The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman
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Dollar Stretcher Tips - February 11, 2010
Stuck in the Snow
I carry a couple of cardboard boxes (folded flat) in my vehicle to provide traction if I get stuck in a winter snowstorm. A couple of newspapers folded in half are another alternative that works amazingly well. ~Diana C.
Personalized Greeting Cards
Everyone sends greeting cards, but they are so expensive. Some of the new popular cards have old-fashioned black and white images on them. Acquire old photographs from grandma or mom and do some scanning. Print them out yourself at home or at a print center and paste them onto card stock. Your family and friends will love them. My family has enjoyed cards with photos of them from even 10 years ago. If you're real creative, you can add unique backgrounds or borders to the photographs before you print them. These cards are more likely to be framed than tossed out later. ~Lori Lee B.
Affordable Kitchen Countertops
Our countertops were old and stained, but we could not spend the money to have new ones put in. I brushed primer on them and then spray-painted them with American Accents Stone Creations paint, although any similar paint would work. You can see what the colors will look like on the lid. I used about 2 1/2 cans and then protected the countertops with several thin layers of polyurethane. Everyone thinks that we have installed new countertops! This was a quick fix without much expense. ~Carolyn H.
A Landlord's Cleaning Advice
As a landlord, I occasionally need to clean really grubby tubs and showers when prepping for the next tenant. I buy the cheapest hair shampoo I can find. Greasy hair formula works best. I just coat the surface with a thin film and let it sit for a couple of hours. It usually cleans everything off with minimum effort and expense. ~John in Ohio
Free Ponytail Holders
I was buying ponytail holders every time I went to the store. They would break after one or two uses, and it was getting very expensive. I decided to use an elastic band from the top of a pair of knee-highs. Not only does it work, but they also stay in while sleeping. I have suntan and nude and they match my hair pretty good. They can be used for a long time. I have been giving them to friends that have extremely thick hair and one friend has used hers for a couple of months so far. You can actually buy knee-highs in all different colors to match your hair or wardrobe. I have not had to buy pony tail holders in six months. ~ Pamela B.
The Secret Word for Shopping Channel Spending
I enjoy watching the shopping channels on television, but I found I was spending too much. I chose a secret phrase that would help me to not buy the item for at least 24 hours. My phrase is "must have." Anytime a show host says that the item is a "must have," I know it is not. Usually by the time 24 hours rolls around, my enthusiasm has cooled or the item sells out. ~A reader in Scottsdale
I Bought It But
Sometimes it is easy to forget to return an item that you did not need. I find it helpful to save my receipts in a monthly 12-section divider, so I can find it to return an item. Most stores accept returns for only a short time, so I file my monthly receipts and then look two or three months earlier to see if there is a large item that I have purchased and thrown in the back of my closet. It is helpful as I may have forgotten, and when I find the receipt and the item, I put them together in a grocery bag or tape the receipt to the item. It is like found money! ~Diane
Just My Size
I had been doing this trick for about two years. Now is the time of year the clothing sales are huge! Most of what is left is small sizes or big sizes or something marked with the wrong size. I size up and then take it home to alter it myself. I bought a lovely elastic waist skirt this season in a much larger size. I came home and shortened the elastic and removed a little fabric at the seam. Not only did I find a "designer" item on sale, but also it is now "tailored" to be the proper fit for me. ~Cindy in South Carolina
Cheaper Eye Glasses
Try buying glasses online for a fraction of the cost. I paid less than $15 each for my children's glasses with clip on sunglasses. I have done this several times and have not had any problems out of the ordinary. I just take them to a local shop that repairs glasses if they need to be adjusted or if they lose screws or nose pieces. They usually do any repairs for $5 or less. Since my children's prescriptions change every year, I can order a whole new set of glasses and not worry about the cost. I have also ordered bifocals for myself from them. They were under $40, but this may not be for everyone as they just automatically cut the bifocal at a certain point on the frame and there is no personalized fitting. My optometrist advised me not to order bifocals online, as there is very little room for error. In addition to your prescription, all you need is a PD or Pupillary Distance. Unfortunately most optometrists leave this measurement off from your prescription, but you can measure this yourself. Mine was happy to write my PD on the prescription when I asked for it. ~VS
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