Readers' Tips

Boy's Duck Dynasty Party

If you have a Party City near you, they have a lot of Duck Dynasty items to choose from. Then, use a lot of camouflage and maybe use stuffed or rubber ducks or actual duck decoys.

A good game might be "Pin the Beard on Uncle Si." (Or stick to their favorite character on the show.) You could blow up a photo of that person from the internet and cut out "beards" from construction paper and use the same rules as pin the tail on the donkey.

editor's note: Visit here for more on throwing a boy's Duck Dynasty party.

A Little Quick Cash

Looking for some needed free money? I do this all the time and it helps me to buy some extra gasoline, pay a bill, buy my kids sneakers, or just treat my family to a dinner out!

Ever go shopping and see a fantastic clearance sale on something that you know is worth a lot more than the store is selling it for? I was shopping at Rite-Aid last fall, and in their clearance aisle, they had three small (apartment size) pot belly charcoal grills for $9.99 each. I bought them all, took pictures of the box showing what the item was with the dimensions, and listed them all on eBay. I sold each one for $30 and made $20 each. The item was already boxed, so all I had to do was cover the box with a "free" brown paper bag from the grocery store and mail it off! All three people that purchased them were thrilled, and I was too because I had extra money in my pocket!

I have done this with all kinds of things like name brand clothing (buy out of season when the items are on clearance), tools, shoes, outdoor seasonal items, seeds, etc. People live in different parts of the country, and just because it's going out of season here, others can still use it where they live. Try this technique and smile when you have some extra "green" in your pocket!
Lisa K.

Removing Smokey Odors

I used to be a smoker, and when I quit, I would get sick from the smell when I came into my house. I put vinegar and water in bowls around the house and soon the smell was gone. I also know some landlords who do that when a renter moves out.

Additional TDS Resource: More suggestions on removing smoke stains and odors

Seed Starters

Here in the Midwest, it's time to be thinking of starting seeds for the garden. We are getting out egg trays for starting plants! We'll be starting seeds we saved from our garden last year. We all need to save nickels where we can, and this will be a nice contribution!
Jacque in Iowa

Big Bill Crisis!

When my husband and I first combined finances, I was shocked to find out all of the different insurance premiums we were paying throughout the year. Health insurance aside, we had bills for house insurance, life insurance, car insurance, ATV insurance, and the list goes on.

After being caught off guard with an $800 insurance bill, I sat down and made a list of every type of insurance we had, how much the premium was, and when it was due. I then did some simple math of adding all the premiums together and dividing by 52. I opened a separate savings account (super quick to do thanks to the ease of online banking), and each week an automatic transfer puts that designated amount into our "insurance savings account." Now whenever the insurance premiums pop up, I just go to that savings account and the money is already there!
Mandy in Virginia

Handy Laminating

If you do not have a laminator and do not want to invest in one and pay for the expensive laminating sheets, I have an idea for you. For proof of insurance cards and other documents you want to keep smooth, dry and free of any imperfections, purchase ready mount photo mounting sheets at a dollar store, garage sales, or flea markets. Place your document just like you would a picture. Then cut away the excess mounting sheet. Give it a try!
Ann N. in Medinah, IL

Urban Chicken Response

This is regarding the article "Living Off the Grid in the City" by Ben Tanner. One of Mr. Tanner's suggestions is raising chickens. Anyone who considers this option should also consider that there is more to urban chickens than collecting eggs and fertilizer. Chickens do not lay eggs year-round, but they continue to eat. Also, the hens will eventually reach the age when they no longer lay at all. Owners must consider what happens next. Keep them until they die? Butcher them for soup or stewing? (Will the kids be willing to eat them if you do?) Find a home for them? Chicken rescue organizations (yes, they do exist) are being overloaded with homeless, old hens whose former owners never considered the full ramification of raising chickens for eggs. Just do your homework before making the jump into urban chickens.
MR in Everett, WA

editor's note: MR makes some valid points. Like many of the ideas you see in TDS, some will work for certain people but not for others. So you'll need to decide whether an idea like urban chickens makes sense for you. By the way, the article can be found here.

Easy Lunch for Work

Here's a healthy, inexpensive lunch or snack to bring to work. Plain oatmeal can be brought to work, along with a large mug that can be kept at the office and washed out there. Almost all offices have microwaves now, so just put the oatmeal into the large mug, add the recommended amount of water, and heat. You can bring raisins, a fresh apple to cut up (use the rest of the apple for snacking), some nuts, or a combination of these items to add to the oatmeal.

