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Before It Dies!
Recently, my boyfriend and I have begun using "dying" produce (produce that's just about had it in the fridge) to make dinners. We search the fridge for what's about to die and plan a delicious meal around that. Now, we are much less likely to throw away old produce!
Lawn and Garden Critters
To control rabbits and possibly other critters from eating your lawn, garden, etc., sprinkle whole coffee beans in the area. Animals are absolutely repelled by the smell of the coffee. One bag of coffee beans is enough to keep rabbits at bay for a few months.
Instead of Candles
For nice aroma in the house, instead of candles, I bring a pot of water to boil with cinnamon sticks and cloves and then let simmer. The house smells like those expensive candles were lit all day. Also, keep your orange peels and bake them in the oven. You will get a citrus smell that will make it feel like Spring is here.
Toddlers and Savings
To encourage my five-year-old daughter to save money and learn to count coins and bills, we take her to the bank each month on the third (the anniversary of her birthday). We make the trip a special event, and she looks forward to seeing how much she "earned" each month. I think it also helped her learn her date of birth, which is something that most children don't learn before entering school.
How Long Can You Go?
I was sick of the clutter of small toothpaste tubes from the dentist and conditioner, shampoo and lotion bottles that were half used from hotels that I had brought home. I emptied out the linen closet and bathroom drawers and put them all out where I would see and use them. I was hoping to just get rid of the clutter, but the by product is that I've gone a month now without buying any new toiletries. Next, I'll try my pantry to see how long I can go.
Salvage Grocery Savings
About once a month, we check out a local salvage store. I find great bargains. People think that when an item is sold in a salvage store, it is not safe to consume. I have found packages of cereal, dog food, pasta, etc. for sale at rock bottom prices simply because the package is a little crushed. The contents were fine, not damaged.
Take Out at Home
Due to the economy, many people have lost jobs. My husband is one of them. We are trying to cut corners as much as possible, but sometimes we get into a rut. For days that we still want to treat ourselves but don't want to pay a lot for foods from take out, we have found places that have discount or "buy one, get one" days. On these nights, we time it where I'll buy the burgers on sale on the way home. My husband cooks the fries and our daughters take turns acting as the waitress, taking drink orders. We get the feel of ordering out but in the comfort of our home.
When Smaller Is Better
If you're buying something where one piece equals one serving, try to buy the bag with more smaller pieces than a few large ones. This applies to apples, onions, and potatoes. People will eat one apple or one potato and consider themselves done, so more smaller ones equal more servings per bag. For onions, when you need a smaller amount and you don't want half of a cut onion left over, it's better to have smaller onions. You can always cut up two if you need more.
Choices for Lunch
In my family of five, it is not uncommon for me to cook a dinner and have anywhere from one to four servings of food left over (not enough for another dinner). In this case, I put single serving sizes of the main dish plus any leftover sides into sandwich size plastic containers. Then I stack these containers nicely in my freezer.
When it's time to pack my husband's or my lunch for work, I just reach into the freezer, grab a container, add a few snacks, and the lunch is ready to go. It's easier than making a sandwich, and we enjoy having some warm, home-cooked food for lunch. Plus, it's always something different, and I don't have leftovers rotting unnoticed in my refrigerator!
Julie G. in Stephens City, Virginia
Finding Good Used Cars
I have a tip for buying a used car. We were looking for a minivan and quite accidentally found a fantastic deal on a Toyota Sienna XLE at a local Mercedes dealer! Someone had traded it in for a new Mercedes, so we made an offer and drove it home that day!
We found that many luxury auto dealers have an upscale trade-in inventory and sell the cars via online auctions for a great price. Most of the trade-ins are fully loaded. Our van has leather seats, sunroof, and many other luxurious options that we would not have been able to afford. Best of all, we got it for a much better price than a Toyota dealer or even Carmax would have listed it, and we were able to examine and test drive the vehicle before purchasing. The next time we are ready to purchase a vehicle, we are definitely checking at our local dealers and going the same route!