Readers share creative solutions for chains, stains, sprains and more

Creative gifting

My teenage grandchildren don’t want “stuff” anymore -they want cash! And I understand; being a teenager can be expensive. But I don’t want to just hand them money. For Christmas last year I got brand new $1 bills from the bank (they need to be crisp for this). I took them to a quick print shop where they turned them into glue-top pads of money. When the kids needed cash, they could just tear off some dollar bills. This year I am going to turn dollar bills into chains, like we used to do with gum wrappers years ago. Things like this make giving money more fun and interesting.

– Dana

Frozen owner manual

I keep all the instruction booklets that come with new appliances in a big envelope, just in case I ever need to refer to them. I just bought a new freezer and thought perhaps I should keep this booklet handy. I sealed it in a zip-up freezer bag and put it – you guessed right – in the freezer.

– Helen

Suede spot remover

Recently I managed to get some kind of ugly gunk on the suede portion of my leather shoe. I grabbed the Folex Carpet Spot Remover (my favorite for carpet spots) and an old toothbrush and went to work on it. It worked fabulously! I have no connection with the Folex company, but have found stains do not reappear later when using this product, which was recommended by a professional carpet cleaner years ago. Thought I’d share this.

– Melanie

Handy ice pack

Everyone should have at least a couple of ice packs in their home, at the ready to treat a sprained ankle, nasty bruise or other injury. But don’t spend money buying the ones at the drug store, when you can so easily make your own: Double-bag one cup of liquid dish soap by pouring the soap into a Ziploc bag and sealing it. Place this sealed bag into a second bag and seal it. Put it in the freezer. Since dish soap will never fully freeze, it turns into a pliable slushy ice pack that will easily conform to the shape of any injured body part. When you’re done using it, place it back into the freezer to be ready for the next time.

– Dr. Bob

Concrete stains

Got an ugly oil stain on your garage floor, concrete patio or driveway? Don’t fret. Sprinkle baking soda on the stain, add a squirt of blue Dawn dishwashing liquid and scrub it with a plastic or other nonmetallic brush. Allow it to sit for a few hours then wash it away. Old stains may require a repeat treatment until they’re gone for good.

– Robert

Mary Hunt is the founder of, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at