Readers' Tips

Prom Party Decorations

If they plan to continue the music and dancing, you could look for a disco ball light or strobe light. We've gotten small ones for home use for less than $15. By turning out the regular lights and using these, you eliminate the need for much of any other decorations.

editor's note: Visit here for more on prom party decorations.

Cheaper Coffee Secret

I often buy coffee when it is on sale. While I love gourmet beans, they can get expensive. I have a trick that makes any coffee taste like gourmet. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on the coffee just before brewing. My friends sometimes comment about the wonderful brand of coffee that I serve. They think I bought the gourmet stuff!

Preventing Cheese Mold

I worked at Hickory Farms while I was in high school. We were always told that touching the cheese would encourage mold, so we never touched it with bare hands. We always used a piece of plastic wrap when handling the cheese, and it seemed to work. Plus, it's important to make sure the surface the cheese is being cut on is clean as well. Any leftover residue on a cutting board can contribute to it molding. In short, don't touch it and don't let it touch anything that isn't clean.
Celeste B-U

Additional TDS Resource: More on how to keep cheese from getting moldy

Mosquito Prevention

Spray everything (lawn, bushes, kids' swings, patio, patio furniture and gardens) with the cheapest lemon soap you can find. You can use one of those sprayers that attach to the hose. Since starting years ago, we can use our backyard all day and night with no mosquitoes to bug us.

It's an easy job and your yard will smell great. It's much better than those stinky buckets when you're having a backyard cook-out.

Super Hand Cleaner

I was splitting firewood and got pitch on my hands. Usually I use hand cleaner, which doesn't work very well. Today I decided to try rubbing alcohol. It worked great!

Better Than Fast Food

I often don't have time to prepare a lunch to take to work, but I work about three blocks from a major supermarket. I go to the bakery section and choose a bun. Then I hit the deli counter where I choose a couple slices of meat and maybe some cheese. Finally, I choose fruit for dessert from the produce section. I have an instant lunch for only a couple of dollars!

Frugal Sewing

I shop at thrift stores and rummage sales, and buy large skirts that can be used for fabric, fabric remnants, sheets, and dresses made from fabrics I like. Rummage sales are the cheapest, but I have found good, usable items in "free boxes" that people put out after yard sales.

Salvage buttons that are nice even if you don't like the garment they are on. I got a large, nearly-new cotton house-dress that I cut off and fitted as a blouse for myself. The piece left over was enough for an A-line skirt, adding a contrasting border at the bottom. A sleeveless sheath dress became a top by cutting and re-hemming. Trims, buttons, pockets, appliques and borders can be added to individualize it.

Scraps can be used to make cloth napkins, dusting mitts, and quilt squares.

My Friend's Garden

I am slowly learning how to garden, but I don't want to spend a lot while I am still learning to care for plants. Whenever I am visiting with someone who has plants I admire, I ask them how they care for it and ask for a cutting. People are touched that you want to include them in your home this way and glad to help you share their passion for plants.

Homemade Floor Cleaners

An economical, non-rinse floor cleaner can be made by mixing the following ingredients:

1/4 cup dish soap
2 cups vinegar
1 cup lemon juice
1 to 2 cups water

This is great for cleaning floors, bathrooms, walls, etc.

Additional TDS Resource: More on homemade floor cleaners


A great way to repel gnats is the use of vanilla. Mix vanilla extract with a little water and dab it around your neck, eyes, etc. You will smell nice to people but bad to gnats.

Additional TDS Resource: More on eliminating pests and bugs

Your College

If you went to a college or university, check your alumni association. Many will allow you to access various campus benefits even if you're no longer a student. While you might live too far away to make attending free movie viewings practical, you could find that you have online access to their library and its entire collection of digital assets. Often college libraries subscribe to databases that are too expensive for individuals. But, as a library member, they're available to you. You can gain access from your home computer or tablet. Contact your alumni association to see what's available to you.

Cleaner Windshields

The best way to keep windshields clear is a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Rub it on and let it haze. Then take a clean rag and wipe it off. The water will bead up better than with Rain-X®. This is what truckers use.
Donald O.

Good to the Last Cent

Receiving rebate prepaid cards in the mail for $5 or $10 is always a welcome surprise, but what do you do when the balance left on the card is less than one dollar? I make sure not to lose a single cent of my rebates by purchasing stamps. The post office has never refused the prepaid card, and I am always ready when the cost of postage increases because I have the extra stamps available to make up the difference.
Cynthia S. in Claysville, PA

Cleaning Upholstery

We had great success cleaning my husband's "no water" recliner with Dryel® dry cleaning cloths. It was faster, easier, and less smelly than the upholstery cleaner we used on the water-cleanable recliner. It took two of the cloths (it was really filthy!), and it looks, feels, and smells great!

Additional TDS Resource: More on cleaning upholstery

The Benefits of Being Last

I'm an avid garage saler. Usually I am out early to get good deals on the best items before anyone else. But, sometimes it is better to go at the end of the day around 3 p.m. or so. When a sale is ending, the sellers are anxious to close up and sell whatever they can at almost any price, especially if it's a moving sale. So if you've overslept, don't give up on finding the bargains. Just go out after lunch!

Why Washing Soda

I love washing soda. It's an economical cleaning product. I found it in the laundry aisle of the supermarket.

I had well-used baking dishes, loaf pans, pie plates, etc. The baked-on black spots from years of use remained no matter how hard I scrubbed. Washing soda cleaned the baking items and made them look as if I just bought them. It was as simple as filling my sink with water and adding about 1/2 cup of the soda. I let the items soak for a while and then I gave them a light scrubbing.

It's also good for a lot of other cleaning jobs. You will want to wear rubber gloves. It's non-toxic, but it can dry your hands.

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