173 Household Product Hacks to Save Money

This grid of images shows peanut butter, coconut oil, windex, and Aluminum Foil.

Getty Images and Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

You probably have aluminum foil, Coca-Cola, salt, baking soda, peanut butter, vinegar, and Windex in your house and you might already have coconut oil. If not, you should. These common household items can save you emergency trips to the store as well as money.

You may never buy bleach, stain remover, or furniture polish again!

Our guide to using these common and cheap items can save you time and money, sometimes in surprising ways.

30 Uses for Baking Soda

Opening a little box of baking soda is like opening a money saving treasure chest. There are so many uses for baking soda that you might forget you bought it for baking. Cut flowers will look pretty longer. Kitty litter boxes won’t stink. You may never buy toothpaste again.

Baking soda is great for getting rid of odors and getting stains out of laundry. It unclogs drains, tames spicy food, and makes your omelets fluffy. There are still 22 more baking soda tips to discover.

26 Uses for Salt

Salt has many uses more than flavoring food. Its abrasive nature makes it good for body scrubs but also for scrubbing out stubborn stains. It can even treat dandruff and kill weeds between cracks in your walkway.

We’ve rounded up more than two dozen uses for salt that will make you start buying this miracle mineral in large quantities. Cheap table salt works best for almost any job. Save those pricey sea salt flakes for baking.

25 Uses for Peanut Butter

Most of the uses for peanut butter we think of involve chocolate and dipping. But did you know it gets gum out someone’s hair? And out of the carpet. Find out more uses for peanut butter and you’ll be surprised at how handy this childhood favorite is.

In a pinch, peanut butter can fix squeaky hinges. It can be used as a moisturizer, ice cream cone sealant, and of course giving little Fido or Kitty their pills. Some people like putting it on bread with jelly.

25 Uses for Coconut Oil

There are way more coconut oil uses that will save money and time than you could guess. Refined coconut oil is a healthier oil option in cooking. It’s touted for how good it is for your hair and skin. Did you know it can clean dead bugs off your car?

Coconut oil cleans, soothes, polishes furniture, restores leather, is good for your pets, and scads more. Check out the article for some surprising uses.

24 Uses for Vinegar

We’ve heard about using vinegar as a glass cleaner, but didn’t know there were so many uses for vinegar for our skin and scalp. We found 24 of them! Vinegar can be used to brighten laundry and replace fabric softener. It cleans our precious coffee makers.

Vinegar is really amazing. Vinegar can remove rust, stand in for eggs in baking, and battle ant infestations. Pretty great for something so cheap.

We are talking about diluted white vinegar mostly. Save the balsamic for drizzling over tomatoes and fresh mozarella.

21 Uses for Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has been offering that refreshing fizz on a hot day for more than a century. But there are a whole lot more uses for Coca-Cola than just plain drinking, especially for getting stubborn stains out of tubs, tile grout and even pots and pans.

Cola’s carbonation and phosphoric acid combine to create a powerful household and garden workhorse. In some cases, diet versions can alter the results. But, yes, for these household hacks you can use Pepsi or even a generic cola.

12 Uses for Aluminum Foil

We had no idea that there were so many uses for aluminum foil beyond covering things. Foil to sharpen scissors? Immediately had to try it and yes, it really works. Aluminum foil can be used in the garden, laundry room, and before you go to the nail salon.

Check out this article to learn how aluminum foil might help shine a light when you’re out of batteries or save money off your heating bill.

10 Uses for Windex

You’ll be happy to save money with these various Windex uses, but really, showing off the imaginative ways a couple pumps of glass spray fixes things is part of the fun.

It makes moving heavy furniture easier. Windex gets stains out. It’s an insect repellent. There’s so much this three buck bottle can do — we found 10 household bonuses.

The Penny Hoarder contributor JoEllen Schilke writes on lifestyle and culture topics. She is the former owner of a coffee shop in St.Petersburg, Florida, and has hosted an arts show on WMNF community radio for nearly 30 years.

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26 Uses for Salt Around the House

Salt is one of those staples you always have in the kitchen. But don’t limit its use to just flavoring food. It’s a true household workhorse and we’ve found more than two dozen hacks beyond the usual culinary uses.

