliever.  Just rub it on your abdomen during that fun time of the month!
  9. Cold Sore healer. Similar to the acne issue, cold sores can be relieved the same way.
  10. Achy muscle soother.  If you have a muscle ache, rub lavender oil on your sore muscles for relief!
  11. Most any issue involving the skin, lavender is a great option!
  12. It is also my most favorite oil in my homemade personal care recipes (and be watching for those as I will start sharing them now :))

Household Uses (many of these are links to other articles)

  1. Make aromatherapy tissues for allergy and cold relief.
  2. Make your own laundry detergent with scent like Tide
  3. Make your own fabric softener.
  4. Make your own Downy Unstoppables laundry scent booster, but with natural ingredients.
  5. Make your own soothing baby wipes.
  6. Fabric refresher - Create this by mixing purified water with lavender oil. Just spray your fabrics when needed!
  7. Diffuse in the air with an oil diffuser. Check out the post HERE on diffusers. 
  8. Make your own fragrance diffuser.
  9. Spa Baths – Enjoy a calming, relaxing and healthful bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil. Even use epsom salts with lavender oil in your bath! 
  10. Lavender pillow or rice warmer.  Fill a small pillow with rice and then sprinkle lavender oil and warm this up in the microwave for less than a minute for a sinus, headache, calming treatment.
  11. Make your own cleaning products. Because of the many cleaning, purifying and cleansing properties of lavender, it is a GREAT ingredient to add to homemade cleaning products for a chemical-free option. We share over 26 homemade cleaning products on our cleaning page HERE and some of these contain lavender oil.


Many of these cleaning recipes use lavender oil! 

Cooking Uses (only the high quality, pure, therapeutic grade essential oils for this purpose!) 

  1. Teas – brew your own tea with dried lavender or even with lavender oil.  As a tip, don’t let the water boil – remove the water right before it reaches boiling point. If not, it will burn the oil.
  2. Homemade breads – adding a drop of lavender can really enhance and make a very earthy and yummy flavor to your breads.  This requires experimentation, but lavender is an herb and think about how yummy breads are with herbs!
  3. Flavor enhancer in recipes.  Yogurt, salads, ice cream, Soups, Mediterranean and Italian dishes are nice with a very slight hint of lavender – one drop is more than enough. Another area where it is fun to experiment and receive nice flavor and health benefits too!  I don’t use lavender often in the kitchen (not like other oils that I will talk about later) but I do use it on occasion.

What uses do you use lavender essential oil for?  

See more household tips HERE

See our Essential Oils Pinterest Board HERE 

*Please note, this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition or replace any medicines or medical treatment, it is purely our opinion from our experience and research from a non-medical perspective.  Please confirm all of these things with your doctor. 

{ 1 comment }

Alex & Cassie

Maximize Amazon Subscribe and Save to Receive Even Better Discounts

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Alex on April 11, 2014


Note from The Thrifty Couple: This is written by our friend Theresa (mom to a family of 11) who has been using the Amazon Subscribe and Save program for a while now and is sharing how it all works and the benefits of it! We also use Amazon Subscribe and Save monthly as it is like shopping Walmart’s prices, but online, plus even more discounts to make the prices better.  But we will let her tell you all about it! 

The UPS delivery woman knocks briskly on my door a lot around the beginning of the month, leaving my porch filled with awkwardly stacked boxes. That’s because my Amazon Subscribe and Save order arrives between the 1st and 7th every month. I love Subscribe and Save.

Getting Started with Subscribe and Save

The Amazon Subscribe and Save program can be a convenient and easy way to save money. Here are some basics if you are ready to try it out!

Not all grocery items are part of the Subscribe and Save program. If they are available for subscription, you will see an option to subscribe to the item under the “Add to Cart” button. To subscribe, just select the quantity and frequency of delivery, and click subscribe now.


If that seems like a lot of commitment, don’t worry! You aren’t marrying it, you can change any of the details about your subscription at any time. It is easy to access your Subscribe and Save subscription page from the options under the “Your Account” tab. You can even cancel an item before the first shipment is sent if you change your mind, just as long as you do it before your order is prepared.

If you end up running out too soon, or not needing the next shipment, you have the option to change the schedule to make the delivery frequency anywhere from 1 month to 6 months apart. Or, if you end up getting a great deal somewhere else on a usually delivered item, you can skip a delivery with one click.

Amazon will send you an email every month before they get your Subscribe and Save order ready, reminding you that your order is shipping soon. This is your chance to make any changes. I check mine over carefully to make sure that I want to get all the items this month that are scheduled to come.

Subscribe and Save Discounts

Getting the best deal on Subscribe and Save takes some savvy shopping and knowledge of how the program works. Let’s talk discounts.


Every subscribe and save order gets a 5% discount off the regular “Add-to-Cart-and-Ship-Now” price . For veteran coupon shoppers, this doesn’t sound like much. Don’t worry, it gets lots better! If you subscribe to 5 or more items to be delivered on your monthly delivery day, you will get 15% off your entire Subscribe and Save shipment. For Amazon Mom’s members, that 15% gets bumped up to 20%. So make sure you are signed up for Amazon Mom, which also gets you 20% off of diapers and wipes subscriptions, regardless of how big your monthly shipment is.

