Readers' Tips

Should Teens Have Part-Time Jobs?

I once ran a job program for teens as part of my work duties.

It's good for teens to get a part-time job, so long as they keep their grades up. Not only do they earn money, but they also learn work skills that will serve them for a lifetime. These include promptness, how to deal with customers, and how to follow orders, as well as taking initiative and being creative within the workplace.

Many states have child-work laws that prohibit jobs for kids under 16. That said, opportunities always exist in the traditional teen jobs, like mowing lawns, babysitting, and being a mother's helper. You could also consider paying her for extra chores at home, like cleaning out closets and/or the basement or attic.

Once she has a job, help her budget her money, putting some away for the future as well as paying for more of her own needs. This is another lesson that will last a lifetime.
Barbara in SC

editor's note: Visit here for more on teens and part-time jobs.

Your Property Taxes

I decided to question my property taxes last year. I felt that they had too high a value on my house. I checked the county online records to see what other similar houses showed. I also looked for recent sales of houses similar to mine. I took the data to the property appraiser's office. They didn't want to make an adjustment at first until I asked for a hearing date. Then they adjusted my value down by $45k! Not bad for a few hours work!

Additional TDS Resource: Visit our library section on "Property Taxes"

Love Letters

When we got married three years ago, we promised each other to show our love often, but we found that cards and flowers got too expensive. Then we decided to get creative. Sometimes we'll mail a little love letter. Other times it's a note stuck in a lunch bag or shirt pocket. We've emailed pretty pictures or sayings we've found online. No matter how my day is going, when I get something from him, it makes it better!

Cooking for One

When my husband died, I quit doing a lot of things, including cooking. It just didn't seem worthwhile to cook for just myself. After a few months of junk food and skipping meals, I realized that I needed to do something different. Therefore, I began to cook my regular recipes that served four. I divide the meat, veggies, etc. into meal sized portions and freeze them. With the microwave's help, I have four meals on one preparation. I still miss my husband, but at least, I'm eating better.

Additional TDS Resource: More ideas when you're cooking for one

My Tutoring Business

I wanted a side gig to help me put away some extra money. I've always been good at math, so I decided to tutor high school students in math. I began by putting up flyers in the library, local Y, and churches. I spoke with the school counselor to let him know that I was available. Late summer is a great time to spread the word. As school starts, there are always some students who need to improve their skills. I don't know what other people charge, but I get $20 an hour. It's not bad for something that I can schedule and work at home.

Additional TDS Resource: More on starting your own tutoring business

Spice Shopping

If you cook, you use spices, and they can get costly. Next time you need to buy a spice, first check the foreign food section of your grocery store. Some ethnic brand spices are priced much less than the domestic brands.

Kitchen Trick

Want to wash your veggies without using one of those expensive cleaners? Fill your sink with water. Add four tablespoons of salt. Let the produce sit in the salt water for 10 minutes or more.

Additional TDS Resource: How to make homemade veggie wash

Online Shopping Control

I love to online window shop. I love it so much that it was adding to my credit card balance. Then I made up some rules for myself. I use one browser (Firefox) only when I shop online. If I see something I want, I can't buy it then. I must leave the tab open for at least 24 hours. Then I can come back and complete the purchase if I really want it. Most of the time, I just close the tab. I do miss out on some specials, but it's the only way I could control my shopping!

Additional TDS Resource: Am I a good candidate for credit counseling?

Second Marriage Finances

My husband and I are both on our second marriage and both have kids from the first. When we got married, we worked out an arrangement where we both contributed to household expenses like the mortgage, food, etc. However, on things that were unique to our kids (clothes, child support, college), we each were responsible for our own kids. We'll celebrate our 11th anniversary soon, and it's worked out well for us. We rarely disagree about money and have been able to work out anything that we might have fought over.

Additional TDS Resource: How to handle finances in a second marriage

Cheap Tires

I ran over a curb and needed a new tire and wheel. I didn't have the money for a new tire and didn't want to charge it either. Therefore, I went to an auto junkyard. I bought a used wheel and tire from a car that had been totaled. It cost less than the wheel alone would have cost new.

Part-Time Income

I've found a way to generate some part-time income while I control the schedule. I watch for local special events. I look for anything from drag races to the county fair. I can usually find contact information. I ask if they need any help for their event. I've taken tickets, guided parking, sold water, etc. It's usually only for a couple of days, but the work isn't hard and the money is a huge help.

Additional TDS Resource: Could you earn $50 while Junior naps?

Finishing a Basement

We needed an extra room, but we couldn't afford to add on or move. We found the solution in our basement once we bought a dehumidifier. Instead of seeming damp and moldy all the time, now it's just like another room! We've started hanging some drywall and should have it all done before winter!

Additional TDS Resource: How to have a cheap finished basement

Where Did It Go?

If you find yourself visiting the ATM for cash often, do what I did. I started writing anything that I bought with the cash on the back of the ATM slip. Just the simple fact of writing it down caused me to skip some purchases. I still visit the ATM, but not nearly as often!

The Anniversary Hunt

We've been married over 25 years. We've had good and bad times moneywise. One year, when we couldn't afford fancy anniversary gifts, we created something that we call the anniversary game. We set a limit on how much can be spent. During the first year, it was $10. In better times, it's been as high as $25. The gift can be new or used, as long as it's something that is special to the receiver. Then we each hide the gift somewhere in the house. The receiver can ask questions and move around the house getting "hotter" or "colder." It might not seem like much, but finding a gift that's special with a limited budget can be a real test of love.

Additional TDS Resource: More anniversary party ideas

Messy House?

When our kids were toddlers, I could accept that our house was always a mess, but now that they're getting older, I want the house picked up. I expect the kids to help. As soon as I was old enough, my mom gave me chores to do. At first, it was something simple like taking trash out to the trashcan. Later, I learned to clean the bathroom and do laundry. I didn't like it at the time, but later I was glad that she had me do chores. Not only could I bring friends over without being embarrassed, but also I learned about responsibility. Right now, one of my kids is responsible for filling the dishwasher. The other vacuums. It's not a lot, but every bit helps this busy mother!

Additional TDS Resource: What's the best system for allowances?


Our apartment complex has a "sharing" table in the laundry room. People leave anything that's usable, but they don't need anymore. You'll often see clothes (both kids and adults) and small household items. It is the kind of thing that you might otherwise give to a thrift shop. Nothing seems to stay very long, so we must be doing our part for recycling! It works so well that I'm getting one set up at my church, too!

Additional TDS Resource: More practical recycling ideas

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