10 Tips for Dry Skin and Eczema

March 23, 2014 by  
Filed under health, money saving tips

During the winter months, the indoor heat and outside cold air can dry out your skin. Although spring is officially here, many of us suffer with dry skin and eczema all year long.  I have suffered with eczema and dry skin for over 20 years and have learned some tips along the way. Some of these may help you.

10 Tips for Dry Skin and Eczema from TheThriftyMommy.com @thriftymommy

1.  Moisturize frequently. It’s best to moisturize your skin within a few minutes of taking a shower or bath. This is because your pores are open and absorb the lotion. Moisturize troubled places throughout the day.

2.  Use a humidifier. Heating systems blow hot dry air throughout our homes and work. Humidifiers help replace some of the moisture in the air, which will prevent your skin from drying out. Remember to clean your humidifier each week with vinegar.

3. Use fragrance free laundry detergent and fabric softener. This includes for your clothes, sheets, towels, or anything that touches your skin. Fragrances and chemicals can irritate sensitive skin and cause eczema to flare. Many times I will use vinegar for my fabric softener.

4. Carefully choose hand soaps. Many soaps today are antibacterial and harsh on sensitive skin. Dial, Softsoap, and many others cause my hands to crack and bleed. I do not use antibacterial hand soaps and I have not seen a difference in how often I get sick. The key is to wash your hands properly. Many times I will buy Ivory, Dove, Softsoap Cashmere, or something mild and dilute it into a foaming hand wash container. Undiluted soaps are thick and difficult to remove from your hands, which will dry them out further.

5.  Do not hand wash dishes. I put as many dishes in the dishwasher as possible and the other items I wash by hand. Try to use a mild dish detergent for dishes that you must wash by hand. I like to use Ivory or Dawn with Olay. I have tried two bottles of Seventh Generation and both bottles caused a bad break out on my hands. Green products are not always better for skin.

6.  Avoid super hot showers and baths. I’ve always enjoyed a really hot shower. The intense heat breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin. Instead, try a warm shower and try to limit time in the water. This one is the most difficult for me to follow.

7.  Use mild cleaners. When I had children, I decided to let go of the harsh cleaning chemicals in my home. I couldn’t bear the thought of my little ones crawling around on floors cleaned in chemicals that could be harmful to them. I decided that for most of my cleaning I would use vinegar and water. After making the switch I noticed that my skin started to look better. The chemicals I was using to clean my home were causing eczema flare ups.

8. Consider herbal or natural remedies. Several years ago, I have a terrible break out on my hands. I had blisters on my hands and couldn’t figure out what was causing it. (I later found out that my husband had refilled the bathroom soap and it was a soap that I was allergic to.) I went to the health and herb store and the owner recommended that I take sulfur tablets. After just a few doses of sulfur, I noticed a dramatic difference in my skin. I don’t take it everyday, but it is something that I use whenever my skin gets out of control. Some folks like to take Vitamin E or Cod Liver Oil for their skin. Consult your doctor or local health store.

9.  Know your triggers. For some people, it is chemicals. For others, it is animal hair. As you live with dry skin and eczema, you will learn the things that aggravate your skin. Do your best to avoid those triggers.

10.  Seek professional help. For the most part, I have learned to keep my eczema under control. There have been times when I needed extra help from my doctor. Sometimes a prescription is necessary to keep skin calm. I keep prescription medication at home for bad flare ups.

These are just a few ways to help severe dry skin and eczema. Stay tuned for a list of my favorite products.

How do you deal with dry skin and eczema?

image (c) Karen Weideman


How to Save Money on Laundry

We all have laundry to do. Some of us have more laundry than others. Regardless of how many loads you wash each week, there are some simple ways to save money while doing laundry.


save money on laundry


1.  Wash in cold water. Most all of your clothes can be washed in cold water.  I do wash my sheets in hot water since this helps to kill dust mites and germs. Unless your clothes are really dirty or greasy, usually cold water will do just fine.  Save money by not heating up the water. 

