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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - February 25, 2010

Handy Celery
When I buy celery, I immediately chop it up, separate it, and put it into snack size bags. It's ready, washed and edible. I do the same with carrots and fruits that can be cut up and put in baggies. ~Lynne

School Rings
When my oldest graduated, I couldn't afford the class ring from school. Everything (engraving, mascot, athletic symbol, etc.) was extra, and it was way too much. Walmart has class rings also. Even with everything she really wanted added to the ring, it was about a quarter of the price, so we were all happy. She got exactly what she wanted and I didn't have to pay a fortune! ~Sharon T.

Outdoor Wash Up
Spring gardening is on the way, and along with it, we'll have dirty hands. I take an old "knee-hi" stocking, put in a bar of soap, and tie the stocking to my outside/hose water faucet. This allows us to wash up before we come in and saves cleaning up a messy sink. I keep it there all summer long as it is especially helpful when the kids need to wash their hands before coming in for lunch. ~Alice

Extra Frozen Veggies
When I use frozen vegetables from a bag for dinner, I save a small portion in the bag in one spot in the freezer. It's usually too much for the two of us to finish the whole bag anyway. Then when I make soup, I have small amounts of different frozen vegetables ready to add to my soup. A small amount of different vegetables adds color and nutrition to all kinds of soups. ~Judy W.

Controlling Spending
I liked the idea of the reloadable gift card for spending money. I have done that with what I call my "clothing allowance." Being an avid clothing shopper, too much sometimes, I budget for the clothing I may want through whatever percentage that works for me. I put that on the reloadable card. When the clothing allowance is gone, it's gone until next time. I may load for a season's worth or a year's worth. This way I can get a garment anytime from the Internet, store or a catalogue. It goes on this budgeted gift card. This works for me! And I don't feel like I've overspent. And I'm not guilty of bringing something new home without thinking about it first. It doesn't interrupt any other "needs" with "wants." ~C in South Carolina

Fabric Remnants
I have many leftover cotton fabric remnants I've hung onto, thinking I'll someday use them for another quilt or craft project. A few weeks ago, it dawned on me that I could use some of those fabric pieces to make cloth napkins for everyday use at home. If they are for everyday use, it doesn't matter if they are exactly square or the same size. So now I have 12 new cloth napkins in a variety of colors and designs. Very fun! It's good for the environment to use fewer paper napkins. Also, I save money not purchasing paper napkins, and I feel good about making something useful out of fabric that I've had lying around gathering dust. ~Kristen A. in La Crosse, WI

Lipstick Stretcher
Using a medicine container that is for the days of the week, take your old tubes of lipstick, dig out the last bits of lipstick, and put into each compartment. In the last compartment, put Vaseline®. Use a lipstick brush and you can make new colors by combining the colors or just use them as they are. This makes a great lipstick palette. ~Claudia

Worn Out Socks
Rather than discarding unmated or worn out socks, I cut them down the front to within three inches of the toe and then slip them on my Swiffer®. After giving them a spray of Endust®, I use them to mop the hardwood floor. The stretchiness of the socks makes them easy to put on the Swiffer® head, and the cut sides of the socks are easily stuffed into the appropriate holders. After each use, I remove the sock and put it in the laundry. ~Norma

Rice at the Ready
We love to eat healthy brown rice, but it takes longer to cook than white rice and there are times that we need a meal quickly! Individual "heat and eat" servings of brown rice are over $2 for just two servings! We now make a big batch of brown rice in the rice cooker and freeze individual servings in freezer bags. They reheat quickly and are much cheaper than the store bought. Quick and easy meets healthy! ~Audrey A.

Before You Replace the Water Heater
Just today I saved $650 on a new hot water heater! My hot water heater gave out last week so I thought I was going to have to spring for a new one. However, a quick trip to my local hardware store proved otherwise. I explained that my hot water heater wasn't making the water hot any more. The fellow at the store explained how hot water heaters are nothing more than a thermostat and two heating coils in a tank. I asked him if he sold the heater elements and he said, "Sure do." We proceeded to the plumbing aisle where there was an array of hot water heater coils. I went home, turned the breaker off (VERY important) to the hot water heater and went to work. With the help of my neighbor, we drained the tank using the faucet at the bottom of the heater. It had a hose fitting on it so we just drained it using a garden hose into a kitchen pot. After we got as much water out as we could, we unscrewed the heating elements, and they were fried! What caused the problem was a build up of scale in the base of the heater. We then hooked up a tube to a shop vacuum hose (using duct tape around the seal) and removed almost all of the scale at the base of the hot water heater through the heating element hole. After a quick trip back to the hardware store for the right heating elements (Total cost: $26!), we were on our way. We put in the new heater elements and turned the breaker back on. We got the most wonderful hot water for $26! ~Terri B.

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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