20 Simple Hacks to Make Your Stuff Last Longer


Hacks for the kitchen

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.

Stretch cleaning supplies

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.

Making personal care items last

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.

Tips for other items you have around the house

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.


Kitchen hacks:

Don’t supersize food purchases when your are cooking for only one or two. On a unit basis, the larger sizes may be less expensive, but if you throw out half, are they?

If you will only use part of a container of something, chill the container before opening, the contents will last much longer in the refrigerator.

Many items have expiration dates on them (milk, eggs,etc.). On milk, that is the pull date for the store. In NYC, the pull date is much shorter than in other parts of the country. The milk is good for several more days. Use the taste test. On eggs, the date is an arbitrary date which indicates that the quality will start to slowly decrease after that. Eggs can be kept for several months with proper refrigeration.

Laundry: Liquid detergent has large caps. Look inside and you will see small marks. Only fill the cap to that mark or less when measuring detergent. Any more is a waste.

Dryer: Cut the dryer sheet into 4 parts, use one strip per load. Better still, Buy a set of dryer balls, they look like white hedgehogs. No more dryer sheets and they last indefinitely.

Cars: A set of tires can cost more than a weeks’ pay. Too get a lot more miles out of them do this: maintain recommended pressure; when turning from a stop, turn the wheels only when the car is drifting slightly (a few inches will do) to relieve stress on the tires and steering gear; rotate the tires annually, the first rotation after 5-7000 miles is critical. These recommendations may increase the life of the tires by 25%. Proper turning may mean you will never require work on the steering gear. Many oil change facilities now include the tire rotation at no charge.

Heat: After much trial and error, we found that heating the house to 66 degrees or higher prevented many of the colds that our kids used to get. Living in Florida now, we find that you have maintain heat and air to prevent mold formation.

Don’t use dryer sheets at all. It’s a myth that the sheets soften your laundry. What they actually do is coat it in oil. I have not used one in 10 years and my laundry is just fine.

Instead of wasting money buying trash bags, ask for paper at the grocery store and use them for your trash.

I use the plastic bags for cat litter and doggie poop.  Don’t have to buy special ones.  I also use them for containing diapers and maxi pads.

I’m thinking of the old adage: Don’t skip over the dollars to save the pennies.”

Go to your budget or start one if you’re not doing that now. Look at where your money is going each money and look for the big expenditures. Work on decreasing them first, then smaller expenditures.

Too big of house and all of the things like heat, electricity, insurance, etc that you could reduce? Cars? Insurance on them?

Consider generic tooth paste before you decide to cut the tube open to get the last bit out.

My shampoo is actually 50% actual shampoo, 50% water. I give the bottle a good shake before I dribble a bit on my hair. It lathers up just as if I’d used full-strength shampoo, plus it’s easier to rinse out (which also saves water). Also, I spray apple cider vinegar on my hair to detangle it, haven’t used commercially-made conditioner in a year or more. It’s nice and soft and has no smell once it’s dry.

Razor Blade Preservation Clarification:

1. After the first use tap out as much water as possible (a few taps on edge of sink).

2. Dry blades with a towel.

3. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and clean the blades. This prevents corrosion.

4. Allow to air dry in drawer. This prevents dust and moisture exposure from getting on blades.

5. Just before next use strope the razor in a forward direction only, against the grain of an old pair of jeans 40 times. This sharpens the blade. Doing this step before you shave as opposed to after also helps to preserve the lubricating strip.

A Gillette twin blade pack of 50 at Costco used to last me a year. Now I only have to buy a new pack every 4-5 years. I went from spending about $25 a year (buy on sale only) to $5-6 a year. This is a savings of around $1000 over 50 years. Not bad.

Returning what you did not use or use very little of is the best way to save money. Also returning stuff you did not like. Surprising number of people do not do this. Even if they frequent specific grocery store. And if you buy store brand, it is guaranteed to work so if you are not satisfied they have to give you your money back. Also buying in grocery outlet stores can be a good idea, depending on stock. Lots of organic items get liquidated due to high prices. Those are 70% off in outlet stores. They have them all over Washington, Oregon and California. They also accept returns.


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