Helpful Hints by Rhonda

This page will be updated frequently as I learn or acquire helpful hints.

Got spinach in your teeth and you can't find a mirror?  Use the camera on your phone and turn the view around to look at your reflection.  If your phone does not have this ability, snap a pic of yourself and view the pic.

Freeze old/used books before shelving them.  Book worms are real and eat paper.  Place books in a gallon baggie and freeze overnight to kill dormant eggs and worms.

Store your prescription medicine in a cool, dry place.  The "medicine" cabinet in the bathroom is usually not the best place because of the steam and dampness. Blister packages are exception to this rule.

You ever wonder how the water company knows what to charge you for water waste during the summer? That is how do they know the amount of water waste not to charge you because you are watering your lawn. They take your average water usage in the winter (assuming that you are not watering your lawn) and apply that to your summer bill.  So it's best to try to conserve water during the winter so your average is lower. So turn off the water while you are lathering up in the shower and don't wash your clothes or dishes in small loads.

Don't you hate it when you walk into stores and they have booths of people trying to sell Direct TV or cell phones?  Tell the sales people you already have their service/products and they won't bother you.   I'm not advocating lying by any means. But in my defense when I go to a store I go there for what I need, not to be sold some random product by aggressive sales people.  If I want their product I'll approach them. Isn't that how it's supposed to work?  I figured this out by chance when I was in a hurry walking through Sam's Club.  Someone was trying to approach me about internet service and I told the man that I already had it because I really did. He gave me a high five and let me go on my merry way.  Hmm.  So the next time I was in a store I immediately told the person I had the product/service and they let me go easy peasy.

The disposable glove is essential to any diaper bag.  Let's face it sometimes you have to change your baby's diaper in your vehicle and there's only a couple of wipes left.  Even worse a trash can is not always available nor a sink to wash your hands.  Use disposable gloves while changing diaper and afterward hold the rolled dirty diaper in one gloved  hand and take the edge of the glove and wrap it over the diaper and it becomes an instant mini trash bag until you can properly dispose of it. I often thanked God that someone invented disposable gloves during these times.  When my kids were babies there was no such thing as Purell or hand sanitizer so I carried a box of disposable gloves with me all the time.

When you install one of these new energy saving light bulbs (especially the tubes) leave the light on for at least 24-36 hours.  We had an electrician come to our house to install lights in our kitchen and he told us to leave the lights on for 36 hours. I don't remember his technical words so I'm going to put it in laymen's terms: leaving the lights on sets something in the bulb so they actually last the # of years the package states they will last.  He also said something about a ballast but I don't retain that type of info. (If he told me a baking tip I would remember.)  This was truly a "light bulb moment" because the energy saving light bulbs have been burning out just as often as the incandescent bulbs even though the package says 4 years.  This also explained why new buildings have their lights on for 2 weeks prior to occupation. The electricity bill is no where near the cost of replacing those expensive commercial light bulbs.

Save your scrap pieces of pretty paper and donate them to your local elementary school or daycare.  Most art teachers welcome any kind of free art supply. Our art teacher says the paper is wonderful for collages because the kids enjoy having paper different than construction paper.

The Schedule of Markdowns at a Typical Target store.  Not necessarily all Targets.
Looks like the secret is out so I might as well share it.  I've known about Target's markdown schedule for the last 7 years. But as time has passed more and more people got wind of it. Worst of all I saw it on Pinterest with a link to Mommy Savers.  What seemed to be my little secret in my little town is no more.  I have to get up extra early on certain days to get there first. My Target is slightly different than this schedule because on Tuesdays they mark down canned goods and the end-cap clearance items get marked down a second time.

