Readers' Tips

Getting Elderly Mom to the Doctor's Office

I read about this tip online a few months ago. Another lady had the same problem and came up with the idea of her mom using cabs, but with a nice twist.

She spoke to the head of the cab company and explained the situation. She asked if it would be possible for her mom to have the same drivers. In other words, each shift would have a driver just for her calls, depending on time of day. She then made arrangements for a discount to be paid once per month.

Her mom would have the same driver, depending, of course, on the time of day she called. Therefore, she would be more comfortable.

editor's note: Visit here for more on getting an elderly parent to appointments.

I Hate Facebook

I'm so over people showing off on Facebook. I really don't want to see pictures of their new furniture or from their weekend getaway! This is especially true since I'm trying to pay off student loans. To help me feel better, I made up a game. When I see a picture like that, I estimate what it cost them. Sometimes I even picture that amount being added to a credit card balance. Then I congratulate myself for not spending the money!

Additional TDS Resource: 5 ways Facebook costs you money

Summer Flea Control

If your dog spends time outdoors, it's hard to keep him free of fleas, especially if you keep a chemical free home. We've found a solution that works for us. We planted pennyroyal around our yard and put cedar shavings in the dog house.

Additional TDS Resource: Flea removal challenge

Lowering Lawn Care Costs

If you're tired of spending your time and money on grass, consider adding more plants and ground cover. When we bought it, our house was surrounded by grass that needed fertilizing and cutting all the time. Gradually we added bushes and plants like English ivy. We're down to a small patch of grass and love the fact that we don't have to spend time caring for it. As an added bonus, our yard is unique and the neighbors admire the colors from our flowering bushes!

Additional TDS Resource: More inexpensive landscaping ideas

Say 'No' to Auto Payments

It's convenient to let auto payments pay my bills, but when money in my checking account earns nothing and the balance on my credit card costs me 17%, it doesn't make sense to leave money sitting in checking. Therefore, any time I have some extra money in checking, I make a small payment towards my credit card balance. The interest I owe is calculated daily, so even $100 a few days early makes a difference. It also helps to know that I'm being aggressive in paying down debt.

Additional TDS Resource: Do I have a debt problem?

Boomer Party Ideas

Here's an idea that's great for a retirement or birthday party. Create a mini-quiz with questions based on the life of the person who's being celebrated. For example, you could include a question about a first job. If you can find pictures from the time that can be displayed on big screen, that is even better. You'll probably only need a few questions.

Additional TDS Resource: More ideas for a great retirement party

Beware the HELOC

Two years ago, we used a home equity line of credit to pay for a kitchen remodel. It turned out great! We love our new kitchen, but we haven't managed to pay off the debt. We're working on rolling the line of credit into a mortgage refinance. I expect rates to go up, which would increase the cost of the line of credit. Therefore, now is the perfect time to lock in the rate.

Additional TDS Resource: Compare mortgage rates

Readers' Tips

Pool Repair

If you have an above-ground pool or other inflatables, you expect to deal with some rips during the summer. I got tired of paying $10 for a pool repair kit that consisted of a piece of vinyl and some glue, so I went to my local craft store. I bought some clear vinyl and repair adhesive for $4 total! I can now patch my pool and any of the kids' summer inflatable toys.

Additional TDS Resource: How to extend the life of your tools

Your Garage or Basement

I wanted cabinets in my garage, but I couldn't afford new ones that were solid enough to not fall apart in a few years. Therefore, I went to one of those home repair apps and contacted some contractors. I asked if they ever removed kitchen cabinets. I offered to buy them, but I was offered them for free because one of the contractors didn't want to pay the dumping fee. The cabinets are an old style, but they're solid and just what I need for my tools and supplies. And, they didn't cost me a dime!

Additional TDS Resource: Need help with a DIY project? Call in a semi-pro

Reducing the Cost of Vacation Meals

We're renting a condo in the mountains for a week this summer. To keep the cost of food down, we want to eat at the condo most days. Last year, we did that and I spent most of my time in the kitchen. Some vacation! This year, I'm doubling up on some recipes and freezing half. I'll take these freezer meals along and have quick, easy meals to serve my family!

Puppy Toys

I make my own puppy toys. Instead of buying something that he'll shred in hours, I use old socks, knotted t-shirts, and other things I would throw out to make him toys. I think he likes the homemade toys better than those I used to buy. I can make ones that I know he'll enjoy. Naturally, I make sure that he can't hurt himself if/when he tears the toy apart. I don't want to spend my savings at the vet's office!

Additional TDS Resource: 6 ways a pet could save you money

Free Firewood

Summer is tree trimming time. When any of our neighbors have a tree trimmed, I ask if we can have the wood. If they have a professional, I offer to pay any extra to have the wood cut into fireplace sized pieces. Most don't charge extra because they're happy not to have to pay the dump charge. If it's green, I have enough space to let it dry out. Last winter, I didn't spend a dime on firewood!

Additional TDS Resource: More on finding free firewood

Cutting Food Waste

One way to cut your food bill is to buy and cook larger batches, but that means using your freezer more. There's nothing worse than taking something from the freezer to find it's covered with ice crystals and ruined. Therefore, I've made an effort to combat freezer burn. The main culprit is air! I do everything I can to pack anything going into the freezer in an air tight container. I use a lot of clear wrap and also use a straw to suck the air out of freezer bags before I seal them. I've found that a minute or two carefully wrapping can help cut food waste!

Additional TDS Resource: More on avoiding freezer burn

Clothes Dryer Efficiency

A clothes dryer can use a lot of electricity, so I take out the lint screen once a month to give it a good cleaning. I don't just take away any lint. I soak it in hot dishwater and then scrub it with an old toothbrush. Since I started doing this, I've cut my drying time by about a third!

Additional TDS Resource: More ways to cut the cost of using your clothes dryer

Mom's Check-In Check-Up

My mom's church has a neat ministry. They have a group of retirees that call on seniors who live alone. They call between 10am and noon. They're trained to make sure that the person they're calling is doing well. If they need to see a doctor, they provide transportation. They also listen for anyone who's sounding weak or in need of help. If they think it's necessary, they'll call again in the afternoon. They've also formed many friendships with their calls.

Additional TDS Resource: Protecting grandma's safety

Another Kitchen Savings Tip

Another way to save in the kitchen is to make sure that your appliances are running efficiently. I've read that the fridge is a major electricity user, so I want mine to be in great shape. I've also heard that dirty coils make it work harder, so every couple of months, I vacuum the coils under my fridge. They can be hard to get at, but I do what I can. It only takes a minute!

Additional TDS Resource: Summer kitchen energy efficiency

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