Tips to Save Money on Beauty and Grooming

Whether you want to look good or just to feel better, reaching your goal traditionally comes at a significant cost. But not if you’re a dedicated cheapskate. While medications and beauty products you use must be safe, there’s no reason that you have to pay exorbitant prices to ensure such qualify. Here are some fascinating and functional tips for saving time and stretching costs on everything from deodorant to skin care and more.


VISIT THE MEN’S DEPARTMENT. Buy mens toiletries if you have a choice when it comes to unscented deodorant, shaving foam and hair colorings, for example. Products manufactured specifically for men are significantly cheaper ounce for ounce than those made for women. Go figure.

SHAMPOO. With great confidence you can confidently stop being a shampoo snob. In a Consumer Reports test of 132 name-brand shampoos, the lowly cheap brands from the supermarket rated just as highly as the pricey salon brands. Just make sure you know how to read the product’s list of ingredients.

SUNLESS TAN. Smooth baby oil on skin and allow it to penetrate before applying sunless tanning lotion to achieve a more even, lighter tanning effect, especially on elbows and feet.

Travel Tricks, Tips and Hacks

I  love to travel, which is my favorite unintended consequence of founding Debt-Proof Living. And, I’ve learned, travel always involves challenges. That’s why I have adopted an attitude that no matter how well I’ve planned, if something can go wrong it probably will. And if it doesn’t? That’s my travel bonus.


Over the years I’ve collected a bunch of really great travel tips—some fun, some crazy but all of them very useful if only to avoid a headache or two. Here are 10 of my favorites:

1. Before you leave, scan the front and back of every item in your wallet including your passport. Email the images to yourself. Now you’ll always have a digital copy handy in case you lose something. This will not substitute for your passport, ID or credit card, but you’ll have all of the pertinent information you need to keep going.

2. Instead of folding your clothes, roll them tightly. They’ll take up less space in your luggage and that can save having to pay extra baggage fees.

How to Cut the Cost of Owning a Pet

No one was more surprised than I when my first granddog, Sir Boddington, nuzzled a place in my heart. I knew I was smitten the day I loaded up on toys, milk bones and other doggie delights. I blame it on “Boddie” that I so willingly became a member of the U.S. population that spent $58 billion in 2014 on food, supplies, services such as grooming and boarding, and medical care for their 358 million pets.


So how can you afford to care for your furry friend—in sickness and in health? Make prevention maintenance your top priority as a pet owner and you’ll save later on.

RESTRAIN. A fence or some other reasonable restraint is the best way to avoid big vet bills, says David T. Roen, D.V.M., board-certified veterinarian and owner of the Clarkston Veterinary Clinic in Clarkston, Washington. “I see more dogs in my office because of injuries sustained while unrestrained than for any other reason. Dogs should always be leashed, fenced or supervised.”

CHOOSE THE RIGHT FOOD. Dr. Roen advises pet owners to skip all the fancy premium foods sold by vets. Use name-brand pet food from the supermarket labeled “complete and balanced.” Or look for the seal of approval of AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials). Stick with the same brand. Switching abruptly can cause health issues for some animals. And less is better, as slightly underweight pets have fewer health problems. 

Simple Tips to Keep Things Beautiful and Working Well Around the House

FABULOUS FIXTURES. So you splurged on some really beautiful—dare I say expensive—sink fixtures for your kitchen or bathroom. Here’s a fabulous way to keep them looking beautiful for many years to come.


Once a month or so, wipe the faucets down with a rag that you have sprayed with a wax-based furniture polish. This will keep mineral deposits from building up and staining or pitting the surface of even the most exquisite fixtures.

DUCT TAPE REPAIR. Got a shower curtain with a ripped ring hole that makes it sag? Don’t throw it out quite yet. Instead, get out the duct tape and cover the entire hole on both sides. Using a hole punch or craft knife, re-create the ring hole. Now it’s stronger than new. But maybe not so attractive. Not to worry. These days duct tape comes in loads of colors and even patterns. You may even want to reinforce the entire top strip of the vinyl curtain with a bright color or design and redo all of the holes while you’re at it, not just the torn one.

Whose Kids Know How to Turn Off Lights?