Salt makes food taste better, but it’s also great for cleaning because of its absorbent qualities. You can use salt around your home for all sorts of cleanup jobs or incorporate it in your self-care routine. Salt scrub, anyone?

Skip the expensive cleaners and grab your salt shaker. We’ve gathered 26 different uses for salt that might surprise you.

What Type of Salt Should You Use?

When you think of salt, you probably think of fine-grain table salt, but you might occasionally need sea salt, kosher salt or Epsom salt for these hacks.

Iodized table salt is the cheapest option — 26 ounces of Walmart’s Great Value store brand is just $.48 — and the most likely one to be in your cabinet. The finer grains make it a great option for many jobs.

Sea salt and kosher salt have larger-grain sizes than table salt. You’ll pay more for kosher salt (about $3 for 3 pounds at Walmart) and sea salt (about the same price for 26 ounces at Walmart). But if you need more abrasion for the task, the price is still cheaper than specialized cleaning products.

Epsom salt isn’t actually salt at all, but magnesium sulfate. You can find it in the pharmacy or beauty section for less than $5 for a 4-pound bag.

26 Uses for Salt Beyond Food

We’ve rounded up ways to use salt as a cleaning agent, as a beauty and health aid, and a few other surprising uses.

Using Salt as a Cleaning Agent

1. Scrub your cutting board.

Is your cutting board looking a little worse for wear? Use salt and a lemon to get rid of stains from last night’s dinner. Wipe your cutting board with a damp cloth, then sprinkle coarse salt liberally all over it. Slice the lemon in half and use it to scrub the salt into the board. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse it all off. Remove any excess moisture with a cloth and stand it up to dry.

2. Clean your fridge.

Salt can also be used to clean your fridge. Dissolve a cup of salt into a gallon of hot water to give it a quick clean. You can also use the other half of that lemon to give the water a pleasant scent.

3. Freshen up your sponges.

Has your kitchen sponge seen better days? Put ¼ cup of salt in two cups of water and let the sponge soak in the solution overnight to clean it.

4. Clean a glass coffee pot.

You can clean old coffee stains off your coffee pot with 4 tsp salt, 1 cup of crushed ice and 1 tablespoon of water. Make sure your coffee pot is at room temperature and mix everything together. Swirl it around until the pot is clean, then rinse.

5. Clean coffee and tea stains from mugs.

Once your coffee pot is clean, why not clean out your mugs? Get the inside of the mug wet, add 1 tablespoon of salt and scrub it around with a microfiber cloth. Rinse the mug out with water.

6. Make a new broom last longer.

Before you use a broom for the first time, soak it in a solution of one part salt to one part vinegar. Leave it in for 30 minutes and then stand it upside down to dry. This will prevent the broom bristles from fraying.

7. Erase spots off wooden tables.

Do you have water rings left on your table? Combine salt with a small amount of water to form a paste. Use a cloth or sponge to rub the paste into the stain until it’s gone.

8. Remove wine stains from clothes and carpets.

Blot the stain to remove what liquid you can, then sprinkle kosher salt on the stain. Allow the salt to sit for two or three minutes, then rinse with cold water. If using the salt method on a carpet, you can simply vacuum it up afterward.

9. Keep your brass bright.

Restore the shine to your brass and copper items with salt. Combine 1 tsp of salt and 1 tbsp of flour with enough vinegar to form a paste. Rub the brass or copper vigorously on to brass or copper and allow it to dry. Wash the item in warm soapy water and dry with a microfiber cloth.

10. Clean up your old change.

Do you have dingy old pennies in your change jar? Mix ¼ cup of vinegar and 1 tsp of salt in a shallow bowl. Soak the pennies for 15 minutes, making sure they aren’t touching. Use a toothbrush to remove any stubborn residue, then rinse the pennies in water and lay them on a cloth to dry.

Only do this hack if you’re not concerned about coin collecting. The abrasive effect of salt can lower a coin’s value.

11. Brighten the colors of rugs and curtains.

Revitalize old rugs by rubbing them with a cloth that has been soaked in salt water. Smaller throw rugs, curtains and clothes can be soaked in salt water before being put in the washer to brighten their colors. Short on time? Throw some salt in with the wash cycle.

12. Clean your clothing iron.

Give your iron a quick clean by putting sea salt on a piece of paper, then running the warm iron over it a few times. The dirt will stick to the salt. Allow it to cool, then wipe the salt off the metal plate with a damp cloth.

