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1

How to Sell a House for the Highest Price Possible

If you’ve ever sold a home you’ve lived in, you already know a little something about stress! If you haven’t but soon will be getting it ready to go to market, I hope today’s post will get you started with a tidy list of the things you need to do to get the house ready to sell for the highest price possible.

It’s been said that you only get one chance to make a good impression. Never were truer words spoken than when you’re getting ready to sell your house.

See you there! Love, xo m

3

25 Fantastic Items That Will Simplify and Organize Your Life!

Getting organized isn’t easy. But staying organized can be even harder. A place for everything and everything in its place. That’s the mark of an organized home.

As a natural-born messie with a bent toward hoarding, I know the struggle. But I’ve learned the joy of decluttering and gaining control over my disorganized self—one drawer, cupboard, closet, and room at a time.

Today I want to update 25 of my best organizational helpers that can help organize your bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, handbag, and car, too. These organizers can quickly turn chaos to calm. Ahhhh … see you there! xo m

14

Try This Old Restaurant Cleaning Trick

Ever leave the coffee pot on overnight only to wake to a blackened, disgusting, burnt-on mess? Can’t get rid of the gunky build-up in your favorite carafe or thermos—stuff you can see, but not reach? Try an old trick perfected by wait staff in restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops everywhere to get it sparkling clean …

See you there! xo m

September 11, 2001 …. We Will NEVER Forget! GOD BLESS AMERICA!

15

Could You Go a Year Without Spending?

A few years back, Eric and Donna Reed shopped for groceries and household products only once a year. How on earth? I know. That was my reaction, too! How? Or maybe better … WHY?

The Reeds got the idea after reading a column in USA Today, wherein the writer confessed to his weakness when it came to buying clothes. So driven to buy new sweaters, slacks or shoes every time he stepped inside a clothing store, publicly he announced he was giving up buying anything for one full year.

Their story is fascinating enough. But how this all turned out will leave you slack-jawed. And wondering. Could you do it?

See you there … xo m

16

How To Make DIY Wrinkle Releaser Static Remover

Unlike myself, not everyone I know loves to iron. I guess I’m crazy that way. There’s just something soothing, calming about the sound of a good burst of steam, the smell of clean, and instant results. But enough about me.

For most people, ironing is the worst. So when the makers of Downy laundry softener came out with a wrinkle release spray that touted also to be a static guard, odor eliminator, iron-in-a-bottle—we were thrilled …

17

The Best Tools You Need to Conquer the Pet Hair Problem

If you love your pets but have just about had it with finding their hair everywhere from the couch to the bed and even a hair or two with dinner—help is on the way!

You can’t stop the shedding but there are a number of brilliant, inexpensive solutions for keeping the pet hair problem under beautiful control …

See you at the blog! Love, xo m

18

Best Inexpensive Home Security System

Several months ago, we had a serious home security wake-up call with the news of a home invasion in our sleepy town, population fewer than 20,000.

In the middle of the night, two young, hoodied thugs went from house to house in a beautiful new development until they found an unlocked window. Once inside, they held the terrified homeowners at gunpoint.

Eventually, the perpetrators were caught and charged with seven counts including kidnapping, grand larceny, and attempted murder …

20

Ask Me Anything: Best Robot Vac, Denim Dye Transfer, Medicare HELP! and More

Happy Labor Day Weekend, Everyone!

Once again, it’s time to reach into the mailbag to pull out a handful of questions from you, my Dear Readers. I never know what I’ll find, but I can usually count on some questions having to do with issues of personal finance, others that zero-in on household quandaries and from time to time, some that are just plain weird. I usually set those aside. And who knows? Perhaps sometime soon, you’ll find an entire post devoted to weirdies from the mailbag!

And now for a little weather report from my neck of the woods (Northern Colorado) … today we are looking at a high of 99F (yes!) … tomorrow 98F (a little better 😂); Monday 90F and Tuesday (wait for it …) 38F with 3 inches of snow! ❄️ I am not kidding! (Seriously, I love this.) Then on Wed., Thur., Fri., right back up to beautiful 80F days. Okay back to today’s questions … See you there! Love, xo m

I hope you’ve got something fun planned for the last weekend of summer!

21

12 More Frugal Laundry Tips That Will Save You A Fortune

If you’ve ever suffered the heartbreak of stains, unbearable stink, or other kinds of annoying laundry issues—or just want to know the secrets to get laundry super clean and smelling fantastic—you’re going to love this!

Whether it’s latex paint (fresh or dried on for a long time), stinky towels, yellow armpit stains, here are the ways to deal with those challenges and more!

See you there! Love, xo m

22

11 Surprising Ways Lemons Can Make Your Life Easier

Several years ago, my son gave me the bounty from the two fruit trees that pretty much rule his backyard. My Mother’s Day gift of Meyer lemons weighed in at 124 pounds. I know, lucky me!

I had to figure out ways to use, share, and preserve lemons in a big hurry. I juiced, cooked, and baked all kinds of lemon things. And I learned so many ways to use lemons in around the house, too! Who knew lemons could be so useful? Love, xo m

23

15 Ways You Need to Stop Abusing Your Appliances

Sad but true: Modern day home appliances are not made to last for decades the way our grandparents’ appliances did. It’s by design and called “built-in obsolescence.” Add to that, most appliances now have some kind of electronics that make them digital and in some cases, “smart!”

Modern appliances, as lovely and useful as they are, need to be treated with a lot more care than we might have imagined. Otherwise, we could be charged with committing appliance abuse! I’m talking about costly repairs.

Ready to give up your old ways? Me too! And here are 15 ways we can get started now. Today!

See you there … xo m

24

September Is The Best Time to Buy These Things

And just like THAT … it’s September! I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ready for 2020 to be over, so the speed with which it seems September has hit is welcomed, indeed!

Two days ago, here in northern Colorado, we were still enjoying 96F days. And them BAM! … 46F low yesterday. And … get this, it snowed last night in the mountains. See what I mean? Rollercoaster weather, which I absolutely love❣️

September brings with it predictable bargains—some that could be considered extreme!

So buckle up as we head into my favorite time of the year, and not only for sweater-weather, pumpkin pie, and apple cider but for bargains, too!

See you there. Love xo m 🍁 🍂 🍎 🥮 ❣️

26

How to Make Natural Weed Killer—Super Easy and Better Than Roundup!

I often wonder why is it that weeds have no problem at all with drought-like conditions. They don’t require a thing—not water, fertilizer, or protection from pests and predators. Weeds don’t even need soil. They’re happy to bloom where they are planted even if that is in a sidewalk crack—or asphalt! Weeds don’t complain, don’t need […]

27

13 Quick and Easy Recipes to Make The Best Salad Dressings From Scratch

If you think eating well means eating out—home delivery, pick-up, or dining-in—you may be feeling the effects of restaurant dining your wallet as the cost of restaurant meals is now soaring in ways we’ve not seen before.

I was shocked to read the new (disposable) menu at a small local hamburger joint in our town. The same classic hamburger that was $7.95 pre-virus, is now $11.95. Will prices decline as this thing settles down? I wouldn’t bet on it.

It’s time for us to change our thinking and start digging in to find every realistic way imaginable that we can save time and money every day.

If I can make the leap from being a diner-in-debt to making irresistible meals at home that often taste even better than those from a restaurant—at a fraction of the cost of eating out—you can, too.

For many years ( before there was a Food Channel), I was uniquely privileged to sit under the personal tutelage of world-famous gourmet cooks the likes of Julia Child, Christopher Kimball, Martha Stewart, Martin Yan, and Jacques Pepin.

Every weekend I had standing appointments with one or more of them. They came right into my home and demonstrated unique techniques while I assumed a prone position, curled up in my favorite blanket, first-row-center in front of the television. They sparked confidence in me. From that start, my love for making great meals economically has grown.

Today, I want to share my basic recipes for what I consider to be gourmet salad dressings. So fresh and easy. Tasty, too.

See you there! Love, xo m ❣️

28

Ask Me Anything: Dry Slow Cooking, Clean Grout, Home Safe, Cloudy Glassware, Not-Drying Dryer, and Lots More!

I don’t mention it as often as I should, but the truth is that I’d be lost without you, my loyal, encouraging, and responsive readers. You must know by now that I think of you as dear friedns. Thank you for being there every day and for filling my email inbox to overflowing with your comments, questions, and outpourings of love and gratitude. Please don’t stop. Ever.

Speaking of questions, let’s take a few from the proverbial mailbag ….

See you there! xo m

29

27 Ways to Use Baby Wipes That Don’t Require a Baby

Recently, in my never-ending quest to organize my home, I came across the half-full case of baby wipes I’d purchased more than five years ago when our younger grandson was born. My first thought was that since Sam is all potty trained now, I should find someone with a baby or donate them to the church […]

30

How to Deep Clean a Garbage Disposal and Why You Need To

The garbage disposal collects germs from raw food, like chicken, eggs, and spinach, and that food can be filled with harmful bacteria, like salmonella. It can make anyone, especially children, the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system, very sick.

The metal part of the garbage disposal in a kitchen sink produces ions that can help kill germs, but they love to grow on the crevices in and around the slimy rubber splash guard. Your disposal can become a real breeding ground for bacteria, contaminating your hands, and everything you touch, like your dishes and utensils. All that rotting gunk and grime can cause quite a stink, too!

Cleaning the appliance so many of us have and use continuously is essential—a really easy too, once you know the routine! All that in today’s post.

See you there … xo m

31

28 Brilliant Ways to Use Vinegar That May Surprise You

It’s cheap. It’s available in every supermarket and home center in the universe and so useful around your home, you may have a difficult time believing it. Good old, ordinary, plain white vinegar has dozens of uses … some that may surprise you! I’ll tell you more … at the post.

See you there! Love, m xo 😍

32

Simple Ways to Cut the High Cost of Prescription Drugs

We’re hearing a lot about the high cost of prescription drugs these days. Can you even believe it?

Our little grandson was prescribed Tamiflu in 2019 (he’s fine now—recovered quickly from Type B flu) and the price the pharmacy quoted was nearly $120.00! It really is enough to give young parents (well, anyone!) a heart attack.

If medication drug costs have gotten you down, cheer up! Then check out today’s seven ways you can save money on prescription medications—plus where to get some medicines (antibiotics!) for free.

Meet me at the post and I’ll show you how to do that.

See you there! xo m 💊 ❣️

33

This is the Best Shredded Barbecue Chicken Ever

I have discovered over the years that “barbecue” has varying definitions depending on where you live. Where I live in Colorado anything cooked on an outdoor grill qualifies.

We barbecue burgers, fish and steaks, fresh vegetables, slices of pineapple—even pizza dough. However, if you live in the south you know “barbecue” is defined by these two words: Long and slow. And trust me, you’d better have proof that the brisket or rack of ribs were on the grill for the better part of a couple of days if you dare to call it barbecue!

With Labor Day right around the corner, I have a great option for your end-of-summer barbecue celebration! Oh, this is SO yummy!

See you there! Love, xo m 🍔 🇺🇸 ❣️

34

9 Ways to Wage War Against Mosquitoes—and Win!

Mosquitoes are nasty creatures. They bite, they transmit terrible diseases to people and pets and from what I read, have no redeeming value in the ecosystem.

Malaria, transmitted by the female mosquito, infects some 247 million people worldwide each year, and in 2018 killed 405,000 people.

Mosquitoes spread yellow fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, Rift Valley fever, Chikungunya virus, and West Nile virus.

If that’s not reason enough to hate them, they can turn a beautiful backyard, deck or patio into a nightmare area not fit for humans during mosquito season. But it doesn’t have to be that way provided you are diligent to take control of your home and property …

35

19 Absolutely Brilliant Ways to Clean With Denture Tablets

Not many households keep a supply of denture tablets. But every household should because there are so many cleaning jobs that effervescent denture tablets can do from making coffee stains disappear to cleaning fine jewelry and clearing a clogged drain, too.

Denture cleaning tablets are great little workhorses for all kinds of jobs around the house, some you’ve never heard of…

37

All You Need to Know to Get Prescription Eyeglasses Online

Honestly? When I first heard about ordering prescription eyeglasses online, I scoffed. I rolled my eyes. What next? Mail order surgery? Online doctor visits? Not me. 

But I’ve had an epiphany, a change of heart. Everything I’ve learned and you might want to know about getting precription eyeglasses online—in today’s post.

See you there … Luv, Mary 🤓

38

How to Make Glass, Mirror and Window Cleaner

If there’s one thing you confidently can stop buying ever again, it’s glass cleaner. You already have ingredients around the house that will work to clean glass, windows and mirrors—from vinegar to vodka (true!) to warm soapy water. The problem is that these items, used as single ingredients, have significant drawbacks.  Vinegar will do a fairly […]

39

Home Canning: How to Preserve Summer’s Bounty

So, you planted a garden, lucked out when your property included fruit trees, stumbled upon a produce sale you just couldn’t pass up, or joined a CSA. Good for you! Now what? What will you do with all that bounty?

You have several choices, one of which is the subject of today’s post. Ready to get canning? Let’s do it! See you there … xo m

40

How to Get a Better Deal on Anything

Not everyone is comfortable with asking for a better deal or for a lower rate; or for a fee or penalty to be waived. It’s a process known as bargaining or “haggling.”

Face it. Some of us are just more bold than others when it comes to negotiating. It’s a bit of an art, a learned skill. Learn the 6 easy moves in today’s post and you’ll be on your way to expert haggling status in no time!

See you there … Love, xo m

41

Worst and Best Ways to Clean Your Eyeglasses

You just paid a small fortune for new eyeglasses. On top of the cost for prescription lenses and fashionable frames, you opted for Anti-Reflective, Anti-Scratch and UV Coatings too. 
After all, eyesight is a precious thing and it’s only wise to do all you can to protect it, right?

Absolutely! But here’s the deal: You may be destroying your investment every time you clean your glasses because you’re using the wrong cleaners and doing it all wrong.

Not to worry! In today’s post all the things to stop doing—followed by the best ways to keep the sparkling clean.

47

Homemade English Muffin Bread

Here’s an easy way to cut your grocery bill this week: Make your own bread. Wait! Hear me out.

Let me show you how to make homemade bread that is so easy, so simple, and so foolproof it’s going to make you feel like a genius. Homemade bread, specifically this English Muffin Bread, is simply amazing.

See you there … Love, m xo

49

This Is The Best Way To Get Cash Back When Shopping Online

I could teach you how to be an extreme couponer. I’ve had a lot of experience including the time I demonstrated how to do it, on location, live on national TV from a large supermarket! It’s a great way to save money but it’s a lot of work and limited mostly to grocery and drug stores. […]

50

7 of the Best Ways to Use Up Stale Bread

Got stale, leftover bread? Don’t toss it—use it up instead. Here’s the secret: Grilling, toasting, baking, or frying gives bread a second yummy life. In fact, today’s ideas, tips and recipes are all best when the bread is not fresh. Prepare to be amazed! See you there … Love, m xo 🥖 🍞 ❣️

51

How to Turn Your Barbecue Grill into a Baking Oven

Here we are in the middle of summer and baby it’s hot out there! I don’t know about you, but about that last thing I want to do is to heat up the kitchen by firing up my oven to baking temperatures. But I haven’t put baking and oven-use on hiatus, either. That’s because I have an outdoor grill—also known by many as a barbecue.

There are so many things you can do with your outdoor grill beyond steaks and burgers. In fact, with a little ingenuity you can turn that grill into an outdoor baking oven!

So much to share on that … so, I’ll see you there! Love, xo m

52

How to Buy Carpet—What You Need to Know to Make the Perfect Decision

It’s not something you buy every day. But when it’s time to buy carpet, you’ll want to know your stuff. Make a bad decision and you’ll pay dearly for a long time, and I am not talking just about the money. You’ll pay a significant price in dissatisfaction and disappointment, too.

When it comes to carpeting there are sooo many choices! And companies, and salespeople. It’s not easy to know who to trust. Truth be told, it’s best to educate yourself so you don’t have to rely on others to make the decisions.

In today’s post, I’ll help you sort through all the noise, identify, and then organize the information to come up with a simple roadmap.

See you there! Love, xo m

53

15 Ways to Solve it With Salt

Sometimes the very thing you need to solve an ordinary household problem is sitting right in the pantry. Take salt for example. It’s amazing stuff! And it’s cheap, too.

I have a favorite little book, Solve it with Salt by Patty Moosbrugger. Just look at all the things Patty says we can do with good old ordinary inexpensive table salt to make our lives better …

54

How to Help Someone You Love Build Credit and Boost Credit Score

These days, it’s not easy for a young person without financial experience to build credit and a respectable credit score. How is he or she supposed to qualify for a credit card account without great credit? It’s like needing great job experience to get your first job!

Surprisingly, perhaps, when it comes to credit, there is a good way that you can actually help a responsible young person. You can boost a young person’s credit by taking advantage of a little-known authorized user provision, but credit issuer policies vary widely on how old the child must be.

It takes two great candidates for this method of allowing another person to piggyback off your good credit to work well—a financially mature accountholder and a responsible, trustworthy authorized user.

There are a few things that both you and your authorized user need to know including exactly how to do this—all of that in today’s post! >

55

Pasta Mama: World-Class Gourmet Pasta on a Shoestring

A popular restaurant Hugo’s, in West Hollywood, Calif., has been critically acclaimed for one of its menu items, Pasta Mama.

The first time I heard about it, I thought it was a bit odd. Pasta with eggs? Sounds so elementary if not boring. I couldn’t imagine what would prompt people to drive many miles to get Pasta Mama. But they do, insisting, it’s the best pasta they’ve ever eaten.

I had to try it, and as you might imagine, I love it. I would describe it to you here, but it’s indescribable—indescribably delicious, that is!

Pasta Mama just might be the best thing you can make this weekend. Let’s find out! See you there … Love, xo m

56

4 Kitchen Money-Savers That Pay for Themselves in No Time at All

My favorite gadgets, of course, are ones that actually help me to save money and/or time. I’ve been fooled from time to time, spending good money on things that just did not perform well. Or the gadget turned out to be so cumbersome, using it actually complicated rather than simplified my life.

But now and then I strike on a gadget that is so magnificent in its functionality and money-saving properties, I can’t wait to tell you about it.

Today I want to tell you about four gadgets for the kitchen that I consider to be wise investments—money savers!

All four are inexpensive enough to pay for themselves in a short period of time—and then to continue paying off in food savings, which is saying a lot as food costs continue to soar.

Meet me there …. Love, xo m

57

How to Make Homemade Natural Furniture Polish and Get Rid of White Rings

Some time ago, I got a request from EC reader Kelly for a homemade furniture polish recipe. She said that she uses a lot of it and it’s getting so expensive.

My first thought was, of course, to suggest she time her purchases for when furniture polish goes on sale, and then to stock up. That was fresh on my mind as I’d recently purchased a can of Pledge aerosol polish for $2.50 What a deal! Here’s how I did that:

I’d been harboring a $1 coupon and when Pledge went on sale for 2/$7, I used my coupon, bought one can and enjoyed a great bargain.

Kelly didn’t mention environmental issues in her desire to make her own furniture polish, but after doing some research on the matter, I became convinced that may be something all of us should consider—perhaps even more than the high price of quality furniture cleaners, polishes, and protectants.

From that research emerged three recipes for Homemade Furniture Polish … all 3 in today’s post—plus a bonus

You’re going to love this, and when you do would you consider sharing today’s post? That would be awesome!

See you there … xo m ❣️

58

A Robot Vacuum that Really Works—and It’s Inexpensive!

Vacuuming sucks. Literally. One year, my idea of giving our adult sons robot vacuums for Christmas was intended to help them with that odious chore.

What a disappointment. I learned much later that both guys used their robots for only a few months. They were ridiculously noisy, needed constant supervision, did a lousy job and just more trouble than they were worth. They were annoying and couldn’t do the job. But that was then and this is now:

There’s a new robot vacuum in town and this little guy has renewed my faith. Not only is robotic vacuuming possible—it can be amazing and affordable, too! See you at the post … Love, m ❣️

59

How to Propagate Basil, Grow and Turn it Into the Most Amazing Pesto

While I came bearing gifts and lunch to celebrate my friend Sharon’s Birthday, I left with a gift of perhaps even greater value! She taught me how to propagate basil.

As we were walking to my car, I casually reached down to admire her ginormous basil plant. Oh, that earthy, delightful fragrance! With that, she pinched off a couple of stems and suggested that I stick them in water for a few days.

What happened (and so quickly) has spun me into homemade holiday gifts mode—yes, Christmas in July. Ha. Curious? Click thru and I will tell all … See you there! Love, xo m 🎄

60

How to Clean the Dirty Edges of Carpet

My Dear Readers …

Dark, shadowy, dirty lines on the carpet along baseboards, under doors and draperies, along the edges, and in the crevices of carpeted stairs are all visible signs of an aggravating problem called filtration soil.

Normal vacuuming is no match for removing filtration soil. And neither are the best carpet spot removers. Filtration soil is greasy and sticky. It is possible to effectively do it yourself and in today’s post I am going to show you how to do that.

But first, it’s important to know what that dirt is and how it got there …

62

How to Unclog a Toilet—Quick and Easy!

No one likes to talk about it, but truth be told it happens. Toilets malfunction. They get clogged. Sure, it’s inconvenient but more than that, downright embarrassing if you’re somewhere other than the privacy of your own home. Here’s a cheat sheet so you’ll know ahead of time how to unclog a toilet because everyone needs to know how to unclog a toilet!

63

Best Ideas for Organizing a Refrigerator

Lately, have you cleaned out your fridge? Once the expired condiments and forgotten take-out containers hit the trash and the shelves and walls get scrubbed clean, it’s time to organize the refrigerator. The way you do that matters.

All that plus favorite tips and organizing gadgets in today’s post.

Meet me there … Love, xo m

64

12 Ways to Make it Christmas in July

Ahhh, summer. The days are long, the grass is green, the livin’ is easy and the last thing on your mind is Christmas in July.

While I hate to throw cold water on your barbecue, I need to warn you about something. The holidays are just a few short months away and if there’s anything we’ve learned in the past, Christmas can creep up on you like a too-tight swimsuit.

Blame it on SSAS—Severe Selective Amnesia Syndrome. People who suffer from this condition fall into some kind of seasonal coma. And it’s little wonder. For many, Christmas is no longer the most blessed, but the most stressed time of the year. And expensive.

Somehow we all manage to get through it, many with a pile of new debt. And who among us hasn’t begun the New Year vowing: Next year I’m starting earlier!

Whether you’re into getting started this early or not—I’ve got some great ideas for simple things you can do to celebrate Christmas in July. Come on … it’ll be fun!

See you there, Love xo m 🎄

65

Best Inexpensive Phone Charger Plus More to Keep You Powered Up

It’s hard to imagine how we’d live our lives without all of the electronic devices we’ve come to depend upon. I’m talking about everything from mobile phones to portable computers, watches, tablets, headphones, earbuds, fitness and GPS trackers; eReaders, too.

The best way to make sure you’re always powered up and ready to go it to make charging convenient. Not necessarily expensive, but well-thought-out.

Today, I thought I’d give you a quick tour of the charging gadgets I depend on and wouldn’t want to be without …

66

How to Clean and Care for a Glass Top Stove Top

When it comes to kitchen appliances, nothing says modern and sleek like a beautiful new glass top stove top. And nothing says “Oh, no!!!!” louder than a burnt-on mess or ugly scratch that appears for all the world to be permanent.

But wait … what if I told you there may be a way to restore that glass cooktop back to its beautiful self? All that in today’s post!

See you there… Love, m xo

67

Household Substitutes: 11 More Ways You Can Use This for That

Recently as I was halfway out the door, car keys in hand and on the way to the home improvement center, I remembered that I might already have what I needed. Cooking spray! That’s it. I’d heard that it just might work. It did, and quite perfectly, too. More on this and plenty more ways to use “This” for “That!” See you there … Love, m xo

68

When Carpet Stain Removers Fail, Carpet Surgery

Carpet stains are near the top of my personal list of pet peeves. I’m not talking about an accidental spill that when addressed quickly can be successfully removed. In fact, I get a lot of satisfaction from tackling a spill or stubborn spot on the carpet, forcing it to disappear never to be seen again.

