The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman
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Dollar Stretcher Tips - February 4, 2010
Kitty Litter Bags
Instead of using the kitty bags in the litter box that are about $4 for six bags, I get a box of 13-gallon garbage bags that has 20 bags for the same cost as the kitty bags. They work great! ~F. B.
Dry Winter Air
One thing that helps with our extraordinarily dry Minnesota winter air is a fish tank. The kids received a tank for Christmas and it seems to have helped with our humidity, so we're looking to get another one. This serves a dual purpose. It gives the family an inexpensive pet and it improves our air quality! ~Jenn
Whipped Cream Cheese
My son loves whipped cream cheese, but since it is often more expensive than the bar style, I have now started whipping my own. I add a little bit of milk and whip it with the mixer to get it soft and fluffy. He thinks it's great, and I save a little bit of money for just a few minutes of time on my part. ~Rebecca G.
Reducing Refrigerator Running Costs
For those in colder climates, try freezing some water in empty milk jugs (or other beverage containers) overnight outside and then stick those frozen containers in your refrigerator. The cold from the frozen water will help your refrigerator stay cold and run more efficiently since there will be less empty space! ~Darrell M. in Severna Park, MD
The Office Coffee Maker
I've asked my coworkers to save our used coffee grounds in the empty plastic coffee containers the coffee comes in. Then I take the used grounds home in the plastic coffee "cans" and dump the grounds in my compost pile, rinse the grounds out, and pour that water on my hydrangeas. ~Janice C.
Selling Used Toys
If you hold an annual garage sale or sell your kids' toys at a consignment store, try to save the original toy boxes. So many toys are great for a short while and then become a bore for my kids (and just one more thing for me to dust and clean up!) so I store many of the boxes. I have found that I can price items four times higher at garage sales, and definitely get a much higher trade price at the consignment store when I present the toy in the original box. Try it! ~Jennifer in Rio del Mar, California
Recycling Old Cell Phones
Instead of discarding an old cell phone, turn it into your alarm clock and or timer. Mine is on my bedroom nightstand where it doesn't take up any room! It never fails (unless it runs out of power). I just leave it plugged in most of the time. This way I can take power naps and know with certainty that it will work. It's also handy in the kitchen as a timer and is much louder than the stove timer. It's put to good use on the work bench/studio table in the garage too. ~Donna N.
Free Books on Tape
I just discovered that our public library will check out "books on tape" online! What a great deal! The books are downloaded to my computer (after downloading security software) and I can listen to them from there. When the "book" is due, it automatically deletes from my computer, so there is never a late fee. Also with some titles, I can either burn to a disc or download to my MP3 player. I can then listen at my leisure, which is great for car trips or waiting for appointments. ~Darrella in Sparks, NV
I work in Manhattan and lunch around here can cost anywhere from $10 to $15 per day! Five of my coworkers and I came up with a system where we take turns bringing in lunch for each other one day a week. On a Monday, we may have pasta with a cheap homemade sauce (under $5 when tomato and pasta are on sale). On Tuesday, it may be vegetable soup with everything that's on the verge of going bad in our refrigerator drawers. This allows us to have more money in our pockets and more time to do fun family things at home. The added bonus is that we get to taste different cooking styles from people with different backgrounds. ~Jenna
What's Your Setting?
My washer has four timer settings, including 3, 6, 9 and 12 minutes. We used the 12-minute setting for years. As we've looked for more ways to save, we decided to use the shorter settings. We now wash on the 6-minute setting, saving on electricity. As a bonus, the wash gets done in half the time! And, yes, our clothes are just as clean. ~Babette in Colorado
Early Start on Spring Garden
We live in an apartment-style condominium with a sunny balcony and we decided to grow a bunch of herbs and vegetables this year to save money. Instead of buying pots at $2 to $3 each, I asked my coworkers to bring in their empty gallon milk jugs and two-liter bottles that I could cut in half. We also planted seeds early to avoid the high cost of transplants. I was surprised, however, to see that one big bag of quality potting soil with compost was $6, so I did some research and found a local supplier who sells a pound of red wiggler worms for $15. I shredded some newspaper and then added non-meat and non-dairy food waste, and the worms are turning the trash into new soil for free! They don't take up much room either. We live in a one-bedroom apartment and they're in our kitchen in an old container. No more expensive bags of dirt and we're helping the environment at the same time! ~James in Colorado
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