I have found this to be a fast, healthy lunch at work. It's also easy to clean up since the mug can be easily washed and dried and ready for the next day's round of oatmeal.
Tee in Fort Lee

Why We Volunteer

My family volunteers at local festivals. We get in free, get fed, and usually get commemorative t-shirts as uniforms. Most festivals need volunteers in various capacities before, during, and after the event. Plus, the behind-the-scenes action is immensely entertaining.

Scratch 'n Dent

In our area, scratch and dent stores are called outlet or warehouse stores. These can be a great source of savings. We just got a fridge originally priced at $949 for $569 with just minor scratches on the edge. (You need a magnifying glass to see them.) However, there are certain things to look for. Make sure you check the appliance out thoroughly! Most are sold as is, so if they are missing anything when you get home, you may be in trouble.

Make sure you have a sales associate with you when you check out the appliance to have someone verify that the appliance is in good condition and has all its parts.

Most outlet stores do not have delivery service, so you will have to arrange for private delivery or pick it up yourself. The store may be able to provide you with a service commonly used. We are thoroughly pleased with our fridge, and we would get another appliance at an outlet store in a heartbeat.
Dana in Houston, TX

Additional TDS Resource: More on saving on scratch 'n dent appliances

Chest Freezer Organization

To cut down on overstock in my chest freezer and to keep it organized, I use apple and water boxes. I can sort my products into the appropriate box and mark the top. This keeps the freezer neater, which cuts down on the time needed to find a desired object.

Strong boxes that are the right size are needed when organizing a freezer. I put the heavy things (meat, etc.) in the bottom. I put the lighter stuff (bread, etc.) on top where I can easily move them to get to the bottom layer.

Ask your grocery store for boxes. I've gotten mine for free.

Winter Windshield Washer Fluid

Make your own windshield washer mixture that won't freeze by combining one quart of rubbing alcohol, one cup of water, and two tablespoons of liquid detergent. This formula will not freeze down to -35 degrees F.

Bumped From Flight? Negotiate!

I was traveling abroad for business when I got bumped off the plane. The airline oversold seats and I was the one passenger who was a straight flight and was flying solo (not as a family), so they pretty much bumped me off the plane.

They offered me 200 credit to fly the next morning on the red eye, and the price of the hotel. I stalled for a few minutes and made a call to my wife. Realizing that I wasn't getting on this flight, I decided to see what I could negotiate. After a long conversation and a few phone calls, I walked away with 300 credit (which will pay for 80% of my next business trip flight), a voucher for $24 for meals for the evening, a voucher in a 4-star hotel, taxi cab fare both ways including tip, and a very big thank you from the airline.

Sure, my wife was upset, but overall, I saved my boss some money, negotiated an extra day off the following week to make my wife happy, and returned home just a day later. The airline was thankful that I "agreed" to the situation, but they did say that I was asking too much (I started off at $400 credit and $50 for meals), but in the end, I did walk away with more than the airline's initial offer.
Matt in Littleton, CO

Not Instant Mashed Potatoes

I love mashed potatoes, but I hate taking the time to make them. But, I hate the taste of instant even more. So, now I make large batches of mashed potatoes and freeze them in freezer bags. I flatten the bags before putting them into the freezer.

When I want mashed potatoes, I break off as much as I need for the meal and pop them in the microwave! I have mashed potatoes that taste freshly made, and they take less time than even the instant potatoes.

Faux Febreze

1 1/2 to 4 tablespoons Ultra Downy Clean Breeze fabric softener
25 ounces water
32-ounce spray bottle, new and clean

Put Downy and water in bottle and spray on furniture, carpeting, pillows, shower curtains, etc. To do a fabric test, spray small amount in an area where it cannot be seen.

I never sprayed this on anything white, but I spray it all over my house once a week.
Wayne from MO

Additional TDS Resource: More on homemade fabric fresheners

Why Buy the Mix?

Reading the ingredients and proportions on labels is a great money saver. One example is pancake mix. All that is in the box is flour, baking powder, and a little salt. This mix contains the same ingredients and proportions as self-rising flour, which is sold in a five-pound bag. This flour often goes on sale for less than half the pancake mix. So compare the ingredients in any mixes you buy. You might save some money!

Before You Call the Dishwasher Repairman

My dishwasher suddenly refused to fill up. I checked the plumbing and couldn't find any problems. I have a friend who services appliances. I called him and he told me that there is a little float valve in every dishwasher. It's on the bottom typically under the dish tray. This valve sometimes gets stuck due to calcium build-up from hard water.

I gently lifted the plastic cone-shaped covering a couple of times until it was moving freely. When I turned on the machine, the water began to fill.

Do you have a money or time-saving tip you'd like to share? Just click here to submit your suggestion. If we use your tip in any of our publications, we'll send you the next three issues of our print newsletter as a thank you!

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