13. Deodorize your sneakers.

Salt can take the smell out of your stinky shoes. Just sprinkle some table salt into the offending pair, let them sit overnight and it will absorb any moisture. Don’t want to put salt directly into your shoes? You can also put the salt into two coffee filters, tie them off with rubber bands and place them in your shoes instead.

A woman applies a salt face mask.
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Salt for Self-Care

14. Make your own skin exfoliant.

You can use sea salt, kosher salt, Epsom salt or any other salt in your cabinet to create an invigorating body scrub. Mix the salt with an oil, such as coconut or olive. You can also customize the body scrub by adding essential oils, honey or coffee grounds. Hop in the shower and use your homemade salt scrub to exfoliate your damp skin.

Only use salt scrubs on your body. The coarser grains aren’t good for delicate skin, so use sugar if you want to make a face scrub.

15. Treat dandruff.

If you have a case of dandruff, don’t run to the store for an expensive remedy. Add a tablespoon of salt to your regular dollop of shampoo to exfoliate your scalp. Massage your scalp and shampoo as normal.

Have some Epsom salt handy? Get your hair wet and massage the Epsom salt into your scalp. Follow up with your regular shampoo and conditioner.

16. Take a sea salt bath.

If you don’t have the time to make a body scrub, just throw some sea salt into your bath. It can help relieve skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, and ease muscle aches.

Make sure the water temperature is only about two degrees warmer than your skin to help your body absorb the nutrients. Pour in ¼ cup of salt and relax in the tub for 20 minutes. If ¼ cup doesn’t feel like enough, you can experiment with up to 2 cups of salt.

17. Relieve bee and mosquito stings.

If you get stung by a bee, reach for the Epsom salt. It reduces swelling and can help expel any stinger pieces that have been left behind. If you’re bitten by a mosquito, a paste made from water and table salt will help soothe the affected area.

18. Relieve a sore throat.

Gargling salt water can help with your sore throat and allergy symptoms. Mix ½ tsp of salt with 8 ounces of warm water and gargle for as long as you prefer. Repeat as often as needed. Salt water rinses can also help alleviate canker sores and improve dental health.

Salt for Pets

19. Get rid of fleas.

If your home is experiencing a flea infestation, you can fight them with finely ground table salt. You can grind the salt into a powder using a blender. Sprinkle it on your carpet, furniture or pet bed and allow it to sit undisturbed for 12 to 48 hours. Brush the salt into the fabrics so it gets down into the fibers where flea eggs can hide. Once the waiting period is over, vacuum it up. The salt will dry the fleas out and kill them.

Just be sure to not allow your pets around the salted area. Salt can be harmful if ingested and can irritate their skin.

Salt for Outdoor Use

20. Kill weeds in your sidewalk cracks.

If you have weeds poking through your sidewalk or patio stones, you can use salt water to kill them. If other plants are around the weeds, use a weak mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part table salt. If the weeds are by themselves or the quality of the soil isn’t an issue, you can make a stronger solution. Use a spray bottle to apply the saltwater to the weed’s leaves.

Need a stronger solution? Add dish soap and white vinegar to make it more effective. Repeat every few days.

21. Kill Poison Ivy

If you found some poison ivy while tackling your weeds, salt can take care of that too. Mix 3 cups of salt, ¼ cup of dish soap and 2 cups of hot water. Spray it on the plant every few days until it dies.

22. Remove rust.

Are your garden tools looking a little rusty? Rub salt over the rusted area, then squeeze lemon juice onto the salt. Let sit for two hours and then scrub the mixture off.

Salt sits in a small brown wooden bowl.
Getty Images

Salt for Other Household Solutions

23. Keep fruit from browning.

You can sneak some apple or pear slices into lunch boxes and they won’t brown if you soak them in salt water after cutting them. Use ½ teaspoon per one cup of water and soak the fruit for five minutes, drain and store.

24. Test eggs for freshness.

We’ve all been there — sometimes eggs don’t get used by the “best by” date. You can test the freshness of your eggs by placing them in cold saltwater. If the egg is still usable, it will sink to the bottom. Eggs that have gone bad will float.

25. Make cut flowers last longer.

Make that bouquet last longer by putting 1 tbsp of Epsom salt in its water. Epsom salt contains magnesium, which helps plants absorb nutrients.

