Over the years, I've learned from my clever, awesome readers that there are always more ways to stretch a buck. Today's batch of great reader tips proves positive.
With that, I have only one request: Please keep your great tips, tricks and money-saving ideas coming. We love them!
PUDDING STRETCH. My family loves Jello instant pudding, but the mix is expensive and only makes 3 cups of pudding. In experimenting, I found that I can use 4 cups of milk rather than 3, as the directions instruct, without changing the end result. It still turns out thick, and the flavor is still perfect. — Linda
DE-STRING THE CELERY. While celery might be a healthy snack, I would avoid it because the strings are such a nuisance. My husband suggested using the vegetable peeler to remove the strings, and it worked. Not only does it vastly improve the taste and texture of the celery for snacking but it also makes chopping a breeze. — Carol
BABY-BATH BASKET. Here's another way to safely bathe a baby: a standard laundry basket with lots of cutouts in the regular bathtub. When baby is old enough to sit up, this works great. Any type of plastic or rubber mat inside the basket will keep the baby from slipping. I used a rubber shelf liner from the dollar store, cut to size. The basket also corrals bath toys so they are within easy reach of the baby. — Bonnie
(Never, ever leave a child unattended in any amount of water, not even for a second, and not even in a basket. — MH)
FRIENDLY RECYCLING. I am a longtime and faithful reader of your newsletters and books. Thanks for all the good advice I've learned from you and your readers. You recently posted a letter referring to Freecycle.net. I am a devoted recycler/freecycler! I must tell you that I got tired of jumping through the hoops of my local Freecycle group. I found Reuseit and have discovered that it is a more user-friendly group. You can check it out here: http://reuseitnetwork.org. Beware that several other organizations have similar names. The one I am referring you to is the one I use almost weekly to unload my house of years of good junk. — J.D.
REFRIGERATOR WHITE BOARD. Our new refrigerator has a smooth white finish, and we started using the top area as a dry-erase white board, keeping track of our shopping list and writing notes. Somehow someone in the family use a permanent marker rather than a dry-erase marker. Ooops! I tried just about everything, but nothing worked to erase the marker stain. Finally, I grabbed the bottle of liquid Bar Keepers Friend that we use for the glass on our woodburning stove. It took a few applications, but it worked. We still use the fridge as a white board, but I've hidden all the permanent markers. — Pamela
COMPACTOR BAGS The Space Saver Bags that are advertised on TV are nice, but they don't last long. Within a year — sometimes much sooner — the bags begin to break down and tear. I found that plastic trash-compactor bags are a great alternative. I put my items in the bag (making sure nothing sharp is sticking up), wrap the opening around the vacuum hose and vacuum out the air. I twist the hose and bag as I pull out the hose and tie the bag closed with twine. These bags are thicker, and they hold up longer and cost a lot less. — DebbiSue
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.