Sunday, October 19, 2008

Homemade Cleaners

General Purpose Cleaner: 2 teaspoons borax, 1 teaspoon dishsoap, and 1 liter of water. Mix into a spray bottle.

General Purpose Cleaner #2: Fill a spray bottle 3/4 full then add hydrogen peroxide. Put in a couple of drops of dishwashing detergent (Dawn is a good choice since it is a grease cutter)

Heavy Duty Cleaner: 4 liters of hot water, 1/4 cup cloudy ammonia, and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Double ingredients except for water if you need a stronger mixture.

Oven Cleaner: For a fresh spill, wet and sprinkle with baking soda and scrub with a soft nylon scrubber. For normal cleaning, make a paste with baking soda and water. Apply to a warm oven. Leave to dry. Clean with a brush or a scouring pad and hot water.

Pot and Pan Cleaner: Borax with hot water

Wall and Floor Cleaner: Borax with hot water.

Saving a Little Here and a Little There (it adds up)

1. Reduce your water-heater temperature to 120F and you'll reduce your costs by 10 to 15 percent.
2. Replacing storm windows or covering windows with plastic in the winter will save you 2 to 7 percent on heating costs.
3. Install a low-flow shower head to reduce your water use 30 to 50 percent.
4. Fix leaky faucets to stop the waste of water.
5. Wash your clothes in cold water and save 10 to 20 cents a load.
6. Turn down your air conditioner when no one is home.
7. Maintain proper tire pressure, for better gas mileage and to extend the life of your front suspension
8. Drop expensive collision insurance on older cars
9. When you get new glasses, tint your old ones for sunglasses, or donate them to the Lions Club, who uses them for the needy.
10. Check you local restaurants for advertised specials. Usually one night a week is set aside for specials, or kids may eat free one night a week.
11. If a store runs out of an item that is on sale, ask for a raincheck. Not all stores offer this. Walmart doesn't.
12. When you buy something large from a store that offers free delivery, ask if you can get a discount for picking it up yourself.
13. Always weigh prepackaged fruit and vegetables before you buy. Since the bags sometimes weigh more than the listed weight, buy the heavier bag.
14. Cool hot food at room temperature before putting it inside your refrigerator.
15. Store refrigerated liquids in covered containers. Otherwise they release moisture, which makes the refrigerator work harder.
16. A freezer works more efficiently when it is full, even if you use plastic containers full of water as fillers.
17. Wait until there are full loads of dishes or clothes to wash instead of doing many small loads. Each consumes the same amount of water.
18. Barter services with friends and neighbors. Example: one can sew curtains while you weed her garden.
19. Look through the wholesale listings in your local yellow pages for items that you buy frequently or in bulk. Many wholesalers do sell their products to the public but do not advertise.
20. Local police, sheriff offices as well as the post office and US Customs office, often sponsor auctions to get rid of lost, seized, or abandoned goods. Keep an eye out for these in your local paper. Also, look for advertised auctions at mini storage sites. They auction units that are not paid for or removed after several notices. You can pick up a whole house of furniture for next to nothing.
21. If you are in need of office equipment, the best time to buy used equipment is right after a political election when the campaign offices are closing up. Contact them right away.
22. If you believe you have a leak in your toilet, dump a little laundry bluing or food color into your tank after it has filled and stopped running. If the color shows up in the bowl, you have a leak.
23. Instead of putting bricks in your toilet tank to conserve water, which may crumble and clog the plumbing, use a 1 quart plastic jug instead. Fill the jug with water, screw, screw on the lid and place it in the tank. You can reduce water consumption considerably.
24. Buy frozen juices and add your own water. That is all the bottle juices are anyway, so why spend all the extra money.
25. Check your local restaurants for advertised specials. Usually one night a week there are specials, such as Kid's eat free night, a special price for all you can eat, etc. You may want to call first and find out if there is any restrictions before you go.
26. When you want to go out to celebrate a special occassion, go out for lunch instead of dinner. Meals are usually a lower price at this time of day.
27. Another way to eat out and save is to go to a happy hour that serves appetizers and a variety of snacks. For the price of one drink or a soda and a tip, you can eat and enjoy the company of family and friends.
28. Before you head out to the supermarket, make out a check for a little over your food budget. Any difference between the final total food bill and the amount of the check, stick in your savings account. Using coupons, store specials, two-for-ones, and careful shopping, your savings could add up quickly.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Spend Less for Gas

