You can create a first-aid kit for your home or vehicle, rather than buying one. Add items such as antibiotic ointment, adhesive bandages, cotton balls, antiseptic wipes, calamine lotion, ChapStick, eyedrops, sunscreen, instant cold compresses, hand-warmer packets, tweezers, a thermometer, gauze and pain-relieving medication. You can also make a power-outage kit for your home that holds items such as candles, a lighter or matches, batteries and flashlights. Don’t spend money on the containers for your homemade kits — reuse plastic coffee canisters, baby-wipes containers, plastic ice-cream tubs, tackle boxes or old lunchboxes.
The first reader tip has another suggestion to hold your supplies:
REPURPOSE: I bought a multi-pocket bag at the thrift store. I’m going to use it to create a large first-aid kit for my truck. — S.D., Minnesota
SALVAGE NOTIONS: When I’ve got used clothes that are so torn, worn or stained that they aren’t worthy of even a donation to Goodwill, I glean buttons, elastic, hooks, snaps and zippers from them that I use later in my sewing projects. I cut up the rest of the fabric to use as rags or tear it into strips to make rag rugs. — C.L., Mississippi
TURN OFF POWER: If you have central air conditioning and you have a big unit outside, go switch off the breaker on the outside unit to avoid using up “phantom power.” Phantom power is electricity that is wasted on electrical appliances that are plugged in but not powered up. Many of these devices are designed to come on quickly with the use of a remote, which means that even while they are off, they are drawing energy and running up your electric bill. — S.S., Indiana
HANDY MEASUREMENT: Whenever I find myself without a tape measure, I can still get a reasonably accurate measurement using currency. Bills are about six inches long, and I’ve used them more than once in a pinch to get a rough measurement. — S.D., Minnesota
GET A HOBBY JOB: My hubby and I are motorcycle enthusiasts, with two Harleys of our own. I got a part-time job at my favorite independent motorcycle shop about a year ago to earn a little extra money. I love it! Not only am I learning a lot about the care and maintenance of motorcycles, I also get an employee discount on parts and labor. We have a consignment shelf at the shop for people to sell used parts, and I’ve saved a lot of money buying from there. And I even have my own display in the shop where I sell key chains and headbands, adding even more to my income. This part-time job is paying off in many frugal ways! — Mary, Texas
DONATE: As a community service project through ORT America - Desert Chapter in Arizona, we have been collecting hotel amenities for homeless veterans and hospitalized vets at the V.A. for many years.
We get toothpaste and toothbrushes from dentists, as well as travel-size soaps and shampoos from friends and acquaintances who travel, and we pack them in individual bags for homeless and sick veterans. They have given up so much for our safety and defense, it is the least we can do for them. — Sharon S., Arizona
Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (www.fru galvillage.com), a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living.
To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO, 64106, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.