If you haven’t already done it, you should sign up for a free 3 month trial to Amazon Mom which includes Prime benefits. That’s a great way to get the best available discounts and see if Subscribe and Save works well for your family’s needs.

Stacking Discounts with Coupons

Alright, so 15% or 20% off is more like honest to goodness savings, isn’t it? The real fun starts though, when you realize that you can stack Amazon coupons with a Subscribe and Save discount. The coupon applies only to the first month’s delivery of the item. However, since it is so easy to cancel, signing up for a Subscribe and Save shipment with every intention of only getting that first, deeply discounted order is no problem. Just make sure you are checking over your order thoroughly every month when you get that reminder email to make deletions and any other needed changes to any previous orders.

There are two basic types of coupons at Amazon: the fixed dollar off amount, and the percentage off.

The best strategy for the dollar off type is usually to look for the smallest unit available. A $1.50 off coupon might not make much of a dent in the price of a 6 pack of deodorant for instance, but can make a single deodorant a screaming deal after discounts. These dollar off coupons for small items can be a great way to build up to the 5 items a month needed to get your 15% (or 20% for Amazon Mom’s members) off for the whole order.

For the percentage off coupons, the percentage is figured from the original price. So a 25% off coupon stacked with a 15% discount makes for a true 40% off. These coupons are often a great way to stock up, if you have the margin in your budget to buy a case. Of course, I do find with my 9 children (4 of whom are teenagers), there is no such thing as stocking up, there is only more to eat!

Sometimes coupons stick around for a month or more, sometimes they only last a very short time. Check out the Amazon coupon page HERE to find out what deals are currently offered.

Recurring Shipments

There are several items that I just find very convenient to be shipped to me. I get a case of high quality toilet paper and paper towels at a great price, shipped every other month without having to wait for sales or coupons, wrestle it into a cart, then in and out of the car. I appreciate that a lot. Coconut oil, Larabars, and tea are other items I have in my recurring shipments. Just check the prices on items you normally get locally or through a co-op and see if Subscribe and Save is cheaper.

When shopping for items for recurring delivery, make sure you check all sizes, flavors, and quantities available. There is often a significant difference in per unit price between these variations. Like box and mortar stores, Amazon does provide a per ounce or per item price to make comparison easier. Look for it right after the price on the product description page. Just like regular stores though, sometimes the unit being used isn’t consistent, so you have to figure it out yourself!

If you happen to see a coupon for an item that is already part of your regular shipment (as has happened to me a couple times), the only way to take advantage of that deal is to start a new delivery order for that item. Then just make sure you go and cancel the other standing delivery if you don’t want to be receiving two of the same. Your most recent Subscribe and Save orders will be closest to the top on your Subscribe and Save account page, scroll down to find the one you need to cancel. Sometimes a coupon you used to subscribe the previous month will still be valid, and you can just rinse and repeat.

Here’s hoping you find some great Subscribe and Save deals, and your UPS deliveries are exciting every month!

See more details about:

Amazon’s Subscribe and Save home shopping delivery service HERE

Amazon Mom’s Discount Baby products program HERE

Amazon’s available monthly coupons HERE

{ 1 comment }

Alex & Cassie

5-Minute Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe: Quick, Easy and Cheap

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on March 28, 2014


I’ve finally done it! I’ve finally tried a homemade liquid laundry detergent.

For years, I have used my homemade versions of powdered laundry detergent. We love them and have been completely satisfied with our homemade powdered detergents. I have been making the powdered detergents for so long that they have been tried and tested in both an old used regular upright washing machine and new HE front loading washer. In both machines as they work well! They are cheap and I can make it in 10 minutes. We have also heard from many of you that you like these powdered detergents as well.

But we have had several of you that have raved about homemade liquid detergents. I haven’t had a desire to make laundry detergent this way as nearly every recipe has required a pretty decent amount of time and labor. I HATE grating soap. I also don’t want to spend 24 hours making laundry detergent. Yes, I know, hands-on wise, it’s not that long. But in all honesty, when I run out of detergent, I usually need more ASAP. So, I just haven’t felt the need to try liquid if my powder one works great and takes 10 minutes to make.

Well, a couple of months ago, we had a family that stayed with us overnight (we are part of a Christian Hospitality Network for Christian families all over the world to have a place to stay, and if we go on the road, we have hundreds of places to stay too! It’s GREAT!…..Now back on topic ;)) and the mom in this family also liked making her own cleaning products as well. She also agreed that homemade liquid laundry detergents take too much time and this has stopped her from making it. She’s like me…. if she runs out, she needs more right away, not a day later.

She shared that she found an instant liquid laundry detergent recipe. I was intrigued and thought I would give it a whirl myself. She sent me the recipe a few days later when she got home from Everyday Cheapskate.

So I gave it a whirl and added my own modifications with essential oils.

Here’s the recipe and then I will talk about the pros and cons at the bottom.


