The True Value of Simple Time- and Money-Saving Tips

For more years than I like to admit, I’ve been collecting and disseminating timesaving and money-saving tips. Readers e-mail them to me, hand them to me on little scraps of paper and even send them in the mail. Some are hilarious, others downright weird. And the very best ones show up in this column.

I will admit that not all of my favorite tips could single-handedly turn a person’s financial situation from red to black. Or free up hours every day. Take the tip for sharpening scissors, which is right now in my personal top 10: Tear off a length of aluminum foil. Fold it in half three or four times to create multiple layers. Now cut several times through all those layers with your dull scissors. They’ll be sharp as a razor in no time at all.

My common sense told me such a tactic would make slightly dull scissors totally worthless. But I was wrong. This tip really works, and it works so well I offered up my good dressmaker’s shears to its power.

OK, so let’s look at the big picture here. As much as I appreciate a sharp pair of scissors, I must admit to having never paid to have scissors sharpened professionally. I cannot say that cutting-into-aluminum-foil effort saved me any money at all.

So, if this tip for keeping scissors sharp doesn’t really put any money in my pocket, why do it? Or more importantly, perhaps, why am I such a fan? Because it empowers me. To know that every pair of scissors in my home has a sharp cutting edge makes me smile. I love knowing that I can do something that brings me pleasure and makes my life a little easier that doesn’t require forking out money. Perhaps it’s like the 2-year-old who, after learning to dress herself, insists now on always doing it herself. It feels grown-up.

There’s something to be said for finding new ways to be independent and self-reliant. When I can figure out how to launder items that clearly state “dry-clean only,” I’m giddy with joy. Dry cleaning is anything but cheap these days. When I make my own hardwood and laminate floor cleaner (a wonderful substitute for pricey Bona Pro Series Hardwood Floor Cleaner) I avoid having to spend at least $15.

Enjoy these two make-it-yourself floor cleaners that are sure to empower and also put some of your hard-earned money back in your pocket.

Hardwood and Laminate Floor Cleaner

Pour ingredients into a spray bottle and shake to mix. Mix this up in a spray bottle each time you clean the floors. Or if you make it up ahead, be sure to label it well and keep it out of the reach of children. Distilled water makes sure you get no dulling mineral build-up as you will from tap water and rubbing alcohol, unlike vinegar which you should never use on wood or laminate, will not harm the finish even after hundreds of cleanings. And it helps to quickly evaporate to leave floors drier faster.

To use: Sweep or vacuum the floor. Spray the cleaner in a small area, scrub well with a cloth or sponge and immediately wipe the area dry with a microfiber cloth. The secret is to spray, scrub and wipe dry immediately. If you do not want to do this on your hands and knees, I recommend this Hardwood Floor Spray Mop (available to Prime members only) for both wood and laminate floors. It sprays the cleaner from its removable bottle that lets you make your own cleaner; a large surface mop a small scrubber. This mop makes scrubbing wood and laminate floors a breeze.

Heavy Duty Floor Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup household non-sudsing ammonia
  • 1/4 cup washing soda
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 gallon warm water

Mix all ingredients in a bucket. Mop small areas at a time with a minimum of liquid. NOTE: Use on asphalt, rubber, vinyl, asbestos tiles and resilient linoleum flooring. DO NOT USE on wood or laminate floors.

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1 reply
  1. Kathleen French
    Kathleen French says:

    Here, Here Mary! I completely agree with your assessment. If I may, I submit that you DID save yourself money on the scissors, which you would eventually have had to pay to either sharpen professionally or replace. You have taught me how the little, even tiny, things contribute exponentially to the big financial picture. I am not a miser but I am now vigilant and it really helps. I see it as a game where I challenge myself not to just throw away small cash in silly areas because it eventually becomes significant cash quicker than you might think! And when I keep track of the savings, it downright thrills me!!!!


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