For the most part readers ignored the request to send in a favorite and instead offered a slew of new penny-pinching ideas. So much the better for On the Cheap readers.
As we enter a second year of celebrating thrift, here are some reader suggestions for saving when the going gets tough. (Thanks to all who participated in the anniversary special; if you don't see your ideas today, be sure to keep looking as they'll be in On the Cheap down the road.)
Reuse baggiesMary Brown of Newport News, winner of a $25 Target gift certificate from a random drawing among participants, noted that "this is the first time I've ever won anything." In the past year, due to a change in family circumstances, she has started to get creative with savings. "When reality hits, then you learn how to buy food (she had just picked up a dozen Lean Cuisines on sale at Harris Teeter) and make it go farther by making casseroles and that sort of thing," she says. Other measures she has adopted include planning her driving routes so she doesn't waste gas; downsizing in every way she can, for example trading in her Chevy Tahoe for a Toyota Camry; and using eBay for both buying and selling. On eBay, she's unloaded things she's kept in storage, unused, for several years, while discovering that she can purchase Lancôme products very inexpensively.
Her tip: Reuse baggies. Wash them inside and out, hang them to dry, and put back into the baggie box. "It's amazing how many times you can reuse baggies," she says.
Recycle paper, use couponsMary Porter of Hampton, winner of the coupon organizer in the drawing, responded to her win by saying, "my thrift group will be thrilled." One of a bevy of volunteers who run the Parish Thrift Shop in Poquoson, she and her friends are always on the lookout for a bargain so that they can help more people.
She describes the store at 487 Wythe Creek Road, which earned a five-star rating for thrifts in a recent Daily Press story, as a community effort. Though it's organized around St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church, "everyone contributes," she says. Those contributors include Trinity United Methodist Church, BB&T bank, the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other organizations and individuals in the community. Proceeds from the thrift store support a food pantry. It also helps in many other ways, supporting local sports teams and helping individuals with specific needs.
Her tip: "I recycle any paper that will work in the printer by using the other side to print my store coupons on." For example, she'll use old printed directions, old ad printouts or junk mail in the mail box.
Ask for more couponsJennifer Zacharias of Newport News reports that "using double coupons at Farm Fresh is a big help. Normally we save about 35 to 45 percent if I don't take the kids with me," she asserts.
Also, joining BJs and using its coupons along with manufacturers' coupons saves her. "I have been calling the companies that have the goods that I purchase and asking for more coupons also. ... At work we're all the time giving each other coupons that we don't need or can't use."
She's also discovered thrift stores as a source of clothing and as a place to take her "no-longer-wearing-clothes" to get a tax credit for them. This worked out really well with this month's unseasonable weather. "One really nice purchase made recently was one large and two small adult snowsuits," she says.
Dryer sheetsJulie Herndon of Newport News should have won a prize for following directions. She picked a favorite that has been a recurring theme over the past year. "Cutting up dryer sheets is my favorite cheap idea, especially this time of year when my organic method (reusable fabric sheets and dryer balls) can't handle the static generated this winter," she wrote.
News to Use
How cheap — or thrifty — can you be? On the Cheap welcomes readers' tips on how to stretch a dollar or save a nickel. Send to psalasky@ dailypress. com or mail to Prue Salasky, Daily Press, 7505 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, VA 23607.
To find other tips, go to www.twitter. com and follow onthecheap. For previous columns, go to www.dailypress. com/onthecheap