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Frugal Living Tips for Homeowners

Spend smart, spend less, save more

FH09FEB_FRUHOM_01-2Family Handyman
Squeeze more out of your home improvement dollar with these simple money-saving tips. For little or no cost, you can save hundreds of dollars.

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Reclaim crusty paint

Paint strainer

You don’t have to toss out old paint just because it contains a few gooey globs or chips. Instead, filter out the bad bits with a disposable paint strainer. Two types of strainers are readily available at home centers and paint and hardware stores: the cone type and the mesh type, which does the job faster but is a bit messier to use. Keep in mind that old acrylic latex paint may not stand up to the elements as well as new paint. So if you have leftover exterior paint that’s more than four years old, play it safe and buy new paint. Better to spend a few bucks now than to scrape peeling paint later.

Treat gasoline when you buy it

Fuel stabilizer

You know how much the average small-engine repair costs? I don’t either, but it’s a lot! And a huge source of revenue for small-engine repair shops is fixes to engines that were operated with old gas. Modern gas formulations just don’t last as long as earlier ones did. And when gas starts to break down, it not only makes the engine hard to start but also gunks up the whole system with gum and varnish. So if you have a boat, or keep gas onhand to run small engines such as lawn mowers, power washers and chain saws, treat the gas with a stabilizer right after you buy it. That’ll save you big money on repair bills later.

Wash in warm, rinse in cold

Check water temperature

Here’s a tip that could save you big money on utility bills. If you’re washing and rinsingyour clothes in hot water, you’re wasting a chunk of change heating all that water. The juice needed to power the machine motor doesn’t cost much—the big expense is heating all that water. Detergents are designed to perform in temps of 65 to 85 degrees F.And cold water is just as effective for rinsing as warm or hot. So dial back those temperature settings! Check the water temperature in the tub right after it fills. You just might find that even the cold setting on the washing cycle is above 65 degrees and no hot water is even needed.

Portable storage for free

Reuse plastic containers

You can drop a few bills buying storage totes for supplies like nails, screws and plumbing parts. Or you can make your own with laundry detergent jugs and a utility knife. They’re big, tough and mobile-and they’ll make your workshop stink nice.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Bucket
  • Utility knife
You’ll also need a digital cooking thermometer to check water temperature.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Fuel stabilizer
  • Laundry detergent jugs
  • Paint strainer