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Readers Share Their Clever Tricks and Tips

Any time I can eliminate or lower my stress level when traveling, I’m a happy camper. I am always on the lookout for travel tips and tricks. Now I can’t wait for my next flight, so I can try Gary’s tip. Read on.

ARRIVALS FOR DEPARTURES. I travel a lot and sometimes if I’m in a time crunch getting to the airport, I use the Arrivals level instead of the Departures to reach my terminal. This saves a lot of time, even though I may have to take my luggage up the elevator. I figure this is a viable option if the only other choice I have is to miss my flight. Gary

HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE “SQUARES.” Instead of buying expensive baker’s chocolate squares, I mix three tablespoons of baking cocoa with one tablespoon of oil to replicate one square. And since most recipes call for the squares to be melted, not only have I saved money, I’ve saved time, too. Helen

ABSORBENT TUB BACKREST. I have the best tub backrest. It’s more comfortable than the inflatable ones and it’s cheaper than the ones designed for spas. It’s a baby bath sponge! Designed for laying a baby on its back, it’s large enough for my entire back. It sticks to the tub and stays warm as long as the water does. I toss the sponge in the washer periodically to freshen. Lauren

How to Store and Reheat Leftover Pizza

So, by some miracle you ended up with more pizza than you could eat—or you intentionally ordered a larger pie just to have leftovers. Great idea, unless those leftovers sit in the fridge until they dry up, curl up and turn downright disgusting.

Properly stored, leftover pizza will retain its best quality for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator or up to 2 months in the freezer.

STORE LEFTOVER PIZZA

The best way to store leftover pizza is NOT to leave it in the box and shove the whole thing in the refrigerator. The cardboard and air freely circulating around the slices will dehydrate them in a big hurry.

The best way is to stack and wrap: Place a single layer of slices on a dinner plate, top with a layer of wax, freezer, foil, or parchment paper, and keep stacking, alternating pizza and paper, until all the pizza’s on the plate. Wrap the whole thing tightly up in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. That’s it! It’s not as easy as just throwing the box in the fridge, but you’ll end up with tastier leftover pizza. Which leaves you with lot of cold, leftover pizza to reheat.

Wow! What a Great Idea: Readers Share Favorite Tips

Of all my resources I rely on for time-and money-saving tips, my readers are the best. For everything from a super cheap but awesome foot soak to washing windows and finding coupons to cut the cost of vacations, EC readers have the latest scoop!

PEDICURE SOAK. This is crazy! Mix 1/2 cup Listerine mouthwash (any kind but I prefer the blue), 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1 cup of warm water. Pour into a large basin and soak feet for 15 minutes. Take them out and wrap one in a towel while you work on the other. Use a puma stone, pedicure paddle or even just a dry towel to rub the entire foot, focusing especially on the dry calloused areas. The dead skin practically wipes right off! Amazing. Polly

SINGLE SERVE. When I make Sloppy Joes I always make too much. So I line muffin tins with the paper liners, fill them with the Sloppy Joe mixture and quickly freeze them while still in the muffin pan. Once frozen, I remove them from the pan and place each cup-full in a plastic freezer bag. Each “cupcake” makes a perfect single serving, so it’s easy to take out exactly what you need. As a bonus, when heating in the microwave, flip the cup over in a small bowl and the paper liner acts as a splatter guard. Kathy

Quick and Easy Ways to Do Stuff Cheaper Better Faster

If there’s one thing I love, it’s discovering a quick and easy tip that saves me time and money and also makes my life easier. And when that tip is doubly clever because I can use something I have already to get it done, well that makes me so happy!

Enjoy some of my favorite tips readers have sent in over the years. And get ready to say what I say more often than you can even imagine: Wow! Why didn’t I think of that?!


AUTO TRASH CAN. Repurpose a cereal canister as a trash can for the car.

DIY WATERING CAN. Make your own watering can by puncturing holes in the lid of an empty plastic container like a milk or juice bottle.

