Every week, reader tips arrive in my inbox and mailbox. Without fail, there’s always at least one that is so great, it makes me wonder why I didn’t think of it! Take today’s first tip for how to change homemade spaghetti sauce from ordinary to awesome. Who knew it could be this easy.
SWEET SAUCE: When making homemade spaghetti sauce, the tomatoes can be a bit acidic. Try adding a few pinches of baking soda. It will fizz up at first, but just continue to stir it in, and the result is a sweeter sauce. — Laurie B., Maine
YOU FREEZE, I FREEZE: I like to cruise through the frozen food aisles at my favorite warehouse club to see what’s new. I figure if they can freeze it, so can I. On a recent trip, I saw a long line of people waiting for samples. I looked to see what it was only to discover rice! Frozen pre-cooked plain white rice. People seemed to think that was the greatest invention ever and they were all tossing it in their carts. I went home, pulled out the rice cooker, made my own and froze it. — Rebecca M., Washington
TEN BUCKS? NO WAY! I’ve been seeing bottled ironing water. The directions say to use it to mist items as you iron them. The squeaky-clean fragrance leaves a light halo of clean on freshly washed items, from tablecloths to T-shirts. But it is pricey — $10 a bottle or more. I read the ingredients and found it contains only water and a trace of lavender oil. So I made my own. I purchased lavender oil for four dollars and added a couple of drops to a gallon of distilled water ($.59). It’s great and also fills the entire room with a wonderful fragrance, all for only pennies! — Kim H., Wisconsin
COLOR CLIP: I’ve been spending only cash when I shop, but knowing how much I had available in each category was difficult when I had all the cash together in my wallet. Now I use colored paperclips to organize my cash, just like the envelope system. I assign a color to each category, and I can see at a glance how much I have to spend.
It also makes me think twice when I’m tempted to overspend by borrowing from another category. — Mary Beth W., California
SEEING RED: Each time I write a check to a creditor, I use the second line in the register to record the interest charged that month (in red), the amount of my payment that is actually attacking my debt (in green) and the new balance (in blue). This way, I can see at a glance my progress, and the red is a visual reminder of why I never want to be in debt again! — Michele B., California
EXTRA TIMER: Did your kitchen timer break or end up being used all the time in another room? Before you pay money to replace that timer, check your microwave oven.
Most of them have a kitchen timer feature that operates without turning on the oven. Often this function is listed on the control panel. — Suzanne S., Colorado
Would you like to send a tip to Mary? You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. Include your first and last name and state. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com and author of 24 books.
To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.