2.  Don’t buy “dry clean only”. I used to have some dry clean only clothes. I found that I wasn’t wearing them because I didn’t want to pay the money to have them dry cleaned. I tried hand washing some of them but they shrank. It is becoming easier to find nice clothing that is user friendly. Just pay attention to the tags.

3.  Treat stains properly and quickly.  I have a few go-to stain removers at my house. They work for just about any kind of stain.  Every now and then we encounter something unexpected. I just use google to see what others are saying works on the stain. This was especially helpful when one of my children, who was a toddler at the time, drew on our couch.  Be sure to treat stains quickly and don’t put stained clothing in the dryer. It is easier to treat and release the stain if it is not set in with heat. 

4.  Use white vinegar for your laundry softener. I wrote about using white vinegar a few years ago in my post 30 Ways to Clean with Vinegar.  I rarely use laundry softener but I like to use vinegar because it doesn’t leave a waxy finish on clothes.  Plus, it is inexpensive.  You can pick up two gallons at Sam’s Club for less than $4. 

5.  Line dry your clothing. When I was growing up we didn’t have a clothes dryer. My mom hung everything on the clothes line. I’m not willing to give up my dryer but I do try to air dry some of my clothing. Avoid line drying when the pollen count is high. 

6.  Adjust the water level.  Many newer washers adjust the amount of water to the size of the load.  If your washing machine doesn’t do this automatically, be sure to use the water level knob to adjust the water.

7.  Make your own detergent or shop wisely.  I confess that I have never made my own laundry detergent.  A quick internet search is sure to find you at least 10 different recipes.  I usually buy my detergent on sale and with coupons. Sometimes I am lucky enough to get the detergent for less than $1 per bottle.  I keep saying I’m going to make my own detergent. Perhaps some day I will. Until then, I’ll keep finding deals.

8.  Clean the dryer’s lint filter. Keep the lint filter clean so that it doesn’t take longer to dry your clothes.  Also, every few months it’s a good idea to clean the lint from inside the dryer. Some people run a vacuum hose down inside the dryer. I have seen special kits at home improvement stores. Also, check the outside vent. One day my dryer wasn’t drying my clothes. The outside vent was completely clogged. 

9.  Don’t iron. I’m not a fan of ironing so this one is good for me.  As soon as my clothes are done drying I take them out, shake/snap them out to be straight and lay them out flat on my bed and then put them away. I don’t want any wrinkles to set in. You can also pick out your clothes and hang them in the bathroom while you are showering. This will help to remove some wrinkles. 

10.  Use less detergent. Many folks use too much detergent. I have seen people fill the cap all the way to the top.  Look at the back of the bottle to see how much you need. Generally, you can use less than is recommended on the bottle. I usually use 25% less than recommended and have never had a problem. I have even washed some clothes without detergent. They say that the clothes agitating in the washer is what cleans the clothes. You might want to give it a try.

These are just a few ways to save. How do you save money on laundry?



Inexpensive Tips for Treating Sunburn

July 14, 2013 by  
Filed under health, money saving tips

Although I am an avid sunscreen wearer, some how each year I end up with a sunburn.  Whether it is due to an unexpected outing or underestimating exposure to the sun, sometimes sunburns happen.  Although home remedies will not undo sun damage, they will help to relieve some of the pain and help the skin to heal more quickly. 

Here are some inexpensive methods to try at home. 



Take a bath 

Take a bath in oatmeal.  Put some oatmeal in a cheesecloth or sock and tie it shut.  While in the bath, squeeze the oatmeal milk on your skin.  (I also use this remedy during the winter months with my eczema.) Or instead of using oatmeal, try a bath with baking soda. Add a few heaping tablespoons to the bath water. Be sure to use warm or cool (not cold) water so that you don’t send your body into shock.  Also, try to air dry so that you don’t wipe off the oatmeal or baking soda. 

While a cool bath may feel great to your skin, avoid soaking for too long which can further dry out your skin. 

Apply a cool compress

Apply apple cider vinegar to the burn with a cottonball, or make a cool compress.  Keep the skin moistened.  This remedy will help prevent blistering and peeling. Or soak a washcloth in baking soda and water or oatmeal and water and apply as a compress.