REMOVE PET HAIR. Use a squeegee with a rubber blade to remove pet hair from furniture and carpet.

Magical Solutions for Challenging Situations

Sometimes it’s the most unusual thing that turns out to be the magical solution for a  household problem. Things like a hairdryer, a bottle of essential oil or tube of toothpaste.

Dear Mary: We had a very bad dark pink 7-foot stain in our white fiberglass whirlpool bathtub from previous antifreeze winterizing. I’d tried many things to remove the awful stain, including baking soda, soft scrub, bleach, scrubbing bubbles and mildew stain remover, among other things. I was about to give up and live with the long ugly pink stain when I tried non-gel toothpaste. It came off 100%! The tub is beautiful and sparkles again. I don’t know if anyone else might have this issue or a similar one, but I wanted to share this one with you. Gail

Dear Gail: Wow, that’s amazing! Thanks for letting us know. For readers running for the toothpaste to treat their own similarly stubborn stains, let me caution to always test in an inconspicuous place to make sure you will not be making an already difficult situation even worse. That’s just a good idea. As always, I’d love to hear from anyone for whom this tip saves the day.

Make Your Own Safe and Effective 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 particular set of life challenges ahead, it’s better to study these amazing creatures than to wake up to find a million or so feasting on that last piece of pie someone left out on the counter last night.

While there are dozens of homemade remedies for dealing with ants—from poisoning them with boric acid, borax, or ammonia—the ingredients can create toxic situations for crawling babies, pets and that salad you’re about to make on the counter where you just attempted to deal with an ant attack.

Other methods, like one that promises to blow up their digestive systems with cornmeal—while perhaps better to use than harsh chemicals—can create a new challenge when the solution turns out to be messier than the problem.

Today I want to tell you about an effective recipe for an ant spray you can make yourself from natural products that are toxic to ants but perfectly safe for pets and people. This recipe is safe, quick, natural (did I say that already?) and highly effective. And so handy. Just grab and go whenever you see a problem. You are going to love it.

14 Ways to Waste Money Without Even Trying

What would it feel like to check your bank balance and find a pile of money you didn’t know you had? That could happen and it doesn’t have to involve getting a second job or convincing the family how much fun it would be to fast two days a week.

Stop wasting money on goods and services that don’t matter in the long run. You just might see the equivalent of working a second job in your wallet.

1. BUYING FROM A TV AD

Face it: Infomercial products are overpriced   and hardly ever turn out to be as wonderful as depicted. And those risk-free trial periods? Don’t believe it. You’ll have to pay the return shipping costs plus a restocking fee, if you ever get around to it.

Plug the leak: Whenever tempted by an infomercial product, take a second to look up the item on eBay. You’ll be shocked to find dozens at a fraction of the price because that’s where they unload all the “as seen on TV” products that get returned. Ask yourself, why so many returns? By then the infomercial should be over and you can get on with your day.

How much you can save: How about two easy payments of $49.95? Plus shipping and handling. And the shipping charges to return it during the “free” trial period.

Achieving Your Freezer’s Full Potential

Is your freezer a money-guzzling storage facility for mystery meats? An oversized ice maker? It’s time to learn how to turn that box of wasted cold space into the money-stretching, time-saving household appliance it was meant to be.

TIPS

Temperature. Set it to the coldest setting so you maintain a constant temperature of 0 degrees or lower to ensure food will be safe to eat.

Efficient. A full freezer uses less electricity. When food inventory is low, pack it full by adding containers of water to fit the empty spaces.

Right wrap. Wrap food tightly to prevent moisture loss that causes food to become dry and discolored. Then, wrap it again in a thicker layer of foil, plastic or freezer bags. The second wrap keeps out odors.

No burn. Trapped air causes freezer burn. To prevent it, select a container small enough so your contents fill it. And skip the fancy sealing machine. Using a freezer bag, seal all but enough space to slip in a drinking straw. Inhale on the straw to pull out all the air, quickly seal the bag, and pop it into the freezer.