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Independent Living Tips

Suggested Purchases

  • A fold-up shopping cart (for groceries as well as taking laundry to the laundromat)
  • A broom, dustpan and vacuum
  • A box of baking soda to keep one in the fridge to absorb odours
  • A first aid kit
  • Light bulbs
  • Dishcloth/towel and dish soap
  • Pots and pans, baking sheet(s)
  • Containers with lids (for dry goods - cereals, pastas, left-overs). This is a deterrent for bugs and mice
  • Can opener and cork screw
  • Oven mitts
  • Cleaning supplies and sponges for floors, mirrors, bathtub, toilet and sink
  • Garbage bags
  • Waste baskets and recycling containers
  • Flashlight and spare batteries (for power outages)
  • An iron & ironing board
  • A screwdriver and a hammer
  • Toilet paper and paper towels
  • Shower curtain
  • Bulletin board for posting utility bills to be paid, notes, phone messages, etc.
  • Surge bar to protect your computer

Laundry Basics

For Starters

The key to great laundry starts with sorting your laundry by fabric type, color and water temperature. To save time, sort clothes as you put them in the hamper or laundry basket-maybe even use separate bins or rolling carts. Or, if you're like most folks, you can dump out the pile on the laundry room floor and do your sorting there. Either way, here's what you need to know to get started:

  • Read the labels – All garments include labeling that outlines proper fabric care. Start here for the best advice.
  • Sort all laundry into five main groups:
    • Whites – everything white, like underwear, t-shirts, handkerchiefs, etc.
    • Lights – including striped whites, off-whites and pastels
    • Darks – everything dark, like blacks, blues, browns
    • Brights – reds, yellows, oranges, fluorescents
    • Delicates – fine linens, lingerie, some synthetic fabrics
  • Keep your piles on the small side. Machines operate better when clothes are evenly distributed and balanced. When you lay your dry clothes in the washer, keep them loose (don't stuff), and never fill the tub more than 3/4 of the way up the sides.
  • Separate heavily soiled items from lightly soiled garments, and shake out loose dirt.
  • Create another pile for hand-wash-only items.
  • Keep dry clean only clothes separate. Take them to a professional dry cleaner.

Advanced Tips and Tricks

Once you’ve got your basic piles assembled, take it to the next level with these easy steps:

  • Wash reds or new, colored garments separately the first few times. These items can bleed and stain other laundry if you're not careful. To test an item for colorfastness, dampen it with water in a discreet spot and blot with an old white cloth. If color transfers to the white, the item will bleed. To be sure, add an old white handkerchief or sock in with the possible offenders until it comes out clear-then you can wash those items with other like colors without fear of bleeding.
  • Remember that shredded tissue? Carefully check all pockets and pant cuffs for things you don't want to wash. Even check the inside of the machine for the same.
  • Check zippers, buttons, snaps and buckles and secure them to prevent snagging. Unroll shirt cuffs, tie drawstrings. Pin irremovable shoulder pads.
  • Use mesh bags to separate washable delicates from rougher fabrics – or to designate items you can't transfer to the dryer.
  • Watch that you don't mix lint generators and lint magnets. Some lint generators include towels, sweatshirts and flannel. Lint magnets include corduroy, velvets, and permanent-press clothes. When in doubt, turn the lint-magnet items inside out as you sort them.
  • Empty the lint tray after every use to maximize efficiency.

* courtesy of

Finding Recipes

Perhaps this is your first time living on your own, cooking meals for yourself. Or, maybe you’re just tired of K.D. and frozen meals. Check out these websites; you never know what you might discover!

Ten Tips to Eat Healthy on a Budget

  1. Stretch Your Meat – If you are indeed a carnivore, then you know how expensive meat can be. However, you can stretch your poultry and beef out by using healthy fillers like tofu and grains.
  2. Make a Shopping List – By planning meals ahead of time and sticking to a shopping list, you will avoid any unnecessary (and unhealthy) impulse purchases.
  3. Avoid Processed Foods – Starting with raw materials is not only cheaper, it will cut many preservatives and additives out of your diet. This can only improve your mental and physical well-being.
  4. Drink Only Water – Your soda/coffee/juice/alcohol dependency isn't doing your wallet or your body any favors. Water is the only liquid you will ever need to drink. So, put a filter on your tap and drink without guilt.
  5. Buy In-Season Produce – Buying your favorite fruits and vegetables during the off-season can really cost you some major dough.
  6. Shop at the Farmer's Market – Are you paying gouged prices at your local health food store when you could be getting your food direct from local growers? Check out the local farmer's market before heading to the grocery store.
  7. Know Your Healthy, Cheap Staples – These include oatmeal, beans and rice. Foods that are filling, inexpensive and healthy should always be readily stocked in the kitchen.
  8. Start a Vegetable Garden – Growing your own food is not only a cheap alternative, but also it offers many physical and mental benefits. Gardening is great exercise and helps to reduce stress, so there are many reasons to take up the hobby.
  9. Avoid the Drive-Thru – When trying to save money and your life, the drive-thru can be your worst enemy. Dollar menus exist, but they are usually filled with deep-fried horrors. If you can find a 99 cent baked potato, however, knock yourself out.
  10. Clip Coupons – This is an obvious way to save some money on food. However, be sure to only save coupons for healthy foods, no matter how much those Oreos are marked down.

© University of Toronto Scarborough