If you don’t have vinegar, oatmeal, or baking soda, use cool water to help relieve discomfort.


Your skin is already dry from the sunburn and the baths and compresses are causing it to dry out more.  Help prevent dryness by applying moisturizer after baths and compresses.  You might even try cooling the lotion in the refrigerator.  You might want to wait a day or two to stay applying moisturizer so that the lotion doesn’t trap the heat against the skin.

Apply aloe vera

Aloe is effective in relieving pain and inflammation. Cut open the leaves and apply the gel directly to the skin. Check your local grocery store or nursery for aloe plants. Apply the aloe several times per day.

Drink water

Drink water to replenish fluids and help skin heal. 

Take an over the counter pain medicine 

Try ibuprofen or aspirin to help with the pain. Be sure to take it with food so that you don’t get an upset stomach. 

Apply milk

Some people find that applying milk or yogurt to a sunburn helps ease the pain.  You could apply it with gauze or a cloth.  I have never tried this method but am curious to know if it works. The tannin in strawberries is also helpful so perhaps you could try using strawberry yogurt.

Brew black or green tea

Brew some tea and let it cool.  Put it in a spray bottle and spray on the sunburn, apply it as a cool compress, or apply wet tea bags.  You can also take a bath in brewed tea once it has cooled.  The tannic acid in the tea helps relieve the burn. 

Apply Vitamin E

Break open Vitamin E capsules and squeeze onto your skin to promote healing.

Apply potato slices

Apply sliced or grated potatoes directly to the skin. The starch helps draw the heat out of your skin.

I’m sure there are many other home remedies. Which methods have you tried? Which are your favorite?

This post is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for a doctor’s care. If your sunburn is accompanied by fever or chills, you may need to see a medical professional.

image sxc.hu/zulema011


Laundry Tip: How to Keep Up with Kids’ Socks

There seems to be a common frustration with those that do children’s laundry — some how the socks get lost during the washing process. It has been suspected that maybe the socks are so small that they get sucked into the hose and washed down the drain. Maybe they get stuck on a towel or inside of a pants pocket. Regardless of how it happens, it is aggravating and costly to replace socks.

kid socks 1

This really is a simple tip but it will help you to keep up with the socks while saving some sanity. All you need to do is put the socks inside of a zip up laundry bag.

kid socks 2

Zip up the bag, throw it in the washing machine, then into the dryer.

kid socks 3

Open up the bag. Ta-da. All of the socks are still there!

Some other tips to try –

1.  Have a bag for each child to make for easier sorting.

2.  If the kids are old enough, have them put their own socks into their bag before collecting the laundry.

3.  You may be concerned about the socks not getting clean inside the bag. I never had a problem, but if you’d like, you can get the sweater bags which have larger holes.

What tips do you have for keeping up with socks?


Inexpensive Girls’ Night Out Ideas

Laughter is a fantastic stress reliever. Having a girls’ night out is a great way to laugh, relieve stress, and feel refreshed again. As tired mommies, we all could use a little outing with our girlfriends from time to time. Getting coffee, going to the movies, and eating out with our friends can be very costly. Here are some inexpensive girls’ night out ideas that won’t break your budget.

inexpensive girls night out ideas

Host a movie night. Rent a dvd, watch a chick flick or something funny. I have tons of romantic comedies in my house. Perhaps everyone could bring their favorite movie from home and you could vote on which one(s) to watch. Pop some popcorn and have a few other snacks. This is much cheaper than going to the movies and you can pause for more snacks or potty breaks.

Plan a theme night. Perhaps someone in the group has a fondue fountain. Each person in the group could bring something that they like to dip. These items are usually inexpensive. Some ideas are bananas, strawberries, oreos, marshmallows, gummy bears, pretzels, rice krispy treats, and pickles. Or you could have an ethnic food night such as Mexican food night or Indian food night and everyone could bring their favorite dish for the theme.

Have a tea party. Get out the tea cups and china. Everyone can bring a finger food or you can provide some inexpensive homemade treats such as brownie bites, cucumber salad, pasta salad, pimento cheese sandwiches, etc.

