22 Solutions That Changed Your Life
Readers' reveal which Real Simple solutions have improved their lives the most.
A tip straight out of the premiere issue: The Three-Quarters Rule. The rule suggests that you restock an item when it is 75 percent gone. Prior to reading this advice, I rarely planned ahead, which meant I often made last-minute trips to the grocery store to buy just one thing—from butter to bandages. (I lived in the mountains at the time, so a "run to the store" was never quick.) Now that I am always prepared, life is a lot less stressful.
The Chicken with White Beans and Tomatoes recipe. For years I was hoping to incorporate more beans into my family's diet, but I couldn't find a dish that everyone enjoyed. This recipe is a smash hit. My husband requests it on a weekly basis, and my grandchildren always ask for a second helping.
New York, New York
Storing brown sugar with two marshmallows to keep it soft.
The 15-minute ballet-barre workout. I used to attend barre classes, but they are a bit pricey and too far away. Plus, my schedule is pretty busy, so it can be difficult to find time for exercise. Thanks to this short routine, I manage to consistently work out at home a few times a week.
A new use for my candlestick. I received a beautiful, antique candlestick as a wedding present, but it just sat in the back of my china cabinet collecting dust. After discovering I could convert it into a bracelet holder, I am now able to enjoy a friend's gift and find the perfect accessory for my outfit at the same time.
Emily G. Ross
Keeping bills and important mail organized in a 13-pocket accordion file with tabs for each month. I store each year's binder neatly in a closet with its corresponding tax return in the last slot. This way, I don't have to sort through years of monthly bills when looking for a specific document.
Lorena Van Buskirk
It has to be dryer sheets and their versatility, especially on my wooden floors. Dust bunnies, gone!
For me, the best tip has been to wash my clothes by fabric type rather than color. It revolutionized the laundry!
Removing stubborn tree sap with olive oil. My friends own a Christmas-tree farm, and every December my husband volunteers to help cut down trees. Thanks to this suggestion, I no longer struggle to get rid of the tree sap that inevitably ends up everywhere in my home.
Abby Parish Moser
Real Simple changed the way I blow-dry my hair. I now know to start with the underside and style my hair when it's 80 percent dry. This has shaved off several minutes from my morning routine.
The Weeknight Meal Planner. Back when I used to decide my family's dinner menu the day of, I would often overbuy groceries or forget essential ingredients. This weekly newsletter's schedule and shopping lists take the stress out of attempting new recipes. Also, it can be tiring to come up with new ideas on my own, so the planner helps keep my family out of a chicken-breast rut.
Cleaning pet fur from furniture with a damp rubber glove. It saved my life—and upholstery!
How to opt out of preapproved credit cards. I used to receive a dozen or so credit-card offers every week. After taking this simple advice from your money section, I no longer have giant stacks of unwanted envelopes to open and shred. It's been such a huge time saver.
Des Plaines, Illinois
I make the tomato and cantaloupe salad every summer!
St. Paul, Minnesota
The right way to do laundry. Real Simple taught me that I had been washing my clothes incorrectly for years. Nowadays, I use less detergent, load the machine in the right order, pull zippers all the way up, and unbutton all the tops. Not only am I spending less money on detergent but my towels are softer and my clothes also feel cleaner.
Brooklyn, New York
Real Simple's wedding checklist = reality check in budgeting and planning!
Creating a well-balanced wardrobe. I revamped my closet based on an article detailing what key pieces everyone should own (for example, a white button-down and a fitted jacket). I learned what basics I already possessed, which ones I was missing, and how to properly mix and match all the items. Nowadays it's much easier to pull together a polished look in the morning.
My husband wears white dress shirts, and they always had sweat stains on the collar. Then I tried Real Simple's stain-prevention tip, which suggested creating a barrier by ironing baby powder into the fabric. This has been a game changer. I no longer have to buy every kind of stain remover out there.
Ronda Q. Wilson
Keeping plastic bags in an empty tissue box. When I stored loose plastic bags on the top shelf of my kitchen closet, half of them would fall out whenever I opened the door. Now I have several boxes of bags, separated by different sizes. It's so simple and yet so effective.
Southport, North Carolina
Freezing a batch of pesto in ice-cube trays for future recipes.
Brooklyn, New York
When you have open shelves, store items in baskets. In my home, there's a doorless storage area where I keep various kitchen and laundry items. Previously, the items were crammed together on the shelves, and I was embarrassed whenever anyone saw the clutter. Now I use 14 baskets to group like items together. I no longer mind if someone walks in the room!
How to fold fitted sheets. (Seriously.) I showed my sister, who is usually the one giving me practical advice, and she said, "This has changed my life."
Kew Gardens, New York