What I’m talking about is an ugly stain that no matter what, absolutely will not budge. Let’s assume that stain is set for eternity and nothing is going to remove it. Here’s a last resort I’ve used with satisfactory results: carpet surgery! Seriously, and here’s exactly how to perform it …

69

How to Make Your Regular Vacuum Reach Into Tight Spaces

Today I want to tell you about an inexpensive, super effective tool I that attaches to my vacuum cleaner’s hose that lets me vacuum places no vacuum could ever reach on its own. Every time I use it, I wonder how I had lived so long without VaccuFlex.

My first clue that things were not quite right with my clothes dryer was when suddenly it was taking forever to get anything dry!

I’d checked and re-checked the lint trap, so that wasn’t the problem. Turns out it was all kinds of lint that had been trapped, behind the trap farther inside the machine. And in the dryer vent line.

My laundry appliances are stacked so pulling the dryer down to get into those areas from the back was not at all practical. That’s when in desperation I ordered a VaccuFlex kit.

I removed the lint trap and stuck that hose all the way into that area. It was amazing. Shark nearly filled itself before I stopped pulling out lint balls. Then I went outdoors to vacuum through the outside of the dryer vent. And that fixed the problem. And it has gone on to fix so many other cleaning situations, too! You’re going to love this … See you there! Love, xo m

70

22 Legit Ways You Can Make Money at Home

For all the convenience and access to information that the Internet offers, the ability to earn money at home—honestly and legitimately—just might be one of the most useful. At a minimum, you need an Internet connection and computer. Or for some jobs, just a smartphone will do.

The challenge is to wade through all the muck and pitches for free get-rich-quick opportunities to find authentic ways to make money.

The opportunities for online jobs are out there.

71

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies Quick and Easy

Good Morning My Dear Readers!

Fruit flies are amazing and by that, I mean amazingly annoying! These tiny creatures can detect the smell of ripe fruits and vegetables from miles away.

If there’s a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter, there’s probably a fruit fly or two looking for a way into your home to get to it. They’re so small, they can get in through window screens or crevices around windows or doors. Unlike houseflies, which may spread disease, fruit flies are harmless.

Once inside, fruit flies reproduce like crazy. They lay their eggs near the surface of your ripe fruit—and they can lay up to 500 eggs at a time! About 30 hours later, tiny larvae emerge and feed on the fruit, eventually turning into pupae. A week later, they are ready to take to the air.

All it takes is one pregnant fruit fly to get in and before you know it, you’re dealing with a full-fledged fruit fly infestation. I know. I’ve been battling this problem, too!

If you’re tired of fruit flies taking over, start by tossing out anything fresh that is overripe. Next, clean the muck from your sink drains and eliminate wet sponges, mops, and the like. Then try one of these effective remedies to banish fruit flies from your home … 🦟 !

Those disgusting little flies are no match for these super these easy traps and potent potions!

See you there … Love, xo m

72

Mold and Mildew No Match for Magic Tub and Shower Potion

The only thing better than figuring out for myself how to do things cheaper, better and faster is when I get to teach these tips and tricks to my readers. Teaching this one to Mike was the best ever! His response just made my day. I think you will enjoy this, too. See you there … xo m

P.S. As some of you know we had some big technical difficulties yesterday with links in the email that refusted to link! Thanks to my crackerjack tech guy, all is fixed! Thanks to those who messaged me and for sticking with us through thick and thin ❣️

73

3 Easy Ways to Doctor a Cake Mix So No One Has a Clue

When cake mixes are on sale, I load up. And that’s a good deal provided you like the taste of a boring cake from a cake mix.

A better idea is to use that mix as an ingredient in a fabulous homemade cake or cookie recipe.

Because no one my family is fond of plain, boring cake made from a box mix, my challenge has been to find better ways to use a cake mix than to simply follow the instructions on the box. Today, I’m sharing my favorite boxed cake mix hacks! See you there …Love, xo m

74

Going on Vacation? Make Your Own Plant Nanny Plus More Great Reader Tips

Every day I get loads of mail including wonderful notes, letters, and email messages from my awesome readers.

Tucked into many of those messages are tips, hints, tricks, and great ideas for the ways you save time and money every day. I’m pretty sure I have the best job on earth!

You’re going to love today’s post filled with great reader tips. Makes me wonder when I’ll be hearing from you with your best time- and money-saving tips and tricks!

See you there … Love, xo m

75

Best Inexpensive™ Laptop Computers for 2020

If you or someone you love will be heading off to college soon, a laptop will be absolutely essential. But where to start? Nowadays, a student’s computer is just as important as his or her student ID. I’ve got you covered with my picks for Best Inexpensive laptops … for students, and others, too!

See you there …

Love, xo m

76

The Easiest Summer Barbecue Ever— Ribs, Beans, Slaw, Dessert

On the off chance that your fear-of-ruining-a-pile-of-ribs keeps your backyard grilling events stuck in hamburger mode, you can let those fears go!

That’s because you’re about to learn a fool-proof, easier-than-easy method for turning out perfect baby back ribs every time you give it a try. But wait! There’s more …

I hope these recipes come in handy just in case you’re planning to barbecue this weekend! See you there … Love, xo m

77

Is Homemade Laundry Detergent Safe to Use in Today’s Washing Machines?

It’s been many years now since I switched from commercial laundry detergent to making it myself—both powdered and liquid homemade laundry detergent. The ingredients are simple, the process quick and easy. But the real reason I made the switch? Money. It costs from $.30 to $.50 a wash using store-bought, name-brand laundry detergent—but only about […]

79

Best Inexpensive Small Kitchen Appliances

Recently, I heard from EC reader Douglas who wrote,

“Would you please repeat your column that describes the best inexpensive small kitchen appliances? I want to replace my mixer and small food chopper. Thanks. Your column is great. I look forward to it every day. Doug”

After a few moments of non-productive searching, my confused self realized that while I’ve included some small kitchen appliances in the past, the column Douglas was looking for didn’t exist. Now it does. Thanks, Douglas for that kick I needed and your nice comments, too.

Today … my picks for Best Inexpensive small kitchen appliances—11 of them! See you there! Love, xo m

80

Here are the Best Homemade Cleaning Recipes

I pretty much hate to buy things I know I can make for less money to say nothing of the time required to find them in a store. 

Take cleaning products for example. Knowing I can make specific cleaners for pennies that cost dollars in a store just makes me happy. It’s a no-brainer.

Today. my top five homemade cleaner recipes to help you get started saving all that money you’ve been spending on cleaning products.

81

How to Completely Neutralize and Eliminate Pet Odors

It is rare, but now and then I hear from a reader who is frustrated using one of my all-time favorite, must-have products, Nok-Out. I love Nok-Out (its companion product is SNiPER) because it eliminates odors; it is harmless for pets and children, not poisonous, fragrance-free, fume-free, toxic-free. Awesome stuff.

The feedback I get is mostly filled with praise and gratitude. However, now and then I hear from someone like Linda, who is facing a tough, smelly situation that because of its location, requires more toil and patience.

If you’re a pet owner concerned about odors your pets leave behind, today’s post should be of great interest!

See you there … Love xo, Mary 🐶 🐱 🐹 ❣️

82

19 Clever Ways to Use Bread Bags that Have Nothing To Do with Bread

As you know—and only because I write about it so much—I may as well be president of the Artisan-In-Five fan club for how the book and method of making bread have rocked my world.

Back when I was first learning to do this (it is so easy), I decided I needed bread bags not only to store partial loaves, but also for presentation. Let’s just say that when you bake bread, you have a lot of friends.

Here’s the funny thing: I use bread bags like there’s no tomorrow—but not so much for bread. I use them to do so many things that make my life easier!

I think you’re going to really enjoy today’s post.

Happy 4th of July, Everyone! Today I am decked in red, white and blue in celebration and gratitude for the freedoms and liberty we enjoy in the USA—precious rights for which many have died to protect and preserve.

Happy Birthday America!—may God continue to shed his grace on thee! 🇺🇸 ❣️

See you at the post …

Love, Mary xo

PS Don’t miss the special July 4th bonus at the end of today’s post!

83

How to Get the Kids’ Rooms Organized

With schools in the U.S. schools closing several months before the school year ended and now summer, it does seem like the kids have been home like forever. And their rooms are starting to look like it! Don’t make their bedrooms a battleground. Instead, grab this opportunity to help your kids organize their rooms and their stuff. Surprise! I have a few ideas to help get started.

See you there … Love, xo m

84

Accessories, Tips, Secrets of Instant Pot Rockstars!

Everyone, it seems, is talking about Instant Pot—the revolutionary electric pressure cooker that for all the hype, promises to turn anyone into an overnight culinary rockstar. Well, bring it on! The latest model (10-in-1, which means it does just about everything short of vacuuming the living room) is an egg-cooker, sauté pan, slow cooker, rice […]

85

Top 10 Student Loan Tips for Recent Graduates and Not So Recent Too

Whether you just graduated, you’re taking a break from school, or have already started repaying your student loans, these tips will help you keep your student loan debt under control. By “under control” I’m talking about: avoiding fees and extra interest costs keeping your payments affordable protecting your credit rating paying those loans in full […]

86

July is Best Time for Shopping Bargains on These 9 Items

Finding authentic hot bargains and deep discounts on the things you need often has more to do with when you shop than where. It’s all about knowing the best time to buy.

In the same way that cars are often discounted late in the season and just before new models are introduced, appliances, clothes, sporting goods, linens, home decor, and even travel deals are predictably discounted for a variety of different reasons. In fact, 4th of July sales is becoming known as Black Friday in July—a chance to get a deal at Black Friday-like prices …

As July temperatures soar, keep an eye out for these hot bargains.

87

14 of the Very Best Homemade Cleaners that Really Work

Items in your pantry like baking soda, vinegar, cream of tartar, lemon juice, and even tea bags, can work as effective cleaners. Even better, compared to pricey commercial products, homemade cleaners cost next to nothing.

So the next time you’re staring down a big mess but you’re out of your favorite product, don’t run to the store—open up the pantry and try mixing up one of these DIY cleaning recipes instead. Step back and enjoy the results and the savings, too!

Today … recipes and instructions for 14 of my best homemade cleaners!

Remember there is a big PRINT button at the very bottom of the post, that will allow you to print any or all of these recipes. It’s so easy.

Once you click on PRINT, hover over any paragraph or image and you will see a little trash can icon. Click on it to make that highlighted section disappear. Once you have eliminated everything you don’t want to print, now click on the print. Check it out!

By the way, if you’ve not noticed in the past, you have that PRINT option on every post at Everyday Cheapskate.

See you there … Love, xo m

88

19 Surprising Ways Epsom Salts Can Improve Your Life

I can recall vividly—and count on one hand—the migraine headaches I’ve had in my life, all of them before age ten. Once I turned double digits, I outgrew them. Until about two years ago.

With no warning at all, there I was back to my 8-year-old self, flat on my back with a raging migraine. Why then, after all these years?<8>
In reading up on the latest findings on what might cause my migraine headaches, I discovered the importance of magnesium to overall health—and some surprising other uses, too!

See you there … Love,xo m

89

Frozen Summer Treats are Cool

In these sizzling days of summer, it’s tempting to load up the freezer with pricey frozen treats. Or to duck into a coffee shop or juice bar to grab one of those decadent blended coffee chillers or a fruit smoothie. But the big price tags can make even the creamiest concoction or slushiest treat hard to swallow.

Giving up favorite cold treats isn’t your only option. Make these yourself and you have great summertime treats at home for just pennies, not dollars. 

Today, a few ideas for you, with recipes. And you can be sure I’m counting on you to add any favorites you might have to the comments area at the end of the post!

See you there… Love xo Mary 🍦☀️

90

How to Get Rid of Rabbits Ruining Your Lawn and Garden

As adorable as these creatures are, rabbits can wreak havoc on a lawn and garden. Garden centers, home improvement stores, and online resources offer commerical products to help gardeners protect their plants from rabbits.

But here’s the problem: commercial repellents are expensive, they require repeated applications, and some of them may contain chemicals that can pose health hazards to pets when ingested.

The solution is to find cheaper options that are equally effective to get rid of rabbits that are ruining your lawn and garden.

Rabbit repellents basically work in two ways to keep rabbits out of your flower and vegetable garden and off the lawn—they produce a smell or taste that is repulsive for rabbits but without harm. Homemade repellents are not only less expensive, but a safe alternative to commercial products …

91

Your Very Own Hedge Fund

Several years ago, when gas prices were at their highest in Los Angeles, I paid $4.26 a gallon—$102 to fill my Chevy Silverado.

As I write, at $1.97 a gallon, the cost for a full tank of regular-grade gasoline for my truck has plummeted by half to $48.

 
Regardless of where you live, it’s likely that you’re experiencing and enjoying the same thing—cheap gas. You’re saving a ton off the peak prices of past summers.

It’s so easy to ignore it though and let that “saved” money stay in your bank account, where it will inevitably be spent on something useless. Or just evaporate unnoticed the way money in a checking account has a way of doing. 

However, the truth remains: Because fuel prices have dropped dramatically, all of us are spending a lot less on gasoline compared to what we were spending a year ago.

Now is the time, before you get too comfortable with the cheap prices, to create an automatic transfer of the money you’re not spending on gas, into a special account to protect you when the prices go higher. You cannot predict what prices will do, but you can get prepared.

Call it your hedge fund—a term that describes an investment position intended to offset potential losses/gains in the future. That’s what big shot investors do, they hedge against future losses. So can you.

Here’s a painless way to do it …

92

Food Shopping: The Jarring Truth

Why is it that the odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with ONLY a loaf of bread are about three billion to one? Food prices in the U.S. have climbed so dramatically in recent months, a stroll through the aisles of a typical supermarket is enough to kill […]

93

The Best Thing I Ever Bought—UPDATED!

I have a love/hate relationship with carpeting. I love how it looks, how it feels under my feet and how it warms up a room. But I hate dirty carpet; I cannot abide a dirty spot, which is a future stain just waiting to happen. The thought of what lurks between those fibers gives me the heeby-geebies. 

Of all the columns I’ve written, the one how on how I clean the carpet in my home has generated by far the most interest. And the most requests to reprint. And so, since you asked, here it is again, updated with current details Enjoy! Love, xo m

94

Cucumbers Galore? Enjoy Salad and Easy Pickles Recipes!

Today we celebrate cucumbers which will soon be in the peak of their season and dirt cheap! Cucumbers are not only delicious when prepared well, they are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

Personally, I love cucumbers so much, I would be happy eating them in a salad, as pickles, in a sandwich or just straight up with a sprinkle of salt and I mean every day of my life.

See you there! xo m 🥒 ❣️

96

How I Curb the Urge to Quit

I wouldn’t tell just anyone what I’m about to tell you—and only because we’re like family. At least several times a week I want to quit. Seriously. The thought crosses my mind, and not when things are going great. It’s when I face a challenge: a tough writing assignment, a book deadline, an early morning interview or snarky message in my inbox.

The temptation to quit is a recurring theme. And if the voices in my head don’t give me enough trouble, the voices in the culture finish the job. “Quit already! There are so many others with fresher voices better able to reach the younger generation. You deserve a break! Take it easy on yourself, go and enjoy your life.”

This is nothing new. I’ve been dealing with the urge to quit for a long time. I can anticipate its arrival. And because of that, I’ve learned ways to deal with it before it drives me to the brink of resignation.

98

The Top 12 Shopping Triggers and How to Outsmart Them

I blame my suspicious nature on my neighborhood grocery store. The store used to be a logically arranged market with bright lights and clean floors—a basic, friendly, functional place to shop.

Then the bulldozers morphed it into a big fancy schmancy supermarket complete with shopping triggers of mood lighting, Starbucks, Panda Express, and lots of comfy chairs.

I have nothing against beautiful spaces and modern conveniences, but I’m no fool. I knew all of this effort was to one end—to get me to spend more of my hard-earned money. It was evident the moment I entered the all new, super modern, tripled-in-size, mega supermarket. Everything from the music to the colors, to the placement of the busy bakery seemed ultra contrived. 

Take the “3 for $6!” special of the week. Why not just say $2 each and drop the exclamation mark, I muttered to myself as I placed one jar of spaghetti sauce in the cart. 

Before I could wheel away I had my answer: I saw several customers dutifully place three jars in their carts. Not two, not four, but three jars. 

That response was no accident. In fact, that’s a simple example of how retailers use tricks to persuade—dare I say manipulate—customers to buy more.

Our defense as consumers is to educate ourselves. Today, the 12 tricks we need to know about. I have so much to tell you about this.

See you there! Love, xo m

100

How to Remove Yellow Sweat Stains—It Really Works!

Yellow armpit stains on white shirts are a problem if my inbox is any indication, which I believe it is. And I’ve been avoiding the subject because honestly, it’s kinda’ gross.

I can’t begin to estimate how many messages I’ve received asking for help with getting rid of these stains, but it’s a lot. And now it’s time. Today we’re hitting this topic head-on.

What ARE those stains? How to remove them? How to avoid them in the future?

See you there … Love xo, m

101

11 Quick and Easy Ways to Get Rid of Pesky Ants

If the heat of summer is bringing ants into your home and yard, don’t panic. You may not require toxic pest control products or a professional service to take care of the problem. In fact, chances are good you already have everything you need to do it yourself.

Today I have a number of ways to get rid of ants using ordinary things you may have around the house or in the garage! Or if you don’t have time to DIY, preferring a commercial product that is eco-friendly and really works fast, I’ve got that for you, too.

See you there. Love, m xo 🐜 … 🐜 … 🐜

102

How to Make Your Own Swiffer WetJet Refills

If you own a Swiffer WetJet Spray Mop, chances are you absolutely love it. But let me guess: You’re not wild about how expensive it is to buy the refills —the cleaning solution and those disposable cleaning pads!

Even more annoying, to the WetJet manufacturer “refill” means throwing out the empty dispenser bottle entirely and having to purchase the refill liquid in a new bottle. Know what I mean? And just try to pry the lid off an empty bottle to refill it yourself. That thing is impossible to get off without destroying it and yes, I speak from experience. And those refills can be as much as $7.50 each. And the disposable pads? At least $.50 each and that’s on a good day.

Well, you can forget all that bad news because I’ve learned how to get that bottle open making it totally reusable (it won’t leak!), and how to save money making our own Swiffer solution and reusable cleaning pads, too.

See you there! … Love, xo m

103

How to Roast a Cheap Cut of Beef

No matter how relatively inexpensive a chuck or round roast may appear, if it turns out so tough and flavorless it’s passed to the dog, that purchase was no bargain. That’s why everyone on a food budget needs to know how to roast cheaper cuts of beef. And, finally, thanks to very extensive research and […]

104

How to Make Perfect Iced Tea (plus Southern Sweet Tea Recipe)

The only thing more comforting than a big, tall glass of iced tea on a hot summer day is knowing how to make that perfect iced tea yourself. With confidence. And for just pennies per serving.

My dear mother-in-law, a very proper Canadian, taught me the difference between proper iced tea and the “swill” most restaurants pour, which in her opinion was, at best, a very poor facsimile. And trust me, she knew her stuff—including the six rules for proper iced tea! All that, plus how to make proper Southern Sweet Tea in today’s post.

Also, in case you missed it …
EC Father’s Day Gift Guide 2020

Father’s Day 2020, coming up soon on June 21, is a fabulous, wonderful day to show Dads how much we love them, how special they are—and a great opportunity to poke a little fun, too! For your consideration—28 super cool gift ideas to help you come up with just the right gift for the Dad(s) in your life…

105

With ATM Receipts and Legal Guardians, Leave Nothing to Chance

Face it, life is uncertain. We cannot know the future, but that doesn’t mean we should just throw caution to the wind and let come what may. There are some areas of life where we can take steps to reduce certain risks by exercising good common sense.

In today’s post, readers share concerns and ask questions. Who knows? They may the same questions you’ve been asking.

Got questions? Send me an email. Chances are good yours will get answered the next time around!

See ou there … Love, xo m

106

EC Father’s Day Gift Guide 2020

Let’s start out with a quick history of Father’s Day, shall we? It seems that we’ve been celebrating Mother’s Day since it was invented by a young girl and promoted by the Wanamaker department store back in 1908. A campaign quickly followed to create such a day to honor fathers, but it didn’t meet with the […]

107

7 Common Clutter Problems and How to Solve Them

Clutter. It’s a problem for lots of us and not because we’re slovenly or have hoarding issues. The problem is just too much stuff!

I have a theory that most of us would be more than willing to let go of the stuff that’s cluttering our homes if we knew these things would serve a worthwhile cause or help someone else.

Check out the perfect solutions for your seven biggest clutter problems. Tell me what you think. And please share your own solutions with us. See you there! Love, xo m

109

Join a CSA for Your Health and Your Wealth

Being a savvy consumer means a lot of things. It can refer to a person who knows how to get the lowest price on whatever he or she is buying. It can also mean finding the best value—the highest quality product for the most reasonable price. Or, it can refer to someone who shops ethically, according to his or her values.

However you define “savvy consumer,” becoming one requires research and education about the products that you buy according to your individual priorities. When it comes to shopping for food, today’s savvy consumers know where their food comes from, and, if they do things right, they save money, too.

Growing our own food is certainly one way to go—and don’t we all wish we had an abundant garden at its peak right about now! Well hang on, because I have good news.

It is quite possible you can piggyback onto an abundant “garden,” right there in your local area, with an owner willing and anxious to share its bounty. Seriously! All the details in today’s post.

See you there! Love, xo m 🌽🍅🥒🍆🥔🥕 and 🍉🍎🍒🍓🥝🍇, too!

110

Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue

If you’re fresh out of ideas (let alone desire) to make one more home-cooked meal, but even the thought of yet another take-out or curbside pickup leaves you cold during these days of uncertainty and angst—I invite you to embrace these two words: rotisserie chickens.

Not exactly take-out, not completely home-cooked—think of a well-seasoned, perfectly cooked rotisserie chicken as your ace in the hole; a kitchen assistant with an extra pair of hands to help you get delicious, home-cooked meals on the table in a flash.

Today’s post … what to do with it once you get that rotisserie chicken home! Follow these guidelines and you can easily get three great meals from one chicken. See you there …

Love, xo m 🐔🍗🍲❣️

111

A New Chapter of Money-Saving Tips, Hacks, and Ideas

In preparation for today’s BIG ANNOUNCEMENT, here’s a little background information.

We estimate that Everyday Cheapskate enjoys at least a million readers a week—via its website, email, social media, shares, and on the pages of hundreds of print newspapers that are still alive and well across the country via Creators syndicate. Over the years you, my dear readers, have responded and gotten involved by sending me their best tips, tricks, hacks, and ideas. This has become something bigger than I can wrap my head around when I add in relationships and friendship with you.

I’m estimating that in 28 years, I’ve received more than 50,000 specific money- or time-saving tips, based on my attempt at weekly averages. Clearly, we have a lot of money-saving experts in our EC Family. You are amazing.

Today ushers in a new addition—we’re doing the official ribbon-cutting (finally!!)

I’ll be honest—we’ve plowed a lot of money into this endeavor, which means we’re looking at a significant investment. You can help keep EC alive and solvent by inviting friends to join in (CASH prizes!). Share today’s post, spread the word. And most of all, visit often and participate at your highest and best stuff.

I’m counting on you!

I’ve got all the details for you at the post. See you there … xo m

112

These Puppies Detect Water Leaks (and More Great Reader Tips!)

My readers do come up with the greatest tips, tricks, and ideas for how to save time and money every day. Today is no exception. From water leaks to puppy poop—all the way to phone chargers, tomato paste and better space saver bags— we’re about to cover a lot of frugal ground.

I hope that today’s post inspires you to share a great money-saving tip of your own with us! But whatever you do, DO NOT send it to me today. Please! Wait until you read my BIG ANNOUNCEMENT tomorrow. This is HUGE … so much fun, and could even land some $$ in your wallet. You don’t want to miss it! Curious, aren’t you! Ha. I love to tease my dear readers 😂…

See you at the post. ❣️xo m

113

Orange Chicken, Three Ways—Kitchen Friendly and Easy on the Wallet

For years, I’d been searching for the perfect recipe for one of my family’s favorite dishes, Orange Chicken. And then wouldn’t you know it, within a very short period of time, I found not one, but three recipes that are quite different from one another, but all of them simply too yummy for words! Easy on the wallet, too!