Have a cookie/dessert swap. Everyone can bring their favorite dessert. It’s important to bring enough to share at the get together and enough to swap, along with a recipe for each person. Be sure to have goodie bags or boxes so that everyone can take home some samples.

Host a coffee night. My hubby and I read recipes and practiced making our own coffee drinks at home.  His favorite drink is a caramel frappuccino and mine is a caramel macchiato.  Set up a coffee station, play some relaxing music, and serve some yummy desserts such as coffee cake.  

Search for free and cheap local activities. During the summer, many communities offer movies and music in the park. It’s a good idea to bookmark your city’s webpage or like them on facebook. This will help you to stay up to date on local happenings.  Find something interesting, talk to your girlfriends about it, and agree to attend a free local event together.

Have a nail party. Give each other manicures and pedicures. Soak your feet in a foot spa. Enjoy a paraffin wax treatment. Each person can bring something to the party.  Everyone will leave feeling great.

Technically many of these are girls’ night in activities, but I call them girls’ night out because it involves getting together with your friends and getting away for just a little while.  😉


What inexpensive girls’ night out ideas can you share?

image courtesy of Artizan007


20+ Ways to Save Money on Christmas Gifts

For many people, Christmas is a favorite time of year. Unfortunately, it can also be the most stressful. The costs of Christmas cards, Christmas trees, decorations, and gifts can really burden one’s finances.

You might be wondering why I am talking about Christmas today when it is only July.  Both of my children’s birthdays fall in July.  Once their birthdays have passed I begin thinking about the next big event, which is Christmas.  Giving myself  some time to think, plan, and prepare helps to save money.  Hopefully, this post will encourage you to think ahead and plan too so that you can also save money.

Here are some ways to save money on Christmas gifts. Another day we can discuss ways to save money on the other parts of Christmas.

1.  Get help from friends and family.  Let them know what you’re shopping for.  When I do this, other people let me know when they spot a good deal on something I need.  It goes both ways.  I have been known to text pictures to people at midnight on Black Friday with deals they might be interested in.  It helps to have others watching out for what you need.

2.  Ask friends and family what they want.  Hopefully, this will avoid countless hours shopping, racking your brain, wasted gas, extra unwanted products in the environment, and the hassle of returns.

3.  Try gift cards.  Some people may think this is inappropriate, but I think it’s a great solution.  Gift cards save time, wrapping paper, shipping expenses, and help avoid unwanted gifts.  Let the person buy what they want.

4.  Save your receipts.  Get an envelope for your purse or have a special file folder in your filing cabinet.  You never know when you’ll have bought the wrong size or something didn’t work.  It’s really upsetting to return something without a receipt and not get the full value of the item.

5.  See if your store offers a gift receipt.  I think it’s nice when someone includes a gift receipt in the box.  This avoids the uncomfortable situation of asking where they bought it or if they still have the receipt.  I’ll admit that many times I’ve been left with things I couldn’t use or return.  Gift receipts are great!

6.  Be specific in your requests.  If someone asks what to get your child, try to be as specific as possible.  Tell them the exact name of the toy or their specific pants size.  Before Christmas and birthdays, I have my kids write a list of the things they really like and want.  Then when family asks for gift ideas, I have something to tell them.  I like to have a variety of lower priced items on the list too (such as hair bows, stickers, etc.) so that people don’t feel like they have to spend a lot.  This also helps with people looking for filler items.

7.  Consider drawing names with co-workers or family.  We did this with my husband’s family for several years.  To make it more fun, we kept the names we drew a secret and were surprised when we exchanged gifts.

8.  Buy just for the children.  This is becoming a common practice in our families.  We buy for our parents and the children.  This has really cut down on spending and getting unusable gifts. It also makes for a more relaxed Christmas.

9.  Consider playing a game instead of swapping gifts.  Try a white elephant or dirty Santa game.  Some games involve bringing a nice gift that someone would want.  Other games involve bringing a funny or prank type gift.  There is usually a gift maximum price suggested, such as $10-20.  With the games, each person brings one gift and each person leaves with one gift.  Be prepared for lots of laughter and fun.

10.  Be realistic.  While you’re out there shopping, you’ll probably find loads of great deals and things you want for yourself.  Be sure to budget in some money for things that you want.

