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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - September 9, 2010

Use outdated maps as wrapping paper. This is especially great for guys' presents. ~Kerry H.

Check First
Rather than being charged for using Coinstar® to count your coins, check with your bank or credit union. My credit union has a coin machine in the lobby and there is no charge for using it as long as you have an account. ~Phyllis C.

Preventing a Plumbing Problem
One of my favorite money-saving tips is to use a crochet hook to stick down sink drains to pull out hair. It works equally well on shower or bathtub drains. This is particularly effective if you have someone with long hair that is shampooing her hair several times a week. It works best to twist it and pull. ~Mary Jane F.

Auto Air Filters
We purchase our own auto air filters and cabin air filters at discount stores and replace them ourselves. If the auto dealership or repair shop replaces these items, you, the consumer, will pay cost plus a hefty markup and labor to do so. We purchase our filters at a chain discount store for about $6.44 each and save a lot of money replacing them ourselves. ~Denise O. in Beemer, NE

DIY Coupons
Recently, I have been identifying brands of food that we use most often that I rarely find coupons for. Mostly these include organic or earth-friendly products that also don't often go on sale. I made a list, took it to the computer, looked up each company website, located their "contact us" link, and sent them all an e-mail complementing them on their product and asking if they would mail me a coupon. All of them responded to my e-mail and I have received several coupons in the mail as a result of my e-mails. One company even sent me a coupon for one free product from their brand. It was well worth my time and effort. ~Eve C.

Selling a Few Shares
I had a brokerage account and decided to transfer my shares back to the company to start a DRIP account, which would save on brokerage fees. After the transfer, there we some half shares that didn't transfer, and I was stuck with about $40 in half shares that would have cost me more in transaction fees to sell than the shares were worth. I went to a search engine, typed in the name of the company, and "promotion," and up came codes for free trades! I was able to submit four promotion codes, sell the half shares, and get the $40 without having to shell out more money! ~Natalie B. in Phoenix, AZ

The Opening Act
When I was growing up, jars of applesauce, pickles, jams, sauces and dressings seemed to live forever in our fridge and go hideously bad. Not one of us could ever remember opening these jars. I decided this would never happen in my fridge, so every time I open a jar of something, I write on the label in permanent marker "Opened" with the date, including the year! This way, when I look in the fridge, I can see when something has outstayed its welcome and there are no yucky surprises. ~DeAnne T. in Wentzville, MO

Expecting Company?
A week or so before expected company arrives, cook up a roast, cool and wrap it tightly in foil, and freeze. Freeze the juices separate. The eve before a sightseeing or visiting day, take the roast and juices out of the freezer and place them in the fridge. When you get home, make a gravy with the juices while veggies are warming and the roast is gently heating in the microwave or oven. Add a salad and you have a wonderful, easy meal for all! ~Carol L. in Germfask, MI

Great Community Resource
I just wanted to remind everyone of a great resource in communities. Many may already know of this resource, but there may be some readers who don't. The local Extension Service offers a lot of information on food preparation, including low cost meals, budgeting, and food preservation. Last night, our local office had a class on water bath canning, which is extremely easy to do once you know the basics. The pressure canning class is tomorrow night. Participants learn to can so that the food is safe to eat and taste is preserved. As the summer winds down, canning jars, lids, and rings will be going on sale, and many farmers' markets will be lowering prices to get rid of surplus fruit and veggies. Look in the government listings in your phone book to find your local office. If you can't find "Extension Office" in the listings, contact the 4-H office and ask them for the number. ~Constance B.

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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