Readers' Tips

Decorations for a 25th Anniversary Party

You could get people to write something about your parents and their marriage. Collect them and put them together in a notebook. Later, you could add photos taken at the event and make photocopies of some of the photographs that were borrowed for the event. Or if you know someone who scrapbooks and is willing to help, let them create a keepsake scrapbook for them. Be sure to include heartfelt letters from you and your brother.
Pamela (via Facebook)

editor's note: Visit here for more on decorations for a 25th anniversary party.

Natural Roach Remedies

This is the cheapest, simplest, least toxic, and most effective roach treatment ever, and it has worked for over a year now in my house. Stir together equal parts of sugar and baking soda. Roaches gobble up the sugar and the baking soda gives them gas, which messes up their stomachs and ultimately kills them. It only takes a cup or so of the mixture to treat a house, placing dabs in strategic spots like behind or beneath appliances, in closets, or near wastebaskets. If you have pets, limit the mixture to places or containers your pets can't get into because it might make them sick if they eat it. I found that empty pill bottles wedged horizontally into tight spots and plates underneath furniture work well to keep things tidy.

Additional TDS Resource: More ways to get rid of roaches

Making Laundry Easier

I line my clothes hampers (one for whites and one for colors) with a large green trash bag. When it is time to go to the laundromat, I just pull out the bag and off I go. I also leave the bottle with my liquid soap in the hamper. Everything is in one bag!

Shoo Fly

I was visiting my friend in the country. The day I got there we were continually swatting at flies. Then my friend hung some gallon-sized, resealable bags filled with water from the porch overhang. No chemicals were used. She used just plain water. I thought she was crazy, but the flies stayed away after that. When I got home, I looked it up and found out that people were hanging clear glass bowls filled with water as far back as the 1700s to get rid of flies!

Cheaper and Healthier

Look up the recipe to your favorite salad dressing. It's much cheaper than buying dressings at the store. Making your own salad dressing is healthier for your body as you are using fresh ingredients and no preservatives or extra sugar. And once you are comfortable with the recipe, you can easily change it up by adding fresh herbs or spices or experimenting with different vinegars. Lastly, making your own dressing is much faster and cheaper than spending the time and gas to make a trip to the grocery store!

Picture This

Recently I've been taking a quick photo of all the food we throw away. I took a picture of milk that went bad before it was used, the leftovers from a few nights ago, half eaten bananas, etc. We try to be a responsible family, but I'm horrified at what I've been seeing. Once three or four weeks have passed, I'm going to share them with my family and have a talk about wasting food. I hope they're as concerned as I am.

More Kitchen Storage

An easy way to make more space is to hang a towel rack high on your kitchen wall. Attach s-hooks to it. Hang lightweight pots, pans, and utensils on them.

Bed Bugs!

Bed bugs are the worst! We had them seven years ago, and it was an expensive, disruptive, and psychologically damaging ordeal.

If you cannot afford to replace your mattress, you can get an airtight mattress cover that will seal the bed bugs in. Bed bugs can live months and months (over a year!) without eating, so you will have to leave the cover on permanently.

As for your other bedding, bed bugs can be killed by high heat. After you wash your bedding, put it in the dryer on high for at least 20 minutes. Make sure you do this with all of your clothing as well and then put the clothing in bags until you have the infestation controlled. Bed bugs love to travel and might be hanging out elsewhere in your house.

Finally, you will need to get an exterminator. If you rent, your landlord may pay for it. If you own, it is a cost you might just have to eat. It's better to do this right the first time than risk them coming back.

Most importantly, when you travel, there are easy ways to make sure you don't bring bed bugs back. Never put your suitcases on the floor or bed at a hotel. Check the mattress for signs of bed bugs (look in the seams for what looks like dirt or actual bugs). When you return home, put your dirty clothes in a bag and wash and dry them on high immediately.

The cheapest way to deal with bed bugs is to keep from getting them in the first place.

Also, don't be ashamed. Bed bugs are making a huge comeback in the US and getting them is no indication of your level of cleanliness.
Kara G.

Additional TDS Resource: More on killing bed bugs

Handy Snacks

With two young boys at home, I am constantly on the go with various activities. I keep a basket in the back of our minivan labeled "snacks in the back." I frequent the discount grocery outlets on a regular basis and stock up on low-cost boxed juices, water bottles, crackers, pretzels, apple sauce, gummy treats, nuts, and beef jerky. (Be careful to avoid items that melt like chocolate and snacks that need to be refrigerated.) I keep the box hidden from the boys so they never know what kind of treat they'll get when we are out-and-about during snack times. It saves me a lot of money on unhealthy drive-thru snacking or impulse buys. And the boys are constantly delighted by the surprises from their snacks in the back!
Brooke K.

Natural Rinse Agent

Your dishwasher has a place to put rinse agents. I put plain vinegar in the dispenser. My dishes come out squeaky clean. This saves money on the expensive commercial rinse agents and it's natural. This also helps to keep the dishwasher free from detergent build up.

Can't Afford Gas

With gas nearing $4, my boyfriend and I needed to cut our gas expenses dramatically. We purchased used mopeds. Not only are they fun to drive, but they also get up to and often over 100 miles to the gallon. License plates and insurance are pretty cheap. On nice days, we can take them to work. It even makes the commute fun! Just be sure to learn how to ride them properly and watch out for cars!

Organizing Supplies for Less

Many people get the organizing bug, especially if they watch some of the home and reality TV shows. But, it seems like many of them lose interest before they complete the project. The reason I believe that is because every weekend when I go to garage sales, I find brand new organizing stuff for pennies. I keep my eyes out for the things that can help me get better organized!

Removing Gasoline Odors

About a year ago, my husband thought his dad put the cap on the gas can and was driving around when it spilled. After many useless remedies, we finally resorted to putting clay kitty litter over the area of the gas spill. After a day, we vacuumed it and covered it with the litter again. I think we did this two or three times with great results. There was no more gas odor. Be careful not to allow any moisture near the cat litter or it could turn into "mud" on your carpet, and be sure to clean with a vacuum with very strong suction to get all the litter out.

Additional TDS Resource: More on eliminating gasoline smells

Inexpensive Homemade Stain Remover

With three active boys, I find that most items have at least one area that needs a prewash stain remover. I found a mix that is cheap and works on dirt, grass, ink, and food stains.

Mix the following in an old spray bottle:

1/3rd rubbing alcohol
1/3rd hydrogen peroxide
1/6th Dawn dish liquid
1/6th water

I spray the stains and brush the mixture in with an old toothbrush before washing. I really like the results. Just remember to mark the bottle that you use and always make sure you know what chemicals you're mixing. Some mixes can be harmful.

Longer Lasting Dog Bones

Hate the cost of raw hide bones for your dog? If your dog is like mine, he will chew a rawhide bone until one of the two knotted ends and most of the middle is gone. The remaining end is too small for him to hold and chew on, so he ignores them.

Throwing away a third of each bone is a big waste! I found that you can untie the end. My dog loves them! He treats it like a brand new bone and chews it until it is nearly all gone.

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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