Ingenious Ways to Beat Frustration and Save Money, Too


Secretly, I feel like a genius when I discover a secondary use for this or that—in case I run out of this, but have plenty of that. Like using a paper coffee filter to wash a glass top or mirror when I’m in a pinch for paper towels. Or using a paper towel to create a coffee filter when I discover at the worst moment that we’re out of filters! You’re going to feel like a genius, too, once you read today’s tips from ingenious readers about ways that they save time and money every day.


“OPEN FIRST” BOX. As a military family, whenever the movers arrived to move us to the next assignment, I always had one box I marked “Open First.” In it were bed sheets, towels, soap, coffee maker and toaster. No matter how late we arrived at our new home, we didn’t have to spend another night in a hotel. We could make our beds, get cleaned up and start the next day with coffee and toast, without having to open multiple boxes looking for stuff. Cindy, Ontario, Canada

SAFE LOCK SPRAY. So as not to damage your locks for the long term, use only a graphite based spray to keep your locks from sticking in all weather conditions. We use Lock-Ease brand, after finding that many other brands can cause damage at greater cost! Kathie, South Carolina

DOGGIE BAGS. My husband and I love to host dinner parties for our family and friends. I like to send leftovers home with our guests in repurposed gift bags (from birthday parties, etc). The bags add a bit of charm and are much more tidy and pleasant looking than a plastic grocery bag. Maggie, Ohio

SHOUT IT OFF. Even after trying oven cleaner, stove door cleaner and other products, we could not get rid of the crud on the glass front of our wood stove. Finally, we found the solution! We place newspapers on the floor under the open doors and spray full-strength Shout Triple Acting laundry stain remover on the glass. Let soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Using a single edge razor blade, scrape the black off the glass. Spray again lightly and wipe with a paper towel. Works like a charm! Lyle, email

BREAKFAST RICE. Leftover cooked rice serves as a wonderful hot cereal. Steam the rice with a little bit of water, and then serve with milk, chopped nuts and raisins or some other dried fruit. My children love it and frequently ask for breakfast rice. Gigi, California

VACUUM CORD SAVES TIME. I save a lot of time vacuuming my large home since purchasing a 50 foot extension cord that I keep coiled up in an attractive wicker basket. Now I can vacuum almost the entire house without retracing my steps or taking time to unplug and replug my vacuum cleaner. Linda, Michigan

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6 replies
  1. Suzie
    Suzie says:

    About cleaning the window on the wood stove..I ran for my Soilove (laundry spot remover) worked good on the window, plus I had by mistake put in a piece of plastic that had melted on one of the tools. I sprayed that with the Soilove and it came right off. I also cleaned the license plate on our truck with the Soilove, some of it leaked on the asphalt drive and melted a little spot…my brain clicked and I sprayed a yellow line of highway paint on the bottom of the doors of that truck…waited a couple of minutes and it wiped right off! Ten years that stuff had been on there as I was too cheap to have the body shop repaint it

  2. Dorene
    Dorene says:

    In an emergency…just run a graphite pencil on the key and reinsert it into the lock….and viola it is all fixed.. my dad taught me this………

  3. Julianne
    Julianne says:

    As far as cleaning the glass on the fireplace… all we do is take a wet rag and some of the ash-if it’s warm even better, rub the ash on the glass and comes right off… no scrubbing or anything…. done in a flash!

  4. Diana Brannan
    Diana Brannan says:

    We have had leftover sweet rice as a cereal for years, simply adding milk, sugar and raisins or some other fruit and heating it up. Just put it in the freezer and use for breakfast, in soups, as a side dish. Not a new concept. I do like the suggestion by Catherine below regarding the orange juice. Sounds yummy.

  5. Catherine Wood
    Catherine Wood says:

    Re: leftover rice. We get extra rice from Chinese take-out. We heat the rice with orange juice (about 1/2 cup), a tsp salt, and a cup of plump raisins. This is a great side dish for pork or ham.

  6. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    There are some great ideas here. Having spent 12 years in USAF, then moving every 3 years after that for the 17 years, wish I’d’ve thought of the first tip!


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