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Save on Home Expenses

From free TV shows to recycled fish tank water, use these tips to save on costs at home

Down the drain. Don't brush your hair over a sink. Discard cooking grease into cans, not into the drain. Pour a kettle of boiling water down each sink monthly to dislodge grease and soap scum before it hardens into clogs.

Use every bubble. Don't discard slivers of soap. Melt them in a double boiler and pour the liquid into a pan to make new bars. Or put them into a leg from old pantyhose and use until the suds are gone.

Tomorrow's soup. When you prepare a chicken, turkey or ham for dinner, freeze the bones to use later for soup stock. And make more than you need for one dinner — the leftovers can be frozen as take-to-work lunch.

Natural pest control. Cockroaches hate catnip-simmered water sprayed near baseboards. To repel mosquitoes, dab lavender oil on your skin or drink two teaspoons of cider vinegar in a glass of water for a pore-emitted repellent. If this repels you, check out the many commercial products on the market.

End postage hikes. Buying "forever" stamps means you won't have to worry about higher postage costs when mailing a 1-ounce first-class letter, regardless of future hikes. And some stamp dealers will sell you bulk quantities of old regular stamps at a discount from face value.

Cheap textbooks. Cut the average $1,000 annual book bill for your college offspring by guiding them to Bartelby.com or Gutenberg.org for free downloads of selected textbooks. To rent books, there's Chegg.com, BookRenter.com and CampusBookRentals.com.

Return to sender. Reply envelopes in junk mail can be slit, turned inside out, and closed up with a dab of glue. Voila! A perfectly good envelope for mailing.

Pet meds. Lower-cost generic versions of Frontline flea and tick protection are available at Walmart, PetSmart and Petco. Ask local pet shops and animal shelters about low-cost vaccine and spay/neutering clinics.

A little off the top. At barber and salon training programs, students provide free or low-cost haircuts, stylings and sometimes manicures, usually under the supervision of experts.

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