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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - March 31, 2011

Spring Bird Watching
Bird watching is one of my favorite things to do. To help my feather friends, when I brush out our yellow lab, I throw the fur outside. It disappears with the birds within a few hours. ~Beth in Ithaca, NY

"No Clothesline" Neighborhoods
I know of some neighborhoods where clotheslines are prohibited. I have a friend who lives in one such neighborhood. She has purchased several foldable drying racks, and she places these on her patio and hangs her jeans, towels, etc. on them to dry when she's home. In no time, her laundry is dry, and she also states that she does not have to worry about marks left from clothespins. The only downfall is you cannot use them on very windy days as they can blow over. ~J.

The Affordable Drink
Drink more fresh water. Take it from someone who learned the hard way. After collapsing on a cement floor, breaking my nose, and staying a night at the hospital, I learned at 55 years old that I, like most people, was drinking way too much coffee and pop and spending money that I could save if I drank pure water instead. It is also healthier and cheaper in so many other ways! ~Mari

Erasing Scuff Marks
A great tip to erase black scuff marks off of any kind of floor is to use a tennis ball. If you have a bad back and can't bend down, poke a hole in the tennis ball and insert a broom handle or something similar. You'll see the scuff marks disappear instantly. ~Pat

Bill Paying Time Saver
To save time, I only touch my bills once a week. Sunday evening is when I pay bills. I have disciplined myself to deal with the mail everyday by putting bills or "to-dos" in my bill basket. The junk mail goes in the trash can immediately. This way, I am not pushing papers or online bills eight to ten times a month. Everything is always paid on time, and I only do paperwork four times per month, including balancing bank statements. ~Melissa

I Liked Being Audited!
Get an energy audit! Right now our house is getting insulated, and two days ago, our rental got insulated. Price? $150 for both homes. How? After getting an energy audit from our power company, we found a contractor that would do the work for the dollar amount our energy company would reimburse us for. Also, the auditor left enough energy saver light bulbs for every socket in the house and water saver shower heads for both showers. ~KB

Job Security
Always try to keep in touch with former employees, staff and clients. They can be used as potential references in the event that you are laid off or become ill and must take a leave of absence. They can also tip you off to a new job if you are unable to come back and work in the capacity that you once did (such as no longer being able to lift, etc.). Check with the employer, always explain your situation, and if they liked you and your work before, they will do everything they can to help you gain new employment. This is a very cost-efficient way of "job" hunting. I don't mean to say that you would let them find a job for you, but a lot of time and leg work will be saved. ~Karik

Big Ticket Bidding
With four children to raise, it is often the large dollar items rather than the little things that tend to break the bank. Things like braces for the kids, home improvements, and vehicle repairs can easily kill a budget. That's why I have discovered fundraising auctions. Many local public schools and animal societies hold live and silent auctions throughout the year for products and services donated by the community. I also look for the same things on local radio station websites. I recently won a $6,000 braces gift certificate for $2,570 and won new flooring for our living room/dining room (which we desperately needed) for $801. Hardwood installed! The key is to only bid on what you need and be informed on what it is you are bidding on. ~Jennifer K.

Cheaper Chips
I buy the cheapest chips in the stores or dollar stores when available. Usually the only thing wrong with them is that they are not labeled with a brand name, or they are close to the expiration date. I don't want them to get stale. The plastic bag clips usually only work for a short period of time. So I roll up the open bag as small as possible and put it in the freezer. I also use zipper bags and put one serving size in each. Then I put them in the freezer. Freezing does not alter the taste or texture of the chips. ~Patricia O.

Seed-Starting Greenhouses
Starting seeds for your garden can be expensive if you go to the store to buy all of your starter supplies. Then if you forget to water all the cute little containers for just one day, they dry out and die. To avoid this, I've been recycling plastic donut and cinnamon roll containers or any clear plastic deli container with its own lid. Just put the needed dirt/plant starter medium in the container, plant seeds according to directions, spray/mist heavily, close the lid, and place in a warm and sunny area. You now have your own mini greenhouse. Condensation will form on the lid and re-water your seeds. If you find there is too much water in the mini greenhouse, just open the lid for a few hours. The depth of the dirt, size, and number of plants will determine how often you need to water. You could put the seed starters in the plastic containers, but I haven't had any problem just using dirt and transplanting from the whole container. ~Michael C.

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 2011 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.


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