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15 Ways to Solve it With Salt

Sometimes the very thing you need to solve an ordinary household problem is sitting right in the pantry. Take salt for example. It’s amazing stuff! And it’s cheap, too.

Sink and Kitchen

I have a favorite little book, Solve it with Salt by Patty Moosbrugger. Just look at all the things Patty says we can do with good old ordinary inexpensive table salt to make our lives better. 

Clean disposal

Dump a bunch of ice cubes into the garbage disposal followed by about 1/2 cup table salt.

Turn on the disposal while running a small stream of water down the drain. Use a long-handled wooden spoon or similar, to carefully push all the ice into the running disposal. Keep it on for at least two minutes, which should be long enough for all the built-up gunk and grime to begin falling off the disposal’s blades. Turn off the water.

Set color

If the dye in a garment or household item is not colorfast, it’s going to fade the moment you put it through the laundry. Dark-colored jeans are notorious for this. Here’s a great way to set that color to make the item more resistant to fading.

Soak the garment for an hour in 1/2 gallon of water to which you’ve added 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup salt. Rinse. If rinse water has any color in it, repeat. Use only on single-colored items. If the item is multicolored, have it professionally dry-cleaned it to avoid the colors all running together.
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Going on Vacation? Make Your Own Plant Nanny Plus More Great Reader Tips

Every day I get loads of mail including wonderful notes, letters, and email messages from my awesome readers.

Tucked into many of those messages are tips, hints, tricks, and great ideas for the ways you save time and money every day. I’m pretty sure I have the best job on earth!

DIY plant nanny in a big beautiful flower planter

Plant Nanny

When I go on vacation, I fill bottles with water and push them upside down into my plants—houseplants and outdoor plants as well. The water keeps the plants moist for days! Sophia

I’ve been using Sophia’s plant nanny tip for several months now, only I’m not on vacation! I fill bottles every couple of days in addition to regular watering. As you can see from the photo above (this is a $12 Walmart plant bowl that was tiny and pretty sick looking when I got it in May), constant watering must be the trick! Especially in the super hot Colorado sun. -mh

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A New Chapter of Money-Saving Tips, Hacks, and Ideas

From its birth in 1992, the mission of Everyday Cheapskate has been to provide practical information to help people save time and money in order to get out of debt and save for the future.

A close up of a stuffed toy and a clock

A Brief History

January 1992 saw the premiere issue of Cheapskate Monthly, a thrift newsletter I created, which was delivered via U.S. Mail for a subscription rate of $12 annually. Subscriptions exploded as the country was beginning to recover from a severe recession and people were still unemployed and worried.

The newsletter quickly grew in popularity offering hope, help, practical information for how to stretch a buck, and a lot of fun, too. By the end of that first year, it had been mentioned and reviewed in every major U.S. newspaper in the country, and promoted on lots of radio and television shows, too.

In 1997, we tip-toed onto the Internet with a subscription “bulletin board.” Within no time thousands of people were trying to post their messages all at the same time (argh!)—a clear indication that CM was ready for its own website—dial-up modems, and all—making the newsletter available both online and in print.

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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 Read more

16 Practical Ways to Stretch Your Food Budget

If soaring food prices are getting you down, help is on the way! Here are some basic saving strategies, practical solutions, and novel ideas to stretch your food budget—and make your life easier.

Granted, one of these strategies on its own is not likely to make a huge difference. But lots of small strategies working together—that’s the way to see huge results.

grated cheese

Grate savings

You pay a lot to have someone else grate your cheese for you—at least twice the price of buying cheese by the block. Currently, at my supermarket, cheese in blocks runs from about $2 to $2.50 a pound for the store brand to about $5.00 a pound and more for name brands. The very same cheeses, pre-grated, run almost exactly double across the board, $4 to $10 a pound. Here’s the tip: Grate it yourself. It will stay fresher and you’ll save money, too.

Pro tip: Commercially grated or shredded cheese comes with an added ingredient like potato starch or modified cornstarch to prevent “caking” or “clumping.” Well, guess what? Those anti-caking ingredients inhibit melting, too. Now you know why pre-grated or shredded cheese doesn’t seem to always melt as readily, often leaving an odd thickened texture.

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A Mishmash of Christmas Ideas and Holiday Tips

As we face the crush of holiday prep, could you possibly use some help? Try these tips and ideas on for size—clever ways to do more while spending less.

