Every week, I invite readers of this column to send me their clever tips for how to save time and money. Then, once a week, I open the Everyday Cheapskate mailbox to let you take a look. So many of you tell me this is your favorite day of the week. It’s mine, too!
SHOPPING TRICK. My son studied a carpentry course called, “Measure twice, cut once.” I have adapted that phrase to my shopping: “Shop twice, buy once.” When I am grocery shopping, if I see something I’d like that isn’t on my list, I add it to next week’s shopping list. When I am making out my menus and grocery list the following week, I consider the item. Often, by then, it has lost its appeal. I do the same thing with other shopping items I am considering buying. They go to next week’s to-do list. By the time the week rolls around, I’ve had plenty of time to evaluate the purchase and make a nonimpulsive decision. —Mary Beth, email
DOUBLE-DUTY BRUSH. I just discovered another use for the small silicone brush I use to grease cookies sheets. I have a corrugated filter on my vacuum cleaner and have never been able to get all of the dust out of it. Today, I used that little brush to clean it, and it worked perfectly. I am very happy. —Lucille W., Calif.
MAGIC STAIN ERASE. This is a magical tip that my mother taught me years ago that she learned from her mother. For any fruit stain that has not already been through the washer, simply lay the garment in the sink and pour boiling water over it. The stain will disappear before your eyes. I always used this trick when our daughters were little, and I was able recently to use it on a cherry stain that my mom got on a sweatshirt. She is 91 and couldn’t see it well enough. This really does work like magic. —Jane G., email
POP SECRET. I love microwave popcorn but not the oily, salty goo (and extra calories and chemicals). So, I put two tablespoons of popcorn kernels in a paper lunch bag, fold the open end over three times to seal, and cook on high in the microwave for three minutes time (time will vary depending on your microwave, so adjust accordingly). I get great, single-serving air-popped popcorn at only 80 calories, not to mention a great price, about 10 cents a serving. —Deanna W., Fla.
GREAT RESOURCE FOR RECIPES. One of my favorite resources for recipes on the Internet is a website called Hungry Girl. She takes many recipes from restaurants and remakes them with lower calorie and fat content. —Pam D., email
NEWSPRINT WIPES. As a teenager, I worked in an ice cream parlor. Behind the ice cream counter was a large set of mirrors. Throughout the night, it would get very dirty. This restaurant had a menu that was on newsprint. To clean that mirror, we would use a mist of plain water and then crumble up a menu and wipe it off. It is a technique I have used ever since. It works amazingly well and you get that 100-percent sparkle every time. I use it on my car windshield also. No streaks either. You just need water and a page from your newspaper. Can’t get cheaper than that. —Paul W., Minn.
Would you like to send a tip to Mary? You can email her at mary@everyday
cheapskate.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.