Want to learn more ways to save time and money every day? Your fellow readers are ready to share their best tips. Get ready, you’re about to say it more than a few times—what a great idea!

Trade school student painting car

PROJECT FREE PAINT JOB. My car is 7-years old with 127,000 miles—and paid for. I wanted to get it painted to last me another 3 years but didn’t want to spend the $700 I was told it would cost. I have a friend who is a teacher at our a local BOCES school (a training center for adults and high school students) and he said they would do the job at no cost—the only thing I would pay for is the paint. I checked into it and learned that many trade schools that teach automotive painting need cars for student projects. They were happy to get my car for the students to learn on and they did a masterful job, with teacher oversight. John

SEE CLEARLY TILL THE STORM PASSES BY. Rain-X Windshield Treatment is a product that repels water from a car’s windshield. It really works. I can still see well, even when a truck passes me splashing water, mud and slush over my windshield. You have to really rub hard to get the streaks off and the windshield must be totally dry when you apply the Rain-X. Being able to see at all times during a blinding rainstorm saves me much more than money. Brittany
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The only thing I love more than great tips from my readers are the words of love and thanks. Yeah, I’m a sucker for friendship and I value that more than you know.

laptop with mail arriving in form of letters in envelopes.

Just knowing that so many friends are reading these columns every day keeps me going. So whatever you do, keep those tips, great ideas and questions coming

NEUTRALIZE BUG BITES. I read your column every day with much interest. I really enjoy re-affirming the practical life lessons and habits that I have lived by for most of my adult life We are definitely on the same wavelength. I saw the article today with the many uses of Vinegar (acetic acid).

You may not know that a very important use for vinegar is for bites and stings of any kind. Spiders, ants, mosquitoes, all have a venom which can be neutralized very effectively if you can apply a cotton ball soaked with vinegar to the bite as soon after you notice it, as possible. Give the area a good firm rub with the cotton ball—even squeeze it into the bite so it penetrates.

The venom (PH basic) is chemical opposite to the vinegar (PH acid), so the itching and swelling can be reduced or eliminated if caught quickly. Love your blog and your work ethic, keep up the good work. Robert Read more

Need a foolproof way to cut your food/grocery expenses by 25 percent 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? Me either, but not to worry. Here are some less painful—and I hope a bit more realistic—ways to chop the high cost of food.

25 Ways to Chop the High Cost of Groceries

Create your shopping list at home when you are hungry. You will be more creative and thorough.

But never shop when hungry. You will be compelled to buy everything in sight regardless of what’s on your list.

Leave the kids at home. You will stick to your shopping list with much less frustration and stress if you fly solo.

Don’t shop at convenience or specialty stores. You won’t find many bargains there.

Groceries online. Online grocery shopping is the latest and greatest for many (me!). It keeps me out of the supermarket where, even with a list, I’m an impulsive disaster just waiting to happen. I shop at KingSoopers (part of the Kroger Family of stores) and pay a flat fee of $4.95  per order for its ClickList service. (Read more about that here.) Walmart groceries online with free same-day pickup is now available at hundreds of Walmart stores nationwide (store locator). Walmart does not charge a pickup fee but has a minimum order requirement of $30.

Hint: 24 Fabulous Ideas for Mother’s Day Gifts

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I’ve always found it ironic that the places in our homes that should be the cleanest—the washing machine, kitchen sink, bathroom tub, shower, sinks—are often the dirtiest.

Harsh chemicals, soap deposits, food stains, rust, hard water minerals, and water spots, when allowed to build up, will eventually not only look bad but cause permanent and irreversible damage.

The good news is that you can halt—even reverse—much if not all of this kind of damage.


DE-STAIN SURFACES.  Erase those orange and brown streaks and spots with a paste made of 1/2 cup powdered borax and the juice of one-half lemon (or the amount needed to make a thick paste). Dab a clean sponge in the mixture, rub over the stain. Once you see the stain fade, rinse with running water. This works like magic on sinks and tubs made of porcelain enamel, stainless steel, or any other material. An old, stubborn stain may require multiple treatments, allowing the mixture to sit on the stain for a few minutes before rinsing. (It’s always a good idea to test any treatment like this in an inconspicuous place, first.)

