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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - July 14, 2011

Protecting Peeled Apples
When peeling apples for canning, drop your peeled apples in cool water with a little salt added. It keeps your apples and applesauce white. ~Jolynn H.

Controlling Fleas
When I buy flea collars for my three dogs, I use the extra that I cut off to put in my vacuum cleaner bag to kill any fleas that are sucked up! It helps to keep the house flea free. ~Allison in Elmendorf, TX

Summer Teas
You pay a lot for those fruity delightful teas, but you can make your own that's even better by freezing crushed fruits in ice trays. I place fruit in blender with some water and then pour it into ice trays to freeze. When I want to serve fruity teas or even water, I just take out several squares of the frozen mixture and place them into a glass or pitcher. It's so yummy, all-natural, and very refreshing on these sultry hot days. ~S.

Using Leftovers
Leftovers are great only if you eat them. In the past, I often forgot what I put in my fridge, especially if I put it away in a container that was not see-through. Recently, I came up with the idea of writing the contents on the side of the reusable plastic container with a dry erase marker. That way, I know what is in there, and the writing comes off in the dishwasher. ~Dawn G. in South Bend, IN

Above Ground Pool Repairs
My above ground pool had a large tear in the liner. The patch kits they sell for $9.99 have repair adhesive and a 3x12 piece of vinyl. We went to the Walmart® craft section and found a 54 x 1/4 yard piece of identical clear vinyl for 49 cents! And I purchased a tube of repair adhesive for $3 that will last a long time. I also like having the extra supplies close by in case it is needed quickly. If you curve the cut in the vinyl, it lays better than a square or rectangle. ~S. in Rochester, NY

Caring for Dry Hair
Before you buy an expensive conditioner, you may want to focus on your hairbrush. For years, I had split ends when my hair was long. And having long hair, I would typically brush it thoroughly at least once a day with a nylon brush. Then one time when I was in a beauty supply store, I decided to buy a boar hair bristle brush. Within two weeks of using the new brush, I noticed a significant reduction in my split ends. I threw away all nylon/plastic brushes and just used that one. After a time, I had no more split ends. A boar hair bristle brush is more expensive than a nylon brush, but not by much. You can get a very good one for around $20 in a beauty supply store. Consider it an investment. I still have that same brush, and it has been over 20 years since I bought it. ~Rhonda in Denver

Cleaning Mildew
Borax is one of those often forgotten cleaners our grandparents swore by. To remove mildew from upholstery and other fabrics, soak a sponge in a solution of 1/2 cup borax dissolved in 2 cups hot water and rub it into the affected areas. Let it soak in for several hours until the stain disappears and then rinse well. To remove mildew from clothing, soak the clothing in a solution of 2 cups borax in 2 quarts (2 liters) water. Of course, modern fabrics can be a bit more fragile than our grandmother's generation, so it's a good idea to test a hidden corner first for sensitivity, but so far I haven't found any problems. ~Pam M.

Free Stone Walkways
I recently made a stepping-stone path in our yard, absolutely free. First, I measured the area and estimated how many "steps" I'd need. Then, I drove around to various construction sites in our area. Wherever I'd see broken-up chunks of concrete, I'd stop and ask if I could take a few of the smaller pieces. I looked for pieces that had a flat side, and were roughly about a foot square. Within three days, I had enough chunks to start my project! Next, I laid the chunks out in the desired path. For each one, I dug about two feet down, so that the flat top was flush with the ground. It took a little patience to get each step level, but the results are rewarding. I finished the edges of my new path off with pea gravel and sprinkled it with pretty marbles and colored stones. Now I get comments all the time on my lovely, homemade path. Similar stones cost around $2 to $3 each, so I saved about $60! ~Shaunna

Shopping for Hotels
When you are looking for hotel rates, it pays to check a couple of places before making your reservations. First, do an online search for hotels in the area you'll be staying. When you find a hotel you like, check the online discount sites to read the reviews, but don't automatically book the room through those sites. Check the website of that hotel or hotel chain. They will often have better rates than the discount sites. But don't stop there! Get the number of the hotel or chain you are interested in and call them. I've found that they are more willing to deal and have more options than those given online. One place we stayed advertised a senior discount on their chain site, but the actual hotel offered a much better senior rate when we called. Another gave us an upgrade to an ocean view room just because I asked a few questions of the owner (who happened to answer the phone). It's always better to talk to a human! Also, it pays to stay in local hotels rather than big chains. They are often cheaper, more customer-friendly, more knowledgeable, and more willing to work with your needs. We would rather pay for a comfy, unique room with the local flavor than a cookie-cutter room and a continental breakfast any day. ~Julie in WA

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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