Preparing today’s post has propelled me into a major state of hunger. My only problem is I can’t decide which one I’ll be making for dinner tonight. I’ll bet you’re hungry, too. No matter which recipe you choose, you can be sure that you’ll be eating very well, and for a fraction of the price of take out, delivery or eating out.

See you there … Love, xo m 🍗

114

How to Clean Cookie Sheet Pans So They Look New!

They come in sizes big and small, rimmed or without sides. We use them to bake just about anything, but mostly cookies. And they can get super grungy with layers of baked- and burnt-on grease resulting in ugly stains and residue build-up.

Does anything here look familiar to you? If so, I have good news. Your cookie sheets can be cleaned and restored, even back to the way they looked when new.

What follows in today’s post is a relatively quick and easy way to get rid of baked-on grease, stubborn food residue, and even rust on any type of cookie and baking sheets—aluminized steel, aluminum, and non-stick—and then to clean and maintain to keep them sparkling clean.

115

I’d Rather Have the Money, Bob

Did you see us? My husband and I were on TV with Bob Barker. Before you run to check your DVR or YouTube, I’d better tell you this was a while ago. Try 1971.

We were plucked from the live audience of that old favorite, Truth or Consequences along with two other couples. Ours was a kind of “newlywed game” stunt. They put the guys in a sound-proof booth and we ladies had to predict how our husbands would answer questions.

Of course, the hubs and I won. And a mighty fine prize it was: $50 in prize money and a blender! 

We already had a blender so I remember thinking I’d rather have the money. We could have walked away with a grand total of $85 …

116

How to Remove Years of Kitchen Cabinet Grit and Grime

When did you last look at your kitchen cabinets? Not a passing glance, but an up-close visual study—paying particular attention to the areas around the knobs and handles that get touched thousands of times throughout the weeks and months?

Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about and what I’m pretty sure my dear reader Sandy is talking about, too. She’s moving into a new-to-her house and she’s asking how to clean her grimy, gunky kitchen cabinets.

In today’s post I have 3 options for Sandy and any other readers who’d like to get their kitchen cabinets (painted or natural finish) back to their original beauty.

See you there! Love, xo m

117

17 Favorite Things I Use (Almost) Daily

Wanna have some fun? Pretend you’re headed to Survivor Island as a contestant (Yes, you made it … !) What will you need to bring along with you? I have a short list myself and here they are—17 things I use almost every day (there are more, but I’m keeping myself in check), without which I’d not want to survive!

Question: Do you have items you use so often you’re quite sure you could not survive without? Please tell us in the comments!

See you there! Love, xo m

118

Fabulous Slow Cooker Summer…Salads! Plus My Salsa Recipe

I have to admit it. Just the idea of a slow-cooked salad makes me queazy. Thankfully, that’s not exactly it. It’s a little-known secret that your slow cooker has a hidden talent for making incredible salads. Let it slow-cook the main ingredients for a creative salad while you’re away. Then toss in a few fresh […]

119

The One Simple Thing You Must Have in Your Home

My heart was pounding, the smoke alarm was screaming and I was in full-on panic mode. Flames were reaching toward the upper cabinets. It happened so fast! I didn’t have time to run to the pantry to search for baking soda.

I had a rip-roaring fire on my hands and I was in slow motion thinking about how sad it would be to be homeless for Christmas.

if you do only one thing today, let today’s post be your guide. Please. With so many death-or-life situations in our world, do what you can while you can, to prevent at least one! Love, xo m

120

Grow Your Own Food One Square Foot at a Time

For years I’ve tried to grow decent vegetable gardens. Except for one especially bountiful year, my harvests have ranged from disappointing to mediocre. And my efforts were certainly not cost-effective. Only that one year did my garden produced enough to share with others. I’m still trying to remember how I did that.

So far, I’ve been unable to duplicate the results but that’s about to change. Can’t wait to get started! …

See you there. Love, m xo 🍅🥒🌶🌽🥕🤞

121

Should you Repair or Replace your Broken Appliances?

You’re worried the washing machine may be on its last spin cycle. It makes a horrible screeching sound and needs a lot of coaxing to make it all the way through a full cycle. Should you spend $319 to fix this inefficient appliance or replace it with a $999 new model that will use less […]

122

Smart Saving Tastes Like Chicken

With the price of beef skyrocketing, now more than ever, chicken is the backbone of a frugal kitchen.

Chicken is much less expensive than beef or pork and useful down to and including the bones. Everything you need to know about buying, storing, freezing, cutting up, preparing and using up completely—it’s all in today post! See you there … xo m 🐔🍗

124

13 Reasons to Keep Borax in the House (and Why It’s Safe!)

Recently this desperate message with a subject line Dishwasher Disaster! washed up in my inbox.

Dear Mary: My dishes have accumulated a coating of grit due to the fact that someone (who shall remain nameless) insisted on rinsing the dishes before loading them into the dishwasher.

After a $59 service call which enlightened the guilty party as to the folly of his ways, I am now faced with futile attempts to remove said grit.

I have had only marginal success with Blue Dawn, a Magic Eraser, and much elbow grease. I can’t help thinking there must be an easier and more effective way to accomplish this. Can you help? 

I came this close to ignoring that message because I didn’t have much to go on. There are so many variables. But then I stopped short, knowing the first thing I’d try if this were a problem in my kitchen …

Meet me at the post! Love, xo m

P.S. Don’t miss the FLASH deals at the end of today’s post! I call them that because they’ll be gone in a flash 😂

125

More Creative Ways My Clever Readers Save Time and Money

Sometimes I wonder how Everyday Cheapskate readers discover their handy ideas. I mean, who would have thought something that cleans brake parts would also remove stains from clothes? Go figure!

Today I have a really fun collection of Great Reader Tips to share. I’m pretty sure you’re going to love them and find at least one that is going to make your life so much easier!

Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Then I have exciting news: Share it at Tips.EverydayCheapskate.com AND you just might win CASH prizes. Yes! It’s true.

I’ve been working on this for more than a year … and finally, we’re almost ready to open the doors and invite everyone in. Which means your chances of winning now before hardly anyone knows about it greatly increases your chances of winning. The current contest closes in just a few days, so hurry!

Consider this your sneak peek!

Meet me at the post … Love, xo m

128

Using Regular Detergent in a High-Efficiency Washer is Risky Business

If you’ve ever wondered what’s the difference between regular laundry detergents and those designated as “High Efficiency” or HE if they’re interchangeable and if you could possibly make your own to cut the cost—you are not alone! Those are questions that frequently show up in my mailbox.

Bottom line, in a pinch I’ll give that a qualified yes.

I’ll see you at the post for specifics and details on that!
I hope you’re enjoying a beautiful day, wherever you might be. I’m doing a lot of pondering for how to live above our circumstances—concentrating heavily on the things I know to be true! Love, xo m ❣️

130

Where to Find Basic Essentials When the Shelves are Empty

The disruption to U.S. food supply chains is now playing out in grocery stores and supermarkets across the country. It seems like shoppers empty the shelves just as quickly as supermarkets can restock, especially on high-demand items like non-perishable foods, cleaning supplies, and, of course, toilet paper. Good news! Finding the essentials you need may […]

132

How to Get Your Windows Sparkling Clean—Cheaper, Better, Faster!

We moved into our new home in April 2015, just in time to experience our first Rocky Mountain spring. There are no words to describe this adequately, but this picture does a great job.

The thing I noticed the first time I walked into this house—windows. Tons of windows framing our new view and every one of them dirty. It looked to me as if no one had ever washed them.

I did my due diligence in researching local professional window washers. For sure we would have to pay to have them cleaned properly. But it would be one and done. We would keep them clean and that would be an easy task. Of course.

The price was ridiculously high, but the job got done and the windows sparkled. That’s when I set out to discover the best (easiest, fastest, cheapest, sparkly-est) way to keep these windows clean—not only dust-free but also clean.

Surprise. It’s not with Windex, paper towels, newspaper or other methods I may or may not have recommended in the past, which produce a big mess—dripping, soggy, dirty paper towels, and windows with streaks that can be difficult to remove.

Recently, I told you how I have learned to “dry-clean” my windows, and that’s a great maintenance technique. But at least a couple of times a year, windows need a good washing …

133

16 Practical Ways to Stretch Your Food Budget

If soaring food prices are getting you down, help is on the way! Here are some basic saving strategies, practical solutions, and novel ideas to stretch your food budget—and make your life easier.

Granted, one of these strategies on its own is not likely to make a huge difference. But lots of small strategies working together—that’s the way to see huge results.

135

How to Redecorate on a Dime

Happy Mother’s Day, Everyone! I hope you have a beautiful day, today!

Changing your environment can greatly improve your outlook. And that doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

The key to great decor isn’t how much money you have to spend. More importantly, it’s about seeing possibilities in what you have already. You’ll be surprised at what you can do yourself for little or no cost …

136

Salad in a Jar—Good for Health and Wealth

If you’ve been hanging out with me for any length of time, you know I’m pretty wild about making Gifts in a Jar, now a free downloadable ebook. I’m talking about wide-mouth glass canning jars with screw top lids. Seriously, you can stuff just about anything in one of these amazing containers and come up with […]

137

5 Easy-to-Make Body Scrubs to Keep Your Skin Vibrant and Healthy

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, your skin naturally sheds dead skin cells every 30 days or so to make room for new cells. Sometimes, dead cells don’t shed completely, resulting in dry, flaky patches and clogged pores. Exfoliating can help prevent this, keeping your skin looking vibrant and healthy.

While there are plenty of pricey commercial exfoliants and body scrubs to choose from, for just pennies you can make your own equally effective homemade Body Scrubs using ingredients you already have in your pantry.

Today I have five DIY recipes for you that use stuff I’m pretty sure you have already. Seriously!

While Sugar Scrub is my favorite, I have a feeling you’re going to want to try that and the others, too.

See you there … Love, xo m

138

How to Organize Old Family Photos Without Losing Your Mind

Let’s see by a show of hands how many have at least one box crammed full of old family photographs out in the garage, up in the attic, or down in the basement. Look at that. Hands going up all over the room!

I’m guessing that anyone over the age of 20 knows what I’m talking about. Old family photos. We sure can’t get rid of them. But we’re not quite sure what to do with them, either. So mostly we do nothing. Maybe it’s time to stop doing nothing. Are you with me? I have a few ideas for how we can get started …

See you there. Love, xo m

139

How to Dry Clean Windows—No Water, Bucket, or Squeegee Required

I have this thing for clean windows. I love them, which means I have an opposite and equal dislike for dirty windows. And when I say clean windows, I mean the kind of clean that makes windows sparkle like diamonds in the morning sun.

If “sparkling like a diamond” is 100% fabulous, then my dry-cleaning technique in today’s post gets them to 90% quick and easy! No water, wet wads of paper towel, or newspaper. No buckets or squeegees.

I’m not saying that I will never wash windows again. But this is a super-easy way to keep windows sparkling clean between major window washing. Curious? You should be because this is super cool.

See you there! Love, xo m

140

Worst and Best Ways to Grill Chicken

In a previous post, I asked readers to share their worst barbecue and grilling experiences that could have been spared if they’d had a decent instant-read thermometer.   I loved reading your comments, some of which are so funny you had me laughing out loud. But more than that, I learned that most of our grilling […]

141

Frugal Food and Grocery Shopping 101

As food costs continue to soar, it’s a good time to revisit the basics of frugal food shopping. Grocery bills and eating out can wreck a budget. Follow these tips and you will rein in those costs. Start discovering your own ways to eat on less.

Now more than ever it’s time to slash expenses in order to preserve cash.

Do you consider yourself frugal? Would you be willing to share your best frugal tips in the comments? Please do! See you there!

Love, xo m

142

6 Easy Ways to Give New Life to Leftover Rice

Instead of pitching the leftover cooked rice from tonight’s dinner, try using it in different ways in your next meal. Just don’t make the fatal mistake of calling it “leftovers” 😂

Provided you think of leftover cooked rice as an ingredient in a future meal, you’re home free and all your picky eaters will be none the wiser.

Here’s a secret: When I cook rice, I always more than required for the meal. That gives me at least three cups leftover to refrigerate and use in a meal tomorrow!

Enjoy these 6 ideas for using leftover rice (including two of our favorite recipes). Will you add your ideas for how to use up leftover rice in the comments? TIA. See you at the post … Love, xo Mary

143

Best Inexpensive Cast Iron Skillet and How to Love It

I must have been all of 10-years old the day I decided to surprise my mother by cleaning her old black cast iron skillet. It embarrassed me that over the years it had become so gross. Naively, I assumed that she’d burned too many Sunday roasts in it and that’s why it was never shiny with a copper bottom—like the rest of our pots and pans.

I started with household cleanser and steel wool. I scrubbed on a single spot for what seemed like hours. I couldn’t break through that burned-on “crust” to save my soul. Finally, I just gave up.

What I wouldn’t realize until years later was that I was working on a fine piece of cast iron—a skillet I’m sure I managed to un-do years of coveted “seasoning” that makes a cast iron skillet virtually nonstick.

Cast iron skillets never buckle, cast iron is virtually indestructible, lasting for generations—even at the hand of a 10-year-old wielding cleanser, steel wool, and sharp scraping implements. A cast iron skillet can be restored, and in most cases quite easily.

Food cooked in cast iron is fortified with iron—up to 20 times more iron than when cooked in a steel or aluminum vessel. When you cook in well-seasoned cast iron you use less oil. Cast iron is a chemical-free alternative to nonstick pans … and, as you are about to discover, super affordable …

144

Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2020

Every year about this time, the age-old question comes up to baffle lots of people: Practical or sentimental? The answer, of course, depends on your mother.

Let me assure you that many of us (I am one) really do love and adore well-thought-out, practical gifts—even a fabulous vacuum cleaner. Or the latest kitchen gadget, tool, or device we’ve been dying to have.

Then there are others who are downright insulted by practical gifts on Mother’s Day. Those are the sentimental type who love a beautiful bouquet of flowers, plaque, jewelry, or wall hanging so lovely that it brings tears to our eyes.

And now, without further adieu, our Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2020!

See you there… Love, xo m

145

Cilantro-Lime Rice Just Like Your Favorite Restaurants

I have no idea why on the one hand I seriously do not care for cilantro but on the other hand, I’m crazy for Cilantro-Lime Rice as served by both Chipotle and Qdoba casual Mexican restaurants.

How do they do that? How do they take rice, lime, and cilantro for goodness’ sake, and turn it into such a delicious side dish?

I’ve been asking that question for a long time. Finally, I believe I have figured out how to make delicious, amazing Cilantro-Lime Rice that tastes for all the world just like the restaurants’—and for just pennies.

But before I get into the specifics for how to make Cilantro-Lime Rice, I want to tell you about something I have learned in this process—a super fast way to prepare plain rice from scratch in about 12 minutes give or take.

Today I have two copycate recipes for Cilantro-Lime Rice—Chipotle style and Qdoba’s. Yes! You can make either (or both) at home, today—easy! Both methods, super awesome! Yum.

See you there… Love, xo m 🍚 ❣️

146

8 Surprisingly Effective Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar

It makes a terrific vinaigrette for salad, but apple cider vinegar (ACV) is good in many other ways, too. Not yet recognized by the medical industry as a miracle cure, ACV used properly really can make your life easier while at the same time, save a lot of money. Of course, I am convinced that it has miracle-like properties, and I think you will, too!

I hope you’re safe and doing well this beautiful Spring day. I wish you could see my garden—bursting with daffodils, tulips, and crocus’. And I know what’s up next in this early spring lineup—weeds! Oh, they grow so well here, which is a phenomenon I still can’t figure out. Why do we have to amend soil, fertilize, and water the good stuff, but those weeds need nothing from us. No attention, no nutrients, or water … nothing but sunshine.

Stay tuned for more on that how to keep weeds at bay for just pennies later this week.

Click through and I’ll see you at the post …

Love, xo m 🌹❣️

147

16 Brilliant Reasons to Stop Throwing Out Pickle Juice

It was a weird request. My friend Mary Ann asked if she could borrow some pickle juice. Huh? Who keeps pickle juice?

The purpose of pickle juice is to keep the pickles fresh and flavorful. And when the pickles are gone, out goes the juice, right? That practice that makes Mary Ann cringe.

Here’s the deal: Mary Ann is famous for her potato salad. She makes ten pounds at a time and it disappears faster than homemade ice cream on a hot summer day. Her secret (which she confides to only a chosen few*) is sweet pickle juice. Not pickles, not relish—only the juice. And lots of it.

So, I wondered if there might be other uses for the briny stuff? A quick search of the multiple thousands of tips readers have sent to me over the years plus research online came up amazingly positive!

Really, I had no idea that pickle juice had so many health benefits or could be used in so many ways in the kitchen …

See you at the post!

Love, xo m

148

5 Easy Ways to Make Homemade Laundry Softener

Laundry softeners are designed to reduce the amount of static in synthetic fibers and make clothes and linens come out feeling soft and smelling great. So why would anyone opt to go to the time and trouble of making homemade fabric softener when the commercial stuff works well? Because for most of us, commerical fabric softeners are a problem, not a solution. They can cause allergies, they’re hard if not damaging to clothes dryers, and they’re not cheap! So what’s the solution?

I can’t wait to give you five homemade options—that will be good for you, your family, your clothes dryer and your budget! See you there … ! Love, m

149

17 Things You’d Be Smart to Buy at a Dollar Store

At least a couple of times a week, someone will ask me what I miss most about living in California. That’s certainly understandable. After all, we lived there for 47 years before pulling up roots and relocating to Colorado.

My usual response is “Not much!” But, truth be told there are two things: Good pizza and 99 Cents Only Stores. While I’m still searching for a decent pizza, I’ve discovered other dollar stores near me to tide me over until 99 Cents gets smart and opens a store in my neighborhood!

A dollar store is the place I go when I need something to last just until the end of the party—or through the next holiday. Dollar stores are where I match quality with need. If I don’t need it for long (think: disposable), I sure don’t want to pay a lot for it.

Today I have 17 things you’d be smart to buy at a dollar store. Do you shop at dollar-type stores? Tell us in the comments!

Enjoy this beautiful day …

Love, Mary ☀️

151

Stop Making These 5 Costly Hair Mistakes

And suddenly … it’s Friday! The news this morning suggests now that more people are WFH, consumers are buying less shampoo and deodorant. If that’s you, please reevaluate. Your family and or roommates might not be aware of your finances, but they have noses 😂

So …. shampoo from the dollar store? I can hear you groaning. But wait a minute … seriously! That could be your best source and I’m talking quality shampoo—shampoo that is good for your hair. The secret is knowing your detergent—every brand of shampoo contains it.

That plus 5 big hair mistakes you may be making could be costing you a lot of money and frustration! I’m here to help … See you at the post.

Love, xo m That would be “working-from-home” 😜

152

7 Common House Plants That Are Pet-Friendly, Low Maintenance

I love plants, especially beautiful house plants. Healthy, economical plants can make any space warm and inviting—not just for humans, but pets, too! Some cats and dogs enjoy taking a nibble or two. And that’s a problem because some indoor plants are toxic to cats and dogs.

If you have pets but also enjoy beautiful indoor foliage, you want to find a few plants that are conducive to your home and design taste, then stick to them. With the exception of edibles like cat grass, it’s always better to keep house plants out of a pet’s reach if you can. The following options are recognized as non-toxic for pets according to the ASPCA. Meow! Woof!

153

Best Non-Perishable Food to Stockpile for an Emergency and Where to Keep It

If recent world events have given you on big fat wake-up call, you are not alone. The message is clear—every household needs to have some amount of food in storage. Natural disasters like blizzards, hurricanes, and floods often come with little or no warning.

Stocking up now on the right non-perishable food items will help you weather the storm (or global pandemic) with less stress. The type and amount of food to store is an individual decision that depends on your financial resources and storage area.

Ideally, your long term goal is to have stockpiled enough to feed your family for six months. But start with shorter goals, like enough food for one week, then two weeks, and then a month. This kind of incremental plan won’t bust the budget or throw you into panic buying that can easily lead to burnout and buyer’s remorse.

Not sure how to get started, or even what you should have in storage? Or how to make sure it doesn’t spoil before you can use it? No matter your situation, there’s a reasonable way you can get started now. All that in today’s post! See you there …

Love, xo m

154

Instant Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce—So Good, It’s Insane!

I love my Instant Pot—the greatest time-saving, magic-producing, easy-to-use kitchen appliance known to [wo]mankind. I use it almost every day to make everything from eggs to pot roast and (wait for it …) cheesecake! Yes, the BEST cheesecake ever! But I have to admit the idea of making Instant Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce in a single […]

156

What to Do When You Can’t Pay Your Bills?

You’ve lost your job. You’re furloughed. Perhaps your hours have been severely cut back. For whatever reason, suddenly you don’t have enough money to pay all of your bills. You’re scared, angry, worried, and seriously overwhelmed. You may have promises of unemployment benefits and stimulus-type money coming, but when? What are you supposed to do […]

157

Solved: Laundry Problems, Mistakes, and Mysteries

Laundry challenges come in every size, shape, and intensity. Giving up tossing that item into the rag bag may not be your only option. Rather than thinking there is no solution for that stain, shrunken item, or another laundry disaster, consider the ways you can recover and renew situations gone bad. Honey, I shrunk your sweater […]

158

The 3 Vacuums I Use Every Day and Absolutely Swear By – UPDATED

Happy Friday, Cheapskates!

With so much uncertainty in our lives these days, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Focusing on what I can control relieves my anxiety so I can think clearly. How?

I clean—iron, vacuum, scrub. I don’t mean a full-on cleaning of the entire house. Uh, no. But even just a small 5 minute project has a way of calming my mind so I can think more clearly. Crazy as that might sound, it’s a wonderful therapy.

As you can imagine, over the years I’ve tried, tested, used, thrown out, returned for a refund, been thriled by and reviewed just about every kind of vacuum cleaner you can imagine!

Here are the three vacuums I really do use every single day because they’re simply the best—and super affordable, too!

See you there … Love, xo m

159

Best Ever NO-YEAST Homemade Bread

Good Morning, Dear Readers!

First thing this morning I checked my favorite overnight news source, Morning Brew (it’s free and a lot of fun). Then I looked outside to be welcomed by 9-inches of snow. WOW! … and it’s still coming down until at least 10pm. Only in Colorado 😂.

Which leads me to thoughts of hot, homemade bread. And not just any bread. I’m talkiing bread with no yeast, no-egg, no-oil, and no-sugar. For hard-core bread lovers, that may sound awful, but you just have to try this.

For those times when you’re fresh out of yeast—this is the recipe you want handy.

No-yeast bread, often referred to simply as soda bread, is different than a light, airy yeast bread. It’s rustic, more dense—a bit heavier than typical yeast breast. And oh, so delicious. Eat it plain, toast it or serve it warm and all slathered up with butter. 

Is your mouth watering? Mine too … so let’s get baking!

See you there! Love, xo m 🥖🍞❣️

160

How to Make Non-Toxic Natural Pest Control

Recently, a friend sent me an S.O.S. asking if I knew of any natural pest control to rid an apartment of fleas—a method that would not be toxic to small children. Treating their pets and animals would be the first step, but surprisingly these folks have no animals. The truth is that flea infestations often occur simply […]

161

The Best Microfiber Cloths and Why They Work Like Magic

Happy Tuesday, My Dear Readers!

Still quarantining? Me, too. And doing a lot of cleaning. But before we get to that, I need to just say thank you. Huge, tear-stained, big hugs, blown-away THANK YOU to hundreds of you who through your comments and email messages responded to yesterday’s post.

I’m astonished by how many of you have been with me for so many years! You recalled that Cheapskate Monthly post (see yesterday). You shared how your lives have been impacted over the years, so many of you are now debt-free because we’ve been on this journey together.

Your stories, messages, thanks—all of that have caused my heart to fill to nearly bursting.