What you need:

- 3/4 cup of Borax
- 3/4 cup of Washing Soda (or Soda Ash)
- 3/4 cup of Original Blue Dawn Dish soap
- Lavender essential oil (get them HERE)
- Hottest tap water
- 1-gallon container with a tight lid (I also used the Arrowhead water container, you can grab them for $1-$1.50 filled, drink the water and you have an affordable heavy duty container with a tight fitting lid and a comfy hand grip to make it easy to use).

Okay – are you ready for this……. it’s quite complicated! :)


  • Dump the 34/ cup of Borax and Washing Soda in the bottom of a gallon jug with a tight lid – I used a funnel to not lose any.


  • Then, with the hottest tap water you can muster, fill your bottle with water to the bottom of the label.


  • Put the lid on tight and shake vigorously (BONUS: you will work on your underarm wings at the same time!)


  • Then add you 3/4 cup of Original Blue Dawn Dish Soap.


  • Muster up the hottest tap water again and fill up your bottle until the bubbles reach the top (liquid line will be several inches down still).  I actually filled the 3/4 cup scoop and poured it into the funnel to fill it to wash out any remaining down and washing down into the bottle.


  • Then put the lid on again and shake vigorously, switching the hard working side to the other side to get an equal underarm wing workout (no one wants just one wing ya know ;)).
  • Finally, let it set on the counter for a bit for the bubbles to settle.
  • Then top it off with lavender essential oil (about 10-12 drops) if you like (I LOVE lavender in my laundry) and a slow flow of hot water to fill it up (slow flow to not create a lot of bubbles again).


That’s it!

To use:

  • Simply add 1/4 cup of this liquid detergent to a full wash load (this is enough!) and less for smaller loads. The amount is the same in both a top loader and an HE machine.  I have an HE machine now and I have been using this with no problems. It doesn’t create a lot of suds and so it’s great for HE machines.


  • This detergent is super easy to make and I can make it in half the time of my powder and a lot less equipment.
  • It seems to be quite effective in our laundry!  Dawn is also used often as a stain remover, so it makes sense to include it in a detergent!
  • The laundry smells great!
  • The laundry seems to be nice and clean!


  • The mixture does separate.  The blue Dawn will settle at the top.  So every time I need to use it, I just shake it vigorously for about 5 seconds before adding to the washer.  But I look at this as a pro as it forces me (again) to work on my underarms.  The housework workout is quite an effective one, but there aren’t many things that work on the underarms – so now you will be lifting a several pound weight and shaking it = underarm workout bonus for no additional cost!
  • Your clothes can become a little starchy according to others, I have not noticed this at all – perhaps it’s because I also use vinegar in every load – which I highly recommend.  This will do many things additional to your laundry, but also help the Dawn wash out completely to prevent starching.
  • It is not technically natural.  My powdered versions are totally natural.  But because of the Blue Dawn, it cannot be labeled natural.  However, original Blue Dawn is one of the mildest commercial products.  Again, not the Dawn’s with a bunch of added stuff and scents, just the good ol’ classic.  The good news is that this is the cheapest dawn and it get’s cheaper the bigger bottle you buy.

This was the biggest bottle at Walmart (56 oz.) as it was the best value at the time, but after buying this, I saw it at Costco and Sam’s Club that was about twice the size and even cheaper per ounce.

After this first batch, this is how much I have left. So this will last me for quite a while!


 See more Homemade Products

See our Home Pinterest Board


Alex & Cassie

Replace Commercial Cleaners with Homemade Alternatives to Save Big Money

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on March 19, 2014


As a reminder, the 30 Be Intentional baby steps are designed to get you on the right foot, the right track and give you energy, efficiency and organization which will propel you into a life that is able to develop an overall financially smart, happy and frugal home. We encourage couples and families to do these challenges together so the whole house can function well!

As the 30 steps go along, we will be focusing on 5 areas for the Be Intentional Month:

  • Self
  • Home
  • Budget
  • Schedule
  • Frugality

See the full list of baby steps HERE.

So we are on the last category – Frugality! And as we continue with each of these, we wanted to encourage you to make continued steps for frugality so that you can more freedom with your money.

Baby Step #26

Begin or Continue to Replace Store-bought Products with Homemade Versions

One very easy frugal move to make is in the area of homemade cleaning products.  They are easy to make, cheap to make, safe to use and effective!

We have been working on the list of 26 Homemade Cleaners Recipes and we will continue to grow this list! The best news is that there is a printable shopping list to be able to make the 26 cleaners with 12 ingredients and $9! You can also find information on how to give these products an efficiency boost with affordable essential oils as well.  Just find the recipe from this list HERE for the commercial cleaning products that you want to replace and then make those (you don’t need to make all 26, just the ones you would use!).

Start with one switch and add another every couple of weeks or so and soon enough, you will have your cleaning pantry filled with your own products and you will saved hundreds!

To see the full list of recipes, head to our cleaning page HERE

One final thing….. we also have a Facebook Group where you can engage in discussions, receive encouragement and talk to others that are participating in the challenges too for more ideas! Head to the Be Intentional with The Thrifty Couple Facebook Page HERE and ask to join us there! You can also invite friends and spouses too!


Alex & Cassie