5 Semi-Hippie Things I Do to Save Money

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So maybe you’ve heard (or perhaps you’re tired of hearing) … we’re getting out of debt. Not just kinda sorta getting out of debt. Oh no, we are all-in trying to be completely debt free.


We finished paying off over 100,000$ of student loan debt back in 2018. As of this update, we have saved up cash for cars, owe less than 1/4 the value of our house on our mortgage, and pay off our credit card every week. I LOVE helping people find ways to live on less than they make and get ahead financially. If that’s what you want in life, keep reading!!

It’s all about your mindset!!

To that end, I have picked up a few borderline hippie habits to save money, that I would not otherwise have been inclined to try. If you know us, we’re not that hippie-ish. We like red meat, we don’t grow our own vegetables, I don’t think twice about tossing poopy diapers in the trash. I slather Desitin and non-organic sunscreen on my babies’ skin, and I shop at Walmart.

Sorry, hippie friends. We can still get along. [I’m also not critical of anyone who prefers vegan, gluten free, non gmo sunscreen or whatever. I have boat loads of friends in that category now that we homeschool. To each her own.]

BUT, in the spirit of saving money at home, I have tried a few “natural mom” things that I’ve grown to tolerate. So, I figured, I’d share the love, for my hippie and non-hippie friends alike.

#1 Ditch Paper Towels – Use These 3 Things Instead

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I hardly ever buy paper towels anymore. I think a Costco size package lasts a year now.

Am I anti-paper towel? Nope.

Are they easier? Yep.

Are there alternatives?! Yep… for almost everything.


I bought cloth napkins with a gift card at Anthropologie – We use them for every meal…. Everyone has their own color and uses them at every meal. I wash them a couple times a week.

Here is a multi color pack on Amazon.


I also have plenty of flour sack towels!! Having a drawer full of these and washing all my cloth cleaning products together once a week definitely cuts down on how often we buy paper towels.

Then, this crazy cool German Shammy/ Shamwow is amazing!! It dries up ANYTHING. Spill an entire pot of coffee? No problem! Enter the German Shammy. GET THREE FOR UNDER $15 ON AMAZON


I use these super soft microfiber cloths for cleaning my kids’ hands and faces, high chairs, whatever they touch really. Haha! They clean amazingly with JUST WATER and I’ve had this little 3 pack for 7 years now… they last forever.

It is actually easier to wipe them off with a cloth than a paper towel too – more leverage & friction.

Because when they look like this, you need leverage and friction. 😉


PLUS they’re embedded with antimicrobial silver, which inhibits the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria within the cloth as it dries.

2 Cloths > Paper Towels for Everything Glass/ Shiny

I use this 2-cloth package to clean everything “shiny”

  • Any glass
  • Windows
  • Mirrors
  • Stainless steel appliances
  • Inside/ outside car

The softer looking cloth also cleans everything else in your house with just water.

  • Trim
  • Tables & counters
  • Floors
  • Stovetops
  • Sinks
  • Anything else you can possibly think of
  • If you leave it dry, it’ll dust amazingly well too.
Limited edition colors: BASIC PACKAGE

I do use paper towels for bacon… there is no substitute that I can think of. I usually have a roll of paper towels around for soaking up grease on the plate if I’m cooking bacon. Although now that I think about it… maybe just never soak up the grease. Yum.

#2 Cloth Diapering

This is something I tolerate. I don’t love cloth diapering. I don’t think everyone and their grandma should exclusively cloth-diaper. Quite frankly, I don’t care about it that much. But, keeping Emma in cloth most of the time keeps our diaper budget under $15 a month. (I wrote this post about how we cloth diaper, what my favorites are, and how much money it saves… if you’re into that kind of thing.)

NOTE: As soon as we had more margin, I switched to disposable diapers with our last 2 kids, even as we were getting out of debt still. I just didn’t love the time and energy required to maintain this. Plus, neither Dad nor the grandparents were interested, so we had to buy disposables anyway!

cloth diapers
cloth diapering

*Bonus: ridiculously cute cloth-diaper-clad-buns

#3 – Baking Soda & Vinegar

These are so cheap & can be used to clean a variety of things in your household.

  • Kitchen sink – test it first if you have a newer, fancy stone stink
  • Shower head – vinegar gets the hard water stuff out
  • Washing Machine, Dishwasher, and Coffee Pot – deep clean
  • Baking Soda will soften clothes in the washing machine
  • Kitchen drain – I clean with these & then toss half a lemon in and run the disposal! (I pull out the leftover rind when it’s off.)