I just cannot respond personally to every message, or I’d do nothing else for a very long time. So please know I read all messages and thank God for each and every one of you. Now, let’s get to today’s post.

There’s nothing like microfiber for cleaning just about any surface around and about the house. If you’ve never used a microfiber cloth, you’re going to be amazed by how fast and efficiently you can clean. It’s not magic—it’s science!

See you there! Love, xo me❣️

163

27 Things Never to Put in the Refrigerator

Have you outgrown your refrigerator? Thinking it’s time to replace it with one that’s bigger? Before you do that, take inventory to see just how much stuff you have in there that really should not be refrigerated. You just might discover that suddenly, current fridge is a lot roomier!  

164

Ground Beef Entrees Cheap, Fast … Good!

As food prices continue to soar, I am more convinced now than ever that given the right recipes, we can cook a wonderful meal from scratch at home and have it on the table in the time it would take to decide on a restaurant or take-out, drive there, place the order, wait for it, […]

165

How to Cook Perfectly Boiled Eggs

Eggs. They’re nutritious, delicious and cheap! And who’s not thinking eggs right about now as we head into Easter Weekend!

Cooking boiled eggs properly—Easter eggs, ramen eggs, deviled eggs—is quite simple and foolproof, provided you know the secrets.

All that in today’s post!

See you there … Love, m 🥚 🍳!

P.S. Got great tips and ideas for how to color and decorate perfectly boiled eggs for Easter baskets? We would love to know … so please share in the comments area. Thanks!

166

Should You Lend Money to Family, Friends? Read This First

We’re headlong into what’s looking like a very tough time for millions of our fellow-Americans. Here were are stuck at home, 10 million people without jobs—many of them waiting breathlessly for promised stimulus and or unemployment checks. And you just got a call from your child, grandchild, best friend—perhaps an ex-employee, c-worker, neighbor, or other friend or relative. They need to borrow money.

Over the years, I’ve heard from dozens of readers who have lent money to friends and family members, only to have become outraged when the deal goes sour. The problem is they write to me after they’ve made the loan. By now, they’ve been waiting months, even years, for repayment, without success, hoping I can wave a magic wand to get their money back.

Here’s what I know: If you are able to help, you need to know how to do this in the best way possible. I know you … of course, you want to help. In fact, you’re ready to do anything you can. But this needs to be good for both you and the borrower and by “good” I mean that you will be repaid.

Maybe you’re the one about to make that phone call, asking to borrow money. Read today’s post first—then make your request with a plan in mind, based on what you’ve learned.

There are a few simple steps that if you take them, will make all the difference in protecting your relationship with the borrower (or lender!), help the borrower retain his or her dignity and in the end be good for both of you!

Have you made a loan to a friend or family member in the past? How did that turn out? If you’re willing, we’d love for you to share about that in the comments at the end of the post.

See you there! Love, xo, m

167

3 DIY Face Masks—Easy and Effective

The Center for Disease Control recently recommended the use of cloth face coverings in public. That directive goes on to say acceptable face coverings can be “fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials.”

Easy for them to say. Which household items?

Not all of us just happen to have supplies and equipment stashed away in the event we might ever need a proper face covering.

It didn’t take long for a few very creative folks to come up with and then share their solutions!

Today’s post … three super creative and effective face masks you can make from stuff you have around the house. Wait! Not silly stuff, although some of the shall we say “creative” masks I’ve seen online have made me laugh (a Solo cup?!).

These are truly useful, effective and surely CDC approved!

See you there. Love, xo m 😷 ❣️

168

Homemade Artisan Bread—Amazingly Easy and So Delicious!

The year 2007 was a good one for me for lots of reasons. Here’s one: It’s the year I got good at baking homemade bread thanks to a simple discovery that would go on to revolutionize the world of home baking.

Presented in their book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, authors Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoë Franḉois stated that anyone with an oven, flour, yeast, salt, and water could make authentic, artisan bread in just five minutes a day. Within hours of getting my hands on that book, I was onboard.

My first attempt was ridiculously easy. And so successful I shocked myself and my family! A more delicious loaf of bread I cannot buy anywhere. And why would I, when I could now make it myself for about $.40 a loaf in just five minutes a day?

Want to learn how to do this? You can, with ingredients you probably have right now in your pantry. It is so easy. Let me show you …

See you there. Love, xo m 🥖 🍞 ❣️

169

How to Survive an Income Crisis

The news is shocking—millions of people being laid off or furloughed from their jobs is unthinkable. How do we wrap our minds around these numbers?! We don’t. We cannot control with situation. Neither of us can do anything about the national economy.

What we do have control over is our personal economies and our attitudes.

Without a doubt many in our Everyday Cheapskate family have lost jobs or worry they’re this close to ending up in the unemployment line.

I want you to know that while I cannot imagine what you are facing right now, you are in my thoughts and prayers. Add to that, I have a few thoughts for how to survive this income crisis …

170

16 Ways to Use Windex That Will Make You So Happy

Am I the only one who’s been unusually driven to clean and organize these past few weeks? Tackling the storage room in our basement has given me a burst of energy—and produced more than a few surprises! Like a jug of Windex.

I make my own window cleaner, which the best reason I can come up with for how it got lost in that embarrassing mess (you have no idea), and hopelessly forgotten.

What a find—and not only for glass and mirrors. So many other uses—some pretty well known, others that may come as useful surprises—for good ol’ Windex!

Do you have more ways you use Windex? Please tell us in the comments area of today’s post.

See you there! Love, xo m

171

How to Use Castile Soap to Make Natural Cleaning Products

From time to time I hear from readers who have sensitivities or allergies to our beloved Blue Dawn. Is there something else we can use that will not trigger these reactions but still work well? There is and it is pure castile soap. While olive-oil based castile soap has been around for centuries, Dr. Bronner’s […]

172

A Fun Project for While You’re Homebound

I’m going to bet that Christmas is about the last thing on your mind. Am I right? And now you’re thinking about it. So am I. And I mean homemade Christmas gifts. Yes! What a great way to make the most of being homebound. Crazy idea? Not at all when you consider my absolutely favorite […]

173

How to Make Fabulous Meals Using a Formula, Not a Recipe

Ever feel like kitchen klutz? Wish you could take that odd assortment of stuff in the pantry and freezer mix it with leftovers in the fridge, and make something delicious without a specific recipe and without having to run to the market?

Well, grab your whisk and shout for joy! Thanks to the Fool-Proof 5-Step Formula in today’s post, you can create fabulous, original, homemade, delicious, and nutritious entrees designed by You, using the items you have on hand.

I hope you’re doing well, today. Living so much uncertainty has a way of bringing us down emotionally. That’s why I am so grateful we have each other—you’re an anchor in my life I can count on. Meeting up every day is a sure thing!

See you at the post—I’m pretty sure you’re going to love this! Love, xo m

174

The Five Legal Documents Every Adult Must Have

It’s been at least 30 years since my husband and I sat for hours with an attorney who specializes in estate planning. That was not the most pleasant thing I’ve ever done. We were young and the idea of being old and planning for our respective deaths seemed ludicrous.

That meeting together with nearly $2,500 made us the proud owners of a Family Trust and Estate Plan, which includes the five important legal documents that every adult absolutely must have!

Even if you’re certain you have these documents all in order, please take a little time to make sure about that. Laws change, regulations can get upgraded without notice. It’s possible your documents could use an update!

175

Homemade Pot Roast with Gravy—Quick and Super Easy!

Good Morning, Cheapskates!

Addressing you as Cheapskates makes me smile, and certainly not used in a derogatory way. For me it goes back to those days when I’d made a U-Turn on the road to financial ruin—learning how to be frugal, spending less than we earned; shunning credit and determined to get out of debt. My husband teasingly called me his Little Cheapskate. I wore that like a badge. He was proud of me and that would spur me on!

I’ve done more cooking in the past three weeks than I’ve done in a long time. No kidding! I’m making three home-cooked meals a day. I’m not sure if that’s because I am so focused on staying home or that we depended a bit too much on drive-thru, pick up and eating out. Whichever, it’s making me so happy.

This past weekend I made a big Pot Roast—the kind that makes its own gravy. Fall-apart beef that’s tender, flavorful, and smothered in a rich gravy that it makes itself. Mouthwateringly good, yet insanely simple to make. Use a slow cooker or Instant Pot. So good. But even better—super easy, and quick. Curious? I knew you would be.

Let’s get cooking!

See you there! Love, xo m 🐮🐔🐷

176

How to Get Your Perspective Back on Track

These days, it’s easy to fall into the muck and mire of worry and defeat. Personal crises like a financial emergency, the loss of a job—or worse, your home—punctuated by the daily news can ruin your perspective and dump you into a pit of despair. What you need to know today is that even when […]

177

Drive-Thru, Take-Out, Food Delivery—Is It Safe?

The news is constantly changing as experts learn more about the wicked virus that has invaded our world. Good, reliable information about food safety is absolutely crucial right now.

Restaurants have mostly moved into “to-go only” mode, closing their dining rooms but continuing to offer some combination of take-out, drive-thru, and home delivery. Can we rely on any of these options to keep us safe? Should we? Let’s check with the experts …

See you there! Love, xo m

178

How Gardening is Good for Your Heart and Soul

There’s nothing like a series of sunny days in late winter to awaken my inner gardener. I’m convinced this hobby improves both my mental and physical wellbeing and for very good reasons—six reasons, to be exact!

No matter where you are this morning or what the weather is like—whether you have little or plenty, if you’re feeling anxious or filled with optimism, I hope today’s post will bring you a spark of joy.

I want you to know that we are all in this virus challenge together—each one of us facing it under individual and unique challenges. With so many uncertainties, one thing I know for sure: We need each other—for support and care, You know where I am—right here for you. You know how to reach me. I love your messges so please keep in touch, realizing I am under a mountain of email! I read all, but cannot personally respond. I do that here … every morning.

Let’s get together now at today’s post. See you there! Luv, Mary 🌷❣️

179

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Once upon a time, there was a restaurant located in Fountain Valley, Calif. Mañanas’ claim to fame—fresh, hot, homemade flour tortillas. Mañanas had a machine—a big, long, crazy machine—set right out in the open in plain sight. It alone was worth the trip, if only to watch a tiny ball of dough start at one […]

180

How to Clean a Microwave Oven

There are few things more disgusting than opening a microwave oven to find cooked-on extraneous matter clinging to every surface. The way to avoid this, of course, is to clean the appliance thoroughly after every use. Or unfortunate explosion. Uh-huh. Right. Let’s get real. A microwave with frequent use, whether at home or at work, […]

181

Simple Secrets for the Perfect Home Manicure

I wish I had all of the money I’ve spent over the years on salon manicures. It would be quite a tidy sum. And perhaps I wouldn’t have had such horrible nails and even worse cuticles.  Thankfully, after untold trials and errors, I’ve come up with the perfect home manicure routine that has turned my […]

182

Simple Tricks to Make Your Stuff Last Longer

Being wasteful is easy especially when things seem to be so plentiful and simple to replenish. Just order more. Or run to the store, right?

Sure, we love to buy things on sale but that’s not the only way—nor the best way—to cut costs. Discovering simple ways to make things last longer is the surefire way to save time and money.

Today I have a bunch of clever tips and tricks to make things like toilet paper last longer—tricks I’ve been doing for years now, which are certainly coming back to bless us these days. And I’m banking on the fact that you’ve got a few of your own you’ll be willing to share. See you there … ! Love, xo m 🧻 ❣️

183

My Annual Spring Clean Kitchen Challenge

On the one hand, it feels as though our lives have been turned upside-down. And right in the middle of so much uncertainty, spring arrived exactly on time to remind that there are some things we can count on to never change! Just like that, I have spring cleaning and kitchen reorganization on my mind […]

184

11 Money Savers That Will Pay for Themselves Over and Again

It’s difficult to ignore what’s going on in the world, but even more severe, the economic downturn here in the U.S. I want to send a message directly to my Dear Readers who’ve been recently laid off or who are feeling insecure about their employment situation: I see you, I’m thinking of you, and I will be your companion every single morning until you’re back on your feet. And after that, too! We’re in this together … and together we are going to come through this and hopefully better for having done it!

I can’t be the only one recalling my grandparents’ seemingly endless references and stories about living through the Great Depression. That’s going to be us and or our kids in the future talking about the Great Virus! Ha.

I have to admit to being a bit of a gadget freak. I’m drawn to tools and devices that do cool things. And when I discover “cool” includes being a money saver, for me that turns a purchase into an investment with a guaranteed rate of return.

Today, a list of 11 gadgets, tools, and items I’ve found that can save a lot of money and generally recoup the cost in less than a year. Your mileage may vary.

You can count on this: Once you’ve recouped the purchase price, these items will continue to save you money—for free! See you there… Love, xo m

P.S. My Dear Readers of faith who responded to a previous message. Wow! There are lots of us. I’m busy figuring out the best way to proceed. I’m so excited—thrilled, and filled with anticipation. Sit tight, or stand by. You’ll hear from me very soon. For anyone who didn’t get in on that, send an email message to [email protected] with “Faith” in the subject line. More soon,

185

How to Make Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

There’s nothing like reaching for the automatic dishwasher detergent only to find you’re fresh out, or you’re on your last pod. Normally, you’d run to the store or add it to your running grocery list for your next trip.

But suddenly, things are not normal. It’s comforting to know how to do things yourself—how to be more self-sufficient. With this post, you can add one more recipe to your “Make It Myself” file (you have one of those, right? 😂)

See you there … and please, stay safe! Love, xo m

186

The Food Pantry Items You Need to Stock Up On Now

No one knows how long these difficult times brought on by a wicked virus will last. It could drag on for a while, it may be over relatively quickly. Life is uncertain. Regardless, every home needs a stockpile of food. It’s part of any sensible emergency preparedness plan. You need to stock up now. Today. Good news! It’s not too late. Even if you are self-quarantined at home, you can do this.

Please take a few moments sometime today to assess your stock of food and pantry items. We’ll do this together! See you at the post … Love, xo m

P.S. This is for my readers and friends of faith. If that does not describe you, please feel free to click through to the post.

The responses to a recent post, “How to Keep Calm and Carry On,” rocked my world. Your gratitude lists—so encouraging for me! In those lists, many of you expressed your deep faith in God.

This has moved me to consider offering a new faith option in addition to this daily email—a way that I can share my faith and we can all enourage one another in our daily walk with Christ. I don’t know what that is exactly, but if you are interested, do this:

Send an email to mary @everydaycheapskate.com (close that space when you type in the email address) using the word “Faith” in the subject line. This will help me assess interest and how to proceed. Thanks!

187

How to Disinfect Your Phone, Device, Laptop, Keyboard

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in recent days, it’s that our health is closely tied to things we touch throughout the day. And what’s the one thing we touch more than a few times a day? Our phones! Or as the Journal of Hospital Infection refers to them, our portable Petri dishes. It’s not certain […]

188

How to Break the Restaurant Habit

Whether this wicked virus that continues to spread represents a temporary disruption or it changes life as we know it, one thing is clear: We won’t be going out for a lovely restaurant meal this evening. The world of food has been turned upside down.

Suddenly, eating out needs to be replaced with cooking in, and that scares a lot of people who’ve become accustomed to eating out.

But how can you go from eating out most of the time to knowing how to cook at home all of the time? I have a few thoughts (and you find that surprising?!) and an idea in today’s post! See you there … Love, xo m 🍽 ❣️

189

How to Make Disinfecting Wipes

To prevent the transmission of the virus, pandemic experts are saying that we must ensure that our hands are free from germs by simple handwashing with soap and water. But sometimes there’s no soap or water to be found!

Apart from handwashing with soap and water, are there other effective options for good hand and surface hygiene for when soap and water are not available? Yes! Antiseptic wipes for hands, disinfecting wipes for surfaces. (Disinfecting wipes, while not harmful, can be harsh on sensitive skin and or when used frequently.)

But good luck trying to find them in any drugstore, market, or even online. Sold out everywhere!

Not to worry. You can easily make your own effective hand wipes. I’ll show you how in today’s post! See you there … and stay safe! Love, xo m

190

Social Distancing: This is What it Means Plus FREE Printable

This week, in response to the rapid spread of this new global virus, we are being directed to practice “social distancing” immediately, as the only way to slow and reverse the rapid spread of the pandemic. But what is social distancing? What does it mean? Social distancing means reducing close contact between people. The way […]

191

A Simple Meal to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

Twenty-four years ago on March 17, I surprised my DPL* staff by bringing a homemade meal to the office to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It was such a hit, I’ve done a repeat performance every year since. The menu is simple and remarkably inexpensive: Corned Beef and Cabbage with Potatoes and Carrots Irish Soda Bread […]

192

This is the Only Way I Will Ever Make Cornbread Again

As a northerner, born and bred in the Pacific Northwest, it wasn’t until I was well into my adult years that I learned that when it comes to cornbread, there are two camps. Those who put sugar in their recipe and those who do not. I belong to the latter. To many Southerners, sugar has no place in cornbread and the addition of it is sacrilege.

Here’s my idea of to-die-for cornbread. Crispy, golden edges, soft not dry inside, slightly sweet and so moist it doesn’t even need butter (although who would skip the butter?). And possibly even more important, must be super easy to make and ready to eat start-to-delicious-finish in 30 minutes. Are you with me?

Not exactly a recipe, this is more of a recipe hack—a brilliant way take two $.55 boxes of Jiffy Cornbread Mix then perform a little magic!

If you’re at all like me, which something tells me we are a lot alike, you’re going to love this.

See you there. Love, m

P.S. Your response to yesterday’s post blessed my socks off. Hundreds of gratitude lists—each one of them encouraging me, empowering me, and spurring me on. Oh, how I love each an every one of you, my Dear EC Family! I have so much to share with you on this current situation they’re calling a pandemic and how we can best deal with changes that are coming moment-by-moment. Stick close and I’ll see you tomorrow.

193

How to Keep Calm and Carry On

Life is uncertain. We know that. What we don’t want to admit is how quickly uncertainty can morph into fear, worry, and panic.

Waking this morning to the reality of a global pandemic, while learning what that means brings new meaning to uncertainty. And in all of this, we’re supposed to keep calm? Carry on? Nice words, but how? I have some thoughts and one really cool idea … !

See you there, xo m ❣️

195

8 Super Useful Gadgets for Every Home and Kitchen

There’s just nothing like a clogged drain in a tub, sink, or shower to get the day off to a bad start. Ack! Now what? Gallons of caustic drain cleaner? A mad online search for an available plumber? If you’ve got drains it’s a problem just waiting to happen—but one you can prevent with a […]

197

How to Make Stir Fry Like a Rockstar—Quick and Easy!

I can’t think of a more perfect food than stir-fry. It makes good use of leftovers; it’s healthy and when prepared well, tastes fantastic!  Pam Anderson, author of How to Cook Without a Book, says the reason most home stir-fry comes out a soggy mess is that our home stovetops don’t get as hot as […]

198

19 Remarkable Ways to Use Blue Dawn Outside the Kitchen

Take a look under the sink where you keep your cleaning products. See a bottle of Blue Dawn Dishwashing Liquid? Well, say “Hello” to a very versatile and surprisingly multi-purpose household product.

Blue Dawn is fabulous in the kitchen, but you may be delightfully surprised is has so many other non-kitchen related uses, too! Check this out …

199

Can’t Get Your Hands on Hand Sanitizer? Make Your Own

My mailbox has filled up the past couple of days with letters from readers who find themselves on the verge of Purell panic! Purell is flying off the shelves as people are hoarding gel-based hand sanitizers (Purell is just one brand) in response to seasonal virus. My sources report that hand sanitizer has mostly disappeared […]

200

Best Inexpensive Can Openers

Can’t anyone make a can opener that’s easy to use, does a great job, and doesn’t turn into absolute junk in a matter of months? An opener that will latch on easily, twist smoothly, and give a clean continuous cut every time? Is that too much to ask?

Perhaps you detect my severe case of angst when it comes to can openers. I’m pretty sure that through the years, I’ve owned ’em all. Most can openers work, at first. But then in what seems like no time at all they begin to slip, or the rotating parts seize up. Is there anything more frustrating than a can opener that refuses to open a can?

Today I bring you good news. It’s taken a while but I’ve made a breakthrough. Perhaps my ah-ha moment will become yours as well. Ready? Let’s go … !

See you there … xo, m 🥫 ❣️

201

Make it Better Yourself: Homemade Coffee Creamer

Cream. It’s coffee’s perfect mate. And when that creamer comes flavored in a handy bottle from the dairy case, even more perfect, right? Oh, but so pricey! Here’s a solution: Make it yourself cheaper, better and faster!

The way to do this is to start with a Base Recipe that is basically bland in taste but creamy. Then you add flavor it up exactly the way you love your creamer.

In today’s post I offer two Base Recipes—#1 starts out sweet, #2 is not sweet and then we go from there with specific “recipes” for 28 different flavors. The one you love has to be in there somewhere!

Unless you are a black-coffee only die-hard ☕️, you’re going to love this. See you there … Love, xo m

202

5 Ways a Tax Refund Can Make Your Life Better

Discovering that you’ll be getting a tax refund is certainly not the worst news you’ve had in your life. In fact, it’s easy to see a tax refund as some kind of gift from the universe.

But here’s the truth: It’s part of your paycheck that you should have been getting all along. Plan now for how you’ll manage it or your refund could evaporate into thin air. You have options—at least the five that follow. Choose well. The decision you make for what to do with that check could change your life …

203

Stinky Laundry, Smelly Washer: How to Clean Your Washing Machine

If you assume the inside of your washing machine is the cleanest place in your home because you put detergent through it with every load and occasionally wash with hot water, join the club. Most people think that. 

So why is there dirty residue on the agitator? Why do washed clothes sometimes come out with stains they didn’t have before they went in? Why do towels and the washer get stinky?

The answer is germs. Germs that have survived load after load of laundry. Don’t panic! Today’s easy protocol for how to clean your washing machine—top or front loading—to the rescue!

See you there! xo m 🧺 ☀️

204

Surprisingly Useful Ways to Use a Vacuum Sealer

My FoodSaver vacuum sealer is one of my favorite kitchen appliances. I vacuum- seal fresh fruit to extend the useful by at least two weeks, often much longer. I vacuum seal meat before I freeze it so it can last up to 3 years and still taste fresh, flavorful, and freezer-burn free. Prep ahead meals, leftovers, and produce stored in the fridge will stay fresh up to weeks later instead of spoiling in days.

I could go on and on about how my FoodSaver saves our food bill, but today I want to tell you the useful ways I use a FoodSaver that have nothing to do with food! See you there! Love, xo m

206

Best Inexpensive Bedsheets

Let me tell you about my mission to discover the Best Inexpensive bedsheets. It went on for many months. It cost a fortune because as you know, when I test products for you, my dear readers, I purchase them myself. I do not want to be beholden in any way to a manufacturer, distributor, or company when it comes to determining what I believe is the Best Inexpensive option.

Today another update, as things do change quite often when it comes to purchasing bedding. My mission continues. Don’t worry … it’s all good! See you there, xo m 💤 😴 🛌

207

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies

My mother-in-law was a very organized woman. She had file folders for everything you can imagine including one containing lists of her most valued possessions along with the name of the person who would fall heir to that item upon her passing. Among the items I received are two three-ring binders filled with “magnetic” scrapbook […]

208

Dumb Things To Do with a Tax Refund (or Stimulus Check!)

Tax time—that interesting time of year when ordinarily smart people begin to make really dumb financial decisions. Isn’t it amazing to watch what a little extra cash (well for some, maybe a lot of extra cash) lining the pockets can do?

Last year, the U.S. federal government paid out $260.9 billion in tax refunds, at an average of $$2,725 per refund. And 61% of taxpayers expect that this year, they’ll receive some sort of refund on their returns.

While there are many dumb ways to spend it, here are my top five …

210

How to Make No-Rinse Daily Shower Cleaner

The only thing better than making my own cleaning products is when what I make turns out to be cheaper, better, and faster than something I might buy in the store to accomplish the same goal.

More than 25 years ago, I learned how to make a powerful tub and shower cleaner that tackles soap scum and beats any commercial product I have ever come across. It rocked my world and it’s done the same for thousands of readers I’ve shared it with through the years.

But we needed to find a way to keep our tubs and showers looking that beautiful every day, without a lot of effort. This spray-and-walk-away Daily Shower Cleaner is the perfect solution to keep tubs and showers sparkling between major cleanings. And here it is … !

Meet you there

xo m 🚿 🛀🏻 ❣️

211

The Frugal Fix for Dingy Gray Laundry

If you’ve ever sent perfectly functional household linens or clothing items to the rag bag simply because they turned a dingy shade of gray when you expected your white laundry to come out brilliantly white, help is on the way.

Dingy gray is usually a sign of a build-up of too much detergent that is not getting rinsed away completely in the rinse cycle. If you have well water or hard water that contains unusually high amounts of iron, that could also be contributing to this problem. White vinegar doesn’t necessarily help to whiten clothes. We use it in the rinse cycle to help release all of the detergents. But that may not be sufficient.

Here’s a frugal way to fix and also prevent this problem of white and light-colored items like sheets, shirts, and towels taking on an ugly shade of pale gray…

212

8 Ways Online Grocery Shopping Can Actually Help You Save Money

There are few things more annoying than stopping at the supermarket to pick up a few things, hauling bags of groceries into the house only discover you have nothing for dinner.

Or putting everything away only to realize you totally forgot the one thing that prompted you to stop at the store in the first place.

Online grocery shopping isn’t for everyone. But if you are prone to impulse shopping or regularly go way over what you intended to spend on groceries for the week—even though you came prepared with a list and a stack of coupons to go with it—shopping for your groceries online might actually save you money.

In today’s post, how shopping for groceries online has become a total game-changer for me.

See you there! Love, xo m 🛒 ❣️

213

How to Make High Cost of Ground Beef Easier to Swallow

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says in 2019 the average price of a pound of lean ground beef climbed to a whopping $5.63 per pound. If you and your family are not ready to turn vegetarian—nor are you prepared to pay that much for a pound of quality hamburger—you do have another option: Get creative. Okay, […]

214

Two Recipes on the Menu Every Week at My House

There are two meals I prepare nearly every week—Crispy Skin Chicken Thighs and Honey Garlic Salmon. These are my go-tos because both are so quick and easy—and so delicious they never grow old! Family-friendly, too!

Sam and Eli, our grandsons ages 4 and 10, would dive into either one of these entrees every day of the week if they could. And my husband couldn’t agree more. Both recipes are winners, for sure!

215

How to Remove Ink Stains on Leather

A new leather sofa or handbag—so beautiful. Or perhaps it’s the car you’ve had for a long time—the one with leather upholstery that still looks fantastic because you’ve babied and protected it against spills and stains. Somehow, through the course of life, that beautiful leather gets hit with an ink stain. Oh, the heartbreak! Here’s what […]

216

This is the Easiest Way to Cut High Winter Heating Bills

Until several years ago, I didn’t know something called a heated mattress pad even existed. It makes sense since I’d lived in Southern California for most of my life, where it is mostly warm all year round. Then we moved to Colorado, where the seasons are more pronounced—and winter heating costs can be shocking!

I’m excited to tell you what we discovered that takes care of both slashing our heating costs, but makes cold weather sleeping absolutely awesome! See you there! Love, xo m 😴 💤

217

Secrets to No-Fail Tender Juicy Chicken Breasts

They’re convenient and, we’re told, more healthy. But there are few things quite as boring or more difficult to prepare well than boneless skinless chicken breasts.

Here’s the problem: Chicken skin helps to keep the chicken moist and the bones add flavor. Remove both and what do you have? The potential for dry, tasteless, tough chicken.

But not to worry. Here are two foolproof methods to prepare boneless skinless chicken breasts (BSCB) so they come out and tender and juicy every time—provided that you follow these instructions exactly.

219

How to Persuade Cut Flowers to Last Twice as Long

Whether from your garden, the market or you receive them as a gift, you can persuade cut flowers to remain beautiful for at least a week—maybe two or even longer, when you are careful to follow a few fabulous flower secrets! I’ll tell all in today’s post.

Pssst! It’s not too late to order this beautiful bouquet to be delivered on Friday—Valentine’s Day! See you there … Love, m xo 🌷

220

Best Drugstore Makeup Products I Truly Love

For years, my makeup of choice was M.A.C., sold online; at cosmetics counters in high-end department stores and in exclusive M.A.C. stores, worldwide.

It’s been some time since M.A.C. and I parted company and for one reason only—the ever-increasing cost of the M.A.C. line of cosmetics was enough to give me a heart attack!

It took a while, but with considerable research and many trials (and errors), I replaced each of my M.A.C. items with a drugstore product. My criterion was that the replacement had to be cheaper, but of an equal or better quality.

While my new choices are available in drug and discount stores like Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Target, Ulta and Walmart, I order online. I can get everything on this list at Amazon, in a single order. I routinely check and continue to find that Amazon’s prices are very competitive, and routinely cheaper. I have all the details for you on the blog!

See you there … xo m

221

How to Stay on Track with a Rollercoaster Income

If you are among the millions of people in this country who don’t really know how or when they will see another paycheck, chances are you’re either unemployed or self-employed—which now that I think about it, being self-employed can be a lot like being unemployed except for an unemployment check. It’s a rollercoaster, baby! If […]

222

31 Best Gifts for Valentine’s Day

In this post I have 31 great gift ideas that are sure to please your Valentines without breaking the bank, divided into three categories—Gifts for Kids, Gifts for Her, and Gifts for Him. Honestly, this is so much fun.

Don’t worry that time is short. I’ve also included a slick way you can legally and ethically sign up for Amazon Prime Shipping, use it to send your Valentine’s Day gifts (to yourself or to others) and not have to pay for it. Really, It’s OK. Amazon wants you to do this.

All that and more in today’s post. See you there!

Love,
m ❣️

224

Questions: Double Stroller, Dehumidifier, Car Trash, Lestoil, Rust Spots, Coffee Beans, and More

Have I told you lately about my email inbox? It’s a mess. And today I’m ready to clean it up big time by answering 11 questions, each one of them representing dozens more with substantially the same request.

What’s inside? Here are the questions I will answer in today’s post:

1. Best double stroller

2. Best Inexpensive dehumidifier

3. That really great car trash can

4. Rust spots on stainless steel sink

5. Laundry stain remover, say what?

6. Shark vacuum … but which one?!

7. Cleaner for icky, greasy, grimy, cabinets

8. Source for green coffee beans, please

9. Hardwood, laminate floor recipe

10. Source for bar mops

11. Fumigate a space that reeks of tobacco smoke

Once you get there, you’ll be able to click on a specific question to jump to the answer or read straight through.

See you there! Love, Mary xo ❣️

225

Surprising Trick Removes Stubborn Hard Water Stains from Glass Shower Doors

Got stubborn hard water marks and stains on your shower doors that simply will not budge no matter what you try? You’re not alone.

I’ve heard from countless readers who say they’ve tried everything from my magic soap scum cleaner to cleaning vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, oven cleaner, muriatic acid, steel wool, Bar Keepers Friend, Bon Ami and other expensive chemicals to get rid of the horrid, ugly, hard water stains and white haze.

Some readers report that it took multiple cleanings with the magic stuff to get their glass doors truly clean, while others report they’ve tried everything from magic stuff to 30-percent white cleaning vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, oven cleaner, muriatic acid, steel wool, Bar Keepers Friend, Bon Ami, and even razor blades to scrape away the problem—all without success.

I have to admit this has left me in a quandary and about this far from advising new doors to be the only solution. But then, Eureka! The most unusual solution that really works …

See you at the post … Love, xo m 😍

226

February is the Best Time to Buy These 13 Things

February is a busy month. First, we have the Super Bowl, then Valentine’s Day, and Presidents’ Day with its 3-day weekend—all offering us excuses to shop. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to take part in these events—in fact, it can be a great month to save if you stick to these things […]

227

How to Be Prepared Not Scared

Coronavirus, the deadly illness that is alarming the world, may have started with something as simple as a person buying food for dinner at an outdoor market outside the U.S.

How does coronavirus compare to the common flu? As I write, the illness is spreading across the world, however, there are fewer than 10 reported cases of coronavirus in the U.S. Compare that with more than 15 million cases of the flu in the 2019-2020 flu season in the U.S.

At this time, the risk is much higher for influenza in the U.S. than this new coronavirus. That should put things into perspective. Still, the situation is fluid, things are changing rapidly.

Should we be worried? Scared? No. We should be cautious, alert, vigilant and prepared. We need to learn all we can and do all we can to prevent contact with influenza as well as this new coronavirus.

We need to be prepared … NOT scared! Come visit the blog and I’ll tell ya! (Today you can either read or listen. Or both!) xo m 😷❣️

228

How to Clean Steam Irons and Granite Countertops—Cheap and Easy!

These days its nearly certain that there’s a pricey product available to clean just about anything. But why spend the money when you can make your own homemade products that perform just as well from ingredients you may have already in your cupboards and pantry? I’m talking cheaper, faster, and quite possibly better! …

See you there … xo m ❣️

229

How to Conquer Burned-On Oven Crud

I don’t know how else to describe what happens to beautiful sheet pans once they take up residence in my kitchen. All I can say is that in no time they begin to get this nasty build-up of what I call oven crud—a burned on incrustation of oven filth.

It’s not that I don’t wash and scrub those pans. I do. But apparently not well enough. I’m just not willing to spend hours of my life to keep sheet pans and ovens looking the way I want—clean and sparkly.

I’ve been on a rampage to conquer this problem once and for all. Call me idealistic but I’d like my sheet pans and oven to clean up as easily as my dishes and dishwasher. Is that too much to ask?

I’m pretty excited to share with you what I’ve learned through much trial and error. Now, I won’t boast perfection, but I’ve come up with a protocol that’s working really well for me ….

230

My Top 5 Favorite Homemade Cleaning Products

If there’s one place you can really cut household spending, it’s cleaning products. The cost of most home cleaning products is getting outrageous.

These 5 cleaning products you can make yourself (so easy!) are downright cheap and perform as well, maybe better, than their commercial cousins! Prepare to be amazed. See you there … m ❣️

231

How to Get Started Roasting Your Own Coffee Beans

It all started about 10 years when I had a conversation with Dax Wilson, who’d recently taken up this hobby of home roasting. The motivation? First, quality and taste, but also to cut the high cost of quality coffee by at least half. That was enough to get my attention and all I needed to […]

232

How to Effectively Shred Your Identifying Information and Why You Should

Can someone legally dig through your trash looking for receipts, account numbers, or even your Social Security number? In the decision California vs. Greenwood, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that the “expectation of privacy in trash left for collection in an area accessible to the public… is unreasonable.” In other words, when you throw something […]

233

How We Use Meal Kits to Cut Food Costs

Since discovering just how much we love Home Chef meal kits—and writing about it—I’ve received the most interesting feedback. Seems that you love it too! I love your feedback and and letters—especially the creative, innovative and clever ways so many of you are coming up with to enjoy Home Chef while at the same time make the service work to cut overall food costs … !

234

7 Common House Plants That are Really Hard to Kill

I love house plants and I do have some beauties! The truth is I don’t have a green thumb, I just know a few tricks and tips that I will gladly share with you because healthy, beautiful house plants are an economic way to bring instant warmth to a home, condo, apartment, room, RV—wherever you call home …

235

Secrets of My Inflight Survival Plan

You may know that I travel a lot. What you probably don’t know (and how would you since I’ve only told about three people, ever) is that I have a flight routine, which I adhere to strictly. Honestly, unless you knew this ahead of time, you would not be able to detect it at all, […]

236

Confessions of a Compulsive Chopper

I did something I hadn’t done in years. I took a weekend—plus the holiday—off. It was wonderful. Had friends over. And I made salsa. From scratch.

I used my absolutely favorite kitchen gadget, the Vidalia Chop Wizard to chop the stuff that needed chopping (tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro). This thing is amazing and super inexpensive—still just $20. Mine has to be at least 15 years old, and still chopping flawlessly.

It chopped the tomatoes fast and uniformly—without launching seeds and pulp across the room or turning the whole thing into a squished mess.

237

7 Things You Need to Know About Your Dishwasher

If your dishwasher is not turning out beautifully clean, cloudless, spot-free, sparkling dishes, pots, glassware, and flatware—without handwashing them first—don’t assume the dishwasher is broken.

If it runs, you can make sure it runs well. And you can stop that pre-washing.

All that and so much more in today’s post! See you there … xo m

P.S. EC²—our NEW! Everyday Cheapskate Expert Community—is back up and running—with a slight temporary workaround, you’ll see when you try again to upload your awesome tip! It’s free, fun and don’t miss this … CASH prizes! Be sure to check it out if you haven’t already. Then go upload another tip!

238

How to Clean and Condition Leather

There’s nothing quite so lovely as soft, supple, beautiful leather. I’ll take it in a handbag, shoes, car seats, jackets, and furniture, too. I love fine leather, which means I need to know how to clean fine leather. With that in mind, try to imagine this scene from my real life: Me in my comfy […]

239

Best Inexpensive Way to Reduce Home Heating Bill

The most efficient and easiest way to reduce your home heating cost is to heat only the rooms that are occupied while keeping your furnace set very low to say 60 F. Then use a space heater to make the occupied room comfortable; You can rely on this method during the day as well as at night.

You could easily see your heating bill drop 35 percent or more by simply keeping the main source of heat set very low, supplementing with electric space heaters. It’s such a simple way to make a huge difference in your home heating costs …

240

It’s Official! Everyday Cheapskate Expert Community is OPEN!

It’s new, it’s awesome, and you’re invited to join! Everyday Cheapskate Expert Community, or EC² for short—is a brand new feature and part of Everyday Cheapskate. I’m so excited to tell you all about it that I am about to burst! But first a little background … It all started in January 1992, when I […]

241

The Best Reason NOT to Buy Prewashed Salad in a Bag

I don’t buy bagged double- or triple-wash salad in a bag but not be for the reasons you might assume. It’s not because I’m overly concerned that bacteria might make it through all that pre-washing in a chlorinated bath (although tests conducted by Consumer Reports did find bacteria that are common indicators of poor sanitation). Show me any […]

242

How to Improve Your Life: Join a Group!

Joining a group is one of the best ways to reduce stress. A church, athletic team, or support group—anything that gets you together with other people on a regular basis, can help make you younger. Nothing ages you like going through a major life event alone.

Next week, I am going to tell you about a major development here at Everyday Cheapskate. I’m so excited, I want to tell you right now, right here. But I’m practicing extreme discipline. What I can tell you is it will be an opportunity for you to join a group right here within our Everyday Cheapskate community. Totally free, no obligation; no hidden agenda, nothing like that. You can join and just observe, or become involved on any level that you desire. Your choice.

Are you intrigued? Good … that’s exactly why I’m teasing you now. I want you to be prepared, ready, waiting and watching.

In the meantime, I hope you will click through and read today’s post. And get excited!

See you there … Love, xo m

243

How to Beat Clutter and Improve Your Life

Getting organized is like dieting. Everyone knows how to do it—you clear out the clutter, cleverly organize what remains, and then maintain the results, right? Uh, not so fast.

For many of us knowing is not enough. It takes more than that …

244

Instant Pot New York Cheesecake—Fast, Easy, Perfect!

You could have knocked me over with a feather as I was searching for ways to use my instant pot and locked eyeballs with—cheesecake. What?! I can bake in this thing? Every day, it seems, I learn something new that I can do with this multi-cooker. But cheesecake? I had visions of throwing cheesecake ingredients into […]

245

EP 8: Why 88% of New Year’s Resolutions Fail and How to Make them Work

My Dear Readers … today rather than a blog post here is a brand new podcast episode. I have provided links for your trouble-free listening—on your computer, tablet, or phone. Plus FAQs if you’re unsure of the how, where and why’s of Podcasts!

Because it’s my Birthday this week, I’m going to boldly ask you for for a kind of gift! Would you listen to this NEW Episode and then subscribe, too so you don’t miss any future episodes? That would be so awesome, and I thank you in advance!

I can’t wait for you to hear this episode! I’m pretty sure you will enjoy it.

I am having a ball learning the whole world of podcasting. As a kid, I dreamed of one day having my own radio show. While that never happened, this podcast is certainly fulfilling that dream for me. And we’ve got big plans for the future. Knowing you’re with me, eans a lot, so huge thanks!

I’ll meet you there … Love, xo m 🎂

246

Challenge Yourself to Save More Money This Year

It was shocking for me to read in the Report of Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018 that 47% of Americans would experience significant financial distress in order to handle a $400 emergency.

I know how easy to think we are saving money by buying things on sale, turning down the heat, making our own cleaning products, and other ways we can think of to spend less. Heck, we congratulate ourselves on doing that, right?

Unless you are diligent to take the difference between the regular price and the sale price—or the amount you didn’t spend on your living expenses last month—and actually deposit that into a savings account, are you really saving money?

Nope. You’re just spending less. And you can “spend less” right through your entire paycheck. 

While being careful to keep spending under control is admirable, it’s easy to fool yourself into believing that you’re a money-saving genius, when in truth you’re just spending all that you earn, wishing you made enough money to save some of it.

Getting started with actual savings—and by that, I mean money that is put away in a safe place—can be difficult if you have a spending habit, a small budget, or some of each. The secret is to start small—and then stick with it. 

Join me at the post because I have some super ideas for how you can get started—or save even more this year!

See you there … Love, xo m

247

6 Reasons You Need to Celebrate Soon—and Often!

Celebrate? With all that’s going on in our lives, the nation—the world?

With all the challenges you’re facing right now, you may be thinking that’s the last thing you’ll be doing now, or anytime soon. Let me encourage you to think again. Please!

Now, of all times, we need to celebrate wherever and whenever possible—for six very important reasons.

Today, I celebrate YOU! You mean the world to me and I think you’re awesome! Love, m xo

248

How to Make a Perfect Baked Potato in the Oven

If you’ve ever wondered how some restaurants turn out such perfectly baked potatoes with salty, crispy skin—potatoes that are super fluffy inside and so delicious, you’re about to discover the secrets. And don’t be surprised when once you have the technique down, your family will be all in when you announce that potatoes are what’s […]

250

The 10 Most Popular Posts of 2019

I can’t believe it’s 2020—a brand New Year, and a new decade, too! The year 2019 has been an absolute whirlwind here at EC Central—a year filled with growth, joy, and bright new horizons.

Believing that it’s always a good thing to look back to see where we’ve been and to count the blessings—here is a roundup of the 10 most popular Everyday Cheapskate posts in 2019.

Here we go! Love, m xo

251

It’s All About the Sauce—Chinese Brown Sauce!

Some of my earliest childhood memories center around Asian food. But not just any Asian food. I’m talking about the food at the Golden Dragon restaurant in Boise Ida., city of my birth and the home of tiny pork ribs swimming in the most beautiful and delicious brown sauce with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

We moved when I was 10. It never dawned on me that might be the last time in my life I would experience that level of Chinese food. But it was. That is, until just a few months ago when I had a true Eureka! moment.

If you’re looking for something special for your New Year’s
Eve celebration … this might be it! So easy, quick and out-of-this-world delicious.

Happy New Year! Love, m xo

252

The 1-Percent Savings Solution

Want a simple, pain-free plan to increase your savings in 2020? CPA, author, and blogger Mike Piper says to save 1 percent more. “Increase your savings contributions by 1 percent of your gross income,” suggests Piper. It might be difficult to imagine how such a small change could make any difference at all, but according […]

253

Shelf Life of Baking Supplies + Free Printable Cheat Sheet

Look up the word ‘impulsive’ in the dictionary and prepare to see my face. In my basement pantry, I have bags of chocolate chips to prove it. They are the ghosts of a Christmas past—left over from one of my Gift-in-a-Jar marathon projects. And those two containers of candied fruit that must be ten years old […]

254

11 Ways to Simplify Your Life in 2020

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! And now our thoughts turn to a brand New Year! A clean, unspoiled canvas. Have you given any thought to goals? Or do you find New Year’s Resolutions to be a big, fat waste of time? Ha!

Here’s something I’m pretty sure we can all agree on—simplifying our lives to save time and find financial peace of mind!

In today’s post I have a list of 11 ways to do that. And I’ll bet you have a few you could add to the list. I hope you’ll do that with your comments. See you there!

Love, m xo 🎉

255

Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do!

  Discouragement plagues all of us from time to time. If you’re discouraged about your situation—be it financial, family, job, or just basic uncertainty about the future—there are some things you can do to counter those feelings and attitudes. The most important is to know this will not last forever. Let’s say your neighbor just […]

256

Who Stole the Joy?!

It was an unusual interview. The interviewer explained she was writing an article for a national women’s magazine on clever ways to put more joy into the holidays.

In that I’ve written a book on the subject, she called hoping I would help her with the story. I knew that I could.

In my typical overly excited manner I proceeded to pitch to her one marvelous holiday cost-cutting idea after another—some of them principle-based, others uniquely practical.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that something wasn’t right. One after another, my ideas landed with a thud. She didn’t like them at all.

And that’s when she made a comment that effectively brought the interview to a screeching halt…

257

7 Festive Holiday Dessert Drinks

It doesn’t have to be a full-blown dinner party to count as holiday entertaining. Why not ask your invited guests to bring their favorite sweets while you provide the beverages?

Then knock their socks off with a buffet of these festive holiday dessert drinks. You’ll avoid spending a bundle and reduce your stress in the process!

See you there! Love, xo m

259

How to Survive—and Not Go Broke—When Stranded in an Airport

The busiest travel season on record began and will last through Jan. 5, An estimated 47.5 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines during the winter holiday according to experts— up 3% from last year. Throw weather to the equation and your chances of getting stranded waiting for a flight grow immeasurably.

If you’ve ever set foot in an airport, you know what a ripoff that place can be if you have to buy basic necessities while you wait for a flight. The delay alone is going to feel like you’re out of luck, but your lack of planning can easily make you out of money, too.

Over the years, having traveled more than 1.5 million miles myself and spending more than a few nights in an airport—I’ve learned that it’s easy and super smart to prepare and anticipate the inevitable.

Here are my best tips for surviving an extended stay in an airport.

See you there … Love, xo m 🛩 🤞

262

The Ultimate Guide to Proper Re-gifting

Six days until Christmas. While you let that sink in, allow me to whisper one word in your ear: Re-gifting.

The act of re-gifting—passing on as new a gift someone else gave you—is controversial but only because of those who do a noticeably bad job of it. After all, if every act of regifting were carried out flawlessly, no one would find it distasteful, or even consider it a thing.

Before you re-gift, make sure you know and are following my Official Rules of Re-gifting! They’re in today’s post. See you there!

Love, xo m 🎁 ❣️

264

2019 Holiday Gift Guide—Best Ideas for Foodies

Happy Saturday, everyone! I just uploaded one more 2018 Holiday Gift Guide, my best inexpensive ideas for the Foodies on your list … PLUS a Giveaway!

We’re trying a new Giveaway procedure, which I think you’ll discover to be a lot more friendly. So enter soon—this one ends tomorrow at midnight.

I’m off to a neighborhood Christmas Boutique.

Enjoy this beautiful day! Love, xo m ❤️🎄and of course ☀️ because it’s Colorado 😊

265

My Shopping Addiction Rehab Program

Shopping is my thing. I love the thrill of the hunt, that feeling of discovery and the joy of a bargain. I find it satisfying in ways I can’t fully describe. I want to experience the feeling as often as possible. Shopper’s high is no joke. It’s real, it’s palpable, and it’s addictive.

Shopping got me into a lot of trouble. In just 12 years I ran up more than $100,000 in consumer debt—most of it on credit cards. Eventually, all of it came crashing down and nearly took me with it. Thankfully, that crisis became the catalyst to turn my life around.

It took 13 years to repay all of the debt. I learned a lot about myself in the process but mostly that the satisfaction I got from shopping was short-lived. It was fake because it vanished in less time than it took me to get the stuff to the car. But that just set me up to do it again and again because the small bursts of joy I got from shopping were worth the pain that always followed.