26. Put out a grease fire.

If you happen to accidentally start a grease fire, liberally douse it with salt. Aim directly above the fire so the flames don’t leap out. You can also use it on your outdoor bonfire to help snuff out the embers.

Contributor Jenna Limbach writes on financial literacy and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder from her home base in Utah.

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21 Uses For Coca-Cola Besides Drinking

In short: Any kind of dark carbonated cola should do the trick because you’re really just after the phosphoric acid and carbonation. In some instances, using Diet Coke or any diet soda may alter the results (especially when baking — that real sugar matters), so stick with the full-loaded stuff when possible. Likewise, use bubbly soda. Once it goes flat, it will lose some of its miracle cleaning properties.
There are also some other soda hacks — like degreasing light clothes or restoring the shine on silver jewelry — that work better with a clear soda, like Sprite or 7UP.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com

“Is Pepsi OK?”

Contrary to what you might have seen on Friends, urine can actually make a jellyfish sting worse. So if you’re stung by a jelly on beach day, what do you do? Vinegar is the top solution, but in a pinch, the acid in cola can help neutralize the sting. But you should still seek medical attention as quickly as possible.
Soda may not grow on trees, but it can certainly be helpful in the garden. There are a few ways that you can promote healthy growth in your own backyard with nothing but a bottle of cola, including speeding up composting and repelling slugs and snails.
If you are worried about attracting ants to your driveway, you can use Diet Coke. Because Diet Coke is artificially sweetened with aspartame, ants are not attracted to it. (Coke Zero Sugar and its artificial sucralose follow the same basic principle.)

21 Ways to Use Coca-Cola Around the House

And it’s not just grease that cola is tough against. If your pan has charred or burnt food that just won’t budge, the same Coke soak will break down the food until you’re able to scrub or scrape it away.

Cleaning With Coke

Want to try something new for your next holiday dinner? Slow Cooker Coca-Cola Ham from Good Housekeeping will certainly impress your guests. The fizz of the cola helps to elicit more flavor from the meat. You’ll need an entire 2-liter of Coke to add to the slow cooker.

1. Scrubbing Pots and Pans

You’ve probably heard the (untrue) rumor that if you leave a tooth in a glass of Coke overnight, it’ll dissolve. While the science doesn’t check out there, the acid in Coke can be useful for stripping rust from your tools. To restore rusty tools or hardware, let them soak in a bowl of cola for a day or two, then scrub them and give them a rinse.
It’s not a life-threatening emergency by any stretch of the imagination, but getting gum in your hair can be a real pain. And while Michael Scott famously used peanut butter to get the gum out of his ’do, Coca-Cola is said to do the trick as well. Ideally, you’ll need to let the affected hair soak in some cola for a few minutes before you try to wipe it out.

2. Removing Grease Stains From Clothes

Drinking Coca-Cola on a hot day can be refreshing, but there are other ways to consume Coke that don’t involve glugging it out of a can. Some unique ways to use cola in the kitchen including making a Coca-Cola cake, slower cooker ham and even flavoring wings.
A Coca-Cola is the perfect complement to a burger, but did you know you can also use Coke to make your burgers? This burger recipe from Taste of Home calls for using the cola as a kind of glaze; just don’t use Diet Coke, per the instructions!

3. Cleaning the Toilet Bowl

Is it sticky and kind of gross? Very much so. But does it work? You betcha.

4. Cleaning Tile Grout

That said, you can use it in certain health emergencies — and for some other tricky situations.

5. Wiping Windows, Mirrors and More

Have a compost pile? You can speed up the composting process by adding some Coke into the mix. Coke has sugars that attract microorganisms, which then break down the organic materials in your compost pile — and the cola’s acid helps move the process along!
Slugs and snails seem harmless and, if you’re not put off by the slime, maybe even kind of cute. But gardeners know that they can wreak havoc on your plants and flowers. To keep these pests out of your garden, set out a bowl of Coke and leave it out overnight. The slugs and snails will be attracted to the soda, crawl into the bowl and drown — leaving your garden untouched.
But there are a whole lot more uses for Coca-Cola than just plain drinking.

