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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - May 12, 2011

Cheap "Shade Cloths"
Buy old sheer curtains at garage sales for "shade cloths." I use mine to cover my blackberries. At the end of the season, I wash, dry, and put away for next year. Mildred

Neater Bird Feeders
We always bake birdseed in the oven on low for an hour or two before feeding the birds. This prevents sprouting completely and does not affect the nutritional value or the edibility of the seed. Prior to learning this trick, we had some awful surprises in the flower garden underneath the bird feeder! ~Pat

Lettuce Saver
To keep lettuce fresher in the bag, I take it out, wash it, let it drain, place a folded paper towel in the bottom of a zipper bag, and then place the torn lettuce on top of the paper towel. It stays fresher longer. ~Pamela H.

Prom Dresses
I have to comment about frugal proms. I cannot tell you the amount of prom dresses that go on sale for 99 cents at thrift stores. A few are actually new with the tags still on them. And you know that nobody knows that they came from a thrift shop. So check those sales! You'll be glad you did. ~Melissa

Junk Drawer Clutter?
This is an easy way to clean out your junk drawer. Dump everything into a plastic bag. Clean out the drawer. When you need something out of the plastic bag, take it out of the bag and put it back into the drawer. After a few weeks, you will see what things you should keep in there. Anything left in the bag needs to be put somewhere else. ~T.

Grandma's College Fund
Having just arrived at the new stage of life known as "Grandparenthood," I wanted to begin college savings accounts for my grandchildren. However, I don't have access to a lot of extra cash, so I was not quite sure how I would accomplish this goal. I hit upon the idea of a jar or piggy bank for each baby on my dresser. As we have extra coins, we toss them in the piggy banks. When they are full, I will empty them and go to the bank to start college savings accounts for each baby. It's a relatively painless way to save for the future. ~Carol I. in Horton, MI

Less Expensive "Face Wash"
Finding myself stuck in the shower without my face wash, I decided to try my daughter's baby shampoo as a quick alternative. To my surprise, it worked wonderfully. Not only did it remove my make-up, but also being tear-free, it gently removed my eye make-up. It left my face soft and thoroughly cleansed. Some baby shampoos even contain a light conditioner, which works great to moisturize extra dry skin. At under $3 a bottle, it's quite a savings over high priced facial cleansers. And I'm sure my daughter doesn't mind sharing her shampoo with mommy! ~Jennifer G.

Before You Put Your Boots Away
I have had a lot of luck caring for boots by carefully brushing dirt from the area where the sole meets the upper and then applying leather cream generously. I then stuff the toes with crumbled newsprint. I recently read that a great way to store winter socks is to jam them into the toes of boots/winter shoes. The boots or shoes keep their shape, and you don't need another place to store the socks. If the calves of the boots are long enough to need support, I roll a piece of cardboard to the shape needed and insert it into the leg of the boot. Store them lying down; if you put the soles on the floor, wrinkles can develop in the leg/ankle of the boots as gravity pulls the leather down. ~Marcie

Little Coupon Clippers
To help our kids earn an "allowance" and learn the value of money at the same time, we encourage them to cut out food coupons from the paper on Sunday that we can use when we grocery shop. Any savings we receive is their "allowance." It encourages them to be wise about purchases and helps relieve us of coming up with regular allowance every week. ~Wendy in Rochester, NY

Clothes Dryer Efficiency
I recently did something I should have done a long time ago. I removed and cleaned the lint trap holder in my dryer. What a shock and revelation! It was full of lint compacted over years of use. This also enabled me to reach inside the dryer and clean out the lint area more thoroughly. The dryer is working much better. I've always been careful about removing the lint filter as well as the outlet, but never realized that the actual lint filter holder could have trapped as much lint. Also, my air conditioner is near my outdoor lint outlet, and the repairman told me that lint accumulates there and should be removed frequently for both safety and to save money. I not only clean out the outlet, but also the coils in the A/C. I've noticed a difference in my electricity bills. ~Cristina

Financial Questions for Kids
Kids got the gimmies? When my kids get the gimmies, I ask them to name three to five things that they have that they are thankful to have. This shifts their attention to what they have instead of what they don't have. This can also keep younger children's attention off a thrilling commercial until it (and the urges) pass. If the gimmies are still bad, I ask my children to name something we bought that turned out to be much less fun or yummy than what the commercial said. Are commercials always true? This can put the commercial into context of a promotion, not necessarily reality. If they still want it, I tell them to add it to a birthday/Christmas wish list or for their "savings" jar to get at the next store. Asking these questions first helps slow down the gimmies, and thus the spending on kids "gotta gets." ~Tamara

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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