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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - April 30, 2009

Too Ripe?
I never throw away fruit. Anything from bananas, grapes, peaches, strawberries, or oranges can be frozen and later thrown in smoothies. If I see we won't be able to eat all of what I have purchased, I just toss it in a freezer bag that I keep in my freezer. When it's smoothie time, I just open the bag and toss some fruit in the blender with a little juice, soymilk, milk, yogurt, etc. and have a delicious, nutritious snack. ~Aubri in Austin

Fun Night Out!
Some friends and I use to get together once a month for a nice dinner and a movie. We found a way to save a little and give a lot! We have started reading our local paper for community fundraisers. Now instead of heading to a private night, we go to community auctions, spaghetti feeds, bingo, etc. once a month. We may not have any connection to the fundraiser, but we always have a ball! And we give back to the community. ~RKM

Kids Off School? Missing Work?
A money-saving strategy that I use is trading babysitting during school breaks. A friend of mine will have my kids over to her house to play with her own kids for the day while I go to work. I have her kids over to my house on a different day. By doing this, school days off are covered. We both have to take fewer days off from work, burn less vacation time, and pay for fewer days of babysitting. We are happy, the kids are happy, and our bosses and coworkers are happy. It is a win-win situation for everyone. ~Diane W.

Coffee Time!
My little luxury is buying a big magazine (at the thrift shop or even at the store) and savoring every page while drinking a cup of coffee. It feels absolutely decadent to sit back and read in the middle of the afternoon, with no demands on my time. Feels like a mini-vacation, but much more affordable! ~K.T.

Mother's Day Gift Idea
This is a great idea for a Mother's Day gift for those who are still in their own home. I used to get my mom a nice hanging basket she could enjoy for a few months. It only needed watering and then she could just pitch it in the fall if she wanted. Another option is take an existing planter/corner of her garden and fill it with nice flowers. ~Judy

Accessory/Product Swap Party
Instead of having a clothes swap party, why not have an accessory/product swap party. Swap those things that came free with your favorite shampoo or the costume jewelry that has just lost its shine to you. Others just may love it! And they may have something you would like as well. Make the evening cheap with bring your own snacks and serve tea/coffee after the swap. What better way to recycle than with friends! ~Jenny H.

Appliance Broken?
When I have an issue with my appliances like my washing machine or even the coffee maker, I save a service call and do the following. I go to a search engine and type in the appliance name and the symptoms. Sometimes I find that it is a common problem and people offer simple instructions on how to fix it. In some cases, it is a simple adjustment. You just need to know where to find the screw to tighten or the panel to take off and clean behind. Other times, I find that I can fix it by replacing a part, costing less than $50. Many times, detailed instructions are included on where to order the part and how to install it. I also find at times that it is a complex problem that costs more to fix than to replace the item. Or it is a complicated or delicate repair that requires an expert and well worth the service call charge. Occasionally, I can't find any help, but since it takes only a minute and doesn't cost anything, I'm not any worse off for doing it! ~ U.

Helping Hands
My sister and I do a swap that we call "work weekends." One Saturday in the spring, we get together at one house and work on a to-do list, and then on another weekend, we go to the other person's home. It's a great way to get a lot done in one day and it gives us free labor! Our kids love it because they get to play with their cousins for the entire day. We have washed windows, power washed the house, re-stacked the firewood, edged flowerbeds, put down five yards of mulch, and painted shutters all in one day. The person's home where we are working is responsible for feeding everyone for the day. We've done this with family and friends. It's a wonderful way to get help with other people's skills! ~Jennifer H.

Dish Soap "Drizzler"
I try to not use the dishwasher every day to conserve energy and water. I really hadn't given a whole lot of thought to how much dish soap I was using until I was at a friend's one day and noticed she had an "oil drizzler bottle" sitting by her sink with dish soap in it. I liked how it looked, so I bought myself one for a couple of dollars and filled it with dish soap. Much to my surprise, I learned it takes very little soap to get the result I need to wash the dishes! Ordinarily, I would have squeezed the plastic bottle two to three times. That's a lot of soap! Now, I drizzle the soap in as the water is running, and I've been amazed how much dish soap I save in the process! The bonus is that it looks cute sitting by the sink! ~ Sue B. in Andover, Minnesota

Want to live better on the money you already make? Visit www.stretcher.com/r/99.htm to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar! Copyright 2009 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

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