Save Money in this Sunday's paper

The winner: My daily planner wasn’t big enough to hold all of my daily info. So I created an oversized wall calendar made of chalkboard paint! I used a yardstick to create a calendar outlay on the section to be used, creating the squares for each day. I thought it would be easier to distinguish between each day by using white paint to lighten the black paint for alternating squares. I used four different, lighter shades on my calendar. It is beautiful and functional and the kids love to draw on it after I wipe it clean. I used the leftover black chalkboard paint on a few kitchen cabinet doors, which were already black, to write grocery lists, etc. Melissa Wilson, Lincolnton

The winner: We needed storage for our mudroom. My husband found a white cabinet at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $15. He then bought some white bead board at a home improvement store to cover the three unfinished sides of the cabinet. No painting was necessary. I purchased some fabric and foam cushioning for the top. It fits our room and stores everything we need. Darlene Zupp, Charlotte

The winner: I made a swing for my 3-year-old granddaughter using a large plastic barrel with an opening cut, rope, and a piece of 2 X 4 and a large bolt to secure the rope from the inside. I just added a bit of spray paint. As you can see, it is not far off the ground and the child is enclosed. The hardest part was locating a barrel, which I found at an import business via Craigslist for $15. John Hart, Mint Hill

The winner: When we inherited my mother-in-law’s precious Ms. Kitty, we needed a place to keep all her things. So I found the perfect cabinet for our room and converted it into her cat house. One side is used for her litter, food, etc. On the other side I removed the shelf and made a place for the litter box. Then I cut a hole in the side for her to enter through and finished off the opening with black tubing to cover the rough edge. I also drilled a small hole in the back for an extension cord and plugged in a motion-activated light and attached it to the upper inside corner so she could see. Now we have a handsome cabinet and no one is the wiser as to what is inside.

The winner: My scarves were always creased in a drawer, so I used a tie rack to hang them. No creases and now I can see all the scarves at once. For the thicker scarves, I am using a wine glass rack installed on the closet wall.

The winner: Clever has gotten lots of suggestions for reusing greeting cards, here’s a new one, courtesy of Amelia Gardner, of Lancaster, S.C. She donates them to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, which recycles them into new cards to support their programs for abused and homeless children.

The winner: Instead of stuffing a drawer full of scarves, I now hang them neatly with my bracelet collection, also formerly relegated to a drawer. Amy Brooks of Morganton

In response to the tip about keeping socks together, we heard from Mary Leverette, of Columbia, S.C., who is the laundry expert for the advice website About.com. She’s a Clever fan and sent along her list of best uses for socks that lost their mate. Find the list at http://abt.cm/OCA1gU. Our favorite: Mail them to a wildlife research team in California, where they’re the “ideal receptacle for hanging weasel bait in trees. The researchers go through about 250 socks a month. Donated socks can be mailed to 40799 Elliott Drive, Oakhurst, CA 93644.” Or, make a sock puppet. Clever Staff

The winner: I had had it with my washing machine eating my socks, so I put all my socks for the load in a zippered laundry bag which also goes straight into the dryer. No more lost socks! Kris Solow, Charlotte

The winner: Recently, I had some back surgery, which required I wear two drains for a week (a common situation after surgery). Rather than pin them to my clothing, I stopped at a home improvement store and purchased a nail apron for a few dollars. The apron is designed to tie around your waist and has three pockets. I put a drain in each pocket, and it was much easier to carry them around. Now that the drains are removed, I still wear the apron and keep my cellphone, glasses and other “losable” items in it! My doctor’s office loved the idea when I shared it. Margaret Railey, Harrisburg

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I'm So Clever
What a smart stocking stuffer! More than 450 thrifty tips from readers are compiled in our 'I'm So Clever' book that is on sale now.

I'm So Clever
I'm So Clever is compiled by Observer assistant features editor Roland Wilkerson. Send your tip, name, address and phone by email or mail to Home Section, Charlotte Observer, P.O Box 30308, Charlotte, N.C. 28230.