Crazy I know, but absolutely true. I could so easily go back to my old ways, and that’s scary …

266

2019 Holiday Gift Guide — Best Ideas for Grandparents

As gifting opportunities go, the biggest one of all is just around the corner. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of my readers are feeling somewhat stressed, even panicked. Last-minute shopping has a way of doing that, especially when you have no idea when it comes to grandparents and seniors on your list.

Gifts for grandparents don’t always require a trip down memory lane. Today’s grandparent is more likely to be tapping out e-mail than pounding away on a typewriter (google it 😂).

So with that in mind, here are some of my best gift ideas for grandparents that are sure to delight Nanas and Papas everywhere whether this is their first year on the job or old pros by now—even those who are hard-to-buy-for.

It’s true that when giving a gift, it’s the thought that counts. Today, put some extra thought into your gifts for grandparents. It will come back to bless you many times over❣️

267

Extreme Bargain Hunting: The Best Time to Save on Everything

Over the years, I have learned an important lesson about getting the best deals on just about everything. Extreme bargain hunters have something in common: timing. They’ve got it down to a science, knowing specific days— even the time of day—when a bargain is at its best.

I’ve had the privilege of interviewing some of the tops experts in their fields (love my job), and oh, what I learned. Want to save like an expert? Today learn these deal-hunting secrets. 

See you there … Love, xo m

268

2019 Holiday Gift Guide — Mary’s Favorite Things

If you woke up this morning with a sense of panic realizing there are just two weeks left until Christmas, let me offer some sweet relief—a compilation of my favorite things that I have purchased from my own money, with all details updated and now gathered into one convenient place.

You’re about to discover that my favorite things are mostly practical, which could explain why I prefer practical gifts. A new vacuum for Christmas? I’d be thrilled and delighted. All that to say that no doubt, My Favorite Things seriously reflect that personal bias.

Enjoy! Love, xo m 🎄 🎁 ❣️

269

Gifts That Don’t Cost a Dime

Short on cash this holiday season? Maybe it’s time to start thinking about gifts that don’t come from a store, but from the heart—a gift of time and talent. It’s going to require some (all?) of your free time over the next week or so, but it sure beats going into debt to buy a bunch of gifts for others—or missing out altogether because you refuse to show up empty-handed.

In today’s post …. idea starters! Practical, reasonable and doable Christmas gifts that don’t cost a dime!

See you there … xo m 🎁 ❣️

270

The Best Way to Cook Bacon (Easiest, Too!)

I must admit to a kind of love-hate relationship with bacon. On the one hand, my family loves bacon, which means I cook it often. And until I discovered the best, easiest way to do that, I dreaded having to fry bacon!

The problem in two words: splatters and smell. I’m not a fan of splatters all over the cooktop. And that lingering smell of stale bacon throughout the house for hours and beyond? That nearly knocks me out. Then there’s the problem of keeping the first batch hot and crispy when only about 1/4 pound fits well in a stovetop skillet.

Trust me, I’ve tried all the methods—stovetop, microwave, griddle, and outdoor grill. The outdoor grill has been mostly my go-to method, but when it’s 10 F. with a foot of snow out there, not so much.

And all that is history, now that I’m hooked on the absolute best way to cook bacon—in the oven. It’s easy with minimal if any splatters, the smell of bacon is all but limited to the baking time, I can cook an entire pound of bacon at one time, and clean up is a cinch!

See you there! Love, m 🥓❣️

P.S. Don’t miss today’s Podcast episode! It’s short, fun, and keeps us in close contact. I’m counting on you! xo

271

Incredible Edible Gifts

You do not need a lot of money nor must you have the gift of craftiness to assemble fabulous gifts in your kitchen. It’s hard to go wrong with a gift that is meant to be eaten or used up. That kind of gift does its job to convey your love and best wishes without increasing the recipients’ stuff-factor.

So gather your supplies, set up your production line and let the fun begin!

See you there … Love, xo m

272

Best Creative and Inexpensive Homemade Gifts!

Well, here we go … just two weeks to go before Christmas and only 15 days before my kiddos arrive!

If you think it’s too late to make gifts as you’d been planning to do since when—last summer?—do not fret!

It is not too late, at least for some super awesome homemade gifts I can think of.

You’ll find my ideas with instructions, resources and a whole lotta’ encouragement in today’s post. Hint: 🥓 Jam

See you there! Love, xo m ❤️👍🏻

273

What Teachers Really Want for Christmas

Recently, I contacted teachers I know, asking them how they really feel about gifts from parents and students—at Christmas and other times of the year, too. Each one of them hesitated. I could tell they didn’t want to come across as ungrateful.

Make no mistake—teachers are very grateful for the thoughts behind all of the stuff they get during the year, but particularly at Christmas.

But the stuff itself? Not so much. In fact, most gifts become a problem for that teacher.

But not to worry! I got it out of them—what teachers really want for Christmas, or any other time of year, too! See you at the post for all my insider information 😁.

Love, m xo

P.S. Here’s a quick link to today’s episode   of our 40-Day Christmas Challenge! 

You can catch up on past episodes, too (many episodes are not part of the 40-day challenge—please don’t miss any of them).

274

4 Things We Really Want for Christmas

Sure they want toys, but underneath it all what kids really want for Christmas (adults, too) just might surprise you. What we really want isn’t in a store.

So, how can we give those we love what they really want for Christmas? I have a few ideas in today’s post … and I hope you have some, too. Will you add them in the comments area? I can’t wait to read them.

275

A Shoemaker Can Save Your Sole

To some people, a cobbler is a lovely fruit dessert, best served warm. To others, it is a shoemaker who repairs shoes—an almost forgotten trade.

The Shoe Service Institute of America reports that shoe repair shops have dwindled from 100,000 in the 1930s to 15,000 in 1997 to about 5,000 today. The industry may be facing extinction, but business is booming for the cobblers who remain.

276

11 Ways to Get the Best Online Deals and Discounts

Just about everyone who shops online knows to look for a discount, promotional code, or coupon of some kind before hitting checkout. But digital coupons are only one of 11 tricks, tips and ways I have for you —savvy things you can do to get the biggest discounts and best deals this holiday season.

Two new Episodes of my NEW! Podcast were just released today! Find them HERE.

Yes, I am still working on this Podcast tutorial I promised! Did I say it’s confusing? Just hang on … I am about to untangle all of that to give you a clear and simple way to Subscribe!

277

2019 Holiday Gift Guide—Best Gift Ideas for KIDS!

Yesterday was so much fun—a kind of kick-off to Christmas around our house! Our grandsons Eli and Sam opened the first window on their respective Advent Calendars, which sadly have nothing to do with the true meaning to advent, but a topic for another day. Back to those calendars—so cute with a tiny toy in each window.

As I sat there enjoying the boys excited anticipation, it hit me. WHAM! Christmas is fewer than four weeks away.

I’m not pointing this out to send you into a state of panic—actually I am trying hard to avoid that for myself.

I’m telling both of us so we can make the most of the time we have to enjoy every moment of this beautiful season.

Should you find the names of kids on your shopping list—kids of all ages from newborn and up, today I have Gift Guides for you: Best Gift Ideas for KIDS and Best Gift Ideas for Learning Toys.

I think you will enjoy the fact that everything on these lists, while super fun to play with, is interactive requiring the child to think, create, and problem solve. All are super affordable, too. And of course my personal favorite toy is in the line-up. Honestly, I could play Rush Hour all day long and never get tired of it. OK enough about me. 😂

See you there… Love, m xo

P.S>Be on the lookout for more 2019 Gift Guides, coming right up.

278

2019 Holiday Gift Guide—Best Learning Toys

Learning toys do more than sit there and entertain—they stimulate and teach kids important skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, logic, and even coding. Learning toys—open-ended games, kits, toys, and crafts—make for great Christmas gifts. To help you get past the shock of realizing Christmas is fewer than four weeks away, here’s my list of the best learning toys. I love […]

280

A Mishmash of Christmas Ideas and Holiday Tips

Good news! Another Black Friday is in the books. You survived—unscathed I hope. If you bag some amazing bargains without going into debt—great. Me? Just as planned, I stayed home, cleaned up from Thanksgiving. Today? My husband and I will put up the tree and dress the house for Christmas! I’m so excited.

I’ve got a bunch of my favorite tips to share into today’s post. With any luck, they will trigger your best tips and tricks, which I hope you’ll share in the comments! See you there … Love, m xo 🎄

P.S. We got 16-inches of snow a few days ago—so beautiful! But it’s so cold, the snow has not begun to melt. More snow expected today. I love this, and here’s why: We live where we work, or maybe better stated—we work where we live. Either way, we only leave the house if we want to, not because we have to.

P.P.S. We own two businesses (one each) and have just completed construction on our new offices, complete with a most spectacular view of the golf course and the Rocky Mountains. If that sounds fabulous, it is! How can we do this? One reason: We have no debt—none. It wasn’t always that way, as you may know about me and my dark financial past—a story for another time.

281

Make Every Day Thanksgiving!

Back by popular demand, Mary’s annual Thanksgiving message …  I love Thanksgiving so much it vies for first place in my favorite holiday lineup. I love and adore a classic Turkey Dinner with all the trimmings. I love the fall weather, which always accompanies the day. I love the fact that Thanksgiving ushers in the […]

282

11 Things You Should Never Burn in Your Fireplace

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, it’s likely that now and then you toss things like cardboard, junk mail, and egg cartons. And why not? It seems like anything that burns should be able to go in because the smoke and fumes go right up the chimney. And that’s a really bad idea. In fact, each time you do that, you could be putting your home and your family at risk.

There are at least 11 things you should never burn in your fireplace … See you there! Love, m xo

283

Ask Me Anything: Cosigning Parents, Silent Stylist, Rum Cake Recipe, and More

Happy Sunday, Everybody!

Once again, it’s mailbag day, when I reach in and pull out your questions. While there are always more than I could possibly answer in one sitting, I try to select the ones that will have the greatest interest to most of you, my Dear Readers. What’s inside? …

Contents

1. Gray scrapes and “scratches” on fine dinnerware

2. Heartbroken parents who co-signed

3. Spreadable butter disaster

4. Spouse demands control of the purse strings

5. IP Vanilla Extract 

6. The Unscrupulous Stylist

7. Rum Cake Recipe, Pleeeese!

See you there! Love, xo m

284

White Fruitcake that Dreams are Made Of

I have no pride and, according to some, no taste. I love fruitcake. Sickeningly sweet, loaded with pecans, cherries, pineapple, and golden raisins; heavy as a brick and about four weeks old. Yum.

I can only assume that these terribly misguided people are only familiar with a version that is dark brown, dry-as-dust, molasses laden, overly spiced and mystery-fruited (what is citron, anyway?).

Just let me say that you’d be singing a different tune if you’d ever eaten my Grandmother’s white fruitcake. And I think you should! Join me and I’ll give you the recipe, with all my notes. Love, m xo

285

What Every Kid Needs to Know About Greed and Thankfulness

If there is one thing that will ruin your kids’ lives, it’s greed. Teach them while they’re young how to pull the plug on greed, and you will have prepared them in a very important way to not only survive but also thrive in the real world. You might want to start with the simple lesson in today’s post— How to Defeat the Enemy Greed. It’s a lesson I wish I’d learned much earlier in life. It’s difficult to imagine how many life-impacting mistakes I could have avoided had I known this simple thing.

While you may not have children living at home, I would be honored if you shared it with someone who does. Or post it to your Facebook page, and or share it in your other social media circles.

It’s Day 8 in our 40-Day Christmas Challenge (yes, already!) You can listen and download that Episode HERE and also catch up on Episodes you might have missed. It’s not too late!

See you there! Love, m xo

286

How To Make Your Own Teeth Whitener—Cheap and Easy

According to a study by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most important thing people want to change about their smile is the whiteness of their teeth. There are plenty of ways to achieve beautifully white teeth with over-the-counter kits, whitening products, and whitening procedures at dental offices—all good ways to get white […]

287

7 Cheap Gadgets That Make Life Easy—Fun, Too

I am nothing if not a gadget lover. Ingenious items that make my life easier are great, but when I find something that’s cool and also has the potential to save money? Well, that’s cause for celebration. Here are my latest fun finds. Sugru I don’t know where this stuff has been hiding (maybe I’m […]

289

Want What You Have, Buy What You Need

Years ago, I read in The New York Times that according to Yankelovich Research, the average American adult is the target of some 3,500 commercial ads in a single day. More recently that estimate has been adjusted upward to 5,000. How outrageous is that? Sure, we live in a highly commercialized society but 5,o00 commercial ads? […]

292

Yes! You Can Wash Silver in the Dishwasher

Contrary to popular belief, you can wash silver and silverplate flatware in the dishwasher without causing harm, just follow the simple set of rules in today’s post.

This should come as great news in the event you are planning to pull out the good silver for Thanksgiving. Do it … I don’t think you’ll regret it. See you there … Mary xo m

293

5 Ways to Give Yourself a Raise

Is money a little tight? Hoping a raise will come through soon? I hate to burst your bubble, but even if it is exceptional, a raise probably won’t do much good. 

By the time you adjust a raise for taxes, you’ll be lucky to see half of it in your bank account. And if that’s not bad enough, nearly everyone who earns more automatically spends more. Reckless spending can consume a lot of cash, fast. 

I have a better idea. Give yourself a raise! How?! I have a few ideas for you in today’s post …

I’ll be waiting for you on the other side of your click.

xo Mary

P.S. Just like THAT, we went from 80 F days to sub-freezing nights here in Northern Colorado. So fast … and I love it. I have a roaring fire in the fireplace and hot coffee at the ready on this cold, rainy morning. It’s a beautiful day.

294

Easy DIY Ways to Cut Heating Costs This Winter

We’re expecting our third snow of the season here in Colorado, and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! But are we shivering nearly to death in order to keep our heating costs under control? Nope!

I shared my best tip of all earlier this week, and now I have eight really easy DIY things you can do that don’t require a mattress heater (ahhh! Just the best thing evah!!) in today’s post.

See you there! Love, m xo 🌨 ❄️ ☃️ ❗️

295

Make Your Own Spreadable Butter

You’ve seen the little tubs of “spreadable butter” in the dairy case of your supermarket. In fact, you may purchase them because they’re just so convenient. And if you watch your prices you know the typical spreadable could almost be considered a luxury item.  Most “spreadables” are part real butter, part canola oil. Others have […]

296

How to Live the Life You Love on Your Current Income

I’ll never forget the time I asked one of my young piano students what he wanted for Christmas. It was a generic question, a pleasantry. I wasn’t looking for make, model, and serial number, but that’s what I got.

The child whipped out a 60-page list from his book bag. I gulped, checked to see if this child was serious (he was), and quickly proceeded with his music lesson.

Somehow I think that most of us have a bit of that kid in us. We want it all. And every bank and credit card company out there is affirming the notion and willing to make it happen.

You’re about to discover that you can do more with what you have—more than you dream possible. Ready to take the challenge?

See you there! Love, xo m

299

Simple Ways to Keep Your Home Smelling Clean and Fresh

When it comes to housekeeping, there’s nothing quite so lovely as the smell of nothing. That’s the way clean is supposed to smell—like absolutely nothing!

Clean is the absence of odors from animals, people, garbage, rot, mold, mildew, smoke, dirt, grease, and grime—not the presence of spray fragrance on top of odors.

Check out today’s simple ways to keep your home smelling clean and fresh. And for those who love a scent, I have some ideas for that too.

See you there … ! Love, xo m 😍

300

14 Things That Should Never Go in the Dishwasher

Without a doubt, my least favorite household chore is hand washing dishes. That makes my dishwasher the one appliance I can’t live without. I love it. In fact, I have this motto that if it can’t go in the dishwasher I don’t need it.

Despite all my efforts, I still end up having to hand wash a few things since having learned the hard way there are certain items that should never go in a dishwasher. They can be ruined or they can ruin our dishwashers. We should hand wash them instead.

301

Instant Pot Vanilla Extract—One Week from Start-to-Gift

For nearly a decade I’ve been making vanilla extract for Christmas gifts. And every year I find myself scrambling because it’s a process that requires two months minimum—six is better. But all that has changed since discovering how to make vanilla extract using my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. Instead of months, Instant Pot vanilla […]

302

9 Easy Moves That Will Simplify Your Spending

Confused and stressed out about how to manage your money so you don’t run out before payday? Put these nine easy moves into action and you’ll be well on your way to simplify your spending.

I know what you’re thinking—simplify and spending in the same sentence? Ha! Like that’s even possible when we have credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts, bills, bill-pay, auto-pay, fees, penalties, interest rates, and fees to keep track of. How can we possibly make managing money simple?

By having a plan. By choosing to become accountable and then using every tactic possible to streamline and de-stress your money. I’ll show you how in today’s post! See you there … Love, xo m

303

How to Use Up Every Last Cent on a Prepaid Debit Card

Some prepaid debit cards can be problematic because it’s nearly impossible to use it up to the last cent. That means you end up with some odd amount on the card that no one will accept for payment unless by some miracle your purchase is equal to or less than that odd amount.   Another problem […]

304

This Homemade Silver Cleaner Removes Tarnish Like Magic

Happy Saturday, everyone!

If you’re thinking ahead to Thanksgiving the way I am, you too might be planning to pull out all the good stuff—china, silver, crystal. Come on, let’s do it!

There’s no shortage of commercial silver cleaning products on the market these days. Those that I’ve tested generally do the job, but they’re messy, contain harsh chemicals and if that’s not bad enough—they’re expensive!

Good news. I have a simple homemade silver cleaner recipe for your lovely silver pieces—chains, earrings, bracelets, flatware and heirlooms that’s cheaper, better and definitely faster. And pictures, too! See you there … Love, xo m

305

Savvy Shopper Tricks and Treats

Big Announcement

Since 1992, I’ve invited you, my dear readers to send me your favorite time- and money-saving tips so I could share them with the entire audience.  And send them, you have! Via U.S. Mail and email.

In the beginning, I was able to publish nearly all of the good ones (there were plenty of duds) in a column I titled “Great Reader Tips.” Great readers, great tips!

You can participate in two ways—by contributing your best tips or by browsing and enjoying what your fellow readers have contributed. Uploading is super easy and I’ll be teaching you how to do it that.

But wait, there’s more!

To make this even more exciting, you’ll be able to compete for CASH prizes! We’ll kick things off with a Top Tips of the Month—1st Place: $100; 2nd Place $75; 3rd Place $25Did that just get your attention?! We’ll start each month with a brand new contest.

So, how can you get started uploading tips right now? You can’t because we haven’t opened EC² quite yet—but I will be announcing that very soon.

While you’re waiting, start thinking about and preparing your best tip(s). While your tips need not be original with you (meaning you didn’t think of it yourself), they must be written by you in your own words. Tell us what it is, what it does, and how it works for you. Next, take a picture with your phone or camera that demonstrates or represents your tip(s). You can upload another tip, trick, hack or terrific idea every day to improve your chances of winning.

In the meantime, keep watching for all the details about EC² Launch Day—it’ll be soon!

308

Finally the Mystery of Hair Conditioners Solved

Hair conditioners fall into general categories according to what they do and the problems they solve. Using the wrong product for the specific condition of your hair will produce disappointing results.

For example, if your hair is thin and fine you are not going to be happy with my industrial-strength conditioner for thick, coarse, frizzy, color-treated hair.

Unfortunately, conditioners are not quite as simple as shampoos. But not to worry! Today’s post offers the solution no matter your specific hair type and situation. See you there! Love, xo

309

An Incredibly Easy Way to Save Money Shopping Online

With the year’s biggest shopping season now coming into clear view, it’s time to gather our wits, sharpen our resolve to know everything we possibly can about how to save money shopping to stretch our holiday spending as far as humanly possible.

Today, I want to walk you through the basic steps of an incredibly easy way to save money shopping online, using a recent purchase I made as an example.

See you there! Love, xo m

310

How to Spend Money without Feeling Guilty

When you give yourself an allowance, it’s more than just cash—you give yourself the freedom to spend without feeling guilty. I’m going to step out on a limb here and suggest that you need an allowance even if you are in a tight financial situation!

Early on in my long journey back to financial health, my husband and I agreed that I would have an allowance—a regular expense listed in our fledgling household budget. That changed everything for me!

If you’re ready to put yourself on a similar plan, I have some firsthand advice I’m fairly certain you are going to love. See you there … Love, xo m 🤑 ❣️

311

Absolutely the Best Way to Store and Reheat Leftover Pizza

By some miracle, you ended up with more pizza than you could eat—or you intentionally ordered a larger pie just to have leftovers. Read on for the very best way to store and reheat leftover pizza. Don’t let your leftovers sit in the fridge until they dry up, curl up, and turn downright disgusting. Enjoy […]

312

How to Make Tulip Muffin Cups

In a past post I gave away all my secrets when I taught you how to make muffins that are so great, your friends will call you a genius. Reader feedback has been off the chart. In fact, that’s exactly what I was thinking about one Saturday morning as I was making muffins for brunch. I […]

313

7 Things You Need to Do Now to Plan Ahead for Disaster

The idea of emergency preparedness is good. But just having an idea is not good enough. Every person—every family—needs a plan in the event of a disaster that could disrupt the normal course of life. But where to start? That’s where most of us get stuck for lack of useful, specific direction. Hopefully, these quick tips will do […]

314

The Secret to Staying Out of the Red and in the Black

When I am not writing about money-saving tactics, personal finance and consumer debt, I knit. Something about the gentle rhythm of yarn and needle calms my spirit and unwinds my brain.

I have managed to finish a few projects, not because I’m a great knitter but because I can “tink” almost as well as I knit (knit spelled backward is tearing out).

Because all knitters make mistakes, tinking is a required skill for those who take the craft seriously. It doesn’t take too many oversized sweaters or undersized hats to figure out that the smallest error at the beginning of a project can produce disastrous results if not found and corrected.

Money is a lot like knitting. By some miracle, all knitting consists of just two stitches: knit and purl. Likewise, with money you have two options …

315

10 Awesome Ways to Do Halloween on a Budget this Year

There’s no denying that we love Halloween. What other night do we get to eat, drink, and be scary? The problem is we’ve come to love it a little too much. Sadly, most of that spending will translate to new credit-card debt—what a terrible way to start out the new year.

I know we can do so much better than that this year if we’ll simply stop, think, and then find ways to do it cheaper!

I’ve got lots of great ideas, and hope you will add yours in the comments! See you there … Love, xo m 🎃

316

A Simple Solution for Gross, Smelly Towels

If my inbox is any indicator of what’s going on in the world, and I believe it is, smelly towels are a growing problem for consumers—and for sure my dear EC readers. And it’s a rather new problem, the result of modern things like front-loading high-efficiency washing machines, detergents, fabric softeners, and damp conditions. If you’ve […]

317

How to Get Yellow-Stained Bed Pillows White Again

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320

Why You Need an Emergency Fund and How to Get It

Emergencies, I’ll bet that in your life you’ve had a few. Maybe a dead refrigerator—on Christmas Eve, with dinner guests arriving in just five hours (uh, yes been there and will not soon forget). Or was it a medical emergency where the ER required $500 cash up front? I’m sure that between us we could come with a list a mile long!

Do you really believe you will never again face an unexpected life event that has dollar signs written all over it?

Listen, there is a prevalent mostly-unstated belief out there—one I’ve heard touted by a very famous financial celebrity. Maybe you can guess what it is. Ok, I’ll tell you: This guy and his many followers live believing that the available credit on their credit card account(s) is their emergency fund. If something happens, that’s their go-to plan. That’s not a new philosophy. I lived with it for 12 years when I was first married. And trust me … that is a reckless way to live.

You need an emergency fund. There’s no way around it and I’m talking about not just your financial situation, but also your mental health, your peace of mind, the joy of living.

I know. Times are tough. You can barely get by from one paycheck to the next. And as long as you keep that mindset and give yourself a pass, you’ll continue to live on the edge where if one little thing goes wrong (believe me, it will) it will plunge you into the dark abyss of a financial disaster.

