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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - November 24, 2011

Holiday Wrapping Paper
Go to your local newspaper office and purchase the leftover rolls of paper. This makes great gift-wrapping paper. It also works great for coloring sheets. ~Michelle in Morris

Bake potatoes in a slow cooker. I scrub and pierce as many potatoes as will fit in my slow cooker and cook them on low for six to eight hours. We usually have several of them with homemade Thousand Island dressing on a bed of greens for dinner and have plenty leftover for other meals. I store them in an unsealed plastic bag in the fridge for up to one week. ~Ellen

How to Wrap Gift Cards
Gift cards are small, so you can always put them with something. Go to the thrift store and buy a bunch of stuffed animals, dolls, or other toys. You can buy them for around a quarter and in all sizes and styles. A cute little teddy bear holding the gift card for your niece or a GI Joe for the soldier in your family will put a smile on their face. ~Chris

Sharing Lunch Coupons
Office workers tend to eat out for lunch a lot. While this is not terribly frugal, you can save some money by starting a coupon swap with your coworkers. In my office, we tack the coupons we want to give away on our cubicles. Some of us like BBQ while others like fast food chains, so we usually find what we like and can offer someone else what we're not so wild about. We can try new places, and it's an easy way to be social, generous, and save a few dollars. ~Heidi in New Orleans

My Healthy, Inexpensive Snack
With food budgets tight nowadays, instead of running to the vending machine for a "quick snack" or having expensive, high calorie potato chips on hand, I bring hard boiled eggs to work with my lunch. I also keep them on hand for breakfasts on the go. They are so easy, cheap and good for you. I've learned that protein-based snacks satisfy hunger better than high carb ones do. We make a bunch (at least 18) at a time and eat them all week long between meals. They last a long time in the fridge because they are self-contained! ~Tricia from Parma, OH

Office Gifts
Office workers often purchase gifts for each other and this can get out of hand when trying to reciprocate, etc. A great idea to help alleviate the problem is to buy a large basket at a thrift store and make a decision about the recipient of the gift. Some ideas include a homeless shelter, women's shelter, etc. Call a local church or the center itself to find out what items are needed. Everyone in the office should add items to the basket and "pay it forward" instead of purchasing for each other. We do this at church for a women's shelter in lieu of gifts. It is very well appreciated by all! ~Jamie B.

Veggie Wash
For an inexpensive substitute for commercial fruit and vegetable cleaners, use baking soda. I used to keep some by the sink in a shaker jar, but last night I noticed in the grocery store that Arm & Hammer® is packaging theirs in a shaker container. Store brands are less expensive, however. It's not a spray, but in my opinion, baking soda does a better job. Just shake some on, rub it around, and rinse. It works great! ~Lisa

How I Make Money Each Week
One "out-of-the-box" way to make money is to set aside a certain time each week to figure out how to save money. Every Wednesday, while doing laundry, I decide what to save money on and do research on how to save in one area of my life, including saving on gasoline, checking out frugal tips, cooking and freezing frugal meals, sewing items for gifts, etc. This week, I'm making birthday cards instead of spending $3 to $5 for each one. I have been doing this for years and think of this as a part-time, tax-free, stay-in-my-home job. ~Dee Bee in Naples, FL

Holiday Step-by-Step
In September, I sit down and plan for my holiday baking, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, food gifts, cookie exchanges, etc. I make a master list of what I will need to buy to complete these plans. I then add an extra item or two to my weekly shopping list, so when the time comes, I have what I need without the huge extra expense all at once. I also look at my box mixes already on hand to see what I might use up, rather than buying. I also consider what I can make ahead and freeze to save myself time later on. If I see a bag of bananas on clearance, I consider buying it and making banana bread to go into the freezer for later. It may be served with a meal or given as a gift. If I make a double batch of dinner one evening, the second half could go into the freezer to have on a busy night in December when I don't have the time or energy to cook, thus providing a healthy meal and preventing the cost of dining out or carry out. ~TMB in Davenport, FL

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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