Readers' Tips

Buying Vitamins and Supplements Online

My husband also spends a lot of money each month on supplements he takes. He was buying at a local store, and I started to do some research online and found I could save quite a bit by buying vitamins and supplements online. I purchase his vitamins/supplements from eBay. I only buy from sellers with 100% positive feedback. In the store, one of his vitamin/supplements was $36 plus tax. I was able to buy the same thing online for $23 with free shipping. You can also do a search on websites like Nextag. It compares the prices to online stores for what you are looking for and tells you the best price. You can also set up the website to notify you when an item reaches a price you like.

editor's note: For more on buying vitamins and supplements online, please click here.

The Two Minute Grocery Break

After we have filled up our grocery cart with the products that we want to buy, we do a two minute break exercise. Before we go to the checkout, we go through each item that we have put in the cart. We take a moment to analyze whether or not we need it right now. If the answer is no, then it goes out of our shopping cart. This exercise only takes us a moment and saves us from buying unnecessary stuff.

Blackhead Strips

I actually used to know the dermatologist who "invented" those blackhead removing facial strips. How did he invent them? He said that for many years during skin studies, he used regular scotch tape to pull out the "contents" of pores. It was as simple as that. I've tried it at home, and it's not a bad result at all.

Additional TDS Resource: More alternatives to expensive blackhead strips

Sugar Scrub

During the holiday season, a coworker bought some "sugar scrub" at a specialty shop in the mall. It was wonderful for softening hands, elbows, and knees, but it cost $10! I discovered that by mixing enough granulated sugar with baby oil to make a thick paste, I had the same thing and it worked just as well for less money. I store it in a tightly covered container or even a zipper bag.

Instead of Fabric Softener

To save money on fabric softener, I use a wadded up piece of aluminum foil in the dryer. The wad is approximately the size of a baseball. It removes static for about six months. To remove static-cling from clothing that's been hanging in the closet, I rub a small piece of foil over the clothing. This reduces, if not eliminates, the need for fabric softener and smelly anti-cling sprays.

Morning Rush Hour

I have found one of the best things I can do to be on time in the morning is to have as much done the night before as I can.

  1. Have a couple of nutritious, quick, breakfast items on hand and ready to go.

  2. Have lunch prepared and ready to be packed in my lunchbox, which will also save money.

  3. Have clothes and shoes ready for the next day.

  4. Gather all the things to be taken to work.

  5. Have my workout clothes and shoes ready to go in a bag.

My morning schedule went under the microscope as well. I rearranged the order that I did some things and saved quite a bit of time. If traffic is a problem, look at when it's a little better and see about changing your work schedule.

Organized Shopping by Aisle

Here's a tip a friend gave me. When she goes to the grocery store, she puts her list in the order of the aisles! I keep my coupons in the same order. This has worked so well that I do not even notice the end of the aisle specials unless they're on my list.

Shiny Stainless

Pour lemon juice into a spray bottle. Use it with a sprinkling of baking soda to shine stainless steel sinks.

Leather Boot Care

I have had a lot of luck caring for leather boots by carefully brushing dirt from the area where the sole meets the upper and then applying leather cream generously. I then stuff the toes with crumpled newsprint. I recently read that a great way to store winter socks is to jam them into the toes of boots/winter shoes. The boots or shoes keep their shape, and you don't need another place to store the socks. If the calves of the boots are long enough to need support, I roll a piece of cardboard to the shape needed and insert it into the leg of the boot. Store them lying down; if you put the soles on the floor, wrinkles can develop in the leg/ankle of the boots as gravity pulls the leather down.

Additional TDS Resource: More on caring for leather boots

Better Bath Towels

This may not save a bunch of money, but it does make a difference after a shower. When you wash a load of towels, do not put any fabric softener in the wash or the dryer. The towels will be much more absorbent.

Paint Savings

The cost of paint is insane. I have found that by buying gallons of light-colored mis-tints for $5 and using it as a wall primer over fresh sheetrock, I save at least $15 per room.

Of course, I can save even more when I actually like the mis-tint color as my final color! I just picked up five gallons of a high-quality green khaki colored paint for my basement for $20. Cha-ching!

Save the Water Heater

Manufacturers install a sacrificial anode in virtually all water heaters. It is sized to protect the heater's tank from rusting until just beyond the warranty period. After the anode is "used up," the tank will begin to rust and shortly thereafter begin to leak. The well-kept secret is that if the homeowner merely replaces the anode at the end of the warranty period (usually five years or so), the tank will be corrosion-protected for an additional five years. Anode replacement takes about 20 to 30 minutes and is about 10% the cost of having a heater replaced!

Rarely Used Batteries

Portable radios are a godsend when power outages occur. The trick is to keep the batteries and the battery compartment from developing the acid salts that form a white crusty surface. Ideally, we take the batteries out periodically to check them, but with busy lives, we often neglect to do this.

When I found one of my small radios had developed this white corrosive crusting in the battery compartment, it looked like I would not be able to use the radio again. I poured white vinegar into a small bowl, and after removing the corroded batteries, I cleaned the compartment and the contacts using a cotton swab dipped in white vinegar. It took a couple cotton swabs to get all the corrosion off (be sure to put the white vinegar in a small cup or bowl, so you don't contaminate the rest of the vinegar). All of the corrosion came off, and a rag dried everything. After putting new batteries in, the radio is working again.
Terri in Fort Lee

Homemade Air Fresheners

I have a small simmering potpourri crock that I purchased at a garage sale for 25 cents. I keep this out on my kitchen counter and fill it half-full with water. Then I add a few cloves, a couple dashes of cinnamon, and a dabble of extract (vanilla, orange, etc.). Citrus peels are another great ingredient. After I plug in the crock, I have a warm, comfortable smell wafting throughout my home that isn't overly pungent like some of those expensive wall-outlet units. (Just be careful to watch the water level of the crock as the heat will cause evaporation. You don't want this to run dry.) If you don't have a potpourri crock, any slow cooker will do. You may also simmer homemade scents in a small saucepan on the stove.

Additional TDS Resource: More suggestions for homemade air fresheners

Easy Wrinkle Releaser

When I have a wrinkled shirt or jeans, instead of ironing, I hang the item on a clothes hanger and mist it with water in a spray bottle. Then I gently run my hand over the wrinkles, and they disappear. After the item hangs for a bit to dry, I then wear it. I have saved time doing this, and I can't tell the item hadn't been ironed.
Connie from NC (Sent from my iPhone)

The Auto Insurance Call

When you get your new bill right after your policy renews, don't automatically pay it. The insurance company is looking out for their bottom line, not your pocketbook. I just got my bill today. It seemed a little high to me. I called my insurance company and started asking them questions (such as the criteria they use to determine the amount I pay on my bill). The woman I was speaking to rattled off a bunch of things, including the industry standard for mileage.

I asked her what the industry standard for mileage was. She said that the average car is driven 12,000 miles per year, and my insurance rates for my cars (I have two) were based on that standard. I told her that my husband's car is only used to commute two miles five days a week or about 520 miles per year. My car averages about 8,000 miles per year. Both are under the 12,000-mile average.

She put me on hold and recalculated my insurance rates. When she came back on, she told me that a new bill would be sent out with a $200 credit for the year!

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