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Money Saving Tips For The New Year


New Year’s Resolutions to save money, spend less, and waste less sound great when we make them, but when trying to practice those lofty ambitions, it’s hard to figure out where to start. Today, we've got some help for that. We’ll be joined by a trio of local experts who will give us tips from their websites, blogs and even some from a new book called “I’m So Clever,” full of tips compiled from the column by the same name in the Charlotte Observer. Join us for practical, realistic ways to keep your New Year’s Resolutions to save. 


Roland Wilkerson - Assistant Features Editor at the Charlotte Observer. He oversees the Health, Food, Style, Home and Faith Coverage, which includes the I’m So Clever column
Tara McAlister - The Deal Diva for Moms Charlotte, a blog by the Charlotte Observer
Terri Bennett - Founder of Do Your Part

List of tips from our guests today:

From Tara-

  • Know your store policies
  • Understand coupon lingo such as BOGO, WYB, Blinkie,  Store vs. manufacturer’s coupons
  • Get organized. Buy a sturdy coupon organizer and label sections based on the way you walk a store.
  • Only cut out coupons for items you always buy
  • Learn how to stockpile and buy multiples of items to take advantage of the sales cycles
  • Remember drug stores are great places to save on health and beauty items and even groceries
  • Shop at Target – get Cartwheel and visit their coupon section to stack for extra savings


Dryer sheets have many unexpected uses! And they are just as effective if you cut them in half.

From Roland: easy things you can do to save time and money:

  • Cut dryer sheets in half. Everyone seems to agree a half sheet does the job just fine.
  • Use whiteout to cover up chipped kitchen appliances. it's not perfect, but it does a great job of hiding the blemish. Some readers use Sharpie permanent markers on other colors for things like baseboards. 
  • Spray paint garden tools with a bright color so you can find them easily after setting them down in the garden or lawn.
  • If you have a problem with brill-o type pads rusting after the first use, just pop them into a plastic bag and put in the freezer, pull them out as needed.
  • If you're painting a ceiling, plastic bags that hold the Sunday Observer make perfect ceiling fan blade covers. 
  • Squeaky door hinge and no WD-40, spray furniture polish will do the trick

 From Terri:

  • Killing Phantom Power (devices that suck energy even when you are not using them)
  • Fireplace Ballons (to keep warm air from escaping out of the chimney when not in use)
  • Dryer Vent cleaning (the line from the dryer to the exterior of home)
  • Programmable thermostat is an obvious one
  • Using window coverings to keep heat indoors (or to allow warm sunlight in)
Vinegar and baking soda are cheap and effective household cleaning products that don't contain artificial fragrances.

  More tips mentioned on the show:

  • Wrapping gifts in newspaper (especially comics) instead of wrapping paper.
  • Use newspaper in between garden rows to cut down on weeds.  
  • Clean with vinegar and baking soda instead of store-bought cleaners. 
  • Use a dryer sheet for a quick shoe shine. 
  • Use vinegar as a fabric softener to break down soapy residue and soften clothes without fragrances.
  • Use vinegar in the dishwasher instead of 'quick dry' liquid. 
  • Take advantage of grocery store 'double coupon days' to stock up on common items.
  • Download the app Retail Me Not to get coupon codes on your phone for use at the register.
  • Make use of deals like 'Groupon' and the Observer's 'Deal Saver' coupon emails. 
  • Shopping at Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity's ReStore for cost-savings on quality items. 
  • Reuse and re-purpose food containers (sour cream, etc.)  instead of buying new containers. .
  • Dryer sheets - use for dusting. For substances burned onto pans, use warm water and a dryer sheet to remove.
  • Use and launder washcloths for cleaning and hand-drying instead of paper towels.
  • Put brillo pads in the freezer to prevent rusting.
  • Use those leftover slivers of soap in the foot of old pantyhose to finish using them up. 
  • Save money by buying store brands instead of name brands. But you save more money if you can use coupons on the name brand. 
  • Although it  may seem counter-intuitive, you can save money by purchasing health and beauty and even food items at drug stores because you can use manufacturer coupons AND store coupons for products while also earning store points. 
  • Phantom power - unplug chargers when you aren't using them. Chargers with a 'brick' are constantly sipping power even when not in use. To make it easier, plug all your chargers into one power strip and just turn the strip off when not in use. 
  • Programmable thermostats are a good investment - turn down the heat while you're asleep or not. 
  • Clean out the dryer's lint trap regularly to improve efficiency. 
  • Use a plastic cup to amplify your phone's sound instead of spending money on a Bluetooth speaker.