Readers' Tips

How to Get Retired Parents to Spend Money on Themselves

If you really want to enhance your parents' retirement years, find ways to share more time with them. What we miss most is your presence on a regular basis. We enjoy picnics, backyard BBQs, chats over lunch, and overnights with grandchildren. Nothing in this world is more fun than you.
Bonnie in Arkansas

editor's note: Visit here for more on how to get retired parents to spend money on themselves.

Refrigerator Caution

Most people take warm food and put it in a resealable bag and toss it into the fridge or freezer. That's not really a good idea. First, the closed bag tends to hold the heat in the bag. A better way is to let the food cool before you put it into the bag. Then squeeze all the air out of the bag before zipping it. That will help minimize both bacteria and freezer burn.

Additional TDS Resource: More ways to avoid freezer burn

Natural Tick Control

When we built our new house five years ago, I couldn't walk across the backyard without finding a half dozen ticks crawling all over my legs. I had heard that chickens were great for controlling the tick/insect population, but since we are inside the city limits, farm animals were not an option.

As a desperate measure, I started throwing my birdseed all over my yard to lure the wild birds to eat on the ground and hopefully help with the tick problem. It worked! Since I did that, I have not picked up a single tick from our backyard. However, we did have several surprise sunflowers pop up in unexpected areas. We loved it, but if you wouldn't like the sunflowers, you could "bake" the birdseed in a 300-degree oven for about 30 minutes to stop the germination process.

Additional TDS Resource: More on natural tick control


If you're looking for an ant deterrent, try using ground up blackboard chalk. For some reason, ants won't cross a chalk line. After you've repelled the ants, it's easy to clean up, too!

Handy Burgers

I watch for sales on ground beef. When I find a good one, I stock up. After I get home, I take a square pint-sized freezer container and put about a quarter of a pound into the bottom of the container. I flatten the ground beef with another container, which makes a perfect hamburger patty. I add a piece of wax paper and repeat the process again and again. I get four patties into one pint container. We can pull one or more out of the freezer whenever we want. It's perfect for a quick dinner!

Cheaper Cooking Spray

Why pay for fancy aerosol cooking sprays? I bought an inexpensive spray bottle and filled it with olive oil. It does the same thing at a fraction of the price!

Smelly Kitchen?

To remove cooking odors from your kitchen, in a pan, put three cups water, one cup vinegar, and bit of cinnamon. Let it boil for a few minutes. I do this after I cook food that smells up my home. Happy cooking!

Additional TDS Resource: More on removing kitchen odors

Paint Prep

My friend is a professional painter. He shared this tip when we were about to repaint our family room. I needed to repair some wall dings and the spackle was about the same color as the walls. He suggested that I add some food coloring to the spackle. That way it stood out and I could quickly know exactly where to sand. It worked like a charm!

Additional TDS Resource: Professional painting tips & resources

Single Work-at-Home Mom

I am a single mom with three boys who has managed to stay home for the nearly four years I have been separated/divorced. It does help to have adequate child support for one thing. I currently do part-time childcare, and I also have a Mary Kay business on the side. (Readers' review selling Mary Kay Cosmetics here) I make a decent living, and this summer, I have made it a priority to spend a lot of time with my children. It is actually working. If you enjoy children and don't mind your house being used by a bunch of kids, childcare isn't too bad. Not everyone enjoys it, but if you can get out with the kids instead of being stuck inside all day, give it a try.

As for my Mary Kay business, I am not bothered by quotas, pushy directors, or anything like that. I meet a lot of people, help women look more beautiful, and make some extra money every month.

Additional TDS Resource: More on single work-at-home moms

Exfoliating Scrub

I've grown to enjoy those exfoliating bath puffs, but I hated paying for them. So I began to take the plastic mesh bags that onions come in and use them. I add the soap slivers that I used to throw away. Now I have a free exfoliating scrub!

Additional TDS Resource: Ideas on all-natural facial masks

Nasty Shower Stall

We have hard water and the combination of the water and soap makes our shower nasty in just a few days. I got tired of trying various products to clean the soap scum. Finally, out of desperation, I took an old dryer sheet and used it as a scrubbie. It worked! It took very little effort, and I got fantastic results!

Odor Control

When I have an odor in my fridge or cooler, I head for my bag of charcoal briquettes. I just place a few inside and leave them overnight. They soak up all the bad smells. I just make sure to use the ones that have not been soaked in lighter fluid or I would have a different smell.

Outdoor Furniture Protection

My friend taught me this trick. To protect your outdoor furniture and decorations, paint them with flat, clear spray paint. It's great for everything from wrought iron furniture to small lawn ornaments.

Additional TDS Resource: How to create an outdoor room

Pantry Organization

I use simple, inexpensive plastic dishpans to organize a pantry. I label each one with the contents and then they simply slide in and out of the shelves with ease. The plastic dishpans I buy are around $1 each and last forever. They're also good for keeping track of children's toys and many other items around a home.

Additional TDS Resource: More on organizing a pantry

Flat Soda?

We like the price of the two-liter bottles of soda compared to the can price, but we never finish it before it goes flat. One day, I stumbled onto the answer. I poured the last of a two-liter bottle into my glass. It only filled it half way, so I filled the rest from a new bottle. It was just as fizzy as if the whole glass had been poured from the new bottle! Now, if I have flat soda, I mix it with some new fizzy pop!

Additional TDS Resource: Find soda substitutes here

Dinner Addition

My wife and I are empty nesters. We've gotten into the habit of having a salad with dinner every night. The lettuce, tomato, cucumber, olives, and other stuff help us eat additional veggies. It also helps us to fill up on a low-calorie salad rather than other things that would add weight to us. To top it all off, it's inexpensive, too!

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