Monday Target MarkdownsKids’ Clothing, Stationery (office supplies, gift wrap), Electronics
Tuesday Target Markdowns: Women’s Clothing and Domestics
Wednesday Target Markdowns: Men’s Clothing, Toys, Health and Beauty
Thursday Target Markdowns: Lingerie, Shoes, Housewares
Friday Target Markdowns: Cosmetics, Housewares, Automotives
Holiday Stuff Schedule. My Target goes out further than the 3 days.
Target holiday markdowns usually follow a 3-3-2 schedule (this came from our discussion forum).  Clearance merchandise goes to 50% off the day after the holiday, then 3 days later 75%.  Bagged candy starts at 30% then goes to 50% and 75%.  Again, 3 days after that what’s left is 90% off.  days after that it goes to salvage (Goodwill).   If that holds true for Halloween 2010, Nov. 1st = 50% off, Nov. 4th = 75% off, and Nov. 7th = 90% off.

The last weekend in July is a big clearance sale for almost every store.  This is the w/e when stores want to clear their shelves for the fall and Christmas inventory.  Perfect time to buy summer clothes, shoes, handbags, and housewares. Target is no exception - toys go on sale aproximately 70% off.  This is a good time to buy for Toys for Tots or Santa's Helpers.

What NOT to Buy at the Dollar Store
1. Nail buffers - they do not shine and do not last.
2. DenTek Floss Picks (fluoride coated).  The floss picks will get stuck in between your teeth.  Even though they are fluoride coated, they are not wax coated.
3. Figurines for teacher gifts.  It's the thought that counts, I know, but come on. Really? I think a teacher might appreciate something she can use such as post it notes or Sharpies.  I have a teacher friend who has a box of figurines and doesn't know what to do with them.  She says she will feel bad if she gets rid of them. But mind you, they are in a box collecting dust.
4. Batteries - I'm putting this on both lists because each pack is a hit or a miss.
5. Painted Toys. Remember the scare with the tainted paint from China? I wouldn't chance it on mine or anybody else's kids. Let's compare -  $1 toy VS. cost of hospital bill.  You choose.
6.  Bic pens.  Buy them from Walmart, Office supply stores or Target in September. It's less than a dollar.
7.  Faux flowers. I know some people think it looks good but trust me it doesn't.  I can spot Dollar Store flowers a mile away.  However, if you mix it in with good quality flowers it might not be as noticeable.
8.  Sandwich bags. The last time I bought a no-name plastic baggy it smelled like it was full of chemicals. I felt so guilty after putting my kid's'sandwich in it that I immediately took the food out and threw the sandwich away.
9.  Individual Soap Bars.  Buy multi-packs from drug stores instead.  The cost per bar is usually less than $1 a bar.  I just bought a 12-pk of Irish Spring from Costco for $7.50.

DO Buy at the Dollar Store
1. Flower bulbs and seeds.
2. Toothbrushes.  Especially the brand names like Colgate.  There are extreme couponers who get toothbrushes for free, but in my area there's only great couponing; we don't get double up to $1.
3. Gift bags and tissue paper
4. Batteries - I'm putting this on both lists because each pack is a hit or a miss.
5. Mylar balloons (cheaper than Party City)
6. Bases for balloons
7. Party Supplies
8. Silly string
9. Pretty flat marbles to fill vases with so your flowers stand upright.
10. Sunday newspaper - got to go to store on Sunday because couponers buy them fast.
11. Whole grain white bread. Not all dollar stores carry this.  I have yet to buy food items from the Dollar Store. I just can't bring myself to do it.  However, I would trust the bread since I have personally seen the bread truck and caught the driver to ask him if the items were out of date.  He said the bread was fresh.
12. Sunday newspaper (Yes, it's a dollar!!) COUPONS!
13. Search for pens like Uniball that are usually $1.50 or more a pen.
14.  Scissors. Some of the best scissors I've ever bought are from the dollar store.
15.  Holiday decor. I have a hard time parting with expensive holiday decor. Dollar Store decor is easy to donate and I have less storage problems.
16. Greeting cards.  I buy cards for people who don't appreciate cards at all like my nephews and nieces who throw the card away after they take the money out.
17.  Pregnancy tests. So worth it. After you buy one pregnancy test for $15 and you realize you've tested too soon the $1 pregnancy test are so kind to the wallet.
18. Shower curtains to use as dropcloths for painting.

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