Everyone’s heard of the three R’s in relation to the environment - reduce, reuse, and recycle. I actually think they are missing two other R’s that are very important to not only the environment by also your pocketbook.

It should be Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, and Restore. Have you heard someone say, or said to yourself, ”They don’t make them like they used to.” Well, here is your answer to holding on to those well-made items and saving some money in the process.

Reduce – First start out by going through your stuff getting rid of the clutter that you don't or won't use. However, don’t throw it out, give it away to friends or family, take to a church yard sale, post it for free online or a few dollars on Craigslist. Then, make sure you make a conscious effort to limit what you bring new into the house.

In our home, my partner loves to collect hats, but we have agreed on a rule that when one is brought into the house, one must go. This allows us to keep the ones we truly like and use, we have quality over quantity.

Recycle – This picks up where reducing leaves off, trying to get more stuff to other people who need it than to the landfill. This would include finding places to give away or sell your items.

I think the hardest items to recycle are electronics. At Earth911 I am able to recycle those digital cameras and cell phones to possible further their life. Then for the oddball item like prescription glasses, packing peanuts or shoes - The goodhuman has a list

Reuse – It all comes down to extending the life of an item, whether it is used longer for the same thing or used longer in different ways. One way is wearing clothes a little longer to cut down on the number of loads of laundry. Washing out a bread sack and using it to put a lunch in for work. May be even washing out that same sandwich bag, letting it dry and using that again for the next weeks worth of lunches so you don't have to buy a lunch bag.

Reusing an item can be creative as well- coffee grounds could be used to clean pots and pans, use as mulch in your garden and a way to repel ants, or dye fabric with them.

Repair – Instead of going out to look for a coffee table brand new at the store, try some creative ways of repairing a broken one or personalizing an older, stained coffee table. Who cares what friends say, you have just saved yourself money and added more character to your home.

Restore – When you are saving money, you want the best for as little as possible. Since you shop at yard sales and flea markets to find those antique gems that are made well, you are going to bring home some stuff that doesn’t look as good as it should.

We saved a much-needed dresser from the garbage truck; even though it had seen better days it was well crafted and a solid investment. We brought it home, sanded it down, painted it and put on some simple drawer knobs. Viola! Like new again and people who see it would never know where we got it unless we told them. Plus I have the added pride of knowing that I saved money and that the project was done with my own two hands.

The 5 R’s of basic frugality, once mastered put you on a solid foundation for frugal living. Saving money doesn't mean you have to be chintzy, but with patient, creative and holding onto something with quality, you keep your money.


  1. melyn // Wednesday, March 04, 2009 4:24:00 AM  

    I have an award for you. Please stop by my blog to pick it up. Thank you for inspiring me to save and become debt free!

  2. Jim // Wednesday, March 04, 2009 6:25:00 AM  

    Sorry to contradict what you have written, but I always thought "Reduce" meant to reduce what you buy/acquire in the first place... to stem the tide of consumption.

  3. ~Dawn C // Wednesday, March 04, 2009 9:44:00 AM  

    Good point - reducing what we bring into the house is always the optimal goal.
    For myself, reducing the clutter in the home is a good way to know what I have and determine what I need.

  4. Bargain Mama (molly) // Sunday, March 08, 2009 10:43:00 PM  

    Great post and good reminders.


  5. Adam // Tuesday, March 10, 2009 8:17:00 AM  

    Great ideas, I would have never thought there were 2 more R's in the equation.

    I will put some of these ideas to use around my house!

  6. Dawn C // Tuesday, March 10, 2009 9:59:00 AM  

    Always happy to remind people, including myself

    Thanks for stopping by and enjoying the post.

  7. Ife (ThriftyWAHM.com) // Wednesday, March 11, 2009 7:01:00 PM  

    Love the link for recycling electronics as this is a big issue for me. Will share this with my readers. Thanks!