#4 – Minimal Kids’ Stuff & Clothes

I imagine that hippie kids play outside barefoot and wear the same clothes all the time!? This is probably not at all realistic, but early on in our parenting journey, I DRASTICALLY simplified my kids’ stuff.

I went Marie Kondo crazy before it was cool and pared all the kid stuff down. Toys, clothes, shoes, educational activities, all of it!!

The crazy thing is – my kids play for hours and hours and hours on their own. They’d entertain themselves almost all day every day. They just don’t need much.

As they’ve gotten older, they have been allowed to have more stuff – especially related to particular hobbies, games, crafts, etc. But they’re also old enough to do chores to earn money to buy what they want and manage it/ clean it up themselves!

When they were all under 7, we had a few bins of basic building toys like duplos, wooden blocks, and magnetic tiles. An art cabinet, a puzzles/ games shelf, & a dress-up/ make believe bin. That was basically it.

They just don’t need much.

Also, my kids are barefoot outside as much as they want to be when it’s seasonally appropriate. And sometimes when it’s not.

They only have a few of most clothing categories – 6 or fewer!

They do their own laundry & we don’t fold it.

They each have one stainless steel water bottle which cuts down on dishes. (I don’t buy any fancy drinks except on special occasions.)

Just keeping kid stuff a minimum in general helps save money and simplify!

#5 Sustainable Cleaning 

I use to be the queen of chemical cleaners. I used clorox wipes on everything and loved the smell of that lemony fresh cleaning aisle.

NEVER DID I EVER think I would make my own cleaning products or “invest” (got them free) in non-toxic reusable cleaning stuff. LOL I just didn’t care about reducing chemicals.

But then I read some stuff, and realized maybe my chemical cleaners were doing more harm than good.

Part of the disinfecting instructions include: “pre-cleaning the surface (????) and making sure the surface remains visibly wet for 4 minutes.” They recommend wearing gloves and washing hands after use too.

I started out by trying to make my own cleaning products…. Vinegar + baking soda + etc. And I still use those for some things as I mentioned above.

But generally speaking, I felt like they didn’t work for the hard to clean stuff…. The homemade laundry detergent didn’t get stains out and vinegar isn’t a disinfectant unless you leave it WET on something for 30 minutes…. which is hard to do and damages stuff.

Not only is it nearly impossible to use lysol wipes correctly (read the label on the back), but they just spread the germs around, as this video demonstrates.

Now I use this envirocloth embedded with anti microbial silver. It removes 99% of bacteria from the surface (instead of trying to kill the bacteria), and then the cloth releases everything when rinsed under hot water. You just hang it up to dry & keep using it. You only need a few to clean your entire house and wash them once a week. It’s truly mind blowing!!

I use the shinier one for drying stuff streak free – glass, windows, mirrors, etc.

I ended up joining Norwex! LOL I know, I know. Never did I ever think I’d sign up for something like this, but hear me out.

I basically NEVER buy cleaning products anymore. And even with barely doing any Norwex parties now, being a “consultant,” pays for itself every year so I get all my Norwex stuff now for free anyway.

In 2017, a friend introduced me to Norwex. She showed me the super inexpensive low risk way to join and I figured – worst case scenario, I’m out $200 but I have all these amazingly effective cleaning products that my kids can safely use to help me and they last forever.

I did some Facebook parties and made $1000 in the first 2 months and I was sold!

Slowly, over the course of a few years, I took one step at a time towards my hippie friends who, as it turns out, were on to something with the whole stop-breathing-in-chemicals-all-the-time. 

So, yeah! I now love Norwex.

Been using it almost exclusively for 7 years now. Never going back. I’ve even experimented with other things to see if there are better, cheaper options, and I’m always disappointed.


  • You’ll have to do 1-2 facebook parties – but I’ll give you everything for it so you can copy & paste.
  • You’ll have to pay for part of that up front.
  • You don’t HAVE to do the $400 free… you can just pay $35 to join and then when you throw a party and earn $300 in commission, you can spend that on whatever you want at the 35% off discount!!

Bonus #6: DIY-toilet paper


These 5 simple hippie-inspired changes add up in savings!

$80 monthly savings in diapers= $960/ year (2 boxes that cost $40 each would be low end cost for a baby exclusively in disposables.)

