Readers' Tips

Homemade Dog Food

Nearly any dog will eat food that's in meat broth. You can buy bones cheaply at the store. Boil leftover chicken or beef bones for tasty broth, too. (Never feed your dog the bones!) Add some green beans or other vegetables and you'll see the food disappear quickly! Broth and vegetables will dress up dry food to her liking.

Or, you could just leave the food for her and she'll eat when she's hungry enough. I don't prefer this method, but there have been times when I've had to employ it. I recently saved the "juice" from my daughter-in-law's pinto beans and poured it over the dry food. My dogs scarfed down that dry food like it was filet mignon!
R. Steele

editor's note: Visit here for more on homemade dog food.

Don't Tempt Me!

One good way I have discovered to cut down on spending is to not read the ads and coupons in the newspaper and magazines and to tune them out on TV and radio. I do this at least one month per year, usually in January. While there are always "bargains" and worthy coupons, I find that I can feel the "need" for something when I've seen it advertised or see that it's on sale. If I don't truly need it, I can just save that money. This has worked well for me. There are times when I'll go for two to three months without perusing the ads or coupon inserts. Unless I truly need something, I won't go looking to compare prices or see if there is a coupon. Saving a few cents or even a few dollars on something I can do without is not saving.
JD in St Louis

Eliminating Food Bugs

I used to get pasta bugs in my pantry all the time. They would travel to the rice and various side dishes and infest everything. I ended up throwing everything away. Then I had the exterminator in and this is what he suggested. After buying pasta from the market, put it in the freezer for two to three days. This supposedly kills all such larva. Since doing this, we no longer have a problem.

Additional TDS Resource: More on eliminating food bugs

Ready to Sprinkle

I put baking soda into an empty parmesan cheese container. It already has the holes for sprinkling. It comes in handy!
Liz H.

editor's note: You can also use it for meat rubs or other dry mixes. Don't forget to label them clearly. You wouldn't want to ruin your spaghetti dinner by sprinkling baking soda on it!

More Tax Prep Help

In the article on tax preparation, you didn't mention AARP TaxAide and VITA. Both are free services provided by volunteers who have to pass a rigid IRS exam. Some of them have been doing it for years. I personally have a year with VITA and 12 years with AARP TaxAide. Contact AARP and they can give you their sites and the IRS will give you the VITA and sometimes the AARP sites. Our office has an enrolled agent volunteering. We are required to be just as professional as the other preparers and we are tested every year by the IRS. Free is cheaper than paid.

Additional TDS Resource: More on making tax preparation easier

My Hair Care Trick

Fill a spray bottle a quarter full of shampoo. Add water to fill the bottle. Wet your hair when taking a shower and spray the shampoo solution on your hair. You will get the desired suds with much less shampoo. Plus, you'll get more coverage than with a glob of shampoo in one spot.

Thrift Store Clearance

Just a reminder that it is end-of-season clearance time at most thrift stores. Most of these stores have a day or two of "bag sales." You pay $1 to $5 for a paper grocery sack full of your choices. Call around to see when your local thrift store sales will be held.

Inexpensive Reupholstery

After looking into prices for reupholstering my chair and deciding it was too expensive, I decided to hit eBay. I found some beautiful fabric that matched with the rest of the furniture for about $50 for a roll large enough for two chairs. On eBay, I also found the thread for $10 and the large needles (straight and curved) for under $5. I did a web search and found many sites that had helpful hints. I tore apart the chair as well as I could and started going. It was easier than I expected it to be. I laid the fabric out, cut it a bit bigger than the correct size, pulled it tight, and started sewing. The job looks so nice that everyone that comes over thinks that we bought new chairs. So, for under $70, I have two new (looking) chairs, and I love them even more because I did it myself!

Additional TDS Resource: More on inexpensive reupholstery

A Free Emergency Fund

Our company had a wonderful cafeteria. I would go daily to get snacks, pop, hot chocolate, etc. They also had great lunches. One day, I added up what I was spending at the cafeteria. I couldn't believe the total, so I decided to start packing my lunch.

Each day that I brought my lunch, I would price it from the cafeteria and add it to a total that I kept on my phone. At the end of the month, I took that money from my debit card account and put it into my emergency fund. I never thought that I could save money for the unexpected. Now, I know that I can!

Your Car's Warranty History

After my divorce, I received my former spouse's car and maintenance problems. I located all of the old maintenance records for the car in the glove compartment. I found that much of the work included various warranties. For instance, some mufflers are guaranteed for the life of the car. If replacement is needed, all a person pays for is the labor costs.

Check your car maintenance records and use the company that has given you a warranty on their parts. Keep the records in a central location for quick access.

Detergent Twofer

I buy two types of laundry detergent. I use the more expensive detergent for our dress clothes. That protects the color and keeps things looking new. It costs a little more, but I try to buy on sale with a coupon.

Then I buy cheaper generic or store brand for washing underwear, throw rugs, rags, and my husband's work clothes. He wears jeans and t-shirts most days. It cleans things well enough, and I'm not wasting money on the more expensive brand of detergent.

Additional TDS Resource: More on cheaper laundry detergents

New Glasses?

As I get older, I find that I need more light to see clearly. This is especially true when I read. When I'm getting new glasses at the optometrist, I try them away from the bright light at their fitting station. This is a good test for whether the glasses are good for reading in any light.

editor's note: If you have a smart phone, help is as close as a flashlight app.

Healthy Snacks

There are actually quite a few good, cheap, healthy things you can do. Fruits like grapes and apples make excellent snacks because the fiber in the fruit makes the natural sugar release slower, decreasing the chances of hypoglycemia.

Try peanut butter crackers (just a little peanut butter per two crackers), or if you think you'll be hitting a real low, put the peanut butter on graham crackers. Along the same line, eat slices of cheese on crackers. You can make them ahead of time and put them in a plastic container.

String cheese in the package from the cheese aisle makes a good snack with a protein punch. And then there's always a rice cake with peanut butter or peanut butter on celery. Actually peanut butter is great on anything portable!

Additional TDS Resource: More on healthy snacks

Unwanted Bath Beads?

I had an unopened box of bath beads sitting in my bathroom cabinet for about a year. Since I take showers instead of baths, I was going to throw them away when inspiration struck. I decided to add two tablespoons of the beads to my bottle of body wash. This added extra oils to help relieve dry, itchy skin.

Nasty Counters

I had coffee stains and scratches on my cream-colored counter. I tried cleaning it with some bleach cleaner and straight bleach, but the stains just weren't coming up.

My big box of baking soda was sitting on the counter, so I decided to give it a try. With about a teaspoon of baking soda on my wet dishrag, all the stains and scratches disappeared.

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