Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cheap "air freshener"

Use spices to make the air in your home smell better. Ok,. that's obvious... but how? Put them in a bowl of water and set them where the sun will shine on them, or use an electric or candle powered simmer pot with a little water and some cinnamon, caraway, rosemary, cloves or whatever has a smell that you enjoy. You can make your own air freshener to spray in the air, too, by using water that's had spices or other smelly things simmered in it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Eating out cheaper

Authentic ethnic restaurants usually have good food cheaper than well known restaurants, even if they're local. Don't confuse "authentic" with "well marketed." The truly authentic may not be in the best part of town. It's usually well worth the effort of tracking down a real ethnic restaurant.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Make liquid soap

It's not hard to make liquid soap from leftover bar soap scraps. First, grate the soap or chop it finely, then add an equal amount of water and let it set until it gets goopy. If you have a blender, you can use that to help smooth the mixture, or you can whisk or beat it by hand. Put it in a pump bottle left from other liquid soap, shampoo or something similar. Sometimes the labels on those bottles will peel off and you'll have a neat free pump bottle for your free liquid soap.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Windshield washer fluid

If you run out of windshield washer fluid during warm weather (or if you live where it never freezes), put plain water in the washer fluid container. It does just as good a job.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Free pea or bean vine support

If you have a garden, you may have a need for a simple, short trellis sturdy enough to hold pea or bean vines. This one can be taken down (or pulled up) in seconds and reused year after year. What's more, you probably already have the raw material on hand. And it takes about two seconds per section to have it ready to go.

Take a wire clothes hanger, unbend the hanger part to where it's more or less straight, then grasp the bottom of the hanger in the center and pull straight down until you have a diamond shape on a stick. Make as many of these as you need. To use, push the straight part into the ground. That's it. You can overlap or space these as needed.

I got fancy and picked out all the white coated hangers so they all matched.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Cheaper motel rooms

If you'll be traveling to an area and/or during a time when motels are not overcrowded, don't make reservations ahead of time. Wait until you get there, then rent a room after dark. You'll get a better deal because motels want to fill their vacancies. Don't be too shy to dicker a little because most motel clerks have a lot of leeway in what they can charge you.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Make your own potting soil

'Tis the season to be thinking about the great outdoors! For anything from a large vegetable garden to a potted pansy, start your own seeds in your own potting soil for the most savings. Use compost, half and half with regular old dirt. To pasteurize soil, put it in a covered container and heat in the oven at 250 degrees for about 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 180 and leave it there for another 20 minutes. This will kill most diseases and weed seeds. Add about 1/4 sand (in volume) and it's ready.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Listen to free audio books

You can just listen to them, burn them to CD or whatever you choose. They're all in the public domain, which means there are a lot of classics. Librivox is a good place to start.

You can't get much more frugal than free.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Make your own recipe cards

You don't have to buy those packages of recipe cards; you can cut any paper to fit a recipe box - even scrap paper. Colored paper is nice, since it's often a little stiffer than regular paper. Think: Recycled junk mail! You can also make tabs to organize your "cards." Glue them on, or cut a special card from pasteboard or heavy paper with a tab on it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cheap sting cure

When the bee stings, when the mosquito bites... when the jellyfish stings or the unknown bug gets to you, what do you reach for? Calamine lotion? Hydrocortisone cream? There's a cheaper solution and it's called baking soda. Make a paste of it with a little water and apply on stings and stinging, itching bites.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Grow your own bird seed

With spring in the wings, it's time to think of growing things! If you like to feed birds year 'round, you can grow your own birdseed. Just how much of a dent you can make in the birdseed budget depends on how much room you devote to it, but even a couple of square feet will yield a worthwhile crop. Plant whatever seeds you feed the birds and you'll have the right ones. Whether it's millet, safflower, sunflower or any of a dozen more types, you can grow it densely, seeding a small area generously. Keep birds away until they've germinated by covering with screen, or start them indoors in clumps.

You can harvest the seeds when they're ripe and store them for winter days, or leave them on the plant and the birds will find them.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Gas saving tip

To get better gas mileage, check the air pressure in the tires when they're cold, not after the car has been driven. Manufacturer's recommendations are made for cold tires. If you have to drive to get somewhere to add air, check the pressure first, and add air according to that. If you're shy a couple of pounds when the tires are cold, you're still shy a couple of pounds when they're warmed up after driving, no matter what the meter says.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cooking fat

If you eat bacon, you might as well save the bacon grease to use in other things. Try it instead of butter on popcorn, or put it in green beans or use it to grease the pan for cornbread. It's free and you eat it anyway when you eat the bacon.

Monday, March 3, 2008

You can wash suede clothing

Did you know that you can wash suede clothing? While it's usually recommended that you have them dry cleaned, a gentle wash in your washer will do it. Just stop the machine before the spin cycle and squeeze as much water from it as you can. Lay it flat to dry, then brush to relax the nap. Washing by hand is even gentler if you don't wring it out when you're through. Again, squeeze the fabric, then put it to dry on a flat surface.

Read: Can You Wash Suede Clothing?