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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - May 14, 2009

Affordable Vacation Lodging
Frugal vacation lodging? Visit/stay with family or friends who live in interesting areas! We have visited Washington, DC, New York, Boston, Cape Cod, and even Canada and Taiwan this way. We have enjoyed having visitors in our home, and they have taken day trips to Niagara Falls and Toronto while renewing family ties and friendships! ~Wini in Buffalo, NY

The Sports Swap
Every year we have a swap for sports equipment. We make sure to have kids of all sizes and we swap cleats, ball pants, bats, balls, helmets, etc. All must be in good to excellent condition and everyone gets most of their equipment for nothing. This is especially nice now when this economy is so bad and a bat and cleats cost over $100. This is a huge savings for the parents and the kids love it because they get to spend a few hours with their friends. This would be easy to setup anywhere. Just have each family bring their ball equipment and a finger food and have a night of swapping. ~Simonne

Keep the Sand Outside
I used to use baby powder to remove damp sand from my kids' fingers and toes when they came in from playing in the sandbox. One day I realized I was out of powder and searched for an alternative. I tried using plain old cornstarch, and it works like a charm! Just dust a teaspoon or two on hands and feet and the sand will brush right off. I now keep an old spice shaker filled with cornstarch by the back door to clean them up quickly and keep sand outside. ~Andi P.

A Beautiful Walk
I like to walk for exercise, but who says you have to stay in your own neighborhood? I live within ten minutes (by car) of Puget Sound, a very large body of water in the state of Washington. We have some wonderful walkways along the water. On a sunny day, you can't imagine a more beautiful place. Even though it rains a lot here, I reserve those sunny days and times for some nice scenery. Sometimes I'll walk where there are tourists, and I feel like I'm on vacation. ~Mary

Remember Before Kids?
Remember the days before kids when you had time to browse the bookstore, read a book or magazine, and purchase it if you wanted to take it home to finish? Take advantage of the library's children's story time to browse and pick out something interesting for you to read and check it out if you want! ~T.

Cheaper Than Window Cleaner
To wash all the windows and mirrors in my house, plus to wash the inside of my car windows, I use windshield cleaner available at discount chain stores for $.99 to $1.09 per gallon. I then pour enough cleaner, using a funnel, to fill an empty quart size spray bottle. This comes to $.25 per quart of glass cleaner! Plus, I feel if the windshield cleaner is strong enough to clean my car's windshield of bugs and insects, it is certainly strong enough to clean the glass in my house. ~L. S.

Cheaper Travel
If you find the cost of so-called "budget" motels to be on the high side, and don't want the hassle of a full-blown camping trip, check out "camper cabins" at state parks and recreation areas. They're generally half the cost of a motel, and you can save further by cooking for yourself. State parks and recreation areas in many states have built these cabins with lottery money, and many of them are downright deluxe! Most have electricity, and many even include heat and air conditioning. They generally have a grill or fire pit and porch with a picnic table. You'll need to bring sleeping bags, and the bathrooms are down the road a bit, but the savings are significant, without the need to haul all of the equipment that you'd need for a full-blown camping trip. ~Judy B.

Cleaning Ceiling Fans
The hassle of cleaning ceiling fans can be made easier by using an old, preferably king size, pillowcase. I spray a little Pledge inside the case and slip it over the fan blade. While the blade is inside the case, grip the back of the pillowcase and the blade and then slide the pillowcase toward the end of the blade. All the dust is removed from the top and bottom of the blade in one clean sweep. The best part is that all the dust is enclosed inside the pillowcase rather than falling in your face! You can do several fans with the same pillowcase. When you are finished cleaning, take the pillowcase outside and turn it inside-out and shake out the excess dust. When it's washed and dried, store the pillowcase with your cleaning supplies, so you will have it ready the next time it's time to clean your ceiling fans. By the way, if you don't have an old pillowcase, you can find old pillowcases at Goodwill or thrift stores. ~Janet H.

Where's the Missing Sock?
I always seemed to be losing the mate to a sock pair until I found a way to keep them secured in the wash. I bought a couple of the "fine washable bags" that you can pick up in the laundry section at any discount store. I keep the bags next to the clothes hamper and all of the socks go into the bag at the end of the day. On wash day, I simply zip up the bag and wash and dry the socks with the rest of the laundry. I never have to go looking for a lost sock because they all stay in the bag. I put dress socks and nylons into a separate bag since they shouldn't go into the dryer. When the washer is done, I just pull out the bag with the nylons and then hang them on a drying rack until they are dry. The fine mesh of the bag also prevents these items from getting snags or holes in them. I've been doing this for over four years now and can't remember the last time I lost a sock in the wash. ~KR

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


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