11. Make a budget and stick with it. NO CHARGING! If you can only afford a $20 gift then make those dollars stretch. There are deals all around so that you can make your purchase special.

12.  Take those credit cards out of your wallet.  It’s much more tempting to charge something and purchase something out of your price range when the credit cards are in your wallet.  You don’t need a debt hangover in January.

13.  Try making homemade gifts.  With the new craft items, DIY tv shows, and Pinterest, hand crafted items have made a comeback and are more desirable.  Do you have a nitch?  You can make note cards, pillows, crocheted hats, wreaths, and many other different things that are nice.  A gift doesn’t have to be store bought.

14.  Instead of individual gifts, consider a family gift.  You could purchase a popcorn bowl and fill it with microwave popcorn, candy bars, and a new DVD.  Perhaps you could purchase the family a season pass to the aquarium or something else they would like.  The key is to think about the family and what their interests are.

15.  Keep a gift closet or special place for gifts.  Years ago, I used to have a gift closet.  I would purchase things throughout the year and put them away for later use.  Now that I no longer have a gift closet, I have gift totes. It’s not as convenient but the concept is the same.  I find things throughout the year that I think people will like (on clearance or not) and put them away for Christmas. Honestly, I think it is a more thoughtful process because I am able to think ahead and consider the person that I am buying for.  I am also able to pick up a few extra things for teachers, co-workers, and extended family.

16.  Don’t wait until the last minute.  Shopping the week before Christmas means that things will be picked over and you’ll have to choose from what’s left. You may not end up with a nice gift like you had planned, or you may have to pay more for something.

17.  Find discount codes.  Never buy anything online without looking for a discount code first.  Try sites such as RetailMeNot.com and FreeShipping.org.

18.  Give the gift of service.  Instead of you and your friend exchanging gifts, consider giving a gift of service.  Everyone wants to go out on a date with their husband.  Many of us don’t go out though because we can’t afford to go out and to pay a sitter.  Give your friend babysitting services.  You could also give other services such as housecleaning, gardening, raking, etc. Perhaps you could pick a chore that she doesn’t like to do.  Use your computer or art skills to make a certificate for the services you are giving.

19.  Consider giving something used. I remember just a few years ago my son kept asking for Rescue Heroes. Each of the figurines were around $10 each. Finally I did some searching online and found two huge lots on ebay. I got the two lots for around $50, including shipping. Something similar happened with Polly Pockets for my daughter. She soon realized that she could only get a few Polly Pocket pieces for $15 but we found a big box with buildings, figurines, clothes, and more on Craigslist for $40. Consider the person you are buying for and decide if they would mind something used.

20.  Consider regifting.  Regifting doesn’t have to be tacky or thoughtless.  We all get gifts we don’t need.  Hang onto those gifts and try to thoughtfully give them to someone else.  Perhaps you could give them to your neighbor, mail carrier, your child’s teacher, the person that picks up your recycling, or your favorite bank teller.  Regifting doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  Just make sure what you are giving is considerate of what that person likes and that the gift is in good condition.  Here is a post with regifting tips.

21. Look for early sales. Loads of people shop on Black Friday but now stores are doing something different — Some are offering a week of online savings where specific items are offered each day during the sale.  Some stores are also offering big savings before Black Friday. They want your business and your money so they are looking for competitive and creative ways to get your attention.

This is certainly not a complete list of ways to save on Christmas gifts.  Which ways do you save?

image credit

This article was originally written by me in 2007. It has been revised and edited.


How to Save Water While Watering Your Lawn and Garden

It’s almost July and it’s really hot outside! Some areas are lacking rain which can kill your lawn and garden. So how is a person supposed to keep their lawn and garden alive during times of summer heat and water restrictions?  There are ways to use less water, save money, and not break those restrictions.

1.  Use grey water to water your plants.

Grey water is simply the water that comes from washing your clothes, dishes, and taking a bath.

