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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - January 19, 2012

Frozen Burgers
The plastic sleeves that cover each slice of cheese in an American cheese package are perfect when washed to use as dividers between burgers being stored in the freezer. I just place the stack in a zipper bag. This makes removing one or two patties easy to do when the time comes. ~Bonnie in Arkansas

Electronics Cords
When I get a new gadget that has a cord attachment, I take a piece of white or colored tape, fold it over the cord to make a flap or tab, and write the name of the gadget it goes with on the tape with permanent marker. After a while, those cords start to pile up, and most of them look alike and have no identification on them. ~Judy W.

Juicy Soda
Store-brand club soda is cheap and free of calories. By mixing it with fruit juice, I can save money and still enjoy the fruit juice I love without the high calories. It is also healthier and less expensive than soda, and I have a lot of variety of juices to choose from. ~D.W. in Florida

Product Manuals, Guides and Disks
A great way to save money and time when you want to figure out why something isn't working right is to keep all of your manuals in a sturdy accordion file folder. When you purchase something new, put the manual (with the receipt placed inside) in the correct alphabetical slot. Also, because so many electronics now include a CD-ROM, keep that in the same slot. If the item needs repair, you've got all of the information in one place and the folder takes very little room. And if you want to sell it later on, you will be able to provide everything that the buyer might need. ~Susan F.

Fun and Frugal Scavenger Hunts
Our church youth group did a photo scavenger hunt once. We made a list of different settings. For example, they were told to get a photo of group doing a human pyramid, a photo of group in front of a house with the numbers 123, a picture of a member of group getting frisked by a police officer, etc. We set a time limit (about two hours), and each group got in a car and took off. Some of the pictures were worth more points than others were, depending on difficulty of acquiring the picture. After the time was up, we added up the points. The activity was great fun, and the photos were great souvenirs. ~Tasha

Learning New Skills
I think the best way to learn a new skill is to find someone with the expertise and see if they will help you get started. Just buying a secondhand tool from Craigslist is kind of scary. When you don't know what you're doing, you could have safety issues or just get really frustrated if the tool (sewing machine, table saw, stand mixer, etc.) is not correctly put together or adjusted. Ask around to neighbors and family members to find someone willing to spend an afternoon helping you. You may be able to barter some of your own skills. ~Evelyn

Toasty Toes
I make "heated insoles" for my shoes from either new or used car window sun reflectors. They are the ones that pop open to block the sun's heat from making the car interior too warm. They are available at Big Lots, dollar stores, or at thrift shops. Using either the insole of the shoes or your foot, cut a pattern, and place with the reflective side up under the insole if possible. Because they are thin, they do not crowd your feet in the shoe/boot. If bought commercially, heated insoles run from $14 to $20 a pair. With my method, I can get several pairs from one set of car shades. This will keep your feet warm on winter days, and because they are under the insole, they have minimal slipping. ~Deana

Avoiding Freezer Burn
The thing that causes freezer burn is air, so the remedy is to wrap the food as airtight as possible. My method is to pack everything into zipper-seal freezer bags. Put a straw into the bag and zip the bag around it. Suck as much air out through the straw as possible and then quickly remove it and seal the bag the rest of the way. About the only thing this doesn't work for is something like lasagna. In that case, I line the pan with heavy duty foil, freeze the lasagna, pop it out of the pan, wrap the foil around it, and pack it into a freezer bag, using the above method. The worst thing you can do is leave the food in the casserole dish with a lot of dead space between the top of the food and the wrapping. The same thing goes for plastic containers that aren't full. There is still air in the container, even if they try to tell you it's airtight. I've pulled "forgotten" food out of the freezer a couple of months after I've made it, and it's still been perfectly good. ~Cindy

My Dead Coffeemaker
Last weekend, our coffee maker started acting quite strange. Rather than making coffee, it just made steam and sputtered. After a couple attempts at restarting it, we decided that it was just worn out and time to get another one. We were going to town, so we planned to purchase a new one. Before we left, I attempted to clean it one more time and poured about half of a cup of white vinegar into the water tank. Several hours and three stores later, we came home without a new coffee maker. I really liked my coffee maker with the metal carafe, but there was not one at any of the stores we visited. I decided to order one online. As I was preparing dinner, I decided to push the power button one more time to see if it was working. And much to my surprise, it did work this time. I ran several more pots of water through it to rid the vinegar smell from the carafe. So we have a working coffee maker for the cost of half of a cup of vinegar. Don't forget to clean your coffee maker periodically with vinegar. ~Dee W. in Culleoka, TN

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 2012 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.


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