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Once again, it’s great reader tip day, when I reach into my overflowing email inbox to pull out handy hints and great ideas sent in by you, my Dear Readers. The tips you send me are always appreciated, often amusing, and frequently make me wonder, why didn’t I think of that?

preparing chocolate cake batter

CHOCOLATE CAKE. I use one cup of leftover coffee in my chocolate cake mixes instead of a cup of water. The bottom of the pot is the best! Vicki

PILLOW PROTECTORS. I used to iron cotton pillowcases but no more because I no longer use pillowcases! Instead, I use cotton pillow protectors with a zipper—two of these per pillow: One to protect the pillow and one to wash when I launder the sheets. The zipper has never been a problem. The pillows look neater and blend in with decorative pillows used on the bed. Ginny

Related: Best Inexpensive™: Mattress, Bed Pillow, Duvet Cover

REMOVE PERMANENT MARKER. You recently published a tip from a reader who had difficulty removing a permanent marker stain from her refrigerator. I am a teacher, and here’s what I do, no cleaner required: Simply use a dry erase marker to write over the top of the permanent mark, then wipe it away. This trick, which I actually learned from a student, has saved the whiteboard in my classroom on more than one occasion! By the way, thanks for all of the great tips! I’ve been reading your column for years and have learned so much from you! Jennifer Read more

Well, you’ve done it again! You clever readers have come up with another batch of fabulous ways that all of us can save time and money doing stuff like cleaning the annoying, cloudy film from your car’s headlight covers—and lots more. 


AUTO CLEANER. Use plain old baking soda on a damp rag to remove bugs, tar and anything else from your vehicle. Works great, even on the grill and chrome work. Leaves no residue or odor and won’t harm the paint. I just make a paste with baking soda and water, clean away and just rinse off. Works better than any commercial product I’ve tried. This method even cleans away the cloudy film on headlight covers. Bud

CUSTOM FLOOR MATS. I wanted floor mats for our mini-van so I stopped by our local car dealership. Boy, was I floored (pardon the pun). I checked a discount department store and while their mats were priced more reasonably, they didn’t fit well. I found a perfect solution by buying clear plastic runner material that is available by the yard at the home improvement center. With a utility knife I customized the fit around the seat hardware. This saved a lot of money and works beautifully. Judith

FRIDGE DEODORIZER. Used coffee grinds can eliminate even the worst refrigerator odors. I store kimchee (Korean pickled cabbage with a distinct odor) in my refrigerator regularly and I don’t smell it anymore! Simply take out the used coffee filter with the coffee grinds in it and place it in your refrigerator in an open container. It works better than baking soda or any other commercial remedy. I’ve tried them all. Just replace the coffee grinds when they dry up. Jay Read more

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, and great ideas that will help you stay cool without blowing a hole in the budget.


A whole house fan (not to be confused with an attic fan) is installed in the attic and designed to ventilate the house whenever the outdoor air is cooler, which is typically after the sun sets—making it possible to turn the air conditioner off at night.

For a seasoned and experienced homeowner, installing a whole house fan is typically a do-it-yourself project. However, for a professional, it’s a quick and easy job. Learn more at the U.S. Department of Energy website.

Related: Best Inexpensive™ Window Air Conditioner

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Becoming a school teacher was never on my radar. Sure, I taught private piano lessons for a lot of years but in my mind, that was different. I was a musician, not a teacher.


During the early years of becoming a writer, author, and columnist I read a quote that changed all of that for me: Teaching teaches the teacher.

I guess I’d always assumed that to be considered a teacher you would have to know it all first, before being qualified to teach. But those four words changed my mind. That’s me! I am a teacher even though I am learning something new every single day. You, my loyal, faithful readers have taught me so much.

SPARE THE STOP VALVE. I really enjoy your column, I read it every day. In past post, you instructed folks to turn off the stop valve under the toilet as a way to remove all of the water in the bowl before tackling stains. As a plumber, I think that may be asking for trouble for some people. The valve may not move or the packing nut could leak. What my wife and I have done for years is simply fill a 2 or 2 1/2 gallon pail with water and them dump into the bowl as fast as it will take it. The do-not-overflow siphon action will leave little or no water in bowl This also can clear many nuisance toilet clogs. Just my two cents worth. Again, great column. Jim

This: These Bugs Detect Water Leaks You Cannot See

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