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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - January 6, 2011

Need Furniture?
Don't overpay for furniture. Check out yard sales or scratch and dent stores for gently-used furniture. You can easily find a nice dining room set for half price or cheaper! Some items at scratch and dent places aren't even used. They might just be overstock items or unclaimed freight, but they'll be discounted! ~JJH

Cooking Eliminates Static Shocks?!?
The air in our house gets dry and we get static shocks when we touch something. Whenever I boil water on the stove, it reduces the static shocks, adding moisture to the air. I've boiled water before without cooking something, but that seemed wasteful, so now I just prepare more foods like pasta, boiled eggs, etc. that do require boiling when the air is especially dry. ~Cheryl in Rhome, TX

The Value of Composting
In the kitchen, I keep a separate bin (with tight lid) to collect vegetable and fruit scraps. Every other day, I take them out for composting. In this way, we have reduced our trash by 75%. We keep trash for curbside pick up to only once a month (which costs $3.25). We save close to $10 per month ($3.25 x 3) by reducing the trash. Also, the compost we make helps our vegetable garden in the spring and summer. The parts of fruits and vegetables that we cannot eat we give back to Mother Earth. ~A.

My Savings Plan
To ensure that I don't forget to save every month, I have begun using index cards. I write down what I am saving for, like new car, and then write down the amount and date that I want to have the money available. I put these index cards in the stack with my bills and write a check just like I would to pay a bill. This check is then deposited into the savings account until I've met my goal. ~Cindy B.

The Rug Touch-Up
The rug in front of our fireplace was still attractive but wearing thin, so that little bits of the white backing material was showing through. I thought of replacing it, but did not find anything I liked for a good price. I thought again and got out a selection of pens. Everyone laughed when I knelt down and filled in the white backing material on the worn parts with a matching color. The rug looks much fresher now and quite new again. ~Julia

HE Washer Warning
I am no expert, but when I had a repairman out for my HE washer, he noticed my regular detergents and said that they can damage the machine. He said that he has had to perform an expensive repair on numerous machines that ran regular detergent, but has never had to do it on a machine running HE detergent. I had been trying to save money by using tiny amounts of regular detergent, but decided it would cost me more in the long run. I now buy HE detergent on sale and with a coupon, paying between $1 -$3 per bottle, and because I have very hard water, I use the full recommended amount. I get excellent results, and my costs are still low. ~Joan B.

Colored Sugar Secret
Before making sugar cookies with my kids (single Dad here!), we went shopping for decorations. We often like to color them red and green with the sugar sprinkles you can get in the stores. At $2 per container, it was a bit much for the food budget. We mixed sugar and red or green food coloring until we arrived at the desired color. We used between five to six drops for each color and mixed each color in a small dish. It cost less than the purchase at the store! ~Ron

Finding Phone Numbers
I have many names and numbers in my cell phone's contact list, so looking for something in a particular group (not a specific person or company) proved to be rather difficult. I had a lot of restaurants and pizza places added in for convenience. Since my contacts were organized alphabetically, I seemed to always go to the same old ones instead of seeing the entire group at a glance and then choosing one. Therefore, some that I had added long before never were used again despite my interest in them. I solved that problem by adding a "0" (zero) to the contact name, as in "0Pam's Pizza." That way, when I went to contacts and hit the quick "0" button, it automatically brought me to my entire list of restaurants from which I could then choose to call. This would work with any type of group if your cell phone doesn't have the capability of creating groups. And, you could put any number from 0-9 to create up to 10 groups. ~Angela W.

Eliminating Mildew Smells
There is a difference between removing mildew odors and cleaning an item. If the item has been washed and still has a mildew odor, then it is not exactly dirty. I was given some almost brand new coats that my friend had washed. She had them hanging at the top of her basement stairs. The basement smelled of mildew, and when I brought the coats home, I placed them in my basement to sort through the next day and found my basement smelled like mildew. I poured straight vinegar in a bowl. Then I took a thin hand towel, dipped it in the vinegar, wrung it out lightly, and swung the towel in the air throughout the basement. I repeated the process many times, and at the end, I left the remainder of the vinegar in the bowl with the hand towel to evaporate in the next couple days. The following day there was no mildew smell in my basement! The coats smelled normal again, too. ~M.E.

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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