A clear glass shower door, with Leak and Toilet

These Puppies Detect Water Leaks (and More Great Reader Tips!)

My dear readers come up with the greatest tips, tricks, and ideas for how to save time and money every day. Today is no exception. From water leaks to puppy poop—all the way to phone chargers, tomato paste, and better space saver bags— fasten your seatbelts because we’re about to cover a lot of frugal ground.

A close up of a toilet and water heater

Cutest little leak detector

After dealing with a toilet leaking and causing $500 in damage because it went unnoticed for too long, my plumber told me about this ingenious little device called the Leak Puppy, which detects the smallest amount of standing water (as little as 1/32″)and alerts you to it with loud beeping sound, much like a smoke alarm. I purchased one for each of my bathrooms, under sinks, and next to the water heater. I’m finding that my peace of mind is well worth the initial cost! Mack

Tomato paste waste

Many times a recipe will call for a small amount of tomato paste. Often, this means that if you’re like me, what remains in the can is stored in the refrigerator for future use. It also means that months later I find it and toss it in the trash because it has now gone bad. But no more! Now, I take the remaining tomato paste and spread it out in a thin layer in a zip sandwich bag I store flat on a freezer shelf until it’s frozen. The next time I need tomato paste, I simply break off what I need, zip up the bag, and replace it in the freezer. Works great; no more waste! Karen

Free doggy poop bags

When you get a delivery that includes those bags of “air” used to pack around items, turn them into free doggy poop bags. This is easiest done with two people: Have one person hold the end of the bag(s) while the other person takes a pair of scissors and cut along the seam of the bag where the air was injected. This should give you an open bag to use for your poop patrol duties. If you are fortunate enough to get a “string” of these packing bags, leave them attached to one another and cut them into a continuous roll. Tear a bag of at the perforation, as needed. A useful way to recycle and not have to pay for bags. Snuggles

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Donate phone chargers

I work in a hospital and at least once a week, my patient will ask me if I have cell phone charger that will fit their phone. Often patients are admitted unexpectedly and have their phone with them, but no charger. In my unit we have a file drawer with chargers that other patients have left behind and go unclaimed. However, frequently we don’t have the particular charger needed. If your readers have phone chargers for phones they no longer own, they should consider donating them to their local hospital. It would be a great service and a good way to clear clutter. Julie

Weight loss incentive

I have been struggling with my weight for years. I am about 50 pounds over the ideal weight. Recently, I learned that my health insurance company would pay for a three-month gym membership—and If I showed a weight loss at the end of three months they would continue paying for a year. I have just completed my three months and lost nine pounds. I am so excited! For those who might want to use a gym to help lose weight or just to get healthier, check with your health insurance provider. Lydia

Pudding stretch

My family loves Jello instant pudding, but the mix is expensive and only makes three cups of pudding. In experimenting, I found that I can use 4 cups of milk, rather than 3 cups as the directions instruct, without changing the end result. It turns out thick, and the flavor is still perfect. Linda

De-string the celery

While celery might be a healthy snack, I would avoid it because the strings are such a nuisance. My husband suggested using the vegetable peeler to remove the strings, and it worked. Not only does it vastly improve the taste and texture of the celery for snacking, but it also makes chopping a breeze. Carol

Baby bath basket

Here’s another way to safely bathe a baby old enough to sit up—in a standard laundry basket—the kind with lots of cutouts—set in the regular bathtub. Any type of plastic or rubber mat inside the basket will keep baby from slipping. I used a rubber shelf liner from the dollar store, cut to size. The basket also corrals bath toys so they are within easy reach of the baby. Bonnie

[NOTE: Never, ever leave a child unattended in any amount of water, not even for a second and not even in a basket. -mh]

Refrigerator whiteboard

Our new refrigerator has a smooth white finish, and we started using the top area as a dry-erase whiteboard, keeping track of our shopping list and writing notes. Somehow, someone in the family used a permanent rather than a proper dry-erase marker. Ooops! I tried just about everything, but nothing worked to erase the marker stain. Finally, I grabbed the bottle of liquid Bar Keeper’s Friend that we use for the glass on our wood-burning stove. It took a few applications, but it worked! We still use the fridge as a whiteboard, but I’ve hidden all the permanent markers. Pamela

Got a great tip you’d like to share?

DO NOT send it to me today. Please! Wait until you read my BIG ANNOUNCEMENT tomorrow. This is HUGE … so much fun, and could even land some $$ in your wallet. You don’t want to miss it. -mh

Cellophane rip off

When trying to open a cellophane wrapper on an item, I use a seam ripper. It works better than using a pair of scissors. Joy

Compactor or contractor bags

The Space Saver Bags that are advertised on TV are nice, but they don’t last long. Within a year—sometimes much sooner—the bags begin to break down and tear. I found that plastic trash compactor bags or heavy-duty contractor trash bags are great alternatives. I put my items in the bag, wrap the opening around the vacuum hose, and vacuum out the air. I twist the hose and bag as I pull out the hose, and tie the bag closed with twine. These bags are thicker, hold up longer, and cost a lot less. DebbiSu

No sticky mess

I really like to make coconut macaroons from scratch, but they are too sticky to work with. To fix this problem, I spray a 1/4 cup measuring cup with Pam cooking spray, pack it half full of the macaroon dough, turn it upside down and tap it onto the parchment paper. Perfectly formed macaroons every time with no sticky mess. Nancy

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3 replies
  1. Kristine says:

    I have been in property management for over 37 years & we work on preventive maintenance. If you have a water heater replaced in your abode….make sure you have whomever installs it to put it in a tub big enough to accomodate its circumfrence – I even have had some of our managers even elevate the w/h on an impermable product (must be able to take the weight or not rot). If you have a drain close by, you can put a hose in the tub to that drain if your w/h decided to leak. Periodically look to see if there is any water in the tub – and check your w/h too for possible rust as that may be a clue you do need to replace. Put date w/h installed on w/h & keep instructions (put in a plastic resealable bag). Many times a technician can replace just an element, thermostat or anode & save costly replacements so you can get a longer life.

  2. Denise K Waterworth says:

    Saw the comment about the accidental permanent marker use on a white board…. a dry erase marker will take it off. Just rub vigorously over the permanent marker with the dry erase, then use the eraser, repeat as necessary to remove the ink. There are dry erase cleaners that are also supposed to work but I never have some handy when I have a permanent stain. Teachers are very familiar with this trick.

  3. Jenni Glenn says:

    Removing permanent marker from a white board is as simple as tracing the words with an erasable marker. Then it can be wiped off while still damp.


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