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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - July 9, 2009

Barter Believer
I believe in the good old-fashioned barter system. I can trade a product or service of mine for another. In fact, I found a family member a gig fixing a laptop computer this week. He got paid and I received much needed computer repairs as a referral. ~RMH

Coming Indoors
I have noticed that a great deal of furniture designed for the outdoors would work nicely inside, too. Outdoor furniture is often cheaper. Of course, some outdoor furniture is flimsy plastic that is meant to last one season, but some of it is very sturdy metal. I have had a nice wicker chair in my living room for years and it cost much less than an indoor chair would have cost me. ~Emilie J.

Sandwiches on the Road
Make up tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, etc. and put in resealable bags. Seal it and stash it in the cooler. When it's time to eat, just snip the corner off the bag and squeeze/pipe the salad out onto hotdog buns or other long bun. Using a long bun eliminates the needs for utensils since it doesn't need to be spread out like on a slice of bread. The resealable bag eliminates a dirty container to deal with, and tuna gets stinky after it sits awhile and no one wants that smell in the car all day! This is an easy way to add some variety to the menu while on the road! ~Michele

Affordable Scrapbook Accents
I love to scrapbook, but paying full price for accents and such to use on my pages can get expensive. One thing that I always do is to check out old game pieces at thrift stores and garage sales. I have some great pictures of the kids playing Pokemon games. Stickers that match cost about $4, but I found a large box of old Pokemon game parts for 69 cents at a thrift store. The chips will go to the kids as damage counters and I can keep the disks as page accents. The extras will be used to make birthday cards and such. ~Lucinda

She Digs Craigslist
Two years ago, we moved from a city in the desert to the gulf coast, and I have been enjoying gardening. To cut down on the cost, I have been digging up people's unwanted plants (posted on Freecycle or Craigslist). Many people do not enjoy gardening or move somewhere and don't like what was planted. I have more than enough of new-to-me plants and can share the extras with neighbors and hurricane-damaged co-workers. ~Robin C.

Remember Your Chemistry
I live in a town that has water containing alkali and other minerals. Consequently, things become clogged quite easily. The latest gadget in my home to succumb was the spray hose on my kitchen sink. Remembering that alkali may be dissolved with an acid solution, I poured myself a cup of vinegar and submerged the entire plastic head of the flexible hose in the vinegar and left it over night. Upon testing the spray the next morning, I found that it was as good as new! I didn't have to put in a new spray nozzle! ~Karla in Kingman, AZ

A Frugal Touch-Up
Like most frugal women, I have a basic black sheath dress that I have dressed up over the years with necklaces, scarves, pins, or a light jacket. It has served me well! However, I noticed that the black zipper "pull or handle" paint was chipping and looked very worn. Replacing the long back zipper was out of the question, so I went to the store and purchased a bottle of black finger nail polish. By applying very carefully and letting it dry completely, it made the small "zipper pull" look new again! This worked so well that I have used it for numerous items that have a small knick or white mark that makes the item look worn or tacky! One bottle should last a decade, and I will keep it in a handy place for quick touch-ups! ~B from MN

Stop the Money Arguments
We have managed the past two years with three accounts: Ours, His, and Hers. Equal dollar amounts are routinely transferred from "Ours" to "His" and "Hers" for discretionary spending, which includes dining out costs. Since we made the change, our bank account has savings in it for the first time in a decade, and we still generally get what we want, but certainly there are times when we weigh the choices out more than we would have before. It took me a while to convince my spouse that this was a good idea. We have more control over our habits and spending, and we only consult with each other on "big ticket" items. You can avoid confrontation and feelings of frustration over money already spent and focus your energies on future decisions instead. ~KJD

Off to College
When sending kids off to college, don't spend a fortune on all brand new stuff! Do you currently have a spare set of sheets that are the same size as the dorm bed? Send those along instead of buying new ones. Are there mismatched towels that still have lots of life in them? Off to college they go. Odd man out drinking glasses, silverware, etc. make great college equipment. Much of the gear at college lives a hard life so there's no point in making a large investment in it. Send along hand-me-downs and save the money to spend on things that are more important like textbooks or a laptop. Plus, my mom joked that after raising a kid to the age that they were off to college, she deserved to have the new towels. ~Michele

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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