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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - December 16, 2010

No Motion? No Lights!
We save money on our utility bill by installing motion sensors in our rooms. After 30 minutes, if no motion is detected, the lights turn off. Our son had a bad habit of leaving every light on when he would leave for school in the mornings. This is no longer an issue. ~B.

Easy Microwave Cleaning
When I am washing the dishes, I take a coffee mug and fill it 2/3 full of soapy water and put it in my microwave. I turn the microwave on for about 3 1/2 minutes. After letting it sit for about a minute or two, I then clean the microwave while I am right there. It loosens everything up in the microwave and makes it very easy to clean. ~Jim B. in Marinette, WI

Coffee Creamers
Flavored coffee creamers are costly, but I buy them on sale and freeze them. I have been doing this for years. They work just fine when I let them thaw out at room temperature or defrost in the microwave. Now I can have the special holiday flavored ones year round, and I stock up on the others when they have a sale. ~Laura H. in Berwyn, IL

After Turkey Dinner
My husband is the one who carves the turkey and later picks the bones of the cooked carcass. After years of trying to find space in my fridge to hold the bones until the next day, I happened upon the solution. When he begins carving the turkey, I place my big soup pot next to him. He puts the bones and skin in the pot as he carves. I add water and other ingredients for the soup. This cooks together while we enjoy the holiday meal. A few hours later, it's cooked and cooled. By evening, hubby is cleaning the bones, and I pack the broth and meat morsels for the freezer. No overnight mess to deal with. ~C.

Easy Table Decoration
I found a cute, festive way to decorate my kitchen table. I'm having a get-together of roughly 15 people and I wanted to decorate my kitchen table so I decided to wrap my table with Christmas wrapping paper. The print is a nice light green with red poinsettias on it, and it looks like a tablecloth! I will keep this in mind when my children have a birthday party here. ~A.

Rewards Programs
Trying to provide Christmas gifts in a creative manner, I realized I did not have enough airline mileage for a free travel ticket, but upon further investigation, I did have enough mileage for magazine subscriptions! Hence, my sister and her husband received subscriptions to their favorite magazines. Check out those airline points and other rewards programs. Small rewards points may not add up to a travel ticket, but will yield other creative gift ideas. ~Sara Jane

Easy Christmas Trees
For several years now, I have turned tomato cages upside down, bent the wires together, and wrapped the "tree" with lights. No one knows that I've recycled my tomato cages. They look great! Using lights that I already had, I have adorable decorations that didn't cost me anything extra. ~Jacque in Iowa

Christmas Cookie Concession
I always make a wide selection of cookies, and give them out as Christmas gifts to friends and neighbors. A couple of years ago, a neighbor asked to buy a plate of cookies for a party she was going to. Hence, my cookie business started. I allow about 10-15 people to order cookies. I then use the money from their orders to actually "fund" my baking. Also, by calculating the dozens needed and what I need to make, I rarely end up with tons of cookies left over that tend to migrate to my hips! So for a little extra work, I get all my cookies made relatively free. ~Lisa B. in St. Paul

Taking Stock
December is the perfect time to literally take stock. Check out your pantry and look for items that will be expiring soon. Think of ways to use them up, or if you know that you won't be able to use them, donate them to a food pantry. There is always a greater need at this time of year. Also, look at your coupons and see which you will need to use before the end of the year. And check your rebates and gift cards to be sure that you don't lose out on their redemption value. Rite-Aid Wellness Points aren't carried over to next year, but the level you are at will be. If you only need a few points to get to the next level, consider spending on what you need before the end of the year. And don't forget your health savings account. Be sure to use all of the pre-tax allotted money before the end of the year, so you don't lose it. This is the perfect time to get that new pair of eyeglasses that you need. Taking advantage of what you've already got is one of the best ways to save! ~Susan in NY

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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