It’s the Little Ways We Save That Add Up

It’s amazing how saving a little here and a little there can add up to big savings. Each of these great reader tips doesn’t really save much on its own. But added up over time? In a way that changes your attitude and keeps you focused? That can really make a difference.

Don’t believe me? Think about the amount of cosmetics you’ve tossed because of an allergic reaction or it just wasn’t the right color. And how about buying or making decorations for a child’s party? That can be a real money drain. What if your mind more often went to how you can use what you already have to meet a need rather than running to the store?

Let these tips get your creative juices flowing on how you can substitute, reuse or repurpose what you already have. And send me any new tips you come up with by going to and clicking on “Ask Mary.” I’d love to include them in a future column.


My eyelids swell when I use eyeliner pencils, and liquid eyeliner looks too harsh. Instead, I take an eyeliner brush or Q-tip, dip it in water and then dip it into a dark shade of eye shadow. Then I carefully apply it as eyeliner. This has saved me money, since eye shadow is less expensive than eyeliner. — Tania


Instead of purchasing expensive containers for bathroom supplies, we invested in different sized clay flowerpots. My children painted them, and we filled them with all kinds of personal hygiene products and cosmetics. There is even one for an extra roll of tissue at the back of the toilet. — Patti


My tip doesn’t really save any money, but it sure makes me happy. When making Rice Krispies Treats, rinse your hands with cold water before pressing the treats into the pan. This will eliminate all that goo on your hands. And the treats stay in the pan, not on your hands. — Robin


Tired of baking brownies in a 13-by-9-inch pan and having to cut them into equal squares, hoping they won’t fall apart? Instead, use a minimuffin pan, and you can avoid these problems. Simply spray the tins to make sure the brownies don’t stick. Fill the pans two-thirds with batter, and bake for approximately 12 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Cool, and enjoy! — Betty


The theme for my daughter’s recent birthday party was hearts. I usually make her party decorations, but I was in Target in February and just loved the in-store decorations. Knowing that stores often throw out their promotional decorations, I decided to ask the manager. He talked to the person in charge of taking them down, and she saved the decorations for me. I received so many compliments on how nice the decorations looked, so I shared this tip with everyone who commented. — Debbie


For those who hang flags for the holidays and the change of seasons, I’ve found a great way to store them. I use the empty cardboard rolls from wrapping paper, roll up the flag, slide it inside and use a big marker to label the roll for finding it easily. Works like a charm, and they unroll without any wrinkles. — Bonnie

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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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