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Everyday Cheapskate: Great Readers, Great Tips!

Mary Hunt on

Once again, my very clever readers have reminded me that it's the little ways we avoid spending money that add up. It makes us feel good, too. I hope you enjoy today's tips as much as I have.

WORKS THE SAME. I use the Clorox ReadyMop, but my tip works equally well with a Swiffer. The replacement pads for both brands are quite expensive so I tried a strong paper towel in place of the Clorox ReadyMop replacement sheets. Works great! I tear away a bit of the towel to allow for the spray holes and of course I have to replace the paper quite frequently, but it is well worth the effort. You can also use a washcloth cut to allow for the spray holes as well, but I prefer to simply throw the paper towels in the garbage rather than add to my laundry. -- Randy E., Oregon

BUT IT'S CHEAPER. Regarding the tip to use Calgon water softener to remove scum from tubs, it works great. But plain powdered borax, also obtainable at the grocery store, works just as well and, at least in my area, is much cheaper than Calgon. -- Nancy B., Texas

LITTLE STUFF ADDS UP. A rich restauranteur I worked for told me he could tell whether a restaurant was profitable just by looking in the trash bins. If workers hadn't been taught how not to waste good food, the restaurant would go out of business. The same applies at home. Check your trash cans and you may come up with a "teachable moment." You'll be amazed at what the kids, especially teenagers, throw out. All the little things really do add up. -- Prof. Roger K., Ukraine

JUST ASK. After having work done on my car, I received a bill for $590. I looked at it and said to the clerk with a big smile on my face, "What about my discount? I'm poor, I'm a cheapskate. ... That should be worth something." With that she said, "Ten percent, but for labor only." Knowing I had just scored I asked, "Why labor only?" And she said, "Don't push your luck!" I was joking the whole time and would have been happy with no discount, but by asking I got $41.50 off my bill. The secret is to ask, don't beg, and don't take offense if you don't get it. But be thrilled when you do. -- Bill C., California

FREE KIDS CLUB. We take our kids to Home Depot's monthly "Kids Club Workshops." These workshops ( are free how-to-clinics designed for children ages 6-12, available 9 a.m. the first Saturday of each month at all Home Depot stores. Children accompanied by an adult use pre-fabricated kits to construct projects like wooden birdhouses, step stools and sailboats to more educational projects like the plastic bag recycle box and window bird box, where kids can watch the birds build their nests. Kids leave with a finished item, an orange apron and achievement pin. -- Brian O., California

POT REPAIR. Don't throw out that busted terracotta pot. You can repair it quite easily. Moisten the breaks with water. Squeeze carpenter's glue onto the broken edges and reset the pieces. Circle the pot with strips of masking tape to hold the pieces in place. Let the bond harden. -- Victor G., California

SELF-GRATING CHEESE. If you freeze a block of cheese, then thaw it, it will crumble. You don't have to grate it. -- Tanley M., email


NO MORE SPLITS. To prevent moulding from splitting, my father taught me to place the nails head down on a solid surface and then tap the point of the nail. This blunts the point, and the nail cuts through the wood rather than splitting it. This method works well on moulding made from woods that have a pronounced grain such as fir, which is prone to splitting. -- Dave. R., Florida

GROW SOME YOGURT. My kids love yogurt so I make my own. Boil half a gallon of milk and allow it to sit in a cool place. When lukewarm, add 1 tablespoon Dannon plain yogurt, stir and cover. Let it sit on top of the stove overnight. It will be ready the following day. This will be sugar-free. You can add fruit, honey or granola to sweeten. -- Aruna S., Illinois

SPRINKLER STAND. Turn your spade into an extra pair of hands. Whenever you need a direct a flow of water onto a portion of your garden, simply stick the spade into the soil and nestle your hose into the V-shaped notch where the handle begins. -- Naomi D., Nebraska

STORE BRANDS. Some generic items are awful and others are exactly the same product as the name brand alternative. Do some experimenting, especially if your store offers "satisfaction guaranteed." If you don't like it, the store will let you exchange it or may give you your money back. -- Bette J., Nevada

PLANT VACATION CARE. Before taking off for your summer vacation, thoroughly soak and feed your houseplants then cluster them together in an empty bathtub or child's swimming pool. Set in a sunny location or provide your plants with artificial lighting while you are away. Cover them completely with a lightweight tent of clear plastic and tightly seal it with tape on all sides. No more water necessary. This will work for up to two weeks. -- Lara P., Georgia


Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate Inc.




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