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.

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

Then the onions, peppers, jalapeno, cilantro, garlic all mixed together with lime juice, salt, and pepper—done in about 5 minutes start to finish. Yum!

I don’t really have a recipe. I just know the ingredients need to include freshly chopped onion, tomato, jalapeno (go easy!), green bell pepper, fresh garlic, and cilantro. Mix together and add the juice of one lime, salt, and pepper; all to taste. That’s pretty much it!

Have you visited our brand new Everyday Cheapskate Tip site yet? It’s FREE, interactive and CASH prizes! Show us your tips and you could be one of three WINNER$! Click over to EC² to learn more and to join the fun!

I love my Chop Wizard. I look for things to chop just because it’s so much fun. I’m a chopping fool! And the results are always so amazing. I even took Chop Wizard to the office a while back and held a demonstration for my tolerant staff.

I know I run the risk of this sounding like I’m a paid spokesperson for Vidalia Chop Wizard (I’m not). It’s just that this gadget is such a time saver. Given the fact that it makes me want to make things from scratch, it’s a money saver, too.

I bought my Chop Wizard years ago in response to a late-night TV infomercial. Remarkably it is still in production, now available in stores and online.

I can’t say that everything I’ve purchased through an infomercial or PBS special has turned out as well. I’ve been burned a number of times when my compulsive nature met headlong with a weak moment. In makes me queazy to think back over the years … all the junk, all the money I’ve wasted.

When I say I am compulsive I mean that with a capital C. How do I deal with it when it comes to buying stuff? I have these specific questions written on a flowchart that I keep close and force myself to answer:


    1. Do I need it?
    2. Can I afford it?
    3. Do I already have something that will do?
    4. Can I wait for a more reasonable alternative?
    5. Am I certain I have located the best deal?
    6. Am I willing to submit to a self-imposed cooling-off period to think it over?

You wouldn’t believe how many times these simple questions have stopped me short—forcing me to stop and think and then saving me from making a foolish, purchase.

And there have been just as many times that this exercise gave me the confidence I needed to make the right purchasing decision.

Question: Have you ever purchased something after seeing it hocked on TV then lived to regret it? Oh please, do tell ….

Updated 1-19-20


Remember Mr. Diderot and His Red Robe Before You Head out Shopping

Surprisingly Amazing Ways to Make Meals from Leftovers

23 Ways to Chop Your Grocery Bill

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7 Things You Need to Know About Your Dishwasher

I would like to thank Josephine Cochrane of Illinois. I’d like to, but I can’t. She’s been dead for more than a century. But if I could, I’d thank her for inventing the dishwasher. Personally, I’d give up just about anything before my dishwasher.


I’ll admit to being a stickler when it comes to properly washed dishes, glassware and utensils. If they come out spotted, gritty or cloudy I’m not happy.

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.

Years ago before we remodeled and sold our home in California, I’d lived with a low-end, plain wrap, well-used, 18-year old dishwasher. All was well until I began noticing that it was just not doing well. Dishes came out feeling gritty, glasses were streaked and cloudy, food remained stuck to flatware. Ugh. It was really bad. I assumed my Tappan had lived out its useful life and deserved to be put down.

Read more

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 chair, my favorite handbag on the floor next to me and a hot cup of coffee on the table to my left.

I stand up and somehow—I could never re-enact this feat in a million years—I turn to the left in such perfect form, I launch that entire large cup of coffee into the air where it makes a flawless entry into my purse. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was like a 100-year flood in my Dooney. Everything inside was bobbing up and down, gasping for air.


Insider information

I credit a conversation with a friend who owns a used car dealership with the fact that my favorite leather bag (I’ve had it for almost 20 years) came through unscathed, following my heroic emergency rescue.

He told me the secret of how to clean leather. His dealership cleans, conditions, and protects leather car seats and interiors to make them look like new. Since then, I’ve been treating this bag like the interior of a fine Italian sports car. I had no idea I was also protecting it against the stains and torment of future flooding. Read more

A Woman With Warm Clothing Feeling The Cold Inside House

Best Inexpensive Way to Reduce Home Heating Bill

Just as I was knee-deep in researching, testing, and learning all I could about electric space heaters, this letter landed in my inbox.

A Woman With Warm Clothing Feeling The Cold Inside House

Dear Mary: I need your help to figure out how we can reduce our home heating bill. It’s killing us to pay so much to keep our house warm in the winter.We have a gas furnace and where I live the cost of gas has gone up more than 10 percent, while at the same time the cost of electricity has gone down slightly. Our home is two story with a basement. Our kids are grown so it’s just the two of us. My husband travels for his work, so I’m the only one here most of the time. Thanks in advance for your help! Jeanine

Dear Jeanine: 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. Read more

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 decided to write a print newsletter, Cheapskate Monthly. Some of you remember that—we’ve been together for a long time! Starting with the very first issue I shared money-saving tips with you and invited you to send me yours. In future publications I shared as many as I could with all of my readers.

