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Everyday Cheapskate: A spice co-op that saves money and builds friendships

Sharing readers’ tips with you reminds me just how much we can teach each other. Just when I think I couldn’t possibly learn anything new, here comes another charming way to save time or money every day from readers just like you. You make opening my mail so much fun!

SPICE CO-OP. My wife often ends up with spices she uses only once or twice before they go stale and she has to throw them out. Her solution? She formed a spice co-op with a close friend. Now whenever either of them buys a new bottle of spice they share half of the bottle. Both save money and end up with a great spice collection. They also have discovered that exchanging spices is a great excuse to get together for a gab session. — Gil N., Texas

BULB NUTRITION. This fall, resist the urge to remove the foliage after your bulbs have finished blooming. Let the leaves wither naturally so that the bulb has lots of time to manufacture nutrients and fatten up for the next year’s blossoming. Now your bulbs will perform as true perennials. — Wilton M.

MOTH CRYSTALS. If chipmunks and rodents are dining on your newly planted bulbs, discourage them by sprinkling a pinch of moth crystals over each bulb as you plant it. The crystals will last long enough to deter hungry rodents and then evaporate into the soil. By winter, the soil will have compacted around the bulbs so rodents won’t dig for them. By the way, did you know that gophers will not touch daffodils? — Sylvia R.

SPLATTER GUARD. Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of your food processor’s bowl before applying the lid. When you remove it all of the splatters will be confined to the bowl and the lid with be spotless. — Cherie H.

FREEZER FREER. If you do not have a frost-free freezer, do this the next time you defrost: Dry the interior walls well and then spray them with a light coating of non-stick cooking spray. This will not prevent frost building up, but it will make it a lot easier to defrost because the ice and frost will slide off effortlessly. — Penny P.

ORGANIZED FREEZER. If you freeze foods in plastic bags, you may have a freezer filled with odd-shaped lumps of food that are difficult to organize. From now on, slip a zipped bag of food into an empty cereal box placing the whole thing into the freezer. Now the food item will freeze into a neat shape and, once frozen, slide it out of the box. Stack your freezer’s contents like bricks. You’ll know what you have because you’ll be able to see everything, plus your freezer will be more efficient with less air space. — Arnold P.

COOL AND DRY. The worst place for a medicine cabinet is in the bathroom. Most medications deteriorate in a bathroom’s warm, moist environment. They keep much better in a cool, dry place like a linen closet, on a high shelf that is out of the reach of children. — Margie B.

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You can email her at, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. Include your first and last name and state.

Mary Hunt is founder of

To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


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