6. Scrubbing Out the Tub

Timothy Moore covers bank accounts and insurance for The Penny Hoarder from his home base in Cincinnati. He has worked in editing and graphic design for a marketing agency, a global research firm and a major print publication. He covers a variety of other topics, including insurance, taxes, retirement and budgeting and has worked in the field since 2012 with publications such as The Penny Hoarder, Debt.com, Ladders, WDW Magazine, Glassdoor and The News Wheel.
Cleaning your windows throughout the year gives you a nice, clear view of the outside. But if you don’t have your typical glass cleaner lying around, you can reach into the fridge for a bottle of soda. Use that same spray bottle you assembled for cleaning the grout to easily spray down your windows and wipe them clean. Follow with warm water.
You’ve cleaned the toilet and the bathroom mirror, but you’re not quite done yet. Coke has even more uses in the bathroom. If your porcelain tub is full of grime, mildew or even rust, Coke can help you get it looking fresh and new quite easily. While bleach is great for the mildew, it doesn’t have the same impact on rust that Coca-Cola does, whose phosphoric acid reacts with iron oxide and allows rust to dissolve.

A can of Coke and Pepsi stand next to each other.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Working Around the House With Coke

In the same way that Coke can cut through tough grease stains in your laundry or on your pots and pans, it can combat oil stains on your driveway pavement or the cement in your garage. To really fight through the stain, it’s best to let it soak in a healthy puddle of Coke for a few hours, if not overnight, before you hose it down.

7. Clearing Up Driveway or Garage Oil Stains

Sugar soda has been tied to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, tooth decay and more. Consuming it regularly is not healthy by any stretch of the imagination.
If a bolt or a screw is rusted and just won’t budge but you need to remove it, just crack open a can of Coke. Dampen a cloth with the soda and rub it onto the bolt or screw. This should remove enough rust so that you can loosen it and continue on with your project.

8. Cleaning Your Car Battery Terminal

The phosphoric acid in a can of Coke is great at cutting through grease. If you cooked up a particularly greasy meal in a pot or pan and are having trouble completely cleaning it with traditional hot water and soap, try letting the cookware soak in some Coca-Cola. Place the pot or pan directly on a stovetop burner on low heat for half an hour while it soaks, then try cleaning it with soap and water again.
Why? Because caffeine can open airways — and a 12-ounce can of soda has 34 milligrams of caffeine. Got a can of Mountain Dew in the fridge? Even better: Each can of Mountain Dew contains 55 milligrams of caffeine.

9. Removing Rust From Tools

Tubs with particularly bad rust spots will need multiple treatments and will likely not go all the way back to that good-as-new look.

10. Loosening a Rusty Bolt

You might have thought the chores were done, but you can use Coca-Cola for more than just cleaning. Grab a 2-liter and head to the garage — it’s time to get to work to banish garage oil stands, clean the car’s battery terminal, get rid of rust from tools and more.

Gardening With Coca-Cola

Not a Coke fan? The recipe creator at Spicy Southern Kitchen says you can sub in Dr Pepper or even root beer.

11. Speeding Up Composting

To clean your tub with cola, apply liberally with a sponge or rag, especially on any rust spots. Let the soda sit for about an hour before taking that same sponge or rag and scrubbing with all your might. Then rinse the tub with warm water from the showerhead.

12. Repelling Slugs and Snails

Coca-Cola has been offering that refreshing fizz on a hot day for more than a century. You’re probably used to sipping on a Coke at dinner, ordering a Coke at the drive thru or, on nights you’re feeling adventurous, mixing it with your favorite brand of rum.

13. Promoting Plant Growth

And it’s not just grease in the kitchen. You can use Coca-Cola to treat tough grease stains on dark laundry, including jeans, shirts and linens (because who doesn’t eat in bed from time to time?). Just pour a little soda on a fresh stain as an alternative to a spot remover, then wash your garment as you normally would (warm water recommended).

A bottle of Coke is shown laying on it's side.
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Cooking With Coca-Cola

Coke is sweet, cake is sweet, and they’re just one letter off from each other. They’re practically the same thing, eh?

