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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - May 7, 2009

Bath Toy Storage
I bought a five-pound bag of oranges and used the plastic mesh bag that they came in as a toy storage bag in the bathroom. I simply hung it from my shower organizer with a clip, and it works great! It allows the toys to drip dry and cost me nothing! ~Heather

Rural Trash Savings
I live in a rural area and trash pickup is $42 for three months. Recently, I found out that I'm allowed to take trash to a transfer station for $1 per bag (any size). Since I'm single and recycle, a 55-gallon bag takes about a month to fill. ~ Janice

Reflections
We live in Utah, which tends to get very hot in the summer. The house we are currently living in has full sun coming in the front windows in the afternoon. To cut down on our cooling bill from our window air-conditioner, we bought emergency Mylar blankets for $1.25 each. We cut them to fit each window section and sprayed a little bit of water on the window before spreading out the Mylar. The Mylar sticks great and can be removed whenever needed. The Mylar reflects the heat out in the summer and they are thin enough to allow us to still see out. ~Crystal in Utah

Summer Treat
My teenage daughters have a summertime treat that I have grown to love also. We slice fruit like apples, oranges, bananas, and melons very thin and spread them on a tray and freeze. Then, when frozen, we toss them together in a baggie. We have instant popsicles that are good for children. They even freeze grapes sometimes. This allows me to buy fruit in bulk when it is on sale. ~Ila Verne in Conroe, TX

For Those Less Fortunate
While you're spring cleaning this year, don't forget that there are a lot of children in this country who are forced to go without any form of underpants. Don't be embarrassed to donate your used undergarments to a shelter. At the charity nursery where I donate all my kid (and adult) used clothing, the undergarments are always the first things to be snatched off the table every time. ~JD

Healthier . . . and Cheaper, Too!
How do I eat healthy for less? Grain! I have discovered cooking with all kinds of whole grains, like bulgar, wheatberries, oat groats (which are just whole oats), brown rice, couscous and cracked wheat. Not only is it healthy, but also it is so economical. You can make a whole meal with one cup of oat groats, seasoning, and some zucchini and tomatoes for a family of four. I serve things like this as an entree or a side dish. You can get a ton of information about cooking with whole grains at wholegrainscouncil.org. I don't buy pre-made or pre-packed foods. The less processed the cheaper and healthier it is. ~CP

Inexpensive Guest Lodging
Summer is almost here and it's time to think about a getaway, but lodging costs money! If you don't have friends or family located at your vacation destination, try to find a nearby "college town." Often the college dorms in the US, Canada, and Europe are empty during summer vacation, and colleges and universities often rent dorm rooms at rock-bottom prices. Always phone first! If you don't mind small rooms with bathrooms and showers most likely "down the hall," renting a dorm room can be a pleasant and inexpensive experience. Sometimes you luck out and find the college cafeteria is open during the summer, serving pretty good food at pretty good prices. Also, there is usually something going on year-round at most college campuses. At the very least, take a break from the hot weather by stepping into a cool library or lecture hall. "Summer School" can take on a whole different meaning. ~The Baroness in Oregon

The Best Homemade Eye Makeup Remover
For years, I have used various brands of eye makeup remover that can cost over $1.50 per ounce. The more expensive brands really do work better and faster, but while comparing brands and ingredients, it was no surprise that there are only a few non-irritating cleansing agents. That was the moment I remembered the "no more tears" of baby bath formulas. A travel size bottle of a well-known baby bath/shampoo product costs less than a dollar. At home, I mixed about one half teaspoon of the baby bath product into a few ounces of distilled water, gave it a little shake, and tried it. My first mixture only smeared my eye makeup, so I added more baby product. This worked even better than the best brand on the market. There was absolutely no irritation or dryness, but this resulted in very fast and thorough removal of even waterproof mascara. Regular tap water would work as well, but it may have chemicals you don't want in your "gentle" formula. ~Dotsy G.

Just One More Day
Long ago I read a tip that I have found fun and interesting to implement. When you think you just have to go to the grocery store because you are out of everything, force yourself to make do with what is in the house for one more day. I often do this when my husband thinks there is nothing left to eat, and he is always amazed that I can make a decent meal out of rice, a can of vegetables, one frozen chicken breast, etc. I also love trying to make a tasty dessert with only what I can scrounge up. I have made homemade hot fudge sauce to go on the little bit of vanilla ice cream left in the freezer, or an apple crisp for two with two apples and a little bit of oatmeal, brown sugar, flour and butter. Last week my husband bemoaned the fact that we were all out of bread. I told him, "No problem. I'll get up in the morning and bake some homemade bread." He perked right up and said, "That will smell good baking in the oven!" It was fun, and all I needed was flour, yeast, salt and some dried herbs. Sometimes I make myself be creative like that until the next payday rather than spending money that isn't in the checkbook or putting food on a credit card. It's the challenge of the hunt that makes it so much fun. ~Alice B.

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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