Readers' Tips


Kids' Birthday Party Games

Have you checked out Pinterest for party ideas? They usually have really cool things for kids.
Teresa (via Facebook)

editor's note: For more on kids’ birthday party games, please click here.

Ensure-like Shakes

I use yogurt, peanut butter, and cottage cheese to make “milkshakes.” It's tastier than Ensure, and with all the things you can add, you can have a different flavor for each meal. Any way you can get the protein and calories in a tasty form, go for it.
TJ (via Facebook)

Frugal Fitness

I was not willing to invest any more in expensive exercise equipment that would sit unused in a corner of the room after a few weeks of use. Since I am not a fan of exercise, this has happened with equipment I've purchased in the past.

A few months ago, I started to take the bus to work. The nearest bus stop is a mile away from my house. It provides me with two 20-minute walks a day. I don't get sweaty because I don't run, and because the exercise is divided into smaller chunks, I hardly know I'm doing it. I use the time to wake up in the morning and to relax in the evening before I come home to my family. I am now looking at taking a (shorter) bus ride from a bus stop that is two miles away, providing me with four miles of distance to cover each day. The only time I didn't take the bus was in the dead of winter when temperatures reached below zero.

I've started to look forward to my walks and am enjoying my "alternative treadmill" very much.
Margaret

Additional TDS Resource: More on exercise when you can't afford expensive equipment or gyms

Bug Splattered Car?

Put some baking soda on a wet sponge and gently scrub your car's windshield, lights, and chrome (if you have an oldie with chrome!) to remove bugs. Just wipe it off with another wet sponge or some damp paper towel. This works well, and it's very inexpensive.
Donna from NC

Inexpensive Home Security

A “Beware of Dog” sign can work wonders. Then, to add to the imagination, a large dog dish with partially eaten food next to a water dish displayed in the backyard can help the imagination shift into high gear for those tending to use the back entrance at night. Placing it just adjacent to the back door along with a chain can be rather convincing.
Jerry

Additional TDS Resource: More on inexpensive home security

Non-Toxic Insect Repellent

My husband came in with a dryer sheet in the inside of his hat, and being curious, I asked him why. He said that if you wipe your face, arms and legs down with it and then place it in your hat for a bug repellent, it works! So you have a DEET-free bug repellent for just a few cents!
Connie in North Carolina (via BlackBerry)

Kiddie Clothes Hangers

I was having such a problem with clothes hangers for my kids. The infant sized ones were too small. My kids' (ages 4 and 6) clothes would just fall right off of them and end up in a pile on the closet floor. However, the adult hangers were way too big. The kids had a hard time hanging their clothing and would end up stretching out the neck of their shirts. So I looked for kids' hangers, but they were really expensive.

We got a tip that a local dry cleaner would give away hangers if we picked them up. I got two grocery bags full of hangers, and the best part was that these hangers were medium sized. Some of them must have been used for smaller women's clothing or something. They fit my kids' clothes perfect, and they were free! The lady at the dry cleaners was very excited to give them away.
Amanda

Food Container Odors

This tip is wonderful for plastics that have picked up an odor from food. Place a piece of crumpled newspaper inside, close the lid, and let it sit for a couple of days. Coolers that may not have been left open after use can benefit from this tip also.
Nancy

Dry Hair Solutions

I have very dry hair, and I have discovered that there is no reason I can't use an ordinary rinse-out conditioner as a leave-in conditioner. I just apply my regular conditioner in the shower, and then I don't rinse it out. Sometimes, I towel dry my hair first and then work a dollop of conditioner in, combing it through with my fingers. I buy VO5 Moisture Milks conditioner for about a dollar a bottle, but you can use anything that works for you.

The only drawback is that after a while, it does start to build up on my scalp, so I have to scrub well with my fingers when I shampoo to get it off. Talking of shampooing, you might want to consider doing it less often. If you have dry hair, you certainly don't need to wash it every day. Cutting back on shampoo may help with the dryness.
Amy

Additional TDS Resources: More suggestions for controlling dry hair

Reinforced Shower Curtains

Being frugal, I have always bought the most economical shower curtains available. I found that they ripped at the first hole because of the continued pressure on that point as the curtain was opened or closed. I realized that I was replacing the curtain more than I could afford.

As a solution, I put four staples around each hole on the curtain before attaching the shower curtain hooks. The staples are almost invisible and give a strong edge around each hole. Now, my cheap shower curtain just lasts and lasts.
L

Better Baked Potatoes

When I bake potatoes in the microwave, I spray them with cooking spray instead of greasing them with oil. The shells are soft and easy to remove.
C.

Handy Ice

We do a lot of boating and camping and were forever buying ice, ice, and more ice. A friend gave me this great tip. Buy a bag of balloons at a dollar store and fill each balloon to about half of its capacity and freeze. You have large balls of ice you can put in your cooler, and if you want crushed, just drop the balloon on a hard surface, cut the balloon, and there is your crushed ice!
Maggie from MD

Liquid Compost

I love to garden and have a spinning compost tumbler. The problem in the past was that sometimes I had more compost scraps to add to the bin than I had space in the compost tumbler. I didn't want to spend money on another large capacity tumbling compost bin because they can get very expensive.

I started grinding up my leftover food scraps, a couple of used napkins or paper towels, egg shells, etc. and adding water to come to the eight cup measure mark on my Vitamix blender. I then put the ground up mixture into a five-gallon pail and add water up to the top of the pail. I water around my fruit trees or other plants and bushes with this solution. I'm composting instantly, and food scraps aren't left whole to entice raccoons and other animals. Plus, I manage fine without purchasing an additional compost bin. As a word of caution, I don't grind up corn cobs or animal bones in my blender.
Zoe (via iPhone)

Relief From Stretch Marks

Shea butter is a great moisturizer to minimize the appearance of stretch marks. It softens and smoothes the skin. You can find it at a health food store or an ethnic market in your area. I've used it for years, and my stretch marks are barely visible. Just remember that you have to faithfully use it every day over a period of time before you really start to see results.
Andrea

Additional TDS Resource: More suggestions on how to minimize stretch marks

Grocery Shopping Apps

Are you an iPad user looking to save money and time on grocery shopping? I used to use paper and pen or Excel to create shopping lists, pricebooks, and meal plans. Creating meal plans, grocery lists, and a pricebook with notes is so much easier and thriftier using the iPad applications Smart Shopping List (free), ShopperPro (99 cents) or Shopper Lite (free). I really like the improved productivity, convenience, and the legibility of a grocery list application. These are just three of several applications available to frugal shoppers who are committed to staying within their grocery budget. Some grocery list apps offer built-in databases, so you can quickly add coupons and grocery items to your list.

For more information on ShopperPro, visit here. For more information on ShopperLite, visit here. For more information on Smart Shopping List, visit here.
Maurenne from Kansas

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

I do pulled pork every year for our annual BBQ, and this year, instead of a Boston Butt, my husband grabbed seven rib pork roasts. I stuck them in a slow cooker on low for about 10 hours with about a cup of water on the bottom and they shredded easier than any before. It was free from bones and fatty gristle, and everyone raved about the pork this year (they do every year, but especially this year).
Lisa (via Facebook)

editor's comment: You might want to add some liquid smoke to the water. It's not the same as if it's cooked slowly in a wood fire smoker, but it sure is a lot easier and so, so tasty!


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