Clothes and Shoes

Ink Removal Magic

A careless gesture left a swipe of black ballpoint ink on the front of my favorite yellow shirt. I laid the affected area across the drain of the sink and poured rubbing alcohol on it. The line immediately softened and widened. After perhaps a minute, I squirted more alcohol on it and watched the ink magically disappear.

Rinse immediately, lest the magic also remove the color from the garment.

It’s probably smart to test in a hidden area such as the inside of a hem–some clothes might lose color right away. On the other hand, if removing the ink also removes the color, you can squirt it at random and wring it out to make a sort of tie-dye pattern.




Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.


You CAN Get Latex Paint Out of Clothes!

I “knew” that once paint got on clothes, the clothes were doomed. Not so:

Hand sanitizer, an old toothbrush, effort and patience.

52 Weeks: Children – How Much Do They Cost?

I have seen articles on the Internet that say it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, a quarter of a million dollars, to raise a child. There may be families who can and do spend that much. I also know families who couldn’t if they wanted to. My own experience is that kids cost as much as you are prepared to spend.

For instance, there are several levels of spending to choose from:


$0: hand me downs. I wore my older cousin’s clothes, and when I outgrew them, handed them on to her younger sister.

$small: rummage sale, garage sale, thrift store, and consignment store purchases. For very young children especially, garage sales are a bonanza of barely used clothes

$big: new clothes from a discount store

$huge: new designer clothes from a high-end department store



$0: older sibling’s hand me downs

$15: sneakers, new

$35: leather shoes, new

$200: fashionable athletic shoe, new, that are outgrown in six months


Each family applies its own values and preferences to deciding what levels to spend on.




Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.

52 Weeks: Frugal Wedding Garments

People have gotten married in a nice suit and dress and lived happily. It doesn’t make the marriage any stronger to spend thousands on a specific gown for weddings only, and buy or rent a tux. For my first wedding, I wore my nicest dress, and he wore his best suit. For my second, the groom and his two best men bought matching suits that were also suitable to wear to the office, or to someone else’s wedding or funeral. Or to court, which is where I last saw that husband and recognized the suit.

My soon to be mother-in-law made my dress. The materials cost less than half as much as the fancy wedding hat I just had to have. A dress advertised for bridesmaids or for prom might be perfect and cost less. We bought good quality silk flowers and reused them for other things after the wedding. We were married around graduation time, and all the professional photographers were booked up. Our brother-in-law took the pictures and did an excellent job.

Making Shoes Last Longer

For athletic shoes that are coming apart, check out Shoe Goo. Search for it in any search engine. Shoe Goo may also work on heels that have come off or come loose. Another product like that is E6000. I haven’t tried these yet. If your sneakers are sound, but they’re not as cushiony as they were, you can add gel insoles to keep them comfortable longer.

Dress shoes and some work boots can be re-soled or have a new heel put on for less than a new pair would cost at retail. The heel tips on high heels can be replaced as well. I saw instructions for it at among other sites. Putting soundless heel taps on the outer edge of a heel where it has worn down extends the life of the shoes quite a bit.

If the thong of your flip-flop has pulled through the hole in the sole, you can fix it. Push it back through the hole and secure it with one of those square plastic tabs that fasten a loaf of bread. Those tabs are also good for labeling the cords of electronics.

If you have a pair of shoes that still have some wear in them but no longer look so great, they can be used for casual or weekend wear. When they’re no longer good enough for that, they can be worn while gardening, painting, or working on the car. Shoes last longer if they aren’t worn every single day, so it helps to rotate them.



Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.

Mama Needs New Shoes, Discounted

A few years ago, I needed new shoes, so I signed up for Payless Shoe Source’s email newsletter. Shortly after I signed up, they sent me a 10% off coupon. I decided to wait a while. A week or two later they sent a 20% off coupon. I thought I’d go pretty soon. Then they sent an email coupon for 30% off. I went the next day to a nearby store, but the shoes I needed were out of stock. So they gave me a slip for $4 off, to make up for having to go to another store. The next morning I went to that other store. Lo and behold, they were marked down from $40 to $17. Between the mark down and the two discounts, I paid a grand total of $9.70 for my new shoes. The clerk told me that they send different coupons and offers by snail mail than by email. So I signed up for that too.



Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.

Clothes – When They Aren’t Clothes Any More

Clothes that can no longer be fixed or altered can still be useful. Absorbent items such as T-shirts, towels, and socks can enjoy a second life as cleaning cloths or shop rags.

You can make a dusting mitt from the sleeve of a sweatshirt. The fuzzy inside will be the outside of the duster. Allow enough length so that when you reach your hand into the sleeve from the end, the cuff of the sleeve is around your wrist. Leave enough material beyond the tips of the fingers of your outstretched hand to allow you to hem it closed.

A sock rubber-banded to the handle of a broom will let you reach dust and cobwebs in high places.

The leg of a pair of slacks can become a tube pillow for your neck. Stuff it and either tie or sew it shut on each end.

A square pocket can become an inner pocket for your purse or tote bag. Cut it out, leaving an inch of material all the way around. Turn all the edges under ¼ inch and then another ¼ inch, and sew it into your purse or tote.

If an adult garment has large sections of sound cloth, the good areas can be used as fabric to make clothes for babies or dolls.

Ruined panty hose can do many things. If you run them through the sleeves of a shirt or sweater, you can hang it to dry without getting clothespin marks on the garment. Put a section of it over the end of the vacuum hose to trap small objects you want to find, like earrings or contact lenses. They make a nice outer casing for things like patio umbrellas or small tents–the material will breathe, reducing the risk of mildew.

Socks with worn out feet? Cut off the tops and sew a top on to a mid-calf sock to make it into a knee-high sock. Or sew two tops together to make a leg warmer. Sock tops can also make mittens longer, so they go up into your sleeve instead of leaving a gap between mitten and jacket.

If you have long hair, you can use a sock to make a large bun. It’s too hard to explain here, but go to and search on “sock bun” to see it.

Buying a large quantity of socks in the same color and style can save money and effort over time. You will never have an unmatched sock. If one wears out or gets lost, the other still matches all the other socks. I have a dozen tan socks that I wear with nearly everything. A man could do this with black dress socks, an athlete with white tube socks.

If you get a run in one leg of a pair of pantyhose, you can cut that leg off and wear it with another one-legged pair. If they are both the same leg, turn one of them inside out. If you catch a run when it’s just starting, you can stop it by painting both ends of the run with clear nail polish.

The sound part of worn out denim clothes can be used for many things. Make children’s jeans last longer by sewing a large piece of denim inside each knee area in advance. Denim is also handy for making potholders and purses. It makes a relatively masculine quilt or couch throw. For directions, use any Internet search engine to look for “make a denim purse” (or potholders or whatever).



Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.