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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - August 13, 2009

My Peaceful Corner
Clean out a corner of a room and add a chair, small table and lamp. When stressed, add a cup of tea, a good book and relax in your new corner. ~Paula C.

Buy Milk on Sale
I hesitated to freeze milk until I searched on the web and found that it can be done. So now I buy milk on sale, pour a little out of the jug (for headroom), and freeze it. It defrosts perfectly well by sitting in the sink for about six hours. I shake it occasionally to help it defrost. While it's still got some ice crystals in it, I put it in the fridge. Before every use, I shake the carton really good (I use whole milk) and I guarantee no one can tell it's been frozen. ~Deb C.

Restore Don't Replace
I have been giving my belongings a second look to see if I can make them better instead of buying new. For $9, I bought a furniture restoring product that I rubbed into an older table. The table, though a great, sturdy piece of furniture, looked old and dry and had some minor scratches and water marks on it. This product doesn't require sanding, so it was an easy fix. I was amazed how rich the wood looked after! The scratches were covered, too. I have enough left over to do several other pieces as well. ~Cathy R.

Extra Tomatoes?
If you have more tomatoes than you can use, here is something you might consider doing. Remove the green stem on top of all of your excess tomatoes and cut out the green core right underneath. Turn the tomato over and make a shallow "X" cut on the bottom. Now bag in proper freezer bags and store in your freezer. When you are in need of tomatoes for a special recipe, remove how many you think you will need from the freezer. Thaw or defrost in the microwave. The cut you made in the bottom of the tomato will now make it easy to peel the skin off before using. ~Linda D.

Going to College . . . for Entertainment
If you are looking for something inexpensive to do this summer and live near a college, you are in luck. Our family went to visit our local college the other day. We discovered that they had a pond. For 25 cents, we bought fish food for the turtles and fish. The library had a kite display and viewing room of the robotic book retrieval system. Walking about campus, we discovered a small sculpture garden, a performing arts center and an art gallery. Colleges also offer sporting events at a fraction of the cost of a professional event. The daily parking pass was only $5, but we were lucky and found free parking on the street. It was a great adventure and educational, too. ~Shawn V.

Once a Month Splurge
Even a recovering shopaholic can enjoy some serious luxury once in awhile. I get my shopping satisfaction by filling a cart at the local Goodwill or Salvation Army once a month. I limit myself to items that are on sale at these stores. That usually means certain tags are half off. Some days these stores have everything in the store as half off. I usually keep a budget of under $25, which is about the price of one item of clothing new at a retail store. Last time I went out, I came home with three bags of goodies! The best part is when I get compliments on the stuff I buy, knowing that I paid a fraction of what I could have paid. Plus, it really helps to know that the money from these stores is for a good cause. ~JH in Cleveland

A Touch of the Best
There are so many beautiful yarns available of luxurious natural fibers, and many are hand-painted. While I would love to knit a whole sweater or afghan of these fantastic yarns, the cost would be far too great. Instead, I buy one or two skeins (which can be found substantially marked down because they are all that is left of a dye lot), and knit a neck scarf, shrug, hat, fingerless gloves, etc. For little money, I can enjoy creating and working with gorgeous fiber, and have a great, one-of-a-kind designer-quality accessory to wear or give as a gift. ~Karla T.

Keeping Cukes Fresh Longer
I love the long, "seedless" cucumbers because I don't like the big seeds in regular ones. However, this kind of cucumber is large and expensive and it always goes bad before I can use it all. I hate to waste that much money. I've discovered a simple way to keep the cucumber fresh much, much longer. I peel and slice the whole cucumber and place the slices in a plastic container that has a sealing lid. I put a paper towel or a paper napkin on the bottom and another one on top of the slices and close the container with the lid. The paper towels/napkins absorb the extra moisture that seems to make the cucumbers rot so quickly. The taste is great, and I can keep the cucumber slices "fresh" for a week if necessary, maybe longer! ~L

Testing New Recipes
My daughter-in-law was moaning recently about not being able to go out to dinner. Her repertoire of recipes was limited. Taking a page from Julia Child, I asked her why she didn't try new things. She responded that she was afraid that she'd mess up and ruin the food! Aha! I offered to make the new dish and she could reciprocate to me by making a dish she knows how to make (since I am an experienced cook and nobody ever died from what I've made). So twice a month we cook for each other. I've made the dish she wanted to try and now I can "teach" her how to make it correctly. This has worked like a charm and now my dear daughter-in-law is no longer "afraid." I encourage new cooks (and some old ones) to learn new recipes and cook at home. It has more nutrition, more flavor, and you'll know "who cooked it." Trading off an evening twice a month allows us to connect, learn to work together, and save money on a luxury we both enjoy. ~LynAnne

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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