The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman
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Dollar Stretcher Tips - May 13, 2010
Degreasing Range Filters
Probably the easiest way to degrease a range hood filter is to use oven cleaner spray. Just spray the filter and leave it overnight to soak in a tray or on old newspapers. Afterwards, just rinse and place it in the dishwasher. ~Julian
It's time to set gardens again. One tip that I tell friends is to recycle used water or soda bottles by cutting off the bottom and using it as a funnel in the garden. As I set out my tomato plants (this is also good for other plants as well), I place a "funnel" in the hole too. When I need to water (we usually have a drought during summer), it goes directly to the roots. I use a lot less water, and I am not watering any weeds. ~Mary R.
Stretching Restaurant Meals
You can get more from restaurant carry out. You can easily expand the portion (and thus decrease the cost per portion) by either adding additional ingredients to your carry out dish or by using the sauce in the dish to make another dish. For example, if I'm ordering a Chinese chicken dish, I can easily cook and add some additional chicken breast to the dish to expand the portion size for a relatively low cost. Or if I finish the dish but there's still sauce left, I can use that sauce and add it to some separate chicken breast that I can cook up. It'll almost taste like the original carry out. Also, if you're eating at the restaurant, consider taking home any leftover sauce to make a new dish at home! ~D.
Don't Spill the Leftovers
I find there is no need to buy the more expensive zipper bags that have a flat bottom. I put my regular bag into an iced tea pitcher and fold the top over the edge of the pitcher. Therefore, the bag sits upright and has a large opening in which to add my sauce, cooked veggies, etc. When filled, the bag easily lifts right out. After zipping it closed, it's ready for the freezer. No mess! ~Naomi from Kentucky
Work for Moms
Contact the elementary school where your child or children are enrolled and ask when the photographer will be there to take school pictures. Obtain the contact information for the photographer. Call and ask if they need help the day the pictures are taken. You can assist the photographer by keeping the children in line, helping the children exit, and directing the children to come in for a picture. Some photographers welcome this help and others may decline. A friend of mine did this and the photographer gave her the package of school pictures of her children for her help! ~Charlotte L. in Belton, TX
I planned to renew my computer virus protection plan, but this year the company sent me a notice that it had been automatically renewed with the credit card information on file. I did not give permission for automatic renewal, and I also remembered having trouble getting a person over the phone for past difficulties, so I almost let it go. I persisted over the phone, however, and told the company to cancel my plan because of this unethical practice. They apologized, which meant nothing to me. But then they offered me a 50% discount, which meant everything to me. I accepted happily. It pays to complain when something is not done ethically. ~Gerry
When planting seeds, it is difficult to water and not wash the seeds away, especially those tiny seeds whose instructions call for planting at 1/4 or 1/8 inch depth. I finally remembered the old days when my mom used a unique bottle top to dampen clothing before ironing and developed a great and thrifty solution to my seedlings' watering needs! I recycled a 1/2-gallon juice bottle and speared several small holes (5-6) through the plastic lid. Then, using the lid, I water with a gentle stream that does not dislodge soil or seeds. This method works well when starting seeds indoors. You can easily use the same concept with a gallon-size bottle for outdoor gardening. ~Linda McC in Denver, CO
Cheaper Space Saver Bags
You can create your own space saver bags. Buy a box of heavy-duty plastic lawn trash bags or heavy duty fifty-gallon drum liners. These are typically about $15 for a box of one hundred at wholesale clubs. Place your neatly folded items in the bag, add a bay leaf to repel bugs (you can find these in the baking section of most food stores) and then tie off the end with a plastic zip tie (the kind you have to cut to open). Make sure it's tied off very tightly. Then use your vacuum cleaner hose or dirt devil hose to suck out the extra air through the opening. No matter how tight you tie off the bag, air will still come out. The bag will shrink down, and the opening will tighten. Plus, the heat from the vacuum cleaner will melt the opening of the bag, sealing it from air and bugs. ~Kathy O.
Drug Company Websites
Thankfully, my family has good health insurance, but we also take several prescription drugs each for asthma, etc. that we use on a daily basis. We use generics when possible and ask the doctor for samples, but we still end up with name brand prescriptions each month. Some drug companies place coupons on their website to help defray the costs. Many prescriptions are free the first month with a savings each month after that. It pays to look at (the name of the drug).com. ~Carole B.
Affordable Wedding Gowns
Regarding how to save money on a wedding gown, I think spending $100 for a used wedding dress at a thrift store costs too much and sometimes the dress looks dated. My wedding dress cost $19 at JCPenney (in 2007). I went to the prom dress section of a major department store and found a floor length dress that was marked down several times. It was in great shape. It fit perfectly and needed no alterations. I have a friend who bought her wedding dress for under $100 in the prom dress section of Bergdorf Goodman that was also marked down several times. Her dress also fit perfectly and needed no alterations or fixes. ~Caroline
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