Readers' Tips

Turning a Garage into a Family Room

My dad did this many years ago. He applied for the permit and did the work himself or had a few friends help. He was able to take his time as it was only a garage to begin with and not being used for anything outside of that. It was the best thing he ever did and was the most used room in the house. It started out as a double car garage and ended up a very nice family room/dining room combination with a wood burning fireplace. After that job was completed, he was able to turn the old living room into a bedroom, turning a three-bedroom house into a four-bedroom house. It increased the value of the house and was a win-win situation. I definitely recommend doing it!

editor's note: For more on turning a garage into a family room, please click here.

Spring Cleaning for Your Ride

Want to get the "winter" off your car mats? I put my mats in the washer on the delicate cycle. Then I just let them dry on the counter. I do this once a year and my mats look great (after 10 years).

Additional TDS Resource: More ways to spring clean your car

The End of Rebate Cards

Receiving plastic rebate cards in the mail for $5 or $10 is always a welcome surprise, but what do you do when the balance left on the card is less than one dollar? I make sure not to lose a single cent of my rebates by purchasing stamps. The post office has never refused the prepaid card and I am always ready when the cost of postage increases because I have the extra stamps available to make up the difference.

Unusual Dishwashing Aid

I bought a cheap pair of those "exfoliating" gloves at the grocery store. When I'm washing the dishes, I slip them on. The roughness of the glove texture helps me wipe off food particles. It's handier than using a separate scrub brush. I use a different pair of "exfoliating" gloves to wash and scrub dirty root vegetables. They make cleaning carrots and even celery easier and more thorough.
Judy R.

Longer Lasting Pantyhose

I wear pantyhose every day. A dozen pair of summer weight hose and a dozen pair of winter weight hose last me more than a year. I buy irregular and cheap pantyhose when I see them and buy more than one pair of the same color.

When new, I rinse them and freeze them. The freezing seems to make them wear like iron. My pantyhose wear out between the thighs before they ever run. Last week, I fell down my icy steps and bruised both knees, but my pantyhose were fine.

Extreme Frugality

Sometimes a little "extreme frugality" is in order, and meals are always ripe for cost-cutting ideas. Don't throw away leftover salad. Instead, use it as an ingredient in another meal. I chop salad leftovers really fine and then blend them with raw, ground meat to make moist and tasty meatloaf, mini-meatloaves, or meatballs.

I use a knife to turn leftovers into minced bonus vegetable add-ins, but a blender or food processor works, too. Your salad has leftover dressing on it? Good! You won't have to add seasonings to your meat.

Chop or mince leftover cooked vegetables and use them this way, too. Leave onion and mushroom bits a little larger than the rest of your vegetable surprises. You'll never find a moister, tenderer meatloaf than the one you make this way.

Easy Cleaning Microwave

Want a clean microwave? Just put some water in a microwave safe container and set the microwave for three to four minutes to bring the water to a boil and then wait a few minutes. When you go back, anything that was stuck in there is softened and wipes right off.

Lunch at Work

Buying lunch drains a budget fast. I'm not a night-before person and there are too many days when making lunch in the morning doesn't get done. My solution is to keep lunch stuff at work, such as packages of crackers, cheese, fruit, etc. The meal is healthy and convenient.

Chemical Free Mosquito Control

Mosquitoes hate lemon scent. I spray my entire yard with equal parts of lemon dish soap, lemon ammonia, and lemon juice. If I do this every two weeks with a 20-gallon sprayer, I won't be on the mosquito menu this summer.

Additional TDS Resource: More on mosquito control

Cleaning Vinyl Blinds

For years, I have taken my vinyl blinds down, sprayed them with Formula 409®, and then rinsed them with the garden hose. I have a couple of screws in the side of the house to hang them on while cleaning.
Becky via Facebook

A Janitor's Cleaning Advice

I have saved a ton of money by making my own cleaner. I spent some time as a janitor and learned some tricks. In a spray bottle, mix one part white vinegar and ten parts water (three ounces of vinegar to a quart of water). I have used gallons of this, all made from one gallon of vinegar! It cuts grease, loosens dried-on food, cleans glass and appliances, deodorizes, and kills germs.

I haven't bought a can of furniture polish in two years. I invested in a can of furniture wax at Sears and then waxed my furniture. The results were breathtaking! It took about fifteen minutes for each piece, but for the last two years, all I have had to do is run a soft cloth or electrostatic duster over the furniture. I can dust my living room in the time it would take me to do one piece with Pledge.

The Soda Pop Solution

Nine years ago, I wanted to help charities but was very low on money. I thought about how I would go about it. That's when I thought of the five-cent deposit on bottles and cans. If you live in a state that charges a five-cent deposit, you can turn those bottles and cans in for cash. If you live in a state that pays by the pound, that's fine, too.

I keep several plastic bags in my car. When I drive and it's safe to pull over and pick up the bottles or cans, I do so. Nine years ago, when I worked at Wal-Mart, I raised $400 in six months. One of the young guys who worked in the parking lot helped me as well. I just met a woman today that does the same thing I do and helps her grandchildren in college. She was happy there was someone else doing this!

I'm cleaning up an area and making money as well. It's fun!

The Lifetime Cost Factor

When you are planning to buy a refrigerator with the built-in water filter, a water filtration unit, a printer, or anything else that has replacement parts, check the prices on the "replaceables" first before making the purchase.

Our fridge has a built-in water filter. The manufacturer recommends that the filter be replaced twice a year. The cost for one filter is approximately $35! You can get several whole house filters for that amount! Also, some printers are priced very low because the manufacturers know that they'll get you on the cartridges.

Cleaning Vertical Blinds

For dirt and pet hair on vertical blinds, I use a natural enzyme spray found in the pet section of a store. Spray both sides of the blind (if they are not lined) wait a day to let dry and then vacuum. I have found the enzyme sprays work well on a lot of stains around the house. For vinyl vertical blinds, I use the wet Swiffer® sheets to wipe dust, dirt, and grime off.

Additional TDS Resource: More on cleaning vertical blinds

Cure for Shopaholics

I believe that the best way to save money is to stay home and stay away from the stores. If I do visit the store, I often come home with something I never knew I "needed." Shopping is not entertainment!

The next best thing is to go to the store with somebody else. Tell your shopping partner what you are looking for and be accountable to this person about sticking to your list.

And don't forget to block all the shopping channels on your TV!

Natural Eye Cream

It is funny you mentioned Vitamin E capsules. I meant to pick up some yesterday. If you break a couple open and mix with a bit of coconut oil, you have the best eye cream in the world. There are no chemicals, and your skin will be beautiful.
Chris W. via Facebook

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