Double up

When you cook, double your favorite meals and freeze the leftovers. Then, when you’re in a frenzy the few days before Christmas, you won’t have to fret about making dinner, too.

A living room with a christmas tree

Electronic cards

You can save a lot of time and money when you send electronic Christmas ecards. There are lots of free sites—DaySpring.com and BlueMountain.com offer the best selections.

Shop from home

Shopping online can save a lot of time, frustration and gasoline. Finding free or reduced shipping makes online shopping even better. Dec. 14, 2019 is Free Shipping Day. Check FreeShipping.com for retailers who will be participating—and to grab hundreds of coupon codes, too.

READ: How to Shop with CASH at Amazon

Get cash back

If you’ll be shopping anyway, you might as well get some of your cash back. Rakuten is by far the easiest and most efficient way to do that. A Rakuten account is completely free, easy to set up. Then every time you shop online, make sure you have your Ebates account activated (it’s so easy—you’ll see once you have an account). And you can use your Rakuten account in-store, too!

If you’re curious why I’m such a Rakuten fan, a few weeks ago I got another Rakuten check in the mail—cash back for things I would have purchased anyway, including the rental car Harold and I used on our recent New England getaway. I didn’t expect it, but I’ll take it!

The hardest part about using Rakuten? Remembering to use it! Ha. However, they do make it pretty easy to add a Rakuten button on your computer’s toolbar or the Rakuten app for your mobile device. I believe I’ll stop forgetting, now that Rakuten is putting money back in my pocket. Read more

Coffee Hacks, Tips, Tricks, and Copycat Pumpkin Spice Latte

Whenever I write about my love of coffee that admittedly has turned me into a coffee snob, reader feedback is as enthusiastic as it is voluminous. I’m happy to know I’m not alone in my snobbery.

 

A cup of coffee on a table, with Brewed coffee and Bean

 

Many of you bring up interesting points—questions, too. Like what to do with brewed coffee that is no longer ideally fresh but too good to throw down the drain. Others want to know how to make your own cappuccino, lattes, and even the “steamer,” made popular by Starbucks—surprisingly containing no coffee at all.

Short of purchasing an espresso machine that uses high-pressure steam to make espresso and has a gizmo that steams the milk as well, there are ways we can improvise to create reasonable facsimiles of our favorite coffee drinks.

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17 Really Fun Tricks and Tips Every Traveler Needs to Know

I love to travel, which is my favorite unintended consequence of becoming an author, speaker, and blogger.

I’ve learned that travel always involves challenges. That’s why I have adopted an attitude that no matter how well I’ve planned if something can go wrong it probably will. And if it doesn’t? That’s my travel bonus.

A piece of luggage

Over the years I’ve collected a bunch of really great travel tips—some fun, some crazy but all of them very useful if only to avoid a headache or two. Here are favorites:

Backup critical info

Before you leave, scan the front and back of every item in your wallet including your passport. Email the images to yourself. Now you’ll always have a digital copy handy in case you lose something. This will not substitute for your passport, ID or credit card, but you’ll have all of the pertinent information you need to keep going.

Make a list

Sounds so elementary. Mental lists are great, but a written list is there to keep things together when stress sets in the way it does right before its time to leave. I make a list of items I don’t want to forget—which I know from experience that I WILL forget if I don’t write them down. When I think of something, I need to write it down.

Pre-plan outfits

Take the time to plan what you’ll wear then pack in outfits—specifically. Write it down! You’ll be so glad you have this wardrobe plan in writing once you get to your destination or move from one accommodation to the next. You won’t be happy when you discover you brought 4 pairs of black pants but only two tops. What were you thinking?

Roll it

Instead of folding your clothes, roll them tightly. They’ll take up less space in your luggage and that can save having to pay extra baggage fees. Read more

9 Ideas for a Frugal (Not Cheap!) Wedding

I get a lot of mail on the subject of weddings. I get stories of joy and tales of woe; great ideas and even a blooper from time to time.

In 27 years, I cannot recall a single time I’ve heard from a bride or groom saying who wished they’d spent more money on their wedding.

The best wedding mail comes from frugal brides and grooms who are anxious to share their fabulous frugal ideas with future couples!

