Readers' Tips

Eliminating Bed Bugs

I've read that putting empty tuna cans filled with borax on the bottom of each bed leg makes the bugs climb onto the bed through the borax, which dehydrates and kills them. Remove bed skirts so they have to use the legs.

editor's note: For more on eliminating bed bugs, please click here.

Hunting for Treasure

I have a technique to save money that I call "Treasure Hunt." I use this technique whenever I want to buy something that I don't need right away but I still want.

For example, I wanted a baker's rack for my kitchen. I searched several months and then found a beautiful one at a store that was going out of business.

Another time I wanted a bar table and bar stools for my family room. Again I searched, and after six months, I found a beautiful three-piece wood and iron set brand new at a warehouse clearance center.

I have dozens of examples, but basically, the way that treasure hunt works is by being patient and searching everywhere. This includes thrift shops, garage sales, discount stores, outlets, and even asking friends if they have treasures they are getting rid of. Fall in love with the thrill of the hunt!

Soda Substitutes

The most addictive thing about soda is the convenience. I also was addicted to soda. I finally bought a 48-ounce insulated cup and keep ice in it all day. I keep refilling it with water. When I'm not drinking from it, I keep it in the refrigerator. Since it's so large, I'm not constantly making trips to the faucet. If it gets too warm, I can always add more ice.

Additional TDS Resource: More suggestions on substitutes for soda

Avoid the Ambulance

When my husband needed to go to the emergency room while we were on vacation, but it was not an immediate emergency (time was not important), we used a rolling desk chair to get him to the car. Although he could not walk (which was why we were going), he could transfer himself and did not want to use an ambulance. Not only was he happier not being in an ambulance, but we probably saved over $1000 since ambulances in the city we were in charged way more than our insurance covered.
D. S. (via Facebook)

editor's note: Just to avoid any doubt, never put anyone's health at risk to save money. Driving to the emergency room is fine in some circumstances, but don't lose a loved one trying to save money.

Handy Kitchen Storage

As a personal chef and an avid cook, I'm addicted to kitchen gadgets. I really do use them, just not all the time. Here is my dilemma. Where do I store them? I purchased a hanging shoe bag with clear plastic pockets. I hang it on the back of the door in my laundry room, which is right off my kitchen. Now I don't have to clutter up my cabinet drawers with gadgets that I don't use every day. But, when I do need them, they're right there where I can see them. The bags are available at most discount stores.
K. H. from OH


With all the cucumbers ready now in our garden, I found a cheap way to make pickles. After we finish a jar of store-bought pickles (sweet or dill), I do not throw away the jar or juice. I simply cut up our own fresh cucumbers and stuff them in the jar with the juice. After about a week, we have our own homemade pickles for free without all the hassle of canning or spices.

Kid & Pet Safe Weed Killer

A good way to remove weeds that grow through your pavement is to pour boiling water over them. They die quickly, and you will not ruin your pavement (or your animals and small children) with harsh chemicals. It is cheap and quick. You will need to do it every couple of weeks to keep it free of weeds.

Using Small Spaces

My mother-in-law paints (and wonderfully, I might add). She has painted all the paintings in her house and mine. They look store bought! Anyway, when my in-laws retired, they downsized to a small two-bedroom apartment. The spare bedroom (although it can be used for guests) has a small closet. She utilized the space very well. She put in an easel, a rolling stool she can move in and out of the closet, extra canvases and supplies on the shelf, etc. She also added cans that could be hung across the closet rod to store brushes, paints, etc. She also put in a "shoe organizer" on the inside of the door for more supplies, inspiration, etc. She added extra lighting (a drop light I think) to make sure her space was well lit, so her eyes didn't tire so easily and her paintings turned out the way she wanted them to turn out! I have always been a fan of using small spaces well, and this idea really impressed me!
Heather (via Facebook)

Removing Stainless Steel Scratches

If you have scratches on a stainless steel sink that have gone below the surface, go to Pep Boys or a similar automotive store. Look in the auto body section and get a rubbing compound and the finest grit automobile sanding paper you can find. You want the wet sanding paper in 600 to 2000 grit. First try the rubbing compound, following manufacturing instructions and the original polishing pattern of your sink. If you still have scratches, you will need to wet the sanding paper, begin lowering with the coarser sandpaper, and work to the finest until you can barely see the scratch any longer. Then follow with the rubbing compound.