14. Baking a Coca-Cola Cake

If you suffer from asthma, you should always have your inhaler on you. That’s the No. 1 way to stop an asthma attack. But if your inhaler is not on hand but you’ve got a couple cans of Coke nearby, they might be your best bet for counteracting the breathing issues associated with asthma.
We love this recipe for Classic Coca-Cola Cake, a chocolate cake that utilizes soda for the actual cake and the icing. In total, you’ll only need 1 ⅓ cup of Coke, so you can save the rest to wash the cake down.
Since you’re already out in the garage, pop the hood to your car and have a look at the battery. If you notice any corrosion, Coke will do the trick. Don’t worry: Coke’s acidity won’t react with the battery acid, so you can actually pour some soda from a 12-ounce can straight onto the battery and let it do its magic. Just remember to disconnect the cables first!

15. Cooking a Ham

After the battery has soaked for a little bit, you can scrub the rust directly; you’ll need a little elbow grease. Then towel dry the battery and reattach the cables.

16. Tossing Chicken Wings in a Cola Sauce

What’s your favorite wing sauce: garlic parmesan, mango habanero or maybe just the classic Buffalo? Spice things up the next time you make wings at home with this cola sauce recipe from the recipe site Tablespoon. If you aren’t feeling confident about breading and frying the wings yourself, you can buy precooked frozen wings and still make the sauce.

17. Grilling Some Burgers

Oh yeah, and that old urban myth about flat Coke or a sparkling lemon-side soda curing an upset stomach? Not true. In fact, the World Health Organization advises against it.

Using Coke in an Emergency

Coca-Cola, or any brand of dark carbonated soda, is good for more than quenching thirst. Cola’s carbonation and phosphoric acid combine to create a powerful household and garden workhorse. In some cases, diet versions can alter the results.
If you’ve got to be somewhere fast — whether you’re making an emergency trip to the hospital or you’re just running late for work — but your windshield is iced over, a couple of 2-liters of Coke should do the trick. Pour the soda onto the ice, and it’ll become a brown slush that you can wipe away with your windshield wipers.
If you’ve got a 12-pack or 2-liter bottle of Coke taking up space in your fridge, think of it as more than just a drink. You can use Coke for everything from baking a cake to cleaning your toilet to repelling pests. And when a 2-liter of Coke goes for less than at the grocery store, it’s a cheaper alternative to whatever household item you’re using it in place of.

18. Stopping an Asthma Attack

Nature’s weird: You can kill a mighty succulent by accidentally overwatering it, yet there are certain acid-loving plants that will thrive if you dump some Coke into their soil. Don’t overdo it, of course, but a small amount of Coke can reduce the soil’s pH level, which can benefit plants like azaleas, bergenia, astilbes, foxgloves and gardenias.
The same trick works on bathroom mirrors, which can get dirty with a mix of grime and dried toothpaste. If you wear glasses and you’re out of lens cleaner, you can even use Coke to clean those in a pinch!

19. Neutralizing a Jellyfish Sting

Both the carbonation of Coca-Cola and its phosphoric acid make it a great substitute for traditional cleaners. When scrubbing surfaces, just remember to follow up with warm water to avoid the sticky aftermath.

20. Quickly Defrosting an Icy Windshield

Before we explore all the amazing uses of Coca-Cola around the house, let’s address the elephant in the room. What about Pepsi? Or even RC Cola? Or store-brand colas?
Coke can be an effective cleaning agent for the tile grout in your bathroom and kitchen. Soak discolored grout in Coca-Cola for several minutes before wiping up. Remember to follow up with warm water. If you have a large tile surface to cover, consider pouring from a 2-liter of cola into a spray bottle to make it easier to apply.

21. Removing Gum From Your Hair

It’s a chore no one wants to do — but it’s got to be done. If you’re finding that regular toilet bowl cleaner just isn’t cutting through the grime (or if you’re just plain out), pour about two cans’ worth of Coke into the toilet and let it sit for at least an hour. Then scrub the toilet bowl with a brush and watch the grime just disappear.
If you stain a lighter piece of clothing or sheet, use a clear, lemon-lime soda, like Sprite, Sierra Mist or 7UP.
Are you a Pepsi drinker? You’re in luck. Because Pepsi has citric acid (a key difference from Coke), it works in the same way traditional lemon cleaning products do.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Woman eating potato chips
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Another day, another dollar — and for millions of us, one more failed attempt to budget.

Feeling puzzled because your budget doesn’t seem to work? Here are some small expenses that might be the culprit — and some ideas for cutting down those costs.

