How long can you make that flattened toothpaste tube last?
A Smart Spending message board reader reports that "empty" doesn't always mean "empty." Posting on a thread about general frugality tips, "Canoes" told about cutting open a depleted tube of lotion and scraping out up to an extra week's worth of product.
Boy, am I glad I'm not the only one who does this.
Focus on 'experiences' rather than unwanted items.
This post comes from Abigail Perry, who blogs at I Pick Up Pennies.
The holidays mean joy and giving -- and garbage.
This isn't social commentary on commercialism -- I literally mean garbage. Think about the post-Christmas morning battlefield that was once your living-room floor: ripped, shredded wrapping paper and ribbon and toy boxes, waiting to be thrown in the trash.
Add to that all those "they meant well" gifts, and you have, well, waste. Household garbage levels increase 25 percent in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, according to this MSNBC article.
Resist the temptation to hit a drive-through.
School's back in session and retailers are trying to sell us items like breakfast cookies and individual bowls of cereal. Convenient, maybe, but also fairly pricey -- and would you really trust a 7-year-old with a bowl of cereal and milk in a moving car?
Besides, breakfast is the most important meal of the day for all ages. Over on the Smart Spending message board, some readers offer grownup strategies beyond granola bites and fast-food drive-throughs.
Your time might be more valuable than your money.
The less you earn, the more you’re likely to give away. People who earn $20,000 or less per year donate more (relative to their income) than higher earners.
Or so Arthur Brooks reports in his book about American benevolence, "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism."
Charity appears to benefit the givers as well. An article from the Christian Science Monitor noted that “greater charity tends to push up income."
Here's an idea: Split lunch duty with a co-worker.
Get tired of bringing your lunch every day? Smart Spending message board reader "toucan77" has a solution: Split lunch duty with someone else.
This reader and a co-worker take alternate days bringing in lunch for two. According to toucan77's suggestion, posted on a thread about general frugality, this takes almost no extra work and it provides several very nice benefits.
Just as having an exercise buddy gets you to the gym on time, having a lunch partner keeps participants away from the Dollar Menu -- you wouldn't leave the other person high and dry by not bringing lunch, would you?
Reader nixed phone fee 10 years ago and is now $600 richer.
If anyone could do that, he'd publish it in book form and retire early, and rich. Besides, cutting back on restaurant meals and coffee away from home are proven ways of saving money. And small changes can mean big savings, noted a reader posting as "Great Arm."
In her case, $600 worth and counting.
Make fun of me if you want, but I reuse my plastic bags.
I have a long history of saving plastic bags for reuse. Lately I've even been saving the bags from those 16-ounce frozen vegetables. I wasn't sure how I'd use them, but figured something would suggest itself.
Last week I found ground beef for 99 cents a pound. After making a meatloaf with half the package, I turned the rest into hamburger patties for the freezer. As it turns out, half a plastic vegetable bag is the perfect size to wrap a hamburger.
They may not look pretty, but slow-cooker meals provide cheap and filling fuel.
Crunch time: Exams are approaching, two final projects are due, and I am still fairly shaky on certain fine points of Spanish grammar.
That's why on Saturday I filled the slow cooker with great northern beans, ham scraps, chopped onion and grated carrot. I stirred up a pan of cornbread and settled down to read Hélène Cixous. By midafternoon, I had five or six nights' worth of dinners in the fridge.
I refer to this as "one-pot glop" nutrition. Some days you don't have time to wonder what you'll fix for supper. Leftovers rule, and one-pot leftovers reign supreme.
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ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.