Readers' Tips

Inexpensive Living Room Redecorating

A great way to update or redecorate would be to check out local thrift stores. You might have to visit often. You might also have to be creative (maybe a coat of paint on a picture frame). Look at the items and think of different ways to use.

editor's note: For more on inexpensive living room redecorating, please click here.

Easy to See

My apartment refrigerator does not have slide out shelves. I bought several clear plastic shoeboxes and put one on each shelf. I only need to pull the box out to locate an item when I'm looking for it. It also solves the problem of any spillage from tipped over items like garlic or pickles. I even put them in my vegetable/fruit/meat bin, so I can separate items since it is just one wide drawer. I also use large plastic containers in my freezer for the same purpose.
Sue B. in Belle Plaine, MN

Generic Dog Foods

I used to feed Science Diet and Iams to my retrievers, but due to a relocation, I was unable to get these at a reasonable price. I checked the ingredients of Wal-Mart's Old Roy Lamb & Rice (not the others) and itís a close match. My dogs, who are fussy eaters, love it and the price is right. I also used to make my own, and for the time/price, it's hard to beat.

Additional TDS Resource: More on generic dog foods, including comments from vet's offices

Lid Too Tight?

When you get a bottle of nail polish, etc. with a cover that has a tendency to become hard to open, just clean the twist off container and apply a light covering of Vaseline onto the grooves. The bottle will open easily from then on.
Seva I. in Port Huron, MI

Shopping for Consumables

I shop for consumables like paper products, laundry and cleaning supplies, and personal care products, as well as some food items with a long shelf life, at a wholesale warehouse, not a club. It's really a warehouse that sells to mom and pop stores. They typically sell to restaurants, etc. But, most will also sell to individuals.

Fresher Celery

I found an easy way to keep celery fresh and usable for quite a long time. I fill a tall (Tupperware) container with water and place my cut celery sticks inside. The sticks are ready for whatever dish I am making. I change the water weekly. The celery stays crisp and fresh for weeks on end.
Ruby H. in Cocoa, FL

Permanent Draft Dodger

Go to a wholesale house that sells cleaning supplies and buy a 36" rubber squeegee (most doors are 36"). Then screw it to the door so it just touches the floor. You'll have no more drafts, and it will stay in place.

One Coupon Too Many

I am a very frugal person, but when I looked under my sink this week, I found several (about a dozen) containers of body lotion. Yet, I was still clipping coupons and buying lotion. This is a waste of my time, and it's impractical to tie up my money in excess inventory. From now on, I will only clip coupons and look for sales on items that I will need in the next month to six weeks. I know this seems quite simple, but I never thought this process out in quite this way before.
Terry K.

Hearty Breakfasts

Putting all fad diet "facts" aside, people need a combination of fats, protein, and carbs to fill them up and keep them satisfied for several hours. This is why eating just toast or pancakes won't satisfy someone for the long haul. They are mainly carbs.

However, if you add protein and fat, those basic breakfast foods become stick-to-your-rib meals. Peanut butter on toast or quick bread is a great, cheap way to add both protein and fat to round out a breakfast. Eggs are literally pennies apiece and can be scrambled, cooked in the microwave, and added to two pieces of toast for a quick breakfast sandwich.

Tuna fish is also inexpensive. Half a can mixed with some mayo and added to bread is an inexpensive breakfast.

Leftover roasts can be turned into beef and gravy toppings for biscuits (like a sausage and gravy type item). You don't have to eat breakfast food for breakfast if you can get used to the idea.

You might be saving money if you stick to smaller, simpler meals but not if you get hungry again three hours later. I eat big meals and fewer of them. I never have to snack or take more frequent meal breaks. Plus, I don't have to stop what I'm doing to make time to eat.

Additional TDS Resource: More on hearty breakfast suggestions

Easy Packing Tape Trick

Getting a roll of packing tape started used to be such a problem. I always got frustrated and wasted time trying to find the end of the roll to use the tape. Also, it wrecked my fingernails! I found a solution. Now, I place a toothpick at the end of the roll, right before I cut, and I always can find the end of the roll. This works like a charm!
Judy V. in Northbrook, IL

The Best Coffee Ever

I have Cuban neighbors who invited me over to help them with their English. They offered me coffee every time. I tried her coffee and found it to be way too strong. Then, she made me her American version. It was the best coffee ever. One day, while she made the coffee, I stood near enough to watch her. I saw that she used milk (and no water) to make my coffee. Her coffee was so rich and creamy. I started using milk to make my coffee at home. Now I enjoy a rich creamy coffee in the morning and all the benefits of a glass of milk as well.
Ally from Lake Worth, FL

Too Many Keys?

I have accumulated many padlocks and keys over the years. To keep everything straight, as soon as possible, I coat the lock and matching keys with a couple coats of the same bright nail polish from a dollar store. This makes it easier to find on the key ring or in the key box. I only do this for my kids or for family/friends who may need access while house sitting. I do not do this for liquor/gun cabinets or the fire safe.
Cheri in Brookings, OR

Reducing the Cost of Laundry Detergent

A stretcher of mine is to buy two types of laundry detergent. I use the good stuff for my family's clothes. By good stuff, I mean the kind that holds the color and keeps things looking new (it does, too). It costs a little more, but with a coupon when on sale, it is a good deal.

Then I buy the cheaper (generic or store brand) for washing throw rugs, rags, my husband's work clothes (he's in construction), or anything that doesn't really matter much. I find that it cleans things "good enough," and I'm not wasting money on the "better brands" of detergent.

Curing Athlete's Foot

When I was in high school (35 years ago!), I read an article about a young lady who did a research project for a science fair on treatment for athlete's foot. She determined that the most effective and inexpensive treatment was to regularly apply regular underarm antiperspirant to the feet, especially between the toes. Prior to reading that, I had struggled with athlete's foot that I picked up in the school locker room. After I started putting my regular stick antiperspirant/deodorant on my toes and rubbing it in between my toes, I have not had an athlete's foot problem in 35 years.
Hank T.

Additional TDS Resource: More suggestions for curing athlete's foot

Solves a Bunch of Problems

A packet of museum putty costs only $6 and is something that has a thousand uses. The putty, which looks like flat Turkish taffy, can be pulled into pieces like clay. It's used by museum curators to hold fragile objects firmly in place. It doesn't stain, doesn't get hard so it can be reused, and is easy to remove from any surface. I've found tons of household uses for this little miracle item. Here are a few:

  • To make a picture hang straight on the wall, I press a little putty behind one corner, straighten the hanging, and press to the wall. Not quite right? Just reposition. The picture won't budge after this, but the putty will release and come right off when I want it to.

  • I hang kids' artwork, posters, instructions, print-outs, etc. on any surface with it. When I'm ready to move on, I remove the object and reuse the putty. By the way, putty peels right off paper with no harm done.

  • I have a pair of inexpensive metal sculptures mounted on little wood blocks that liked to fall over. Museum putty holds them in place effortlessly.

  • I use it in arts and crafts. I've made greeting cards where I sttached a fancy tea packet with putty as part of the design. The recipients had no trouble removing the tea packet and enjoying the tea.

The putty comes in clear or white varieties, and one packet goes a long way. I wouldn't be without it.

New Uses for an Electric Percolator

I picked up an electric percolator from Freecycle many years ago. I used it to boil water for tea. It was faster and used less energy than the stove. It just kicked the bucket, and now I use the bigger one I picked up at a church flea market for $1.

When we travel, I bring the electric percolator and boil water for our coffee in the bag and bring breakfast. This saves money and time when travelling.

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