Get your car prepared. Make sure your tires are filled with the proper amount of air and that they are aligned properly. Take any extra weight from your trunk or even take off your luggage rack if you do not use it. In the winter, remember that snow and ice do weigh alot, so remove snow and icycles before you drive off. Extra weight means extra gas is used to get the car to move. Get a tune up. If all the parts are working correctly, you will spend less on gas. Change filters and oil regularly.
Go to the gas station in the morning while it is cool. Cooler gas is more compact so you get more for your money. Fill up with the octane you really need. Your car may not need the higher octane, so you may save some pennies by going lower. Check your owners manual for this information.
Now for when you are on the road:
Plan your trip. Make sure you know where you are going and plan the best route. You don't want to stop and start a lot if possible and you don't want rough roads. You want to run all your errands on one go-around so have a list of all you need to get done. Car pool if you can. Does your best friend need to go grocery shopping? Do it together. It is more fun that way anyway.
Drive at the posted speed limits. The faster you go, the more fuel is used. Also, paying for tickets is not a frugal thing to do.
Use your overdrive gear while traveling on the highway
Use cruise control to control constant speed and reduce fuel consumption.
Don't tailgate. All the braking isn't good for gas or tires. Hitting the car in front of you isn't good for your wallet or your insurance either.
Don't idle your car unneccesarily. Turn off the car if you have a long wait. Put your car in neutral if you are at a long red light, traffic stop or in a fast food line during lunch time.
Turn off your air conditioner and open windows if you are traveling at speeds under 40MPH. Any higher, it causes air drags and makes your car work too hard, which causes more gas consumption.
Park in the shade when possible, and try to park forward. Reverse uses more gas.

Strange cures. Try at your own risk

In the midst of research, I have found this list from various sources. Thought they were fun and may help a historical writer or two in the process. I am going to go search out an acorn today, but may have to fight a squirrel or two. They are busy at collecting them right now.

1. Eating nettles mixed with the white of an egg cured insomnia
2. To cure ague swallow a spider wrapped in a raisin
3. To cure baldness rub goose droppings over the affected area
4. To cure a toothache, touch a dead man's tooth
5. To make freckles disappear, cover them with blood from a bull or hare, or use water distilled from crushed walnuts
6. Place an acorn in a window and your house will not get struck by lightening. If a woman carries an acorn in her pocket, she will not age.
7. Nose Bleeds: Rub the insides of your nostrils with the juice of a leek.
8. Carrying an amethyst prevents drunkenness
9. For cramps, tie an eel skin around you knee
10. For wounds: Hold the wound closed and chant, "In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Mary. The wound was red, the cut deep, the flesh sore, but there will be no more blood or pain till the blessed Virgin bears a child again."

Bread even I can make!

Beer Bread

3 cups self-rising flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 can beer

Pour ingredients into a bowl. Mix well. Pour into a greased bread pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

13 Ways to Clean with Salt

Get your clothes brighter by adding 2T of salt per load of wash. Fabric colors hold fast

Mix salt with turpentine to whiten your bathtubs and toilet bowl.

Boil wooden clothespins in salt water before using them and they will last longer.

Clean brass, copper, and pewter with a paste made of salt and vinegar, thickened with flour.

Clean your iron by rubbing some salt on a damp cloth, and scrubbing the ironing surface

Use a mixture of salt and lemon juice to clean piano keys

Salt and lemon juice removes mildew

Oven Cleaner: Clean regularly with a mixture of baking soda and warm water. Use steel wool or a butter knife to clean large food chunks. Pour salt on fresh spills, let oven cool and then clean. To minimize clean ups, place aluminum foil on the botton of your oven.

Use salt to clean a discolored coffee pot

Soak discolored glass in a salt and vinegar solution to remove stains

Clean greasy pans with a paper towel and salt

Remove offensive odors from stove with salt and cinnamin. When there's a spill, pour this solution on it to keep from giving off odor and it will be easier to clean.

Remove odors from drains by pouring hot, strong salt water into the drain.


Fertilize your garden naturally. Banana peels and eggshells are great for plants. They also enjoy a drink of flat club soda occasionally. Place a small amount of old fat drippings at the base of your rose bushes to make them healthier and bloom more frequent. After you use up all the milk, put some water in the container, swish it around and water your plants. It is a growth booster.

