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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - March 17, 2011

Free Mulch
I shred mail, old banking and credit card files, and anything I am purging from my files to use as mulch. It suppresses weeds and retains moisture in the soil. ~J.

Books for School
Are you looking for books for your child's preschool or grade school? Why not put an ad on Craigslist or Freecycle? Ask for new or like new books from smoke-free homes. Get a bunch of interested parents or maybe the PTO group to help sort and stock. If there are duplicates, share with other libraries. You should check with a tax person to see if these are deductible and if a receipt is needed. A receipt should be easy to print up using school letterhead. ~Andrea in Mass

Leftover Onion or Pepper
Many recipes don't use an entire onion or green pepper, and the unused portion has the potential to spoil before I need more. To prevent wasting food, I chop the whole vegetable and put the unused part in a container in the freezer. Not only does this save money, but it also saves time because next time I need chopped onion or green pepper, it's already available in the freezer! ~Mary Jane in Newark, OH

Plant Watering Globes
My grandmother gave me one of those lovely glass balls that you put in a potted plant to keep it moist. I have many potted plants around my garden and buying all of those globes would get expensive fast. I found that in my larger pots, an old beer bottle worked just as well when tilted on an angle. Also, I find that the colored glass bottles are equally appealing. ~Jennifer S. in Clearwater, FL

The Marriage Maker
I ride to work with my husband. He works in another city that is about 15 minutes away. He drops me off early at work. I get to work safely and inexpensively while we have a chance to be together. This is especially great since gas just went up 10 cents a gallon. ~Vera L.

Removing Cooked On Food
I have found an easy way to remove cooked on food from pots and pans. Simply put them in the sink to soak and add a little baking soda. I have used this on many things, and it requires absolutely no scrubbing. I am never without the largest box of baking soda that I can find. ~Shelia P.

Ready Hot Sandwiches
I make extra sloppy joes and pulled pork BBQ. I put paper cupcake cups in a cupcake pan. Fill each of these up with the extra sloppy joe or the pulled pork, and then pop in freezer until frozen. I then pop them out, put in a freezer bag, and label. When we want a quick sandwich, we pop one in the microwave for one to two minutes and put on a fresh bun. This has put a stop to us catching a quick meal at the neighborhood 99-cent menu. ~N.

Mom's Money Saver
Here is one of the best tips I ever received when I was a new mom. It is simple, easy, and a great money saver. A friend told me to only buy every other size of baby clothes. So instead of buying newborn, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months, I bought newborn, 6 months, and 12 months. Kids grow so fast that you really don't miss the sizes you don't buy. This is a tried and true tip. My baby is 10 and my firstborn is 14, and we still only buy every other size. Just think of all the money you can save! ~Pam

Biker Family
My husband has two great bikes that he picked up for free. On both occasions, he found them sitting at the curb after the community yard sale. He was able to take them home and fix them up for not much money. He actually took one of the bikes to a local bike store for a tune up (might have been $60 tops), and the repair guy offered him $300 for the bike! It was a Schwinn model that the bike community is very fond of. Bought new, it probably was a $600 bike! We kept the bike, and he loves riding it. We picked up my daughter's bike at a yard sale for less than $25. Now we go on bike rides together as a family. We have several rails to trails paths in our area that we can't wait to ride this summer. It's a great, healthy, and cheap way to spend some quality family time. ~Jennifer D.

My Cash Stash
For several years, I've accumulated a cash stash that I hide in a decorative tin. I put anywhere from $1 to $5 in the tin on a weekly basis. When I've accumulated enough money, I'll replace the ones and fives with ten and twenties. I call this my "cash stash" or "whatever fund." Recently, when I needed birthday money for a niece and nephew, I took a couple twenties out of the "whatever fund." When a piece of furniture was delivered last fall, I paid the delivery charge from the stash. Paycheck smaller than usual? I can dip into the cash stash instead of the savings account to make it through the rest of the pay period. I always have a certain amount of cash on hand because getting to an ATM isn't always feasible. Sometimes, a check or debit card just won't do. This way, I'm always prepared. ~P.W.

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 2011 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

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