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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - September 15, 2011

More Toppings!
We love pizza with loads of toppings, but as you know, each topping adds to the total price. Now, we order pizza with sausage and cheese. While waiting for it to be delivered, we cut up and sauté onions, peppers, mushrooms, and broccoli. When the pizza arrives, we add these toppings, have a healthy meal, and save a bundle. ~A.

Affordable Storage Containers
Now that canning season is in full swing in much of the country, many stores are having specials on canning jars and lids. At the same time, more and more of us are trying to avoid using plastic containers for our food. Combine these two trends and save money by buying a dozen pint, quart, or even two quart jars based on your family size. Then, use these for storing leftovers in your refrigerator. The covers are standard size so you won't always be looking for "just the right lid" and you'll be able to see at a glance exactly what's in the refrigerator. You will probably find the wide mouth jars to be the most practical for most of your leftovers. ~Helen L.

Apple Season!
I use my food dehydrator to make dried apples. This time of year, you should be able to get mildly damaged or deer apples cheaper than regular apples from the grocery store. I peel and then slice the apples and put them in a sealed container with an equal ratio of lemon juice to water solution. Then I shake the sliced apples to get them thoroughly coated with the solution and dry them. The solution keeps the slices from turning brown while drying and gives them an added flavor. I sometimes put some white or brown sugar or even cinnamon into the solution for a change. ~Rich R.

Foot Care
Instead of shopping for those expensive cremes and moisturizers that guarantee to fix your cracked heels, simply use some petroleum jelly. Slather it on any spots with cracks or just areas that you'd like to moisturize and then put on some socks. I do this at night while sleeping. You'll notice a difference within one to two days. I no longer purchase expensive cremes that give false hope. ~Anna C. in Austin, TX

Big Credit Card Purchases
Although it's best to pay cash and not use credit cards at all, sometimes we need to make a major purchase while things are on sale. Or, you may get an offer for a big discount if you use your credit card to purchase something. Before doing this, call the credit card issuer and ask for a lower rate. Be polite but mention that the interest is lower on your other credit card(s). If your credit is good and you pay on time, the creditor probably wants to keep you as a customer. Chances are that you will get a lower rate. ~Lynn

Preventing Home Break-Ins
GPS devices are awesome. You can get anywhere from, well, anywhere. You can get home from a trip using the quickest route. We've all heard of thieves breaking into your vehicle and stealing the GPS unit while you are out shopping, at a concert, on vacation, etc. They just select the destination as "Home" and clean you out. Not only are you traumatized by the vehicle break-in, but also you come home to face an even bigger trauma, which is the violation of your home. My Garmin® GPS unit has a security feature to unlock the unit with a PIN number. (It can only be reset when you are at the destination specified as "Home.") Let's suppose the thief is clever enough to figure out the PIN number, you don't have that feature available on your GPS unit, or you prefer not to use a PIN number. Instead of programming the unit for your actual home address, program it for a destination within the vicinity of your home, such as a shopping mall, fire department, post office, or the local law enforcement office (my favorite). You'll still be able to find your home, but the thief will not. ~Lonita S.

The Cost of Hospital "Convenience"
Several years ago, when I had my first child, the obstetrics nurse brought a tote bag to me after delivery filled with postpartum care items like Dermoplast® spray, Tucks® pads, sanitary napkins, etc. I took it without question. When my itemized bill arrived, there was a "convenience" charge of just under $300! When I called the billing office to ask about it, the clerk explained that it was for the items in that tote bag and that insurance covered it. I was shocked! I went to my local drugstore and priced a similar bag and all the items in it and the retail price was about $30. I called the billing clerk back, told her what I did, requested a credit for the price difference, and received it! When my other children were born, I always packed my own "convenience kit" and made sure that the nurse knew not to bill me for one. I now give these to new moms as baby shower gifts and tell them my story. Imagine how much money could be saved in insurance claims and premium increases if all moms provided their own "convenience kits." ~Laura K.

Online Colleges
Get in-state tuition at a well-known college far away when you take distance learning classes. Many "brick and mortar" universities including the University of Texas, Western Illinois University, the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and Brigham Young University offer online classes. In some cases, they even offer online degrees. Usually the tuition for these classes is similar to in-state tuition, and occasionally it is less. They are sometimes called independent study, rather than online classes or distance learning. Find distance learning programs at recognized universities by googling your major or getting a distance learning guide from the library. Readers should be cautious about enrolling in a for-profit online-only college. Often, the school is accredited but the degree program or major is not, resulting in a degree that is almost worthless. Often graduate schools or other universities will not recognize those credits, and some employers may disregard your degree. Taking online classes offered by an actual university with a national reputation is a much better value. ~Joni

Want to live better on the money you already make? Visit www.stretcher.com/r/99.htm to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar! Copyright 2011 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

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