Finances Tips

Read these 38 Finances Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Mom tips and hundreds of other topics.

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How can I reduce my electric bills?

Saving Electricity

TURN THE TV OFF! Did you know that leaving the television on is the number one electricity waster in the world? When everyone is finished watching television, especially before going to sleep, turn it off. Also turn off your computer when you aren't going to be using it for an extended period of time (like while you're at work). Even in "sleep" mode, computers and monitors will use up a lot of electricity.

How do I make my own baby wipes?

Make Your Own Baby Wipes

You can make your own baby wipes at a fraction of the cost! What you'll need: 1 roll of Bounty Rinse and Reuse cut in half, 2 1/2 cups hot water, 2-3 tablespoons of baby bath, and a resealable container big enough to hold half a paper towel roll. Mix water and baby bath in resealable container. Add in paper towels. Do not take out cardboard insert until the water has saturated the entire roll of paper towels. The insert will then easily peel out. Seal container.

Can I reuse egg cartons?

Turn Egg Cartons Into Palettes

An empty egg carton is a great artist's palette -- just squirt a little paint into each egg cup. This makes for easy clean-up and less chances of spilling.

How can I reduce my electric bills?

Dishwasher Efficiency

Cutting off your dishwasher just after the rinse cycle is finished and open the door to let the dishes air-dry. Eliminating the drying cycle will save about half the expense of running the dishwasher.

What are alternate uses for common household items?

Many Uses of Toothpaste

Why buy different cleaners when all you need is an ordinary tube of toothpaste? Miraculous uses for toothpaste that will save you money: polish silver and gold, remove crayon marks from walls, treat acne, remove ink spots from cloth, remove fruit punch "moustaches" from kids, deodorize smelly hands, remove scuffs from shoes, and fill holes in walls.

How can I cut down impulse shopping?

Buying Gifts Early

If you happen to see something that you know would make a good Christmas gift (especially if it's on sale), but the holidays are far off in the future, go ahead and buy it anyway. You'll reduce the amount of money you spend in December, and you'll have one less name on your list of gifts to buy.

Is there a use for used bottled water containers?

Freezer packs

Reuse bottled water containers all summer long. Fill one quarter full with water and freeze for a major ice cube. Add fluids of choice when ready to go.

How can I cut down impulse shopping?

What You Want vs. What You Need

A lot of times we get ourselves into debt by thinking that what we want is what we need. The only things in life we need is food, clothing, and shelter. Everything else is in the want category. After you evaluate your expenditures and you find that you are living above your means, see what wants you can eliminate. This doesn't have to be painful, just smart.

What are alternate uses for common household items?

Cheap Way to Cover Chips on Appliances

Use top-quality correction fluid to cover nicks, chips, and scratches on enameled ranges and refrigerators, porcelain tiles, and sinks. Works like a charm and it comes in a variety of colors.

What are alternate uses for common household items?

Use for Old Lemons

If you've got a lemon that's a little past its prime, cut it in quarters and run it through your sink disposal to freshen your drain.

How can I reuse household items?

Use for Baby Wipe Containers

Use empty baby wipe containers to make snow bricks in the winter and build an igloo!

Is there anything I can do with dryer lint?

Dryer Lint

Finally! A use for dryer lint! The fluffy stuff makes great kindling for starting fires.

How can I cut my grocery bills?

Don't Let Stores Waste Your Money

If you buy something and it doesn't meet with your approval, return it! A sweater that falls apart after one washing (even though you carefully followed the tag instuctions) can be returned for an exchange whether you have your receipt and tags or not. Food can also be returned if it is defective (moldy, stale, etc.) You are the consumer and you have the right to demand your money's worth. Don't shop in any store that won't honor your request for a refund or exchange.

Where is the best place to do spray painting?

Renew your used Containers

Invest in a can of spray paint (exterior) to update or renew your personal container gardening baskets. Lay the basket on the grass and spray away. It does not matter how much paint decorates the grass since it will need cutting next week anyway. Repeat as necessary.

What can I do with my child´s broken toys?

Fix Toys, Don't Replace Them

Fisher-Price publishes a "Bits & Pieces" catalog, filled with replacement parts for the toys they
manufacture. You can get a copy of the catalog for free by calling Fisher-Price Consumer Affairs at 1-800-432-5437.

What routine car maintenance is the minimum?

Save Gas = Save Money

Keep tires properly inflated to avoid premature wear and mileage loss. Under inflated tires can waste 5%-10% more fuel than needed.

How can I afford new clothes for my kids?

Saving money

Buy kids clothes at yard sales.

How can I cut my grocery bills?

Grocery Store Coupons

Take an envelope (preferrably one you received in the mail and would normally throw away) and write your grocery list on the back side of it. Place any coupons for items on your list inside the envelope. (This is also a time saver, as you won't waste time at the store looking for your coupons.)

How can I use the very end of a lipstick tube?