Recycle ruined cds, dvds, or the internet software you receive in the mail. Nail them to stakes in your garden. The suns glare will keep out some of the unwanted birds and animals.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Money Saving Tips

1. Unplug unused electrical items around your house. This can save you up to 26% on your electric bill each month.

2. Look at the magazines you are getting in the mail. If you find you do not read them because you don’t have the time, cancel your subscription. You can get a refund for the unused months. Don’t throw away magazines. Recycle or pass them on

3. Check the air in your tires. Keeping your tires properly aired will help the gas mileage of your car.

4. If you have access to the internet, go to, click In Stores Now, then click free samples. Free samples change all the time, and this is a good way to try before you buy.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Healthy Hints

1. If you are trying to lose weight, chew your food slower and take more breaks between bites. It takes approximately 20 minutes for your brain to tell your stomach that you are full.

2. Forget sodas and drink water. Water is good for your overall health, as it washes away toxins from your body. Sodas have no nutritional value and are packed with calories. Go easy on the diet sodas. They are full of sodium

3. Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. This is good for your overall health and will reduce the risk of cancer

Turn Off the TV and....

1. Start a journal. Record your dreams, your goals, your accomplishments, 5 things you are thankful for, as well as daily events. It is a great way to stay connected with yourself, track who you are, where you are going, and where you have been.

2. Take a walk in your neighborhood. Pick up trash. Recycle what you can and throw away the rest.

3. Volunteer your time. Help an elderly neighbor with yard or house work. Read to a class at a school. Join an organization such as Red Cross or a volunteer rescue squad.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sustainability: Saving Water

Although 10% of the earth is covered by water, only 0.3% is drinkable by humans. Reducing shower time, sink usage, and car washing can help us and future generations make the most of that 0.3%. Cutting water usage can also cut your water bill. Here are some ways to do this:

Take a shallow-water bath instead of a shower and save 15-20 gallons a day

Run only full loads in the washer and dishwasher and save 75-200 gallons a week.

Keep a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator and save 200-300 gallons a month

Rinse vegetables in a filled sink rather than under running water and save 15-250 gallons a month

Water the lawn in the evening instead of at midday and save 300 gallons a month

Use native or drought resistant plants and save 750-1,500 gallons a month

(Cut Your Spending in Half Without Settling for Less by the Editors of Rodale Press)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ranch Chicken

I have never learned the art of frying chicken, so have always coated and baked my chicken with various breaders. I enjoyed Shake and Bake brand for many years, but have now started to use Chicken Bread from House-Autry. It is a more frugal choice and tastes good. Last night, just for something different, I spread ranch dressing on each chicken piece before coating it with the breading mix. After baking it for an hour, it came out so moist and had a little extra tang in the flavor. I was quite pleased and thought I would pass this tip on to you.

Healing with Honey

These have not been verified. They have been passed down through the generations like many home cures.

Arthritis One part honey to two parts lukewarm water and a teaspoon of cinnamon will make a paste that will reduce pain quickly. If you sufferi from arthritis take one cup of hot water with two spoons of honey and a teaspoon of cinnamon once in the morning and again in the evening.

Cholesterol Mix two tablespoons of honey and three tablespoons of cinnamon in 16 ounces of tea. Use cinnamon and honey on bread for breakfast to revitalize the arteries and veins that lead to the heart and it will help to prevent heart attacks.

In India and Japan honey and cinnamon is said to help with most stomach ailments.

Colds One tablespoon honey with ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon taken daily is said to cure most chronic coughs and clear the sinuses. Honey and lemon added to hot water or hot tea is soothing for sore throats.

Pimples, Make a paste of three tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon. Put onto pimples before going to bed and wash it off the next morning.

Weight loss. Twice daily, once at night, and one in the morning ½ hour before breakfast drink a cup of boiled hot water with honey and cinnamon. Drinking this mixture doesn’t allow the fat to accumulate in the body.

Chronic fatigue One half tablespoon of honey in a glass of water and sprinkled with cinnamon in the morning and in the afternoon will increase your vitality within a week.

Bad breath Gargle in the morning with one teaspoon of honey and cinnamon mixed in hot water is supposed to keep breath fresh all day.

(from )

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Thrifty Washington DC Vacation?

