By Kristen Parker


For those of you who may not know, we live among royalty in Center Grove. The self-proclaimed Queen of Free, also known by the more common moniker of Cherie Lowe, and her family reside in White River Township; her mission is to share freebies and strategies for everyday saving and inspire those who are pursuing a debt-free life.

“I’ve long been addicted to getting something for nothing. In August 2008, I adopted the alter ego, The Queen of Free. From 2008-2012, I shared our family’s personal ‘debt slaying journey.’ [We] paid off a whopping $127,482.30 and are now officially debt free.” Go ahead and rub your eyes, but you read that figure correctly.

Part of Cherie’s budget-oriented philosophy includes making her budget stretch in the way she cleans her home, and that involves minimizing at the forefront. “The systems in your home definitely set you up for financial success or disaster….Reducing the number of things we own…goes a long way to keep your home clean. The less there is, the less there is to clean, so that is by far my best strategy – simplification,” she said.

In addition, while she is definitely an advocate of coupons, she points out a fact that most people don’t consider when putting their coupons to use. “You can very successful coupon to save on cleaning supplies. Just keep in mind that coupons are marketing tools to persuade you to purchase items you normally wouldn’t buy. The companies don’t want to bless your family with extra dollars in your account; they long for you to be ‘hooked’ on something you didn’t know you needed,” she said.

This is one reason that Cherie makes her own household cleaners. “I definitely find making my own cleaners to be my best money saving method in keeping our home clean,” Cherie said. Many of her cleaners, including laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, all-purpose cleaner and window cleaner, require just a few simple ingredients – some of which may already be on hand. If not, you can purchase them locally and inexpensively.

Fabric Softener: White vinegar in a “Downy” ball, filled to the line. It whitens, brightens and softens your clothes.

Dishwasher Rinse Agent: White vinegar

Cherie shared this expert tip: “The best place to purchase white vinegar is Sam’s Club where you can pick up two one gallon bottles for less than $4.”

Laundry Detergent: (1 Tablespoon/load)

  • 1 cup of Borax
  • 1 cup of Washing Soda
  • 1 cup of an Oxy Cleaner (she buys generic, of course), or 1 bar of Ivory Soap, grated.

According to Cherie, the cost per load is approximately 10 times less than what you would spend on traditional powdered detergent.

Dishwashing Detergent: (1 teaspoon/load)

  • A box of Borax
  • A box of Washing Soda
  • 3 cups of Epsom Salts
  • 24 packets Lemonade drink mix. (_The drink mix has citric acid as its #1 ingredient, so it does the heavy lifting when it comes to washing your dishes.)

In addition, Cheri said she sprinkles a bit of the product Lemishine in the bottom of the dishwasher to handle any spots.
She also uses this cleaner to scour sinks, tubs and toilets, but she noted, “Be sure that your hands are completely dry when handling it though. It has a tendency to clump when exposed to moisture. It doesn’t lessen its effectiveness; however, you will have to use an ice pick to break it down.”

All-Purpose and Glass Cleaner:

  • A squirt bottle (buy it at the Dollar Store)
  • About ¼ cup of Dawn
  • Equal parts of hot water and white vinegar

Cherie shared this expert tip: “You can use it as a leave-on spray in the shower or to clean sinks or even mirrors. It’s incredibly versatile.”

To read more about The Queen of Free or for more ways in which she can help you save money and live a debt-free life, visit her website at


Kristen ParkerAbout Kristen Parker
A life-time resident of the Center Grove area, Kris graduated from IU Bloomington with a degree in Journalism. She is the blessed mother of two active, home-schooled boys, and is passionate about her faith, her family and making her budget stretch.

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