Don't throw out used-up lipsticks -- you would be surprised at how much is still in the tube when you think you've used it all up! Dig out the remainder of the tubes with a toothpick and put in a small cup. Melt (a little bit at a time) in the microwave until you can stir them together and re-fill one tube. NOTE: This doesn't seem to work quite as well with the long wearing type of lipstick as it does with the normal wear lipstick.
A different option is to use a lipstick brush to apply what lipstick is left in the bottom of the tube. Retractable lip brushes are the best because you can carry them in your purse without making a mess.

What kind of things can I put in the composter?


Feed the composter with any leftover water that was used to boil vegetables.

How can I reduce my utility bills?

Is Your Fireplace Wasting Energy?

When your fireplace is not in use, close the damper so that your heated or cooled air doesn't go up the chimney.

Can I reuse the batteries from disposable cameras?

Disposable Cameras

Before you take a disposable camera to be developed, take out the batteries that are inside, which will probably still be useful.

Can anybody use those junk mail cd´s?

Recycling Junk CDs

You can recycle CDs (the ones you get in the mail for internet access service all the time, software demos, etc.). You can mail up to 50 lbs. of used CD disks per box to be recycled to:

NE-SAR Systems
420 Ashwood Road
Darlington, PA 16115
(724) 827-8172

What is the cheapest way to mail books?

Saving Money on Shipping

If you are mailing a book to someone (as a gift, for instance) and you aren't pressed for time, you can request that it be send via "book rate mail." This shipping method is one of the cheapest available, typically $2.00 or less for a standard-sized hard cover book. The down side is that you never know how long it will take to be delivered, although a reasonable time frame is 1-2 weeks.

How can I cut my grocery bills?

Save Your Coupon Money

When you go to the grocery store and you're at the check out, write your check for the total BEFORE coupons are deducted. The cashier will give you change for the exact amount you saved. Put it away in your savings account, piggy bank, or wherever. You might be surprised at how quickly those savings add up!

How can I afford new clothes for my kids?

Yard Sale Power-Shopping

Don't be shy about asking the seller for a lower price. Everyone tries to bargain at yard sales.

What do I need to decide the best furniture choice for me

Yard Sale & Flea Market Essentials

If shopping for furniture, carry a tape measure with you to measure any potential purchases. Also take along a written list of the dimensions for your doorways, rooms, and specific areas you are trying to fill. If looking for collectibles or antiques, bring along an up-to-date price guide so you will be able to tell the difference between a bargain and a rip-off. If you're going to be out a long time (at a large outdoor flea market, for example), consider taking along a brimmed hat, sunscreen, and a supply of water.

How can I reduce my electric bills?

Refrigerator Efficiency

To keep your refrigerator operating efficiently (and therefore less expensively), vacuum the coils and grates frequently.

What´s a good alternative to buying juice boxes?

Juice Box Alternative

Instead of buying juice boxes for the kids, buy water bottles, drink the water, then refill them with juice and send them with school lunches.

What are alternate uses for common household items?

Cheap & Easy Drain De-Clogger

Drain de-clogger: 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup vinegar. Pour baking soda down drain first then follow with the vinegar. Close drain and let sit until bubbling has stopped then follow with a bucket of hot boiling water.

What can I do to re-use gallon milk jugs?

Use for Milk Jugs

Use plastic gallon milk jugs for storing plastic grocery bags. Cut a hole in the side of the jug (they usually have a circle there anyway) and stuff the plastic bags through the hole!

How can I get out of debt?

Know What You Owe

Go through your check book, receipts, banking statements and calculate what you spent the year before. This can help you see whether you are living within or above your means.

How can I cut down impulse shopping?

Is it on sale, or is it just surplus?

Never buy anything from an "endcap" (end of aisle) display in the grocery store, unless it is an advertised sale item. Frequently, stores will put surplus stock on an endcap display with a big colorful sign to make you think it's a sale item. By buying from an endcap, you not only end up paying full price, you also lose your ability to compare prices with other brands.

How can I reduce my electric bills?

Saving Money on Utilities

Some local phone companies have reduced-cost plans based on income as do gas and electric companies, so it never hurts to ask (they, of course, don't advertise them).

How can I afford new clothes for my kids?

Kids' Clothes Off-Season

Buy kids' clothes in the off-season (February-March for winter clothes, August-September for summer clothes) for the following year. Many stores mark down their clothing 75% or more at the end of the season when they want to make room for new merchandise. Remember to buy a size bigger, though, as your kids will grow before they can wear it.

How can I reduce my utility bills?

Don't Waste Water!

While you run the water waiting for it to get hot, use the cooler water that comes out first to run the garbage disposal, water your plants, store in the refrigerator for drinking, etc.

How can I afford new clothes for my kids?

Shopping for Clothes

Hit the sales every year in the spring. Look on the clearance racks often. Get replacement garments as needed, not all at once.

Can anybody use those junk mail cd´s?

How to Recycle Everything

You can recycle just about everything. When you are finished with an item of clothing or a favorite book or tape, donate it to a favorite charity or perhaps even a friend. Pass it on; what is one person's junk is another person's treasure.

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Guru Spotlight
Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.