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Here is a double dose of tips since I wasn’t able to post last week! Enjoy!
Instead of Cash
Instead of keeping cash for emergencies in my car/billfold/house, I keep travelers checks. Most places will accept them in an emergency. Yet, they are just hard enough to spend that I am not tempted to use them just because I see something that I want. Plus, they never expire and can be replaced if lost. CB
I pay some of my bills automatically with a credit card that gives me cash back. I recently became aware that when anything changes on a credit card, such as a new expiration date, then you have to notify the appropriate billing departments of the changes. Otherwise, you may be hit with late fees when charges to the credit card are denied. This will happen even if the credit card number is the same and your credit is good.Some billing departments will let you know when a card expiration date is coming up and advise you to “resubscribe” to the auto payment. Some are happy to collect late fees. Sandy G.
Rainy Vacation Days
We take a trip to the beach twice a summer. We spend one week with my in-laws and one week with my side of the family. The kids love the beach and the pool, but sometime during the week, it’s going to rain or the kids are going to want to do something different. A couple of years ago, I thought I would head off the situation before it started. I surfed the Internet for free things to do in the area where we vacation. Tara G.
I’m Looking for…
I have several small grandchildren, and I like to buy a lot of their toys and play clothes at garage sales. However, with the high cost of gas, even that is not always cost effective. Now I post on our local library and grocery store bulletin board exactly what I am looking for (certain toys, clothing, etc.), and I have people calling me before their garage sale. I can get what I want without a lot of driving. The added benefit is that I have met other grandmas doing the same thing. Paula B.
After reading the catalogs and seeing a lot of capri pants offered for sale, I noticed that they gave the inside seam measurement as 20 inches. That gave me an idea. I had several pair of slacks that I didn’t like wearing because they were a little shorter than I liked. I pulled out the scissors and cut them to 21 inches inside seam. Then I folded the hem twice (1/2 inch) and hemmed them. I now have four pair of capri pants that cost nothing but the time to hem them. Pat in Kitchener
I heard a great tip the other day. Make sure you eat before cutting coupons. Then the Oreo, potato chip, etc. coupons won’t be nearly so desirable to cut out. And if you don’t cut them out, you’re less likely to buy them. Carol
Homemade = Savings
I recently got sick of being in debt so I picked up a job delivering pizzas at night for a major pizza chain. They would kill me for saying this, but I was able to figure out how much people are paying for pizza versus if they made it themselves.If you order a pizza from us, you usually pay $15 dollars for two mediums (even with a coupon) with two toppings. I sat down and did the math. If you went to the store and purchased the pre-made pizza crust (about $3 for two), one can of sauce ($1.40), cheese ($2), and toppings (which of course can vary), you would save at least $5 to $10. Make your own pizza crust, which can be done in a bread maker or just by hand, and you save another $2 or so. And you can customize your pizza and get better toppings (a lot of the toppings in the restaurant are frozen and thawed out!). When you add in tip (which I hope you do) for the driver, you’re paying $20 for two medium pizzas that you could have made yourself for half of that! Not that I don’t want to be busy, but I couldn’t believe the costs!
Matt in Colorado
We wash and reuse our resealable plastic bags, as long as there was no raw meat stored in them. But storing them after they’ve been washed and allowed to dry was a problem. They overflowed the “bag drawer” whenever the door was opened. Trying to stuff them back into the original box was futile. In desperation, I found three large storage containers, labeled each one with tape and a marker “Gallon,” “Sandwich Size,” and “Snack Size.” Now, when putting away bags, I simply stuff the bags into the appropriately marked container. My kids can pull what they need easily for packing lunches, and putting away leftovers is much easier when we don’t have to hunt for the correct size. Ann S.