I got a good chuckle when I received 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 SWITCHES. Apparently, my kids don’t know how to turn the lights off so I have installed motion sensor switches in the bathrooms, laundry room and basement. Installation was very easy, and now those lights turn on and off automatically depending on whether anyone is in the room. This has lowered our power bill tremendously. More than that, our home is a happier place now that dad has stopped harping at the kids to turn off the lights. Dad

HANDY PAINT CONTAINER. I was disappointed when my favorite brand of  coffee began coming in a plastic container instead the old familiar metal coffee can. I’d use those empty metal cans for everything from holding screws and switch plates to soaking paint brushes. But I discovered that the molded handle on the new plastic container made it the perfect container for paint—especially when needing to do a touch-up. The plastic coffee “cans” are easy to carry up and down ladders and the plastic lid seals well enough to keep paint fresh until the project is done. Johnny

Reader Discovers Straight Cut at Barber Shop Plus More Great Tips

From barber shops to fine print—and lots between—my EC readers are really smart. I love it when they share their time- and money-saving tips with us. I think you’re going to love today’s great reader tips, too!


STRAIGHT CUT. Every couple of months, when I need only the bottom of my long hair trimmed I’ve discovered that a barber can cut just as straight as a beautician. And the cost? Less than half the salon price. Molly

READ THE FINE PRINT. It sounded good and I was tempted to take the store up on its offer of tremendous sale prices plus nothing down and no payments until next year. But after a closer look at the fine print in the store ad I read, “Buyers using the No Money Down; No Payments for xxx months do not qualify for Sale Prices on furniture.”   When you walk in the door, it’s best to have saved enough to pay cash even at the high-end furniture stores. Money talks and is a great tool to bargain the price down. Judy

SNACKS TO GO. For those who like to take snacks with them (nuts, seeds, trail mix, etc.), first wash out an empty Parmesan cheese container (the type with the twin serving top for shaking or spooning) with soap and water and let dry.  Remove the label so you can see what’s inside and fill with your desired snack.  Depending on the size of the snack, you can use either side to dispense your snack, plus a number of persons can share this dispenser by pouring or shaking the snack without everyone placing their hand inside a bowl. Once the snack has been finished, refill and use again. The 8-ounce container is perfect for travel and general use. Helen

Laundry Problems, Mistakes and Mysteries and How to Solve Them

Laundry challenges, it seems, come in every size, shape and intensity. Rather than thinking there is no solution for that stain, shrunken item or other laundry disaster, consider the ways your fellow readers have found to recover and renew situations gone bad.


MELTED-ON CRAYON STAINS. With so many restaurants giving the kids crayons to keep them occupied while waiting for the meal to arrive, we have had to learn how to remove crayons from clothes that have inadvertently made their way through both the washer and dryer. Melted-on crayon can be removed by first applying WD-40 to the area working it into the stain with your fingers. Once the WD-40 has begun to break down the petroleum base of the crayon, apply concentrated detergent to remove both the stain and and the WD-40. Put back into the washer and launder as usual. It works like a charm. Andrea

UNSHRINKING WOOL. Don’t be too quick to toss out that favorite sweater that just got shrunk in the hot wash. Chances are good you can unshrink it if you move qickly: Mix a solution of one gallon lukewarm water and two tablespoons baby shampoo. Soak the shrunken garment for about ten minutes. Now the important part: Don’t rinse! Simply blot out all the excess water with a dry towel and very gently lay it flat on a fresh towel. Reshape slowly and carefully as you stretch it back to its original size. Dry out of direct sunlight or heat. This tip comes from the Wool Bureau who verifies this technique will work provided the fibers have not become permanently damaged. Mary

Beat Cost of Satellite Radio, Unlock Keurig 2.0 Brewer, and Trap Japanese Beetles

When my boys were really young, I had them convinced that I knew everything. More than that, I could read their minds and had eyes in the back of my head, too. That didn’t last for long, but I sure had fun with it while it did. And now I am having the time of my life with you, my dear readers. Your letters and tips help to keep me on top of technological advances plus everyday stuff I want to know, but cannot possible keep up with on my own. I appreciate and depend on you more than you will ever know!


RADIO FREE. We bought a new car, which came with a trial offer of SiriusXM satellite radio service. It’s my wife’s car and she loves the satellite radio feature; but we do not like the cost.

Our cell phone service provider, T-Mobile, allows us to stream from select music services without affecting our data usage. These music apps have both free and subscription services available, depending on whether we want to pay to eliminate the commercials.

Voila! We can stream the music from our smart phones to the car stereo because of the features built into the car stereo (using USB, Bluetooth or headphone output jack) and it’s just like having the satellite radio for free. We can make a coast-to-coast drive without much loss of our favorite music at a savings of at least $10 a month. Dave