Readers' Tips

Finding Plus Sized Teen Girls' Clothing

Old Navy (online only) and JCPenney both have stylish and affordable plus size tween/teen clothing.
Christy (via Facebook)

editor's note: Visit here for more on finding plus sized teen girls' clothing.

Check Your Hotel Bills

When checking out of a hotel today, I noticed on the bill, among the list of city taxes, county taxes, state taxes, etc., a charge for "safe security." Indeed, there had been a safe in my room. I told the person at the desk that I did not ask for a room with a safe and I did not use the safe. She quickly took off the charge. It wasn't a lot, but it does pay to check for extra charges. You're in the best position if you do it at checkout, but you still can call even after you've returned home.

Vacuuming Pet Hair

I have four cats and a dog. I have found that our Craftsman® shop vacuum works wonders on picking up hair from the floor, furniture, and carpeted cat stand. It's a lot cheaper than other vacuums, too. You can get several attachments with it.

Rental Deposits

One of the more difficult deposits to recover is the deposit when you rent a place to live. It is so easy for a landlord to claim various repairs that need to be done and there goes your money.

To prevent this, when you move in, make as detailed a record as you can. Ideally you can make a video of the apartment with the owner or manager present. Point out any defects you see. The simple fact that you took the video will discourage the owner from blaming you for routine wear and tear.

I Like White

I wish I had known this when I was younger. White is the color! Buying white sheets and towels is cheaper. They are also cheaper in the long run. Whites can be bleached and they can be hung on the line without worry of fading. Both of these things will make them last much longer than colored sheets or prints that either fade or go out of style before they are worn. White appliances and plumbing fixtures are also usually cheaper and they are always in style. How many people will want to replace all those stainless steel appliances in a few years?

Pay Yourself First

I didn't think I could save money, but that is in the past. Now I pay myself first. I set up a money market fund that makes a $100 automatic withdrawal from my checking account at the beginning of every month. I expect it'll be a struggle for the first few months until I adjust, but it's the only way that I'll be able to build up a fund for unexpected expenses.

No Frozen Pipes

We are in day six of no power and frigid temperatures here in mid-Michigan, but I expect no frozen pipes. During a power outage, go to the basement and turn off the valves to both hot and cold water lines. This will prevent a surge in water pressure that could burst the pipes when electricity is restored. If possible, drain upstairs lines by flushing a downstairs toilet (after use, of course); gravity should cause the water to descend. If not an option, at least open cabinet doors under any sink and, if possible, the service access to a tub or shower. That allows room air to circulate, which will gradually thaw pipes once the electricity returns.

Opening faucets slightly (no more than a drip) can also allow for expansion in the lines. A flashlight that produces heat (not LED) can be set under a sink and left on; batteries are cheaper than a plumber.

I Like Eggs

Eggs are very economical considering their varied uses. They are one of the most useful items we keep, as they can be fried, boiled, deviled, used in egg salad, and added as filler/binder to many recipes. Of course, egg consumption needs to be limited with high cholesterol, but there are egg substitutes available. An occasional evening meal at my house includes an egg. I picked up an electric egg boiler at a thrift store, and I use it every time I boil eggs. A boiled egg is a great snack, and it's portable and easily peeled.

Owning a Duplex

My husband and I own a duplex unit that has an additional 400-square-foot studio apartment at the rear of the two-car detached garage. It is located in one of the "older" parts of town, is surrounded by lovely historic houses, and is considered to be a very "family friendly" neighborhood. If we have any two of the three units rented out, it pays for our mortgage. Living on the property allows the owner to be immediately responsive to maintenance issues and potential tenant difficulties. An added bonus is if you inform prospective tenants that the owner/landlord lives onsite, the irresponsible folks will tend to avoid that type of situation. We have been delighted with our tenants, and it has become a very compatible "neighborhood" for all of us. We take care of the lawn maintenance (raking, mowing, watering, shoveling snow, etc.), but in the past, we have offered rent rebate/reduction to tenants who offered to take over these duties when we went on vacation, etc.

Additional TDS Resource: More on owning a duplex

Cheaper Cat Bowls

Having done cat rescue for many years, I found that cats by nature do not like to eat out of bowls. If their whiskers touch the sides of a bowl, some won't even eat! They are that sensitive. Many times we have thought a rescue to be sick only to find they eat voraciously on a paper plate or on the floor.

My solution is found at thrift stores. For $.10 each, I bought a beautiful set of flat ceramic cake plates. For $.50, I bought five. If one breaks, I just toss it and replace with a new one. I seriously don't know what I would do without thrift stores!
Mickey, MI and NY

Renting Your Garage

Do you have a garage you do not use because you do not drive? I do not drive and my garage was empty. I didn't rent it for six years, but now I am renting it out and it is a blessing. There are so many people that collect antique cars and need garages. This area gets $200 in the ads. I had a tenant for years that relocated. When they left, I decided to rent it out for $350. It was gone the same week. In my area, people are willing to pay a higher price. They feel their cars are going to be worth a fortune eventually, and a heated indoor garage is ideal. They feel safe leaving their car here.

You can rent your garage to someone with an antique car and still use the spot in front (the driveway) to park your own car. People with antique cars hardly ever drive them and never in the winter with the snow and salt.

True or False

Debt is preventing me from taking a vacation this year or the vacation I'd like to take this year! Tell us: Yes, debt is affecting my vacation plans! or No, we're going exactly where we want to go but we'd love to learn make our trip as inexpensive as possible!

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