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Easy Oven Clean
On the day before you plan to clean the oven, sprinkle baking soda into the bottom and spray it with water. Close the door and leave it over night. It is astonishing how the soda will release the dried-on gunk. Your oven will need wiping out and not much more!
No More Autopilot
Just quit the automatic spending. Make do, do without, find a substitute, or think outside the "spending" box. Do we really need paper towels, paper napkins, and paper plates? Do we really need bottled water from the store? Do we really need all those hair and facial products? How many pairs of shoes does a person really need? Simplify and quit spending.
Don't throw out your socks that are missing their mate. Just pair them with another lonely sock and use those pairs for the chores that can get socks filthy like mowing the grass, washing the dogs, or working outside in general. You save your nice matched socks while putting your single socks back to work.
I like to save money by using home grown produce, but I'm not the best cook and my family won't eat my homemade spaghetti sauce (and I can't say I blame them). So I've learned to improvise. I'll make spaghetti sauce from tomatoes, onions, peppers, spices, etc. from my garden, but before I divide it up and freeze it, I also add a jar of brand name spaghetti sauce. My family will now eat it because it still has the taste of their favorite store bought brand, but I only have to purchase one jar instead of four. I do the same with homemade salsa as well.
Kathy L. in Fort Jennings, Ohio
When I purchase a necklace and it is too short for some clothing, I add a large paper clip to each end and it makes it longer. The collar or your hair covers the clip. It really helps to convert the necklace to different lengths. Just remember to "crimp" the clips. You wouldn't want to lose the necklace.
My Summer Wardrobe
I wear nothing but white clothing in the summertime, and have built up quite a nice wardrobe by shopping at the Goodwill in my neighborhood and at thrift stores for nice linen pieces. Every day I can choose between cropped linen pants, linen skirts (long and short), and either sleeveless or short sleeved linen blouses. I try to mix it up by adding different bags and shoes in bright colors. I will probably try to do something similar in the fall/winter, but I am still thinking of a neutral color. More than likely, it will be blacks and browns for the winter! Maybe I'll even try some off-white! I love it!
The Other Back to School
Not only are K-12 schools getting ready to start back up, so are colleges. Look for sales aimed at outfitting college students at places like Target. Office supplies, storage items (like plastic milk crates and closet organizers), inexpensive furniture, even small appliances and computers may be on sale. It seems odd to me, but laundry supplies and multi-packs of toiletries may also be marked down. These sales may have the lowest prices of the year, so keep an eye out for them.
Instead of Toddler Bed
Instead of buying a toddler or new bed, put your child's crib mattress inside a small tent. At 3 1/2 years old, my son was ready to get out of his crib. He was standing on the top rail side, so using the toddler bed conversion was not a safe option.
I loved the boat bed at Kids Pottery Barn but was looking around for a less expensive option. As a temporary solution, I set up a two-man backpacking tent and put his mattress inside. He is able to have his toys and "living room" in there too. The cost for a cool and safe preschooler bed? Nothing. Do note that I do not zip up the side door for safety reasons.
It's Better Homemade
I make my own Italian salad dressing mix (I found the recipe from an online recipe site) of dry herbs and seasonings, which I keep in a plastic container or a glass jar with a sealed lid. Long ago, I bought the "make your own" mix that came with a beautiful glass shaker/server with a pour spout lid. After I used it up, I realized that I could make my own mix.
I save hundreds of dollars each year by mixing the dry ingredients, and then adding them to the healthy Extra Virgin Olive Oil and water and shaking it into a delicious dressing. You can use your own jar or container as long as you have a sealed lid or cap for it. You could also make other types of dressing in the same manner.
Trish H. in Dravosburg, PA
Wish I Had Started Sooner
I live frugally. My only regret is that I did not do it years ago. When my husband was working and making a good living, we wasted a lot. Now that he is retired, we live on a fixed income of SS and pension. The children are grown and it is just the two of us, but we have a lot of medical expenses, so sometimes the SS and pension checks do not make it through the month.
We are now working on better managing our income and actually doing a good job of it, but we would not be in this financial mess if we had started living frugally when we were younger. It is never too late to start living frugally, and we are proof of that. I am trying to instill in my grown children the desire to live frugally. It is not a punishment, but very rewarding. You come to realize how much you waste in all areas of your life. Our son and his wife are following the advice, but our daughter and her husband are not. I have faith in them. It will just take them a little longer to learn.