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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - April 1, 2010

New Artwork
Ever get tired of looking at the same old art pieces in your home? Get some friends together and see if you can trade paintings, photographs or statues. It will be like giving everyone's home a facelift, and it won't cost anyone a dime. You can set the rules however you want. Either make the trades permanent or stipulate a length of time for a loan. ~Mimi H.

Fertilizer Power
Water-soluble fertilizers may be great for a quick feed for your annuals, but for trees, shrubs, perennials and vegetables, use organic. Water-soluble fertilizers leach out of the ground within a few days, so to provide a consistent source of food for your plants, you have to fertilize every two weeks! Organic fertilizer stays in the ground for when your plants need it, so you only have to fertilize every six to eight weeks. Also, if you over-fertilize with water-soluble fertilizers, they can leave salt deposits behind and your plants may get salt burn. Organic fertilizer may be a little more expensive to start with, but it lasts longer and is better for your plants and the environment. ~Corynne

Floor Marks
The absolute best "scouring powder" I have ever found for removing shoe marks plus many other kinds of marks on floors is baking soda, straight from the box. Just moisten the floor with a damp rag, sprinkle a light coat of baking soda on the mark, and then rub again with your damp rag. I have used baking soda safely and very effectively on our vinyl floors and on laminate. It never scratches, and it is amazing what it removes. In fact, the only thing I came across that it didn't completely remove was some tracked in asphalt. ~Karen R. in Indiana

Packing for a Move
I am almost at the end of moving to a new apartment. Before I began, I bought about 15 big (18 gallon) plastic bins on sale for about $2 each. I then packed all my goods in them and put an 8" by 10" label on the top telling where they belong (kitchen, living room, etc.). I put a round or two of clear packing tape around them to make sure they were secure. They were sturdy and didn't fall apart. They protected what was inside a lot better than boxes and were easier for the movers to stack and then bring in, cutting down on my moving cost time. When I am done unpacking, I will have bins that stack together for easy storage of out-of-season clothing, memorabilia, etc. ~Patricia S.

Professional Carpet Cleaning Trick
A friend who knows a professional carpet cleaner was given this tip. Put weights on your rug shampooer. It helps it suck up more water. If you get more water out, you'll also get more dirt out of the carpet. I don't lift weights so I tested this theory by just leaning on the intake container of my shampooer while I moved it forward. I could hear a whole lot more water being sucked in, and it made a big difference in how close to dry my carpet was versus when I just let it do its own thing. ~Bonnie

Leftover Wraps
A delicious and frugal way of using up your leftovers is wrapping them up in tortillas and turning them into burritos/wraps. I often have some leftover rice, beans, veggies and meats in my fridge. I mix them all up, add some sour cream, salsa and shredded cheese and use the mixture as the filling for the wraps. You can use a variety of leftovers. Your imagination is the limit. ~Krys in WA

Get Unplugged!
Unplug the television, computer, chargers, and anything else that is not essential. In one month, we saved nearly 20-25% in electric by unplugging our items when not in use. Unplugging power packs seems to save us the most energy. Most electrical items in your household still draw electric to be in standby mode. There is a reason your TV has a little red light on when it is plugged in. If you cannot reach the plug, consider using power strips with on/off switches and reset buttons. These work just as well. Not only will this save electricity, but also down here in Georgia where we get nasty electrical storms, it protects our electronics. If they are not plugged in, they cannot get fried by that surge of electric into your house when your house gets struck by lightning. If they are plugged in, you have the added benefit of the surge protector. ~Garett B.

Free Weed Block
Here's a tip I learned from a friend who is a farmer. Use cardboard boxes as weed block. Simply cut along one side seam of the box to make a large, flat piece of corrugated cardboard "weed block." The bigger the box (think appliance carton), the faster you can cover the area you wish to protect against weeds. Cardboard is also easy to trim with large scissors if you require a curved or otherwise neat edge. Many gardeners use newspaper as a weed block, but corrugated cardboard is easier to handle, covers a large area faster, is easy to trim, and does not have all that potentially polluting ink in it. Plus, it's less "stuff" you have to haul to the recycling center! ~Cynthia in Wakefield, Rhode Island

Water Rings
I have never seen this tip in print. For years, I have tried all the remedies for white rings on furniture with no luck. I've tried mayonnaise, toothpaste, lemon oil, emery boards, etc. We have a maple dresser that has been in my husband's family for years. It has a wonderful finish but has these large white moisture marks on the top and even white marks on the sides close to the floor that I imagine were caused when having the carpets cleaned. I don't remember this, but my sister says that our mother solved this problem by heating the iron to the hottest setting, placing a towel, pillowcase or diaper over the mark, and then ironing the area until the mark disappeared. I tried it, and it's magic! I had to wait 62 years for them to share this hint with me! ~DeeDee in Yucaipa, CA

Want to live better on the money you already make? Visit www.stretcher.com/r/99.htm to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar! Copyright 2010 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

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