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Clever Ways to Make Sure Nothing Goes to Waste

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!

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NOTHING GOES TO WASTE. Our town has two thrift shops that accept worn-out clothes. They remove the buttons and sell those. Then they bag up the clothes and sell them to a “rag man,” who gives them 7 cents a pound. So really, nothing has to go to waste. Mary

No More Flabby Celery Plus More Great Reader Tips

If you suffer the heartbreak of flabby celery, asparagus, and fresh herbs despite your best efforts to keep them fresh and lovely at least as long as it takes to use them up—one simple change in the way you’re storing them could make all the difference. That and so much more in today’s post, all courtesy of your fellow EC readers!

Photo credit: DomesticSoul.com

FRESHER LONGER. You are right about treating asparagus (celery, fresh herbs) like cut flowers to preserve them, but you left out the step I learned during a brief spell in the floral trade: Trim the bottoms of the stalks first. Even when the bundles have been sitting in water at the grocer’s, they were left dry in transit and will have dried up enough at the cut ends to close off a lot of the capillary passages. Trimming to fresh green lets more water be pulled in to keep the stalks alive. I usually do that as soon as I get them home; this helps to revive any stalks that have gotten a little flabby. Will (The exception to this is green onions, aka scallions, which should be stored in a plastic bag in a refrigerator crisper drawer. -mh)

ROUGH IT UP. Instead of spending time and money to replace and install new automobile wiper blades, renew them: Hols a piece of sandpaper between your thumb and forefinger. Now run the sandpaper along the edge of the rubber blade, first on one side then the other. This will renew the surface so it efficiently wipes the windshield. You can do this two or three times before a wiper blade is completely spent, requiring replacement. Walter

How to Remove Latex Paint Stains from Carpet or Just About Anything Else!

Want to get latex paint out of carpet, upholstery or any other kind of fabric―even if it’s old and dried up? No problem!

Saturate the stain with any brand of lacquer thinner (not paint thinner, not mineral spirits or anything else you might be tempted to substitute), applied with a clean white cloth, so there is no chance of transferring the color from the cloth to the item to be cleaned.

Allow the lacquer thinner to sit for a few moments to soften the paint so you can scrape, blot and or scrub it out with the application cloth.

Depending on how old the paint stain is, you may have to repeat a couple of times, but it will come out without leaving a bigger problem in its wake.

Take the Sag Out of That Closet Rod and Other Useful Tips

Whether it’s a sagging closet rod, kale down the garbage disposal or premium fuel in the gas tank, EC readers are always anxious to share their best tips, tricks and ideas for ways to save time and  money—and avoid potential headaches!

SAG NO MORE. To fix a sagging clothes closet rod, buy a length of 1/2-inch galvanized pipe and a length of 3/4″ thin-wall PVC (plastic, polyvinyl chloride) piping, both the same length as t rod. You can get these at your local home improvement center such as Home Depot or Lowes. Remove the existing sagging rod. Now slip the pipe inside the PVC to create a new rod and slide this into the existing rod brackets. If you are bothered by the printing on the PVC, clean it off with rubbing alcohol. Bob

STICKY MESSY SAP. A cheap and safe way to remove pine tree sap from your car without damaging the finish is to rub it with a soft cloth soaked with plain 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, available at the pharmacy or drug store for a buck or two. George

SECRET INFO. When you finish refurbishing a room in your home, write down this important information on a piece of paper and tape it to the back of the switch plate: the brand and color of the paint, how much it took to paint the room and the circuit breaker number that serves this room. You’ll be happy to find the information next time. Trevor

KALE, NO!  I made a big mistake recently when I cut a bunch of kale up into smaller pieces and put it down the garbage disposal. I let it grind like crazy, followed by tons of water down after it, and still it clogged up the system in my apartment building for three floors down. It took maintenance four hours to clear it. They said, “The lettuce (it was kale) turned into something similar to glue/concrete!” Naomi

SUPER CUBE. This is a crazy simple tip, but it works for me. I love ice cold water and must have it at all times. However, at work the water is just cooled, not the icy deliciousness that I require. I solved this issue by taking a bottle of water slightly less than half full and laying it down sideways in the freezer. (We are lucky enough to have two refrigerators in our break room).  Later, I grab the frozen half bottle and fill it up with water. Voila!  Ice cold water for several hours. I just keep filling it up until its time to get out another one! Just make sure not to put too much water in the bottle, or you won’t be able to fill it with water. Laurel

STICK WITH REGULAR. Most gas stations offer Unleaded Premium for $.10 to $.12 per gallon more than Unleaded Regular. Many customers think they’re giving their car some kind of extra care or a “treat” by filling up with what they think is the best. Don’t do it. Virtually all automobiles run just fine on regular unleaded; so unless your vehicle’s owner manual specifically states that your car requires a premium grade of gas with higher octane, save your money and stick with regular. David

LEVEL PAY. What I’ve done with my electricity and heating bills, after consulting my yearly budget, is pay the same each month. Because I live on fixed income, I send each of those utility providers a flat $100 per month. This means I purposely overpay for heat in the summer when the furnace is not in use, and overpay in the winter to the electric company when I’m not running my central air conditioner. I’ve been doing this for years. No big bills in the summer for the electric, no big bills in the winter for the heat. This takes the mystery out of my budget and works for me quite well. Pam

FLIP THE PAINT. Store partially full cans of paint upside down. The paint will form an airtight seal, extending the useful life. Ted

Got a great tip you’d like to share? Use the comments below or send them HERE.

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.