Readers' Tips

Cheap Stain Remover

I discovered that liquid hand soap is a wonderful stain remover for baby clothes (spit-up and diaper accidents) and most other stains that my family creates for me, including mustard, ketchup, mud, red soft drinks, fruit juices, etc.

I simply rub the soap into the stain. If the suds immediately start looking dirty, I rinse it out and repeat. If the suds don't show signs of cleaning it immediately, I just fill a small container with water (as hot as the item can take, except always use cold water for blood stains) and soak the treated item in it for a couple hours or overnight. This has even removed some stains in baby clothes from yard sales.

Inexpensive Landscaping

I recently made a stepping stone path in our yard for absolutely free. First, I measured the area and estimated how many "steps" I'd need. Then, I drove around to various construction sites in our area. Wherever I'd see broken chunks of concrete, I'd stop and ask if I could take a few of the smaller pieces. I looked for pieces that had a flat side and were roughly about a foot square. Within three days, I had enough chunks to start my project!

Next, I laid the chunks out in the desired path. For each one, I dug about two feet down, so that the flat top was flush with the ground. It took a little patience to get each step level, but it turned out great. I finished the edges of my new path off with pea gravel and sprinkled it with pretty marbles and colored stones. Now I get comments all the time on my lovely, homemade path. Similar stones cost around $2 to $3 each, so I saved about $60!

Additional TDS Resource: More suggestions on inexpensive landscaping

Shading Sliding Doors

The sun hits our sliding glass doors first thing in the morning, which really heats the house up. We had considered hanging a bamboo shade outside to block the morning sun, but found a solution we like even better. We put up a simple 10 x 10 fold-up canopy right in front of the doors.

It doesn't block our usage of the backyard and creates a nice shady spot on our deck. We waited until the canopies went on sale last year, so we got it cheap. We filled clean gallon size milk jugs with water and secured them to the legs. Even when the wind kicks in, the canopy stays put.

Extra Towel Rod

I added another shower curtain rod (spring loaded) behind the existing rod to hang towels because my bathroom doesnít have enough towel racks. The towels canít be seen from behind the shower curtain. When showering, we just scoot the towels to the end away from the water.

More Convenient Dried Pet Food

The big bag price for dry dog/cat food is nice, but dealing with the big bag can be a problem. It's heavy to lift and it tends to attract bugs. My solution is to put it inside an old diaper pail. Because the pail has a lid, I don't need to worry about insects. Also, I can separate the big bag into a couple of pails so itís easier to lift. If you don't already have an old diaper pail hanging in your garage, visit a couple of yard sales. You'll frequently find them for $1 or so.

Ladies' Razors

For women, save lots of money on disposable razors by keeping two razors at all times. Use one for legs and one for underarms. Use "new" razor on legs only. When this razor begins to get dull, start using it for underarms and get a new razor out for legs.

Razors last longer this way and still do the job well. Make sure you can determine which is which. Either add a permanent mark to underarm razor or keep it in a separate place.

Updating Patio Cushions

My cushions for my patio furniture were looking a bit worn and I wanted new ones. I dusted the cushions off and recovered them with a heavy, striped upholstery fabric I purchased at a discount store for $2.97/yard. The fabric was 60" wide, and it took three yards to do all of my cushions. Since my patio is covered, this type of fabric works just fine. It looks like I purchased them, and they now have an updated look.
KB in Kansas

DIY Backyard Pond

Want an easy backyard pond? Take a small plastic kids' pool, dig a hole the size of the pool, and place the pool into the hole with the lip just above ground. Then use heavy black plastic and place inside of pool and drape over the edge. Bury the plastic that is over the edge with the dirt that was removed and then plant inexpensive perennials and shrubs all around the pool. Fill it with water and whatever else you would enjoy like fish, plants, or submersible pump for bubbles.

Additional TDS Resource: More on inexpensive backyard ponds

Odds and Ends

When I have some raw veggies and fruit that I don't think I will be able to use up, or even scraps of raw veggies and fruit, I shred them and make a slaw out of them. Last night, I used up a quarter of a head of lettuce, about a quarter of a head of cabbage, a half of a red onion that didn't have much life left, and an apple by shredding them and putting them all together in a bowl with some mayonnaise, a capful of white vinegar, salt, and pepper. Then I chilled the mixture.

It was delicious. We had it as a cold side dish with our grilled burgers last night. We ended up with almost two pounds of coleslaw for pennies, and it tasted much better than the deli version. You can add many more types of veggies to this like chopped cucumbers, any kind of onion, chopped celery, etc.

Amusement Park Food

Amusement park tickets are high enough without adding the price for a family of four or more to eat inside the park. My parents always packed a very elaborate lunch/dinner/snack and took it with us to enjoy out in the parking lot. Most parks offer trees, grass, and picnic tables surrounding their parking lots.

We'd have subs, chips, sodas and bottled water for lunch, and around dinnertime, we'd head out again. For dinner, we'd enjoy hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill (small Coleman camping grill) and then we went back inside the park to ride until closing.

We ate great compared to what the park restaurants were serving at inflated prices.

Meds for Vets

My husband is a veteran and we just found out that he could get his prescriptions mailed to the house for a lot less than we'd pay with our regular insurance. He just needs to go to a Veteran Clinic in our area to be seen by the doctor. Find a clinic in your area here.

Kids' Crafts

The styrofoam bases from various kinds of vegetable and meat packages can be washed in the dishwasher and used as "paint trays" for children when they do their crafts.

Spouse's Spending Habits

I had a problem with my hubby and his spending. Despite my persistent pleading, he kept charging things and saying that the balance on our credit card was "not that bad."

I signed us up for a get out of debt class at our community college. It cost about $50 for both of us. It was worth a hundred times that amount. We paid off our credit cards within a year and started a savings plan. I stopped some bad habits as well. It was easy for him to see that we were really throwing away money on interest, lunches, and meals out.

Hearing from an "expert" third party on the subject was just what he needed. After the class, he became quite aware of spending. In fact, it sometimes gets annoying. Remember that there is no one more critical than a reformed spendthrift.

Additional TDS Resource: More on stopping an overspending spouse

Spider Control

To get rid of spiders, put dryer sheets all around. I put Downy dryer sheets behind pictures and in places that don't show. I started this about five years ago and haven't had spiders since. About once a year, I replace them with fresh ones. Before doing this, I had spiders all over.

Additional TDS Resource: More on spider control

Cheap Custom Shower Gel

I'd like to pass along a discovery I made quite accidentally when trying to decide what to do with some Johnson's® Baby Wash that was left behind when our grandchildren visited recently.

Since the baby wash is mild and hypoallergenic, I decided to mix what was left of my favorite name brand shower gel with the baby wash and was pleasantly surprised with the results. The fragrance of my favorite remained (just a little lighter), and with the addition, I had almost a full bottle of it to use.

Since that time, I have experimented with proportions and found that one third shower gel to two thirds baby wash is best for gels with a stronger scent, and half and half works best with those gels that have a less powerful fragrance. Now I buy the largest size of baby wash, and according to my calculations, when I mix the products, they end up being 50 to 75% less expensive than what I used to buy. I am very happy with the results.

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