Sometimes, cutting costs is more a matter of getting clever than it is waiting for things to go on sale. Take today's first tipster, for example. Rather than give up her family's favorite treat because it was too pricey, she found a clever way to purchase it in bulk directly from the manufacturer. What a great idea!
Bulk buyer. After realizing how expensive frozen yogurt has become, I asked my local shop owner whether he would sell me a bulk amount to keep at home in our freezer. The response? Sure, and that will be $37 for a three-gallon container. I made a note of the manufacturer label and found that it was from a local distributor, who sells that same three-gallon tub to the public for $18. What savings! Once we empty one of the huge cartons, we recycle it as a trash can or storage bin. -- Marion M., California
String along. I have small children who continually grow out of their clothes. Instead of making them try on clothes at a garage sale or secondhand shop, I cut a heavy string to the length of their pants from the waist to the bottom leg and from the shoulder of their shirts to the bottom. When I go shopping, I put the strings into a freezer bag and use them to see whether the pants or shirts that I want to buy are long enough. -- Nicole J., Ohio
Fresh idea. Our newspaper comes in a plastic wrapper every day of the year. Instead of buying those little diaper trash bags that cost a fortune, we save the newspaper bags and reuse them as dirty-diaper disposal bags. It keeps our trash can smelling fresher and saves on yet another expense. -- Wendy B., Indiana
Defying distance. We recently welcomed our fourth child (and first girl) into the world. We weren't on the mainland to have a baby shower, so we were blessed by many people who mailed packages to us. To keep the many gifts and givers straight and to ensure appropriate thanks were sent, I took a photo of each gift with the giver's name and return address in the photo. This made it easy to recall who sent what and where the thank-you cards should be sent. Now when I see my baby girl wearing an outfit she was given as a gift, I snap a quick picture of her and e-mail it to the gift giver so the giver can see her wearing what he or she gave her. It's just one way to narrow the gap between our loved ones and us, even though we live an ocean apart. -- Jennifer J., Hawaii