The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman
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Dollar Stretcher Tips - March 10, 2011
The Happy Refrigerator
Recently my relative's refrigerator was giving problems. The freezer (bottom) worked fine, but the refrigerator section was not cooling. I asked if they cleaned the coils, and they responded that they never cleaned them. The coils on most refrigerators are now at the bottom and behind a grill. Do yourself, your pocketbook, and your refrigerator a favor. Remove the grill and get down with a flashlight and look at all the dirt, dust, and hair that has accumulated on the coils. A vacuum with a crevice tool will remove most of the mess. Try to clean two to four times a year to keep that expensive appliance happy. ~Ruth
The plastic bins that we all use in our closets take up too much room, are costly, and are not flexible. My solution is to use aluminum roasting pans. They're flexible and can bend to push in one more if your shelf is tight. They can be stacked on one another. I now have much of my closet's clothing stacked in these aluminum bins, and I find them neat, easy to handle, and very inexpensive. ~Grannie Annie
Spoiled Milk Solution
I used to buy milk by the quart. About three times out of four, I had to throw away half a carton because we hadn't used it by the expiration date. Then I discovered ultra pasteurized milk. The expiration date is four to six weeks later, so I buy it by the half-gallon and never have to throw any away. I may pay a few cents more per ounce than I used to, but I buy less milk. And, I think it tastes better. As an added benefit, fewer milk runs to the grocery store also reduces temptation to buy non-essentials. ~Marilyn
Before You Buy Kids' Books
My children often bring home book orders from school. I've found a simple way to get them almost all the books they want at no cost. I simply have them circle all the books that they would like. Then I go to our local library's website, reserve the books, and either have them held at the library or delivered to the bookmobile for convenient pickup near our home. Now they can have all the newest books they want at no cost! ~Brenda N.
Homemade Corned Beef
Did you know that you can make your own corned beef with little effort? All you need is your own cheap cut of beef. I stock up on them when my store has the BOGO sales. You will also need a large pot, salt, sugar and water. Put the roast in the pot. Mix in about 1/2 cup of sugar and salt with water and fill to cover roast. Stick it in the fridge for two to three days. Flip it every 12 hours or set a can on the roast to keep it under water. You can leave it in to soak for longer if you want, but I have found that three days is long enough for me. Pour off the soak and pour in fresh water. For the season pack that comes with it, I make my own with allspice, cumin, celery seed, a bay leaf and garlic. ~Cynthia D.
Brand Names Can Be Cheaper
One of the best ways I've saved money is switching to brand name toiletries. You read that right. I'm switching to brands. I used to buy the store brands for everything. But recently, I realized that the major drugstores are literally giving free items away each week with their rewards programs. Sometimes you can even "make" money. For instance, this week a popular drugstore has a brand name baby wash for $3, and you receive back a $3 reward coupon, which is like cash to spend in their store. They also have toothpaste for $2.99 with a $2.99 reward. There is a coupon available in most Sunday papers (and also in the mail) for $1.00 off this toothpaste. Therefore, if you spend $1.99 for the toothpaste, you will get $2.99 back in rewards. To use the reward, your total must exceed the cost of the reward coupon, so you do end up giving the store some of your money, but the savings is substantial. ~AJ
Car Negotiating Help
I just recently purchased an economy car, and I would like to share the following tip. Take along your own calculator and Consumer Amortization Guide. The guide lists debt amounts and payment required to repay this debt. They can be purchased in any bookstore. The car salesmen try to get you to agree to a payment amount, and then they structure the deal (assign you an interest rate) that matches the payment amount and years to repay. It took me an hour to get them to tell me what interest rate we "qualified" for based upon our credit histories. Needless to say, we went through our credit union and saved 4 1/2% per year. It's funny how they couldn't find a calculator when I needed one! ~Lisa B.
Ask for Pharmacy Discounts
There was a gap of about a month between when my work covered health insurance ended and when my new private plan began. During the few weeks I was uninsured, I called my doctor to switch from an antibiotic injection to the less costly pills. Then I enrolled in my state's prescription assistance plan. When the card came in the mail, I found out that neither pharmacy in my area took it, but they did have a number of "codes" they could apply in their computer to get the cost down. One of my prescriptions went from $65 to $13. They competed with each other to get me the lowest price! I didn't know these programs or options existed. I don't know what those codes and allowances were, but probably something to get the drugs to established customers at cost or close to it when they experienced hardship or insurance gap. Ask at your pharmacy if there is any way to get your drug cost down, especially if you are uninsured. They may have a variety of "codes" they can apply in their system, just like airline ticket counters do, to get costs down that we outside the industry are not aware of. ~Marla J.
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