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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - December 22, 2011

Inexpensive Tree Skirts
I bought a holiday tablecloth on clearance for a few dollars and cut a hole in the center to make a festive tree skirt! ~Lori

Save the Packaging
When I receive an item packaged in a padded envelope, I save the envelopes and reuse them for packing material. The padded envelopes are great for lining boxes when moving. They keep fragile items from "clinking" together and shifting in transit. If I am able to remove the label cleanly, I just reuse the envelopes for mailing. ~EJ in PA

Picky Kitty Eaters
I finally found a way to out-smart my cat that can be a picky eater at times! I take a small amount of the rejected cat food and mix it equally with her favorite food! This works most of the time, and I don't feel guilty throwing away good cat food. ~Jean S.

Hate Wrapping Gifts?
Here's something our family does for our own "in house" gift giving. It's cheap and fun, and I no longer need gift-wrap. We hide the present and get hysterical giving hints on the gift's location (in a suitcase, empty ice cream box in freezer, etc.). We fondly remember our scavenger hunts long after the event, and good memories don't have a price. ~Donna

Fine Print Finds
My new found secret at the grocery store is no secret at all. For years, I would buy mostly brand names. I have adopted a new style of shopping that focuses on reading the fine print. Things like quantity size, ingredients, and cost per ounce have helped me break the brand name habit. Now, I shop based on reading the fine print, and I save over 25% per visit buying all sorts of different brands. ~S.

Easy Christmas Kitchen Decor
I want to decorate my kitchen for Christmas, but money is tight this year! I looked at several thrift stores but couldn't find matching canisters with Christmas themes. I finally found one set, but they were overpriced, and I was only planning to use them during December. Then it hit me! I could use Christmas window clings on my current glass canisters! My local dollar store had several types to choose from, and I found some that I love! Best of all, it only cost me $1! ~T.

Clogged Sink?
My sink in the bathroom was clogged. My normal go-to when any drain gets clogged is an expensive drain cleaner. We didn't have any on hand, but we did have a wire coat hanger. My husband bent it into a hook shape and ran it down the drain. He was able to pull out the whole clog! Afterwards I poured a little bit of baking soda in the drain and chased it with some vinegar, just for good measure. I have read that this is great as a regular treatment to help prevent clogs from forming in the first place. ~Rebecca

Heat From the Clothes Dryer
Many people are adding ducts that allow hot air from their clothes dryer to heat their home. My husband is a builder and he just read an article in one of his trade magazines that contractors are busy repairing damage that can result from the excessive moisture the dryer puts into the inside air. Condensation happens when the heated moist air hits unheated surfaces like windows or exterior walls. This causes mold or wood rot inside walls or under floors, which may not be visible to the homeowner. Please weigh the cost of the extra heat against repairs or illnesses due to the extra moisture! ~Julia J. in Greenville, SC

Puppy Accident Clean-Up
A friend gave me this tip when we first got our dog. Buy the smallest wet/dry vacuum cleaner (one-gallon size) and keep it just for wet "accidents." On carpeting, pour some water on the spot to rinse it, and then use the vac to suck it all out. It does a much better job of getting it clean (and dry) than just using paper towels. Just be sure to rinse out the vac after each use. When your puppy is housebroken, you can use it to vacuum out the car and other small messes. ~Robert J.

Preventing Cheese Mold
To prevent mold on cheese, use white vinegar! I buy the two-pound blocks of cheese when they go on sale. After opening one, I divide the leftover cheese in about half-pound pieces or leave whole. I use a vacuum sealer, and into each bag, I put a few drops of white vinegar, squish it around, and shake out the excess. Then I add the cheese to the bag and seal. If I keep it in the refrigerator, it will stay mold free. There are only two of us, but at this moment, we have mozzarella, cheddar, jack, parmesan, cream cheese and American. None of them have any mold whatsoever. The parmesan is still good after a year, and the mozzarella is at least six months old. That white vinegar really does the trick! ~D.

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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