Readers' Tips

Vertical Gardening in Small Spaces

I was at a university greenhouse open house last weekend and there was an area dedicated to container gardening. One of the "containers" was a 6 x 6 pallet that was filled with garden soil while flat on the ground and then made to stand on its side to make a vertical garden. Watering comes from the top and flows down to the bottom sections naturally with gravity.

editor's note: Visit here for more on vertical gardens.

I Wonder Why

I actually saw this on a dollar bill. Someone wrote on it with black permanent maker, "I am just a piece of paper and I control your entire life!" That really struck home with me. So many of us work hard and pass on life itself and worry about money. We make more, so we can spend more. We never seem to have enough of it. And what is it? It's just a piece of paper. It isn't our friends and family. It isn't our health. It isn't our freedom or the love we give and receive. And yet we let it rule our lives.
Kaethie P.

Finding Cheaper Lipstick

I have three suggestions for lipstick addicts like me:

  1. Buy inexpensive lipstick. I have enjoyed 99-cent lipstick as much as the $20 stuff.

  2. Try gift sets, especially when they are on sale after the holidays.

  3. Mix colors. Want a glittery red? Mix a red you already have with a sheer glittery gloss. Pink a little too bright? Mix it with a nude you already have. Either layer the colors on your lips, mix them in your palm, or once you find a shade combination you really like, mix them in an empty makeup pot.

Emilie in Indiana

Additional TDS Resource: More on how to find cheaper lipstick

Cleaning Jacuzzi Tubs

Almost all hotels with good sanitary standards fill jacuzzi tubs with a gallon of bleach and let them run for about 20 minutes to clean the lines between each hotel guest.

I do it monthly here in my home, since only my husband and I use the jacuzzi tub. Our tub has never had any problems with gunk at all, and we've never had problems with the lines at all.

A few ounces of prevention save us about $10 in those fizz tablets and a maintenance fee.
Denise M. in Fort Dodge, IA

Restaurant Charges

Because of our work schedules, we have dinner out frequently. And, it's most convenient to use our credit card to pay. But after hearing horror stories about people having restaurant bills changed after they left, we started taking a few steps to protect ourselves.

When we get the bill, we make sure that each line is filled out. For instance, if we leave a cash tip, we put a zero with a long horizontal line through it on the "tip" line. That leaves no way to turn a zero into a ten or twenty. We also make sure that there's no room to the left of the total on that line.

Cheaper Wheels

I have friends who feel that they can't possibly live without a "new" car. But, if you do the math, it's really a major expense. If you have a good mechanic, you can save a lot of money by driving older used cars. Every couple of years, our mechanic finds someone who wants to sell a gently used car. Often it's one that he's done the maintenance on. He'll introduce me to the seller. I've purchased a number of great, low-cost cars this way. And, if they need a repair, my mechanic friend takes care of it. He's much cheaper than a new car payment!

Easy DIY Pizza

I have found that you can use tortillas for a thin, crisp pizza. Just lay them flat, apply your toppings, and stick them in a toaster oven. You may want to pre-toast your tortilla. It's your choice. This way you can bake them instead of using more oil and fat to fry them in a skillet.
Tiffany B.

editor's note: If you don't have a toaster oven, your regular oven will do just fine.

Rental Car Warning

We don't rent a lot of cars, so we didn't know that we should walk around the car looking for any dings or dents before leaving the rental car lot. We found out the hard way when we returned the car. It had a scratch on the trunk that I believe was there when we got the car, but we couldn't prove it. That made us responsible for it, and it cost us $300!

Next time, we'll walk around the car with a rental company employee, and I'm going to take pictures with date/time stamps of any damage, so I can prove that we didn't do it. This is just a word to the wise!

Natural Fertilizer

When cleaning a fish tank, you should save the water that's siphoned out. It's full of nutrients that are great for plants. And it's so easy to do. Instead of pouring the bucket of old water into the toilet, just pour it over your favorite flowerbed.

Soda Alternatives

Being a single mom with three growing and "always hungry and thirsty" older teens, I can understand the dilemma of the "Soda Wars." Here are some tips.

Challenge your family. If they are willing to try alternate drinks like juice, tea and water, the money saved from "soda" can be put aside for a special family time, such as ordering a pizza or buying a DVD. Also challenge them to develop their own drink ideas. When my children were younger, they experimented with mixing different flavors of Kool-Aid and quite often were very successful. The only rule was it could not be wasted. Some less successful flavors were frozen and made into homemade popsicles.

Challenge them. They quite often provide very satisfactory and creative solutions on their own.
Vicki T.

Additional TDS Resource: More on soda alternatives

Need a New Grill?

Last year our gas grill cooked its last meal. The burner was uncontrollable. Most everything came out burned. We were about to replace it when we happened upon a section of grill repair parts in the hardware store. We rebuilt the grill with a new burner and lava rocks. We even bought a can of heat resistant paint and gave the grill body a quick spray. For less than $40, we have a like new grill. Can't wait to use it this weekend!

Faucet, Sink and Sprayer Cleaning

I get hard water stains around my faucets and my sink sprayer. For the sprayer, I fill a cup with white vinegar, insert the sprayer, and let it sit overnight. I use three paper towels that I soaked in white vinegar to wrap around the faucet. What I used to scrub with no result now wipes clean with absolutely no effort.
Shellie in Mt Pleasant

Catalog Un-Shopping

Part of me loves catalogs and shopping. I can spend hours going through my collection of catalogs or surfing shopping sites. I allow myself to browse, even filling out the order forms. I used to just throw them away or delete them. But now I save them for a few weeks and give them another look. I try to remember why it was that I wanted an item so badly a few weeks prior. Almost always, I can't even remember!

Easy Clean Showers

I had a problem with my shower floor, and I found that a mixture of three parts bleach and one part water in a spray bottle works the best. I let this sit for a few minutes and watch the stains disappear. I tried all kinds of bathroom cleaners on it, and they did no good. This mixture also works great on sinks. I have a white sink in my kitchen that had become stained with coffee and cola that was being dumped down the drain, and it worked miracles on it.

Additional TDS Resource: More on cleaning baths and showers

New Buying Tool

Before buying clothes, ask yourself, "What's the CPW?" CPW stands for cost per wearing. There are some items that can be worn frequently, so they have a low CPW. Others will only be worn a few times before taking up space in the back of the closet. They have a high CPW. I've found this is a great way to keep me from buying clothes that I don't need and won't wear!

Doggone Clean

When I bathe my dog, I put a little baking soda into my hand and then add the shampoo. It makes a wonderful lather. It works into my dog's coat, making it softer.

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