It is hot here in the south. There have been several summers that we have had water restrictions. During one of those times we had just planted some bushes in our flower beds. I didn’t want my bushes to die so whenever I gave my kids a bath, I wouldn’t drain the tub.  I would scoop the water with buckets and carry it outside.  Each bush got a full bucket of water each night which soaked the plant.  It wasn’t as convenient as turning on the hose, but it kept my plants from dying.  You might want to avoid using water with harsh detergents on fruit and vegetable plants.

2.  Get a rain barrel. 

You might be skeptical and think that you won’t get enough rain to fill up a rain barrel, but rain barrels can collect hundreds of gallons from one rain shower.

One year I had planted a new tree and along came another drought with water restrictions. I didn’t want my new expensive tree to die.  Sometimes hot summers bring storms.  I didn’t have a rain barrel, but I did have a big 55 gallon trash can. When I knew the storm was coming, I took the end spout off of my gutter and put my big trash can under the spout. I filled up the trash can, some buckets, and other trash cans I had around the house.  I kept those barrels and cans under my carport to use for watering.  (As always, use caution. You should not go outside and do this when it is lightning.)

A rain barrel continuously collects rain. You can attach a water hose to your rain barrel so that you can easily water your plants.  If you are handy, you might consider watching Youtube videos or reading tutorials online for information on making your own rain barrel.

3.  Place mulch, compost, or grass clippings around plants to keep the soil moist. 

Don’t throw away your grass clippings.  Use a bagger on your lawn mower and put those clippings in your garden.  Mulch, compost, pine needles, and grass clippings keep the soil from drying out.  It’s probably too late to make compost for this year’s garden, but you can begin this now for future use.

4.  Water your plants and lawn in the evenings.

If you water your lawn and garden during the hottest times of the day the water will evaporate from the ground too quickly.  To be more efficient with your watering, water during cooler times of the day.  Watering at night will allow the water to soak into the ground and be useful to the plants before it evaporates.

5.  Think of other nonconventional ways to collect water.

Several drought situations have caused me to really think about the liquid I was tossing down the sink.

Each day when I came home from work I would save the water I didn’t drink from my water jug.  Save those few ounces of coffee from the coffee pot rather than pouring them out. Plants actually like coffee.  Save the water from where you have boiled potatoes or pasta.  Put a bucket in your shower while you are waiting for your shower water to warm up.  Keep the water from your dehumidifier tank. If you stop and think about for a few minutes, we waste a lot of water each day.

This is a good start but certainly doesn’t cover all of the ways to save water on your lawn and garden. Please add your tips in the comments section below. Thanks!

image by lespowell


How to Save Money on Children’s Gifts

July 5, 2010 by  
Filed under money saving tips

As a young child, I watched my mom use many methods to save money.  One of the things I remember her doing was buying items on sale and clearance for gifts.  Whenever she saw something on sale or clearance that someone would like, she would purchase it and put it away for that occasion. 

Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday (yes, she’s a 4th of July baby) and she turned seven.  Here’s a picture of the things I got for her. 

And, here’s what I paid:

  • pink shirt with scarf reg $24.99, $4.99 (Purchased at JCPenney last week.)
  • 2 animal shirts reg $14.99, $1.97 (Purchased at JCPenney last week.)
  • butterfly tie-dye shirt $14.99, $4.99 (Rugged Warehouse)
  • 2 Juku dolls reg $10-12 each, FREE (I won these in an online giveaway.)
  • Juku clothes reg $10, $2.50 (Bought this a few months ago at Target.)
  • Holly Hobbie dvd reg $10, $5.99
  • hair kit $2.88, $1.44 (Purchased after Christmas during the after Christmas sale.)
  • OP flip flops $5.99, $1 (Purchased these in the winter.)
  • set of clothes for her stuffed dog $12.99, $3.24 (Found this at Target a few months ago.)

At regular price, these things would have cost about $130, but I only paid $28!  That’s a savings of over $100!  No, I would not dream of paying $130 on my daughter’s birthday presents, but since I shop throughout the year and pick up things on clearance, she is able to get some nice things.

