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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Find the keys to an easier life

Wina Sturgeon McClatchy Tribune

To paraphrase the old saying, even middle age isn’t for sissies. Money’s often tight, it’s harder to find a new job, your eyes and ears seem to get worse with each passing year.

That’s the bad stuff. Now for the good: ways to make little details of your life easier and less expensive. Trust me, I’ve been getting older for a long time now. I’ve learned a lot. Here are some things I’ve figured out.

1. Too much milk: With no kids around to drink up the milk, even a quart would go sour before I had a chance to finish it off. But little pint containers ran out too quickly, and they were also expensive, compared to larger containers of milk. A solution was simple: I washed out and kept five of the pint bottles, and began buying half gallon containers of milk.

The milk would be divided among the small bottles, leaving about two inches of space at the top, and frozen. Anytime the current pint is getting low, I just grab another from the freezer. This brings the cost of each pint of milk down to about 35 cents.

2. Missing keys: A common game for those middle aged and over is “finding the keys,” a time-consuming and unwelcome distraction. The solution to this one is also simple. Designate one spot for your keys and always, always put your keys there. Don’t keep them in your hands while you answer the phone or unload the groceries, put them in that designated spot.

Also, get a separate set of keys made, and hide them in a drawer. If time is tight and you can’t find your keys, use the spare set and look for the others when you get home again. The best thing about this solution is that if you ever actually lose your keys, you’ll have that spare set and you won’t have to get your locks changed.

3. Folding sheets: If you live alone, as do many middle agers and seniors, and wash your own bedding, you know about one of the biggest annoyances of the single life: folding sheets. Here’s an easy way to do it: Spread the clean sheet out on your bed, and it will be quick and easy to fold neatly, without any wrinkles.

4. Phone service: For those who like having a cell, but don’t spend that many hours on the phone, here’s a way to get inexpensive cell service without paying big bucks for a locked-in plan from a big provider: Use a disposable phone. I’ve had my disposable phone for years. I buy 300 pre-paid minutes at a time, for 10 cents a minute, 5 cents to send or view a text.

The minutes are good for two months, but if I need more, I just buy another card. The cellphone came free with the first card of minutes I purchased, as many disposable phones do. Even if I use all my minutes up in a month, it still only costs $30, with free long distance. Find a large selection of disposables in the electronics departments of big box stores.

5. Clothing: Here’s a big way to save on casual and even good clothing: the thrift store. You might be surprised by the quality of clothes offered, especially now that thrift store shopping has become so popular. They are great places to get things like jeans, sweat shirts and tees; even occasional designer duds. Instead of paying $50 or more for jeans, check out a selection of local thrift shops, where even new looking jeans cost only about $6.

Wina Sturgeon is an active boomer based in Salt Lake City who skates on both ice blades and wheels, lifts weights and skis to stay in shape.