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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - February 17, 2011

Don't Stop for Coffee
Every night before going to bed, my husband gets the coffee pot ready to turn on first thing in the morning. That way, if he is running late, there is no temptation to stop quickly for an expensive cup of coffee. The coffee is there, and it's ready to go! ~J.

Saving Carpet Pieces
When you save new leftover carpet pieces, place them in an area in another part of the house where they will be walked upon. Otherwise, they will stand out like a sore thumb when you use them to repair a spot. Take it from a former carpet cleaner. ~Betsy

No-Ice Auto Mirrors
We live in the mountains. During many freezing nights, my husband's truck is left outside. To keep the side mirrors from icing over, we use old socks. We just cut the bottom off by the toes and slip over the mirrors. In the morning, there is no ice or frost on the mirrors. ~Sandi

Veggie Prep
Vegetables are so high priced in the winter, and even though I've got home-canned tomatoes, beets, green beans, etc., I still crave fresh, too. In order to keep my money from being wasted, I spend the time when I get home from shopping to prepare my broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, etc. so it is ready to cook. I'm more inclined to make a mess once, and with them all sitting in resealable bags, I won't forget them until they are spoiled! ~D.S.

Baby Bonuses
If you're pregnant, check with your town hall for any gift for your baby-to-be. Our town library gives out a gift to a new baby, but it has to be claimed before the baby turns six months. I didn't know this until later when I finally had time and was checking out some activities for my baby, who was already past the six-month mark. Next time, I won't miss the deadline. ~Claire

Handy Pancakes
When I make homemade pancakes for breakfast, I double the recipe and freeze the extras. When we need a grab-and-go breakfast, I just pop them in the toaster. We save from buying the prepackaged frozen pancakes or save a trip through the drive thru! ~Janette

Affordable Waxing
Like most women, I love my spa treatments. When I got married, I had to trim my expenses, so manicures, pedicures, and waxing had to be curbed. I purchased a salon quality wax machine included in a "start up" kit for about $65 at a beauty supply warehouse, and that was five years ago. I haven't even had to replenish any of the supplies that came with my wax kit, save the muslin and wood sticks, which cost somewhere around $1-$2 total. I have gone to my stylist to "reshape" my brows every so often, but it's terribly easy to do my own waxing within the boundaries of shape she gives me. The salon I went to charged $10-$15 per visit for waxing so this saves a ton of money, especially over time. ~Shiahna

Brown Sugar Bricks
As a homemaker, I have been using this little trick for years. Whenever I needed to use "brown sugar" in a recipe, I found that when I went to the cupboard, it was a hard brick. So I stopped buying it. Instead, I make sure to always have molasses and white sugar in the house to make my own "brown sugar" as needed. No more hard brown sugar! You just add a little molasses to your sugar and mix it to the desired darkness, according to your recipe. You can make light brown or dark brown by adding more or less of the molasses. ~Sandy

Stretching Tea Bags
Since most teabags have more than a single cup's worth of tea in them, I get double-duty from my automatic iced-tea maker by running two consecutive cycles with the same basket of tea bags. I omit the ice cubes from the pitcher and run the brew cycle as usual. When it's finished, I carefully lift the basket (mindful of steam) to pour another cycle's worth of water into the receptacle, and hit the start button. If you can, let it cool down before you refill. I get twice as much tea in the pitcher and every penny's worth from the bags. ~Cindy

The Grocery Spy
Here's a grocery-shopping tip that seems silly, but it helped me save money. When shopping in a store with grocery carts, I always take a sneak peak at other shoppers' carts. If I see something interesting, I might ask where they found it. Sometimes the other shoppers have found a bargain that I had missed. Plus, it helps me to be a little more social than my personality would normally be! ~JP

Organizing a Chest Freezer
I have had a chest freezer for years, and things were always getting lost or forgotten and wasted, so I bought as many plastic sweater storage containers as would fit in my freezer. I now put my freezer items in the storage containers and then group and label them. The containers are then stacked in the freezer, making sure my freezer lid still closes tightly. Yes, it's sometimes a hassle to have to pull out container after container to get what I want out of the freezer, but nothing ever gets forgotten. I put the items I use less frequently in the bottom containers. I'm careful not to put too much weight in any one container as the ones on the bottom can be difficult to pull up. Sometimes I just put the heaviest one on the very bottom, so I don't have to pull it up. Instead, I just take items out of it and replace the lid and then put the other containers back on top. I made a "map" of what I have in each plastic container, so I know exactly where everything is and what I have. Obviously, if your memory is poor, or you change the items frequently, you will need to update your "map" as the items in your freezer change. My hubby and the older kids can read the "map" and retrieve the needed items, too. You do have to be careful not to break the plastic containers, as they do become more brittle when they are frozen. After a year, I've only had one corner chip off of one container, and it's still useable. ~Darci

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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