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5 Ways to Save Money by Being Resourceful

As a mother of four, Denise has always strived to be frugal and self-reliant. She enjoys teaching others how to save.

By mending, canning, gleaning, and picking, you can learn valuable skills and save money.

By mending, canning, gleaning, and picking, you can learn valuable skills and save money.

The Importance of Doing It Yourself

I've always been somewhat frugal and self-reliant, and through years of experience, I've found that there are many things people pay others to make or do that they could make or do themselves.

5 Ways to Save Money by Doing Things Yourself

  1. Learn to sew and mend your own clothes.
  2. Befriend farmers and glean the fields.
  3. Can and preserve your foods.
  4. Pick wild fruit to make jellies and jams.
  5. Pick free herbs for teas and salves.

Let's explore these strategies in detail!

1. Learn to Sew and Mend Your Own Clothes

To me, this is elementary. My mom taught me to sew when I was a preteen. However, over the years, I have met many people who weren’t as fortunate as I was. so I started teaching classes at the local Adult Community Education School. I’m sure there are similar schools in most towns across the United States.

If you don’t know how to operate a sewing machine, you should learn! It really is easy, and sewing and mending your own clothes and (children’s clothes) saves a bundle. YouTube has many free tutorial lessons to help you get started. For a small monthly fee, you can get a subscription to Skillshare, which has many sewing classes for the beginner and beyond.

Fabric isn’t cheap as it used to be, but many times, you can find excellent used clothes at swap meets, thrift stores, and secondhand stores. Sometimes, you can find yardage as well. Occasionally, all these clothes need is hemming or simple mending. You don’t need to know how to alter patterns or create costumes to handle mending. You may even be able to find a nice secondhand sewing machine if you don’t already have one.

Gleaning is getting things that are abandoned. I did not abandon my early pictures, my photos, my early films. It's just going through my body of work as something I can pick from.

— Agnes Varda

Gleaning refers to recovering useful items that would otherwise be abandoned.

Gleaning refers to recovering useful items that would otherwise be abandoned.

2. Befriend Farmers and Glean the Fields

This is a very Biblical concept, but it still happens today. If you live in a rural farming community or near one, you may know a few farmers. They should know where and when to glean.

Biblically speaking, gleaning refers to picking up what harvesters leave behind. In today’s farms, many crops are only picked to a point and then left to rot. Here in California, tomato fields are treated this way because it is only profitable to pay the pickers three or four times. After that, the tomatoes are allowed to rot and then plowed back into the ground as a “manure crop” to return nutrients to the earth.

For about two weeks, there are acres of tomatoes ripe for the picking. Farmers usually do not begrudge folks who come and glean a modest amount to feed their families. What makes them jaundiced is when they discover the same family selling the tomatoes or other gleaned crops on the side of the road. This is stealing—not gleaning.

So, to properly glean, you need to know where to go, get permission from the owner of the field, and promise that you are going to use the produce yourself and not sell it later. For many years, my children and I would take boxes and bags to the fields and pick tomatoes, onions, peppers, beans, and sometimes peaches to cook and can for the winter.

One dairy farmer told me that field corn (a crop fed to cows) doesn’t pollinate properly without some sweet corn planted nearby. He planted about 10 mile-long rows of sweet corn in the middle of the field corn and invited church families and friends to come to pick it before he brought the harvester in to chop it all up for the cows. I was amazed at how few families came out to pick free corn. Our freezer was full of corn for months, and it was so good.

Further, I found by asking around that there are often families who have trees they don’t feel up to managing and will give away as many fruits and nuts as you can carry home. One elderly lady we knew from our church called us every year to come to get the English walnuts from under her tree. The tree produced boxes and boxes of nuts each year, and she just couldn’t give them away fast enough. All we had to do was pick them up for her.

3. Can and Preserve Your Foods

Canning is a very old process of preserving food. It makes sense to preserve extra food in the summer to save and use during the winter. Some things must be pressure canned because they don’t have the acidity to keep out bacteria. Tomatoes and tomato sauce do not need to be pressure canned but do need to be heated to a boil to kill bacteria, then sealed. Most cookbooks contain instructions for canning. If you haven’t done it before, you may want to freeze any extra food you have picked or gleaned. However, most people only have so much freezer space.

Get a book on canning. You have only to buy (or find or salvage) the canning jars and follow directions. The jars can be used over and over again for years to come. My husband still complains when we run out of the home-canned tomato sauce for spaghetti, and we have to buy store spaghetti sauce.

4. Pick Wild Fruit to Make Jellies and Jams

Canal banks and riverbanks can also provide free nourishment. These are places that have wild blackberries and wild tart plums for the picking.

Beware—blackberries have mean thorns, and wasps love to nest in the brambles. I have been stung on more than one occasion, but I've discovered that if I smash a ripe berry into the sting, it helps reduce the irritation I feel.

Blackberries and wild plums make the best jams. Wash them, pit the plums, and boil the fruit until the juice begins to thicken. Pectin boxes from the store make this process faster and come with recipes. I find pectin to be a little too pricy sometimes, so it can be replaced with a cup of apple juice and a longer cooking time. Also, you will need sugar according to the recipe and your taste.

