Readers' Tips


Cheap Laundry Detergents

You can still use the “name brand,” but cut it in half. We often use too much and half the amount gets the same job done. To avoid using too much, provide a “new” scoop that is the correct amount.
Jamie

editor's note: For more on cheap laundry detergents, please click here.

Cleaning Dry Erase Boards

Instead of reaching for a tissue or paper towel to clean a message off a dry-erase board, pick a piece of paper out of your recycling bin and erase away. It’s free, and it works.
Mary

No More Shampoo

After reading a tip on using a vinegar rinse on hair, I thought I would tell you that it has been forever since I have bought shampoo. We did not have shampoo when I was growing up in the 40s, and I have returned to the practice of my youth.

I wash my hair with a good pure soap, either handmade or Ivory(r). After rinsing very well with warm water, I then use a vinegar rinse. It takes a few washes to get rid of the shampoo build up, but my hair is now in good shape. It’s so shiny that I get compliments on it.

A bar of soap lasts a very long time compared to the $8 per bottle shampoo that I used to buy.
Annemarie

Stinky Car!

To remove odors from your car, crumble newspaper and leave it in the car. Also, put a bag of plain charcoal briquettes in the car to absorb orders. Do not use the kind with lighter fluid on the briquettes.
Paula

Additional TDS Resource: More ways to remove odors from your car or truck

Affordable Privacy Curtain

After my neighbors expanded into a two-story house, my upstairs bathroom needed obscure windows and the estimate was in the thousands. I found a spray-on product that would do the job for $5 at the local home improvement store. It could even be easily removed with acetone if it looked bad. It was worth a try.

It looks great! I was able to take down the dark and dusty mini-blinds and now enjoy a shower of light every day.
Janet in Cupertino, CA

Stretching Ground Beef

One way I make ground beef last a bit longer is to add a lot of celery to it. It soaks up the taste and texture of the meat, and I can use it in spaghetti, tacos, burritos, etc. Plus, it's healthy, cheap, and low calorie. It’s also a great way to sneak in veggies if your family does not get enough otherwise. Rice, corn, and onions can also be added on top of that to stretch it even more.
Kelly L.

editor's question: What do you use to stretch ground beef? Send your answers here.

Skinny Jeans for Less

A popular trend in fashion this winter is skinny jeans tucked into tall boots. Instead of rushing out to buy skinny jeans, take another look at what you have. Capri and other shorter pants can be worn with tall boots. Nobody will know you recycled a summer trend, especially if you add the boot cuffs that are so popular right now. Affordable fashion means more than hitting the clearance racks. Sometimes, you have to be a magician and pull off an easy illusion.
LR

Handy Foil Storage

Tired of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and waxed paper falling off the shelf? These boxes fit nicely into a holder for folders and can be placed on a pantry shelf standing up.
Grandma Joan

Affordable Valentine's

The Valentine's gift that my husband cherished most from me was a sheet of paper on which I wrote all the reasons I love him. This was a treasure greater than any card. It may be a great gift to give children, too!
Merrie VonS.

Additional TDS Resource: More Valentine's ideas

Fresher Lettuce and Celery

I learned a trick for keeping lettuce and celery crisp and fresh for a long time, at least two to three weeks. I wrap these items in aluminum foil and put them in the fridge's veggie drawer. This seems to work very well. I have done the tip of wrapping these items in paper toweling and putting them in a plastic bag, but the foil works much better!
Elizabeth

Attractive Basement Lighting

About a year ago, we water-proofed our basement and our kids now love using it as their playroom. It was still a little dark down there, even with the lights one, so I had a few electricians come in to give estimates for installing lights between the exposed floor joists in the ceiling. It's a big basement, and the estimates were between $500 and $900!

Instead, I picked up a bunch of white Christmas lights on clearance for 75 cents a box after the holidays and spent a morning tacking them up myself in between the floor joists. I followed the warnings about not stringing more than five sets of lights together and was careful to avoid all other wires/pipes, etc. The effect is fantastic, and my kids love it! The lights are great when the other lights are on or just by themselves.

The total cost for the project was under $15, and I really like it. I saved a ton of money, got a better end result, and have the pride of doing it myself.
OA

Free Pet Sweaters

I live in a normally mild climate, but this winter we had a very long cold snap with snow and ice. My little beagle started shivering and didn't want to go outside. I didn't want to spend $20 or more on a sweater for her, and I don't know how to knit or crochet.

I took an old sweatshirt and cut the sleeves off of it. I pulled it over her head, and the wrist band acted as the collar. I felt through the sleeve until I felt where her shoulders started and cut two holes for her front legs and pulled them through. I trimmed the back with pinking shears until it fit perfectly. She loves her new sweater, and I even made one for her larger brother out of a leg of a pair of old sweatpants!
T.

Cheaper Vitamins

If your physician recommends that you take vitamins, a baby aspirin, or any other over-the counter medicine, ask for a prescription anyway. I've found that often the vitamins are less expensive if I get them from the pharmacy, rather than a "big box" store. Also, with a prescription, I don't have to pay sales tax, which in my state is over nine percent. Plus, with the prescription, I can deduct the cost from my income taxes because I itemize. If you're lucky, your insurance company may even cover the cost.
Rebecca H.

Tired of Living Frugally?

I think everyone who pinches pennies does get tired of it at times. Now and then, you can pamper yourself with small luxuries. I just bought myself a box of Godiva® chocolates. I plan on having just one a day until they run out. This isn't a regular monthly expense for me, but it satisfies that part of me that wants to do something more extravagant once in a while. It is still much cheaper than spending hundreds of dollars on something I really don't need.
Linda, Tri-Cities, WA

Additional TDS Resource: More on how to handle frugal fatigue

Keeping Love Strong

My husband and I will be married 12 years in April. Our love is as strong as ever before. One thing that we do for each other is leave messages on the bathroom mirror with soap. Using a bar of any kind of soap dipped in water, we can get any message across. And it costs almost nothing. If you want to be sneaky, take a dry cloth and wipe the excess off. When he/she takes a steamy shower, the note magically appears. And the best part is that clean-up is a snap!
K.

Good Grounds for Roses

I use coffee grounds to fertilize my roses, and during the spring, I put a cup of Epsom salts around each rose bush and rake it into the soil. This encourages longer lasting blooms.
A.


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