how NOT to do home improvements!

I know this man!  This is not some picture I saved off Google!  I know it is funny, but still!  Why???? He is not even tied off!

Gardener savings- small plants

for lower prices on pepper plants (bell, jalapeno, banana) go to your local farmer co-op & buy the ones that are in the plastic flats and the plant is in small squares of black dirt. Don’t go to other places and buy ones in white plastic cups.

The perfect girlfriend gift- bar soap!

I started doing this recently.  Actually,  I was out of ideas for gifts for women friends.  For years, there was a deluge of “Bath and Body works” products– liquid soap, hand sanitizers (is this really a gift? Come on! It reeks of germs!), and buckets of body lotion.  And scented candles are great, but some folks who live alone and fear house fires don’t really appreciate these.  They give them away to other friends as soon as they receive them.  Then I hit on the idea of bar soap.  It is one of those gifts I don’t buy for myself, but love buying for friends.  Besides the usual places you would buy them, also check in organic grocery stores.  And they don’t clog up landfills like empty liquid bath soap bottles.

money saver tip for the day $$$$

Get dry haircuts.  My other post just disappeared.  My fault.  90% of beauticians  won’t do this.  Find the 10% who will.  You can change an $18 hair cut into a $10.  I just talked my husband into trying it today and he LOVED it.  I have been doing it every chance I get since 1996.  Ask the hairdresser first if she is agreeable to this.  Shampoo at home either the night before or the morning of the cut.  Don’t apply any “product.”

cutting dish soap costs in half

Have you noticed in recent years that cheap laundry soap & dish washing soaps have pretty much disappeared off store shelves?  Remember the days before HE (high efficiency) laundry soap, you could buy varieties of it in huge boxes?  And the same with laundry soaps.  Getting to the point:  I noticed a few years back I was always buying more dish soap.  Then I started buying refill jugs & saved quite a bit on that.  Finally I realized I was sometimes filling the sink with soapy water 6 times a day.  YES!  I got in the habit of washing utensils & pots while cooking a meal.  Then I’d let the water get cold while I watched a TV show or movie.  Then I let the water out, ran more hot water & washed the rest of the dishes.  One day (perhaps I had been boiling water for tea) I had a large amount of hot water I could have poured down the drain.  Instead, I added it to the soapy water in the sink.  Ta da, everything was great!  I know we have better grease-cutting soaps now (Dawn and Wal*Mart knockoff) so we can wash in cold water.  But my soap usage has dramatically gone down.  Save yourself about $20 per year.

Plot & Plan ahead of time Pee Wee $ay$

As I get older, I realize more things.  These things are admitting that my household appliances do not last very long.  7-10 years seems to be the max on everything.  My tip today is start shopping early!  This does not mean to trash your appliances and tote new ones in the door.  But the next time you have a little spare time, check out the aisles in Home Depot, Best Buy, or Wal*Mart.  Start looking at prices and features.  Take a notepad if you need to remember details, measurements,  and make/models.  In the last 20 years appliances have changed, and many you used to buy no longer exist.  They are a lot fancier, have electronic touch pads instead of dials to twist.  Many have plans you get that require a company service guy to visit your home every year to run a diagnostic test with a laptop.  These will be free for while I found out.  Then when the day comes when your washer/dryer combo huffs its last breath you are READY.  Also, make sure the delivery deal includes that they HAUL OFF the old item.

kickstarting an old hobby I had in the Eighties

for years I always said “when I retire I’ll have lots of time to make hand crafted presents.”

That time came in 2007. I decided I would take up my abandoned Eighties hobby, counted cross-stitching. I have to say some things have changed since then! I still had all the supplies—pattern books, embroidery thread, needles, and scissors. Some of my material had developed severe stains and fold marks, so it had to be tossed. I went on a quest to buy new 14 count material.

Years ago (when the hobby was booming) we had three or four hobby shops in town that sold everything you wanted, including lessons. They were gone, and all that was left was the big box store. They had very little to choose from and the nearest big city hobby shops were 54 miles away. Thank heavens for Amazon and Ebay! Ebay has thousands of pattern books and some sellers even will email you patterns in a PDF file upon payment. Besides these two giants, you can search Etsy and Pinterest for ideas and free or low-cost patterns. These places even have stitchers who will create custom-made designs for you. Isn’t the Internet wonderful! I visited my local library, and they had a surprisingly large collection of pattern books and a handy copier close by where you could copy a pattern and thread color chart for a quarter.

Back in the day I used frame shops to custom mat my creations. Nowadays I haunt local thrift shops for donated frames. You wouldn’t believe the beautiful frames I’ve purchased for fifty cents to two dollars.
When I was younger, I made the patterns exactly as they were written. Now, I find that with my skills, I “fit” the patterns to the frames beforehand and stitch extra borders to compensate for the expensive matting I used to pay for. My gifts have gotten a lot of compliments and sometimes friends even think I have purchased them at a gift shop!

Making homemade things is a great way to save money and impress your friends!