Readers' Tips

Finding Good Coupons

I do not get a paper either. In order to get coupons, my family and neighbors give me their coupons after they have gone through them. At work, we have a coupon container. When we're done with a coupon, we put it in the container to share with others. Also, make sure you are on your favorite products' mailing lists. They like to send coupons, too. You can also print coupons from reputable online sources. I save about 30% combining my coupons with sales at the grocery store.

editor's note: For more on finding good coupons, please click here.

Kitchen Grease

I had to have my dishwasher repaired the other day and the plumber told me that washing dishes and pans that had grease on them would eventually clog up the drain. He told me whenever I wash anything with grease on it to put a drop or two of Dawn® dishwashing liquid in before I run the water. This will help eliminate quite a few problems.

A good way to keep the arms of your dishwasher free and clear of anything clogging up the holes is to take one tablespoon of vinegar to one quart of water and pour it into the middle of the arms.

Pricing Garage Sale Items

When pricing garage sale items, the first thing you need to decide is whether you are selling items to make money or if you are hoping to get others to pay you something to cart off stuff you don't want anymore. If the former, you should visit local thrift shops and antique shops to see what they are asking for similar items. This will give you an idea of the value of your items, but be prepared to carry most of your stuff back into the garage at the end of the day. Note that most shops don't sell out in a day.

If the latter, which is the reason for my sales, I price items at what I would want to pay for them if I were considering purchasing them at a garage sale. Since I am an avid bargain-hunter, this means that I price my items considerably below their market value. However, at the end of the day, I have some space in my basement and some money in my pocket.

Additional TDS Resource: More on how to price garage sale items

Removing Tough Wallpaper

It's nearly impossible to remove wallpaper that was put on walls without primer. I actually had to replace all of the sheet rock in a bathroom after trying two different removal methods. I tried the circular cutter wheel with chemical remover (which didn't work at all) and a steamer (which made a mess, presented a danger of burns, and wet the paper on the sheet rock also).

So when I recently started a remodel to my kitchen, I had the same issue. I had wallpaper on an unprimed wall. I thought I'd try sanding the edges smooth, roughing up the surface, and just painting over it. After sanding the surface of a small area, I decided to try the miracle liquid that people say takes care of any cleaning/removal issues of all sorts, namely vinegar.

I put some in a spray bottle with some water (probably a 1:3 ratio of vinegar to water), sprayed enough on the wallpaper to wet it thoroughly, waited a couple minutes, and then used a scraper to try to peel a corner off. It worked! I felt that it was the sanding of the paper that allowed the liquid to reach the glue. So I tried it again with the chemical and it worked even better!

A power sander would be the quickest. It may be a little more work, but it's better than replacing walls!
Tammy in Guyton, GA

Tell Your Friends

When I need a piece of furniture or other items, I frequently put up a notice at work. People there seem to have what I need and want an easy way to get rid of it.

I was given a stained sofa. I rented a steam cleaner and got the stains out in an hour. A friend sold me a nice antique cherry dresser for only $50. It has a scratch, but it is easily covered with a doily. I was also given a co-worker's ex-mother-in-law's old sewing machine. Since I am always on the lookout for a bargain, I can usually find what I need from co-workers. Incidentally, my workplace has about 120 workers.

Garden Water

I am an avid gardener and composter, but before my garden weeds go into the compost bin, I put them in a large pail of water, which I sit out in the sun for about two weeks. If I get the chance to go to the beach, I pick up some dried sea weed and put this in the water pail as well for many added nutrients. I water my outdoor container plants with the compost tea in place of store bought fertilizer.

I am also an avid water conservationist so the water that goes into the compost pail comes from my kitchen sink where I catch the water being used to wash vegetables or my hands. In the dry season, I catch all of my extra water (such as the water heating up for a shower) to water my garden. It's a lot of work, but it is exercise and a good way to conserve water.
Bonnie P.

Before You Drive Off...

Once you have selected a vehicle, call your insurance agent to get a quote on that specific vehicle. Several years ago, we bought a late-model used car that we thought would be excellent for our family. Imagine our shock when we found out (after the purchase) that our insurance rate would triple! I will never again finalize a car purchase without first knowing what my insurance will be.

Keeping Squirrels Out

I live in an old townhouse and squirrels were getting into my attic from the adjacent house. The brick dividing wall was stepped as it went up to the attic peak, and there was no way to close the small gaps where each brick met the roof timber.

I trapped and released a never-ending stream of squirrels until (thanks to a tip from a friend) I purchased dried blood meal from a local nursery and sprinkled it liberally along the dividing wall.