There’s nothing like home preserves. They don’t necessarily need to be sealed as the home-canned fruits and vegetables do. Melting a little pectin on top will seal preserves and jams, or you can just refrigerate them. There is something really rich about the flavor. The oohs and ahhs you get from your family will be well worth the effort, and making your own jams saves you money as well.

All that man needs for health and healing has been provided by God in nature, the Challenge of science is to find it.

— Paracelsus

5. Pick Free Herbs for Teas and Salves

The internet is a wonderful tool these days. I used to have books on finding and identifying herbal weeds free for the picking, but now, I can look them up on the internet. All I need is a phone with internet access, a basket, and clippers, and I’m off.

I always thought you had to be in the country to find good herbs and healthful weeds, but that’s not true. I can often find spring greens in the field next to our apartment. I’ve picked dandelion flowers, self-heal plants, miner’s lettuce, plantain, purslane, chamomile, dock, goldenrod, and stinging nettle.

Each of these has different uses, but all are free for the finding and picking. It would take too long to go into each of their benefits and uses, but I will say that they are fun to research and use. With a few oils or other ingredients, you can make everything from tea to soap to salves to balms. I like to make my own dried tea mixtures and give them as gifts. Herbal teas can be very healthful.

Happy Saving!

I’m always on the lookout to find ways to save my family money. How about you? I’d love to read your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 17, 2021:

Dora Weithers,

I do try to be resourceful but don't always succeed. Thanks for commenting.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 14, 2021:

Linda Crampton,

I am glad to hear you can at least get some blackberries. Thanks for commenting.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 14, 2021:

Misbah Sheikh,

You are very kind. Do you have money-saving tips that you use often? I'd love to read about them. Thanks for commenting.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 14, 2021:


Thanks for taking the time to email me. I'm glad you like my tips, such that they are. I hope you are well. Thanks for commenting.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 14, 2021:

From Abby Slutsky,

Thanks for sharing. Your tips are always a pleasure to read.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 13, 2021:

You've shared some great ideas, Denise. The only tip that I follow at the moment is collecting blackberries. There are some great bushes and fruits near my home. I'm going to try some of your other tips as well.

Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on August 13, 2021:

Denise, I really appreciate and enjoyed reading your money-saving suggestions. This is an excellent article. You have shared a number of excellent suggestions. Thank you very much for sharing this fantastic hub with us.

Blessings and Love

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 13, 2021:

Louise Powles,

Saving where you can is an incredible help for the budget. Thanks for commenting.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 13, 2021:

Kalpana Iyer,

It does help. I can't begin to calculate the amount I have saved over the years by sewing my children's clothes, and how much I save now by sewing and mending my own. Thanks for commenting.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 13, 2021:

Peggy Woods,

I AM fortunate to have the mother I had, so true. Thanks for commenting.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 13, 2021:

Bill Holland,

Oh man, that's one tempting offer! You are a hoot. Thanks for commenting.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 13, 2021:

Rosina S Khan,

I think everyone finds it too easy to just order online. It's a shame we can't help the farmer's directly. Thanks for commenting.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 13, 2021:

Pamela Oglesby,

I don't have farms near me anymore either. I need to find some community gardens around here. There must be some. Thanks for commenting.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 13, 2021:

Umesh Chandra Bhatt,

I'm glad you think so. Thanks for commenting.



Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 13, 2021:

Really good suggestions, all legal and doable and you even manage to make it seem somewhat fun. You've been blessed to have such a practical preparation for life.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on August 13, 2021:

Yes, it's amazing the things you can do to save money. There's some great advice here, thankyou.

Kalpana Iyer from India on August 13, 2021:

Excellent ideas to save money! Sewing can be a life changer. I picked up a little bit of sewing during the pandemic, because I couldn't run to the tailor each time and it has helped so much.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 13, 2021:

You are fortunate to have been taught frugality as a youngster. It can serve a person well. I have canned food and have grown it. Your other ideas of how to save money are good ones.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 13, 2021:

All great suggestions, spoken like a true country girl. We have some berries you can have if you want to make the drive north. :) Have a great weekend, my friend, and blessings always.

Rosina S Khan on August 13, 2021:

Your article contains several pointers about saving money, which I really appreciate. There are no river banks near my residence nor farms; so I don't think I can pick up fruits or glean fields.

I really find it easier to order online all the groceries and those which we don't like from there, we have them purchased from nearby shops or stores at a cheap price.

I learned sewing when I was young too and can do some mendings and repairs on dresses and fabric.

Thank you, Denise, for sharing this wonderful article.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 13, 2021:

This is an excellent article for saving money, Denise. I was taught to sew when I was very young also. I have also canned vegetables and made jams for many years also.

I know very little about herbs, and I would like to know more. I thought your video was helpful. I don't have any farms close to me in FL, so I don't think I can glean fields.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on August 13, 2021:

Good points. Thanks.