Not all companies are starving for business these days. In fact, some are setting records for increased business. Any kind of repair business and also thrift stores are doing great during these financial turbulent times. Makes sense. After all it doesn’t require a Mensa membership to know that most often it is cheaper to repair than to replace, and you can clean silver for a fraction of the price of a commercial cleaning product for a fraction of their new price tag. Which leads me to today’s first in a fun collection of random tips …


WINDSHIELD REPAIR. Call your insurance agent to report a small crack in your car’s windshield. Many insurance companies will fix cracks or “stars” for free, provided they’re smaller in size than a quarter, in order to prevent larger claims in the future. Some companies will even send a repair person to your home or work to make it convenient for you.

CORD CORRAL. To corral a group of cords under your desk or behind a TV, buy a plastic shower rod cover. Cut it to your desired length. Then spread it open and enclose the cords. You can even match it to your carpet color to make the cords less visible.

COUPONS FOR KIDS. Turn grocery shopping into a game for kids. Pick out which coupons you plan to use and give them to the kids. Let them try to match the items from the coupons to the items on the shelf. Then, at check out let their reward be the money that you saved from using the coupons.

FRESH SCENT. Scented candle stubs from used candles will keep your car smelling fresh. Put the wax pieces in a can or a small container and leave them in your car. On a warm day, the wax will melt and fill the car with a nice fragrance.  Read more

Recently, I had the occasion to shop for a bird feeder for a dear friend. I learned quickly that squirrels are nuts about bird feeders and can outsmart just about any design or effort to keep them out of the birds’ food. For me, that begs the question:  Why aren’t there squirrel feeders so squirrels can have their own filling stations and stop tormenting the birds? I’m sure if there’s an answer to that, I’ll be hearing from my readers very soon.


In the meantime, enjoy today’s first tip from EC reader Marge, who discovered a cheap, albeit effective, way to deal with thieving squirrels in her yard.

SQUIRREL-PROOF. After watching squirrels hanging upside down on my bird feeders—sometimes one on each side of the roof—I finally found the solution: a jar of Vaseline. I put on a rubber glove and then smeared the pole from top to bottom with the Vaseline. In no time at all, I watched as one squirrel tried to climb the pole, but jumped off because it was too slippery. So far none, have been able to overcome Vaseline while I am enjoying many different birds at the feeder. Marge

CATCH MICE LIKE MAGIC. I have another use for Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. I bought a new one, and stored it under my kitchen sink. The next day I reached for it and something had been eating it. Pieces of white torn up sponge were around. A mouse, I thought. So I got out some handy mouse traps and as I was about to use peanut butter for bait, I suddenly thought, “If he likes the Mr. Clean Dry Erase Sponge so much…” So I cut off a piece and used it to bait the trap (so much less messy than sticky peanut butter). This morning there he was in the trap, having gone for it. Who would have imagined? Sharon Read more

Do you know the scanning error policies of the stores and restaurants you frequent most often? If you’ve never thought about it, you are going to get a big wake-up call with today’s first great reader tip! These days, we just cannot be too careful.


CATCHING ERRORS PAYS. We just caught $80 dollars in clerical errors in two days. Three were at the grocery store. I got double charged for an item and an item on clearance was going to be charged full price because they forgot to black out the barcode. At another grocery store I was supposed to get a half pound of cheese if I bought a pound of meat. I bought the full pound, but they did not take off the cheese. Another error happened to my husband when he bought a two dollar measuring cup. The clerk did not give him a receipt, but did proceed to charge him $69. This was caught on camera. She put the next person’s purchase on his card. All these errors were corrected because we were paying attention. Lesson learned: Check your receipts immediately and online bank statements daily. These errors can add up quickly. Margaret

SECRET CODE. Do not carry your Social Security card with you. Memorize the number. If you don’t have confidence to do that, put it in code form, i.e. a long string of numbers where the individual numbers of your SS number are hidden in the 1st, 3rd, 5th or such places in the number chain etc, etc.  Do this on a 3 x 5 card with no title. Now anyone finding it will have no clue what significance this number chain has. John Read more

I’m a lucky woman. Once a month my husband and I make a quick trip to California to tend to business, see friends and visit our older son, who just happens to have the most prolific Meyer lemon tree on earth in his back yard.

I try to always bring an empty bag with me so I can load up with these beautiful, tree-ripened lemons. Many thanks to our first reader for her tip for how I can keep my lemons at peak long enough to use them up. I tried it and it works for me!


FRESH LEMONS. if you like to keep lemons on hand even when you don’t have a specific need, submerge them (washed with peel on) in a bowl of water in the refrigerator. You will have fresh lemons for weeks on end. I currently have had a bowl in my refrigerator for two months, and they are beautiful. Wow. What a money saver, and I always have a fresh lemon when needed. Ashley

DRIVE-THRU FIRST. Taking youngsters to a fast food restaurant can be a fun treat, but standing in a long line with an active brood can be stressful. Solution: Drive through first, place your order and request the server put your food on a tray at the counter because you’ll be right in. By the time you park and get everyone inside, you can pick up the tray and go directly to a table. Rhonda

SUPER-QUICK DRY. Need to dry a pair of jeans or pajamas in a hurry? Put them and a completely dry bath towel into the dryer. They’ll be dry in a fraction of the time they would have taken on their own. Patsy Read more

Quick and easy. That’s how I enjoy saving time and money. And every day I learn fun new ways to do that from you, my lovely readers. Check out this new batch of time- and money-saving tips:


BANANA BUNS. Inevitably there are always hot dog buns left after a hot dog meal. My kids love to eat peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwiches on hot dog buns. Quick, easy and no banana slices fall out like they do on regular sliced bread. Carolyn

CHEAP CHICKEN. I love using rotisserie chickens when I am in a hurry—in pasta sauce or casseroles, they taste great and really cut down on prep time (especially when it comes down to eating in versus eating out). In my favorite supermarket, they sell hot rotisserie chickens for about $5 each. However, I have discovered that I can get a cold one (usually from the day before) for $2.50—half the price! Cold works great for me. We almost never eat them immediately upon bringing them home and had always been refrigerating them until use. The cold, cheaper ones can generally be found in the deli refrigerated area, that is near other prepared foods, salsas, and so on. Kerri

FILE AND FORGET IT. When I buy something that has a warranty, I save the receipt and staple it to the owner’s manual, then file it. Hillary Read more

I am enjoying the unique holiday tips and tricks readers are sending my way, to be shared with you. Over and again I find myself saying, “Wow! Why didn’t I think that?”


Just this week, I was boiling mad at myself when I opened boxes marked “Christmas” to find supplies of cards, tags and gift wrap purchased on sale, then promptly forgotten. You can be sure this year I’m going to file all this stuff under “Halloween!” You’ll understand as you read on.

MAKE MEMORIES. Once Christmas is over for another year, I scrapbook all the photos and handmade cards we receive. It’s great to look back over the years at all of our friends and relatives as they grow. So much creativity goes into some of these cards. The scrapbook is with all of my other photo albums, so I don’t have to wait until the Christmas decorations come out of storage to see them. Vicky

CANNED BOWS. I use the large, Christmas popcorn tins (cleaned and dried) to store my Christmas bows. I use one for red, another for green and the other two for gold and mixed colors. I can stack them in storage and my bows stay new looking all year. I reuse these bows for several years. Gwen

TREE SKIRT. I purchased a round Christmas tablecloth at the local thrift store for 25 cents. I laundered it and have been using it for the past three years as a tree skirt. It is large enough that I just fold it in half and wrap it around the tree holder, meeting in the back. It is reusable, beautiful and easy to clean. Darlene Read more

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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