From the category archives:

home oeconomy

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It might not surprise you guys that baking soda, canning jars, and pressure cookers are among the few products that boomed during the 2008 recession, given how many posts on these miracle products have appeared on personal finance sites over course of the past year. Personally, I’m only surprised that dryer sheets and slow cookers have not created their own splinter economy of their own. Still, the article in U.S. News And World Report I cited above made me realize that it’s been a while since I’ve trolled the web for a list of wacky alternative uses of basic household items, and I know you guys have missed it. So today, I bring you a list, culled from the bowels of the frugalosphere, of alternative uses for bleach. Except, as I was completing this list, it became clear that the alternative uses for bleach are often times 1) not “alternative” in its strictest sense, given that some of these groundbreaking ideas for bleach use are, in fact, among the stated applications of the bleach product; and 2) that “bleach” often times means “the container in which bleach is sold.” So, your mileage may vary on the actual utility of these tips, as usual, but don’t forget that you’re not really frugal until you’ve figured out a way to milk every last cent out of that $0.85 you spent on a bottle of Clorox. Enjoy!

  1. “Extend the ‘life’ (scare quotes mine) of freshly cut flowers, by adding one-quarter teaspoon of bleach for every quart of water used in your vase.”
    Now this makes sense, because you know what they break out when they need to sanitize things, and fast, to stop the spread of disease, and the guys with the Hazmat suits aren’t there yet? That’s right, bleach. So clearly, it’s totally peachy to pour bleach all over freshly cut flowers, because they’re not living anymore, after all, and won’t mind the excruciating pain of having microorganisms burned off their stems by a chemical reaction. Nobody will hear their silent screams, because they’ve already been murdered before their time, see? Everybody wins. Well, until your cat tries to drink out of your flower arrangement, and then you’re fucked.
  2. Deodorize coolers and thermos bottles.
    Oh, sure — this is a great piece of advice, because you’re probably one of those “cleaner” guys who shows up to clean up the mess after something goes wrong with a hired hit? And after you’ve carted around sundry body parts and containers filled with human blood, you have to make sure that you’ve killed every last bit of DNA, just in case somebody doesn’t do something right, somewhere down the line, because that’s why they call you in, of course, to clean up everyone else’s mistakes, right? Amateurs.
  3. Remove mold and mildew from outdoor siding, tile, brick, stucco, and patios. This one sounded reasonable to me, until I started thinking about the amount of mold one would need to have on the outside of one’s house before one would be able to decide that maybe their problem was a bit bigger than something that might be solved with a bottle of bleach.
  4. Remove coffee or tea stains from china.
    You can soak clean china in a water and bleach mixture to remove old coffee stains. This also works on the dentures of great grandparents you don’t like very much.
  5. Disinfect garbage cans. Right, but is this really an alternative use? Isn’t this more or less what bleach is for? Killing nasty stuff that resides at the bottom of garbage cans? Sorry, but I’m not giving you any points for thinking outside of the box on this one.
  6. Bail a boat.
    Yes, you read that right: in case you happen to be in a sinking boat with an empty bottle of bleach and a pair of scissors, go ahead and cut diagonally across the bottom for a handy tool to scoop out the water from the boat and avoid drowning! Thank you, frugalosphere, for these super realistic, handy, and — dare I say it? — life saving tips!
  7. Make a scooper.
    If you keep the cap on an empty, clean bleach bottle, you can cut it diagonally across the bottom and use it to scoop up dry goods like flour, sugar, rice, dog food, fertilizer, cat litter, and what not.
  8. Make a pooper scooper. Wait. First of all, didn’t you just tell us to make a scooper out of this damn thing? Are you trying to cram in an extra list item for free here? But wait, am I really asking the right question here? What kind of poop are you using this to scoop up? And what are you going to do with it afterwards? Because I don’t see that coming back in my house.
  9. Clean butcher blocks to prevent bacteria from breeding.
    After you wash your cutting boards, apply a solution of three tablespoons per gallon of water.
  10. Make a hot cap. One site recommends cutting off the bottom of the bottom of a bleach jug and then putting it over seedlings at night. But wait. Isn’t a hot cap something you invite somebody over for after a date, when you’re from the 1930s? I’m so confused.
  11. Remove stains from baby clothes.
    OK, I totally call foul on this one. That is sooo what bleach is for. Am I to believe there are people out there who don’t know about this use for bleach? This laundry use?
  12. Make a carrier for small children’s toys and crayons. “Cut a hole in the side of an empty, clean Clorox bleach jug opposite the handle.” OK, but why small children, Hannibal?
  13. Make a clothespin holder.
    Cut a hole in the side of an empty, clean Clorox bleach jug opposite the handle, and punch a small holes in the bottom for drainage. Hang your new clothespin holder on the clothesline.
  14. Make an anchor.
    “Fill an empty, clean Clorox bleach bottle with cement.” . . . and then tie it to the ankle of the dead body you’re trying to hide.
  15. Make a hip bucket for harvesting fruits or berries. Cut a large hole in the side of an empty, clean Clorox bleach bottle opposite the handle, then string your belt through the handle.
  16. Make dumbbells. Fill two empty, clean Clorox bleach bottles with sand.
  17. Make a megaphone. Remove the cap and cut off the bottom of an empty, clean Clorox bleach bottle.
  18. Clean mildew from grout.
    Mix three-quarters cup Clorox bleach with one gallon of water, and use an old tooth brush to scrub off the mildew.
  19. Use bleach instead of jet dry.
    Apparently, a capful of bleach added to your dishwasher will make your glasses sparkle and your silverware shine. It also might poison you.

