July 24, 2024
Ingenious Ways to Beat Frustration (and Save Money, Too)

Secretly, I feel like a genius when I discover a secondary use for this or that — in case I run out of this but have plenty of that. Like using a paper coffee filter to wash a glass top or mirror when I’m in a pinch for paper towels. Or using a paper towel to create a coffee filter when I discover at the worst moment that we’re out of filters! You’re going to feel like a genius, too, once you read today’s tips from ingenious readers about ways that they save time and money every day.


As a military family, whenever the movers arrived to move us to the next assignment, I always had one box I marked “Open First.” In it were bed sheets, towels, soap, a coffee maker and a toaster. No matter how late we arrived at our new home, we didn’t have to spend another night in a hotel. We could make our beds, get cleaned up and start the next day with coffee and toast without having to open multiple boxes looking for stuff. — Cindy, Ontario, Canada


So as not to damage your locks in the long term, use only a graphite-based spray to keep your locks from sticking in all weather conditions. We use Lock-Ease brand, after finding that many other brands can cause damage at greater cost! — Kathie, South Carolina


My husband and I love to host dinner parties for our family and friends. I like to send leftovers home with our guests in repurposed gift bags (from birthday parties, etc.). The bags add a bit of charm and are much more tidy and pleasant-looking than a plastic grocery bag. — Maggie, Ohio


Even after trying oven cleaner, stove door cleaner and other products, we could not get rid of the crud on the glass front of our wood stove. Finally, we found the solution! We place newspapers on the floor under the open doors and spray full-strength Shout Triple Acting laundry stain remover on the glass. Let soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Using a single-edge razor blade, scrape the black off the glass. Spray again lightly and wipe with a paper towel. Works like a charm! — Lyle, email


Leftover cooked rice serves as a wonderful hot cereal. Steam the rice with a little bit of water, and then serve with milk, chopped nuts and raisins or some other dried fruit. My children love it and frequently ask for breakfast rice. — Gigi, California


I save a lot of time vacuuming my large home since purchasing a 50-foot extension cord that I keep coiled up in an attractive wicker basket. Now I can vacuum almost the entire house without retracing my steps or taking time to unplug and replug my vacuum cleaner. — Linda, Michigan


Can’t get the stovetop burner pans clean? Try this: Fill a big pot with water. Add about 4 tablespoons of baking soda and a few squirts of dishwashing soap. Place the stained burner pans in the water and bring to a boil, making sure the suds do not boil over. Allow them to boil gently until all the baked-on spots are removed. Rinse the pans and wipe clean. They will sparkle like new. — Nicole, South Carolina

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”


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