Save Money in this Sunday's paper

The winner: I used to come home from grocery shopping with yet another can of tomato sauce because I thought I was out, but would forget the pinto beans because I thought I already had some. No longer a problem. Now, before I leave to shop I snap a photo of my pantry with my phone. I can zoom in to see labels and can sizes.

The winner: Instead of trying to vacuum out my car, I open all windows, doors and the trunk and use my leaf blower to blow out the car. It gets everything in the seat cracks, under the seats, floor mats – even the dashboard and AC vents get dust-free. After dust settles a little, I give it another quick blast. Totally painless; takes about 2 minutes. Saves money, too.

The winner: When the leaves start coming down in the fall, I use up to 20 yard waste bags per week. For many years I thought I was saving money by using the cheaper 1-mil, 33-gallon bags. But I’ve struggled with these bags because they’re too flimsy and don’t fold over the rim of the can.

The winner: Remove the handle and cut an inexpensive plastic rake in two to make leaf “paddles.” Just use them like big hands to pick up piles of leaves. So much faster and easier than picking them up with my hands! Ann Richardson, Fort Mill, S.C.

The winner: The tutor room door in my school where I was conducting testing was squeaking loudly each time a child entered and exited. The noise was loud and distracting so I took some liquid hand soap and squirted it on the hinges. Voila! No more squeaking! Martha Acquisto, “Ms. A,” Literacy Facilitator at Torrence Creek Elementary, Huntersville.

The winner: Tests have shown that the main factor in razor blade dulling is not shaving, but microscopic rust that forms on the fine edges. Razors will remain sharp almost indefinitely if, immediately after each use, you thoroughly dry them. The easiest way is to use a blow dryer for just a few seconds. I’ve been using the same multiblade cartridge for nearly six months and still get a comfortable, smooth shave every morning. George Bohmfalk, Charlotte

The winner: If your dimpled glass shower is like mine, you may be frustrated by the inability to use a squeegee to wipe off the water. My solution: go to your favorite auto parts store or the auto section of your favorite big box store and purchase a pack of microfiber cloths meant for wiping down your car after washing it. I find a 28-by-28-inch cloth to be perfect for wiping down the entire shower, glass and tile. No streaks, and the soap film is wiped away. Give it a try.

The winner: After reading our Charlotte Observer, I use some of it to make starter kindling for our wood-burning stove. Roll about 4 pages into a tight roll and insert into an empty paper towel roller. A bathroom tissue roller can also be used. They burn slowly because of the tightly rolled paper.

The winner: My husband is very uncomfortable wandering the drugstore makeup shelves when I ask him to pick something up for me. And when I explain in detail what I need him to get, he glazes over. The “I’m So Clever” solution was to text him a photo of the item. He simply showed the picture to the sales clerk and he was out of the “dreaded aisle” in seconds. The sales lady commented that she wished more women used this method of communicating with shopping husbands. To quote her: “It sure would make my job a lot easier!” Joyce Shields, Charlotte

The winner: I have a great recycling tip. At work, we often get coffee in boxes for meetings. Rather than trashing the container, I use the inside liner as an ice pack. When it’s empty, I take out the silver liner and fill it 3/4 full of water and freeze. The screw-on cap makes it easy to fill and seals water tightly. These are excellent ice packs for coolers. They’re nice and long, hold up for a long time and can be used over and over again.

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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.