Readers' Tips

Yearly Costs of Owning a Pool

I have an above ground pool that is 4.5 feet deep and 18 inches round, and it typically runs me around $100 for the shock and the chlorine tablets for the season. I also have a winter cover that strains the water and refills it from the melting snow. Therefore, less water is needed in the spring when I open it. I run a cartridge filter, so all I have to do is hose it down at the end of the season. There is no sand or earth to buy to fill the filter with, and that saves money and time.

editor's note: Visit here for more on the yearly costs of owning a pool.

Kitchen DIY

While a good beginner article, it doesn't go far enough. Vegetable broth can be even cheaper if you start saving the parts of the vegetables that you throw out. Keep adding these vegetable scraps to a bag that is kept in the freezer, and when full, simply cook it up. This even works with veggies you're considering throwing out because they are no longer fresh. Just freeze them until ready to make broth. After making, pour into individual pint size canning jars (wide mouth) and freeze for individual use. Be careful about adding asparagus or cabbage as they add quite a strong (perhaps even unappealing) flavor to broth.

As for buttermilk, using milk and vinegar does not give you buttermilk but simply soured milk, which works well as a substitute. If using cultured buttermilk, you can use some of that to inoculate some milk and make cultured milk that is similar to buttermilk. True buttermilk is the end product after making butter. Elizabeth

editor's response: Elizabeth is right. "Foods You Should Stop Buying and Start Making" is a "starter" article. We hoped that it would get some people to try some simple things. We all need to start somewhere!

Alternative Behaviors

I'm working on a money-saving theory, and I think it is working. Instead of thinking about all the things that I used to do and buy, I substitute other behaviors, and I'm trying to make them habitual. For instance, instead of meeting friends at a restaurant, we've agreed to meet for a potluck meal at one of our homes. Instead of surfing online shopping sites, I surf Pinterest. You get the idea. I'm trying to make these new habits something that I do automatically instead of my old expensive habits. I figure it's like dieting. Losing weight for a short time isn't hard. Developing a lifestyle that keeps it off is more important.

Additional TDS Resource: Visit our library section on "Spending Addictions"


After reading the article on rewards that aren't all they claim, I began to look for a cashback credit card. I'm so glad I did. They pay me no matter where I shop!

Additional TDS Resource: Compare cashback credit cards

Inexpensive Room Redo

Want to give a room a new look but don't have time or money? Here's a real simple solution. Add a wallpaper border. Put it either at the top of the wall or about waist high. You don't even need to do all four walls! It's easy and cheap, and it can give the room a whole new feel. Try it!

Spendy Spouses

Do you have a spouse that overspends? If you want to get him/her to stop, you need to get him/her to think about money differently. The way I did it with my husband was to get him to think of how long he has to work to make the money he's spending. He now knows that lunch out with co-workers costs him about 30 minutes of work. A new fishing rod is a few hours work. It's given him a new perspective on money and caused him to cut back on unnecessary spending.

Additional TDS Resource: More on how to stop that overspending spouse

Berry Harvest

I love to use berries in fruit salads, in pancakes, on waffles, etc. Therefore, the lower prices around harvest time are great! I buy extra and freeze them. After washing, I place them on a cookie sheet and set them in the freezer. Once they're frozen, I put them in zipper baggies. I can pull out a handful anytime I want a few. They're even good as a quick cool snack!

Additional TDS Resource: Make your own freezer meals

Eye Make-Up Remover Savings

As you know, eye makeup remover can be a bit costly. I started going to my local dollar store and buying a tube of their under eye cream. It never irritates my eyes because it's made for eyes. One small tube lasts for a long time, and it works perfectly too!

Student Housing Warning

If you have a student living away from home, check your homeowners' insurance policy. Chance are that their possessions are not covered if they live in a dorm or their own apartment. You might want to check on the cost of a separate policy for them. They're not too expensive.

Additional TDS Resource: How to save on auto and home

ER Bill Solution

My husband needed some emergency room treatment, and the bill was outrageous. It was over $5k! Even with our insurance, our deductible was higher than the bill (so much for insurance!). We couldn't afford to pay that, so I called the hospital and explained our situation. They agreed to cut the bill to less than $1k! We'll be paying $35 a month for a long time, but it's better than owing $5k!

Additional TDS Resource: When you can't afford your ER bill

Frugal Fatigue

Sometimes I hate watching every expense, so I find a way to treat myself inexpensively. I love great coffee, but I can't afford fancy coffee shops. Therefore, I buy myself a pound of one of my favorites and brew a small pot at home once a week. The pound of coffee is expensive, but it lasts for months. Enjoying a cup of my favorite coffee makes the financial sacrifices easier to take.

Additional TDS Resource: More on how to handle frugal fatigue

Making 'Convenience' Foods

I just spent under an hour of quality time cutting up fruits and vegetables for the week. I can now easily make tossed salad, fruit salad, sauteed vegetables, etc. I can also grab a healthy, low-calorie snack when I'm on the run or in need of food very quickly. Of course, you can pay big bucks to purchase some cut up produce from the grocery. This not only saves time in the long run, but it also saves on waste. When food is prepared either partially or totally in advance, you are less likely to eat out or order in!

Additional TDS Resource: Foods you should stop buying and start making

Cache for Cash!

If you do much online shopping, you've noticed that many sites know if you've been there before. Some will offer you a different price than your previous trip. The trick is knowing whether it will be higher or lower than before. One way to find out is to open up an 'incognito' tab in a second browser and compare that price to what you get from your normal browser. Then buy from the lowest price. This is especially true for more expensive items and travel expenses.

Additional TDS Resource: Visit our library section "Online Shopping Savings"

Before You Scrub

Nobody likes to spend a lot of time cleaning, but sometimes being in a rush just makes more work. I found that out when I went to help my son clean a house he had moved into. The shower was a disaster! I had just wiped it down with cleaner when he called me to take a break for lunch. I just left the shower with the cleaner clinging to the walls. When I came back, I figured I had an hour of scrubbing ahead of me. I was wrong. The cleaner wiped away with most of the dirt. I hardly had to scrub at all. From now on, I'll let my bath and kitchen cleansers work for a while before I start scrubbing.

Additional TDS Resource: Visit our library section "Cleaning Tips"

DIY Help

Everyone knows to search YouTube for videos on DIY projects, but what happens if you get stuck and can't find a solution on YouTube? Start searching on Google, in Facebook groups, and then on Pinterest. Usually between them, you will find an answer to your problem.


I hate to waste things. Often I'll find another use for something that might get thrown into the trash. I just used an old leaky metal pail as a planter for my front porch. I also like to adapt money-saving tips that don't exactly work for me. For instance, I don't have any way to cook at work, so heating up leftovers for lunch isn't an option. However, I read an article on how much I could save by cutting up my own carrots. I didn't want to spend time in the kitchen cutting carrots, but it dawned on me that buying the prepared ones and some salad dressing would make a good healthy lunch. I've been doing that a few days each week, saving some money and even losing some weight!

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