Readers Share More Clever Ways to Stretch a Buck

Over the years, I’ve learned from my clever, awesome readers that there are always more ways to stretch a buck. Today’s batch of great reader tips is proof positive.

With that, I have only one request: Please, keep your great tips, tricks, and money-saving ideas coming. We love them!


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, it makes chopping a breeze. Carol

BABY BATH BASKET. Here’s another way to safely bathe baby—in a standard laundry basket, kind with lots of cutouts, set in the regular bathtub. When baby is old enough to sit up, this works great. 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]

FRIENDLY RECYCLING. I am a longtime and faithful reader of your newsletters and books. Thanks for all the good advice I’ve learned from you and your readers. You recently posted a letter referring to Freecycle. I am a devoted recycler/freecycler! I must tell you that got tired of jumping through the hoops of my local Freecycle group. I found Reuseit and have discovered it is a more user-friendly group. You can check it out here: Beware that several other organizations have similar names. The one I am referring you to is the one I use almost weekly to unload my house of years of good “junk.” J.D.

[NOTE: Both Freecycle and Reuseit are national organizations with local chapters or “groups.” Some groups are more active and or “friendly” than others. It would make sense for interested readers to check out both to see what’s going on in their local areas! -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

RIP OFF THE CELLOPHANE. 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 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 are a great alternative. 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. Patty Moran says:

    I often use a permanent marker on our whiteboard when defining an area, or adding something I do not want to inadvertently erase right away. When I want it gone, I just “erase” it with the dry erase marker. The permanent marker comes right off!


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