Planting a backyard vegetable garden is a terrific idea, but it can be a pricey. And time-consuming.

Today’s first reader has a great tip: Let the master gardeners foot the bill and do all the work while you have a laid-back summer. Then show up to get in on the harvest—all perfectly legal and quite ethical, too.



I used to attempt to grow my own vegetables, but I’ve never enjoyed it. And it can very exepensive. Here’s what works for me: I pick my own produce at a local farm for steep discounts on bulk fruits and vegetables.

A few weeks ago, I picked 10 pounds of green beans at $.90/lb. (total: $9.50), and 40 pounds of beets at $.35 lb. (total: $14.00). I canned all of it, giving me 12 jars of fresh green beans and 21 jars of beets. I do this all spring and summer with everything from peaches, apples and berries to green beans and beets, and I end up with plenty to last through fall and winter. Johnette


When a friend spilled cooking grease on her carpet, she tried everything to remove it. What finally worked was foam-type shaving cream. She spread it on over the grease stain and let it dry overnight. In the morning, she vacuumed it up and the grease stain was gone. I tried it myself and used a hair dryer to speed the drying process. Jean 


It’s super humid where I live, which means my car’s windshield fogs up on the inside in morning, which can be so annoying, Rather than wiping the windshield with a cloth, which streaks the glass, I keep a small squeegee in the side pocket of my front door. With a few wipes, the windshield becomes clear and clean at the same time. Lesa


I like cloth napkins. We recently hosted a party and I needed more napkins than I had. My solution was to purchase mismatched, inexpensive cloth napkins at a thrift store. Then, I rolled them and arranged them in baskets. The napkins looked like colorful bouquets and were wonderfully festive! Sue


I found that the rubber backing was wearing off of my floor rugs, so I applied caulking to them and let it dry. Suddenly, the non-slip backing was as good as new and I had a great new tool. Next, I tried the caulking on the ends of my cloths hangers to keep my tops from sliding off, and that worked, too! Bernice

Repair area rug rubber backing with vinyl-latex caulk


I never use Styrofoam peanuts when packing an item for shipping or storing. Instead, I save our shredded junk mail and old files. When I need to ship items, I put the shredded paper in a plastic bag, which will conform to whatever shape I need. Then, the recipient doesn’t have a mess on his or her hands with loose packing material when she opens the box. Retha


My family regularly sends care packages to soldiers. Instead of using typical packing materials, we use wrapped bubble gum. It fills all the open pockets in the box, and the troops can share with each other. It also gives them something small to give to local children. Dotty


My husband and I feel as though we’ve completely remodeled all of our bathrooms just by replacing the toilet seats. Wow! It’s amazing what that small change can do for the room. Lisa


My clothes dryer was taking far longer than normal to dry clothing. I religiously clean my lint filter following each load, but I learned that dryer sheets cause invisible buildup that hinders a dryer’s ability to heat properly. The buildup may diminish the life of the appliance and could even be a fire hazard. I started washing the lint screen with mild soap and water, and I’ve noticed a remarkable difference. Vicki


I’ve found that used mascara wands are great for cleaning in tight places. I rinse the mascara from them thoroughly and use them to clean my sewing machine, little groves on plastic containers lids and other crevices around the house. Once I started using them, I found all sorts of handy uses for these little wands. Susie


I have two small boys who love toy cars and marbles. These things inevitably end up under the couch, so I put a pool noodle under the couch. It sits under the skirt, so it isn’t visible, but it buffers the perimeter so that toys don’t get lost underneath the furniture anymore. Paige.


Ants like to gather around my cat, Spanky’s, food bowl. I don’t want to use bug sprays around his food, so I cut a cucumber into slices and put them around his bowl. Ants hate cucumbers, so it’s a natural repellant, and it won’t harm my kitty. As an added precaution, sometimes I place his small food dish inside a larger bowl and fill the larger bowl part-way with water, creating a moat around his food. If ants try to get his food, they drown instead. Rhonda

YESTERDAY:An Under $20 Discovery that Thrills my Cheap Soul plus GIVEAWAY!


My Dear Readers:

I’m coming to Kansas!  I’ll be speaking at the  2018 Women and Money Day next month in the greater Kansas City area  on Saturday, October 6th and, again, on October 13th.

You’re invited to join me at this FREE event sponsored by the Topeka Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc., and the Topeka & Shawnee County Library and Johnson County Library Systems.  Information and registration details are available online: Topeka (October 6th) or Overland Park (October 13th.)  Note:  Both talks will cover the same material.

Following  Q and A session, I will be participating in a short book-signing. I’d love to meet you. Make sure to tell me that you’re one of my readers!

Hope to see you there.

xo Mary

P.S.  And, if you’re free on Friday, October 5th at 2:00 p.m., you’re invited to an informal “coffee and conversation” hour with me on the Country Club Plaza, about 4-5 miles south of downtown Kansas City, Missouri.  Just send an email to my assistant, Suzanne, at suzanne @ everydaycheapskate.com with the subject line “Coffee and Conversation” and she’ll  send you the location information and a reminder about this gathering. Can’t wait to finally meet you—it’s about time!

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