Sometimes the best way to save a buck is to look in the most unlikely places. I'm a huge fan of the fresh produce at my local 99 Cents Only store. And milk, as compared with the price at my supermarket, is a bargain at the Walgreens across the street. But who knew we could decorate our homes using items from places like Dollar General? Our first reader discovered that, and I think her tactic is simply brilliant!
ALTERNATIVE DECOR. My husband and I recently repainted our living room for a fresh, new look and then realized our curtains no longer worked with the new color. We couldn't find anything that we both liked. To our surprise, we found fabric shower curtains at Dollar General that worked perfectly and were only $10 each. Because of our window width, we needed four of them, but for only $40 we have a totally new look in our living room, and we love it. -- Trish
MAGNET RECYCLE. I display photos on my fridge without the heavy magnets covering part of the picture. I use the magnetic business cards from advertisers, cut them in half lengthwise and tape one half of the magnet on the upper third of the back of the photo. Double-sided tape works the best, but I've also just taped the ends of the magnets with regular tape, and that works, too. One strip is fine for a 4-by-6-inch photo, but a larger photo may need two strips. -- Ethel
DIY BATH POWDER. I love scented bath powder, but priced from $17 to $25, it is simply too expensive. I took an empty container of my bath powder and layered it with unscented baby powder and cotton balls that I had sprayed with my favorite perfume. I gave the powder puff from the original container a few spritzes of perfume, put it back in the container and closed it overnight. The scent was distributed evenly, and once again I can indulge myself with scented bath powder at a fraction of the cost. -- Barbara
OIL SQUEEZE. When my kids were younger and just learning to cook, they had many mishaps with the bottle of vegetable oil. Often they poured too much because the opening of the bottle was so large. As I was cleaning out a squeeze ketchup bottle, it occurred to me that it could be a great solution to the oil spills. I filled the flip-top squeeze bottle with oil, and now the kids use it with ease. It even helps me use less oil when something needs to be sauteed. And the bonus is the bottle fits better in my pantry, too. -- Nancy
POISON OAK QUICK TREAT. When it comes to poison ivy, time is of the essence in treating it. Fels-Naptha works great, but so do most soaps. I've even used horse shampoo. One of my trail buddies soaps her forearms with Fels-Naptha before heading into the woods and then rinses it off after the ride. -- Joan
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at firstname.lastname@example.org, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually.