It’s time for another edition of Cheap Thrills, where we let you in on the delightfully wallet-friendly FINDS from around town. This time, we’ve asked local business owners and tastemakers to share their favorite “life hacks” — those amazingly affordable items or clever tricks they just can’t live without. And these Memphians have delivered, sharing 11 cheap, easy (and even free!) FINDS and tricks that make every day easier.
Memphians’ Favorite Life Hacks & Cheap Tricks
Fitness Blender YouTube workouts, FREE
If you can’t make it to the gym, you can still knock out a workout in the comfort of your own home! “When I can’t make it to the gym, I love free YouTube workouts,” says Audrey Evensky Brantz, communications director for Temple Israel & PR consultant with I Love Juice Bar, New Beginnings by Roy Evans, City Silo Table + Pantry and McDonald Murrmann Center for Skin, Laser and Healthy Aging, among others. “Fitness Blender is my favorite channel. With the variety of exercises, fitness levels and video lengths, you can do a quick ab workout in eight minutes or a HITT routine for an hour — the options are almost overwhelming!” Find them for free on Fitness Blender’s YouTube channel.
PEAK & Lumosity brain-training apps, free for basic memberships
When Pat Brown, owner of T Clifton Art Gallery, isn’t using her right brain in the art world, she likes to put the ol’ noggin to the test with brain-training games. “I try to exercise my brain daily and really enjoy the training routines via the PEAK and Lumosity apps,” she says. The PEAK app offers a basic subscription, which allows you to train for free and gives you four games per day. “When I train daily,” Pat says, “I feel much more mentally agile and alert.” Download your own basic version of the Lumosity app and the PEAK Brain Training app for free!
Dropbox & TurboScan, free for basic versions
“First of all, I couldn’t possibly comment about making my life easier without mentioning my wife, as she runs my most important business — my family!” says Josh Hammond, owner of Buster’s Liquors and Wines. But, aside from his wife’s invaluable support, Josh says his productivity has improved greatly with two apps: Dropbox and TurboScan. “Dropbox is a cloud-filing storage system that keeps all my data handy no matter what device I’m on — home PC, office PC or smartphone. TurboScan uses the camera on my phone to scan documents, automatically crop images and send files. So, there’s no need for a fax machine. In some instances, I can even sign sensitive documents, save and send, all using my phone!” Try a free version of the Dropbox app and the TurboScan app.
HEALTH & BEAUTY
Birchbox, $10 a month
Amelia Briggs of David Lusk Gallery adheres to her own tech-savvy version of smart shopping with a monthly delivery of beauty samples. “I subscribe to Birchbox, so I get all kinds of small hair, lotion and makeup products, personalized to my tastes, to try every month. This saves me a lot of money in the long run, because I am able to know what works for me before investing in the full-size product. It also forces me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things I never would have thought to purchase otherwise. Plus, Birchbox allows you to rack up points when you review each product. These points equal dollars off purchases.” Subscribe to receive your own Birchbox for $10 a month.
Coconut oil, $10 (give or take)
Just ask Jean McGhee’s family what they recommends for every malady, and they will resoundingly, and without hesitation, answer, “Coconut oil!” The Senior Buyer and Owner of Hollywood Feed has no trouble extolling the virtues of this cure-all. “I travel with my coconut oil and add a tablespoon to my coffee to ward off Alzheimer’s and many types of cancer. It also gives us the added benefit of long-sustained energy and increased metabolism, both of which I can use in large amounts! I give the oil to my dogs both in their food and topically to help with any skin and coat issues. My kids’ rashes and burns will heal quickly with a dose of my magic oil,” continues Jean. “I cook with coconut oil instead of butter, and I use it to remove make-up. I consume it daily to slow the aging process by improving antioxidant levels and reducing stress on the liver. It certainly is a miracle drug in my book!” Find coconut oil at your local grocery store or drug store for about $10.
Beauty samples, FREE
Mona Sappenfield, esthetician and CEO of Mona Esthetics, turns work into pleasure as she always makes sure to indulge in the “Free with Purchase” beauty samples while she’s testing new products. “Each time I purchase cosmetics, I ask for the ‘try me’ vendor sample packets. They are free with purchase,” she says. “I open them for a one-shot beauty treat while driving or traveling. If they are too fragrant for me, I just apply them on my Yorkie, Emma! These little gift nuggets can really sprinkle a welcome bit of freshness in my day!”
Lucas’ Pawpaw Ointment, under $10
Melissa Turner, owner of Sugar Plum Consignments, has a unique Australian cure-all that she swears by: Lucas’ Pawpaw Ointment. “This miracle in a little red tube is made with Carica papaya and has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties,” says Melissa. “I use it on my lips, scrapes, minor burns, insect bites — basically everything! I love that it’s natural and is multipurpose. I always have a tube of this in my bag. You can find me using it daily.” Find Lucas’ Pawpaw Ointment on Amazon for under $10.
Mead Cambridge notebooks & Ticonderoga pencils, under $10 total
Chris Garner, owner and founder of Garner Picture Framing, is naturally partial to the tools of his trade. “I’m completely addicted to my Mead Cambridge notebooks that I purchase at Walgreens — a great complement to the freshly sharpened Ticonderoga pencils, also from Walgreens,” says Chris. “They are great for making lists and sketching ideas out to scale. Try them. You’ll be hooked.” Find Mead Cambridge notebooks for under $5 and a 10-count package of Ticonderoga pencils for $3.49 at your local Walgreens.
Scratch-free Scrub Daddy sponges, under $5
Helen Kiser, owner and manager of Kiser’s Floor Fashions, cannot get enough of the scratch-free “Scrub Daddy” sponges. “The ‘Scrub Daddy’ smiley-face cleaning pads are awesome! They clean everything and are super gentle,” she says. Find them are your local grocery store for under $5!
Gus insulated tumbler, under $20
Cory Prewitt of Laurelwood Shopping Center doesn’t hesitate when asked about his go-to life hack. “That’s an easy one for me. I don’t go anywhere without my Gus insulated tumbler,” he says of his 30-ounce double-vacuum, insulated, stainless steel tumbler with spill-proof sip lids and stainless steel straw, which boasts 24-hour ice retention. “I drink about 3 to 4 gallons of water everyday, and my ‘non-human BFF’ keeps it cold for me all day long! It’s great for lake or outdoor excursions too. It’s magic and makes me happy. My wife is not thrilled about how much space they take up in the cabinets, though.” Find a Gus tumbler on Amazon for under $20.
Homemade laundry detergent
“I found out last year that you cannot find the ingredients that are used in any major brand of laundry detergent,” says Savannah Deaton of Club Pilates East Memphis, who took it upon herself to make a laundry detergent with ingredients she could trust. “I have been making my own laundry detergent for a year now, and I absolutely love it, and it is very inexpensive.” Mix 1 cup washing soda, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup course sea salt, 1/2 cup citric acid and 1 bar of Dr. Bronner’s pure Castile soap, finely grated. Insider tip: Savannah recommends the lavender Dr. Bronner’s pure Castile soap! Find all the ingredients you need at your local grocery store. Then, make it look fancy with a labeled glass jar!
Now go make the daily grind a little easier with these life hacks and cheap tricks!
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