It's not an easy or quick job, but it can be done. I've rescued literally hundreds of scratched stainless steel sinks in rental units using the same methods.

Additional TDS Resource: More on removing stainless steel scratches

Cheap Drawer Organizer

I put several shoeboxes into my sock, bra, and panty drawers. It saves me a lot of space, and it looks so neat. I have done the same thing in one or two of my kitchen drawers also.

Save the Sheets

The elastic on my fitted sheets wore out and wouldn't stay tucked on the mattress, but the fabric was still in good shape. I pinned (then later stitched when I had time) wide elastic diagonally across each corner. Now the elastic can be tucked under each corner of the mattress.

Keeping Track of Cash

To keep track of my small cash purchases, I write each one on the back of my ATM or bank withdrawal slip, which I keep in my wallet. I make $100 withdrawals and never knew where the cash went until I began using this method. I used to carry a notepad but always forgot to write purchases down. Now when I take cash from my wallet, I am reminded when I see the bank slip. I have the information at hand and can see where I should cut spending. This also enables me to better plan my budget.
Susan B.

Affordable College

It is time to start getting financially ready to send those recent high school grads to college. I am a college instructor at a local community college. Here are some things for parents to think about.

Tuition is cheaper and living expenses do not go up if you insist junior takes the first two years at the local college. Your new grad is more likely to get a college degree if they start at the community college (recent studies show). The associate degrees at community colleges pay better and are more likely to employ your child than many four-year degrees (again, studies show this). The two-year degree can then be turned into a four-year degree for even better earnings. Students who excel at community colleges are eligible for a free tuition ride when they transfer.

In short, if your child is not an Einstein and not going into engineering, Natural Science, or Computer Science, they will do best with a community college start on life. And you will save big bucks.

If your child is dependent upon you in college, you can get their grades and access to information from their professors by filing a FERPA request through the child's Dean of Academics. Kids do better in college when their parents are "checking up" regularly.
Van M.

Second Marriage Finances

I am married for the second time, and my husband and I have different spending styles. We tried several different plans, but the one that works best for us is this. First, figure out the basic expenses for maintaining the house each month, such as rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, taxes and insurance. Divide the total in a ratio that's fair. If salaries are equal or close, choose a 50/50 ratio. Both partners put their share into the checking account that is used for those bills.

The remainder of each partner's money is his/her own to do whatever he/she wishes. Since we each have children, we choose to take our child expenses out of our "own" money. We include the basics in with the household bills and take the extra expenses out of our own money. We put just a bit extra in the household account each month, so we will have a head start on any major household purchase or emergency items.

Additional TDS Resource: More on second marriage finances

Enjoying Fluffy Pillows

I bought some expensive (for me) pillows three years ago, and they are as fluffy as the day I bought them. About every three months, I put one and only one in the dryer with three tennis balls (found at Goodwill) and run the dryer for an hour for each pillow on hot to kill the dust mites. The balls fluff up the pillow.

Don't do it with more than one pillow at a time because the extra pillows won't fluff. I spend a day doing this on all of our bed pillows. I use the dryer that day, so the heating element stays hot and doesn't have to reheat, which costs extra money in electricity.

Bulk Cooking for One

I honestly don't like cooking for myself, but I like to cook. So about once every few months, I'll cook large quantities of foods I like and freeze them in portion sizes. This has not only paid off when I don't feel like cooking, but also when I've been too sick to cook, when someone drops in, when I've been "snowed" in and can't get to the store, and when it's too hot to cook in the summer. I throw a salad in with my meal portion and have a great meal!
Kari K (via Facebook)

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