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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - June 17, 2010

Kids Chores
I put together a booklet using a small photo album and 4x6 index cards. Each card went in a plastic sleeve of the album and gave step-by-step instructions for a particular chore. It seemed to be easier for the kids to break it down this way, rather than just have me say "clean the bathroom." After a while, the instructions were not needed, but they are still there for quick reference. ~Cindy M.

Affordable "Fancy" Cereals
We like the granola and fruit type cereals, but they are too pricey for a lower fixed income. Usually we eat a cheap generic toasted oat cereal, corn flakes, etc. However, once in a while, we buy a box of the fruit and nut brand cereal and then also two other boxes of generic plain cereal, such as banana nut or cinnamon fiber. We mix all three boxes in a large plastic container and then add small bits of chopped nuts or dried fruit left from other recipes. This makes a good, nutritious meal with a reasonable cost per serving. This is our little luxury sometimes. ~Jeanne

Learn from Your Trash
I learned how to save more money by just "checking my own garbage" each week. I was amazed at the products I had overbought, didn't like, couldn't use before they spoiled, etc. The items included food, personal products, and clothes. It also was a great reminder of the cost of carryout foods from fast food/regular restaurants. ~Sheila F. in Vardaman, MS

Instead of Baggies
Even the cheapest sandwich bag is pretty expensive. We've reverted to wrapping our sandwiches, chunks of cheese, and even veggie strips in plastic wrap when reusable containers aren't feasible. Perhaps you're saving only two or three cents per bag, but on a daily basis, this really adds up. ~Bev C.

Roach Kill
A method of killing roaches is to mix equal parts cornstarch and plaster of Paris and then leave it out (in plastic lids under dressers, etc.). They eat the mixture because of the sugar in the cornstarch and the plaster hardens, killing them. My family lived in Brazil for many years and this stuff worked miracles on reducing the roach population. Remember to be careful where you put the lids if you have small children or pets in the house. ~KW

Cheaper Ladies Shoes
As an adult woman with "regular" sized feet, I was surprised and excited to discover that girl shoe sizes exceed the size of my foot. This is good news because girls' shoes cost significantly less than women's shoes. For example, I went to REI to buy a particular pair of shoes. The adult sizes cost $90. The girls' sizes were $50. I wear a women's size 7, and the selection of girls' shoes go larger than my foot size. As long as I'm happy with the colors offered in the girls' sizes, I get a really good deal! ~Connie C. in Bellingham, WA

What Can You Re-Purpose?
We have been cleaning and fixing up the house. The kitchen needed new curtains and luckily I didn't get around to giving the bedroom curtains away as I had planned. I reworked those curtains and they made great looking curtains and valances in the kitchen. They actually look much better in the kitchen than they ever did in the bedroom. I also took two of the kitchen curtains and made them to fit a window in a door. I had very little waste and all it cost me was time and energy. ~Sheila B.

A Simpler Wardrobe
Almost a year ago, I made a change to my wardrobe that yielded unexpected benefits. I began wearing only black clothing. I'd read an interview with a celebrity who said that she had begun doing that very thing to simplify her life. The more I thought about the idea, the more I liked it. With my husband's blessing, I stored every "non-black" piece of clothing I owned (in case I changed my mind) and began wearing only black. I had several long sleeved and short sleeved shirts, two skirts and several pairs of slacks and jeans. Not only did it free up time getting ready for work, but also it took my focus off "fashion" (I was never very fashion-conscious to begin with) and onto more important matters. I shop at thrift stores anyway and it has become a fun challenge to see if I can find an item to supplement my wardrobe. If I begin to have too many items, I simplify again. My motto now is "less is more." I have gained time, money, space, fun and peace of mind with this decision. ~Jari S. in Mason City, Iowa

Coupon Reminder
I enjoy looking through ads for items that are essentially free once you consider you earn a checkout coupon (a popular concept with drug stores in particular). For example, I may buy a body wash on sale for $3.99 and receive a coupon at the checkout counter for $4 off my next purchase. It makes me even happier when I have a manufacturer's coupon that results in me making money on a purchase! Well, I found myself frustrated whenever I would let a checkout coupon expire because it is like expired money. To help solve this problem, I began entering calendar reminders on my cell phone before I placed the checkout coupon in my coupon box. I usually set the reminder to the Sunday before the coupon expires, so I can be sure to use it during my next shopping trip for maximum savings. ~Alan 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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