Save Money in this Sunday's paper

The winner: Tall Christmas trees are also quite wide. And some tree skirts can be quite expensive. I could not find a Christmas tree skirt that was large enough for the base of our tree. So I purchased a pretty red holiday tablecloth that has a design woven in it and is 70 inches round. I made one cut halfway through to the center so that it slides easily under the tree and fully covers the entire base extending below the edge of the tree. It was quite affordable, and as a bonus, launders and stores easily. Trish Schimel, Davidson

The winner: Every year after we bring our Christmas tree home, we saw off a 1-inch or so piece from the bottom of the trunk and set it aside to dry. After Christmas, we drill a small hole on the top and then sand it down and paint a picture on it of the most memorable event of that year. We have accumulated 37 ornaments so far, each bringing us joy of memories in years gone by. Of course, making a separate one every year for each child you have makes it even more special! Arlene Tencza, Waxhaw

The winner: When using latex paint, the brush can be kept soft between coats if it is wrapped tightly in a Charlotte Observer plastic sleeve. It will also last overnight if then placed with a wet cloth wrapped around the sleeve and brush and placed in the refrigerator. No need to clean the brush between coats. Charles R. Kern, Charlotte

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.

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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.
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