Don't waste money on unnecessary cleaning supplies: Before you spend a bundle on cleansers, look in your cupboards. You're likely to find everything you need. Not only are these homemade cleaners inexpensive, they're easier on the environment than the toxic sprays and pastes you'd buy in the store.
- Clean appliances, countertops and even inside your oven with a simple solution of baking soda and water (one part baking soda to five parts water).
- Polish furniture with a cloth dipped in cool black tea, and brighten dull hardwood floors with a solution of one part lemon juice to two parts vegetable oil.
- Shine your silver with toothpaste. Use ketchup to polish copper.
- Olive oil dissolves tar, a pencil eraser removes heel marks and a wet pumice stone scrubs away rust and other stains on porcelain.
Cash-in on clutter: I've always believed the more organized you are, the less money you end up wasting. If you haven't used something since you cleaned last, consider ditching it. My friend and fellow cheapskate Chris Heiska (aka "The Yard Sale Queen ") says that spring is one of the best times to have a yard sale, and she suggests combining forces with your neighbors. You share the advertising and other costs, not to mention the work. Plus, the bigger the sale, the more customers you're likely to draw.
Donating unwanted items to charities like Goodwill or the American Red Cross is a terrific option, too; you not only support a good cause but also generally get a tax deduction for the donated items — it's the same as a cash contribution. Some specialized charities accept donations of some pretty surprising stuff — check them out.
Now that the house is tidy and clean, and my wallet is a little fatter for it, maybe I'll treat myself to the new bicycle I've been eyeing — or at least go for that long-awaited ride.
Also of interest: Strategies for your next yard sale trip.
Jeff Yeager is the author of The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches and The Cheapskate Next Door. His website is www.UltimateCheapskate.com and you can friend him on Facebook at JeffYeagerUltimateCheapskate or follow him on Twitter.