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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - February 3, 2011

Better Gas Mileage
Make sure that you have the trunk of your car cleaned out. The more you have in your trunk, the heavier your car will be, which means more gas consumption. ~Lynn

Preserving Dry Foods and Spices
I buy those little net baggies from the wedding supply departments of craft stores when on clearance. There are usually 15 to 20 in a package. Then I fill them with rice. Dropped into bulk spices, baking mixes, etc., they keep it from becoming a brick. ~Jennifer

What We Don't See
When you are planning to sell your home and think you have it in selling condition, go through and take pictures of each room as well as the house outside from the front and back. Also, take pictures of the garden if there is one. Then look at the pictures. Very often we get so used to the way things are that we don't really "see" the clutter, bad paint job, tired decor, scuffs and stains, etc. Using photos can help you see the forest for the trees, and with digital cameras, there is really no cost to doing this. ~Evelyn

Coupon Expiration Codes
I took a tool used by stores to help with coupon organization. Bealls or Burke outlet chain uses a colored dot that moves by the month. The dot rotates each month and the percent off increases. What I do is to color code the top left corner of coupons with each color representing a separate month that the coupon expires. It reduces the time spent looking for the tiny expiration date and getting frustrated when the clerk kindly points out that it's expired. ~F.

Cleaning Pet Stains
I have used many products in the past to remove pet vomit stains from the carpet. Nothing works like Isopropyl alcohol bought in a dollar store. Depending on how bad the stain is, I soak a cloth or the area with the liquid and then rub in a circular motion. Of course, you have to remove the remains on the surface first. I do use paper towel to blot afterwards. ~Monika

Old Coffee Cans
I have two uses for old coffee cans, and it doesn't matter whether they are the metal or plastic. When you finish with the container, wash it out well and cut an X in the top of the lid. Instead of cluttering up a drawer with plastic shopping bags, put them in the clean coffee container. As you need the bags, pull them through the X in the lid. The containers with the handles are really nice to use. They are also great for painting. Pour your paint in the clean containers, dip your brush as needed, and hang onto the handle. ~Julie

The Housekeeper Lesson
My family was in need of a housekeeper. My husband and I both work full-time and I'm in graduate school at night. We have two children, a dog, and a messy house. Chores never seemed to get done, and I felt overwhelmed. We considered a housekeeper, but the cost was pretty high. In the end, we decided to save money and time while teaching the children. We pay them an incentive on chores as they complete them. They both have a list of chores they must complete each week, and they know the dollar value of completing them. Now, the burden on my husband and myself is lighter and we've saved money while teaching everyone to contribute towards having a clean home. ~Cathy D.

Creative Bag-Saling
I am a bag sale lady. In addition to finding clothing to wear, I've also used bag sales to obtain goods I've used for other purposes. When some of my nice suits were starting to look bad because the metal buttons were getting tarnished, I decided to merely replace the buttons. However, the fabric store's new buttons were quite expensive. Instead, I went to a bag sale and bought garments of every size and description just for the buttons on them. Some of the clothes were ugly, but they all had really nice buttons. I bought a bag full of clothes, probably three or four dozen buttons, for $3. It was cheaper to just cut off the buttons, sew them on my good suits, and use the rest of the bag-sale clothing for cleaning rags or scrap material. My good business suits and jackets got a new lease on life once the tarnished buttons were replaced with the ones from the bag sale. You can also cut off the zippers and trim for reuse. I also "bagged" a bunch of blankets, flat mattress pads, and quilted comforters, which I used as moving blankets. It was much, much cheaper to buy them from a thrift store during a bag sale than to rent moving blankets from U-Haul. I was super lucky on this sale. The thrift store handed out large black garbage sacks for our bags. Our family has saved the blankets, which we've used again for subsequent moves. If you can, grab the king-sized comforters, as they really help when moving large pieces of furniture. Lynn

Curbing Impulse Purchases
We are all tempted at times to buy something on impulse. In the past, maybe this wasn't an issue, but perhaps something has happened recently to cause us to need to be more frugal. Last year, my husband was off work for a considerable time with an injury. Prior to that, I wouldn't have thought twice about buying a hand cream, a book, or even going out for coffee. With our income being so depleted, I had to have a rethink. Every time I was tempted to buy something on impulse and didn't, I moved that amount of money from my checking account to a savings account. It didn't matter whether it was $1 or $25. By the end of the year, we had over $600 saved that we put towards Christmas, which would have otherwise been very lean indeed! My husband is now back at work, but I still implement this as a savings plan. After all, I've proved I can do it, and if I decide I "really" need what I was going to purchase, it will always be there next week. I've never gone back to purchase the temptation, and that extra lump sum is a wonderful safety net should the unexpected arise. And it always does. Doesn't it? ~Charlie

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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