Diet Tricks Of The Not-Even Internet Famous

by anna on January 27, 2010

This is a personal finance blog, not a weight loss blog: I’m aware of this. But dieting has been a big part of my life of late, and if you haven’t noticed, the topics of weight loss and finances tend to go hand-in-hand elsewhere in the blogosphere. Besides, if Dooce View definition in a new window can be a consultant to a TV network that features information on improving your home and garden, and Momversation can be a finalist for an award in blogging, then I can fucking post a weight loss tip list. Get off my back, topic police: I’m cranky and hungry. Anyway, I thought I’d share with you the things I use to try to keep myself on diets when I’m really hungry and I think I’m going to fail. I was hoping people would add their own suggestions in the comments, or perhaps just chime in if you think I am insane. Because no matter what, it’s got to be better than what they’re selling on Lap Band Alley or sending your money to Lose It Or Lose It.


In terms of calories-to-fullness-feeling, popcorn gives you a lot of bang for your buck. I don’t usually start out the day by eating a bag of popcorn (though I wouldn’t put it past myself, either), but at the end of the day, when I feel like I’m going to starve to death, sometimes I’ll pop in a bag of Orville Reddenbacher’s Smart Pop Kettle Korn microwave popcorn. The small bag is only 100 calories, and the larger one is like 250. Either one will keep you from eating a whole pack of Oreos, and they also are easier than trying to fall asleep on an empty stomach. Win-win.


I use strawberries in a similar way to popcorn: a cup of strawberries has like 50 calories. You can pretty much go nuts with the strawberries for dessert and not have to worry about it. When they’re sour, just throw a packet of equal on top and call it a day.


wasabi makes you not hungry

When you’re worried about eating something that is tempting, go ahead and squirt out some wasabi and eat it. End of the craving, and no need to use your neti pot for several days, either.

Hot Chilies, Or Hot Chili Sauce Of Any Kind

I prefer wasabi for the burning of the taste buds/elimination of appetite, but anything made of hot chilies will serve the same purpose. Be careful when using hot stuff to quell your appetite, though: too much will make you feel nauseous. Also, you might want to take some Pepcid just in case.

Anyone got any more tips? Or better ones? I’m dying over here.

Target uses a game scoring system to encourage its cashiers to work more quickly, according to a screen capture on Flickr. The above photo (from dpstyles’ flickr stream) shows one cashier’s score for the last ten transactions she had rang up. The Gs indicate quickly completed transactions and Rs stand for slow transactions. There are also, apparently, Y-rated transactions –the letters stand for Green, Yellow, and Red and are based on a stoplight semiotic system with elaborate averages set up for different kinds of transactions (clothing gets more time as an average than does, say, candy). This cashier has earned a grade of 88% on her 44 transactions, though I’m not clear on what this 88% means — 88% converted to credit card sales? 88% without an error? 88% without returns?

I guess it’s a good idea to gear the system towards your ideal employee, and this goes a long way towards explaining why a middle-aged woman is always at the helm of the WORST line at my local Target, but I wonder how much accuracy is sacrificed in the name of speed? It’s certainly possible to be a quick and accurate cashier, but if you are getting your quickness as a result of encouraging a game mentality in lesser skilled employees . . . But I guess Target must have done the math on this one and determined that speed in turnover rate outweighs all of the potential errors caused. Interesting.

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