The human brain is amazingly complex. The messages it receives and transmits have a real effect on our behavior -- especially on how we consume. If our eyes see large quantities, our brain tells us to consume more. Whether it's brownies, shampoo -- even money -- what we see, we think we can have.
An example of this is perfectly told in our first great reader tip. But Kay doesn't just lament the problem, she's found what I think is an excellent solution.
Less can be more. My husband is a great guy, but his motto is, "The more, the better!" I buy mouthwash and dish soap in big bottles, but he seems to use more than he did when I bought the smaller bottles. I decided to experiment and found that he is much more conservative when the bottles are almost empty. To capitalize on this, I switched to a small bottle of mouthwash and a 3-ounce "hotel size" bottle of dishwashing liquid. As both products run low, I refill from my larger bottles, keeping the levels very low so it always looks as though we are running out. It's amazing the mileage we are getting from our mouthwash and dish soap. If only I could find a way to do this with toothpaste.
-- Kay, Delaware
Organizing helps life skills. I homeschool our kids, and we completed the curriculum for the year, but we still had school days remaining. In response to Mary's kitchen organizing challenge, I decided that the last week of school we'd study a section I titled Life Skills. Part of this section
-- Linda, email
Handy frozen onions. I love to cook with dehydrated onions, but the price is high for a small bottle. Now I make my own. I bought a 3-pound bag of sweet yellow onions on sale. I diced all the onions and placed one diced onion in a zip-type sandwich bag. I flattened the bags, sealed and stacked them in the freezer. When a recipe calls for onions, I take what I need from my frozen supply. It's handy, and you sure can't beat the price.
-- Tena, Missouri
Skewer the clogged sink. I have three girls, and their bathroom shower and sink drains get clogged with hair. I got tired of spending money on expensive drain cleaners and discovered this technique by accident: Remove the stopper from the sink drain and carefully insert a long bamboo skewer into the drain. Keeping a grip on the end of it with rubber-gloved hands, rotate the skewer (like turning a screw). The hair in the drain will wind around the rough wood of the skewer. Draw the skewer up and out of the drain.
Close your eyes because you won't believe what's on the skewer. Finally, flush the drain with hot water.
-- Pamela, California
Send tips to mary@everydayâ cheapskate.com or Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. Include your first and last name and state.