It's Mother's Day, so a lot of you are probably going to pick up mom and take her out to brunch.
Or maybe you forgot all about it until she called at 7 a.m. wondering when you'd be over, so you dashed off to the store for some flowers and a card.
The average person celebrating Mother's Day will spend $152.52 on flowers, blouses and other gifts this year, up nearly $12 from a year ago, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.
But you can do a lot better than flowers and brunch this year, and spend much less, by giving your mother something she will really appreciate. We're talking, of course, about the Gift of Thrift. Here are some ideas.
• TV antenna: Help mom get free TV with an antenna rather than shelling out every month for cable. Punch her address into the website http://www.Tvfool.com to get an idea about which channels she'd get with an antenna. If it looks like that programming would be sufficient, spend Mother's Day installing an antenna. We visited some closet Cheapsters in Schnecksville back in March, and they get some great reception with the antenna mounted on their shed. Cost: $20 to $100. Estimated savings: $18,480 over 20 years.
• Drying rack: Help your mother keep her utility bill in check with a clothes drying rack for her laundry. Unlike an outdoor clothesline that only works on dry, sunny days, the drying rack can be used indoors during any kind of weather. Joanne Sanchez showed us hers in October. Cost: $25 to $35. Estimated savings: $1,450 over 20 years.
• Homemade Nutella kit: If your mother likes hazelnut spread, teach her how to make her own rather than buying expensive products such as Nutella at the grocery store. Hence Bollinger and Matt Miller in February showed us how to make what they call "Mattella" buy putting roasted hazelnuts, sugar, cocoa and oil into a food processor. Cost: $7.58. Estimated savings: $595.20 over 20 years.
• Foaming hand soap: Teach your mom how to make her own foaming hand soap so she doesn't have to keep buying those expensive dispensers for kitchen and bathroom. Tru Sabatino in March showed us how to make hand soap by putting some water and a little Palmolive dish soap in an empty foam hand soap dispenser. Mom will get a nice foam and keep her hands clean for a lot less. Cost: $2.50. Estimated savings: $708 over 20 years.
• Compost starter kit: If you're tapped out and barely have enough gas money to get to mom's, this is the choice for you. Rummage through the fridge for some rotting fruits and vegetables and dump what you find in a bucket. Scrounge for some dead leaves in your yard or in the storm drains on your street. And look for a horse farm on the way and see if you can get a shovelful of manure. Karen Winkler in April showed us how she uses these ingredients to make a pig pile of steaming compost. Cost: $0. Estimated savings: $9,600 over 20 years.
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