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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - September 8, 2011

Reviewing Receipts
When you receive a receipt, do you ever read the bottom or back of it? On a Bob Evans receipt, I found if I did a survey, I'd get a free cup of coffee on my next visit. On a Burger King receipt, I found if I did a survey, I'd get a free whopper or chicken sandwich with purchase of a drink and fries. ~Shirley

From Off-Season to Consignment
I purchase top quality brand name clothing (especially coats) when it goes on clearance in the off-season. Once the kids are finished wearing it, I launder it and sell it through a consignment store. Because these clothes are trendy, top brands, I'm usually able to recoup almost the entire original cost of the item. This allows my kids to have some top quality coats/clothes for next to nothing. ~Louise

Forget Farmer's Markets
Forget the farmer's market when you have local farmers. These need not be farmers with rolling acres of produce. Just ask your neighbors if they garden and offer to buy excess produce. (Of course, bartering and taking excess for free are also options.) ~TW

Saving Summer Herbs
My garden has a lovely overabundance of basil this summer. I use as much as I can in salads, omelets, and sauces. However, I also keep some for the winter. Using my food processor, I pulse several cups of basil leaves with a couple of tablespoonfuls of extra virgin olive oil. Next I spoon the puree into ice cube trays and freeze until firm. Once the basil is frozen, I pop the cubes into a freezer bag to be enjoyed in soups and stews or with pasta and garlic during the long winter months. It's simpler than pesto, but just as versatile. ~Rasa

Creating "Micro Climates"
I'm very hot-natured, and keeping the air conditioner thermostat set at a reasonable and frugal temperature used to leave me in a perpetual meltdown. I found a way around that by creating little "micro climates" for myself. I purchased several small personal fans for around $10 each and placed them at "my" spots throughout the house like where I sit in the living room, on my bedside table, etc. I aim the fan right at me, and the breeze keeps me perfectly comfortable. Now we keep the thermostat set to a warmer and money-saving temperature, and I'm still cool as a cucumber! ~Susan M.

Individual Brownie Pans
Lately, I've been noticing ads in catalogs for brownie pans that make individual brownies. Some sell for as much as $17.95. We all probably have a similar pan in our kitchens, which is a muffin tin! Make your favorite brownie recipe and put the dough in a muffin tin. Each brownie is individual with the nice chewy "crust" at the edge that makes the brownie so delicious. ~Kathy H.

Tired of Losing Things?
I've always had the bad habit of setting down my keys, glasses, cell phone, iPod, etc. wherever I was at the moment and immediately forgetting where that was once I walked away. I lost tons of time searching for things later because by then the items might have disappeared under some mail or have blended into the background. Fed up with constant searching, I designated an official "hot spot" in every room of my house (including the garage and screened in porch). I wrote "Hot Spot" on small, removable labels and stuck each label on the area. After that, I only put my keys, phone, etc. on the room's hot spot area. This ensured I could find the item quickly by checking one single spot in each room. This system has saved scatter-brained me so much time and aggravation that I had to share. Eventually I replaced the written labels with less-obvious removable dots to keep me mindful. ~Julie B.

No More Dried Meats
As a long-time fan of America's Test Kitchen, they have scientifically proven that searing meat actually decreases the amount of juice in meat rather than sealing it in, but it produces a whole lot of flavor. They also used their great food geeks to show that for very juicy meat, you should rub the surface with salt, wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap, and then refrigerate overnight before cooking. There is a chemical process that takes place and will hold the juices in as the meat cooks. Seasonings can be mixed in with the salt to add flavor. About a teaspoon of table salt is needed for four servings of meat. ~Ti

Paint on the Cheap
Often I find paint on mark down, even lower than half price, as stores want to sell their paint that customers did not like after they were color tinted. This is quality, name brand, very expensive paint at less than half price. It's a real deal if you can use the paint color. Mixing the tinted paint with white makes the paint more pastel if needed and really stretches the amount of paint to be double or triple the amount, making it even a better deal. In this tight economy, getting help with painting can be as easy as putting the word out to relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Most will work for far less than professional companies. Painting on a budget can be accomplished and rewarding, and it will improve your home's value. ~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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