Readers' Tips

Inexpensive Closet Organization

The first and cheapest thing to do is simply to filter out that which doesn't get worn any more. Maybe it has stains or rips, is boring, or just doesn't fit any more. Give to charity, send to a consignment shop, make into rags, or toss out as appropriate. The next thing would be to get some plastic containers. These containers will help you keep your closet seasonal by packing away winter clothes in the warm months and vice versa. It'll free up quite a bit of rod space. The next thing to do would be to use the "filter out" stage again, but filter the boxes of non-related stuff this time. The less "stuff" you have, the less it gets underfoot and becomes a bother. I'm a packrat from a family of packrats, so this is a biggie. I set a personal goal to rid my household of an average of ten garbage bags annually. My place will never be ready for a photo shoot, but at least we can keep things under control.

editor's note: Visit here for more on inexpensive closet organization.

Slow Cooker Hack

I am a slow cooker fan, especially in the summer. I recently learned about making "Rotisserie Chicken" in the slow cooker by sitting the chicken on rolled up balls of aluminum foil to keep the chicken from sitting in its fat. It just occurred to me to use an old aluminum pie plate instead. I set it in the slow cooker and bend up the sides. I have a rack! And there's no waste of aluminum foil!

Additional TDS Resource: More slow cooker recipes

Cleaning Stuffed Animals

Cleaning stuffed animals is very easy. The higher quality ones can be washed in the washer inside a tied up pillowcase. The cheaper ones can be washed in a paper sack with some baking soda. I just shake the sack. I have never had any complaints, and I have two boys with very severe allergies.

Additional TDS Resource: More on cleaning stuffed animals

Before You Buy Bleach

I began to notice I was using more and more bleach to whiten my dish towels when I put them in the wash. I was buying the cheapest bleach on the shelf. When I compared the cheaper brands with Clorox® or other name brand, I found that the actual bleaching chemical in the cheaper bleach is about one half (or less) of the bleaching element in the name brand. Read on the bottle how much "active ingredient" is in the bleach. In this case, cheap isn't better.
Tommie in TX

Young Artist Gift Pack

Stock up on the crayons, colored pencils, and markers being sold as loss-leaders now. Add drawing pads from a dollar store and put everything in a cheap basket or backpack. These "Young Artist" gift packs make great Christmas or birthday gifts for your kids or their friends.
Anne C. (via Facebook)

Additional TDS Resource: More kids' birthday gift ideas

Cheaper Chicken

I've noticed that our local grocery has whole chickens on sale on a regular basis. I buy several and cook them all in a pressure cooker for five minutes per pound. After cooking, I take the meat from the bones and put it in freezer bags in meal-sized portions. Whenever I want to add chicken to a recipe, it's already cooked and ready to go!

Additional TDS Resource: Find chicken marinade recipes here

Need a New Washer?

We found ourselves in need of a new washer but didn't have savings to pay for it and we didn't want to put it on our credit card. With a new baby, taking her to the laundromat with me wasn't ideal. We did put it on the credit card, but we came up with a way to pay for it that reduced the pain. I put a piggy bank near the washer. Every time I used it or the dryer, I put what I would have spent at the laundromat into the bank. That way, we have a head start when the credit card bill comes each month.

Date Nights?

My wife and I struggled to have a date night. Either we're too tired or the baby sitter canceled at the last minute. We were about to give up when we decided to have our dates during the day! We're both fortunate to be able to get away for a long lunch once a week. So we meet at a restaurant for our date night! Not only do we not have to worry about being too tired or finding baby sitters, but we also save on the restaurant bill! We usually stop at lunch, but a couple of times we've even taken in a movie!

Additional TDS Resource: More free or cheap date nights

Cleaning Concrete Stains

When I worked at a drive-in restaurant, we had a problem with stains on our cement driveways. The solution was simple. We sprinkled some cheap clay-based kitty litter on the spot. Wearing old shoes, after letting it sit for a bit, we then rubbed it in with the toe/ball of our foot. After sweeping it up, the oil spot was usually gone. If not, we sprinkled it again and rubbed with our toe until the spot was gone. It was quick, easy, and cheap.

Additional TDS Resource: More on cleaning cement driveways

Before You Store

Before renting a storage unit for unused furniture, please reconsider. If it is going to be a short time, that's fine. If you'll be storing it for a longer time, think about it. I know people who have rented for years and would have paid for what they stored over and over again. You could end up losing a lot of money that you could have saved by selling or giving away furniture and buying when needed.
Phyllis C.

Additional TDS Resource: More on selling used furniture

A Relieved Bridesmaid

Recently, a friend asked me to be her bridesmaid. I didn't want to hurt her feelings, but I really didn't want another over-priced dress that I couldn't wear in my closet. I was about to make an excuse when she told me that she didn't want matching dresses. She was going to ask the bridesmaids to all have ankle length royal blue dresses. The style was up to the bridesmaid.

I chose a dress that I can wear for more formal evening events long after the wedding. It's such a good idea that I hope that the rest of my friends start doing the same thing!

Additional TDS Resource: Ideas on what you can do with an old wedding dress

Painter's Hack

It used to frustrate me when I finished painting a room and could see roller streaks in the paint. A painting contractor told me how to solve the problem. He told me that if I had a good quality paint, the problem is either a cheap roller or the way I was applying the paint. He said that I could roll up and down, but the last roll should always be downward. That way, the paint is coming off the roller the same way on every final stroke.

Additional TDS Resource: More help on painting

Mason Jar Desserts

My family loves my mason jar desserts. I layer a variety of things into a mason jar. Each family member gets one. Each time I do something a little different. I'll mix pudding, ice cream, cake, icing, and even sprinkles or pieces of cookies and candies. They're colorful and tasty!

Additional TDS Resource: More easy desserts from your pantry

Cleaning Range Hood Filters

I clean my filters by placing them in a large plastic garbage bag outdoors. Then, I add a cup of ammonia and tie the bag up. I let this sit for up to 24 hours. This works for any grease or carbon build-up. Then I just hose the filter off when ready and discard the bag in my rubbish.

Additional TDS Resource: More on cleaning range hood filters

Evening Fun for Kids

Summer is a great time to let the kids play an after-dark game of nighttime tag. You'll find variations online. Our favorite is to have the "it" kid carry a flashlight. When they shine it on another player, that person becomes "it." Naturally you'll want to take appropriate safety measures for your kids, but this is a great way for them to run off some energy before bedtime!

Additional TDS Resource: More summertime fun ideas

Headlight Care

Seeing well when you drive at night is important. I was concerned that the cloudy headlight covers on my older car could be reducing the amount of light that was getting to the road. I solved the problem with a little toothpaste. I spread it around the headlights and buffed with a clean dry cloth. There's just enough abrasive to make the plastic clear again. I finished by rinsing and wiping. There was no need to buy one of those expensive headlight kits!
Dave S.

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