The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman
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Dollar Stretcher Tips - January 28, 2010
Protect Your Data
Whenever you use any of your credit cards or cards with personal information in public, hold them with all your information covered until the cashier needs them. Should you lay them down face up, the people around you can take your information by taking a picture with their cell phones. A neighbor learned this the hard way. ~Janelle
Got a splinter? Before you start poking around with a needle and tweezers, try removing it with regular white glue! Spread the glue over the injury and/or splinter and let it dry. Then peel it off to pull the splinter out! ~Arlene in Raleigh, NC
Save the Bananas
Bananas stay brown spot free much longer when you separate them from the bunch. Separating them stops the chain reaction of all your bananas getting mushy at once. I have some bananas right now in my kitchen (separated) that are a week and a half old, and only have a few small spots on them. ~Sarah L.
Entryway Wind Barrier
Using a tension rod, I hung a bedsheet between our entryway and living room. What an improvement! The temperature differential is at least fifteen degrees between the entry and the living room. We no longer watch our heating dollars fly out the door. ~M.
Dry Goods Storage
Keeping dry goods like rice, flour and sugar fresh is easier by using empty metal coffee cans. The labels on the brand I purchase come off easily. I just write the name of the contents on the lid and on the side with a permanent marker. They stack easier in the pantry and keep out ants or any other invaders. ~Shawna P. in Barberton, OH
Affordable Fine Dining
I appreciated your article on saving money at restaurants. Another tip is to try eating out at a local culinary school. My local culinary school at Northampton (Pennsylvania) Community College offers an amazing, five-course gourmet dinner for $30 per person. You can bring your own alcohol, which is fabulous also. They also offer lunch. ~Rachael I. in Phillipsburg, NJ
Time to Negotiate
I recently called my alarm company. I am a long-time customer. I asked for a monthly discount. I was currently paying $24.95 monthly. I was told that they could lower my monthly payment to $19.95 if I signed a three-year contract. I told them that I wanted a $15 monthly charge, and I would be happy to sign a five-year contract. I have been with them for fifteen years. She put me on hold to talk to her supervisor and came back with a $16.95 monthly bill with the month of February free and I would have to sign a five-year contract. I agreed. Now is the time to negotiate your current monthly charges at places that are competing for your business. This is a savings of $8 per month or $96 per year to put into savings. And all I had to do was ask. ~Dominick in Metairie, LA
If you mail order items, often companies will enclose postage-paid labels to send back merchandise. If you are not going to use the labels, hold on to them as they make great lint removers for coats and clothes. I find this label tip to be great as it allows one to accomplish one of the three R's, Reuse, before throwing the labels into the garbage. ~Rachael I. in Phillipsburg, NJ
Coupons at the Ready
How many times have you been out and about and realized you had a money-saving coupon for that particular store or restaurant but left it at home? I solved that problem by keeping a two-pocket folder between the front seats of my car filled with coupons. Every Sunday, while cutting grocery coupons, I might come across a coupon for a restaurant or store. I cut these out and put them in my car folder. One side of the folder is for restaurants and the other side is for stores. It's always in the car so I never forget a coupon while shopping or dining! And, if I'm in the car waiting to pick up my kids at school and sports activities, I use that time to go through my folder and weed out expired coupons. It's a great system that works for me! ~June C.
I came home from running errands today to find my dog limping. He was clearly in considerable pain. I had no idea why. I knew the vet visit would be at least $55, but I couldn't see "waiting it out" a day or so with him unable to move comfortably. The vet saw us right away, and after a thorough check, he determined that my dog had strained his neck. They prescribed an anti-inflammatory for pain ($17) and a muscle relaxer ($29). They told me that he needed to rest and that he'd likely be fine. I asked the vet if I truly needed both medications. He said that I could just go with the anti-inflammatory for pain. I paid the $72 vet bill and took my pet home. I could always come back for the muscle relaxer, but for now, I had saved $29. Once home, I decided to compare my new prescription with the two others that I still had left from a previous trip to the vet. Guess what? I already had the very same medication. I called the vet to confirm it. However, the vet can't (rightfully so) allow patients to return medication. So I quickly wrote out a list of the six kinds of medications/ointments/ear solution I already have for my dog (along with the expiration date, dose and quantity left) on an index card and put it in the glove box of my car. Next time (though I hope there won't be one), I will consult this list before I purchase medications for him! Doing so would have saved me another $17! ~JR
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