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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - September 23, 2010

No Cart Shopping
When I go into any store for just a couple of items, I do not automatically get a cart or a hand basket. My theory is that if I only get what I can carry, then the impulse purchases will be greatly reduced! So far, it has worked great! ~JB

A Better Drawer Liner
I use wallpaper that I buy at dollar stores and thrift shops to line kitchen cabinets and drawers all over the house. All vinyl paper is great because if anything spills under the sink, for example, you can usually wipe it up before it soaks the wood cabinet. It's thicker, looks prettier, and lasts much longer than drawer lining paper. It can be washed off, vacuumed or scrubbed if necessary when you are doing deep cleanings. I often find cushioned cupboard liners at the dollar store as well. These are good for cabinet shelves that hold glasses and dishes. ~Barbara in CT

Appropriate Gifts for Kids
For Christmas, my husband and I give our nieces and nephews books that we find at used book stores like Half Price Books and thrift stores. We look for classics appropriate to their age level that are in like-new condition. Not only is it an inexpensive way to go, but we are happy to be giving them an educational gift that won't wear out with next year's fads. Our nieces and nephews and their parents love them! ~K.

Body Slimmer Bargain
Body slimmers and shapers like Spanx® can cost over $50 each. What woman wouldn't like a little help getting a flat tummy or trimmer hips? Try a one-piece bathing suit instead. Just buy it in a size or two smaller than you usually wear and it works the same as expensive slimming garments. As long as you clean it well, second hand swimwear should be fine too. ~Heidi in New Orleans

My Car Payment
The simplest way to have the money to buy a new car is to have a separate account for car payments. When buying one's first car, a person normally makes payments. When the payments are complete, simply continue to make payments to an account specific to purchasing the next car. When there is enough money in the account, purchase your car interest free. Always have a car account and never buy a car until you are able to afford the purchase price in full. ~M.

Free Ice Packs
You can make a reusable ice pack by mixing one part rubbing alcohol to two parts water and placing the mixture into a zipper top bag. I recommend double bagging to avoid leakage. The alcohol keeps the water from freezing. Use with a towel or cloth between the pack and the body part to be treated to protect the skin from a "burn." You can make these any size you like. They are very economical. ~Jeanette T. in Stilwell, KS

Green Pepper Solution
Now is the season that we get a bunch of green peppers. The easiest and fastest way I know of to freeze them is this method. Rinse off the whole peppers and place them whole in a resealable bag. Before sealing the bag, with your hand, just crush them all down, adding more if there is room. Then just seal and put in the freezer. They don't freeze together. When you need a piece, just take out what you need, rinse it a little with water, and slice it up. It's very easy! ~H.

Dryer Volley
A lot of people that I know buy dryer balls, and they cost around $5. I buy a package of three tennis balls, and they work great. The clothes dry faster. Plus, they don't have a lot of wrinkles. The balls cost a little over a dollar. ~Teresa

Custom Gift Wrapping Paper
My three-year-old daughter is starting to attend more birthday parties now that she is in preschool. Instead of buying expensive wrapping paper, she makes her own for no cost at all. If you go to a local newspaper, you will find that they give away the end rolls of paper. It is the same width if not wider than your standard wrapping paper roll. We make a big deal that she gets to decorate the wrapping paper with markers, crayons, etc. You can have your child decorate the paper for any occasion and the paper also works for other arts and craft activities like painting. Those painting pads can cost $10 and last not even a month if your little one likes to paint a lot. ~Nora T. in Aspen, CO

Just for Lunch
We have a shelf in our refrigerator that is just for lunches. This contains leftovers from dinner, yogurt, applesauce, cottage cheese, cut up and bagged fruit (whole fruit is in a bowl on the counter) and veggies, fruit juice and V8 (buy large bottles and put into reusable drink containers), or anything else we like for lunch. In the morning, grab your lunch box/bag, drop in the Blue Ice freezer pack, and then grab anything from that shelf. You could end up with leftover spaghetti and meatballs, yogurt, and a baggie of carrots, or chicken tetrazzini, cottage cheese, and a plum. I still love peanut butter and jelly, but now it's "grown up" and made with strawberry/rhubarb preserves or orange marmalade. Also, many dinner leftovers can be frozen. Once they are in the reusable containers, just pop them in the freezer, so you get a good rotation of main courses. I tend to make large amounts of chili and spaghetti, but I don't want it three straight days for lunch. ~Wanda 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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