The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman
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Dollar Stretcher Tips - August 26, 2010
When you have leftover pasta and sauce, put in a microwavable container and freeze it in individual portions. It's ready to go on those nights that you don't want to cook. Thaw in fridge during the day or just take a little longer to cook frozen. ~T.
Recycling Electric Toothbrushes
When my electric toothbrush starts to wear down and I need to toss it, I don't! I keep it in the laundry room and use it to remove soil and spots on clothing. First, I apply spot remover to the area that needs cleaning. Then I use my electric toothbrush to work the spray in. It works every time! I also use it to clean the outside of my shoes. ~D.
Handy Burger Patties
To make quick and uniform hamburger or sausage patties, I use two piece jar lids. I use regular size for smaller patties and wide mouth for larger ones. Just dampen both pieces and fill with ground meat, turn over, and push meat out with the insert. ~Virginia M. in Clarion, PA
Renewed Sofa Cushions
In order to continue using my two living room sofas after the seat cushions had lost their support, I bought five-inch depth foam at my local sewing store to make new cushions. I feel like I have new sofas! I got all this for less than $50 in foam with 50% off coupons from the sewing store! Be sure to measure current cushions before going so you can purchase exactly the amount you need, and recycle any top padding from the old cushions to provide contouring as needed. ~R.
A Children's Wish List
Teach children to make a wish list. It is a writing exercise that they will actually want to do. Don't wait until Christmas but do it every few weeks. This also helps them realize how many things they want. Discuss prioritization. What is more important? Why is it more important? Why did they change their mind of what is desired in this list versus the last list? Then review the list together before going shopping, letting them edit it before going. They will learn that deferred purchases sometimes result in deciding not to buy something. ~Tamara W. in Bedford, TX
Fresh Organic Herbs
This year I have been buying fresh organic vegetables and herbs from a local farm. In May, I bought a nice bunch of fresh basil for $1. Instead of wrapping it in paper towels and putting it in the refrigerator to store, I stuck the bunch in a small vase of water and set it in my north facing kitchen window. Now, months later, that bunch of basil is still green with plenty of leaves for plucking off and adding to salads, pizza, pasta sauce, etc. The stems took root in the water and I could have planted them outside, but with the hot temperatures we have had, they probably would have fried. That's a lot of mileage out of one small bunch of fresh basil! ~Teresa R. in Burlington, North Carolina
Car Rental Savings
We recently took a cross-country trip to San Francisco. One big issue was a rental car. We are a family of five. Vans are much more expensive than cars ($800 versus $250 a week), so we decided to rent a car and pack lighter and do laundry there. We also saved by not getting the rental car at the airport. There is an extra $100 to $200 charge to rent from an airport! But no one tells you that. So, we ended up getting a rental car from our hotel, returned the rental car there, and took a shuttle to the airport. This saved us a lot of money. Also, we used Enterprise so they came to the hotel and picked up my husband when it was time to get the car. Also, you avoid airport car rental lines! ~Patricia C. in Vienna, Virginia
Save $60 On Lunch This Month
I work with 20 others in our unit at the local hospital. Typically a lunch costs an employee about $5 to $6. Multiply that times 20 and each day our unit spends $100 to $120! And each person spends $100 to $120 per month! We established a schedule of lunch "ladies." We each take turns at providing a lunch, inclusive of bottled waters. I now spend about $40 on my assigned lunch day (to feed 20 people) and I receive a month's worth of lunches in return, saving at least $60 each month! It's worked out really great! ~O.
Powerful Plant Additives
A long time ago, I remember my father emptying his coffee grounds into a planter right next to our back door. He mixed them into the dirt. We had the largest papayas in the neighborhood as well as the fattest earthworms. Everything we planted in the planter grew fantastically large and fast. Acquiring that much coffee grounds takes time unless you drink a lot of coffee. I found out our local Starbucks has started a "go green" program where they will give away their coffee grounds if you ask. I have now received about 20 pounds of grounds. You can also try your local bakery for eggshells. We leave an empty container with a lid and pick it up about once a week. They add nutrients to the soil, and best of all, they are free. ~Ken T. in Kailua, HI
Saving Dish Soap
I have a tip about saving on dish soap that I accidentally discovered. At a dollar store, I purchased a glass bottle for salad oil. I put dish soap in it to dress up my sink area. It looks nice and it fits in with my colored bottle collection in my windowsill. The spout on the oil bottle releases a small stream of soap. I can't squeeze the bottle to squirt out soap. Since I'm impatient, I end up using a lot less soap. The water is less soapy, making rinsing much easier and less wasteful. The dishes are just as clean! Before I bought the bottle, I was going through two to three bottles a month with careless squirting! Now, I can go almost two months with just one bottle! ~Nicole B.
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