Sometimes, home sweet home can seem like a money pit. But your house doesn’t have to cost you tons for upkeep when you use ingenuity, creativity, shopping sense and saving sense to bring out the best without breaking the bank. Check out all of these clever ways your fellow readers have discovered to make home a wonderful place, with money and time to spare.
ON TRACK. My best tip for keeping our food budget under control is to keep the kitchen clean. Having a dirty kitchen makes it less likely that I will cook and more likely we’ll order out. — Marnie, Washington
TWISTER DECOR. I used the mat from Twister game as a table cover for my son’s birthday party. Big dots in bright colors on a white background — it was perfect! And it cleaned up beautifully both before and after the party. — Marlene, email
EASY GRILL CLEANING. Instead of scrubbing your grill clean and making a huge mess, put the grill racks in your self-cleaning oven the next time you run the cycle. If they are chrome, they will discolor a bit, but you won’t spend all that time scrubbing. — Eric, email
LONGEVITY FOR WICKER. A furniture restoration expert taught me this easy lesson: To prevent wicker patio furniture from turning yellow, scrub it with a stiff brush moistened with warm salt water. Allow to dry in the sun. — Pam, Oregon
WINDOW WASH ALTERNATIVE. I have used the expensive commercially available window washing spray canisters that attach to your hose. They work great, but cost a lot. My carpet cleaner saw me using those products and told me to save the canister and refill it with car washing liquid that you buy in the automotive section. It works just as well and costs pennies on the dollar. The key is that the soap has the additive that makes the soap sheet off, so you don’t have to dry or squeegee the window. It really works! - -Linda, email
SOFT SCRUB SUB. Why spend $4 to $5 for a bottle of liquid cleanser like Soft Scrub, when you can easily make it yourself? Just find a bottle, add the contents of a can of Ajax, Comet or Bon Ami powdered cleanser, add warm water, and shake to mix. Works great, and no more wet and clogged cleanser cans in the shower. — Russ, North Carolina
This last tip is not so much about your home, but rather your pets. Consider it a bonus.
VACATIONING WITH PETS. Have a special ID tag for any pet that’s traveling with you. Include a name and telephone number that points the way to you on vacation — not you back home. — Pat, Oklahoma
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You can email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.