10 Home Hacks That Save Time & Money

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It’s time to cast aside your cynicism. It turns out that the best things in life ARE free – or darned close — at least when it comes to little touches that make life a little easier and your house a little homier. Doubt it? Try these 10 home hacks and you will believe:

1. Banish Odors

Forget the fancy and costly sprays and plug-ins. In a small pan, mix water, vanilla extract and cinnamon, then simmer the concoction on low heat. Your home will smell fresh in no time.

2. Dry Clothes Faster

Don’t have a lot of time to wait for those jeans or that shirt to dry? Toss a dry bath towel in when you put wet clothes in the dryer. You’ll cut drying time way down (and cut energy costs, too!).

3. Freshen a Smelly Room

Easy enough: Just place two to four dryer sheets in a spray bottle, fill the bottle with water, and then add 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol. Voila! Your own effective, low-cost freshener is ready for you to spray.

4. Keep Your Pants Up

A zipper that won’t stay up doesn’t have to be a constant irritant. Slide a run-of-the-mill key ring through the hole in the zipper’s tab. Then hook the ring to the pant button above the zipper. Instant fix!

5. Solve the Toilet Brush Dilemma

Rather than returning a dripping toilet brush to its holder, tuck it between the toilet bowl and lid (dripping brush inside the bowl, of course). After a few minutes it’ll be dry enough to store.

6. Stop Static

Fashion two tin foil balls and toss them in the dryer with your clothes. They will keep your clothing static free.

7. Get at Corner Dirt

Don’t spend a fortune on extra vacuum attachments. Tape a cardboard tube – the kind that is in the center of wrapping paper – to your vacuum hose to get into tight spaces. Bend and flatten the tube to suit your needs.

8. Triumph Over Stuck Trash Bags

You know how, when you try to pull your full garbage bag out of the plastic container, it does not want to come out, because there’s a vacuum? Drill a few small holes in the lower part of your garbage pail and you can remove bags without struggle.

9. Keep Trash Bags in Place

Here’s a way to address another irritation related to garbage bags: Take a few pieces of inexpensive sticky-tape picture hooks and use them to attach garbage bags to the lip of the trash cans to keep them from slipping down.

10. Organize Your Clothes for Easy Reach

Do you spend time digging through clothes in your dresser, or even frustrated by a well-organized pile? Try this: Stack your clothes in the dresser vertically (not in horizontal piles as the picture here shows) to find your favorites easier. Bonus – you’ll save space, too.

You can also save time and money by keeping your credit in good standing. Checking your annual credit reports is a good way to do that, as is checking your free credit scores, updated monthly on Credit.com.

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5 Easy Ways to Live Greener Every Day

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If every time Earth Month rolls around you wonder how you can live greener but “wondering” is as far as you ever get, read on. More than 97% of climate scientists agree that human activities have caused global climate change, according to NASA, so being more mindful of your carbon footprint is absolutely worth your time. And the good news is, it takes less time than you might think.

1. BYOBag

Single use plastic bags, like the ones you find at the grocery store, do not biodegrade so they are clogging up our dumps and our waterways. Many cities, including San Francisco, Austin, Chicago and Cambridge, Massachusetts, have banned these bags already (and many charge $0.10 for each bag you need), so if you are not already doing so, get in the habit of bringing your own bags to the grocery store. Some stores will even give you a discount for each bag you use. Keep a sack of reusable bags by the door and several in the car. If you want the coolest looking bags in the checkout line, check out the stylish bags from Envirosax. They offer 5-packs for around $30, before tax and shipping.

2. Reuse Everything

The reusable approach works at home, too. Think about all the stuff you throw out every day and ask yourself, “Could I have reused that instead?” Between the baggies for school lunches to the bottled water you’re drinking every day, you probably have a lot of room for improvement. My daughter’s school has a no trash rule, and that’s something you could institute at home (or at least a “reduce trash” rule). Replace plastic baggies with reusable pouches, and instead of purchasing bottled water, drink filtered water from a Brita pitcher and use refillable water bottles. A great resource for everything reusable is Reusit.com. From utensils to bento-style lunch boxes, they have it all.

3. You Are What You Eat

Does what you eat impact your carbon footprint? In fact, it does. According to ShrinkThatFoodFootprint, “A person’s food footprint (foodprint) is all the emissions that result from the production, transportation and storage of the food supplied to meet their consumption needs.” A lion’s share of this footprint falls into the meat and waste categories. Simply cutting back on your meat consumption, which is good for you anyway, and cutting back on food waste by buying and preparing food strategically so you don’t toss out uneaten food can impact your footprint in a very positive way. 

4. Go Au Naturale

Many household products, like cleaners and detergents contain chemicals that can be harmful to the environment because they either take a long time to degrade or are not biodegradable at all. Knowing everything there is to know about this can be a full-time job, but if you keep these few things in mind, you’ll be taking a big step in the right direction:

  • Look for products that contain ingredients that you recognize, like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and plant-based ingredients. A good example of this is one of my favorite environmentally friendly all-purpose cleaners Dapple Pure ‘N’ Clean Everything, which contains purified water, a cleaning agent derived from coconut oil, a pH adjuster derived from fruit, baking soda and lavender.
  • Just because something is labeled “natural” doesn’t mean that it is. Read ingredient labels.
  • Avoid products that are labeled “hazardous” or “toxic.”
  • Minimize packaging use by buying large containers of products you use regularly and dispensing into smaller bottles that you reuse.

5. Create a Greener Home

You can also reduce your impact on the planet by tweaking your regular routine.

For example, if you have a dishwasher, use it regularly instead of hand washing. Studies show that dishwashers (especially those with an Energy Star label) use far less water than hand washing. You can also save extra energy by using the “fan dry” option (if available) instead of heated dry. Pre-rinsing dishes in the sink or running a dishwasher when it’s not full, however, can negate your efforts to conserve.

A similar concept applies when you’re washing clothes. Only run your clothes washer when it’s full and use cold water when you can.

When it comes to heating and cooling (which require a lot of energy and can result in costly bills), there are a lot of tricks you can use to improve your carbon footprint. In the winter, keep the oven and toaster oven open after using them, and in the summer, avoid using the clothes dryer too much, because it can heat the house. Instead, hang your clothes to dry. If your windows are not drafty, leave the shades/curtains open on winter days to take advantage of the warmth from the sun. Conversely, leave them closed in the summer. Technology can help, too: Install a programmable thermostat and set it to use as little heating or cooling as is comfortable.

Remember that many chargers use energy just by being plugged in, so unplug them when not in use. Finally, you can cut down on paper waste by opting for paperless billing. You can also opt out of direct mail in the categories of your choice (or everything from credit offers to toy catalogs) by using directmail.com.

Not only can these efforts make you a more environmentally friendly consumer, these small actions can also add up to significant savings. That could leave you a little extra money to pay off debt or work toward other financial goals. (You can monitor your financial goals, like building a good credit score, on Credit.com.)

Editor’s Note: The product recommendations in this article are the author’s alone and neither the author nor Credit.com have financial relationships with the companies listed.

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