Common Cents

Tightening Your Shoestrings

This column contains bits and pieces of frugal ideas. I hope you find what you are looking for since it’s a little fragmented.

A Simple Craft

For this one all you need is thin round elastic and beads. You just string them on for a bracelet. You could use different shapes and colors for various results. For example, use red hearts for a Valentine’s Day gift.

Recycle it! Craft projects & useful things you can do with all that old stuff.

Banking Tips

Does your credit card (if you have them) have high interest charges? If so, you may have options. Many companies will reduce the interest rate if you call and complain. It always pays to shop around. Call and see if another company has a smaller interest rate, and switch if possible.

Here’s an idea for helping to keep your checking account simple. Use a different colored pen for different months, or rotate the colors every three or four months.

Book Repairs

Do you have an old book that needs repair? Use clear packing tape to fix it. Even bindings can be repaired.

Bounce Fabric Sheets

Clean baked on food. Put a sheet of Bounce in the pan, fill with water and let sit overnight, then sponge clean. The anti-static agents apparently weaken the bond between the food and the pan while the fabric softening agents soften the baked-on food.

Wipe blinds with a sheet of Bounce to prevent dust from resettling.

Collect cat hair. Rubbing the area with a sheet of Bounce will magnetically attract all the loose hairs.

Dissolve soap scum from shower doors. Clean with a used sheet of Bounce.

Repel mosquitoes. Tie a sheet of Bounce through your belt loop when outdoors during mosquito season.

Bounce can also be used to repel ants. Thanks to reader Hannah!

Prevent musty suitcases. Place an individual sheet of Bounce inside empty luggage before storing.

Freshen the air in your home. Place an individual sheet of Bounce in a drawer or hang one in the closet.

Deodorize shoes or sneakers. Place a sheet of Bounce in your shoes or sneakers overnight so they’ll smell great in the morning.

Eliminate odors. Place a sheet of Bounce at the bottom of the wastebasket.

Prevent thread from tangling. Run a thread needle through a sheet of Bounce to eliminate the static on the thread before sewing.

Eliminate static cling from pantyhose. Rub a damp, used sheet of Bounce over the hose.

Eliminate static electricity. Wipe your television screen with a used sheet of Bounce to keep dust from resettling.

Use Bounce sheets under floor heater/ac registers – they work better than air freshener, especially in the bathroom! Just lift up the vent cover and place one underneath, easy to put in and replace as needed. They don’t require any additional electricity, it just smells nice any time your heat/ac comes on and nobody knows where the fresh smell comes from. They also help to prevent dust and small particles from going down the ducts. Thanks to reader Lindsey!


Does charity begin at home? Here are two ideas for giving to others. First, check with your local Humane Society to see if they can use old socks. Many of them use them for several purposes for the animals, such as for toys.

Do you read to your children? Your local Association for the Blind might appreciate your help. When you read a novel you could tape it (that means to record it), and give it, or a copy of it to the local association.

Donate your used eyeglasses and hearing aids to the Lions Club.


Want to bring some culture to your children? Call your local community theatre to see if they offer free or low-cost dress rehearsals. Often if they know it’s for education purposes they will make exceptions for groups. Better yet, get your children involved in a theater group! Be sure to check age requirements. There are times these groups are looking for younger kids to help out in the plays.

Another cultural field trip idea would be a visit to see an orchestra. For example, the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra offers low cost tickets for dress rehearsals. A family can see a dress rehearsal for about the price of one ticket.

Energy Saving

In Winter, set thermostat at 68 degrees. At bedtime or when out for the day, set thermostat at 60 degrees. Clean radiators & replace furnace filters a few times a year. Clean bulbs and fixtures of dirt and dust. Use dimmer controls and three-way switches on lamps. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) instead of incandescent (uses less energy and lasts way longer).

Fitted Sheet Repairs

Oops! Your fitted sheet keeps popping off your mattress. Here are two ideas. You could sew elastic on the corners to keep it on. Or you could put a pair of men’s large suspenders and put them under your mattress, and clip them onto your sheet when you make your bed.


If you have an older printer that uses ribbons, you may be able to re-ink them. If they can be rewound, you should be able to rewind the tape and apply re-inking to it and re-use.

Printer cartridges may be recycled. You can purchase either off-brand ink cartridges or use a refill kit. The refill kits shouldn’t be used more than a few times because it may harm your printer. You should check with your favorite computer go-to-person to be certain. Some stores offer drop boxes to put in your used cartridges to be recycled.

If you have a Costco membership, take your cartridges to the photo area and they can refill them. They will test them to see if they can refill them and the cost is quite low. Other companies will refill them for a fee.

Scrap Paper

You may recall an article about getting scrap paper from your local printer. Many give it away, others may charge a little. Another use for the smaller pieces are to make your own self-adhesive notes. Walmart sells a restickable adhesive by Scotch for about $1. Rub the glue stick over the back and wait about a minute and you have a sticky note.


You can make your own dip for potato chips, if you are allowed to eat it. Buy dried onion soup and mix it with sour cream or yogurt. It may not be less expensive, but it sure tastes better than what you buy in the dairy section.

Make your own nonfat (or low-fat) yogurt. It is better for you, it may not be cheaper. To a carton of nonfat yogurt add frozen juice concentrate. You may need a little bit of a sweetener. My family likes the combination of apple juice and cinnamon, mm. Experiment a little and you may find a snack good for your family, too.


Do you ride the bus? If so, it may be cheaper to buy a pass than to pay as you go. It may not save you much each time, but it does add up.

Misc Savers

Gas Price Watch

Coupon Codes

Bargain Buddy

Freaky Freddie’s

Volition Free Stuff

Best Time to Buy…

College 529 Plan


Do It Yourself

Do It Yourself Network

Seasonal Shopping

Black Friday Forums

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