$20 monthly savings in cleaning products = $240/ year (I don’t buy them anymore…)

$10 monthly savings in paper towels = $120/ year (I buy one pack of Costco paper towels approximately once or twice per year at the most.)

$100 monthly savings in kids stuff = $1200 **

TOTAL=  $1320/ year.

**Calculated because we budget $125/ month for 4 kids’ clothes (our kids are currently ages 6-11). Considering their growth spurts, having tween girls, and that we don’t budget ANYTHING for kids toys/ crap… I’m guessing we save AT LEAST $100 a month by keeping this so low.

check out these other money-saving and budgeting tips I WROTE.

save money tips

p.s. this post was linked up at Motivational Monday & featured on Mom’s Morning Coffee.

30 thoughts on “5 Semi-Hippie Things I Do to Save Money”

  1. The comments on my site are turned off now, but I'd love to hear from you on Instagram! Follow me there & tag me in a comment or DM me. Xo I'm @MrsReneeCook on Instagram!
  2. I dabble in semi-hippiness and then get lazy about it, so thanks for the inspiring post! Also, I didn’t read all the comments so sorry if I’m repeating, but I have a tip to help with the bacon grease. Line a cookie sheet with bacon, put it in a cold oven, and turn the oven temp to 400•F. After about 15-18 minutes, you have a pan of crispy bacon (which freezes well in case this makes too much bacon for your family to eat in one setting). Drain the grease into a jar and store in the fridge, then use in cooking to add a pinch of bacon flavor to things like scrambled eggs or sautéed greens.

  3. I love the post and the title…totally made me laugh 🙂 I actually purchased some cheap hand towels at the dollar store and stored them in a glass container on my counter in place of the paper towel roll. It has made me SO aware of how often I would reach for a paper towel without even thinking about it! Although occasionally we still use paper (I am with you on the bacon), it feels good to go “green” with this idea. Every dollar counts when your paying down debt!

  4. LOL!! paper plates + cloth napkins 🙂 that’s us if we entertain large groups because it never occurs to me to buy paper napkins. haha!!

  5. I live in Oregon – for years in the greater Eugene area. Some things are just a natural outflow of that (reusable shopping bags for instance), but we’ve used cloth napkins our entire married life (32 years!) and I can’t imagine keeping packages of paper napkins around – what a mess they make. I grew up in a decidedly non-hippy home, but my mom kept a drawer full of cloth napkins next to the kitchen table, so I blame it on genetics.
    I followed a pinterest link to find you and I love your easy-going approach. Yes, I shop Walmart, no I don’t grow my own veggies. I use paper plates. With cloth napkins. Go ahead and laugh.

  6. yes – good point!! the alternatives aren’t free! we actually decided just this week that we’ll do disposable for baby #3 🙂 post coming soon!

  7. Like you and many have said, to each their own. I practically raised my baby sister who wore cloth diapers and vowed to never use them EVER! My son wore disposables.

    I just want to point out that sometimes the math isn’t correct. Yes, you literally stop spending money on the disposables, but when switching to cloth, you fail to add in their costs. First, you are doing way more laundering (washing and drying). That’s water, electricity and soap. And those diapers don’t last forever, replacements will be needed. That goes for the ‘rag cloths’ you use in place of the paper towels. I appreciate your quest to save money and pay down debts, but the alternatives are not free. 🙂

  8. i know what you mean! there are so many things that just don’t matter 🙂 no need to major on the minors. thanks for reading!

  9. You had me at eating red meat, tossing poopy diapers, using regular sunscreen, and shopping at Walmart! I have the same opinion as you-to each their own and nothing wrong with any of the above or buying all organic-whatever floats your boat. It’s so refreshing to find someone who isn’t extreme either way, just finding what works for your family!

  10. If you like the lemony smell of the cleaners you can add a drop or 2 of lemon essential oil to the mixture. Ive done this and i love the smell (it will cut the vinegar smell). Also lemon oil can be super cheap, from edens gardern oiils a 5 ML bottle is only 3.95.

  11. Tara – muslin is a good idea! I think I have some muslin fabric around somewhere… I wonder how the grease would wash out 🙂

  12. For lettuce – a well wrung or dry linen tea towel. Cotton is fine but not the fluffy type. It might work for bacon too. My husband uses muslin cloths for a lot of that kitcheny stuff.

