No More Sleeping Through the Alarm and More Handy Tips

BY Mary Hunt TIMEApril 5, 2022 PRINT

Surprise! Instead of sharing tips you’ve sent to me, I’ve decided to hog the entire column to share some of my own. Several of these are oldies but goodies, while some I have discovered recently. I do love a great tip.

Phone Alarm Volume Booster

If you’re a heavy sleeper and have trouble hearing your cellphone’s alarm, you can boost the volume by setting it in an empty (glass) drinking glass. This works because the sound reverberates and intensifies inside the glass. It may not be the world’s most pleasant amplification technique, but it works great for an alarm. As an added benefit, to turn the alarm off you have to actually pull the phone out of the glass. This makes it somewhat more likely that you’ll actually get up and not roll over to fall back asleep.

Bonus: If you put a phone in an empty glass, it dramatically improves the reception. Of course, you probably can’t make a call with your phone stuck in a glass, but you could probably manage to send a text message or two or receive voicemails. This is the first I’ve heard of this method, and a few people have noted that this does work, but I have not tested it myself. If any of you try it out and get a good result, let us know.

Baking Location

Bake pies, tarts, and quiches in the lower third of the oven. The bottom crust will be crisp, and the edges or top crust won’t over-brown.

Shoe Selection

When trying on shoes in the store, walk around in them on a hard surface. Standing on carpet is deceiving. It makes the shoes feel more comfortable than they would be on hard floors or other surfaces.

Zipper Trouble

There are several things you can do to get that stubborn, sluggish, sticking metal zipper back into tip-top shape. Run the lead of an ordinary pencil along the metal teeth to lubricate them. Or, with a cotton swab, apply a bit of lubricating spray such as WD-40 to the teeth. Be careful to wipe away any excess so it won’t soil the garment. Another solution: Rub the edge of a bar of soap or an old candle up and down the teeth and along both sides of the zipper.

Right From Left

Put a sticker inside your children’s right shoes or sneakers. They will begin to learn right from left and also get their shoes on the correct feet all by themselves.

Wax It

For a brilliant shine and easy cleanups, give freshly cleaned tile and fiberglass shower walls a coat of car polish. Do not wax the shower floor or bathtub as it will become dangerously slick.

Pilling on Sweaters

To remove pills from a sweater, stretch the sweater over a flat surface and shave it lightly with an ordinary electric razor. Shavers sold for this purpose are not nearly as effective as the real thing.

Wax Mop

Has floor wax made your favorite mop stiff and foul-smelling? Soak it for a half-hour in a gallon of water mixed with 1/2 cup of non-sudsing household ammonia. It will look brand new. To prevent repeat performances, clean the wax mop thoroughly with an ammonia-water mixture after each use. Never clean a wax mop with soap or detergent, and use it only for the purpose of applying liquid floor wax.

Vases With Icky Buildup

To remove mineral and hard-water deposits from vases, scrub them with a wet cloth that has been dipped into salt. Follow with warm water and soap.

Never Lose the Remote Again

The reason most of us misplace the remote controls to our TVs and other electronic devices is they don’t have a specific place to go. They might end up on a coffee table, an end table, slide behind the couch, or, as I have experienced, right into a trash can to never be seen again.

One person whose handiwork I find to be so clever stuck his remote controls to a coffee table with hook and loop fasteners. Any fabric or craft store sells this stuff by the inch or in packages with the hook and loop fasteners outfitted with self-stick tape. His choice is black sticky-back VELCRO Brand. He cuts off the amount of product he needs for the task at hand, removes the protective paper covering the sticky sides, and affixes one side to the remote and the other to the table. It’s true: When a remote control device has a home, it’s more likely to go there regularly.

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Mary Hunt
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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