Readers' Tips

DIY Kids Haircuts

One of the most important things you can do to provide haircuts for your family is to buy a professional pair of scissors, including a small pair to use in tight places, and a cape. Next I would suggest you ask for a few pointers from someone who does their own haircuts.

Purchasing a barber set (electric shaver, assorted attachments, etc.) for about $10 to $15 will be helpful for the guys in the family. Read your instruction booklet thoroughly. Do a web search and look for video instructions for cutting hair.

I cut my children's hair (especially my sons) for several years, but found when they got to high school, I had to come up with ways to pay a regular barber as they wanted complicated styles that were beyond my abilities.

When I was a child, we had access to a "beauty school" where rates were about half price if you were willing to have the students practice on you. Their instructor guaranteed you had a good cut, and we were satisfied with the students work.

editor's note: Visit here for more on DIY kids haircuts.

Hidden Storage

Do you know how easy it is to buy little wheels and add them to dresser drawers for additional storage under beds? I know so many people with storage problems who buy cardboard boxes that cost a fortune for under bed storage. Why not use old dresser drawers? By adding wheels, they're easy to pull out to vacuum under your bed. This is great for storing can food or other items bought at loss leader prices.

editor's note: Watch for old dressers set out on trash day. Stop and grab the drawers. And, since they're hidden under a bed, if they're too tall, just take a saw and cut them down to size.

Natural Weed Killers

We have found that boiling water will kill the weeds just as effectively as those expensive weed killers. Every time you boil the kettle for a coffee, walk outside and pour the remaining hot water onto a weed or two. In a few days, they will have shriveled up and died!
Michael C. in Australia

Additional TDS Resource: More on natural weed killers

Unexpected Guests

Sometimes the best get-togethers are the ones that are spur-of-the-moment and unplanned. When faced with a houseful of people, I've been known to do frozen pizzas from the freezer to the grill and then cut them up into bite sized diamond shaped pieces for appetizers. Or take a London broil and turn it into shish kebabs with a red onion and a green pepper. You don't need to spend a lot of money. Just look for ways to stretch what you have. Your guests will never notice and are always happy with whatever you serve. I've even put a half pack of cookies in the blender and sprinkled it on top of a "plain" half gallon of ice cream to make it extra special! Just relax and enjoy yourself and your guests will too!

Painful Gas Prices

Where I live, gas prices have just about doubled in the last four to five years. So I've taken to saving gas any way that I can. Recently I've decided to quit using drive-thru windows. Now I go into the fast food restaurant, bank, etc. Not only am I saving on gas, but I also get a little bit of exercise, too!

The Sock Solution

Everyone in my family wears white socks. It's such a pain to sort them after drying! I bought white mesh bags for delicates and gave everyone a bag. I told them to put their dirty socks in the bag. Each bag has a name on it. When I wash whites, I just throw the whole bag in the washer and then the dryer. No more sorting socks for me!

Looking for Plants?

Look no further than your local garden club. Many clubs have a plant sale once or twice a year. They sell plants that members have grown at very reasonable prices. Since the plants are locally grown, you know they'll do well in your climate. And, since you're buying directly from the gardener, you can get advice on how to care for the plant. Do a search for a local club and ask them if they have a sale. You'll find some great plants and might even decide to join the club!

Swim Diapers

My little one loves to spend time in the pool with me. Naturally I use swim diapers, but the cost is a bit much. Then I realized that the swim diaper could be washed in the washing machine. I throw out soiled diapers, but if they're just wet, they go in the washer. I let them drip dry and reuse them a number of times before tossing them.

Cleaner Showers

I've found an easy way to clean those nasty corners on shower door tracks. Just pour some hydrogen peroxide on, let it bubble for a few moments, and wipe it up. It's easy as can be!

Caring for Leather Boots

I have had a lot of luck caring for boots by carefully brushing dirt from the area where the sole meets the upper and then applying leather cream generously. I then stuff the toes with crumpled newsprint. I recently read that a great way to store winter socks is to jam them into the toes of boots/winter shoes. The boots or shoes keep their shape, and another place to store the socks is not needed. If the calves of the boots are long enough to need support, I roll a piece of cardboard to the shape needed and insert it into the leg of the boot. Then I store them lying down. If I put the soles on the floor, wrinkles can develop in the leg/ankle of the boots as gravity pulls the leather down.

Additional TDS Resource: More on caring for leather boots

More Water Heater Maintenance

Just as important as replacing the anode rod, draining a pail of water from the bottom of the heater once a month keeps the sediment from building up. The water heater will also heat better and last longer, especially on electric heaters. The sediment burns out the heating element.

Need Paint?

Have a small paint job? See if your town has an Environmental Services office. If so, call to see if they take old paint and household cleaners that can't be tossed because of environmental concerns. Some will give you all you want for free. I've gotten stains, thinners, and varnish. I have even received spray paints!

Winter Clothes Storage

When I'm storing my winter clothes, I put a dryer sheet in with them. They smell fresh and clean when I take them out of storage in the fall.

Starting a Housecleaning Service

My sister-in-law owns her own cleaning business. She works only when her son is in preschool half days, two days each week. She's been cleaning since college and has gone from full-time with 30 clients a week down to about four clients now.

Additional TDS Resource: More on starting a housecleaning service

Kids Laundry Tip

For a while, my kids' clothes always were inside out when they put them in the hamper. I got tired of it. I finally decided that if they were old enough to put their clothes on the right way, they were old enough to give them to me that way. So if I get clothes inside out, that's the way they're washed and returned to them. It's surprising how quickly the problem was solved!

Smelly Car?

My husband works at a car dealership. When they're prepping a used car for sale, they tuck a few fabric softener sheets under the front seats. It removes many smells from the cars, including smoke. It's easy and cheap!

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