Readers' Tips


How to Get Rid of Wasps

We got rid of our wasps by spraying WD-40® in their nests. It is a water displacement formula, so it kills the wasps and makes their nests uninhabitable for the future. I also prefer the smell over that of any wasp poison that is out there.
Julie

editor's note: Visit here for more on how to get rid of wasps.

Greenhouse for Seeds

My grocery store sells strawberries in clear plastic boxes. They make a perfect mini-greenhouse for starting seeds. The box is generally already punched with ventilation holes. Plus, they easily fit on a sunny windowsill.
Olivia

Divorced Mom Finances

I am a divorced mother of three. I've been divorced for eight years now. I was a stay-at-home mom. My only skill was typing. I took up housecleaning, which is very lucrative and flexible. I took a free computer course and got a job at a college, purchased a townhouse, and worked six days a week. I worked full time five days per week, and then on Saturdays, I'd clean one or two houses.

On payday, I had enough money to take my kids to McDonalds for dinner. We thought it was a real treat. On the weekend once a month, we'd go to the drive-in, which is much cheaper than the movies. We'd make microwave popcorn and buy candy at Walgreens. We have great memories!
Susan in Phoenix

Additional TDS Resource: More on a divorced mom's finances

Uber Yardsaling

Love to go yardsaling, but hate collecting all kinds of junk that you just have to put out at your own yardsale? Then do what I do. Each year, I choose one or two big items that I'd really like to find but won't buy retail. Those are the items that I hunt for as I yardsale.

It's not that I won't buy smaller items, but since I'm hunting for the big item, I don't feel bad walking away from a sale without buying anything. In fact, I can visit many sales on a Saturday morning and not spend a single cent!

When I do find my special item, I'm ready to act. This year, I was looking for a table lamp and shade for our great room. I saw one that I liked, but it was over $100 in the store! Last Saturday, I found one at a moving sale for $12. It was almost identical to the one I saw in the store! I was so happy that I didn't even try to negotiate a lower price!
Marissa

Vow Renewal Party

My husband and I just renewed our wedding vows. We wanted to celebrate but didn't want to spend a lot or put friends in a position where they thought that they had to buy us gifts. So we just made it a potluck at the church hall. I made a ham and turkey. Our friends brought all the sides, drinks, desserts, paper plates, etc. It wasn't anything fancy, but we are not fancy people. So it was just right!
Becky

editor's note: More resources and suggestions

Storing Fresh Herbs

I don't like to take the time to dry herbs, but I found an easy way to store them that preserves their freshness. I take whatever herb I have and place it in an ice cube tray or small container. Then I fill it with bottled or filtered water and freeze. After they're frozen, I put them in a baggie and keep in the freezer for when I want them. Because their frozen in water, the herbs don't lose their flavor or get freezer burn. It's just a matter of pulling them out when I have a recipe calling for that herb. Sometimes I don't even thaw them before putting them in the dish.
Donna

Plant Math

The front area of my home gets a lot of western sun, so I've found purslane is about the only plant that grows well in that much heat. When I went to my garden supply store this year, each plant was $3.98, but the hanging pots of the same thing were $7.98. I bought one of the hanging pots. At home, I laid out some newspaper and gently took the plants out of the pot. There were six plants in one planter! I got $23.88 worth of plants for $7.98! From now on, I will check out the hanging pots instead of buying several of the individual plants.
Kim in Fair Grove, MO

Handy Mirror

I found myself without a mirror and needing one. Then I remembered that my camera on my cell phone reverses to take "selfie" photos. Guess what? I got an instant mirror, and the problem was solved.
D. M. in Fort Dodge, IA

Snakes!

The best way to get rid of the snakes is to make sure your backyard is not snake heaven. Keep the clutter down. Make sure there are no piles of wood or leaves. You don't want anything they can nest in or hide under. You should keep the grass mowed, so they don't get comfortable hanging out in it. Also, take care of any rodent or insect problems quickly. If the snakes are migrating to your yard, they've probably got a good reason. A buffet line starring roaches and mice is one of the best.

Take a stroll around your house and inspect the foundation and the ventilation holes in the garage. If you see any holes bigger than about a quarter, then you've hung up an "apartment for rent" sign for the snakes. And, don't leave doors standing open! Make sure you've got a good screen door at the very least, or you may find a garter snake struggling frantically on your shiny kitchen floor. Yikes!
Tamarian

Additional TDS Resource: More on getting rid of snakes

No Hose? No Problem!

Do you have a few plants that need water but are far away from your hose? Here's a simple solution. Just place an empty bucket near the plant. When it rains, the bucket will fill up and you can water your plants a few days later when they're thirsty again. If it's in the front of your home where people can see it, disguise the bucket by painting it or dig a hole, so that the top of the bucket is at ground level.
Aaron

Keeping Elderly Parents Safe

My wife and I just spent more than I would believe to downsize to a rancher in an over 55 community. We did this after figuring if this keeps either one of us out of a nursing home for one year, we save over $80,000. We learned this from caring for a number of older family members. An additional bit of advice came from a geriatric doctor who advised us not to wait too long to downsize because it will be too hard to make the move.
Bill R.

Additional TDS Resource: More on keeping elderly parents safe

Cleaner Showers

Daily shower cleaner can be expensive. I use rubbing alcohol diluted 1:1 in a spray bottle after the shower and the ceramic tile shower is definitely cleaner.

Also, I used to use the "strong" shower cleaner that removes mold, etc. from ceramic tile shower walls on a monthly basis. I now use a 1:1 bleach/water solution in a spray bottle and get the same results as I did with the name brand cleaner.
Elaine

Additional TDS Resource: More on cleaner showers

Cheaper Catsup

Originally, we bought big plastic squeeze bottles of catsup. As we finished each bottle, I washed and saved the bottles. Now, when I have three empty bottles, I buy one giant can of our favorite brand (same price as one of the big plastic squeeze bottles), and it completely fills all three plastic squeeze bottles. Catsup stores great in the freezer.
Judi

Curing Athlete's Foot

I have found that applying vinegar (white distilled vinegar 5% acetic acid from the grocery store) to the affected areas of feet keeps athlete's foot at bay. I just saturate a cotton ball and rub it on my feet. It has to be continued for a few weeks even after symptoms disappear because fungus will come back quickly. I do this in the morning and at night.

Another alternative for athlete's foot is to soak feet in 1/2 cup vinegar, 2 T of salt, and enough warm water to cover them. Both of these methods are dirt cheap and as effective as the expensive creams and powders at the store/pharmacy.
Susie M.

Additional TDS Resource: More on curing athlete's foot

Online Shopping Returns

I do a lot of online shopping. Sometimes purchases need to be returned and I was always scrambling to find the appropriate packaging for the return. Now, whenever possible, I take the original bag/box and turn it inside-out. By doing this, I have sturdy packaging and a clean surface to write the return information on, rather than trying to cover up or peel off address labels that were originally used to mail my purchase. It's fast, easy, and cost effective.
Lynn

Summer Shade

Did you know that a canvas awning is as easy to make as a duvet or a pillowcase? I've been making them for friends and neighbors for years. For shade on a deck or patio, I put up a frame of wood. Then I nail up plastic holders that are used for closet rods on both sides of the frame. I buy PVC pipe and cut it to size. Then I make pockets in each end of the pieces of cloth, insert the pipes in the pockets, and put them in the rod holders for instant shade.
Latricia


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