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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - April 22, 2010

Depression Cooking
I have just discovered some great tutorials on how to stretch your grocery dollar. On, 94-year-old Clara gives cooking lessons of meals from the Depression. Search for "Great Depression Cooking." It's a treat! ~Geraldine K

Easy and Free Plant Watering
When we had a window air conditioner on the front of our house, I noticed that the water that dripped from the condenser was slowly staining the concrete below. So I just scooted one of my pots of flowers under the drip to catch that water. The flowers were happy with the easily absorbed slow drip, and my porch was dry. On hot, humid days, it dripped so much that I switched out the flowerpots so they didn't get too much water. I didn't even have to catch the water in a bucket and carry it elsewhere to water my plants. It was easy and free, which is my favorite kind of idea! ~Emilie

Carpet Deodorizer Stretcher
I find that even the carpet deodorizer that I get at my local dollar store is too strongly scented for my taste. I poked holes in the top of a large plastic jar and poured in a one-pound box of baking soda and a quarter cup of carpet deodorizer. Shook it up and put it in the cupboard overnight. Now I always extend it this way and always have a jar in the cupboard ready to go. Sprinkle, let sit about 10 minutes and vacuum. I'm not overpowered by the scent and, since I get my baking soda at least at two for a dollar, neither is my wallet. But, my carpets and rooms still smell great. ~Donna

Once-a-Week Grilling
Once the weather breaks, I BBQ outside once a week. I put the frozen meat in the fridge to defrost on Thursday, and on Saturday morning, I cook for the week. This helps me get dinner on the table faster once we get home so my family can spend more time outside during the week. ~Ericka

Stinky Clothes
My DH has a dirty job and destroys clothes with oil, diesel, and other fluids that stain and stink. To keep from having to purchase new clothes for him to destroy, I wash his dirty clothes in hot water with 1 cup of lemon ammonia, 1/2 cup of orange GoJoŽ hand cleaner, 1 cap full of fabric softener, and my usual detergent. Then I let them soak in the hot water for a few hours in this mixture. They come out smelling better, looking better and helping my pocketbook by not having to keep replacing his old work clothes. ~Michelle

Looking for Paint?
Whenever I go to the hardware store, I always inspect the "mistint" paint section. This section has cans in a variety of sizes, textures, and styles that were returned or did not come out as the customer wanted. They run about $5 to $10 a gallon in my area, even for high-end brands like ValsparŽ. You can use them for any number of purposes, like painting a single room, furniture, crafts or even mixing with another color you have leftover. ~Heidi

My Meal Plan
Although I've mastered the "shopping only once a month plan," I still wander around the house worried, not knowing what to make for this meal or that potluck. One day I piled all of my recipe books and papers together and made a list of all of the meals that I make well. I am now going to make each meal on a rotating basis. I have my list hanging on my fridge and I know what to make every day now. No more worries! I can go to the store and know exactly what I need for each month. I know exactly what I'll use every 22 days and can stock up when prices are low. Each week I also try out a new recipe. When I find something fabulous, I add it to my list. ~Trina Z-B

Keeping Track
I am working hard on not losing money through mindless spending. To do so, every time I choose to not spend money on something I do not need, I write it down. At the end of the month, I transfer that money from my checking account to a savings account, which is set up to save for bigger things that I both want and need. Seeing that money grow and thinking about the impact of a larger purchase makes giving up those smaller purchases enjoyable! ~Rona H.

Ladies' Night
Recently, I have been looking for painless ways to cut my already meager budget. A favorite thing that I needed to eliminate was my manicure at a nail salon that I indulged in twice a month. Now, instead of plunking down that $50 every month, we have "Ladies Night." A few close friends and I gather at one another's house on a rotating basis. We each bring our manicure tools, favorite nail polish, hair color if that is part of the week's plan and anything else we need to "get the job done." All the guests bring a snack item, such as cheese dip and chips, fudge, veggie plate, etc. The "hostess" provides the beverages and a lovely setting for our night. We polish each other's nails, color hair, share news, and laugh a lot. My nails never looked better. I am saving almost the entire $50 monthly and having a lot of fun doing it. ~Marsha

Save Gas
With the price of gas, I was looking for a cheaper way to get to work. I looked into riding the bus, but because I work and live in two different counties, it would be a three-hour commute each way! So I checked out the Internet for ideas and came across I put in my information like what town I live in, where I work, when I need to be there, and if I want to share in the driving. The website then matched me up with other people looking for a carpool with similar starting points, destinations, and times. You can then email the people on the list to see if you would be a good match. If this website doesn't cover your area, maybe another one out there will. This is a great way of saving gas, money, and wear and tear on your car. ~Kimba

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 2010 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.


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