  13. Lol – who knew menstrual cups would be such a hot topic. if this whole motherhood/grace blog doesn’t work out, i’ll have to start a menstrual cup blog. but first i’d have to try it, soooo yeah. i’ll stick to coupons and generic brand for now 😉

  14. We went with cloth diapers most of the time when our kids were little and yes, it did save a lot of money! I also agree that paper towels are the only way to go when I cook up bacon. 🙂

    I am cracking up about the menstrual cup comment thread – but totally agree! Saved tons of money and said goodbye to cramping so it was all good and I highly recommend it. Even though it is SO weird to talk about. LOL

    Stopping by from the Coffee & Conversation link party, and looking forward to visiting again.

  15. Renee,
    I LOVE this post – had me laughing AND learning at the same time!!
    Tip: for bacon: cook it on a foil-lined cookie sheet for ~20 mins @450, maybe turning over once. After it’s done, leave the sheet out to cool, then wrap up the foil and, voila!, no rags OR paper towel necessary1 Seriously, I had stopped cooking bacon because I ABHOR cleaning up after it… The guys in my family now think I’m a rock star again 😉

    Yeah, so I love this post so much we’re featuring it on this week’s Coffee & Conversation!
    Thank you SO much for sharing there…please do come back again…and often!

  16. hahaha!!! that cracks me up. I’ll have to check out your recipe. although i might have to start composting and baking granola if i make your wipes 😉 thanks for popping over!

  17. This post had me laughing, Renee! My husband has accused me of becoming a hippie for doing similar things! We actually started making homemade butt wipes (we don’t have a baby, ahem), and they are great for, well, their designated purpose. I imagine you could use them on a baby just the same, and they take only a few minutes to make. If you’re interested, here’s a link to my recipe: http://www.goodstewardclub.com/homemaking/diy-homemade-wipes/ By the way, they do require paper towels, but if you buy them on sale, you won’t find any wipes on the market that cost less. Oh, and you’ll get extra “crunchy” if you use the suggested peppermint essential oil 😉

  18. You wanna to stop a conversation in its tracks, tell someone you’re thinking about using a menstrual cup…. lol.
    I was the type of person that had long and heavy periods… 7 to 10 days… super plus tampons etc, etc. … fetal position for the first few days. Now it is 3 to 4 days (maybe), very light, hardly any cramps. You don’t have to babysit it like a tampon, which is awesome too… esp with 2 kiddos constantly in the bathroom with me. lol

  19. Whew we’re right there with you! It’s a big number but keep at it. The menstrual cup has me laughing out loud, literally! Hahaha! that is amazing.. it seriously shortened and lightened your periods!? I’ve heard about that hair thing too. But by Day 3 I’m such a mess. Hard to imagine making it to 30! THanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  20. We are in the process of paying off $80,000 in student loan debt. I have gone to cloth napkins, no paper plates, powdered condensed soup mixes (they taste SO much better) , gallons of vinegar cleaner homemade (so cheap at Sams, like 3 bucks for 2 huge jugs). Homemade brownie mixes.
    I am a huge couponer, and when I wasn’t able find tampon deals, I started looking at menstrual cups. (The me of 5 years ago would’ve cut and run.) I bought a cup for $20 bucks to save money and in turn made my periods shorter and less painful.

    I had a friend do the 30 days of not washing her hair, it is not supposed to stay greasy, etc. She did it to not buy shampoo/conditioner. Haven’t gone to that extreme, but she thinks I’m crazy for the menstrual cup…lol

  21. ha i had the same thoughts about ‘home made’ paper towels; or buying a package of cloths. I don’t remember where I heard that t-shirt idea but it’s so handy! i like having things around that i don’t run out of too 🙂

  22. We cloth diaper too. I love the idea of cutting up old shirts to replace paper towel use. I’ve been considering making reusable paper towels but I just haven’t wanted to spend the money…and who has time for that? We have plenty of old t-shirts that haven’t been worn in years so I’m totally doing this. We switched to cloth napkins late last year and have loved the saved money and less waste. I’m trying the homemade cleaner too. Love all these tips!

  23. As someone who hates the smell of “lemony fresh chemical cleaner,” I’ve been doing the vinegar & baking soda thing for years and love it! One tip: if you ever do clean something with a bleach-based product, make sure to wash thoroughly with water (or let a sufficient amount of time pass) before cleaning with vinegar – otherwise you get toxic chlorine gas that takes forever to clear even with fans running. Not that I would know from personal experience…

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