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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - March 15, 2012

Got Stainless?
I have a great tip for cleaning stainless steel appliances. Use baby oil on a soft cloth and wipe. The results are amazing! ~Patrice R. in Maine

Moldy Grout
When I was cleaning the bathroom, I began to get frustrated at the moldy grout. Scrubbing didn't hack it, so I decided to take a bleach pen to it and let it sit while I cleaned the rest of the bathroom. No more icky grout residue. I have also used this on a countertop to remove a stubborn rust stain. It's like it was never there! ~Victoria C.

Try before You Buy
Have you ever wanted to try something new but didn't want to shell out the money in case you didn't like it? I've gotten into the habit of writing companies with new products that I want to try, and nine times out of ten, they send coupons. Sometimes I even receive freebie coupons! I make a list and generally write to each of them every six months! It's a great money saver for us. ~Michelle from St Paul, MN

The Bird Seed Trials
For those who have companion birds, the cost of seed and pellets can be exorbitant, especially with specially formulated pellets. It is hard to shell out so much money for bird food only to discover that your bird won't eat it. I emailed or phoned many bird food companies and asked for samples of their products. I received packets and packets of samples and was able to allow my birds to try a wide variety of brands without spending a ton of money. In this way, I learned what foods they liked and which ones they didn't like. The food they didn't like, by the way, was easily baked into "birdie bread," which they devoured. (Birdie bread is usually a corn meal based bread with all kinds of fruit, veggies, vitamins, and pellets added.) ~Marion

Alternatives to Soda
I have found that a water purifying filter pitcher is an excellent way to slow down the soda habit. I also got a glass bottle with a lid to keep in the fridge door, so I always have about one gallon of pure, cold, ready-to-drink water on hand. I also add a small splash of bottled lemon juice to the water to make it "taste like something." The tap water where I live is horrible, but this system works very well. I keep a note on the fridge door about when I need to replace the filter in the pitcher. ~Debbie

Planning for Property Taxes
Every time I agonized over my property tax bill, a friend of mine smiled and smiled. Finally, I learned her secret. She had a Christmas Club account, just like I did, but her money went for taxes, not for gifts. I now save about $100 a month and pay the whole year's tax at once. And since it is never available, I never spend it on some current frivolity. So I can smile and smile when someone moans about taxes to me. ~Pat

No Fabric Softener Sheets for Me
I really hate fabric softeners because of my allergies, not to mention the expense. Much to my chagrin, most baby clothing is very clingy if I don't use fabric softener. My solution is to dampen a washcloth or small rag and add a tiny bit of liquid fabric softener. The smell doesn't permeate the garments (or the house) and sweet Caroline's clothes don't cling. ~Darla

Saving Advice
When I got married, my husband and I learned pretty quickly that money was the root of most disagreements. Since he liked to buy a new computer every two years and I preferred to watch savings grow, we started separate savings accounts to satisfy each of us. We each put aside 10% of our net paycheck. We combined our income first to come up with the 10%, so we wouldn't be arguing about who made more money. In our case, we each put aside $135 from our biweekly paychecks. Because I have mine transferred automatically and I don't enjoy shopping, I was able to save $10,000! I bought a piano for $6,000 and continued to save. Since then, two years ago, I have again brought my balance up to $10,000! My husband likes to spend more frequently on computers, games, and such, but he has nearly $3,000. I imagine it must be time for another computer. Maybe this tip will help other families to save and avoid money arguments. As for other arguments, we decided long ago that Saturdays are his turn to be right and Sundays are mine. ~Debbie in Silverado, CA

Always Running to the ATM?
For several years, I've accumulated a cash stash that I hide in a decorative tin. I'll put anywhere from $1 to $5 in the tin on a weekly basis. When I've accumulated enough money, I replace the ones and fives with ten and twenties. I call this my cash stash. Recently, when I needed birthday money for a niece and nephew, I took a couple twenties out of my cash stash. When a piece of furniture was delivered last fall, I paid the delivery charge from the stash. Paycheck smaller than usual? I dip into the cash stash instead of the savings account to make it through the rest of the pay period. You should always have a certain amount of cash on hand because getting to an ATM isn't always feasible. Sometimes, a check or debit card just won't do. When it has to be cash, you're always prepared. ~Pam W.

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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