Walk through any mall and chances are you will find something odd for sale. While that odd product may be fun for a while, can buying it save you money over time and save the environment too? Next time you're on the lookout for something different, try any of these five odd products -- you may just be surprised with how the green savings add up.
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Crock Pot: Savvy savers know that buying, operating, and cooking with the odd 1970s contraption known as the crock pot is pretty darn frugal. Branded crock pots cost around $30 to $100 to buy and can save you hundreds over fancy countertop convection ovens and broilers.
Crock pots can also cut your grocery bill significantly by allowing you to buy cheaper cuts of meat and tenderizing them over low heat for a longer time. Cooking with a crock is also very inexpensive and eco-friendly when compared to the costs of running an oven. Buying the right slow cooker is key, so learn the gotchas in How to Buy a Slow Cooker or Crock Pot.
Microfiber Cloth: If you're a paper person then you know the cost of buying, wiping, and throwing out rolls of paper towels. Wouldn't you rather have rolls of money? An environmentally friendly alternative to paper products is the oddly named microfiber cloth.
Microfiber fabrics are woven from very fine fibers and are perfect for lots of home cleaning activities, including: mopping, dusting, polishing, and wiping. These soft and reusable cloths save you money because they are effective at cleaning delicate and tough surfaces, are machine washable, and don’t require costly cleaning solutions to remove grime. I've even used a mircrofiber cloth on my Swiffer and have saved good money by not buying throwaway refills. Learn how to make a microfiber mop in 4 Swiffer Cleaning Hacks for Cheaper Dust-Free Living.
Rubbing Alcohol: Most people use rubbing alcohol for cuts, wounds, and other first aid needs. But have you ever thought of using this common product for something odd, like for cleaning jewelry?
It's true. I've used frugally priced rubbing alcohol to clean earrings, rings, and necklaces for years with sparkling results. And not spending big money to clean my engagement ring at the jeweler's with chemicals is a huge bonus. If your rings are covered in a little grime -- and whose aren't -- then learn to use rubbing alcohol in How to Clean a Diamond Ring.
Vinegar: Common household white table vinegar sure can be tasty on fries, but this super cheap condiment is also delicious in your laundry.
Full-strength white vinegar is an excellent cleaning tool for clobbering germs, bacteria, and molds. Along with baking soda, vinegar helps to deodorize your stinky shirts and socks without the added expense of branded laundry detergents. Adding a cup of sharp-smelling vinegar to the wash may seem odd, but the smell washes away cleanly without adding phosphates to the environment. Learn to wash for less and use vinegar right in How to Save Money on Laundry.
Diva Cup: I'm going there ladies. I'm ragging on so-called feminine hygiene products and calling them out for costing us a fortune over our life times and for polluting the planet. There's a greener and more affordable way to deal with that time of the month, and it's an odd product called the Diva Cup.
The Diva Cup is a brand name for a menstrual cup, which is a reusable bell-shaped plastic device developed to collect and contain menstrual flow inside the body. A single menstrual cup can last for years, costs under $20, and prevents the environmental waste associated with pads and tampons.
Like many women used to marketed products with wings and strings, I was very skeptical at first. But after saving hundreds over the years, I'm sold on this odd and eco-friendly wonder. If you need further convincing, here are 10 Reasons the Diva Cup Can Change Your Life.
Kerry K. Taylor writes at Squawkfox.com, a blog where personal finance and frugal living are sexy, delicious, and fun. Kerry is the author of 397 Ways To Save Money: Spend Smarter & Live Well on Less.