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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - April 29, 2010

Fly Away
To get rid of flies in a room, fill a resealable bag about half full of water and place it by the door. I don't know why, but it sure keeps the flies away. We have been doing it for years. ~Mike F.

Storing Quilts
I have several large quilts that are difficult to store. Instead of finding closet space, I bought enough black inexpensive fabric to make large pillow covers. I made decorative square covers and the three large pillows sit on a twin bed, making it feel more like a day bed/sofa. Now I have extra closet space and a comfortable backing on the bed. Plus, I know exactly where to find a blanket when it's too cold. ~Judie R.

Overripe Fruit
Once those bananas turn brown and the pear is too soft for good eating, I peel them and break or cut them into one-inch size chunks. I plop them in a baggy and lay the baggy flat in the freezer. When I want a cold dessert, I plop a half or full cup of these chunks in the blender with some water or milk. They make a great healthy snack for kids, and if you add a little yogurt, honey, sugar, and/or chocolate chips, it makes a great dessert. I have also cut up cooked squash and froze it on a cookie sheet, so that the chunks don't stick together. Then I bag it and add a bit to my smoothies when I make it for some extra vitamins and carbohydrates. ~Sue

Low Mileage Discount
I drive much less than the national average, under 7500 miles a year. Not only do I save a lot of money on maintenance and gasoline, but also my insurance company charges me about $200 less per year for coverage, even at rather high limits. It's worth checking to see if yours does the same. ~Barbara

Window Washers
When I wash our windows, which I'll admit doesn't happen often enough, I always crumple up newspapers from the recycling bin and use those instead of paper towels or rags. Just use your regular window cleaner and wipe clean with the wad of newspaper. There are no streaks or lint left behind, unlike with paper towels or rags, and I can save my paper towels for other uses. ~Stephanie O.

Deadbolt Safety
Be careful of double-keyed deadbolts. As a licensed foster home, we are not allowed to have these locks on our doors due to the risk of getting locked in during a fire. If you are going to use double-keyed deadbolts, be sure the key is in the inside door lock as long as people are in the house. In times of emergency, people panic and forget where the key is stored or don't have time to get the key and unlock the door in order to escape. This is a time when security and safety can clash. ~Liz G.

Grow Your Own
I used to throw away the root end of my store bought onions. Now I plant them, roots down, in a planter or a flowerbed. I keep the transplant moist until the stems break the top of the ground. Then I tend as I would regular plants. Most of the time, the roots will sprout a new onion or two. I just love free onions. ~Cathy H.

Downsized Trashcan
Many municipalities give the option of downsizing trashcans and paying a much smaller waste disposal fee. The recycle bin usually stays the same size, and our city even gave us a free compost bin! We keep a resealable gallon-sized bag in the freezer, and we put our compost in it. Since there are only two of us, we only have to empty the bag every few days into the compost bin. There are never any flies or smells because the compost is frozen, and when we put it in the bin, it breaks down much faster. Also, remember that paper towels and napkins can also be composted, as long as there is not too much grease/oil on them. Downsizing the trash bin helps save the planet and saves us $10 a month on waste disposal fees. As an added bonus, we are making compost for the garden. ~ Tracie

Max Garden Veggie, Minimum Garden Space
Using the square foot gardening method instead of a regular large garden yields more vegetables and takes much less time, space and water. In short, this organic gardening method uses raised beds with only a 6" depth of a compost/peat moss/vermiculite mixture. The plants are planted close together with a prescribed number of plants in each square foot. The garden is tended from the outside, so no soil is compressed. All the space is used for production. I learned everything I needed to know online and did not ever buy a book (though you can check your library). I found websites that had economical suggestions, such as using an old bed frame or bookshelf for the raised bed box. I spent a total of $45 for vermiculate and peat moss to fill three 4'x4' beds. This will feed my family of vegetable eaters all summer and the vermiculite and peat moss will last me for many years. My only yearly cost is seeds. ~Kristel W.

Aaahh!! Bath Products
I love all the wonderful bath products that are on the market, but I can't afford them in today's economy. So instead of doing without, I make my own. Most of them are really simple and have few ingredients. I went to a large bath store and read the ingredients on the back of the bottles and jars and recreated them in my kitchen. By purchasing an essential oil from the same store, I had the fragrance that I needed and just worked to put it in the different products. For scented lotion, buy the cheapest store brand lotion and add a few drops of essential oil to the bottle. For scented oil, buy the cheapest baby oil and do the same. For sugar scrub, add 2/3 cup of granulated sugar to 1/4 to 1/3 cup baby oil, add a few drops of essential oil, and you have a homemade sugar scrub. Bath salts are usually made from an equal mixture of different sized salts like Epsom's salt, kosher salt, and table salt. Then add essential oil, and you have scented bath salts. ~Leanne C.

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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