Clever Readers Share Their Best Time- and Money-Saving Tips

From tips for mess-free measuring cups to an all-natural ant repellant.
Clever Readers Share Their Best Time- and Money-Saving Tips
Save time and money with these tips from Mary Hunt's readers. (Billion Photos/Shutterstock)

My email inbox, much like yours, I'm sure, is often brimming with spam, ads, and all kinds of other delete-worthy messages. But I dare not do a big global delete to empty it out because I would miss all of your super, amazingly helpful, and otherwise downright fun tips and tricks. Today, I'm sharing.

I enjoy baking but don't like measuring sticky ingredients such as shortening or peanut butter. I spray the measuring cup with a nonstick cooking spray and the sticky ingredient slides right out. I no longer have to spend time scraping the measuring cup or spoon.—Joyce R.

When traveling, pack an unused dryer sheet, especially if you're traveling to a dry, desert-like area. A few swipes with the dryer sheet will eliminate static from garments and equipment.—S.M.M.

I save the small bottles of shampoo, lotion, and other toiletry items from hotels. When I have a big batch of them, I drop them off at any VFW location or women's shelter. They can always use them.—Cathy T.

If you want to make smooth, clear iced tea that isn't bitter, just add a pinch of baking soda to the water while brewing. I use an iced tea maker, so I add the baking soda with the ice. It turns out fabulous without affecting the taste in any way. I prefer sweet tea, but this will work with unsweetened tea, too.—Sheryl R.

I have a great way to get rid of those pesky ants that dare to come into my home. I go out to my herb garden, pick a few sprigs of mint, and drop them on the floor in areas where the ants congregate. By morning, the ants are gone. This is safe for pets, too. Since I already have the mint growing in my yard, it can't get any cheaper than free!—Linda J.

We're reroofing our house, and we didn't want to pay the cost of having the old shingles hauled away. We have an area in our yard that we plan to landscape with decorative white rocks and we decided to reuse the old shingles by laying them down under the rocks to prevent weeds from growing up through them.—Bonnie L.

I burned nonstick cooking spray in my favorite stainless steel frying pan. Thankfully, I was able to remove it with Bar Keepers Friend. I made a paste of Bar Keepers Friend and water and rubbed it all over the pan. I let it sit overnight and then scrubbed it with a nylon brush. It took two applications, but now, my pan is sparkling clean again.—Tena F.

My white ceramic cooktop stove is a pain to keep clean. It shows every bit of burned-on grease. I discovered that if I spray it with plain white vinegar and then sprinkle with baking soda, it dissolves all but the most stubborn stains. I keep my baking soda in a leftover spice jar with a shaker top for easy application. It bubbles when it contacts the vinegar, and it also provides a little scouring action for those spots that still need a little scrubbing.—Frieda

After my mother-in-law passed away and all of her mail was forwarded to us, I couldn't get a life insurance company to stop sending their literature. I kept returning their mail, unopened and marked with "refused," "not at this address," and "deceased." The company just kept sending the offers. Finally, I opened one and filled it out in my mother-in-law's name. I requested a very large policy for her. Address? Heaven! That was the last we heard from them.—Kyra M.

I found that Book Mooch ( is a great book-swap service that doesn't charge a fee. All you do is pay to ship your book to the person requesting it. You get points for posting and sending books, and you can elect to ship only within the United States. Aside from postage costs, all of this is totally free. I've belonged for a couple of years now and love this service.—Jennifer N.

Every time I take a shower, I use my towel to wipe down the shower walls and doors. I haven't had to clean my shower for at least a year now, and I never get soap scum buildup. The only thing I have to clean is the shower door track.—Mary S.

Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.” COPYRIGHT 2022 CREATORS.COM
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