It doesn’t have to be that way. I want to help you step away from the edge and into the joy of being prepared. All that in today’s post. See you there! Love, xo m

321

How to Win the Credit Card Balance Transfer Game

There’s nothing fun about credit card debt. An outstanding balance of $5,000 that is subject to 19.99% interest means you’re paying about $1,000 a year just in interest. Imagine if that $1,000 could go directly to repaying the balance instead. You could pay it off in record time instead of stringing it out for many […]

322

10 Surprising Things a Coffee Maker Can Do Besides Brew Coffee

You might think your coffee maker is a one-trick pony—does anything smell more wonderful than a fresh-brewed pot of coffee? But let’s think about this for a moment. That appliance heats water to about 200 F., and comes equipped with a hot plate to keep it at about 165 F. Whether you’re traveling, living in […]

323

11 Ways to Use Ordinary Pantry Items to Get Rid of Ants

Knowing how to get rid of ants around the house is important. But it’s also fun to know just how fascinating these creatures are. Some ants can support up to 50 times their own weight while upside down on glass. Most of the ants we see are workers. They are female, but they cannot reproduce. Queen ants, […]

324

7 Things You Should Never Plug Into a Power Strip

Whether you live in a house, apartment, condo, mobile home or dorm room, having enough electrical outlets to handle all of the accessories, appliances, and tools you need can be a challenge. And that’s when knowing how to use a power strip device safely sure comes in handy.   While one of these devices can […]

326

Best Inexpensive Steam Irons

I just asked Siri*, “How do most people relax?” She rattled off a list of activities including, “nosh on chocolate,” “rub your feet over a golf ball,” “count backward,” “meditate” and “drip cold water on your wrists.” Siri completely missed my favorite way to relax. I iron (not to be confused with I pump iron, which […]

327

How to Make the Best Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

I’m not proud to admit it, but there was a time that I would’ve rather shoved toothpicks under my fingernails than be bothered with making my own homemade laundry detergent. Are you kidding me? Why on earth would I do that? I’m happy to live in modern times, not the stone age for goodness’ sake! […]

328

How to Make the Best Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

Powdered laundry detergent To make one quart powdered laundry detergent, you need these items: 32-ounce or larger container with lid 1 (5-oz.) bar Fels Naptha laundry bar 2 cups (14 oz. ) borax 1 3/4 cups (14 oz.) washing soda   Fels Naptha This product is available in the laundry aisle of many supermarkets and […]

330

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth Money in the Bank

Today’s topic is not pretty, but unless you have $8,000 earmarked to treat periodontal disease, an ounce of good dental care could prevent a lot of pain—both dental and financial.  Periodontal disease is an infection that destroys the attachment fibers and supporting bones that hold the teeth in the jaw bone and the bone itself. […]

331

Stop Wasting Money on Kitchen Tools That Do Only One Thing

Celebrity chef Alton Brown contends that a kitchen tool that does only one job is mostly useless. He calls anything like a pickle fork, garlic press, strawberry stem remover, or hot dog steamer a “unitasker.” His advice? Don’t waste your time and money on any kitchen tool if it is only good for one thing. It […]

332

Everything You Need to Know About Storing Coffee

Having reached the level of coffee snob some years ago, I don’t think I’m quite to the level of coffee geek yet, but I continue to work on it. That’s how much I love really good coffee! As you may recall from previous posts I’ve been a home roaster for many years now. While my […]

334

22 Weird but Wonderful Ways to Use Coffee Filters

It was a dumb mistake. I grabbed the biggest package of coffee filters—a pack of 1,000—only to discover much later that I’d picked up the wrong size for my coffeemaker. Coffee filters are not expensive, which is probably the reason I didn’t bother returning them to the store. I suppose I should have tried, but […]

335

6 Budget-Friendly Ways to Keep the House Cool in Summer

Even if winter is still hanging on, without a doubt things are going to heat up soon. And won’t that be wonderful—provided you’ve figured out ways to keep things cool indoors this summer without sending your utility bills through the stratosphere? If you could use some help in that regard, here are some tips, tricks, […]

336

Coming Soon!

COMING SOON … UPDATE!   I am so excited to let you in on what’s causing quite a buzz at EC Central these days. You can read on, or I can sum it up for you in one word: Cold, hard CASH! Whoops. That does look like three words, but you get the idea. We’ve […]

337

How to Splurge on a Budget

I got the biggest shock of my life the day I realized that living on a budget wasn’t the straitjacket or rigid “diet” I assumed it would be. It was my life as a credit-card junkie that put me in financial bondage.     Living on a budget saved my life because it allowed me to […]

339

How to Afford Big Ticket Items

Finally, you have a couple of months where things are going well. The bills get paid on time and you actually have money left at the end of the month. Then Pow! Without warning, the water heater bursts, the car breaks down, and the first half of the property tax bill is past due—and suddenly […]

340

6 Awesome Gifts of Summer to Make Now for Christmas

Even if you didn’t have an abundant garden this year, don’t worry. You can still make these wonderful gifts of summer to hold onto for Christmas. You can find everything you need at a local farmer’s market. How wonderful it will be when you welcome the holiday season knowing your gifts are ready to go. Freezer jam […]

341

5 Home Buying Mistakes That Will Make You House Poor

Buying a home is likely the largest purchase you will ever make. This is not the time to make mistakes that could easily plunge you into a financial situation you cannot afford.  During my 18-year career as a real estate broker, I learned a lot of things but none as valuable as what not to do! […]

342

How to Live on a Budget and Love It

For many years I wouldn’t have anything to do with a budget because I couldn’t stand the idea of anyone—or anything—telling me how to spend my money. And where did that get me? Into one big financial mess.     Every month, when I ran out of money, I would turn to MasterCard and Visa […]

343

Getting Back to Normal After a Disaster

Life on earth has never been perfect, but you’d have a hard time convincing some people of that. It’s not that they are ignorant. They have selective memories. Perhaps you can identify if you long for the way things used to be—before the disaster, when life was predictable; when mortgages were simple, retirement accounts moved […]

344

23 Ways to Chop Your Grocery Bill

Need a foolproof way to cut your food/grocery expenses by 25% this month? Announce to your family that there will be a complete ban on the consumption of food during the first week of every month. There. That should do it!  Twenty-five percent right off the top. What?! Don’t think you can pull that off? […]

345

Use This for That in the Kitchen to Reduce Clutter and Save Money

Over the years I have been uniquely privileged to sit under the personal tutelage of world-famous gourmet cooks the likes of Julia Child, Christopher Kimball, Martin Yan, and Jacques Pepin. Currently, I have standing appointments with Ina Garten, Ree Drummond, Molly Yeh, and Alton Brown. They come to my home and demonstrate every technique imaginable while […]

347

4 Absolutely Brilliant Ways to Cook Corn on the Cob

There’s just nothing that screams late summer like sweet corn when it’s fresh, hot, and slathered with butter and salt. Today, I want to share with you four brilliantly delicious ways to cook corn on the cob that are sure to thrill and delight you, your family, and guests, too. Corn on the cob is […]

348

Simple 15-Minute Projects to Slash Your Utility Bills

Here’s some good news: At least 120 utility companies have lowered electric, gas, or water rates due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which cut the corporate rate from 35% to 21%. Utility companies are passing on the tax savings in the form of lower rates for customers. I hope your utility companies are among […]

351

You Paid How Much for Your First Computer?!

I just read something that made me laugh outloud—mostly because it’s funny, but also because it is poignantly true. “I wonder what my kids are going to tell their kids … ‘It was so rough back in my day. I didn’t get a phone ’til 4th grade and sometimes the wifi didn’t always work upstairs!’” […]

353

Peaches—Tips, Tricks, and My Grandmother’s Peach Cobbler

And just like that, it’s peach season. That’s a big deal where I live in northern Colorado in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. We love peaches! Soon we’ll be enjoying Peach Street Fairs, Palisade Peach Festivals; peach fruit piled high in every store’s produce department, and featured on nearly every restaurant’s menu. Freestone or cling? […]

354

The Ultimate Risk-Free, High-Yield, Guaranteed Investment

From time to time, this kind of question pops up in my inbox:  How can I get started investing in stocks and mutual funds that are risk-free and have guaranteed high rates of return? Of course that makes me laugh hysterically, not only because there is no such thing as a risk-free investment let alone […]

355

How to Clean a Jetted Bathtub

There are few things as luxurious as taking a bath in a jetted tub. The warm water and body massage make for one amazing way to relax. But the last thing you want to see are chunks of mystery debris swirling about—all the gunk and grime that’s built-up inside the jets and connecting hoses since […]

356

Peach Freezer Jam

Peach Freezer Jam This is so quick and easy. Get out five 8-oz. jars with lids and make sure they are clean and dry. Next, assemble these ingredients: 2 1/2 pounds fresh, ripe peaches 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 5 tablespoons instant pectin Peel, pit and coarsely chop the peaches. Place […]

357

A Crash Course in How to Store Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Could you use an extra $300? You might want to take a look in your garbage. A survey conducted by Glad, the food storage people, revealed that the average household throws away 150 pounds of rotten produce each year! Mind-boggling, right? Here’s a fun, crash course in the how, where, and, why of fresh fruits and […]

359

Your Consumer Behavior is Keeping You Broke

Do you know what I love? Walking into my supermarket the day after Thanksgiving and hearing the best Christmas music ever. Yeah! And if I wasn’t in the mood to bake Christmas cookies before I got there, just hearing that lovely music changes everything. Right there, that proves I am a quintessential, typical, impulsive consumer. […]

360

Preventive Maintenance is Cheap Insurance

It was a Sunday night and the house felt cold. The only way for the Doloski family to keep their Illinois house warm and cozy in December is with a working furnace. One look at the thermostat told them that clearly, theirs was not.     Within minutes of arriving, the service technician diagnosed the […]

361

Welcome

  Welcome, I’m so glad you’re here! My name is Mary. For 28 years I’ve been leading people to get out of debt and into the joys of living below their means—saving time and money every day. It’s my passion. But things were not always that way. I never aspired to become an author, blogger, or […]

362

7 Simple Things I Do to Keep My Inner Hoarder in Time-Out

I don’t know why some of us have such a strong propensity to accumulate, collect and otherwise hold onto stuff beyond a reasonable limit. Maybe we’re born that way. Or more likely, we’ve picked up an understandable yet unfounded fear of not having enough of what we might need someday. Whatever the reason, it starts […]

363

9 Surprising Things You Can Clean with a Clothes Steamer

A compact clothes steamer is handy for removing wrinkles and stale odors from fabric, but is that all? Just another single-purpose tool that sits on a shelf gathering dust? Don’t be so sure! I’ve been amazed to discover all the ways to use an ordinary clothes steamer to steam clean, sanitize, renew, and refresh all […]

364

Washing Dishes By Hand vs. Dishwasher—Which is More Effective?

It’s an interesting question and one that comes up every time I write about how to use and maintain a dishwasher. For many readers, handwashing dishes just feels better and something that’s hard to let go of, especially for those who don’t use enough dishes to fill the dishwasher more than a couple of times […]

365

Fabric Softeners are the Problem Not the Solution

In the laundry room, most of us are prone to overkill. We want beautifully clean, brilliantly white, soft, and fluffy laundry results. And we don’t measure. We pour stuff out of jugs, straight into the washer, often adding a second big glug just to make sure.   We use liquid fabric softener by the gallon […]

368

10 Ways to Make a Vehicle Last Twice as Long

Eighteen years ago next month, my husband and I bought a new Chevy Silverado. For 14 of those years, it was our only vehicle. Our goal from day one was to make it last longer—maybe even twice as long. We still have it and as I write, it’s closing in on 250,000 miles—and still running […]

369

Back-to-School Clothes Shopping

Your money is limited and time is short. Here is my best advice to make sure back-to-school clothes shopping doesn’t send you to the poorhouse. Set spending limits Time to get real. How much money (not credit) do you have available for school clothes? Write it down. Take an inventory Sort through your kids’ clothes […]

370

22 Legit Ways You Can Make Money at Home

For all the convenience and access to information that the Internet offers, the ability to earn money online—honestly and legitimately—just might be one of the most useful. At a minimum, you need an Internet connection and computer. Or for some jobs, just a smartphone will do. The challenge is to wade through all the muck […]

371

How to Break Bad Money Habits

Money a little tight these days? You might assume it’s due to rising costs, tightening credit and the fact you haven’t had a raise in, like, forever. But truthfully, if your basic needs are being met, problems you’re having are more likely a result of bad money habits you’ve picked up—behaviors you’ve repeated so often […]

372

How to Clean a Shark Vacuum and Its Filters

You know by now just how much I love my Shark vacuum cleaner. And given my readers’ letters and comments, I know that many of you have Sharkies, too. Now you need to how to clean a Shark so it keeps performing at top efficiency. I love your messages. They make me smile because I understand the […]

373

How to Make Even an Old Dishwasher Perform Like New

There are many things in my life that I enjoy, but would not be completely devastated if required to give them up. My dishwasher is not one of them.     During our recent kitchen remodel, we got rid of the appliances, all except for my stripped down 14-year-old Whirlpool dishwasher. Even though it has […]

374

A Dozen Ways to Make Dump Chicken

The meal prep method is called “Dump Chicken” and it’s genius. Here’s why: You dump chicken pieces and your choice of sauce ingredients into a 1-gallon freezer bag, seal it and stick it in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat it, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, dump it into a pan (or slow cooker) and […]

375

The Gift of a Crisis

It was the worst day of my life. Not one of the worst days. Not a day where not one thing seems to go right. Worse than that.   Worse than any day I’d ever experienced before that day, worse than any day since. And I would say that like most people, I’ve had some […]

377

Make Your Own Natural Non-Toxic Ant Spray

If you’ve ever had to deal with an invasion of ants, you may know the meaning of exasperation. While the kids think ants are so cute the way they march in formation, stop to help one another, and work hard to prepare for their own life challenges ahead, it’s better to study these amazing creatures than […]

379

Absolutely the Best Window Cleaning Tips Ever

I have this thing for clean windows. I love them, which means I have an equal but opposite disdain for dirty windows. And when I say clean, I mean the kind of clean that makes windows sparkle like diamonds in the morning sun. Some days I wish that by some miracle, a professional window-washing service would […]

380

How to Save $1,000 Cash Painlessly

The most important thing you can do to make your personal economy strong is to have an umbrella—an emergency fund with enough money in it to pay all of your bills for six months. And it needs to be safe and secure in a bank account. You read that right—half a year’s income! Wait. You […]

381

How to Get Rid of The Dreaded Toilet Bowl Ring

It’s not the most elegant question I get, but certainly one of the most common. “I’ve tried everything I can think of, but that stubborn, ugly toilet bowl ring won’t go away!” Or ” … It goes away, but just keeps coming back!”     Toilet bowls develop discolorations for many reasons that have nothing […]

382

Outdoor Grilling on a Budget

Getting our outdoor grill cleaned, polished, and ready for summer got me thinking about how much fun it would be to celebrate. After all, the first day of summer comes but once a year, so why not do things up right with an amazing menu and a few good friends to kick off the season […]

383

How to Clean a Painted Wood Floor

A message in my inbox this week came from Joan who asked, “What is the best way to clean a very grimy painted wood floor?”     Before I get to an answer for Joan, let’s talk generally about wood floors and the difference between a painted wood floor and a finished wood floor. I […]

385

How to Make Taco Seasoning Mix and What to Do With It

Seasoning packets from the supermarket may be convenient, but they have drawbacks—not the least of which is they’re relatively expensive! I just checked Lawry’s Taco Spices and Seasonings Mix—! I just hate to pay that much for so little. And I don’t have to because I’ve got a great recipe to make taco seasoning mix […]

386

14 Things You Can Do to Cut Pet Expenses in Half

For many of my readers, your pets are like children. So, of course, you love your furry friends and want the best for them. But if the cost to keep them fed, healthy, cared for, and looking good has gotten so high, you’re the one coughing up fur balls, take heart. There are lots of little […]

387

How to Fix Scratches on Glass

Our homes are well accessorized with glass from windowpanes to shower doors, tabletops and lovely glassware, too. While glass is both beautiful and durable, normal wear and tear or mindless abuse can result in ugly surface scratches on glass. I wanted to kick myself around the block. Rather than stop and think, I grabbed a […]

388

25 Ways to Save $1,000 on Monthly Expenses

A number of years ago I met Kathryn and Galen. They’d won a contest sponsored by Woman’s Day magazine. The prize? A money makeover and financial coaching with … me! From our first meeting, we became fast friends. Not only were they drowning in debt, Galen was dealing with a protracted season of unemployment. Their […]

390

Kitchen Drawer Makeover: Top 10 Essential Kitchen Tools

Whether you’re a newlywed, recent grad moving into your first apartment or perhaps one of the 25% of millennials that Forbes recently reported as living at home with mom and dad—surely the idea of furnishing a kitchen has crossed your mind. I’d love to help you get started. Here’s the deal: There are a few basic […]

391

How to Make Your Own Powerful Tub and Shower Cleaners

The only thing better than making things myself is when what I make turns out to be cheaper, better and faster than something I might buy in the store to accomplish the same goal. Learning how to make powerful tub and shower cleaner rocked my world. I have a feeling it’s about to rock yours, […]

395

How Materialism Leads to Discontentment

I should not have even picked it up. I knew better. After all, what was I expecting from a magazine titled simply, SHOP Etc.?  I can say with all honesty that before flipping open the magazine, I needed nothing. Not a thing. I was content and quite busy with my work. If anything was tugging […]

396

Questions on Auto Leasing, Homemade Laundry Detergent, Silver in Dishwasher, HE Washers, and 529 Plan Money

You should see my email inbox. Yikes! It’s overflowing with reader questions, tips, stories, feedback, rebuttals, and all kinds of love from you, my dear readers. In this post, I’m making a tiny dent in the pile with these responses to a handful of your questions on auto leasing, homemade laundry detergent and more.

See you there! xo m 💌

397

Best Inexpensive Cordless Stick Vacuum

According to more than a few messages from you, my dear readers—and in the words of Ricky Ricardo—I’ve got some ‘splaining’ to do! Today, we’re talking about cordless stick vacs—again!

We’ve suffered the heartbreak of “discontinued” with both Eufy and Deik—especially if you didn’t get one or the other while they were still available. But not to worry. I’ve been searching, testing, trying, reviewing, and even returning.

I’m excited to introduce you to our latest Best Inexpensive Cordless Stick Vac. I’m certain that third time is a charm! See you there … Love, m xo ❣️

398

How to Make Wool Dryer Balls

Whenever I write about the benefits of using wool dryer balls in place of laundry softeners, I get a few responses gently raking me over the coals for suggesting we should spend money for commercially manufactured products when it’s so easy to make your own wool dryer balls.

Yes, I could do that and so could you. But unless you have a super cheap source for 100% wool yarn, it could cost more to make them than to buy, which would be counterintuitive.

What if I told you where you just might be able to get all the 100% wool feltable yarn you need to make a full set of wool dry balls for about a dollar? Prepare to be surprised!

See you at the post … Love, m 🐑

399

Forget the Dry Cleaner: How to Wash a Down Comforter

If you’ve ever wondered if it’s okay to wash your down comforter instead of taking it to the dry cleaners, the answer is yes. You can absolutely wash your down comforter without spending upwards of $60 (depending on the size, where you live, and how dirty it is) to have it dry cleaned professionally.

You will need a mild detergent, wool dryer balls (or tennis balls), a few hours to spend at a laundromat and patience. And if yours is a king-size comforter, a lot of patience.

Step-by-step instructions in today’s post. See you there … Love, Mary xo ❣️🦆

400

How to Clean Leather Furniture

When it comes to furnishing your home, it’s difficult to find anything more luxurious and elegant than fine leather. With that elegance comes the challenge of how to clean leather furniture, keeping it free of stains, and well-maintained so that it gets even better with age. Improper attempts to clean fine leather can result in […]

401

WD-40 to the Rescue for Every Problem Around the House

It’s not new. The blue and yellow can is about as familiar as anything I remember from my childhood. Banished to a shelf in the garage, I assumed WD-40 was an automotive thing. Boy, was I wrong! This stuff is amazing. And cheap. Not long ago, I bought an 8-ounce can for $1.71 at Home […]

402

Make Sure You Have These 9 Essential Pantry Items

Have you been paying attention to what’s going on with the cost of food? I just read that the average cost of ground beef in the U.S. has once again hit an all-time high. I believe it, and not only beef. It is shocking how grocery prices are going up, which underscores the need for […]

404

How To Make Family-Friendly Finger Foods Your Kids Will Love

In less time than it takes you to get into the car and drive to the closest drive-thru, you can make your own fast-food chicken fare—for half the price, or less. In fact, you can make a fabulous coating mix to mimic the best-coated chicken you’ve ever eaten, in five minutes flat.

I know what you’re thinking: Chicken. Chicken Nuggets, Chicken Fingers, Chicken Sandwiches—they’re all so tasty from these places, so convenient and so kid-friendly!

Well, today I want to show you how you can make those family favorites—cheaper, better and faster! See you there … Love, m

405

How to Clean and Care for Hardwood and Laminate Floors

Taking care of hardwood or laminate floors can be challenging given the everyday conditions of a family and pets. But keeping your home looking good is crucial to maintaining its value. Generally, there are two types of residential wood flooring: real wood (solid or engineered) and laminates that are man-made to look like wood.      Hardwood […]

406

What to Do With Leftover Green Salad (Don’t Throw it Out!)

If throwing out perfectly delicious leftover green salad were a crime, I’d be serving a life sentence.   It kills me to do it, but until fairly recently, I had no idea there was a second life for a leftover green salad, dressed or not. Once tossed, passed and partially consumed, that’s it, right? Wrong. Salad […]

407

How to Clean Gunk and Grime from Kitchen Cabinets

Got grimy kitchen cabinets? Don’t think you’re the only one. Unfortunately, wood cabinets—painted or natural with a clear finish—are prone to all sorts of grease, grime, and gunk from simply being in the kitchen.   Depending on just how much grease and grime you’re looking at and the supplies you have available, there are several options to […]

408

Put a Big Smile on Your Face with a Dental Savings Plan

Dental Savings Plans are membership plans, similar to the way I am a member of Costco, where I pay an annual fee, which gives me full privileges at Costco warehouse clubs for the year. I just show my card to enjoy highly discounted prices on the things I need. Really, that’s how a Dental Savings Plan works. You sign up with a plan your dentist accepts, pay your membership fee, get your card and enjoy highly discounted dental services and procedures …

411

How to Eliminate Odor of Gasoline Spilled Inside Family Vehicle

A message showed up in my inbox that made my heart sink. I couldn’t help imagine what it would be like to lend my car to someone, only to have it come back to me with a little something I’d not counted on—that noxious odor of gasoline! Worse, what if that condition were permanent?!

Thankfully, I have good news for at least one desperate reader …

412

Shopping With Cash is Still the Best Way to Save Money

It used to be so easy to shop with cash. Get cash. Shop. But things have changed, perhaps you’ve noticed. More and more stores, shops, restaurants don’t even accept cash any more. Even my beloved Costco gasoline filling station! Ack! The only option for payment is … plastic.

But there is a sneaky way to get around that and beat Costco Gas, Amazon, and others at their own game. I’ll tell all in today’s post.

See you there! Love m xo 💰❣️😂

414

How to Clean a Bathtub Anti-Slip Bottom

If you have a bathtub with a slip-resistant bottom that no matter what you use to clean it, it still looks dingy, grungy and downright grimy, I have really great news—a solution that will bring even an older tub bottom back to clean, like new. You’re going to love this …

415

Weird Ways to Earn Money on the Side

Recently, while brainstorming with a reader who needed to supplement her regular full-time job, I made a quick list of the ways I’ve done that in my life. I wanted to help her discover what she does well that others might pay her to do for them.  Process Server I worked as an independent process […]

416

13 Ways to Save Money Eating Out at Restaurants

The average American household spends most of its money—62% of an average $56,000 in annual expenditures—on just three things: housing, transportation, and food. If you’re trying to cut costs and save money, food is the place to get started. Reducing restaurant visits and increasing your home-cooked meals is a surefire way to cut food costs. […]

417

10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Gasoline Cost

Only a few months ago I paid $1.75 a gallon for gas in Thornton, Colo. That’s nearly a dollar cheaper than I paid this past week at the same location—$2.72 per gallon! What’s going on? 

All I know about that, I read in the news. And all I know about how to beat the system and keep my fuel costs down I’m sharing in today’s post!

