Not all companies are starving for business these days. If my mailbag is a good indicator, businesses that offer any kind of repair do better during economically turbulent times.
Makes sense. After all, it doesn’t require a Mensa membership to know that it is often cheaper to repair than to replace. And how about those dollar stores? They’re in the midst of a major growth spurt. If you can separate the good stuff from junk, it’s likely you’ll discover lots of ways to spend less.
This leads me to today’s first in a fun collection of my readers’ great money-saving tips, tricks and bright ideas!
Another dollar store item you can buy cheaper without sacrificing quality: LED lightbulbs! I got this tip from a man who works at my town’s Home Energy Audit office. According to this expert, the quality is equal to those found at Home Depot and Lowe’s but so much cheaper. I now keep a stash of bulbs from my local 99 Cents Only store. Other dollar stores stock them, too. — Jan
Call your insurance agent to report a small crack in your car’s windshield. Many insurance companies will fix cracks or “stars” for free, provided they’re smaller in size than a quarter, in order to prevent larger claims in the future. Some companies will even send a repair person to your home or work to make it convenient for you. — Mark
I bought some sunglasses from the fishing department at Walmart — magnifying glasses used for tying fishline. They are very similar to traditional over-the-counter “readers.” I love them and they work great while reading a book in the sun. — Cecelia
To corral a group of cords under your desk or behind a TV, buy a plastic shower rod cover (dollar store, Walmart, Target or online). Cut it to your desired length. Then spread it open and enclose the cords. You can even match it to your carpet color to make the cords less visible. — Maggie
Scented candle stubs from used candles will keep your car smelling fresh. Put the wax pieces in a can or another small container and leave them in your car, under a seat. On a warm day, the wax will melt and fill the car with a nice fragrance. — Tricia
FIRE STATION FUN
Throw an affordable children’s birthday party at your local fire station. Some stations allow their facilities, including the kitchen, to be used for parties for only a small donation to a local charity. At our station, parties are supervised by firemen and may include a tour and a chance to sit in a fire truck. — Rick
Bring a large binder clip when traveling. Hotel drapes will never completely close without one, no matter what! (You’ve got a better chance of winning a carnival prize than you do of getting a set of hotel drapes to overlap enough to shut out the light.) A big hair clip, a chip clip or even a small clip can also do the job. Keep it with your other toiletries and essentials. Zzzzzs will then be a breeze without that band of light stabbing you in the eye! And should you forget? Look in the hotel closet for a “pants hanger,” the kind with two clothespins attached. Don’t remove them but use those clips with the hanger attached to clip the drapes closed! — Roger
REUSE MOUSE PADS
If you have more mouse pads than you know what to do with, use them for other things around the house:
—They are great furniture protectors for indoor clay flowerpots. Just cut the pad to fit the size of the pot.
—Cut a pad into 4-inch squares for drink coasters.
—Use it as a hot pad to protect your table from high-temperature scars.
—Leave a clean mouse pad in the kitchen for opening stubborn bottles and jars.
Clean the inside of your dishwasher with two packets of unsweetened lemon Kool-Aid. Pour the packets of Kool-Aid into each of the dishwasher’s detergent cups and run it empty on the longest and hottest cycle available. Lemon Kool-Aid is loaded with citric acid, just what you need to remove soap residue and hard water minerals that collect inside the dishwasher. — Katie
GOOD TO THE LAST BIT
When you get to the bottom of the cereal bag and there is still a significant amount of cereal, but you don’t want all that cereal powder in your bowl, pour it all into a colander. Shake the powder out and pour the cereal into your bowl! Nothing wasted! — Jane
REFILL FOAM PUMP
I put 25 drops of liquid soap in the empty foaming hand soap container and slowly fill the remainder with cold water. Screw the pump back on and shake well. Perfect consistency. The best for refilling are Dial foam pumps. I’ve tried all and these last the longest. Soaking the pump in white vinegar once a month will increase its “pumping” lifespan. — Kathy
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