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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - September 3, 2009

DIY Used Motor Oil Disposal
Most auto part stores are required by state and/or federal law to collect used motor oil from DIYers. This takes a lot of the hassle out of doing your own oil changes. ~Bob in Ohio

Quicker Shopping Trips
While making your shopping list, go the extra step and break the store into sections, such as produce, frozen food, canned food and meat. Then just add each item under that section. That way you are not backtracking through the store. ~Autumn in Montrose, CO

The Advantages of Un-Decorating
Instead of decorating, I am un-decorating and removing every item I no longer need, want or have to dust. It's liberating to have a clean, non-cluttered home. I wish that I hadn't collected all this stuff in the first place. My photos are either being thrown away or labeled and then put into categorized photo boxes. ~Grannie Annie in Suffern, NY

Just You and Me
One night, my spouse brought home some gourmet cocoa mix and two small jar candles that were on sale. "Date night!" he said. The total cost was about $5, and made for a nice "date night." We also watched a movie from Netflix. In our area, where it is often cold and rainy most of the year, things like this make a cozy atmosphere. ~MKJ in WA

Beware Budget Billing Plans
Recently a friend sold his home and bought another. This friend used the budget billing for his natural gas bill. When he called the gas company to get his final bill amount for the home he sold, it was over $800! He sold his home when he owed more money than he had in "escrow" for the heating season. So in order to finalize his account, he had to come up with $800. I know people won't hold off buying or selling a home based on this, but it is something to be aware of. ~Kathy

Fruit Fly Control
This is the perfect solution for eliminating fruit flies. It cleared them out in a couple of hours. Take a shallow, large soup/salad bowl and fill with soapy water. Then fill a smaller container with a sweet vinegar or sweet wine to place in the center of the larger bowl. I used apple cider vinegar and the flies loved the smell and either drowned in the soapy bubbles (which they couldn't resist) or dove into the sweet vinegar. No more flies! ~Debra

Easy Way to Meal Planning
I tried for years to get organized about meal preparation, but nothing ever seemed to last. I knew that to save time and money (and my sanity) I needed to plan our meals, but never seemed to find time to do it. Then I realized that I am planning my meals, only at the last minute and one meal at a time. So I started writing down what I served every night (hot dogs with chips, stroganoff with noodles, lasagna and salad, etc.). After three weeks, I reviewed my list and came up with a meal plan. It took a little fine tuning (too many days of spaghetti), but I was amazed! ~Kathey in Georgia

Make-Up for Cheap
With the holidays coming on too fast, I thought I would share something that I do every year. After Christmas when everything is being reduced half off or more, I buy the gift boxes of make-up. These usually have a lot of eye shadow, lipstick, finger nail polish, blush, mascara, eye brow pencils and eye liners. This usually lasts me for the whole year and I even give away the ones that I don't like to someone else. It sure saves me a lot of money throughout the year. ~Eileen C.

What Are Friends For?
Get friendly with your consignment shop owner. It pays! As a diehard secondhand shopper, I discovered this accidentally while getting to know my consignment owner as a friend as well as a business owner. Once we knew one another well, the shop owner knew my tastes and my hard-to-fit sizes. When things came in which seemed likely choices for me, she would set them aside for me. She was willing to deal on prices because she knew me as a frequent customer. I didn't buy on every visit, but I looked often because inventory changes frequently. The shop owner would give honest opinions as to how I looked in different things, too. In the meantime, I found a new friend, and that's the real bargain. ~LRR

Finding Affordable Canning Jars
I was shocked when I looked online for canning jars and accessories. I purchased a case of 12 pint jars at my local supermarket for $7.16. The best prices I saw online were K-Mart and Ace Hardware, which were still a dollar higher and shipping was not included. I purchased a basic canning bath with a rack for $20 at the farm supply store. The same thing was up to three times higher online! Check your local suppliers and compare prices before assuming online is better. Don't forget that you can reuse or buy jars at yard sales and thrift stores, too. You just have to make sure they don't have any chips or cracks. You always have to buy new lids anyway. Make sure that rings aren't rusted, or buy new ones. Also, if you save jars that candles came in, make sure that they are safe for canning. There are some that are safe, and some that aren't. ~Charlen C.

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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