Useful Tips from Readers

Once again my very clever readers have reminded me that it’s the little ways we avoid spending money that add up. I hope you enjoy today’s tips as much as I have. Would you like to see your tip published in an upcoming column? Send it to me ( and I’ll see what I can do!


I use the Clorox Ready Mop. The replacement pads are quite expensive, so I tried a strong paper towel in place of the Clorox Ready Mop 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.


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.


A rich restaurateur 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.


Rather than using expensive freezer bags to store meat, I use the store’s plastic bags from the produce department. I can mold them so tightly it removes all of the air. I store frozen meat longer than you might recommend and have not had any freezer burn. — Tom H.


Don’t throw out that busted terra-cotta 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.


If you freeze a block of cheese, then thaw it. It will crumble. You don’t have to grate it. — Tanley M.


To prevent molding 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 molding made from woods that have a pronounced grain such as fir, which is prone to splitting. — Dave. R.

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Mary Hunt

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." Tips can be submitted at . 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."

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