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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - July 1, 2010

Too Much!
Coping with too much to do in too little time? Keeping a journal can help. It is more than a to do list. It is a focus on your past, present and future and assessing your choices. In addition, the physical act of writing can be helpful just to reflect. A journal can be a private source of planning or you can share your thoughts with others. After a while, you will see what themes emerge in your life and find ways to better cope with life's challenging changes. ~Constance G.

This Day Is Free
When we go on a vacation, we always plan for one day that will be totally free! For example, if we go to Chicago, we take a trip to the beach, eat a picnic lunch on the beach, and then go to the zoo, making a free and full day. If we have more time, we might walk around Chicago. You can search for free places to visit online before your trip. ~Donna W. in Indiana

DIY Microwave Popcorn
Place 2/3 cup of popcorn kernels in a brown paper lunch sack. Fold over the edge to close and pop in microwave for about three minutes (or hit the popcorn button). After it's popped, you can spritz the popcorn with flavored olive oil (using those $1 travel spray bottles) and dust with salt. ~Angela

Cooking Together
My son and I have given up our cable TV programming. In the evenings, we work together to prepare dinner instead of watching TV, which also offers me help in the kitchen, time with my son and teaches him the life skill of cooking. He loves to pick out the dinner recipe. He even has his own cookbooks for kids! Spending this time together is far more worthwhile than sitting in front of the TV, watching shows with questionable values. ~Chris

Extra Thick Yogurt
We use Greek-style (extra thick) yogurt for dips, frozen yogurt, and just as a dessert with fresh fruit and honey drizzled over it, but it gets expensive to buy. You can easily make this at home from plain yogurt. Line a colander with a coffee filter and place it in a bowl. Dump the yogurt onto the filter, cover, and put in the fridge for about six hours or overnight. That's it! You get thick Greek-style yogurt for a fraction of the cost of the product in the store. ~Alice

Recycling My Clothes
I watch clothing items as I am doing the wash. When I see something that needs mending, I place it in a pile in my bedroom. I may include a sock that has a hole starting, a t-shirt that has a hole under the arm, etc. When I have time, I get my sewing kit out and go to work. I may only have time to sew one or two items at that moment, but I seem to keep the pile to a minimum. The kids are always happy when they see their item has arrived back in their closet and is ready to wear again. Also, my "sewing kit" is all of my sewing items in a cheap plastic tool box that I picked up at a local dime store. It was under $10, and it has a tray in the top to hold all of my thread and small items. Everything else is under the tray. I save snaps, buttons, etc. and it all goes in the toolbox. My mother and grandmother did the same, and it always worked for them as well. ~T.

On Your Way
My tip is a very simple one, but it works, especially when you can get your whole family to buy into it. I have a problem with clutter in my house. There are shoes left here, socks there, backpacks and whatnot everywhere. So I've instituted a rule that whenever you go upstairs to the second floor or downstairs to the basement, you never go empty-handed. Always take something with you that's out of place. It helps! ~Karen H. in Chicago, IL

Cheap Movie Nights
Do you still have a VHS? Do you like frugal forms of entertainment? People who have already upgraded to DVDs are selling their former VHS tapes for very cheap on Craig's List. I buy them for no more than $1 each (sometimes for 50 cents or 75 cents) and then we have not only a fun movie to watch at home but we have it forever! And, if you really want to be frugal, you could sell them back on Craig's List to another person and make your original money back. ~Maura H.

Free Landscaping
When as new, young parents, we became homeowners, too, there was very little money to spend on our long neglected yard. I ran a free ad in the local newspaper offering to divide bulbs for free for "half the take." I asked for cuttings of anything and everything. Before I was through, I had free nandinas, tiger lilies, daylilies, daffodils, forsythia, and japonica. I received cuttings for roses and wisteria. Often, elderly ladies answered the ads that were unable to do the "extra" yard work like dividing bulbs and trimming shrubbery. They were delighted that I did the labor, and they got an attractive and updated yard. They often sent me away with armloads of cuttings of everything they had on their place. Take everything that you will need to do the work. I once needed a chain to fasten a huge nandina to my car just to get it out of the ground. Remember to plan ahead. ~MMS

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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