1. Food

Woman scraping food off plate into trash bin.
SpeedKingz / Shutterstock.com

Food is among our biggest expenditures. Of course, we all have to eat. But we also waste money on meals.

Spending $10 at lunch each weekday adds up to a whopping $50 per week, or $200 or more per month. It may not seem like much when you’re swiping the magic plastic, but this expense can sap your savings.

Americans are also notorious for throwing away food. As we point out in “12 Food Hacks That Will Save You Time, Money and Grief,” there are many ways to extend food freshness. For example:

“Store tomatoes with the stem side down — that’s where the air gets in the most quickly — and you’ll add shelf life to your tomatoes.”

2. Snacks and other daily treats

Woman eating cookies with milk
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We all have indulgences. Perhaps you prefer a cup of joe each morning from Starbucks or a fresh-baked bagel from Panera.

You don’t have to abandon these tasty items, but indulging in moderation for your budget’s sake is worth a shot. Try to limit such treats to once a week, or even once a month.

3. Lapsed promotional offers

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How many times have you signed up for a free subscription or premium channel, only to notice charges on your bank statement because you forgot to cancel before the promotional period ended?

Steer clear of promotional offers unless you have a reminder in your smartphone or planner to cancel services before charges are applied to your account.

4. Gasoline

Gas station
Gergely Zsolnai / Shutterstock.com

Gas is a major expense for many Americans. Reduce your monthly gas costs by combining errands, carpooling, taking public transportation or using some fuel-efficient driving habits.

As we explain in “7 Smart Ways to Save Money at the Gas Pump,” the right smartphone app also can go a long way toward cutting your costs:

“For example, the app GasBuddy can help you uncover the lowest gas price in your area. And such savings can be large. I have found that prices in the area near my Colorado home can differ by as much as 19 cents per gallon from one gas station to another.”

5. Sales

Pedestrians walk past sale signs on store.
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You’ve waited several months for a particular item to go on sale, and it’s finally 50% off. But one problem remains: You have to put it on your credit card.

If you bow to the temptation, it will only be a matter of time before your spending plan lets you know you’ve done wrong. Instead, start setting aside funds now for the next time the item goes on sale.

6. Pampering

bath time
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Every now and again, some of us need to visit the salon or indulge in a day at the spa. There’s nothing wrong with unwinding on your downtime, but you should engage in pricey activities only if your budget allows it.

7. Banking fees

A woman holds a bandaged piggy bank
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Over the past few years, numerous bank fees have materialized out of thin air. There is a good chance you now pay for account maintenance and paper statements, just to name two. Fees for overdrafts and ATM use also remain common.

However, you should not have to pay these costs. As we explain in “12 Ways to Quit Paying for Bank Fees,” doing a little homework now can save you money for years to come:

“Comparison shopping does not need to be time-consuming. Make a list of the features and services that matter most to you and compare costs for those at several institutions by phoning or going to their websites. For some pointers on changing institutions, check out: ‘How to Switch Banks in 5 Steps.‘”

Ready to save money? Visit our Solutions Center and find the right bank account for you.

8. Cellphone use

Cell Phone Sticker Shock
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Unless you have an all-inclusive, unlimited cellphone plan, caps apply to minutes and data usage, and you’ll pay extra if you go over. Plus, there are charges you might not be aware of until they appear on your bill.

If your cellphone bill fluctuates each month, take a moment to give the provider a call and inquire about more cost-effective options that may be available to you.

To learn more about other cellphone options, stop by our Solutions Center and find a new cellphone plan.

9. All the random ‘extras’

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Life happens and so do expenses, so it’s best to be safe and have a solid emergency fund. You can also hedge against the risk of running out of funds each month by incorporating some extra money into your spending plan.

Even the most frugal and financially savvy people are faced with unexpected expenses, so you’re definitely not alone. To start weaving your safety net, check out “9 Tips for Starting an Emergency Fund Today.”

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Trending Beauty Hacks On a Budget

With “Euphoria” recently wrapping its season finale, the internet is buzzing about the show’s dramatic makeup looks.

If you’re wondering how to perfectly achieve these and other unique beauty styles… well, you should probably hire a professional makeup artist. But if you want to come pretty close – and pay a lot less money – check out these budget-friendly beauty hacks.

