The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman
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Dollar Stretcher Tips - December 10, 2009
Buying Bulk Baking Soda
We use a lot of baking soda as I do laundry with it due to allergies and clean with it as well. I buy it in 50-pound bags at a "country store" for about $12. I'd like to hear about cheaper sources for white vinegar! ~Lucinda
Instead of buying pet beds, which are expensive, I buy large pillows for my dogs to lay on. I have gotten some very nice, nearly new ones at local thrift shops for 50 cents each. They look cute on the floor and the dogs love how thick they are. ~Heidi
Suits Me Fine!
When shopping at the thrift store or consignment shop, don't forget to look at the two-piece or even three-piece suits. I often find the kind of short-fitted blazer I like, but usually the skirts are too short for me and I don't wear pants. I can re-donate the parts of the outfit that don't work for me and still have spent far less money than retail. The suits are often expensive brands and are still in near-perfect condition, having only been worn in an office setting. ~Kathleen
Cat Litter Odors
I've had trouble in the past with my cats not liking the scent of odor controlling cat litter. Instead of buying this expensive litter now, I make my own. I buy the store brand (which is generally the least expensive) and mix baking soda into it. I put about a half a box of baking soda in each time, so the cost is minimal. This really helps control the odor, and the cats are fine with it. ~Jacki
Ready Winter Wear
I bought laundry bags that are white and zip. They have a loop on them. I hang a bag on each hanger with our winter coats. I place the scarf and gloves and earmuffs that belong with that coat inside. When it is time to wear the coat, we have all the extras there. We no longer have to hunt for the missing glove. This works for each member of the family. ~Nancy G. in Missouri
Why Buy Croutons?
Never throw away stale bread again! Before it gets moldy, put it in the freezer. Then when you have enough, slice it and stack it up on a cutting board. Slather the top side of each slice with butter and then sprinkle with garlic powder. Slice the stack into cubes, put them in single layer in a low-sided pan, and bake at 300 degrees F. Stir every 15 minutes until they are browned and crisp-tender. Cool and store in airtight container in the fridge or pantry. These make great croutons for salads and soups! ~Alene
Dollar Store Dents
I recently stumbled upon my local Dollar General's "dented and discounted" rack in the back corner of the store. I had to sort through several items to get to what I could use (everything was just tossed in one on top of the other). I found a three-pack of undershirts for my son that had been opened but the contents were not disturbed, an 11-pack of match boxes (that used to be a 12-pack), and two cans of green beans. Everything on the rack was half price due to packages being open or small items missing. In the case of the vegetable cans, they were dented but not leaking or bulging. For a family such as mine on an extremely tight budget, savings such as these are a great find! I now check this rack for new items every time I am in this store. ~Amy from Kentucky
This hint is actually from my late mother-in-law. She never owned a dishwasher so this was a big deal to her and now is to me. Instead of using a cookie sheet to bake frozen biscuits, roast marshmallows, or reheat pizza, etc., use a doubled sheet of foil! Tear off the appropriate size, fold in half, and spray with a cooking spray to prevent sticking. The cooking time will be reduced, and there's no clean up! It will save energy, water, washing soap, and time! Her motto was "Why use a pan when a piece of foil will do?" ~Carol
Ground Meat Magic
My best tip is to get the butcher to grind up the meat for you. Get what is on special and have it trimmed to your specifications. You'll get better meat for a better price, and it's fresher! By the way, around the holidays when turkey gets real cheap, they can grind this up for you as well. I buy it and make up patties. They are easier to use and defrost this way. Don't forget that pork is also excellent this way. I even make a few meat loaves and freeze them in large Reynolds oven bags, which always go on sale this time of year. I then pop them out of the pans and put them in another plastic bag until needed for better protection in the freezer. I often put the meat loaf in the oven frozen. This is an easy and economical meal in the hectic holiday season! You can also use basically the same mixture with some Italian seasonings and make meatballs. I put them on a cookie sheet, freeze them, and use them as needed. Sometimes I cook them ahead, depending on my needs. Other times I leave them uncooked. They make a great meal and even an easy snack. ~CS
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