Readers' Tips

Cheap Date Night

Doesn't sound romantic? My husband and I are in our 42nd year of marriage, and when times are tight or not, we have a lovely dinner at home. I set up the card table in a quiet place (in front of the fire on a wintry evening or on the deck in the summer). I use a nice tablecloth, cloth napkins, candles, and the best stemware and flatware. I either make a simple dinner or pick up take-out from the deli. We also have dessert, which is an unusual treat. Some of our favorite music in the background completes the ambiance.

editor's note: Visit here for more cheap date night ideas.

Summer Bird Suet

Birds eat suet all year, but sometimes it can melt in hot temperatures. A way to make the suet last longer is to put it in the freezer. I put mine in my freezer as soon as I get home from the store. When I need to put a new cake out, I take it right to the suet cage. It's not necessary to thaw it before putting it out.
Pamela M. in Alabama

Flea Removal

My husband and I live out in the country, and here are our flea control tips. Plant pennyroyal around your yard where the dogs might lie in it sometimes. Put cedar shavings in the dog house, but these need to be changed once or twice a year. We usually put fresh out just before and after the winter. Allow the pets to roll in dust (they know what they're doing). We have two dogs and five cats (among our other 25 pets) and have very little problem with fleas (in Missouri!).

Additional TDS Resource: More on flea removal

Swiffer Refills

Instead of buying refills to fit your Swiffer® sweeper, go to a fabric store or Walmart and buy 1/4 yard of really soft fleece fabric. Cut it into rectangles to fit your sweeper. You should be able to get at least five of them from this amount of fabric. You can use one side until it's dirty and then flip it over and use the other side. Wash the fabric rectangles in the washing machine and tumble dry.

Painter's Hack

We recently had the inside of our home painted and there was quite a bit of old paint on the baseboards and floors. Our painter told us to put rubbing alcohol on a rag or cotton ball and rub the old paint away. It worked.

Buggy Car?

Put some baking soda on a wet sponge and gently scrub your car's windshield, lights, and chrome (if you have an oldie!) to remove bugs. Just wipe it off with another wet sponge or some damp paper towel. This works well and it's very inexpensive.
Donna from NC

Checking Your Luggage?

Before you turn over your suitcase, take a picture of the inside of it. That way, if it gets lost, you have a record of what was inside. You may need to take a few, but it only takes a minute and could avoid big trouble later.


I have a tip that works on dogs (will probably work on cats, too). If your dog comes home with fleas, don't run to the store and buy a bottle of stuff to get rid of the fleas. Instead, just put your dog in your white bathtub and the fleas will jump off! They don't like the color white and will jump right off and then you just turn on the water and the bugs will go down the drain! My mother used to do this all the time, and it always worked! I have also used this trick, and it never fails!
Roxanne in Eugene, OR

Additional TDS Resource: More on getting rid of fleas

Decor Groupings with Baskets

I have a few suggestions for displaying baskets. First, sort by size and color. Put like size together and stack small items that you already have into the baskets (i.e. hair ties, brush and comb into tiny buckets and books or magazines into larger buckets). I have even done this with medication in a large basket, and it looked more cheerful. The key is to have them stacked neatly, not just thrown in randomly.

If you don't have many items that need to be sorted into baskets, the similar color baskets could be stacked in each other, like those colorful Russian dolls. Or alternate basket colors when stacking together. If you have some ribbons, these could be tied around the baskets for accent colors. One great by-product that comes out of stacking like items together in a basket is that things can be easily picked up when you need them.

If your family thinks your room and house are messy, enlist them to help! This could be an everyday help or a huge "once over" cleaning for a special day, like your birthday or Mother's Day. Reward anyone who comments by telling them that they are right and ask them to get started on some of that mess. You could also gently remind them that quality time with family is more important than the neatness of your room.

