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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - May 27, 2010

Protection While Painting
Save old window shades for small painting jobs. Open them to use as a barrier when painting. They can be rolled up and stored in a small place when dry and then reused when needed. Secure with a rubber band. ~Judy S. in Picayune, MS

Enjoying the Market
My husband and I love to go to a large farmer's market in a nearby city. We walk around the square, admiring the flowers, getting exercise and fresh air, and watching people. As a bonus, we get to buy fresh, organic produce and bakery items from interesting people at prices that beat the local grocery stores. ~Grace K.

Phone Book Weed Mat
I tear off the front and back covers of my old phone books and rip the book into approximately 1/4-inch sections. I then place the sections in my garden, put a little dirt on top so they won't blow away, and cover them with old straw used the previous winter in my dog's doghouse. This works great between rows in the garden for keeping weeds down. Several layers of newspaper works well, too. ~Helen B. in Belle Plaine, MN

Protect Boys' Pants
My son goes through pants at an amazing rate. After he wore through the knees on several pairs after only wearing them a couple times, I decided I had to do something. I've found that sewing or ironing knee patches on the inside of the jeans or pants before they get holes will extend their life dramatically. Initially, I was concerned the patches would rub my son's knees, but he says that he doesn't even feel them. Since I've started doing this, he actually outgrows his pants! ~Karen G. in Haymarket, VA

Hotel Parking
Hotel valet parking is becoming increasingly expensive. It's $65 per day or more in some areas. If you're at a conference or business meeting, this can really add up fast. When making your hotel reservation, ask for the names of parking garages nearby. It costs $20 for three nights in a parking garage right across the street from a luxury hotel near the ballpark in San Diego. And you know where you car is, which is not always the case with valet parking. ~Archie

8 Days a Week
If you normally grocery shop every week, try spending your normal budgeted amount for food, but try to last eight days until the next shopping trip. Shop and spend the budgeted amount for food and try to last until eight days instead of seven again. In two weeks, you have saved two days on food. In seven weeks, you should be able to save one whole week's grocery money. Using this tip, in a year, you should save over seven weeks of food budget! In my house, seven weeks at $80 per week will save me $560 per year. ~Janet M. in Brant Rock, MA

Free Garden Seeds
Warm weather brings with it a desire to plant vegetable gardens and flowers. For many of the fruits and vegetables that I grow, I do not use store bought seeds. Instead, I use the seeds directly from freshly bought produce. Just about any seeds can be used. I use potato eyes, pepper seeds, jalapeno seeds, squash seeds, etc. I just planted apple seeds, so hopefully in a few years, I will have an apple tree. Just remove the seeds before you cook/eat your fresh produce. Wash them and place them on a towel to dry. In a day or two, they are ready to plant! The best part is that it's free! ~Mandy S. in Wisconsin

Instead of Pumpkin
I love pumpkin bread, cake, and muffins. As you know, there is a shortage of canned pumpkin in the grocery stores this year. I was desperate and wanted to make some pumpkin muffins. I decided that I would try blending cooked sweet potatoes and substituting them for the pumpkin. I also added more pumpkin pie spice to the recipe. The results were amazing. My grandkids didn't even notice the difference. I may keep using the sweet potatoes. They are cheaper. ~Kim

Looking for Part-Time Work?
A few years ago, I was attempting to make a living at selling real estate in rural Virginia. I did fairly well, but because I was an independent contractor, I didn't have any health insurance benefits. My husband was sick, and I had two preschoolers. I took a job driving a school bus in order to get health insurance benefits. The benefits package was phenomenal. My cost for a family plan with medical and dental was about $550 per month. I made a per diem as a bus driver, so it wasn't an hourly rate, but $45 per day at 4.5 hours equals $10 per hour. If you figure 19 school days per month, I didn't have much left over after they took out for health insurance, but it was worth it. The school district I worked for was so desperate for drivers that mothers were permitted to take their small children (including those in car seats) with them on the bus. The bus garage installed seat belts for my kids when I was driving a bus that didn't have any seat belts. I didn't have to pay for childcare while driving because my two little ones went with me. I didn't have a CDL (Commercial Drivers License) when they hired me, so they trained me. I still have my CDL, and I've made good use of it after leaving Virginia. I'm grateful for the experience I gained and for the kids that I got to know and love. It's an experience I wouldn't trade for anything. ~Linda B.

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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