I thought it would be a great vacation for a tightwad. I didn't think it out very well, or do much research. I waited until the last minute to make hotel reservations but used my Wal-Mart associates discount. Two of the nights were a great bargain, but Saturday night was a killer. Jimmy Buffet was in town (we stayed in Manassas instead of DC itself) and the hotels all hiked up their prices for that night. I thought that was a pretty shady business practice but it must be legal, since they all did the same in that area.
There were microwaves in the rooms, as well as a refrigerator, so what I should have done was pick up food that we could have cooked in the rooms instead of ordering delivery or going to Olive Garden. By the time we were done walking the many miles of DC we were all too beat to think of shopping at a grocery store.
We took the train to and from. It was free parking at the Metro stops. Even though it cost all 7 of us nearly $100 for three days of metro riding, it probably still was the best choice. At least we didn't get lost or park in a tow zone. It is too easy to do there in the city.
We didn't pay for any of the attractions, but next time I might get a small cooler on wheels. It was hot and the water was extremely expensive. There were water fountains around, but they were more bird bath than drinking fountains.
It was a very nice, very long, very hot weekend. Next time I will put on my tightwad thinking cap before I do it again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Shopping Savvy

Shopping is one of the necessary evils. One way I make it more fun is to save as much money as I can doing it. It is a challenge, so if you enjoy challenges, here are some ways to work the system.
1. Use sales flyers and shop for the best bargains. You can plan your menus around the bargains, or use your shopping list. Always use coupons

2. Shop loss-leaders. These are the items the store loses money on but they draw customers. They are usually placed on the ends of the aisles. Again, you can plan your weekly menu around these items.
3. Shop at Wal-Mart. They will match the prices in the sales flyers and it is one stop shopping.
Keep a notebook with prices of items you buy most often to help keep track of bargains and to compare prices.
4. If you shop in bulk, know prices. Just because it is bigger, doesn't mean it is a bargain. And they don't let you use coupons at Sams and Costco.
5. Know which stores use Rainchecks and use them for sales items. If they run out of the item during their sale, they may let you have that same item later when it is in stock.
6. I will repeat it. Use coupons, but use them effectively. Take a calculator with you if needed, but always work out if you are getting a better deal with the coupon or another brand without the coupon. Don't use coupons just because you have them. If it is an item you don't normally use, don't bother with the coupon.
7. If you find refund/rebate coupons, these are also good. You can use them to get free items or free coupons.
8. Use a shopping list and stick to it. Plan a menu and take stock of what items you need. Clean out freezer and refrigerator before you shop so you will have room and see what items you have on hand. You might not need another chicken or package of hamburger.
9. Write a list on an old envelope and keep the coupons that go with it inside the envelope.
10. Don't shop for groceries while you are hungry. You will buy more and most of it will be junk.
11. Shop with a notebook, listing clothing sizes. Carry swatches of color samples and measurements for decorating projects. This would be handy for when you come across unexpected sales or go out to yard sales
12. When shopping for a large item such as a house or car, take Polaroid's of your options to review at home, when you're not under pressure.
13. When shopping for pre-bagged produce, always weigh and choose the heaviest ones. The weight marked is the minimum weight required, so always try to get the most for your money. If you are buying a head of lettuce or broccoli, for an example, for a set price, weigh to find the largest one.
14. Buy pasta sauce in cans rather than in glass jars. They weigh the same and the cans are cheaper than the glass.
15. Buy bags of frozen vegetables instead of boxes. You will get more for the money.
16. Avoid high prices for small containers of spices and herbs. Buy large containers and share with your friends.
17. Buy large turkeys when the prices are low. Ask the butcher to cut them in half for easier storage and less waste for non-holiday meals.
18. Contact manufacturers with complaints or compliments. You may be rewarded with coupons for free or discounted products



These come with meat and produce. Wash them well before you use the trays from the

Use them as saucers for your house plants

Place them under sticky bottles and jars before you put them back in your kitchen
cabinets. The trays will catch the sticky mess and it will be easier to keep your cabinets

Let the kids use them as art canvases. They can be painted on or glue items on them to
make a collage.

When you go camping or on picnics, these trays can be great plates or platters.


Use them as cleaning rags.

Make puppets

Place over containers containing powdered cleaners such as AJAX, to minimize spills

Slip over sneakers while washing in machine to help muffle the noise.


Fill with flower bulbs and hang it in a dry place to increase air circulation and keep them from molding before you plant them.

Use to hold and drain bath toys. Attach to shower wall with plastic suction cup hook.


Store ropes, extension cards or clothesline inside the tube.


Perk wrinkled paper (which you saved from packages given to you, of course!) by lightly
spraying starch on wrong side of paper and ironing with a warm, not hot, iron.


Recycle your old ironing board cover into potholders and oven mitts. Make sure the
metallic part is used for the inside or underside.


Take a ragged paintbrush and cut it into an angle to use for painting corners.


