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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - June 10, 2011

Protect Your Garden
Many gardening books suggest cheesecloth or netting to protect berries and other fruits from birds. To save money, I use the mesh bags that my onions and lemons come in. ~Pat

Reducing Dryer Expense
When doing the laundry, put a clean, dry hand towel or small bath towel into each dryer load. This saves about 25% on drying time! I've been doing this for years, and it really works. I have no idea how many quarters I've saved by not having to put in that extra money, but it's been a lot! ~Jacqueline

Dry Shampoo Savings
I was amazed at the price of spray on dry (powder) shampoo at the store last week. I have been sprinkling a small amount of talcum powder (any sort of body or baby powder will work) on my hair and brushing it through. It works just as well and at a fraction of the cost. As long as you use a small amount, it works great. ~Sheila B.

Frugal Flea Control
I have an alternative for keeping fleas, ticks, etc. off animals. It's tea tree oil! Just mix it with some water and spray it on! This works well to keep flies off horses, as well. You can probably find it at a natural food store. ~Sonny

Slice Your Own!
Those nine-ounce containers of sandwich meats are now over $4 each. The last time I went to the grocery store I got a rotisserie chicken that had been marked down to $5 because it hadn't yet sold. The meat I got from it filled two of those containers, and there were leftovers for the dogs and to make stock. Plus, it's probably healthier since it's not as processed as the pre-sliced meat. ~Heidi

Simplifying Laundry
I have eliminated both bleach and fabric softener from my grocery list for six months now. I buy a gallon jug of white vinegar from the local discount store. It's so cheap, and I either fill the softener dispenser or the bleach dispenser with vinegar in every load. It softens my clothes and whitens my whites without the use of bleach or fabric softener sheets or liquid. As it's doing that, it is cleaning out my dispensers on the washer and is saving money for me. It also prevents fabric softener sheet build up in the dryer, which can clog the mechanisms of the dryer (or so my serviceman told me). ~LMR

Quick Meal Idea
For a quick meal, I make a potato bar! Sometimes I use baked potatoes that were cooked in the microwave or mashed potatoes. I make a large quantity of mashed potatoes and freeze them in dollops on cookie sheets. All I have to do is put as many as I need in a casserole or microwave-safe bowl, warm them up, stir, and they're ready to go. Our toppings may include bacon bits (pre-cooked), cubed ham, ground beef, cheese, steamed veggies, or pizza toppings. ~Donna E.

The Trip Journal
When traveling across country, get a business card or flier from every place you stop along the way. Make notes about the service or any special details on a page in a travel journal and attach the card. This has helped us retrieve lost goods, saved us from inadvertently stopping to revisit absolutely the worst pancakes ever, and allowed us to see the fantastic sunset behind this little diner in Idaho once again. By having notes like this, I've managed over the years to put together our own personal travel guide. ~Denise P.

Healthy Snacks for Kids
We take a six-cupcake tin and put a different treat in each cupcake spot. Some choices include cheese cubes, vegetables, cereal, raisins, yogurt, pretzels, crackers, nuts, pieces of bagel, etc. The kids like the fact that they have a wide array of choices. What isn't used is covered, and the following day, we add new selections. Sometimes I end up eating things that have been passed over for two days, but I find my kids eating more healthy options and being refueled after a long day without spoiling their appetite for dinner. ~Teresa

Sidewalk Repairs
Every summer, our city inspects sidewalks and lets homeowners know which sections need to be replaced. It's at the homeowner's expense, of course. On our block, we all went together to make all of our small jobs into one big job, which was more time- and cost-effective for the contractor during the busy season. It's hard to find a contractor who even wants to bother replacing one or two sections. By combining our jobs, we made it worthwhile for the contractor, and he gave us a much better price! ~Judee A. in Coralville, IA

Time for Solar Oven
Even better than using a slow cooker for foods is using a solar oven. It uses only the sun's energy to cook your food. You can buy solar cookers or make your own using anything from a car solar shade folded into box shape, a cardboard box lined with aluminum foil, or even a shoebox lined with aluminum foil. A dark or black pot cooks better as it absorbs the sun's energy. Temperatures in solar cookers can reach 400 degrees F. Foods are cooked to perfection as there is no burning. The food comes out moist and delicious. Breads, vegetables, fruits, and meats can easily be cooked in solar cookers. Solar cookers are economical as no electricity or other fossil fuel is used. It's an environmentally friendly, time saving, and satisfying way to cook. It's great to come home from work after a long day and have dinner already cooked and ready to serve. ~S.

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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