Thursday, 8 September 2011

Thrifty Thursday #2– Paper Money

thrifty thursday

Watching a repeat of Valentine Warner’s “Ration Book Britain” recently, I was reminded how people during wartime were so very careful to re-use paper whenever they could.

These days we are all very good putting paper in the recycling bin, and using loo-rolls made from recycled stuff etc. – but how often do we actually use a piece of paper more than once? Doing that is not only green, it helps with thriftiness.

Cut up the paper you have and make it serve another purpose before it goes into the bin!

But this is one time when you need to spend a little first in order to save a lot. Three things I have found useful – a trimmer, a glue stick, and a pack of blank cards.


OK, you can use scissors – but a trimmer gives a good straight line, and decent right angles – which looks more professional. I find that many of the greetings cards I receive can be easily trimmed – and stuck on the front of a blank, make another card for mere pence [I never pay more than 5p for a card plus envelope- usually much less- by buying them in The Works, the Range or Poundshops] I make all my own Christmas cards this way. You don’t need to be Dawn Bibby or Martha Stewart – yes, fancy punches and embellishments do make things a little more fancy – but an attractive picture simply stuck onto a card is fine. And it is the thought that counts – what you write inside is the special part of receiving a greeting.


This is my Postcard Box – it is years old – I think it originally held washing tablets or something, but I covered it with pretty paper. Inside I put freebie postcards [picked up from racks at the cinema/exhibitions etc] and cards I have trimmed to size from old greetings cards. Postcards are great – you can use them for sending greetings, or random notes, and it is amazing how much excitement they can generate for the recipient! We use PCs a lot in our family. I wrote one [a cinema freebie] to my cousin just before we went in to see the Harry Potter film. If I’d waited till I had time to write a long newsy letter, she’d never have heard from me for ages.

Make-a-RECYCLED-PAPER-BEAD-BraceletYou can use magazines for loads of craft purposes – make beads [here] I have a lovely pair of pink paperbead ear-rings which Steph gave me. Her friend was making them and selling them for charity.

You can make bunting

paper bunting

OK it won’t last in the rain, but it is fun inside. Martha Stewart’s website has lots more ideas. Many are good for keeping children occupied on wet days. Recycle old maps or calendars for wrapping paper. Floss had a lovely post a year or more ago [sorry, can’t find it now] about wrapping her husband’s birthday gifts in a beautiful old calendar. For CK devotees, why not make cards and wrap the gifts and make the birthday bunting from an old Kidston catalogue?


Decoupage a box or chest of drawers and give it a whole new lease of life.

Then there are other more prosaic ways to re-use paper. For as long as I can remember, there has been a box next to the computer printer for ‘used-on-one-side-only’ paper. That gets used for dozens of purposes.

And all those envelopes that come with the credit card bill and the charity appeal and the insurance premium demand – which you are not going to use for their intended purpose – try using them for holding other notes [to the milkman, child’s teacher etc] or paste a blank piece over the front [see above] and use for posting a letter. I have noticed that David, our Church Treasurer, is extremely diligent about re-using such envelopes  [he must save the church £s a year through that habit alone] My friend Paul, on the other hand, makes envelopes out of colourful magazine pages and writes the address on a white rectangle stuck on the front.

memo cube

If you have a memo cube like this, then use your paper trimmer to cut scrap paper into squares when you need refill sheets.

Tissue paper and wrapping paper can be expensive, so save any you have and then iron it flat.

Do this when the iron is cooling after you have pressed the laundry – do not heat it up specially! No steam, warm setting [one dot] on the wrong side. You will find that this softens any residual sellotape, which can be peeled off. Roll the paper round a cardboard tube for storage.

Paper is wonderful and versatile – but it needs to be used wisely. Before you buy, ask yourself –can I make this item with paper I already have in the home? Some quick frugal ideas

  • roll up newspaper to make little pots for bedding plants
  • put one plastic bag inside another – fill the cavity with paper put through a shredded, and you have a ‘Jiffy Bag’ for posting valuables.
  • greetings cards make –greetings cards, postcards, note cards
  • ‘prepaid’ envelopes can be altered for other uses
  • wrapping paper, and paper bags can be ironed and reused.
  • keep a box of old magazines and ‘one-side-used’ printer paper for children to use for crafts and colouring
  • if you like crafting yourself, copy online ideas for origami, scrapbooking, iris cards etc- using magazines rather than expensive ‘craft’ papers
  • newspaper can be used for polishing windows
  • this one is controversial – but perhaps try and use less paper, by sometimes using cotton hankies, and knitted dishcloths instead of bedroom tissues and kitchen towels.
  • get books from the library, or failing that charity shops, Amazon or Abebooks  [this latter site is fabulous for out of print, secondhand stuff that nobody else has] You’ll have to ask Mags or somebody if using a Kindle is proving a frugal way to get a library – I’ve got no experience of that!