See you there and Happy Saturday, everyone! Love, Mary xo ⛽️ 🚗 ❣️

418

The Costly Mistakes You Make With Your Choice of Shampoo

Come on … ‘fess up. You feel guilty using $1.99 shampoo because it’s really bad for your hair. And anybody knows the $24 salon variety is so much better especially for chemically treated hair, right? When it comes to selecting the best shampoo, the price has nothing to do with it and today, I’ve got the facts to prove it. I’ll tell all in today’s post! See you there… Love, m xo 😍

419

5 Reasons to Give Kids an Allowance

For the better part of my life I believed that more money was the answer to every problem in life. I was convinced that if we just made more money, won the lottery, or received some unexpected inheritance, all of our money problems would vanish.

But the more we made the worse our problems became. Because I didn’t know how to manage what we had, more would have never been enough. We didn’t save, we didn’t give, we didn’t plan, and we had no idea where all the money went. And surprise, surprise … our two young boys were becoming just like me!

It’s quite a story, but the thing that changed that trajectory for our two children was coming up with an allowance program. All of that in today’s post! See you there … Luv, m xo ❣️

421

How to Make Perfect Iced Coffee

As a coffee lover, there’s one thing I just didn’t get until quite recently: iced coffee. What?! The idea left me, well … cold! Coffee is supposed to be hot. ☕️ Very, very hot!

And then I made a fatal mistake. I accepted a sample of iced coffee in a popular coffee shop. It was strong, sweet, creamy and icy, icy cold. Wow … !

424

Pay Down or Pay Ahead? It Can Be Confusing

Years ago I learned a lesson I won’t have to learn again. It was that poignant. It was during a time when mortgage interest rates took a nosedive and we benefited by refinancing our high-rate mortgage. The transaction closed in late August with the first payment due in October. Rather than take a month off […]

425

Three Generic Cleaners Same as Brand Names but Way Cheaper

Most people are well familiar with the term “generic” when it comes to medications, a term referring to any drug marketed under its chemical name without all the fancy packaging and advertising. Today I want to offer you cheap generic alternatives for these three popular cleaning products—Bar Keepers Friend, Super Washing Soda, and OxiClean.  

426

How to Use Wool Dryer Balls and Why You Should

A previous post, Fabric Softener Products are the Problem Not the Solution, struck a chord with thousands of readers. I know because you send me messages and letters, which I love—even ones from some who are not 100% satisfied making the switch from problematic laundry softeners to what I find are amazing wool dryer balls. […]

427

16 Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living the Life You Love

If you’ve ever have been in serious debt—or are right now—you know the feeling that your creditors own you lock, stock and bank account. I’ve been there, I know.

Debt steals your freedom one option at a time until you become its prisoner. Want out? I can help. Click through and I’ll see you there … Love, m xo 😍

428

Simple Solutions for 3 Common Laundry Problems

What do stinky, yellowed, and crayon-stained laundry items have in common? They’re the reason lots of people write to me. Fortunately, each of these problems has a unique remedy—a way to reverse the stains, to get those items back to looking good as new.

See you there! Luv, m xo

429

10 Things You’ll Be Happy to Know About Lestoil

Ever had the occasion to wonder where you’ve been all your life? That’s my reaction to a simple heavy-duty cleaning product, Lestoil. Apparently, it’s been manufactured right here in the USA for decades and loved by many. Curiously, I’d never even heard of it—let alone used it like a rabid fan—until only a few years ago. […]

430

Look at All the Hidden Benefits in Your AAA Membership

If you are a member of AAA, it’s likely that you depend on it to get you out of an automotive bind with a roadside jumpstart, a gallon of gas, or a tow.

And so you know, they also come to the rescue should you ever lock your keys in the car. Or a sleeping baby. Let’s just say that AAA has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. All that and a lot more in today’s post.

See you there! Love, m xo

431

Here is the Secret to Healthy Eating on a Budget

Recently, I got a frantic letter from Barbara, who lives in Florida. It seems that her teenage son has taken up bodybuilding and her husband is adhering rigidly to the Atkins Diet, both of which are protein-heavy. Barb got through the first week with a major case of mixed emotions: Her husband lost 7 pounds, her […]

432

4 Easy Ways to Make Perfectly Baked Potatoes

Think you have nothing to fix for dinner? As long as you have a few potatoes in the pantry, you have at least one option—bake potatoes and call it dinner. Whether topped with a pat of butter or loaded up with broccoli and cheese—or a big scoop of hearty chili—baked potatoes really are an easy, […]

433

9 Cooking Mistakes We All Make and How to Fix Them

Just the other night I suffered a kitchen disaster. I hate when that happens. I ruined an entire pot of pasta because I got busy and was not paying attention. By the time I realized, the pasta had cooked way beyond al dente, all the way to total mush. It killed me to dump the whole […]

434

Meet My Spring Clean A-Team

There’s an illness that has been documented by poets for centuries and I’ve got it. It’s spring fever, that wonderfully amorphous disease we all recognize come April and May.

Spring fever remains a fuzzy medical category, but there has been a great deal of research on how seasonal changes affect our mood and behavior. I know how it affects me—it makes me want to clean! I’m anxious to introduce you to my clean team members … See you at the post. Love, m 🌷🦋

435

The Best Way to Vacuum Carpet is to Memorize this Routine

Perhaps this has happened to you: You’ve lived with carpeting, then for one reason or another you live with hardwood or some other type of hard surface flooring that shows up every little bit of dust and dirt. You can’t believe it! You can sweep or vacuum one day and by the next morning, dust […]

436

This is the Best Car Trash Can Ever

I’ve always thought that a car should come outfitted with some kind of incinerator that sucks the accumulation of trash and garbage right out of the car and into a holding tank somewhere that magically converts it into purified drinking water. Or gasoline. 😂

While waiting for that kind of invention to appear, I’ve tried plastic bags, plastic tubs, and every kind of frugal trick and tip you can imagine to handle the annoyance of car trash.

I’ve tested and tried. Some ideas are better than others, but nothing has ever proven 100% satisfactory. Until now … !

437

How to Give New Life to an Old Eyeglasses Case

Recently, I dropped off several out-of-prescription eyeglasses at a Walmart Vision Center, just one of many collection centers around the country that partner with Lions Clubs to collect old eyeglasses for those in need at home and medical missions abroad. With the cost of prescription eyeglasses equaling a year’s salary in some countries, donated eyeglasses are the […]

438

Yesterday I Turned Back Time

Yesterday I turned back time. Really! I reset my lawn sprinkler timer, which was an hour off due to the daylight savings spring ritual.  It was surreal to watch the numbers go backward — so much so that when I reached the desired time, I didn’t stop. I let it go a full 24 hours […]

441

Here are the Best Headphones for Every Budget and Kids, Too

Several readers have asked recently about the best inexpensive headphones and earbuds both for themselves and their kiddos. Today seems like a great day to respond. Generally, these are the best values, price points and styles of headphones for adults and kids, too: Best inexpensive wired earbuds Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbuds are smartphone compatible with integrated […]

445

With My Sincere Apologies to Pawn Shops Everywhere

In the wake of America’s big economic wake-up call back in 2008, dollar stores and thrift stores saw, and continue to see, a big resurgence. And now another kind of retail quasi-lender is commanding all kinds of attention from sellers and buyers, too—pawn shops. I admit to having grown up with a weird bias against pawn […]

450

The Ultimate Restaurant Menu Cheat Sheet

A restaurant menu—no big deal, right? It’s just a list of the food items that a restaurant offers its customers. Sure it is. Plus a whole lot more. Before menus ever make it to the printer, restaurant owners hire menu engineers and consultants to bury super sneaky psychological tricks into the pretty pictures and mouth-watering […]

454

How to Unclog a Drain Yourself Without Caustic Chemicals

A plugged up sink, shower, or tub drain sends most people running for either a bottle of caustic drain cleaner or a plumber’s phone number. But wait. This could well be a job you can do yourself successfully without chemicals or a big bill. Assess the situation Turn on taps to allow water down other drains […]

456

How to Remove Salt Stains from Leather and Suede

Salt. It’s mandatory in a human diet. But in other situations, salt can be as destructive as it is needful due to its ability to eat holes through metal and leave ugly stains on footwear. Dear Mary: I have several pairs of beautiful winter fashion boots in suede and leather. I’d like to remove salt […]

457

How to Beef Up Home Security on the Cheap

As a kid growing up, I lived in a house with security that rivaled Fort Knox. Every exterior opening was fitted with an old-fashioned hook and eye latch, which my mother would latch from the inside each and every time someone left the house.

Thankfully, these days, there are much better ways to make our homes safe and secure that are also friendly to all who live therein …

458

Easiest Way to Remove Burned-On Mess in a Pot, Pan or Casserole

I consider myself an expert on today’s topic. I have the unique talent of creating horrible burned-on messes in casserole dishes, skillets, pots—even a Le Creuset dutch oven. I can do this on the stovetop, in the oven, outdoor grill, and microwave, too!  I did it again just the other night. I returned a stainless steel […]

459

Even Small Households Can Save Big at Warehouse Clubs

It’s been a few years now since my husband and I began talking about relocating to another state. At first, it was only a dream but soon idle chatter turned to serious talk. That developed into a list of “must-haves”—things a new location would have to offer for us to even consider making the leap. […]

460

10 Brilliant Food and Cooking Hacks to Make Your Life Easier

Whether you are naturally gifted in the kitchen or had the pleasure of growing up with some talented cooks who were happy to give you a few pointers along the way—lots of people shy away from the kitchen because they find cooking complicated, and even a bit confusing. 

Fortunately, there are tons of great little tricks that can help anyone improve their cooking game, and maybe get some interest in further developing their skills.

Today, I have for you some of the most useful cooking hacks that can benefit everyone, regardless of skill level.

See you there …

Love, m xo 🍞 🥓 🍕🍰 🍨 and more!

461

When it Comes to Food Products—What’s in a Date?

No doubt, you’ve noticed that some food products come with dates and codes printed on them. Does that mean it has to be consumed by that date or just sold by that date?

It’s so confusing!

But not to worry, I have untangled this to help us understand. Notice, I did not say it’s going to make sense, but at least we will know how to interpret the confusing dates and codes. Actually, it’s kinda’ fun!

See you there! Love, xo m

462

Muffins So Amazing, They’re Insane!

I love to bake, however, baking has not always been fond of me. We’ve had our moments. It wasn’t until I surrendered to the following recipes exactly that our relationship made the turn. I had to come to the point that I was willing to measure the ingredients, follow directions and believe that little things […]

463

11 Everyday Uses for Nok-Out—the World’s Best Odor Eliminator

Nok-Out and I met quite by accident. While searching for ways to deal with offensive odors—that musty smell of an old book or the stench of pet urine—we found each other online. Twenty years later I’m still convinced that there’s just nothing else like an amazing product called Nok-Out. Nok-Out eliminates odors scientifically through a process […]

464

Ask Me Anything: Upside Down in a Car Loan, Plastic in the Oven and More

I love my overflowing inbox filled with questions from my dear readers. What I don’t love is not being able to respond personally to each and every one!

So today, rather than trying to decide which ones to answer, how about I just reach in and let’s see what comes out.

To thank you for subscribing to Everyday Cheapskate, I have a gift for you: Make Your Own Mixes eBook. Just click go to this link: https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/MakeYourOwnMixes_download_Skysoft-1.pdf to download it.

Please do not share this link with anyone. Instead share EverydayCheapskate.com where it is currently available to your friends, family, and anyone else! Thanks!

465

Your Best Money Year Ever

For years (and years), I lived under a dark cloud of worry that I would end up financially destitute—a bag lady. The things I did to prove I was wrong just made everything worse!

Having lived through that season of my life (which lasted for more than 25 years!) … I’ve learned a few things: First, that debt is a liar and a thief. Second—money in the bank changes everything.

No matter your situation right now, I know that 2019 can be your best money year ever. Want to get started right now? Let me show you, in today’s post. It comes with this promise: I’ll walk with you through every day of 2019, cheering you on and help you in any way I can! See you there …

Love, Mary ❤️

466

4 Ways to Get More Books for Your Bucks (and Vice Versa)

Got books? If you are an avid reader, I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that you own a few books. OK, make that a lot of books. 

Some of your books you would never part with, but others are currently gathering dust on bookshelves or piled on the floor.

Since it looks like you will soon have to buy new bookshelves or continue to wade through books just to get to the kitchen, I’ve got an idea. Resolve this New Year to do what some people do with their wardrobes—don’t add anything until you get rid of something. 

Fortunately, the Internet is the perfect place not only to unload old books but also find those on your “to-read” list for cheap. 

In today’s post I’ll show you what I’m talking about …

467

Dinner-in-a-Box is Not What I Thought

Dinner-in-a-Box. Seriously?

Who in their right mind would trust seafood, meat and produce from some unknown assembly plant, piled onto a loading dock then moved into the back of an unrefrigerated FedEx truck for who knows how long and until some delivery guy drops it on the porch?

The whole idea sounded ridiculously expensive to me, if not just plain gross. I didn’t need to test the obvious so I did what comes all too naturally for me: I jumped to conclusions.

Turns out I was way off base and so wrong. Today I’m here to come clean and set the record straight…

468

Best Way to Sell Gift Cards for Cash

Gift cards—did you find some under the tree? Great, if that was your heart’s desire but not so great if that’s a card you are not likely to use.

It’s Dec. 27 … do you know where your gift card(s) is? If you’d rather have the cash, I have great news for you in today’s post. There is a way that you can turn that card into hard, cold CASH! See you there ….

Love, Mary 💰

469

Gifts to Thrill and Delight Coffee Snobs

Even if you aren’t one, chances are pretty good you know someone who is a bona fide coffee snob. That’s because unmitigated devotion to coffee has reached epic proportions in the past few years. For these folks, nothing says “I care” more than a gift that affirms said snobbery and love for truly great coffee. I […]

471

Just in Time for the Holidays Gift-Worthy Caramel Corn

For years, I’ve tried to make caramel corn, without success. It was either too soggy or too chewy. Or the caramel turned sugary. Once, I needed a hammer and chisel to get the stuff out of the bowl.

I’d really given up until my encounter with Popcornopolis. I had to figure this out―I had to find a way to create a reasonable facsimile in my kitchen that would hit the mark without breaking the bank.

I am excited to let you know is that I believe I have … oh my, yes! My recipe, instructions and very important final step, all of that in today’s post

See you there!

Love, Mary 👌❤️

472

Make Memories and You’ll Give Gifts for a Lifetime

If you could use an injection of fresh ideas for how to make this Holiday Season meaningful for the children in your life, take a lesson from my friend, Connie Copeland. 

Connie’s clever creativity allowed her and her husband to give their four kids, and now her 13 grandchildren, the four things kids really want for Christmas, even when money was tight …

475

Tags

477

Celebrate Good Times … Come On!

Celebrate? With all that’s going on in our world?  You bet. We need to celebrate wherever, whenever, and as often as possible. In their book, Why Good Things Happen to Good People, authors Stephen Post and Julie Neimark tell us that celebration is gratitude in action. Celebration creates a circle of love. When we rejoice […]

478

19 Hobby Lobby Money-Saving Hacks, Tips, and Tricks

I was late to the party but somehow managed catch up quickly. While Hobby Lobby has now expanded to California, I’d never stepped foot into one of the more than 800 stores until moving to Colorado.

How I lived for the greater part of my life without Hobby Lobby remains a mystery. Remarkably, somehow I survived …

481

How to Leave a Fragrance, Not an Odor

I have something really fun to share with you today about fragrance, but first a story. About my friend, Herta. It’s been quite a few years now since she and Al came to visit. In their graciously kind manner, they brought gifts. I thought I’d heard of everything, but one of these gifts left me wide-eyed […]

483

How to Repair Your Credit and Improve Your Credit Score

Your credit score is a 3-digit number between 300 and 850, generated by a mathematical algorithm (a mostly secret formula) based on information in your credit report, as compared to information on tens of millions of other people. The resulting number is said to be a highly accurate prediction of how likely you are to […]

488

My Hate-Love Relationship with a Cast Iron Skillet

I really don’t know where I got the thing. It may have been a wedding gift. What I know is that I tried to use that cast iron skillet without success and I mean not even a little bit. Food would become hopelessly stuck to it and burned beyond recognition. If it wasn’t turning out charred fare, it was growing a fine coat of rust.

The good news is I rescued it and now more than 40 years later, my favorite skillet and I have quite a love thing going on.

Have a great weekend!

~ xoxo Mary 😍

490

Lately, Have You Checked the HVAC Filter?

Everyone agrees that we should change the filter in our home heating ventilation air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Actually doing that may be something else altogether. It’s all about the where, when and how of doing it that leads us to procrastination and selective amnesia. It’s not difficult. The problem is in making it a priority. […]

492

A Gracious Guide for How to Be a Good House Guest

It was shocking if not surreal. The email message was from a woman I’d never met and whose name I recognized only because a few months earlier she mailed me a book she’d written. The message announced that she and her family were planning a cross-country road trip to Disneyland and would just love to stay […]

493

Best Inexpensive Essential College Dorm Gear

It’s been a number of years since I moved into a college dorm room. My memories of college life are both vivid and precious. For years, I’d been dreaming about how I would grow up and leave my childhood home and sheltered life to attend college in Los Angeles. I lived in the same dorm room from […]

494

Favorite Super Short, Super Easy Instant Pot Recipes

I have loved my Instant Pot since the day it arrived back in 2016. I’ll admit to being slightly intimidated in the first few days but that was short-lived. Thanks to a few tips, tricks, and these ridiculously simple recipes, in no time I was making dinners in 30 minutes or less—start to finish. Meals from my Instant […]

495

15 Minutes to Financial Freedom

The email message contained a single-word subject: Help! The sender, I’ll call her Emily, had been asked by her community group leader to give a 15-minute presentation on how to achieve financial freedom. She was honored to have been asked, excited to do it, but also panicked by the thought. She asked if I would help. […]

496

Ask Me Anything: Toys R Us Gift Cards | Percale Sheets | Best Upright Vacuum

Childhood memories … they can be both comforting and painful. I was reminded of that this past week when we took our grandsons to their favorite Family Fun Center—Boondocks.

It’s a great place with all the regular entertainment: Mini Golf, Bumper Boats, Bowling, Laser Tag and their favorite—the Arcade where Eli, age 9, got a shock the likes of which I didn’t understand at first.

We discovered that our Boondocks has been completely renovated and upgraded. The familiar tokens for play and resulting “tickets” that pour out of the machines as rewards are gone. G-O-N-E!! In their place, digital cards your swipe like a credit card, that somehow keep track of points and rewards. How could they!?

Eli was crushed. Right before my eyes I watched as one of his favorite things to do morphed into but a childhood memory. There were tears commensurate with a 9-year old’s grief. That, of course. broke my heart. Actually, anything that insists my kids and grandsons must grow up is met with conflict in my heart.

On the one hand, I don’t want them to grow up. I want them to be innocent, wonder-filled children forever. But then I remind myself how grateful I am that our sons have and grandsons are developing into unique and wonderful adults. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Today’s post will leave you feeling a bit nostalgic as well but also filled with hope. I have such good stuff to share with you!

Speaking of good stuff … Congratulations to recent GIVEAWAY Winners!

Nok-Out Giveaway: Vivienne Stephen
ThermaPen MK4 Giveaway: Carolyn Nelson
Raising Financially Confident Kids Giveaway: Rebecca M. Powrozek

This has been so much fun, we’re considering making GIVEAWAYS a regular weekly feature. Your thoughts?

497

Follow Up: Spring Clean Kitchen Challenge

Did you accept the challenge Spring Clean Kitchen Challenge? It’s been six weeks since I wrote about our big kitchen remodel and my determination to follow Cynthia Townley Ewer’s (Cut the Clutter) three rules for organizing an efficient, convenient kitchen. I invited my readers to accept the challenge and many did. It’s time for a […]

498

How Not to Feel Poor on a Fixed Income

It’s no secret that more and more people—especially seniors on fixed incomes—are sinking deeper into credit-card debt. Why is this? I don’t think it’s because we’ve had so many emergencies (the reason to have credit cards, right?). It’s because we don’t want to feel poor. At this point, I should define this term, “feeling poor.” […]

499

Your Own Personal Loan Shark

Imagine paying outrageous amounts of interest to a greedy finance company and loving every minute of it. Or how about making off-the-record, back-alley deals with a loan shark so you can skip all the credit checks and paperwork? You can and you should.

500

What Happens to My Credit When I Get Married? 

While planning a wedding and their new life together, most couples aren’t thinking about how marriage might affect their credit. Will her student debt show up in your pristine credit file? Will your bankruptcy destroy his excellent credit score? Should you close the accounts you have but don’t use? Dear Mary: I’ll be getting married in […]

501

Your Cordless Stick Vac Needs a Bath—Photo Tutorial

Rarely do I gush. But gush I do over my Eufy Cordless Stick Vac*. Can’t help it. Eufy is so handy, easy to use and serves us so well in our home, office, garage and alas, my husband’s woodworking shop. Eufy HomeVac Lightweight Cordless Upright-Style Vacuum Cleaner (NOT to be confused with the Eufy Duo 2-in-1 […]

502

Best Inexpensive™ Dishwasher

Just this past week I heard from my dear reader Penny who is frustrated in the face of needing to purchase a new dishwasher. She writes:  “Our dishwasher is more than 20 years old and every time I think I have decided on a new one and read the reviews, I back out. I know that you […]

511

How to Eliminate Horrible Smoke Odor

I love the smell of a campfire smoke mixed with the scent of pine trees on a warm summer night. In the mountains at a campsite in a pristine national forest.  But stale cigarette smoke odor in a car or home? Smoke odor from a house fire? That’s something different and not at all pleasant.

513

Best Inexpensive™ Umbrellas

What we should expect are umbrellas that are waterproof, sturdy, and above all, reliable for a decent period of time. And of a decent size. And if something goes wrong—even super strong wind—we want reliable customer service that will make things right. Here are my picks for Best Inexpensive™ umbrellas.

514

Help! Issues with Tub and Shower Soap Scum Cleaner

If I were keeping track of the number of responses from my readers that are filled with praise and gratitude, there would be thousands of hash marks next to Tub and Shower Soap Scum Cleaner. And the most-often word to describe it? Magical!
But now and then a response will report problems having to do with allergies and, well … that smell!

517

Readers Share Even More Brilliant Uses for Blue Dawn

I’m not certain when a subject becomes a saga, but I think we may have crossed over into saga territory on the subject of terrific ways to use Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid that have nothing to do with washing dishes. Get ready for even more brilliant uses in today’s post.

518

The 4 Make-Your-Own-Mixes You Asked For

They’re convenient and tasty, but the high cost of your favorite prepared mixes and spice blends is enough to make you choke right there in the supermarket! In less time than it takes you to run to the market to pick up a box of Bisquick or a few packets of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing […]

520

My Journey Into the Dark Web

I got up very early on Groundhog Day so I could be among the first to know  Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction for how many weeks of winter are still ahead. As I was waiting for the live coverage to begin, I got an email message that made my heart race. The message was from LifeLock. Dark Web Alert: Identity Information Detected!

521

It’s a Smelly World Out There

Nok-Out and I met quite by accident. In searching for ways my readers could deal with offensive odors, we found each other online. I’ve used it continuously in my home since then and have recommended it to readers facing serious and potentially expensive odor issues.

523

Turn Leftovers into Soup

Soup is a great frugal, potentially delicious meal that can successfully be made from leftovers. It’s a great way to “waste-not-want-not” because potentially you can get a free meal for your efforts. But I’m not talking about just dumping stuff in a pot willy-nilly. There’s a method here for making really great soup from ingredients […]

524

That Bed Sheet Pet Peeve, How to Soften Hard Water for Laundry

It may not show up in The Top Tens Biggest Pet Peeves (yes, there is such a thing), but getting the corners right when putting on a fitted bed sheet ranks high in my mailbox.
Here’s the funny thing: Because it doesn’t bother me, I had no idea that quickly figuring out which corner goes where when putting on a fitted bed sheet was a major pet peeve for so many people! I guess I’ve lived my life just assuming that everyone knew the easy trick to get it right the first time, every time.