It didn’t take long to realize we were on to something. We love tips—especially when they’re clever, unique, and really work to save time and money.

Over the years, I’ve received many thousands of tips from you my dear readers. There’s no way to know exactly how many. I’ve shared them far and wide. Your tips have shown up in many newsletters, posts, columns, articles, and even three books—Tiptionary, Tiptionary2, and Cheaper, Better, Faster.

But that was then, and this is now. Things have changed, remarkably. Now we have the Internet. Now we have this blog. And do you know what? I’m tired! I’m tired of looking for new and better ways to receive, file, publish, and then share your awesome tips with other readers.

That’s where EC² comes in to save the day—for me, for all of us. And in the coolest most awesome ways.

EC² is now alive and well at I’m going to give you a link in a bit, don’t worry. But before I do that I want to introduce you to EC², describe the way it works, and then invite you to come on in! EC² is totally FREE and don’t we love that!

Think of it this way: Instead of writing out your tips and either mailing  (yes, I still get tips via U.S. Mail) or emailing them—you’re invited to share your best tips, tricks, hacks, and ideas at EC² by uploading them from your computer, phone, device to this website. I want you to be part of this mass endeavor to create a repository of what we love so much—time and money-saving tips!

What does this entail for you? If you can post and upload to Facebook or share it on Pinterest, you’re in good shape already. You know a lot about uploading. Add to that what you will learn in our Guidelines, and you’ll be uploading to EC² in no time.

But wait! There’s more.

My purpose in all of this is to create a place where we can gather to find community, friendship; a place where we can encourage and support one another. But we want to have fun too, right? Which brings me to Contests!

Yes … starting today, when you upload a tip that is approved for publication, you will get the opportunity to enter that tip in a Contest. And … wait for it … CASH prizes! Seriously.

We’re starting with one Contest per month, three Winners per contest. 1st place, $100; 2nd place, $75; 3rd place $50. No strings attached, no hidden agendas. No selling email addresses, no goofy, underhanded, scurrilous stuff! Just a group of friends pooling their money-saving ideas to have fun, and compete for cash prizes!

As for those who have no interest in creating and submitting tips, there’s lots for you at EC². You have full access to read and enjoy old and new content contributed by your fellow readers, every day!

I’m sure you have a ton of questions, many of which will be answered once you head to EC² and read the Guidelines, FAQs, and poke around in the very limited Archive of tips. If you have others, you know where I am!

We’ve been working on EC² for more than a year. About 200 of you, my dear readers, have helped out with beta-testing. Thank you, again! It’s been a long haul, but here we are at the Grand Opening.

Now it’s your turn! We can’t wait to read your awesome tips.

To access EC², you can click HERE; or click on “Share a Tip” above on the menu bar.

Please feel free to share this far and wide starting with friends and family. By getting in early you increase your chances of winning cash, as the number of participants is fewer today than it ever will be again in the future!


How to Improve Your Life: Join a Group!

How to Make a Perfect Baked Potato in the Oven

Homemade English Muffin Bread

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16 Amazing Ways Hydrogen Peroxide Can Make Your Life Easier

Some time ago I got a message, which reminded me about the wonders of ordinary product hydrogen peroxide—a product most people have somewhere in the house. Georgia wrote …

hydrogen peroxide poured onto cloth for cleaning

I had a cut on my hand that opened up while I was putting my expensive duvet cover on my comforter. Now I have blood stains where I touched it. Is there any hope of getting these stains out completely? I tried using a carpet cleaning solution and washing it but those stains remain. I’m worried they’ll be there permanently. Thanks so much for your help! 

I responded immediately, directing Georgia to soak the stains with fresh, full-strength hydrogen peroxide. I heard back quickly. The hydrogen peroxide lightened the stains almost immediately, and within hours they disappeared completely.

I’ll be honest that back then, removing blood stains was about all I ever used hydrogen peroxide for. And because it has such a short shelf life, I was forever throwing out old, useless hydrogen peroxide.

Since then, I’ve learned so much and done extensive research and wow. The stuff is downright wonderful from cleaning to mouthwash—so awesome in fact, I never throw hydrogen peroxide away anymore. It doesn’t have time in my home to age out. That’s how much I use it.

Read more

Online Bill Pay—What it Is, How to Use It, and Why You Should

Online bill pay, a service now offered by most banks and credit unions, makes it easier to organize your bills and pay them when they’re due. If you juggle rent or mortgage, cable, electricity, credit card payments and more, online bill pay can save time and help you avoid late fees.

I once flew in a chartered jet, not exactly like a rockstar, but I did feel quite pampered. The flight was awesome, but I have to admit to freaking out when the pilot unbuckled, stood up, left his pilot seat and came back to chat with his three passengers over snacks and sodas.

While he sat with us for more than an hour, it took only a few minutes for me to relax, enjoy the company and the ride.

Relying on autopilot in both flying and finances is quite an amazing thing.

Read more

bagged salads in grocery store produce department

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.

bagged salads in grocery produce department

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 produce in any grocery store’s produce department that is 100% bacteria-free. Watching customers touch and test fresh produce is just one indicator.

