I live in a mobile home in Florida. Our electric bills are much less than a lot of our neighbor's bills. Here are some things that I think have helped.
The front of our mobile has three windows and faces the West. We bought a good quality darkening film from an auto shop. My husband applied this to the three windows about ten years ago at the cost of $60 (total). We feel that it has more than paid for itself by cutting down on the heat from the sun shining on the windows in the latter part of the day.
all the windows allow you to turn them so the light can come in but not
the direct sun. I set the air conditioning at 80 degrees in the hot
months. If you air conditioner is located in the sun most of the day,
an awning to shade it will help. Allow for sufficient airflow to unit.
I recently decided to paint a few walls of my house, but I had no idea what colors or what shades to choose. I ended up with a ton of paint chips from the hardware store. After staring at them on my floor, I taped them up on the walls that I wanted to paint with double-sided tape.
I took a black marker, and marked off the
colors I didn't like. Throughout the day, as the sun changed position
and then went down, I would mark off more colors that I didn't like. By
the end of the day, I had narrowed my choices down to the colors that
looked good at any time of day!
From the "Olden Days"
regular white vinegar to clean lime and hard water deposits from
showerheads. Just soak the showerhead in the vinegar and you will see
little "rocks" in the bottom of the dish when you are done.
I just bought a house and had new carpet installed in the bedrooms. Of course, there were some pieces of carpet left over, which I decided to keep.
I have used these scraps as coasters, a mat for my husband to lay on when he is working under the car, dog and cat "beds," a liner for a pet carrier, "throw-away" door mats, disposable "birthing bed" for my dog's latest litter, and floorboard mats for our pick-up truck.
I'm sure that many more uses will occur to me. When the pieces get too dirty, I simply throw them away.
When my sons were in school, I would take the first field trip/activity permission form they brought home, fill out the sections that would always stay the same (parent's name, Doctor's name, phone number, etc.), and then make multiple copies of it before filling out the specific information for that trip. It saved me time during the rest of the school year, because I could pull out one of the semi-completed copies and fill it out for that field trip.
My husband has a hard time sleeping in the summer because of the heat, so I powder him down with baby powder. He stays cool and refreshed all night long. This has also helped both of my children.
Donna in MS
Here's something that my husband and I are planning for this summer. We plan on inviting all the children of our families, friends, and neighborhood to a water party. We will be purchasing an inexpensive inflatable pool and will invite all the kids to bring their water guns, put on their swimsuits, and come prepared to have fun in the sun. Then we will be having a fix-your-own-ice cream-sundae bar set up in the shade. When the kids get all sticky, they can just jump back in the pool or we can hose them down. The adults will enjoy this as well.
Dye-ing to Be New
I dye clothes that have stains that cannot be washed out. Also, since I have two girls, the hand-me-downs are like new for my younger daughter.
If you take the bottles that have little stuff in them, hold them in your hand and swing your arm around in big circles a few times, the motion will force all the stuff from the bottom of the bottle into the cap for easy pouring. Just remember to make sure the cap is on tight first.
The Cost of Designer Clothes
When my daughter went into middle school, she quickly learned that the popular kids wore expensive name brand clothes and felt she had to do the same. We had many arguments until I told her she could buy anything she wanted if she made up the difference between name brands and less popular brands and the sale prices that I always purchased items at. That quickly got her attention and she started shopping with me to learn how to purchase items less expensively.
am happy to say that she learned how to find items on sale and has gone
beyond that! She learned where all the outlets are located, comparison
shops and even goes to Goodwill and Salvation Army thrift stores. She
is always proud to come home with clothing that everyone else is
wearing but at a fraction of the price. She has exceeded my
expectations in being a thrifty buyer!
I have very thick wavy hair, and one day, I was out of conditioner. What to do? No conditioner meant I couldn't get a comb or brush through my hair. I grabbed the baby oil, put a few drops on my hands, and rubbed it through my hair. Presto! Now that's all I use!
oil makes my hair just a little bit slippery and that's all I need. I
haven't used conditioner now for over a year. Try it! I towel dry
first, then I put a few drops on my hands, rub together, and "comb"
through my hair with my fingers. Then I use a wide tooth comb. It's
Recently I've discovered the large-capacity washing machines at local laundromats can save me money and time! Some of the machines can hold 3, 4 or 5 normal loads of laundry at a time. And if you have even a medium-sized family you know that it's easy to accumulate that many loads in a week!
The trick is to not sort too much. For instance, put your lights (such as khakis, grays) and whites all together, including towels if you want. You can throw in denims with your darks.
Instead of spending more money using
3 washers - you can spend less using the large capacity machine. And an
added bonus is that they usually use 1/2 the amount of detergent!
Claudia from Broken Arrow, OK
Even if you don't have to "dress up" for work every day, there are occasions when you have to wear hose and/or a slip under your skirt. Avoid static-cling by applying hand lotion liberally to your hands and then rubbing the excess onto your legs even if you're wearing stockings! The emollients are enough to break the static.
if static continues to build up as you walk, keep a small bottle of
lotion in your purse and re-apply, as necessary. It also works under
silk or synthetic slacks.
My favorite question to ask myself when I can't decide whether or not to get rid of something is: Would I pick this up off of the free table at a yard sale? Most times, my answer is NO!
Also, once I had a yard sale, and had spent days agonizing over what to get rid of. Then to my amazement, when it got to the table outside, it actually looked like junk. And the weird thing is, not very many people wanted what I had considered so precious. At least they didn't want to part with very much money!
Landscaping for Less
Purchasing shrubs is expensive. Try a cutting from your favorites and grow for pennies. For years I have started shrubs from cuttings including junipers, hydrangea, pine trees, magnolia trees, viburnum, spirea, miniature lilac and more.
Our daughter's new house is landscaped almost entirely of plants I started. I bought a few plants before I knew how simple it was to propagate from cuttings. Dozens have been propagated from my original plants But most have been started from cuttings of friends and others (of course always ask the owner).
Its very easy. Use peat moss and mix it
with a small amount of good soil. Pull all but a few top leaves off the
stem, sometimes I make a diagonal slice at the bottom of the small
branch. Insert the shrub stem or branch in a quart or larger container
of peat and dirt. Water frequently (make sure drainage is good)
Transplant when the plant has obviously taken root and has grown at
least double. Some plants don't make it but keep trying, most will
survive, have fun.
Ginny from Ohio
Do you have a good idea for saving time and money? Send it to Dollar Stretcher Tips, PO Box 141460, Bradenton FL 34280-4160 and we'll send you a copy of our print newsletter.