Some of you may say that your child would not go for this.  For us, it’s working so far.  My kids get money from their aunts, grandparents, etc and they can use the money to buy things that they’ve been wanting.  Sometimes other people in the family will specifically ask for something to get them that they want.  My children have been very pleased with the things that I buy for them.  I know that my daughter is a girly girl.  I know anything with fur, rhinestones, etc will be a hit. 

My youngest has a birthday coming up soon.  He is athletic and he likes trucks, cars, dinosaurs, and figurines.  I also have his birthday items ready.  He is getting a soccer goal and two G.I. Joe large figurines that have sound.  There are a few other small things I have for him too.  These are things that I have purchased at 50-75% off. 

This is how I purchase my children’s birthday and Christmas items.  Buying for extended family isn’t as easy.  Many times I give the other children in the family money (which they prefer) and that’s ok too. 

How do you save money on gifts?


10 Tips for Hiring a Plumber

As a homeowner, I understand the frustration of having to call in a professional.  How much will it cost? Will it set me back financially this month?  You want the job done right without it costing you a small fortune.

Here are a few tips for hiring a plumber:

1.  Get references.  Word of mouth from friends, church members, co-workers, and family is a great place to start.  If someone likes someone, or if they don’t, you’re sure to hear about it.  Ask around.

2.  Search for reviews.  Use a free website such as servicemagic.com or a paid service such as angieslist.com.  I have also found other reviews online just by doing an internet search.

3.  Give as many details as possible about the problem.  Where is the leak?  What kind of pipes do you have?

4.  Ask if the plumber charges for travel time.  For some plumbers, their time starts when they walk in the door.  Others  may charge when they get into the car.  It’s good to know if you’ll be paying extra for their commute.

5.  Ask if the plumber will have the parts on hand.  Does the plumber keep a supplied truck or will he need to make trips to the hardware store.  Will you need to pay him for these extra trips?

6.  Is there a minimum charge?  Just like going to the doctor’s office, some contractors have a minimum rate and that includes a certain amount of time, such as 30 minutes.

7.  Inquire about insurance.  Many contractors have their own insurance which will cover them in case of injury or damage to your property.  Find out if they have insurance.

8.  Find out their credentials.  Does the person have any accreditations?  How long have they been doing this type of work?

9.  Try Craigslist.  If you’re a real cheapskate (like me) you might want to put out a “help wanted” ad on Craigslist.  Some professionals may not like this advice, but here goes . . . Unfortunately, times are rough for the self-employeed.  Put an ad on Craigslist, tell in detail what the repair issues are, filter through the responses based upon credentials, estimates, etc.  You’ll be surprised at the responses you will receive from this ad.  Some may even offer to come out and give a free estimate.  People are looking to work.

10.  Consider hiring a professional to work after hours.  Perhaps you know of someone that works for a major company.  Many times these individuals will moonlight on the weekends to make some extra cash.

Do you have any tips for hiring a plumber?

image sxc


31 Tips for a Successful Yard Sale

Yard sales are a lot of work, but they can be very profitable. Here are some tips to get you started.

1.  Go through closets, dressers, toys, cupboards, cabinets, bookcases, etc before the yard sale. Take out items that you no longer want and add them to your yard sale pile. It’s good to do this at least once a year. You may want to wait until spring when you’re doing your spring cleaning.

2.  Find a decluttering buddy. I don’t know about you, but it is easier for me to get rid of things when I have some moral support. It helps to have someone that can honestly say, “That doesn’t look good on you. That’s out of style. You haven’t used that in years.” Sometimes a little nudge is all we need. Unfortunately, I don’t have a decluttering buddy.

4.   Price as you go. As you find things in your home that you want to add to your yard sale, go ahead and take the few seconds to put a price on it. This will save a lot of time and aggravation on yard sale day.

4.   Spread the word. Let you friends, family, and Sunday School class know that you’ll be having a yard sale.

5.   If possible, post signs. We like to use the fluorescent poster board and thick black permanent markers for our signs. We have found that we do better with signs than with advertising. People stop by and say that they saw our signs.

6.  Put your signs up the day before the sale so that people see them on their way home from work. Then they’ll think, “I’m going there tomorrow.” Otherwise, they might not be out and about the day of the sale.