Although dried blood meal is virtually odorless to humans, the smell apparently repels squirrels. It can also be used to keep squirrels from digging in the garden or flower containers, although it has to be renewed frequently when used outside.

Removing Carpet Stains

One of the best carpet stain remedies I've ever seen is using a solution of regular carpet shampoo and oxygenated bleach alternative. Use the hottest water you can stand, wet the carpet with a rag, and mop up. Repeat until the stain comes clean. It may take several passes, but it'll come up. Be sure to concentrate on the edges of the stain inward. Next time, do it fast and furious. You can do this with all kinds of stains as well. I've even used it on pillows for spot cleaning. It also works for puppy stains, blood stains, and fecal matter. I've even used it for vomit.

Additional TDS Resource: More ways to remove carpet stains

Simple Hair Conditioner

I have very thick, wavy hair and one day I was out of conditioner. No conditioner meant I couldn't get a comb or brush through my hair. I grabbed the closest thing, which was baby oil. I put a few drops on my hands and rubbed it through my hair.

Now, that's all I use! I'm serious. The oil makes my hair just a little bit slippery and that's all I need. I haven't used conditioner now for over a year. Try it! I towel dry first, then put a few drops on my hands, rub together, and "comb" through my hair with my fingers. Then I go through my hair with a wide tooth comb. It's easy!

Peeling Garlic

I have a quick tip for peeling garlic. Microwave the clove for 6 to 10 seconds (depending on the size of the clove and wattage of your microwave). You don't want it too hot. Just pinch it and the peel will slip right off.

The Document Safe

We keep important documents in a fireproof and waterproof safe at home. We keep the key in the lock or attached to the box if it doesn't stay in the lock by itself. That way, if we are ever burglarized, the burglar can open the box to see that there is nothing of value to him or her, or if there are valuables stored within, they can easily take those and leave the important documents behind. If there is no key immediately available to the thief, they would likely take off with the whole thing to break it open later and we would be without our documents.

Before You Dry

Spinning the clothes through an extra spin cycle and then putting them into a dryer with a large dry terry towel really cuts down on electricity usage. I know because I've raised five to adulthood!

Caring for Leather Shoes

I sell kids shoes for a living. The best way to clean shoes is to prevent stains. Always spray canvas shoes with a fabric protector. Test the spray on the tongue to make sure it won't stain. For leather and suede, spray with a waterproofer. Again test on the tongue.

The best way to clean canvas is to spot wash by hand using a mild detergent and soft toothbrush (a good use for old toothbrushes and soap slivers). Even if the shoe is machine washable, machine washing wears down the adhesive that holds the shoe together.

Leather is leather and should be cleaned professionally. Suede can be cleaned with a $4 care kit that you can buy at a shoe store or repair shop. Just follow the directions. With proper care, a good shoe can last forever. Remember that you get what you pay for. If you pay $15 for a pair of shoes, chances are that you will only get one season out of the pair, but a $50 pair of shoes can last a lifetime.

Additional TDS Resource: More on caring for leather shoes

That Leftover Meat

Cook ground turkey, chicken, or beef in a large frying pan or saucepan. Add your favorite seasoning (taco, beef stew, fajita, etc.) and then let simmer for several minutes. Cool and put cooked meat into a plastic freezer bag, laying the bag on its side to flatten before sealing. Place flattened bag onto a cookie sheet and put into freezer until frozen.

Now, when you need just enough of your favorite cooked meat for tacos, stew, etc., you just "snap" off the required amount and put the rest back into the freezer. This is a great time-saver!

Relief for Mosquito Bites

Last year, I used a tip on getting relief from mosquito bites by rubbing Listerine® on the bite. Friends would complain that their bites itched like crazy. I told them about using Listerine® and they thought I was nuts. Desperate for relief, one person bought a small bottle. She put some on a tissue and held it for 15 seconds. I became the "hero of relief." They don't think I'm crazy anymore, and it is very cheap.

Do you have a money or time-saving tip you'd like to share? Just click here to submit your suggestion. If we use your tip in any of our publications, we'll send you the next three issues of our print newsletter as a thank you!

If you'd like to receive our Dollar Stretcher Tips newsletter, click here to subscribe.

Dollar Stretcher Tips is a weekly feature of The Dollar If you missed last week's tips click here.

Get Out of Debt
Stay Connected with TDS

Do you struggle to get ahead financially?

Surviving Tough Times is a weekly newsletter aimed at helping you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources.

Debt Checklist

And get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble?
A Simple Checklist and What You Can Do About It
for FREE!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Get Out of Debt