Additional TDS Resource: More on decor groupings with baskets

Custom Borders

I was redoing my kitchen in an Italian country theme. We got the idea last summer on our vacation. I wanted a border, but couldn't find anything that I liked at the home centers or paint stores. Then I had a great idea. We brought back a bunch of post cards and other paper items like street maps and tickets to places we had visited. I decided to use them as the border.

I used wallpaper paste to stick them to the wall. I did need to soak the postcards to remove the picture as they would have been too fat to stick. Then I clear coated over them. Now I have a border that reminds me of a wonderful vacation, and it only cost a few pennies for the wallpaper paste!

Additional TDS Resource: Don't miss this painting advice from the professionals

An Inexpensive Occasion

I use a dollar store to help me with "occasions." For less than $10, I can purchase a tablecloth, plates, napkins, cups, silverware, table decorations, wall decorations and wrapping paper or bags and tissue! There's no need to spend a fortune to make someone feel special!

Where Did I Get This?

Everyone has multiple cans of spray paint. It's hard to remember where each can came from as each store sells different brands. To keep track, I keep a black marker in the garage, and immediately when I come in, I mark the bottom with where it came from and how much it cost. That way, when I finish the can at a later day, I know where I can purchase the same color again!
Elizabeth H.

Additional TDS Resource: More painting tips, tricks and resources

Starting Christmas Now

It's July, and I am already thinking about Christmas! I bought several herb plants. I have been snipping herbs and washing and air-drying them to put into small bags to give as Christmas gifts this year. I'm growing rosemary, oregano, mint, stevia, and basil.

Also, I bought a dehydrator at a thrift store. It's not the top of the line, but it still works great and has many trays to it. My next project is dehydrating fruits, so I can make a dry fruit mixture to bag up. Then I will do vegetables for vegetable soup. I plan to make up some cream powder to put with it in order to make cream/vegetable soup. It will be so nice on a cold winter's night!

Both of these items are expensive to buy in any store, but to make them at home, it is not costly at all. Therefore, they make nice gifts. Another benefit is that both of these items will be relatively low in cost to ship!


Since moving to Florida, roaches have been a real problem. There is an old remedy that the Japanese people use that includes white flour, boric acid, and powdered sugar.

I mix equal amounts of boric acid and flour. Then I add powdered sugar to attract the roaches. To make a soft dough, I add just enough water. After rolling the dough into balls, I place them into little candy paper cups (like muffin cups). Then I place the balls in corners of cupboards and behind furniture where other animal life cannot reach. The roaches eat this, and it causes them to dry out. It takes about two to three weeks to completely work. I replace the boric acid balls every month to ensure that there is no reinfestation.

Additional TDS Resource: More on getting rid of roaches

Mark-Up Savings

When my daughter bought a fixer upper home, she could not afford to buy repair materials. When she found people who were remodeling their home, she offered to haul off their used materials for a small fee and then she used a lot of the materials on her home. She got newer windows, usable wood, partial cans of paint, a newer bathtub, sinks, new doors, etc. It was a win-win situation for her. She was paid to haul the stuff off and then she had all kinds of construction materials to use for her home. She saved several thousand dollars!
Joann S.

Additional TDS Resource: More home repair help

Finding Cheap Summer Cooling

A few years ago, when I was getting high electric bills in the summer, I thought about how to reduce those bills. One way, of course, was to raise the thermostat so the house is warmer and use fans. Then I thought, "Why cool the entire house while we sleep when we're shut in our bedrooms?"

So I got small window units for all the bedrooms. In the master bedroom, I also shut the door to the bathroom since there's no sense cooling down that room! It's important to check Craigslist for used window units! As long as the owner will plug it in and demonstrate that it cools, a lot of money can be saved.

Now, my programmable thermostat shuts the A/C off at 10:30PM as we all retire and doesn't come on again until 30 minutes before we get up in the mornings. We use our window units and sleep in cool comfort, and our electric bill during the summer is never over $150!
Debbie C.

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