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updated: 12/21/2010 12:17 PM

Using less than is recommended

Frugal Living

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Sometimes you might forget to measure a precise amount of a product. You tend to eyeball it and use more than is needed. This is especially true with pourable products. If you read the instructions for laundry detergent, you'll discover it's a lot like using shampoo. If you have less to wash, you can use less product. But how often do you automatically add a capful? Another thing to consider is that using too much detergent can make your clothes dingy and your washer smell, which makes your clothes smell, too. Using less laundry detergent works out fine when you're simply freshening clothing and it isn't terribly soiled.

Use less detergent: I actually had a clothes-washer repairman tell me one time that not only do you not need to use as much laundry detergent as the manufacturer suggests, but it can be better for your washer to cut back. He said the excess detergent doesn't completely get rinsed and can gum up the works eventually for your machine. He ran some water in my empty washer, and sure enough, suds bubbled up just from the residue in the tub! Needless to say, I started using less than the recommended amount of detergent, and my clothes have gotten just as clean!

Suzanne, e-mail

Amaretto Coffee Creamer: Combine cup nondairy coffee creamer, 1 teaspoon almond extract, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and cup confectioners' sugar and keep in tightly closed jar. Add to taste to coffee.

Saule, e-mail

Use broccoli stalks: Just made pizza last night using the stalks of broccoli. (Saute in garlic oil.) You still have all the broccoli flavor, and since there is cheese atop it all, you don't even notice the florets aren't there.

Darlene B., New York

Creative cash gift: If you are giving cash meant for a specific thing, you can put it inside a brochure for that item/experience. When my father retired, we gave him money for fancy golf clubs, but just put it in with the booklet from the club manufacturer so he could pick them out himself. Also, I have another tip. I love those little plastic drawers. We use the larger ones on wheels for socks and underwear in our closet, and for storing all those bits of cables and assorted miscellany that go with computers. We use the smaller ones for organizing small toys and craft supplies.

Carla, Canada

Reuse odd socks: We take the errant, lonely sock, stuff it with catnip and tie off the end. Viola! Hours of fun for the cat, and the rest of us, too!

Emily, e-mail

Stain removal: You can try straight hydrogen peroxide. I use this all the time as a stain remover on light colored clothes and it works great. I dab it on with a Q-Tip or cotton ball, depending how large the stain is, and rub gently. Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleaching agent, so you might not want to use it on darker-colored clothing unless you test first in a discreet spot to make sure it doesn't fade the color. If the stained area is really large, I would soak it in water with cup or so of hydrogen peroxide added and see if that loosens the stain.

Karen, e-mail

&bul; Sara Noel owns Frugal Village (, a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. Send tips, comments or questions to Sara Noel, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016, or