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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - January 27, 2011

The Fizzies
If you drop a beverage can, tap on the top of the can a few times. When you open the can, you won't have anymore messy over-spills or wasted beverages. This really works! ~I.

"Free" Coffee
In order to save money on coffee, we buy a stronger coffee than we like and use fewer scoops per pot. We drink one pot per day, and instead of using 12 scoops of a medium strength coffee, we buy the darker, stronger coffee and use eight or nine scoops. This gives us four to five "free" pots of coffee per container. ~MJ

New Car Financing
If you must buy a new car, finance it for the longest term possible, but make payments as if you're on the shortest term (providing there's no prepayment penalty). You're legally bound to the lowest payment, so if you lose your job or have other things pop up, you're still on the literal hook for a much smaller amount of money. It's much more difficult to screw up your credit this way. ~D.

What Can I Lose?
I recently made a new recipe that required the use of a blender. When I pulled out my seldom-used blender, I saw the plastic lid was split through in more than one place. I thought I would have to buy a new blender, but then I reconsidered. What did I have to lose by trying this one? I carefully taped the cracks with electrical tape, and none of the ingredients were lost through them. Since the tape was on the exterior, I was also able to clean the interior lid thoroughly after using. There was no need to buy a new blender. This mindset probably applies to many other situations. Try it. What's the worst that can happen? ~Linda P. in Earlysville, Virginia

The Dot System
We have three daughters that are very close in age. Therefore, hand-me-down clothing is a way of life. To keep up with which daughter wears which piece of clothing, we use a dot system. The oldest gets one dot on the tag of each article, the middle daughter gets two, and the third gets three. When the oldest grows out of something, I simply pull out the permanent marker and add a second dot to the tag, making it the middle child's garment and so on. It's better than trying to write names in clothes only to cross them out and add new names. Plus, this system helps my husband when he pitches in to fold a load of all girls' clothing. When I resell the clothing, it's easier than selling clothing with names on the tags. ~Jenny in South Carolina

Cheaper Shelf Liner
I bought a large roll of white wallpaper for $1 from a discontinued bin at my local home store, and it worked wonderfully for shelf liner for all of my kitchen cabinets! It was a real money saver because shelf liner is very expensive, and one roll probably covers only one or two shelves. Wallpaper comes in all colors and themes, so it's easy to find a matching color for your kitchen. ~Neva from Texas

Fine Dining for Less
Always check to see if the city you are in has a culinary school. I live in metro Portland, Oregon, home of The Cordon Bleu-Western Culinary Institute. The students getting ready to graduate as chefs and/or restaurant managers run a restaurant that is open to the public. We got a real gourmet meal at a budget price because we were "eating their assignments!" The food, presentation, and service were great because the students wanted a good grade. Some community/junior colleges have culinary programs, and they might offer "their assignments" to the public as well. It's a great way to eat great and eat cheaply! ~The Baroness in Oregon

Snow Days
I had a revelation this week. It snowed last Monday here in SC. It thawed just a little during the day, and then re-froze again at night. We have a lot of shade, which meant that we had an ice rink in our yard. I did not go out from Monday until Friday. I realized that I did not spend any money all week. Had the snow and ice not been there, I would have "needed" to go to town to buy groceries, eat lunch with friends, buy gas, etc. But since I couldn't go out, I couldn't buy anything, and discovered that I actually didn't need anything at all! And the money in my wallet on Monday was still there on Saturday! ~Jan in SC

Know Your Freezer
While stocking your freezer is a great way of saving time and utilizing food bargains, if you don't use the food in a timely fashion, all of the time and money go to waste. Make sure you carefully label all of your freezer items with date made, name of item, and use by date. In general, most prepared items should be consumed within three months, so that they are at their peak of flavor and texture. Much beyond that ice crystals form, and your food will begin to pick up off flavors. Invest in some masking tape and a permanent marker before you go to town in the kitchen. For those who, unlike me, are extremely organized, schedule those newly frozen entrees into your monthly menu planning now, while you have a clear memory of how many quarts of chili you made! ~ Sarah S.

Special Occasion Dinners
When we have a special occasion to celebrate, we don't go out for dinner. Instead, we make a big deal of it by planning a special dinner at home. I find special recipes that I wouldn't ordinarily make, often with slightly expensive or unusual ingredients and spend about a week planning and shopping. Then we set the table nicely and dine at home. If I am too tired to cook, I will splurge on the almost ready to eat foods at the grocery store. They are still cheaper than going to a restaurant. This way, one evening becomes a week of fun, and we have lots of leftovers. Most recipes serve six or more, and there are only two of us. Yes, there is more work involved, but it's more than balanced by the fun of anticipation and the pleasure of all the leftovers. ~E.

Want to live better on the money you already make? Visit www.stretcher.com/r/99.htm to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar! Copyright 2010 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

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