 

A close up of a hand

Lean guest list

Our first guest list included everyone we knew. As the list (and grew), we realized that would be a really bad idea. Without intending to do so, we got very close to inviting people who would then feel obligated to attend a wedding for people they didn’t really know that well. We decided to whittle that list, seeing our wedding as a more intimate event rather than a big everyone-we-know blowout.

From where we started, we got the list down to 25%. Best decision ever. Our wedding was manageable, affordable, and exactly what we wanted—an intimate celebration of joy. Debbie

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10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Gasoline Cost

Only a few months ago I paid $1.75 a gallon for gas in Thornton, Colo. That’s nearly a dollar cheaper than I paid this past week at the same location—$2.72 per gallon! What’s going on?

A blue and white sign

AAA  blames the increase partially on a drop in fuel supply from oil refineries. As a reulst, experts say prices are likely to keep climbing this summer, so drivers will have to be strategic to manage their fuel costs.

To save a gallon of gas, you need to cut about 22 miles of driving from your week. Here are 10 easy ways to do that:

1. Hop on the bus, Gus

Even if you think this is not an option for you, consider public transportation. You may be surprised by all the options that you have never considered. Or carpool. Leaving the car at home and sharing your commute occasionally can help you reach your gallon-goal quickly. Sharing the ride—and expense—with another person regularly can cut your gas costs in half. Check out your carpooling opportunities at the eRide Share app, eRideShare.com.

2. Take it easy

The faster you drive, the more gas you use. If your average commute includes 20 miles of highway time and you drive it at 60 mph instead of 70 mph, it will take you only three minutes longer to get there, and you’ll save approximately 1.3 gallons of gas in a five-day workweek.

3. Trip-chain

Need to pick up a prescription, mail a package and go to the bank? Instead of spreading these tasks out over a few trips, chain them together by doing all of them at one time. Park in a central spot and walk from place to place. Read more

9 Cooking Mistakes We All Make and How to Fix Them

Just the other night I suffered a kitchen disaster. I hate when that happens. I ruined an entire pot of pasta because I got busy and was not paying attention. By the time I realized, the pasta had cooked way beyond al dente, all the way to total mush.

A person cooking food in a kitchen, with Pasta and Chef

It killed me to dump the whole thing down the disposal, but there was no way to undo that disaster.

Thankfully, that’s not true for every cooking mistake. This is a list you’re going to want to keep handy just in case.

Too much salt

It’s a common cooking mistake. If you’ve added far too much salt to a sauce or soup and you have enough ingredients, double the recipe or make more by half, then mix it in with the salty batch a bit at a time until you’ve reached your desired flavor.

Another trick is to add a bit more unsalted water to the mix, provided this will not also dilute the flavor.

Burnt toast

Don’t toss it until you’ve tried this neat trick: Use your cheese grater to quickly scrape off the burned layer. Works like magic!

Undercooked cake

The first sign of a cake that’s not done is that sinkhole in the middle. Once cooled you cannot re-bake it. But don’t worry. This is not a hopeless kitchen disaster.

Break the cake into pieces (even those parts that are undercooked) and combine them with whipped cream and fresh fruit to make dessert parfaits or one large trifle

ENJOY: 25 Items Under $25 to Help Organize Your Life

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10 Brilliant Food and Cooking Hacks to Make Your Life Easier

Whether you are naturally gifted in the kitchen or had the pleasure of growing up with some talented cooks who were happy to give you a few pointers along the way—lots of people shy away because they find cooking complicated, and even a bit confusing.

Cook and Ice cream

Fortunately, there are tons of great little tricks that can help anyone improve their cooking game, and maybe get some interest in further developing their skills. Here is a run-down of some really fun and useful cooking hacks that can benefit everyone, regardless of skill level.

Ice cream—it’s in the bag

Ice cream can get rock hard in the freezer and it takes ages to thaw out just enough that you can eat it. A simple trick to keep it just the right consistency is to put the container in a plastic freezer bag before throwing it in the freezer.

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9 Incredibly Simple Hacks to Take Stress Out of Flying

Flying this week? You won’t be alone. TSA estimates a record 46 million people will be joining you in domestic airports and on airplanes, which will beat all records in holiday air travel.

crowded-airplane

It goes without saying that you need to get to the airport early. But this week, double the time you might normally allow to arrive, get through security, and to your gate.

Beyond that, check out these tips and tricks to make your experience less stressful. After all, you do want to arrive with joy in your heart and kind words on your lips.

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