I confess to being a ‘news junkie’ – but I gave up my newspaper habit some years ago – the BBC website and the Guardian website have all the news [and ‘weekend’ articles] I could want. My family give me magazine subscriptions as Christmas presents [and many shops have free instore magazines] That saves me lots of money

I promised I’d tell you some ‘false economy stories’ – here’s one that happened many years ago, when we lived somewhere else…

The doorbell rang really early one Monday morning in the school holidays [well before 8am] I opened the front door in my nightdress [if you see what I mean] to find two members of our church OAP group there. The wife explained she’d got these old blue curtains she didn’t want, so she had made cushions for all the chairs at the chapel. She and her husband presented us with about sixty square, flattish cushions, all tied up in bundles of six. Now the colour was a typical sort of Baptist-Blue. So that was fine – but then she said “I ran out of cushion filling, so the last few I had to stuff with newspaper” Friends, can I state now you cannot stuff cushions with balls of scrunched up newspaper! Especially when people are going to be wriggling about on them through the Sunday morning sermon.


  1. You have some wonderful tips there, Angela. Some I use and others I haven't thought of. Thank you for passing this on.

  2. With Kindle there are a lot of free books available on Amazon and Project Gutenberg, some older out of copyright ones, but also a lot of new ones by less well known authors. There are several blogs and websites that update daily with new books coming onto the free list, as they change frequently and may only be free for a few days.

    Also, if you don't want the initial investment of paying for a kindle and can manage with a small screen you can download a kindle reader for free from Amazon for an andriod phone as well as for your PC and possibly for iphone and mac.

  3. Many years ago, when my son was at secondary school, he discovered that the design department was happy for him to go there after school and make things from the scrap wood with their help and expertise. For most of his secondary school career, all family birthday and Christmas presents were wooden and extremely easy on his pocket : )

    One of the most useful things he ever made for me was a little box similar to the plastic one for notes in your picture. Mine is sized to fit A4 paper cut into 4 pieces (A6). This has proved so useful and now lives by the telephone beside the computer.

  4. I was going to comment intelligently on the paper education but then I got to ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha spilling my breakfast tea and imagining the noise my boys would make on those ha ha ha ha ha! Crying, really crying! With nervous hysteria!

  5. Great post! I am particularly heartened by the tip about how the cooling iron removes bit of sellotape from tissue paper - I presume this would work on wrapping paper too? I shall try it soon... for Ben's birthday, probably, which is Sept 28th, so the post about the calendar wrapping paper should be from around then, last year! You couldn't find it because it was labelled 'garden' I should think. No logic to my labelling...

    Thanks for all your tips.

  6. ‘prepaid’ envelopes can be altered for other uses... but stuffing cushions with newspaper has given my a chuckle :)

  7. Lol, balls of scrunched up newspaper. Funny, but it must have been hard not to use them for fear of upsetting the old lady!

    I've gleaned some good ideas here, thanks Angela.

  8. what a great post and full of super ideas. I try and reuse paper whenever we can but learned a few new tricks from this post.

    One thing we do, is anything that has to be shredded, paper with personal details on it, I use those paper shreds to line the bottom of our green in. The green bin is where we put food waste in.......I don't use food waste for compost.......long story.

    Gill in Canada

  9. I completely forgot that if you have a 'strip shredder' it is useful for making bedding for pets cages - or liners for green bins.
    Thanks for all the comments - apologies to those of you who were overcome with hysterics [old newspapers are useful for mopping up spilled tea, Mags!]
    blessings x

  10. A pile of shredded paper will keep cats amused for hours!
    Jane x

  11. Thanks for the bead instructions. That would be a fun project for the first day we get snowed in. . . . . . .As for the cushion story, I can TOTALLY relate. Same song, second verse! ~Liz

  12. I found your site through Gill and Jane and find it to be very interesting. I have a real problem with buying gift wrapping and I especially like your idea of reusing tissue paper -- I have been known to do it myself. As for the handkerchiefs over tissues -- I have been collecting handkerchiefs for some time from my local antique store and I am going to start carrying them for personal use -- since it will just be me using them, I don't see that it is a bad thing!

  13. My mother-in-law takes thriftiness to new heights, washing cling film and drying it over her toaster to re-use it.
    One Christmas she gave me a second hand candlestick with a half-used candle in it. All still in its gift box with a £1 label on it from Oxfam. And beautifully (!) wrapped in a bit of old wallpaper.

  14. Is it SAFE to re-use clingfilm
    a- can you get it properly clean?
    b- surely drying it over the toaster runs the risk of either a fire, or of a toaster covered in molten plastic?
    Love the ½candle story
    BB- I've put you on my TT sidebar list- thanks for joining


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