Read more

How to Improve Your Life: Join a Group!

Every night my friend Mary Ann does the unthinkable. She sets her alarm for 4:30 a.m. because every morning she gets up and walks three miles while the rest of the world sleeps.


photo credit: Nebraska Medicine

How has Mary Ann managed to stick with this early morning fitness routine for so many years? Simple. She knows that someone is waiting for her. Two people have made a commitment to show up.


The secret of Mary Ann’s success is that she chooses to be accountable, not only to herself but to another person who shares her desire to become physically fit.

And how is this working out? Extremely well, she reports. The faster she and her buddy walk the louder they talk. And laugh. They even argue from time to time.

Read more

cup of coffee napkin and pen with notes on napkin for how to get rid of clutter organize

How to Beat Clutter and Improve Your Life

Getting organized is like dieting. Everyone knows how to do it, The problem is getting around to it—to clearing out clutter, cleverly organizing what remains, and then maintaining the results.

cup of coffee napkin and pen with notes on napkin for how to get rid of clutter organize

We know how to clear out the clutter … actually doing it is the challenge

A few years ago, when we remodeled our kitchen I emptied every cupboard and drawer. I carefully labeled every box and bin with its contents. That process alone ran a few red flags up the pole. I found things I’d forgotten completely. When it was time to put everything back, I decided to put things away as I actually used them—not with the mindset that I might need them someday.  

I quickly realized why it was such a problem to keep the kitchen neat and tidy. It is impossible to organize chaos. I needed to clear out everything first. Funny how that cleared my mind as well.

Getting rid of the unused which obviously had become unnecessary created space to organize the essentials.

Too. Much. Stuff.

Face it. If you don’t have enough closet, drawer, and storage space to comfortably handle your possessions, you probably own too many things. Give away, pare down. Let your rooms, closets, and drawers appear serene and controlled—kept.

There’s no single “right” way to organize your possessions and home. Organization must fit your style, your energy, and schedule. Find a system that functions best for you and your family.

Eliminate, concentrate

No matter the way you do it, let this be your mantra: Eliminate and concentrate. Say it over and over. Then say it some more. 


I will admit to this being very difficult for me. I have this thing in my head that says someday I’ll need it. It’s worth a lot. It has value. After all the power grid might go down any second, and these candle stubs could save the day. Just articulating those words makes me laugh and prompts me to do the right thing: eliminate in any way I can.


It’s ridiculous how the things we really do need get scattered all over the house in random drawers and cupboards. Getting everything of like-kind into one place is also a shocking experience. Yes, we need that thing whatever it might be. But do we really need 18 of them?!

Brown bag method

Getting rid of the clutter is a good place to start. Personally I’m fond of the Brown Bag Method for instant results–something that works wonders especially when you are at your wit’s end over clutter and chaos.

Take one (more as necessary) large brown paper grocery bag, bin or box and fill it with all of the stacks of extraneous papers, magazines, mail—your basic clutter. The purpose here is not to throw anything away, just to get it out of visual range until you have time to go through and separate, sort and file.  At least that’s what you tell yourself.

Stand back and enjoy that completely clear counter, desktop, table, or another flat surface. Amazing, isn’t it?

If within 48 hours or so, no one in the family has mentioned missing something of importance, it is probably safe to throw the whole thing out. While this may be a method of last resort, I guarantee it works.

Salami method

A more preferred way to get organized may be the Salami Method. You wouldn’t think of eating an entire salami at one sitting. You’d eat it in slices over a period of time. Think of your project as one big salami. Start with one thing, one room, one closet—one drawer? Then tomorrow is another day; another drawer, another attic. Soon you’ll be in control.

I’ve learned that gaining control over the stuff in my life has an effect on my attitude. When everything is in its place I’m less stressed, more able to think clearly and basically, a happier person. Order brings calm, clutter results in chaos.

Severe messies

I have found some kind of comfort in knowing that I’m not the only organizationally challenged person out there. Just the other day, I was reading that the ratio of naturally-born neatniks to messies is about one to a million. 

Not everyone has a severe case of the messies, but if you think you might you need to read Sink Reflections, a book by Marla Cilley.

Cilley, aka “The FlyLady” to the thousands who log onto her website, kindly and with great empathy reaches into every person’s home to help make housecleaning more fun and life more organized.

Beginning with “Shiny Sink 101,” Cilley explains how a spotless kitchen sink can direct even the most discouraged housekeeper onto the path of well-ordered domesticity. And who couldn’t love that?


Challenge Yourself to Save More Money This Year

Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do!

The 10 Most Popular Posts of 2019

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Photocopying or reproduction other than for subscribers’ personal use is strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher, DPL Press, Inc.

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Submitters grant the exclusive right to use and or reproduce the materials in any manner and for any purpose. All information published is taken from the most reliable sources possible and given as information only. All specific financial, legal, tax and accounting situations should be referred to appropriate legal or accounting professionals.