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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - August 4, 2011

Bug Repellent
I try to be natural and cost-effective at the same time. Instead of using a lot of expensive insect/bug repellents, I sprinkle ground cloves around the trash can and inside the recycling can to keep flies and other bugs out and to also keep the garbage and trash smelling fresh on hot, humid days. It works well. ~SB

Finding Free Cultural Events
Where do you find free arts events, from poetry readings to concerts to story times? Many states have a "council for the arts." In return for grants from the arts council, the artists then perform for free in various venues. Visit the council for the arts website for your state to see the artists they are supporting and then link to those artists' events. The same system exists at a county level in many states as well, funding educational lectures, artist demonstrations, and musical performances. ~Tamara W.

Cheaper Movies
To save money, instead of buying hot dogs and popcorn at the movies, go 30 minutes before and buy it at the gas station instead. Get everything you want there, including hot dogs, drinks, candy, and nachos. The price will be much cheaper. Then take the kids to a nice park nearby and eat there. If you have little kids, they can run around and get their energy out before the movies, ensuring they will sit more quietly once they get there. They will also be full so all the concession goodies won't be so appealing. ~Julie S.

Less Expensive Carpet
Go to your local carpet stores and see if they offer a guarantee on their carpet installations. Ask whether or not they remove carpet if people are dissatisfied (with their new carpet) or something to that effect. If they do, you can purchase carpet for a lot less because it will have already been somewhere else (but it would still be new), and they would be willing to get rid of it cheaply. ~Babs

Treasuring Your Spendy Spouse
When my spendy spouse got frustrated at my extreme frugality, I explained to him that this was a way I showed how much I respected him. At first, he didn't understand. I then explained to him that every minute he worked was worth a certain amount of money and I just can't justify to myself spending his time/money to buy something that our family just wanted and didn't need. He really appreciated that very much and then he got involved in our finances more. I pay the bills and put money in savings. He balances the checking account. This is a great thing as a family. Don't make it a mission to change him. Find a balance that works! ~H.

Generating Extra Cash
Do not throw out your used printer ink cartridges, toner cartridges, and cell phones. You can easily sell them. Google "used ink cartridges" and/or "sell used cell phone," and you'll find multiple companies that buy them. Compare prices because they vary. Some offer free shipping if you send enough at once. For cell phones, be sure to remove any personal information, deactivate the phone, and remove SIM card (if any). If you are associated with a large organization or know someone who is, this method of generating some income can be more than an occasional thing. ~Joe

Comparison Shopping
My boyfriend and I have trouble not spending small (under $5) amounts of money on little knick-knacks. That money can really add up. We took a small notebook, and on each page, at the top, we wrote down a dollar figure. For example, we wrote $1, $2, $5, $10, and $20, giving each dollar figure a few pages. Then, on each page, we wrote down what we can get for that amount of money. For $2, for example, we can get a pound of butter on sale, a pound of chicken breasts, or a cheap drink at Starbucks. When we're out shopping and tempted by something cheap, we see how it stacks up to the other things that we can buy, and unless it's something useful or something we really want, it's easier to just say no. ~TPH

Organizing Coupons
I organized my coupons in a card file box with the dividers separating major groups of coupons into categories of my choosing. I created a separate section for "coupons expiring within the next 30 days" and also for "free" items. At the beginning of every month, I go through the card file to see which coupons need to be moved to the 30-day section. Also, when I add new coupons to the box, I put the new coupons in their category in the back of the section so that the oldest ones are first. At least now the coupon expires only if I let it. ~Bonnie

Use Less Gasoline
To save gasoline, when I think I "need" something, I ask myself, "If I had to walk to get this, would I really need it right this minute?" It stops me from driving every time I need something, and I make a list and get a ton of stuff in one trip to town. I also have a small business located in our small town, and rather than drive a couple of blocks to purchase lunch or pick up something needed, I just walk to my destination. It's easier than maneuvering and then parking, and it's better for your health. ~Missie in Pleasant Hill, MO

Second Marriage Finances
I am married for the second time, and my husband and I have different spending styles. We tried several different plans, but the one that works best for us is this. First, figure out the basic expenses for maintaining the house each month, including rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, taxes, and insurance. Divide the total in a ratio you are comfortable with. If salaries are equal or close, divide 50/50. If the salaries differ, try 40/60, etc. Both partners put their share in the checking account that is used for those bills. The remainder of each partner's money is their own to do whatever they wish. If you both have children, take child expenses out of your "own" money or include the basics in with the household bills and take the extra expenses out of your own money. We also put just a bit extra in the household account each month so we will have a head start on any major household purchase or emergency items. ~L.

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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