Cooler Times Two
I live in Central Florida and just realized that I can have an ice cold drink after having the cooler in the car all day if I just place my small cooler inside a larger cooler. I find that one cooler just doesn’t do the trick here in our heat. Coolers are easy to find at yard sales and flea markets cheaply. This is especially refreshing after a day in a theme park. Sue in FL
Shopping with a Purpose
When I feel like shopping and know it is not good for my budget, I go shopping for gifts that I will need in the next several months. That way, I can satisfy my urge to go shopping, get nice things, but do not feel bad afterwards. Of course, I occasionally buy things just to please myself, but gifts are a good thing to shop for, as they are not overly expensive things. I just buy things like books or cosmetics. Jana
Long ago, I received some very good advice about money from a local frugal businessman. He and I were discussing living on $5,000 a year and his first piece of advice was to carry no currency, no checks, and no credit cards at all. I thought about it and realized that I had a cell phone, a vehicle and the nearest help for a true emergency was minutes away. What did I have to lose? I have been doing this for several years now, and it has cut down on my impulse spending tremendously! On payday, I fill my tank, buy groceries (with a single check I put in my purse for that purpose) and pay the one bill I have each week. I also keep enough cash at home to pay my daughter’s allowance and lunch money for the week.Brenda T. in Frederick, MD
We recently returned from a trip. Retrieving our luggage is always hectic, especially when most of the suitcases are the standard black color. I have done a lot of painting with acrylic paint on fabric so I decided to paint pretty flowers on my black suitcases. I used chalk for the original sketching and then acrylic paints to make big, bold flowers on all sides of the suitcase. They really stand out and are easily recognized when they tumble down the airline chute. I sprayed them with a fixative acrylic spray to protect the paint. I am very pleased with the results. Mary Esther
When my nephew graduated from high school (20 years ago), I had hardly any money at all and didn’t know what to do for a gift for him. I wrote out 12 checks for $10 with each dated a different month. Actually, I gave him $120 for graduation. He was thrilled with it, and it was easier for me to give. Joann S.
Easy to Reach
I have small children that are constantly throwing or dropping items behind dressers or under the bed where I cannot reach them. My solution was to attach pantyhose with a rubberband around the vacuum hose. Turn on the vacuum and th
e items can be pulled out without being sucked into the machine. This has saved my back on many occasions. C.
Cover a cotton ball or swab with a light coating of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) and use as a fire starter in your open fire or fire range. This is much cheaper than traditional fire starters. And they hold their flame for about five minutes, which is plenty of time to add that dry wood.Ang
Savings StashedWhen I use coupons or a store rewards card, there is usually a total of what was saved on that shopping trip. I’ve started taking that amount and keeping a list of what was saved for the entire month. At the end of the month, I put the money “saved” by using coupons or the rewards card into a savings account. The amount varies from month to month, but it’s built up a nice emergency account. Heidi P. O. in Pittsburgh, PA
International Cuisine Saves Cash
A good way to save money is to learn to cook ethnic foods. Thai, Mexican and Indian, in particular, are cheap to make and so tasty with the spices that you really benefit, especially with vegetarian options. I’m not a vegetarian, but those dishes, along with ones with a little meat like a stir-fry, will save you money on your grocery bill. Allrecipes.com has a lot of good ideas, or you can get a (used) cookbook from Amazon. Erica C. in Chicago, IL
If you are like me and do not fly much, you sometimes are not sure what you can take and not take on the plane. I had knitting needles with me on one trip and they were allowed, but then on another trip, they were denied and my boarded bag had already gone to the bottom of the plane. Now, I carry a big self-addressed envelope with me so I can mail the items back to me without a financial loss. Susan W.
Need a few buttons for a sewing project? Don’t buy them at the craft store where they are expensive. Go to your local thrift store; they generally sell clothing items for less than a dollar. Search through the shirts for buttons you like. Cut off the buttons and use for your project. This is much cheaper than buying them new. Also, keep the fabric from the clothing item in your scrap bin for future projects. Melissa J. in Independence, KS
Bedclothes Storage Solution
My linen closet is small, and I find it so hard to keep things wrinkle free, especially pillowcases and sheets. So when my last guest left and the linens were ready to put away again, I decided to fold them in a manner that was the width of the bed they are used on. I then made the bed and placed the linens at the head of the bed. The pillows then went back on along with the coverlet. Not only is this a good place to store them, but also they stay fresh, and it makes the pillows look real fluffy. Alice