Readers' Tips

'Glam' Birthday Party for a 13 Year Old Girl

Do you have a friend who always has perfect makeup and hair? Invite her over to teach the young girls how to apply makeup properly. You can have each girl bring two outfits and have a fashion show. Provide the materials for each girl to do manicures and pedicures on each other. They can style each other's hair with curlers and then take lots of pictures. Provide them with healthy snacks and some girly movies and step away.

editor's note: Visit here for more on throwing a 'glam' birthday party.

Easy Savings

I set a goal at the beginning of the school year (I work in a school). I used to buy lunch every day in the cafeteria or run out to get a quick bite. In addition, I would stop to get coffee and a pastry from a gas station several times a week.

I got a cute new lunch tote. Now, I buy whole grain breads, lunch meat, and Dijon or stoneground mustard to make my own sandwiches. I add chips from a bigger bag, baby carrots and dip, and a pudding or yogurt cup for dessert. In addition, I make my lunch after cleaning up the dinner dishes and before I sit down. I also make a real effort to make the coffee for breakfast and keep homemade muffins or bread on hand for a quick morning snack.

I've noticed an average drop of $300/month in my cash flow since August! I didn't realize the money was trickling away a few dollars at a time. As an added bonus, I've lost 15 pounds with no exercise and no change in the amount I eat!
Deb C.

Painting Tricks

Professional painters remove all fixture covers before painting. Also, many painters find that if they use a new angle-edged two-inch brush (correct for the paint type) and slap the excess paint off the brush against the edge of the paint can, they can "trim" the edgework without using masking tape. One technique folks need to learn is to hold the brush in a fixed position and move the brush along the edgework area by moving your arm at the elbow, rather than the wrist. This steadies the hand and the line of paint remains very straight. If you don't want a lot of brush marks showing up in your work, always be sure to sand the primer smooth before you apply paint and always paint back "into the wet" or finish your brushstroke by heading it into the wet paint you just applied rather than dragging it into an unpainted area.

Additional TDS Resource: More on painting tips and tricks

Longer Lasting Razors

Keep your disposable razors in a glass cup with some mineral oil. Cover just the blade with mineral oil. This keeps the moisture from destroying the edges of the blade. The blade will last much longer. The mineral oil acts as a protective coating.

Wash the razor thoroughly before putting it in the mineral oil. Especially on dual or triple blades, you should wash between the blades. You can even use an old toothbrush to clean the head of the disposable razor.

Curly Hair?

Baby oil or mineral oil tends to have the same effect on curly hair as the more expensive bio-oil sold in salons and is a fraction of the cost.

Additional TDS Resource: More suggestions for curly hair

Toasty Tonight

I live in the north where the temperature can drop to -40 degrees F during the coldest months. In the winter, I use fleece blankets instead of sheets. They are always toasty.

'Strange' Savings

One of the strangest money saving tips I have found is to avoid searching online shopping sites when I am bored. I used to think I was just "window shopping," but more often than not, I would find a sale or deal too irresistible to pass up. Then it felt like not buying it would be passing up a good opportunity to save money! So now whenever I am tempted to just browse, I play spider solitaire or shut the computer off and read a book.
Julie S.

Matted Pet Fur

I am a cat lover but don't love trying to detangle the matting in a cat's fur. I have found that olive oil rubbed into the fur will soften any tangles, so they can be brushed out gently. The first day simply apply a little olive oil. Then the next day, apply again and try to brush gently. If you have trouble, simply wait one more day, dab on more olive oil, and try again.
Donna W. in Ashburn, VA

Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets

We refaced our kitchen cabinets last year. We bought cabinet grade wood at a lumber store, cut it to the sizes we needed for the cabinet doors, and stained it. It looked like a totally new kitchen! It cost a fraction of the price of getting new cabinets since we were able to do the work ourselves. Unless your kitchen has odd shaped doors, you should be able to do this as well. You can even get a router to make the pretty designs in the doors if you want. We tried but decided we did not want to invest that much time.

Additional TDS Resource: More on refinishing kitchen cabinets

Easier Snow Shoveling

To keep "wet snow" from clinging to your snow shovel while shoveling, spray your shovel first with a non-stick vegetable spray, such as Pam®. It enables the snow to slide off the shovel instead of packing on! It makes it a lot easier to clear those walkways and driveways without having to constantly tap the snow off the shovel! And it's much easier on the back!
Michele in MO

Plus Sized Girls' Clothing

Finding plus sized clothing can be difficult! Plenty of places keep their plus sizes online instead of in their stores. When buying clothes online, make sure you have measured yourself (bust, waist, hips, and thigh) with a tape measure and compare your measurements to the sizing charts! It saves tons of wasted time and effort returning items that don't fit. I can wear anywhere from a size 14 to a size 22, depending on the store, brand, and cut of the clothing.

Additional TDS Resource: More on plus sized girls' clothing

Preventing Frozen Car Doors

Spray the seals around your car door with Pam® cooking spray or WD-40®. This will keep the doors from freezing shut in cold weather. This also keeps you from tearing the gasket when you force open a frozen door. And, don't forget to spray the door locks if you don't have a key fob.

DIY Carpet Cleaning

I clean carpets for a living. If you want to clean your carpets yourself, mix half of a cap of liquid laundry detergent with about a gallon of water in a bucket. Scrub soiled areas with a stiff brush. Get carpet pretty wet to make sure it gets clean. Load a home machine with hot water only. Do not use soap. You'll just be using the machine to rinse. Dry by using a fan. It's cheap, and it will save you the cost of bringing in a professional.

Additional TDS Resource: More on removing carpet stains

Storing Plastic Kitchen Containers

Finding a way to store plastic containers has always been a tough one. The first thing you need to do is actually take the time to match up the lids with the containers. Throw any extras away! The easiest and cheapest way to organize plastic lids for containers is to find a box that fits on the shelf of your cabinet. It can be any size you need for the space you have. You can neatly arrange lids in the box (you may have to cut down the sides to fit). This way, they are together in one place, making it very convenient.

If you want to get creative, you can make it pretty or match your decor with shelf paper, wallpaper, or even material. Another thing I have found is a wire rack that slides under your shelf. These hold lids very nicely and take up very little space. You can usually find these racks in the housewares department of most department or thrift stores. I found mine at a dollar store for a buck.

As far as the containers themselves, all you can do is pick out the ones you use most and use the "puzzle" method. After several tries, you can usually find the most suitable way to fit them into the space you have. Happy stacking!
Doris in DeSoto, MO

Additional TDS Resource: More on storing kitchen containers

Space Heater Warning

We got a small box style heater for an elderly parent, and it was working very well. However, the front grill started bowing out. The heater back side started feeling very warm to the hand, so we got the owner's manual out to read it again. We discovered the heater has a filter on the back and that it had become completely clogged with dust, allowing no air flow. This caused it to be warm to the touch. Our heater has several screws to undo to get to the filter.

I think this is an excellent lesson. Always keep the owner's manual to refer to at a later date if needed. The product was functioning fine, but it was our error in that we forgot it even had a filter that needs checking and cleaning. We certainly avoided a house fire.

Complexion Aid

I have used peroxide as an astringent for years, and I swear by it. Every time I stop using it, my skin breaks out again. I have oily, acne-prone skin! I have found it to be very kind to my skin, yet extremely effective.

Additional TDS Resource: More suggestions on ways to use peroxide

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