For decades, I’ve been collecting and disseminating timesaving and money-saving tips. Readers email them to me, comment with them on my website at EverydayCheapskate.com, hand them to me on little scraps of paper and even send them in the mail. Some are hilarious, others downright weird. And the very best ones show up in this column. Thousands have made it into my books under the titles “Tiptionary” and “Cheaper, Better, Faster.”
I will admit that not all of my favorite tips could single-handedly turn a person’s financial situation from red to black or free up hours every day.
Take the tip for sharpening scissors, which is right now in my personal top 10: Tear off a length of aluminum foil. Fold it in half three or four times to create multiple layers. Now cut several times through all those layers with your dull scissors. They’ll be sharp as a razor in no time at all.
My common sense told me such a tactic would make slightly dull scissors totally worthless. But I was wrong. This tip really works, and it works so well I offered up my good dressmaker’s shears to its power.
OK, so let’s look at the big picture here. As much as I appreciate a sharp pair of scissors, I must admit to having never paid to have scissors sharpened professionally. So I cannot say the effort saved me any money at all.
So, if this tip for keeping scissors sharp doesn’t really put any money in my pocket, why do it? Or more importantly, perhaps, why am I such a fan? Because it empowers me. To know that every pair of scissors in my home has a sharp cutting edge makes me smile. I love knowing that I can do something that brings me pleasure and makes my life a little easier that doesn’t require forking over money. Perhaps it’s like the 2-year-old who, after learning to dress herself, insists on always doing it herself. It feels grown-up.
There’s something to be said for finding new ways to be independent and self-reliant. When I can figure out how to launder items of clothing that clearly state “dry-clean only,” I’m giddy with joy. Dry cleaning is anything but cheap these days. When I make my own laundry detergent (another trick I learned from a reader), I can save myself about $10. (You can find recipes and instructions for both liquid and powdered detergent at EverydayCheapskate.com/detergent.)
Got a tip you’d like to share? Send it to me [email protected] It just might be your lucky day when it shows up in a future column.
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”