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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - November 18, 2010

"Black Friday" Team Strategy
Divide up your list with family or friends so that you can each hit different stores to get the early bird specials. Doing this will help you avoid the traffic and rushing to get to each store. ~Linda

Worn Out Carpet?
When our carpet started wearing, I took up the carpet in the hallway and in front of the front door and put hardwood in its place. It looks beautiful, and I saved the price of buying new carpet for the house. ~Pat

"Instant" Wine for Cooking
We rarely drink wine. Besides being expensive, I hate to open a bottle of wine for just a cup or a half-cup of wine that a recipe calls for. Instead I make "mock wine" that works great. Mix equal parts of water and vinegar and add a little sugar. For example, to substitute a cup of white wine, I use 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of white vinegar and one tablespoon of sugar. ~Kendra

Dry Hair Protection
I have hair that tends to be very dry. My hair stylist recommended that I mix my shampoo with baking soda regularly to help restore the cuticle to its natural condition. Gel, mousse, etc. clog up the individual pieces of hair, and the baking soda removes them without damaging the hair further. All I do is put the normal amount of shampoo in my hair and then pour a bit of baking soda onto the dollop, mix them together, and shampoo as usual. I then follow with my normal conditioning. It really does help keep my hair healthy. I was afraid the baking soda would be more drying, but it's not! ~Dana W.

Making Plans
This is the time of year that I am filling out my planner for next year. Not only do I put in birthdays, school holidays, and vacations, but also I put in money-saving plans. In June, I write find cucumbers to make pickles, and I add the free city wide trash clean up and what I want to put out for it. In September, I write down if I need to tune up the furnace. I keep a list in the back of Christmas gifts I have bought or made. I use part of the data section to keep track of debts or bills as I try to pay them down. Not only is my planner for my social and work life, but I also use it as a tool for my financial life! ~Tracy M.

I collect broken branches and twigs that fall during the year and store them in boxes in our garage. When September comes around, I start saving brown paper grocery bags. When it's time to start using our woodstove, I have our kindling ready to use. To start a fire, I put a couple of handfuls of twigs and broken branches in a paper bag. By doing this, it is easy to carry into the house and makes less of a mess. Also, I don't have to purchase any pre-made firestarter blocks. ~Laurie P.

Increase Your MPG
We should all regularly check and maintain the pressure in the tires of our vehicles because it improves fuel efficiency, safety, handling, and the longevity of the tires. You can't tell if the tire is under-inflated by just looking at it. Since most gas stations typically charge you to use their air compressors, try going to a truck stop or gas station that sells diesel to large trucks. They often have free air to fill those 18-wheelers and the air supply is usually higher pressure, so it will fill up your tires faster. Just bring along a tire gauge to check for proper inflation. ~Rich

Those Cereal Crumbs
I'm a big fan of cereal and have it most mornings for breakfast. Inevitably, by the time I get to the bottom of the bag, there are a decent amount of "crumbs." These aren't big enough to put in a bowl, but it seems like a waste to throw them out. It dawned on me that these are much like granola, depending on the cereal. So what's a common suggestion for granola? Add it to yogurt! Now I have a great addition to my yogurt that adds crunch, flavor, and nutrition for no cost at all. It thrills me to not have to throw out the end of the bag, and I'm really enjoying the change to my yogurt flavors, especially plain Greek yogurt! ~Kim in Baltimore, MD

Charity Auction Idea
With the holidays coming, many offices try to find a way to raise funds to contribute to a family in need. I just heard of this idea and like it a lot. It will work best at a company or office where most employees are women. Add a twist to the typical office raffle. Purchase purses in good condition from a local thrift store. In each one, add at least one secret item like a bag of microwave popcorn, a $10 bill, a pair of earrings, tickets to a movie, etc. Make sure these items can't be seen. Then raffle off each purse. The money from the raffle can cover the expenses (purses at thrift stores typically sell for $3 each) and all the profits can be donated to a local family in need or a predetermined charity. You can include things as simple as a coupon for home baked goods or as upscale as larger amounts of cash or tickets to a very special local event. ~JD in St. Louis

A Grocery Game
I wanted to accomplish two things. First, I wanted to clean out my refrigerator/freezer and cupboards. Next, I wanted to use up the foods that were stored in them. Therefore, I challenged myself and my friends to come up with meals from the items that we already had. If an item was needed to complete a dish, I tried to substitute an item that I already had. I asked my friends to post the meals that they made out of their food items at home on Facebook, so that we could compare and see what interesting meals we all were creating while saving tons of money and cleaning out our stock. ~I.

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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