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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - March 1, 2012

Thrift Store End of Season Sales
Just a reminder that it is end-of-season clearance time at most thrift stores. Most of these stores have a day or two of "bag sales." You pay $1-$5 for a paper grocery sack full of your choices. Call around to see when your local thrift store sales will be. ~Kathy B

Free Packing Material
When a box is just a little too large, I use empty liter soda bottles for packing. They are lightweight, take up space, and hold their shape. I also cut tops off and package the item in one bottle and then slide the second on over it and tape them together. I sent wineglasses to Denmark, and they made it with no breakage. ~Evelyn

One Day Spending
I am working on only spending one day a week. It has stopped me from randomly spending on days out or on the internet. If I know I need to spend on a day other than my "spend day," for church for example, I put the money in an envelope on my "spend day." For me, it's Fridays. It concentrates the mind. DH and I also have a set amount of personal spending that is allowed. ~Judith

Scoop Control
I am careful with laundry detergent. I like to buy the top brands, but don't want to spend any more than I have to on detergent. If you look at the scoop that comes with the detergent, it has two or three lines on it, depending on the size of the load. I took my scissors and cut the scoop at the "normal" load marking. That way I don't use more than necessary. It may not seem like much, but in a whole box of detergent, it can add up to a couple of loads. ~Joanne

Garden Exchange
I like to garden, but I am short on funds. My solution? Simple! Host a twice annual "plant exchange" where all the people of your community come to a designated area (usually someone's backyard). Everyone then places their names into a hat, and places their "bumper crop plants" in a row. Some will bring seeds, handmade garden stakes, etc. Then when their names are drawn from the hat, they are allowed to go to the row and choose which plants they would like to take home with them that spring or fall. Within the time frame of five years, we have landscaped our own front yard and helped to make many other gardens beautiful as well! ~Judi W.

Finding Affordable Yarn
I love to crochet and am learning to knit, but the price of yarn is getting ridiculous and I am on a very tight budget. While at a yard sale one day, I found a beautiful, knitted sweater for a quarter because it had a rather large hole. I invested the money, took it home, and spent an hour taking it apart. I got several balls of wonderful yarn from it. I now have a gorgeous shawl that gets rave reviews and all it really cost me was a little time. Now I look for very cheap sweaters at thrift stores and yard sales, take them apart, and try all my new patterns without much of a financial investment! ~KDC from Alabama

Hair Detangler
I have a small daughter who has a tangled mess of long blond hair every morning. Commercial detangler is expensive. I found this recipe for homemade detangler that works great and costs about $.11 to make a 12-ounce bottle. Mix five parts water with one part conditioner. I haven't found a noticeable difference between brands. I use whatever I have on hand. Then I pour it into a recycled spray bottle, and we have no more tears! Cyndi S.

Frozen Meats
My brother used to work for a major food corporation. Conversations with him, along with a work-related project that involved the food industry's "bible" of perishable food storage guidelines, taught me a lot about storing meats and other items. A basic rule of thumb is that meat doesn't deteriorate or "age" in a deep freeze (a freezer that never cycles off to prevent frost build-up). However, meat and other items do age in a frost-free freezer; every partial thaw during an "off" cycle ages the food. Therefore (barring poor storage conditions prior to your purchase), even if you buy meat at its "best used by" date, you can store them up to a year in a deep freeze or up to three months in a frost-free freezer. You can actually store stuff in the frost-free freezer for up to six months, but their age will begin to show in their taste after about three months. Naturally, how you store the food also makes a difference in both environments. ~TB

Take the Time to Call
I have received many free items or refunds just because I take the time to call a company. I was using a dishwasher soap that left residue on my dishes. When I called the 800 number, I was told that a certain powder they sold was better than liquid, and they sent me a coupon for two free boxes of their item. Our carbon monoxide alarm started acting weird after two years and I was going to throw it out and buy another. Instead, I decided to call the company to see if there was anything I could do to fix it. After giving the serial number, I was told a new one would be sent to me free of charge. I could give you more examples! So, the old saying "if you don't ask, you don't get" is really true. ~M. 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 2012 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.


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