Today I am especially impressed if not excited by the cool and very useful money- and time-saving tips my EC readers send to me.

Not that long ago I stopped into a discount clothing store (Marshall’s to be exact) to get my husband a new belt. I enjoy the classy look of a high-quality leather belt and I know this store usually has a fairly decent selection. And they did. The problem was that not one of them was smaller than a size 52. What!? I walked out empty-handed. Then I heard from Reader Bob. Why didn’t I think of that?

mens-leather-belts

Bargain Belts

The discount clothing stores seem to frequently have a pretty good selection of high-quality men’s leather belts. The only problem for me is that the name-brand belts they carry are usually in sizes too big for me. I buy them anyway and take them to a shoe repairman near my home who removes the buckles, cuts off the extra inches and re-attaches the buckles. He charges me $3-$5 a belt. I spend on average $15 to $20 on a belt that retails in high-end department stores for $50 – $80 or more. Bob

Gift-Bag Go ‘Round

Use gift bags instead of wrapping paper. We save our gifts bags each year and it’s always fun to see who gets a particular bag the next year. Start a tradition of writing the names in the top corner and each year add the next name and see how the bags go around. Molly

RELATED: Gifts That Don’t Cost a Dime

Quick Chill

Forgot to put the wine or other beverage for your party in the fridge? Wrap the bottles tightly in a damp tea towel or paper towels, then pop them into the freezer. Because heat travels more quickly through dense materials (the waterlogged towel) than air, your drinks will be ice-cold and ready to pour within 20 minutes. This is one of my all-time favorite tips and hope others will find it useful, too! Rich

Kid-Friendly Candlelight

Put a candle in a glass jar the kids’ table at Christmas or as a cute decoration. Fill around the bottom of the candle with cinnamon candies, peppermints, nuts or colored gumballs or jawbreakers. Sandi

MORE: Traditions: The Glue the Holds Families Together

Frozen Rice

I cruise through the frozen food aisles at my favorite warehouse clubs (like Sam’s and Costco) to see what’s new. I figure if they can freeze it, so can I. On a recent trip I saw a long line of people waiting for samples. I sneaked over to see what it was, only to discover rice! Frozen pre-cooked plain white rice. People seemed to think that was the greatest invention ever and they were all tossing it in their carts. I went home, pulled out the rice cooker, made my own and froze it in individual portions. Rebecca

Laced Up Basket

I had hoped that my plastic laundry basket would last until the next half-off sale. No such luck. It split right down both sides. I wondered what Mary Hunt would do. The answer was easy. I laced it together with a piece of rope and tied it with a bow. Works great and now I’m wondering if I’ll ever need a new one! Joan

Visual Directory

I used my digital camera to take pictures of every item that goes into each of my kitchen cabinets. Then I printed them in thumbnail view, one page per cabinet. I taped each handy reference guide to the inside of the cabinet doors and now my husband and I are perfectly clear about what goes where. It’s a quick guide to finding what I have stored in deep or low cabinets as well. Steph

Like New with Zud

My old dishwasher was really showing its age. The inside was severely discolored and nothing I tried would take it off. I went to my local hardware store and purchased a product called Zud. This powder magically removes scratch marks on stoneware and with very little elbow grease I was able to remove most of the rust from my dishwasher. Christina

MORE: How to Remove Rust Stains from Just About Anything

Color Coded

I’ve been spending only cash when I shop but knowing how much I had available in each category was difficult when I had all the cash together in my wallet. Now I use colored paper clips to organize my cash, just like the envelope system. I just assign a color to each category, and I can see at a glance how much I have to spend. It also makes me think twice when I’m tempted to overspend and borrow from another category. Mary Beth

Question: Who doesn’t like quick and useful money- and or time-saving tips! What’s your favorite?


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