Fill them with candy and small toys. Wrap with colored tissue paper and tie ends with
ribbons to make party favors.


Use these as pillboxes while you travel, store buttons, screws and washers, coins for the laundry.

Use one as a pocket cereal holder for your small child’s nibbling needs

Use one as a holder for lunch or milk money for school age children.


Store cereal, rice, sugar, popcorn, etc. in one them

Early Christmas Shopping at a Bargain

I have opened a store at It is a free site where you can list items you would like to sell. It is free to list, 4 photos are free, it is free to sell. You can find some great items.
My store address is

To date, I have some new, never-been-used items such as girls handbags, Pierre Cardin pen set, candle sets, and a Marie Osmond figurine by Avon. I also have used items such as books, and tiger slippers. Keep checking. I have about 20 plastic totes of items that have to go!

I invite you to list your blujay or yard sale sites here in my comment section.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Brown Bag It

One way to save money is to pack lunches for work or school. Start with the right lunch box. If you have snacks during the day as well as a lunch, you may need a large container. There are many fun lunch boxes that you can purchase or you can recycle and decorate something like a large ice cream bucket with a lid. If you rather not use a lunch box, carry your lunch in bread bags, or grocery bags, or any other bag that can be recycled into a lunch container.

You also need to keep lunches exciting and different, otherwise it will get boring. Use a variety of colors and flavors each time. Most importantly, keep it frugal. Don't buy the expensive drink boxes, prepackaged snacks, or Lunchables. Recycle small plastic containers with lids and drink bottles. If you use sturdy zipper bags, you can wash them in warm soapy water, rinse and air-dry. Buy large bags of chips or other snacks and pack them in containers. Make your own Lunchables with crackers and meat and cheese that you cut up yourself. Save plastic cutlery and condiments packages from fast food restaurants to add to sandwiches. This will keep them from getting too soggy as they sit and wait for lunch time. Make sure that you add a freezer lunch cube or have a place to refrigerate your lunch if there are perishable in it. You can also freeze your drink and let it thaw until lunch. It will help keep food cold. Make sure food is food is tightly sealed, otherwise it might get soggy when the drink thaws. A thermos is a good lunchtime investment. Heat up soup or canned pasta before going to work or school. Pack crackers or a small salad with it. A helpful hint: If you pack a salad, keep the dressing separate in a small container and add before eating, or you can put the dressing on the bottom of the salad bowl and place salad on top. Mix before eating. I have done a lot of research and experimenting. Here are more ideas to get you packing.

· For a nutritious and low calorie lunch, pack some raw vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower or carrots. Add a small container of dip or individual package of salad dressing.

· Stuffed tomatoes make a nutritious lunch also. Stuff with tuna or egg salad or even potato, pasta or rice salad.

· Boil a couple of hot dogs and put them with a little boiled water in a thermos. Wrap hot dog buns so they don't get stale, and add a couple of condiment packages.

· Start a Brown Bag Club at work. Divide the week between 5 co-workers and each day a different person is responsible for packing the lunches for the others. Or, get together and find a new place to eat each day. Take your bagged lunches and sit at a park, or an ice skating rink, or a mall.

· Core an apple and stuff the inside with peanut butter. Top with raisins, nuts, sunflower seeds or toasted coconut. The filling will keep the cut apple from turning brown.

· Pack fresh fruit with yogurt dip.

· Make fancy sandwiches by cutting shapes out of the bread with a cookie cutter (use the crusts and scraps to make breadcrumbs or croutons).

· If you are packing the lunch for a child or spouse, leave little love notes, or jokes, or something inspirational to help them make the day a little more special.

· Make pita pockets with cooked chicken, lettuce, shredded cheese and salsa or mayo.

· A healthy alternative to a sandwich is ham and cheese rolled inside a lettuce leave.

· Use a hot dog roll to make a kid-sized hero sandwich

· Kids love popcorn in their lunch bag

· Stay away from vending machines. Bring your own beverages and snacks. It is cheaper if you buy them from the grocery store.

· Condiments can be stored in a film canister or pill box

· Don't forget to plan dinner leftovers for a great lunch if your work or school has a microwave handy.

Please post some of your brown bag ideas


This is my first blog attempt. In these times when money is leaner and it is harder to stretch a dollar, I will pass on my hints on ways this can be accomplished, as well as freebies that I might find, great websites, my personal accomplishments, etc. I am always looking for what others might have to offer on this subject. I would love this to be a place where all the tightwads can come together and share insights.