Fix-it-up Stategy

Reinstall the Drivers

For a panicked moment I thought I would have to buy a new laptop. There was no audio, not on any page. I plugged in the headphones; still no audio.

I Googled “no audio on HP laptop.” Several sites told me to reinstall the audio drivers. One of them was detailed enough that I could easily do it. Voila! audio.

Something similar happened when the printer wouldn’t print. After quite a bit of research I read about reinstalling the printer drivers, and sure enough, it worked.



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.

Adapted Neck Brace

The bones in my neck are pressing on nerves and sending electrical zings into my head. The chiropractor recommended a neck brace. I ordered one on Amazon, but it was too short for my neck. Rather than buy another, I spent $3+ at Walmart on rectangular pieces of Velcro and made an extension.

The brace makes me hold my neck in correct alignment, and provides some support for my big ol’ (brain-filled) head, so my neck isn’t under as much pressure.




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.

Kindle preview:


Fix It Up: Vertical Blinds

My condo came with vertical blinds throughout. Decades of heat, sun, and use have made some of the vanes brittle. The small piece above the hole that the clip goes in to hold it broke off on some of them.

I was going to Lowe’s to buy vanes. I Googled a bit to get an idea what they cost. Some of the results were for little tabs to repair broken vanes, so I looked into it. They cost a fraction of what a new vane does and are far less bulky to bring home.

Clean the top of the vane. Pop out the holes in the repair tab. Remove the paper backing from the self-adhesive side. Bend in half and stick on the vane where the hole is. Easy. Once they are back in place you can’t tell they’ve been repaired.

(The pic shows an unbroken one because I didn’t think to take it before repairing them.)

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.

Clothes – Change it and Keep Wearing it

Clothes don’t have to keep on being what they originally were. They can be fabric ‘transformers’ that morph into something more useful.

If a pullover sweater becomes too tight or gets a stain or hole in the middle of the front, you can make it in to a no-button cardigan. Stitch two parallel rows close together down the middle so it won’t unravel when you cut it. Then cut in between the stitching down the middle and finish the edges with sewing tape or ribbon. You can do this with any shirt. It’s a little hard to describe in words. You can see it by searching on for “turn sweater into a cardigan.”

When I was a kid, the elbows on my favorite blouse wore through. I cut the sleeves off just above the holes, rolled them up, and went on wearing it. This will also work if the sleeves have become too short. You might be able to take the sleeves off and make it a sleeveless shirt.

You can do something similar with slacks. If the knees are worn through, cut them off to make shorts. Then you can roll them up, hem them, or fray the edges. A shirtdress that’s too short can be cut off and hemmed to make an actual shirt. A dress whose top part has become unusable can be made into a skirt.




Challenge Me!

My book is all about finding useful, affordable alternatives to the things modern life has conditioned us to believe we “have to” buy.

Think of something that costs money that you don’t know of an alternative for. Challenge me to offer an alternative by leaving a comment on this or any other post. Please include the word “challenge” in your response.