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Whose Kids Know How to Turn Off Lights? I got a good chuckle when I read today's first reader tip from "Dad." For a split second there, I could hear my own father asking the age-old parent/child question: Don't you know how to turn off the light when you leave the room? MOTION SENSOR …Read more. Of Pet Accidents and Malfunctioning Keurig Machines Dear Mary: I saw in your column a long while back an article about the carpet scrubber (was it Bissell?) and poo-pooed it at the time. Now I am ready to cry UNCLE since I discovered to my horror that one of my cats was shut in a bedroom and peed on …Read more. Best Holiday Gifts for Grandparents As far as gifting seasons go, the biggest one of all is just around the corner. The longer you wait to make or buy gifts, the fewer options you'll have. Last minute shopping is a surefire way to run up mountains of unintentional debt. Been there, …Read more. Solutions for Stains on Shirts and Windows, Too From time to time I reach into the proverbial EC mailbag and pull out a few of your questions to answer here. My goal is to select questions I believe the answers to which will have a wide appeal. But I can tell you for sure that when the question …Read more.
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Stay Away from the Bottomless Pit of Self-Pity


Do you ever find yourself buying stuff just to make yourself feel good? I know that feeling all too well. And I, like our first reader today, know how to create that good feeling in more constructive ways, like saving and not spending.

NIP SELF-PITY IN THE BUD. I have cut down on my spending and have eliminated impulse buying. I am making inroads, but I get depressed about my finances since I don't seem to be pulling out of debt as fast as I would like. To help combat these feelings, I decided that every time I got depressed about indebtedness, I would go online and transfer $10 into my online savings account. Doing something positive cheers me up, and it kicks my depression out the door. — Delores, California

GREETING CARDS' ADDED BENEFIT. The Gideons International — yes, the organization that places Bibles in hotel rooms — also sells all-occasion greeting cards on their website at For $3, you receive your card and a tax-deductible receipt (for more than half of the cost of the card). With the purchase of each card, two New Testament Bibles are placed somewhere in the world, in more than 193 countries. — Judy, California

CLOSET NAIL FILE. Take a large emery board, and punch a hole in it with a hole-puncher or an ice pick. Then, thread a long string through it, and tie it to the rod in your closet. If you feel a snag on your fingernail while getting dressed (which is when you catch your clothes on the snag), you can quickly and easily file your nail and get rid of the snag.

— Caroline, Texas

PAINT REMOVER. I have had luck rubbing Murphy's Oil Soap at full strength directly on the paint stain on my jeans. The stain comes out even when my jeans have already gone through the washer and dryer. — Jan, Massachusetts

SEASONAL SHOWER GIFT. For bridal shower and wedding gifts, I like to give the new couple hand towels or placemats and napkins with holiday themes. Many new couples can't afford to decorate their bathroom or kitchen for the holidays, and this gift is always a hit. — Sue, California

SAVE MONEY ON VACATION. When you're on vacation and you arrive at your destination, go to the local Costco (check for locations all over the world), and check out gift cards for local restaurants and attractions. You can buy these at 20 percent off and use while there on your vacation. — Gretchen, California

CLEVER WAX PAPER. My 94-year-old mother uses the plastic (sometimes they are wax paper) bags from her breakfast cereal boxes on which to knead and roll out dough. I think she is absolutely brilliant. She has never lost her depression-era training from childhood. I continue to learn from her all the time. — Dawn, Washington

Would you like to send a tip to Mary? You can email her at, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723. Include your first and last name and state. Mary Hunt is the founder of and author of 18 books, including "Debt-Proof Living" and "Tiptionary 2." To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



2 Comments | Post Comment
Wow, I can appreciate the sentiment, but I would (secretly) abhor a gift of seasonal towels:
Young people often have space constraints, and these towels need to be stored somewhere year-round.
Plus, I guess I do not see it as a hardship to not have a holiday-themed kitchen or, indeed, bathroom...
Comment: #1
Posted by: Grinch
Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:54 AM
As for the liners for cereal boxes - I've never tried that tip but I do use them to pound my chicken breasts. Also you can add your flour and spices and shake the pieces up. Easy!
Comment: #2
Posted by: Renee
Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:12 PM
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