20 Simple Hacks to Make Your Stuff Last Longer
By Maryalene LaPonsie
There are all sorts of ways to save money today. You could find deals on food, buy generic items or negotiate a better price on a new car. All those are great ways to stretch your dollars, but what if you could reduce your trips to the grocery store and minimize your Amazon pantry purchases? What if you could squeeze a couple more years out of your car? Consider it done:
According to data from the USDA, American food expenditures in 2013 averaged $4,504 per person, split about evenly between food eaten at home and calories consumed on the go. You can reduce how much you spend by practicing proper food storage and eliminating the need to chuck rotten food in the trash. Here are five tips to get you started.
- After opening items packaged in jars or cartons, such as salsa, spaghetti and cottage cheese, store them upside down to keep mold at bay and your items fresh longer.
- Wrap your salad greens in a paper towel to keep them from becoming slimy and inedible.
- Keep the wrapper on blocks of cheese when you cut. Touching the cheese directly can transfer bacteria from your hands and encourage mold growth.
- It's an old wives' tale that leaving the avocado pit in half an avocado or guacamole will keep it from browning. What does work is to lightly press plastic wrap on to it to minimize its contact with air.
- Store your flour in the freezer to keep it fresh and avoid any icky bug infestations.
A 2013 survey found Americans spend $42 a month on cleaning supplies. You could reduce your costs by switching to homemade cleaners, buying generics or following this simple advice:
- Cut sponges in half to make them last twice as long.
- While you're cutting stuff, slice your dryer sheets in half, too. Depending on your climate and size of your laundry loads, you may even be able to get away with using a third or quarter of a sheet.
- Also, try using less laundry detergent. Unless your laundry is heavily soiled, a little soap can go a long way.
- Take bar soap out of its packaging and let it sit out for a couple of weeks to dry before you use it. Dry soap will last longer. Plus, get a soap dish that lets water drain away between uses.
- Spraying cleaning solutions directly onto windows and countertops is a sure way to use too much. Instead, spritz the solution on your cleaning cloth or paper towel.
Have you visited the cosmetics counter recently? Being beautiful on the outside isn't particularly cheap. Regardless of whether you buy the drug store brands or splurge on luxury items, make the most of your purchases by following these tips:
- Drying your razor will extend its life. Rub it on a piece of old denim to dry it and keep it sharp.
- Use up the last of the toothpaste by cutting open the tube.
- Q-tips are perfect for digging out and using up the last of your lipstick.
- If your bronzer is running low, mix in a little moisturizer to make it last longer.
- Store shampoo and conditioner bottles upside down. Then when you reach the end of a bottle, add a little water and shake to get out every last bit.
Finally, there are plenty of other items in your home, both large and small, that you may want to last longer. We have hacks and advice for those, too.
- Skip the high heat of the dryer and air-dry your clothes to make them last longer. Try washing in cold water, while you're at it.
- Freeze candles the day before you plan to use them to extend their burn time.
- While you probably don't want to put your alkaline or lithium batteries in the freezer, storing rechargeable batteries there can help them keep their charge longer. Just make sure they reach room temperature before using them.
- Practice proper appliance maintenance, such as changing furnace filters, cleaning refrigerator coils and descaling your coffee maker. All will extend the life of these home essentials.
- Don't skip maintenance on your car, either. Regular oil changes can go a long way to extending the life of your main mode of transportation.