7.  Let friends and neighbors be a part. You can advertise the yard sale as a multi-family yard sale. This will let customers know that there will be more things and a bigger selection to choose from. Participants can also share in the advertising expenses.

8.   Put a price on everything. Some people will walk away rather than asking the prices for things. Even if the item is 25 cents, you need a price on it. All those 25 cent items add up.

9.   To save time, buy the premade price stickers. You can purchase these in the office supply departments at most stores. Recently, I even saw these in Dollar Tree.

10.  If you’re selling an expensive item, take the time to print a copy of what the item cost new. I’m doing this with toys that were expensive. This helps the person to see that they are getting a good deal.

11.   Advertise your yard sale, garage sale, or moving sale on Craigslist. It’s free!!!! Specify what you will be selling. Sometimes you can sell things before the yard sale starts.

12.  Get up early the day of the sale. If your sale starts at 7 am, you may consider getting up at 5 am. This will allow you time to get everything organized and set out before customers begin to arrive. Some early morning commuters may even see you outside and stop on their way to work.

13.  Specify if you don’t want “early birds”. Some people are pretty serious about shopping yard sales. They’ll come out as early as you’ll let them.

14.   Look through purses, wallets, pant pockets, coat pockets, etc to make sure there is no money or credit cards. Someone once told me they paid $1 for a purse that had $10 inside.

15.  Put attractive items in clear view. A lot of people are looking for furniture, so it would be wise to put the furniture where drivers can see it from the road.

16.   Don’t pick a holiday weekend to have your sale. I remember we did this one time and we made less than $100. It was such a waste of our time.

17.  Don’t have continual yard sales. You’ve seen people before who seem to be always having a yard sale. It gets old and then people don’t drop by their sale anymore. Plus, it’s tacky and your neighbors will be really annoyed.

18.   Have change. It’s hard to determine how much change you’ll need and what kind of bills to get. It seems as though first thing in the morning you’ll have customer after customer with $20 bills. It’s really frustrating.

19.   Guard your money. Unfortunately, sometimes thieves show up at yard sales. Usually every hour or so, I take my wad of cash out of my pocket or fanny pack (lol) and put it inside my house.

20.   Have bags available for your customer’s purchases. I can’t stand plastic bags and I don’t understand it, but some people do like anything they purchase to be put into a bag. It’s a courtesy.

21.   Be friendly. Greet each person or group that comes to your sell.

22.  Group like items together. All of the Christmas items should be together in one area, the kitchen stuff in another area, baby clothes in another, and so on.

23.  Sell miscellaneous items together. When we were moving, we sold a lot of odd things together in lots. We sold a large box of half used spray paint. It is better to sell it to someone that can use it, rather than throwing it away.

24.  Get some baggies and rubber bands. The baggies and rubber bands will help to secure like items together or keep you from losing the pieces. Come sell day, it will be hard to make sure your customers get all the parts that go with their items.

25.   Have an extra person around to help out. For me, this would be my husband. This insures that you’ll get potty breaks and be able to eat. It also helps so that you can talk to customers while someone else collects money or answers questions.

26.  Check with your local government or homeowner’s association to see if there are any restrictions. Some areas require you to have a yard sale permit. Yep, just another way to make money.

27.  When the yard sale is over, clean up your area and take down your signs. Don’t you just hate seeing signs that are several weeks old or searching for a yard sale that was probably last week?

28.  Advertise. This could be in your local paper or in a free online ad. Regardless of where you decide, you’ll need help letting the public know of the sale.

29.  Check your yard and make sure it’s safe. Wrap up garden hoses, fill any holes, and tape down extension cords or cables. You don’t want you visitors tripping and getting hurt.

30.  Have a strategy in place for what you’ll do with the leftover items. Will you put them back in your house for another yard sale later in the summer? Will you give them to charity? Have a plan in place.

31.  If possible, get someone to watch the kids. I can’t tell you the number of yard sales I’ve been to where the person’s children were out in the yard digging through their old stuff and getting upset that mom was getting rid of it. If you can’t get a sitter, then you need to have some discussions with your children before the day. Perhaps they could even help decide what they would like to sell.

What tips do you have for making your yard sale a success?

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