Mary Hunt: How to keep your mind focused on saving
Here's why I love it when readers send me their time- and money-saving tips: Reading them makes me think and stay focused. And that's the secret to staying on track with managing my time and money. I move in the direction of my thoughts, so whether a tip is relevant to what I'm doing at the moment or not, simply thinking about it is a good thing. Take today's first offering, for example. What a great idea!
Piggy banks in bulk. I have seven grandchildren to shop for each Christmas. In May, I bought seven piggy banks at the dollar store. I decorated them with stamps and permanent markers, and lined them up on my dresser. I've been dropping my change in each one. When it's time to wrap, I'll make sure each bank holds exactly the same amount. — Esther, Oregon
Paper towel basket. I can't count how many times I've reached for a paper towel off the roll to dry my hands and only manage to tear off a piece of the towel. This seems to happen at the most inopportune times. Instead of ditching paper towels, I keep a stash folded up in a basket on my counter. Now when my hands are wet or messy, I just take one out of the basket. — Annie, Nebraska
Dampen the smoke. When broiling meat, I pour a cup or so of water into the bottom of the broiler pan. The dripping fat hits the water and won't burn in the pan, cutting down on the smoke. I started doing this after hearing my neighbor's smoke alarm going off while she was using her broiler. — Ann, California
Cleaning windows on the cheap. I ran out of window cleaner while cleaning my glass doors. Wanting to finish the project, I knew I had windshield washer fluid in the garage. It was a great substitute for the window cleaner, and cheaper, too. — Virginia, Arkansas
Garage-sale Christmas shopping. I agree with Mary about Christmas shopping in July. But I start even earlier. When garage-sale season kicks into high gear during spring in the Midwest, I start looking for specific items to buy. I store everything in a box in the attic marked "Christmas." When December rolls around, I look through what I have and then update my shopping list. Garage-sale shopping in the spring and summer is also great for Halloween. I save a bundle on odds and ends for costumes. — Marlon, Minnesota
Make your own slivered almonds. I buy the 3-pound bag of Costco almonds with the skins on. I boil them, slide off the skins, slice them into at least three strips and then toast them in the oven, turning a couple of times with a spatula. Once cooled, I bag them up. I use my supply of slivered, toasted almonds on my morning cereal and in evening salads. At a cost of $2.50 for four ounces in the supermarket, I'm saving a fortune while eating something healthy. — Marty, email