Save the Sheets The elastic on my fitted sheets wore out and wouldn't stay tucked on the mattress, but the fabric was still in good shape. I pinned (then later stitched when I had time) wide elastic diagonally across each corner. Now the elastic can be tucked under each corner of the mattress. S.
Soda Substitutes The most addictive thing about soda is the convenience. I also was addicted to soda. I finally bought a 48-ounce insulated cup and keep ice in it all day. I keep refilling it with water. When I'm not drinking from it, I keep it in the refrigerator. Since it's so large, I'm not constantly making trips to the faucet. If it gets too warm, I can always add more ice. Adrienne
Handy Kitchen Storage As a personal chef and an avid cook, I'm addicted to kitchen gadgets. I really do use them, just not all the time. Here is my dilemma. Where do I store them? I purchased a hanging shoe bag with clear plastic pockets. I hang it on the back of the door in my laundry room, which is right off my kitchen. Now I don't have to clutter up my cabinet drawers with gadgets that I don't use every day. But, when I do need them, they're right there where I can see them. The bags are available at most discount stores. K. H. from OH
Pickles! With all the cucumbers ready now in our garden, I found a cheap way to make pickles. After we finish a jar of store-bought pickles (sweet or dill), I do not throw away the jar or juice. I simply cut up our own fresh cucumbers and stuff them in the jar with the juice. After about a week, we have our own homemade pickles for free without all the hassle of canning or spices. D.
Kid & Pet Safe Weed Killer A good way to remove weeds that grow through your pavement is to pour boiling water over them. They die quickly, and you will not ruin your pavement (or your animals and small children) with harsh chemicals. It is cheap and quick. You will need to do it every couple of weeks to keep it free of weeds. HV
Bulk Cooking for One I honestly don't like cooking for myself, but I like to cook. So about once every few months, I'll cook large quantities of foods I like and freeze them in portion sizes. This has not only paid off when I don't feel like cooking, but also when I've been too sick to cook, when someone drops in, when I've been "snowed" in and can't get to the store, and when it's too hot to cook in the summer. I throw a salad in with my meal portion and have a great meal! Kari K (via Facebook)
Keeping Track of Cash To keep track of my small cash purchases, I write each one on the back of my ATM or bank withdrawal slip, which I keep in my wallet. I make $100 withdrawals and never knew where the cash went until I began using this method. I used to carry a notepad but always forgot to write purchases down. Now when I take cash from my wallet, I am reminded when I see the bank slip. I have the information at hand and can see where I should cut spending. This also enables me to better plan my budget. Susan B.
Hunting for Treasure I have a technique to save money that I call "Treasure Hunt." I use this technique whenever I want to buy something that I don't need right away but I still want. For example, I wanted a baker's rack for my kitchen. I searched several months and then found a beautiful one at a store that was going out of business. Another time I wanted a bar table and bar stools for my family room. Again I searched, and after six months, I found a beautiful three-piece wood and iron set brand new at a warehouse clearance center. I have dozens of examples, but basically, the way that treasure hunt works is by being patient and searching everywhere. This includes thrift shops, garage sales, discount stores, outlets, and even asking friends if they have treasures they are getting rid of. Fall in love with the thrill of the hunt! A.
Affordable College It is time to start getting financially ready to send those recent high school grads to college. I am a college instructor at a local community college. Here are some things for parents to think about. Tuition is cheaper and living expenses do not go up if you insist junior takes the first two years at the local college. Your new grad is more likely to get a college degree if they start at the community college (recent studies show). The associate degrees at community colleges pay better and are more likely to employ your child than many four-year degrees (again, studies show this). The two-year degree can then be turned into a four-year degree for even better earnings. Students who excel at community colleges are eligible for a free tuition ride when they transfer. In short, if your child is not an Einstein and not going into engineering, Natural Science, or Computer Science, they will do best with a community college start on life. And you will save big bucks. If your child is dependent upon you in college, you can get their grades and access to information from their professors by filing a FERPA request through the child's Dean of Academics. Kids do better in college when their parents are "checking up" regularly. Van M.