If you've ever asked yourself, "Is there one more thing I could possibly do with baking soda," or, "How will I ever get this candle wax out of the carpet?" today is your lucky day! Read on for some great reader tips.
• Instead of buying new dress shoes once the heels start to wear out, take them to a shoe repair place, and have a new heel put on for $5 - $6. This lengthens the life of your shoes as well as the life of your paycheck. — Carrie K., Illinois
• I ran a day care in my home for nine years and found lots of tricks to save time and money as a matter of survival. The best tip I ever found was how to make homemade baby wipes. You need to cut a roll of good-quality paper towels (I use Bounty) in half horizontally so you have two short rolls about the size of toilet tissue. Put one-half of the short rolls into a No. 9 Rubbermaid container. Gently mix together 2 cups of hot water, 2 tablespoons of mineral oil and 1 tablespoon of baby shampoo. Pour this mixture over the towels. The cardboard core will pull out easily now, and wipe sheets can be pulled out from the center just like the commercial brands. These wipes are much easier on little ones' bottoms and very inexpensive. They're excellent for makeup removal as well. — Lisa M., Montana
• Here's yet another tip for that all-purpose miracle product, baking soda. One-half cup baking soda in a warm bath is an excellent soother for diaper rash. Let the skin air-dry after the bath, and the baby's bottom is on its way to well! — Kira N., Colorado
• To set the color of fabrics that may bleed or fade, dissolve 1 cup of salt in a bucket of enough cold water to cover the items being treated. Add the garment, and mix the salt water through it thoroughly. Allow to sit for at least 24 hours. The worse it bleeds the longer you let it sit. Wash as usual. This is not foolproof, but it has worked 98% of the time for me. — Holly L., California
• I was taking six preschoolers by myself to McDonald's for a birthday lunch and was horrified at the idea of standing in line with them during the busy lunch hour. So, I went through the drive-thru. I explained I was coming inside to eat with a carload of kids and asked them to put the food on a tray at the counter. I ordered and paid and simply walked in with the kids, grabbed the tray and went to a table. It didn't necessarily save any money, but it sure saved my sanity. — Sara T., Minnesota
• When you need a specific flavoring for icings or candies (orange, lemon, peppermint), check your natural foods store for inexpensive bottles of essential oils. A 1-ounce bottle of pure orange essential oil from the brand Now costs $3.50. By contrast, those little bottles of oils sold in cake decorating shops run $1.50 for approximately 1/30 of an ounce. As a bonus, you can use these pure essential oils to scent homemade bath oils, bath salts, etc., to make beautiful gifts. — Kimberly F., California
• To remove candle wax from carpets, try this: Using a cool iron, place paper towels over the affected area, and iron the paper over the wax. Repeat until the paper no longer becomes opaque. Use fresh paper if necessary. — John C., Minnesota
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."