The economy continues to bring bad news on many fronts.  And it leaves many moms trying to figure out how to save money and make ends meet.

I’ve read articles and heard news reports on this almost daily since last November when it became clear that the turn-around was not going to be a quick one.  Layaway, the decades-old system of paying for items over time, has reappeared as a way for families to purchase household items and even clothing that they need over several months.

Consignment and second hand stores are enjoying a resurgence in popularity as moms learn to shop at them for great finds for kids and adults.  The same is true with Salvation Army stores.  Recently I got an email advertising Easter photo sessions for your children with a new layaway type of payment plan.  And last week, one of the morning news shows featured a segment on making things at home to save money.  It was a crafty feature with instructions on making cute purses and bags and belts with ordinary things most women already have at home.

So in the spirit of finding ways to save money, I want to offer a fun, easy idea that I used when I was raising my kids.  Money was tight for us then, too, and I enjoyed feeling like I was helping my husband with the load he carried by providing for us.  This idea will not save you hundreds of dollars, I’m sorry to say.  It will probably only save a few dollars plus gas money, but it’s fun to do.

The money saving tip is to make your own play dough for your kids and let them help for a fun mom and kids project.  Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup salt

1 cup flour

1 cup water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Mix together in a saucepan and cook until it’s thick like play dough.  it helps to mix the dry ingredients together first and then add the liquids.  also if you want colors, add food coloring while mixing before cooking.  Let cool before handling and store wrapped in plastic or an airtight container.

We had lots of fun making our own play dough and creating all kinds of colors that couldn’t be found in the ready-made kind.

Now for a challenge.  I’d love to hear what fun, creative, and unique ideas you’ve discovered for saving money in your family.  Send us your ideas and we’ll post the best ones!  And I’m hoping someone will have a homemade recipe for a great stainless steel cleaner.  We have a new stainless steel regrigerator and I’m not willing to spend the money to try some random cleaner available at the stores.  Homemade household cleaners are just as good as store bought and a lot cheaper.