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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - October 22, 2009

Trick or Treat!
I took one of the round, plastic jack-o-lantern candy buckets, put it on top of one of my fence posts, and put a tealight inside. It lit up the orange bucket so it was glowing and bright orange. It was easy for kids to see and know it was a house they should come to for trick or treating! The bucket is reusable every year. And it only cost $3! ~MKJ in Mountlake Terrace, WA

Deep Clean Your Hair
A bit of baking soda added to shampoo helps take hair spray out of the hair. Yep, just plain baking soda. This saves on shampoo and doesn't require so much scrubbing. It's easier on your hair and your pocketbook. ~Judi B. in Ozark, MO

DIY Cookbook
Instead of buying expensive cookbooks and only using a few recipes from them, I find recipes for what I want to cook on the Internet and print them out for free. I have put together my own cookbook in a binder and keep the recipes in plastic sleeves for easy cleanup. ~Stephanie

Handy, Inexpensive Landscape Borders
Shingles make an easy and nice looking border. Just overlap them so water will run off. I have some that I put under bricks that I used to build rings around trees and the shingles have been lying on the ground for 8+ years and still look fine. You can buy "broken bundles" at about a 50% discount and pick a color close to the color of the dirt so they are very unnoticeable. And you can drive the lawnmower right up onto them, so they have eliminated the need to trim weeds. ~Debbie Z.

Winter Auto Ice Control
I keep a spray bottle with a mixture of winter windshield washer solvent (the blue stuff) and white vinegar mixed 50/50 in my car. When I park it for the night, I give a quick spray to the outside of the windows and the mirrors. In the morning, there is no frost on them and ice does not usually stick if we get freezing rain during the night. If you get some on your paint, it does not hurt it. ~Paul D. in Amsterdam, NY

Grind Your Own Flour
We have a small coffee bean grinder, and it grinds oats quite nicely. Quick oats are cheap, and we grind them into flour that we use to make cookies. We can't tell the difference! ~Tracy J.

Troublesome Auto Windows
Before replacing car window motors, use spray silicone lubricant and apply a generous amount to the window tracks. I have a 1990 Olds that could barely roll up the power windows. I thought it needed new window motors. After spraying the silicone in the window tracks, they've worked like new for almost two years now. ~Rob

Non-Slip Coat Hangers
I almost spent a good amount of money to purchase non-slip hangers, but then I came across a rubber band ball that my husband made from all the rubber bands we've accumulated. I got the idea to wind a rubber band around either end of some of my hangers. Now, I've got non-slip hangers for the bargain price of free! They really work! ~Gel

A Gift from Mom
A simple idea that I used for a gift happens to be my daughter's favorite gift of all time. It was a recipe book with hand-written recipes in it from her childhood. I also wrote a little story after each recipe, reminding her of a time when we enjoyed that particular food in the recipe. It brought tears to her eyes. ~Eileen in PA

Prettier Packages
To me, this is the epitome of cheap, but I never buy new tissue paper to use with gift wrapping for birthdays or holidays. I always reuse what I get in my own family's gifts. That printed tissue can be expensive, so why buy it? I just iron it! I smooth the wrinkles from each sheet and stack them in a pile (any with holes or tears are used for packing items that need to be mailed). After I'm done ironing any clothes, I just run the iron over my stack of tissue paper. I do about ten or so sheets and turn the whole stack over and do the other side. They may not look totally fresh out of the package, but I get one more use out of them, which helps my wallet and our environment. I use a medium setting, and this has never harmed my iron, or transferred any color from the tissue to my clothes. ~A.M. in Springfield, MO

Hot Chocolate at Home
My kids love the creamy hot chocolate at McDonald's. However, the price tag (over $10) is pretty steep with four kids. We've tried many of the box hot cocoa mixes and even tried making our own from milk, cocoa powder and vanilla, but they were never quite the same taste. Recently, we discovered using store bought chocolate milk and warming it slowly in a saucepan. There's nothing extra to mix, and it's really creamy. We add a spoonful of whipped topping and even drizzle on a little chocolate syrup. It's delicious. Our local convenience store sells three half gallons for $3, so it's really a good deal! We stumbled across this idea when we needed to use up some chocolate milk a day or two past the expiration date. Now I don't think we'll use anything else for hot chocolate! ~Jody A.

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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