Start with a dewy look

One of the major beauty themes in “Euphoria” is a dewy, no-makeup look. To recreate this at home, makeup artist Anna Bearman says you should start with moisturizer. Ideally, you should moisturize as soon as you wash your face or get out of the shower. This will help seal in the moisture and lock in a dewy look.

Bearman recommends the Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion, which only costs $14. You can also use this as a body moisturizer. After moisturizing, use a foundation and concealer to complete your no-makeup look. If you already have a solid foundation and concealer routine, stick with that. There’s no need to buy anything different.

If you’re looking for a new foundation, Maybelline’s Fit Me line costs less than $10 per bottle and has more than 40 shades. 

Look on YouTube for Ideas

No matter what kind of makeup you’re trying to find, Bearman says it’s easy to get cheap ideas from YouTube. Just type in words like “affordable” or “cheap” along with whatever you’re searching for. 

You can also start following YouTubers who focus on ways to create makeup looks for less. Some of Bearman’s recommendations include:

Use Drugstore Picks 

Dramatic eyeliner is a staple for the “Euphoria” characters, but you don’t need to spend a fortune to create your own pronounced look. Bearman’s favorite frugal eyeliner picks include NYX, which is available in most grocery stores and drugstores.

Just like its name suggests, ColourPop has a wide range of colorful eyeliners with drugstore prices.

If you want a regular black eyeliner, Bearman recommends either the regular eyeliner pen or the superfine eyeliner pen from Essence, both of which only cost $2.99. For a dramatic lip, Bearman likes Maybelline Color Sensational Lipsticks, which are about $9 each. She also likes Milani Color Satement lipliners, which are $5 each.

Compare prices

Just like any other product, prices for makeup items can range widely depending on where you’re shopping. One store may charge $10 for the same mascara that only costs $7 at another store. 

Drugstores usually charge higher prices, so avoid them if you can. Stores like Target and grocery stores often have better prices. Even department stores like Macy’s often have good deals on makeup. 

Make a list of what you want to buy and compare prices at drugstores, grocery stores, department stores, specialty beauty stores and more. You never know who’s having a special sale. 

If you’re shopping online, try to maximize all available discounts and coupons codes. For example, ColourPop offers a 10% discount if you sign up for their email list. Sephora has a free Beauty Insider program you can join to earn rewards and free sample-size cosmetics. 

Follow forums like Reddit’s MUAonthecheap, where users post special sales and both in-person and online coupon codes. Reading forums regularly will also help you figure out what’s a good deal and what’s overpriced.

Find affordable eye crystals 

The eye crystal look is in right now, but it can seem wasteful to spend $10 on gems you can’t wear again. To save money, Bearman suggests buying crystals from arts and craft stores and applying them with eyelash glue. Make sure you don’t get the crystals too close to your eyes.

You can also buy crystal sheets in bulk from Amazon, which are about $2 a sheet. If you don’t need that many eye crystals right now, ask a friend if they want to go in on the deal with you.

Stack coupons

When trying to save money on beauty products, it can be helpful to stack different sales, discounts and coupons. For example, if you have a credit card that offers extra cash back on grocery stores and you found a good deal on eyeliner at a grocery store, make sure to use that credit card when buying the eyeliner.

If you have a Target Red card, you’ll also get 5% off most purchases, including makeup and skincare items. 

Sign up for retailer email newsletters so you can be notified when there’s a sale. Most sales occur around major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Take care of your makeup

One of the easiest ways to save money on beauty is to make your products and tools last as long as possible. Always screw on the cap tightly, especially for items like mascara and eyeliner that can dry out quickly. Don’t store your makeup in extreme temperatures, like your car on hot days.

Also, try to avoid hoarding items. Keep your makeup in the same place so you can easily see what you have and what you need more of. This will prevent you from accidentally buying another clear lip gloss when you already have two.

Try before you buy

If you’re not sure how a certain trend will look on you, visit a store like Sephora where you can try on makeup before you buy it. For example, if you love how teal eyeliner looks on a model, use it on yourself before deciding on the purchase. This will potentially save you from buying items you never end up using.

Ask for samples whenever possible, especially for foundation or concealer. This will help you avoid skin sensitivity issues. Don’t be afraid to return something if it irritates you. Most stores have a 30-day return policy for makeup and skincare, so keep the receipt just in case.

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