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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - May 17, 2012

Natural Deodorant
I use plain white vinegar as natural deodorant. I just apply a bit with a cotton ball after showering and let it dry. It works great, and after a few minutes, the smell of the vinegar dissipates. Plus, it is dirt cheap. ~Julie

Kids' Play Areas
We used to have a section in our yard for our kids with swings, overhead bars, and climbing towers. We filled the area with pine shavings. We were able to get large bales at the feed store. It will cling to clothes at first, but if you hose it down when you first spread it out, it will stay put. ~Chris

Cleaning Grout
I just discovered this one myself, so I'm happy to pass on a frugal, relatively simple way to clean the grout between ceramic tiles. I use baking soda! I dampen the area (just wipe it with a damp cloth) and sprinkle baking soda over the grout. I let it set a few minutes and then use an old toothbrush to scrub it. It really takes minimal elbow grease. This absolutely amazed me the first time I tried it. I keep baking soda in an old spice shaker and use it to clean my sinks as well. ~Candace

Self Snack Packs
Losing weight is hard. It's especially hard when you want a snack. A lot of companies are making 100 calorie snack packs now, but they can be quite expensive! I buy a full-size bag or box of a couple of treats and figure how many would be 100 calories (or close to it ), using the nutritional information on the packaging. Then I make up my own snack packs. I generally get at least twice the amount of small packages doing it this way. Of course, I make sure I'm not hungry first! ~Kim in TX

Dishwasher Detergent Alternative
For a frugal and very environmentally-friendly alternative to corrosive automatic dishwasher soap, mix together equal parts washing soda (NOT baking soda) and borax. Store it dry in a tightly covered container and use it as you would regular powdered dishwasher detergent. It cleans and disinfects just as well and contains no harmful phosphates. You should be able to find both borax and washing soda in the laundry aisle of your supermarket. ~Ellen from Canada

Embroidery Patterns
I look through coloring books until I find just the right page to trace onto fine white cloth. These patterns make wonderful gifts for an embroidered child's pillow, a set of framed embroidery for a nursery wall, etc. Another use for some of the "patterns" is to use them to cut out fabric to top stitch to a little child's tee shirt or to make a border for curtains. Oh, what fun when we find another use for beloved items! ~Ruth Ann

Superhero Cupcakes
My granddaughter Elena made darling cupcakes for her 10-year-old brother's birthday party. He wanted "superhero" decorations on them. She searched and could not find tiny "superheroes" to use, so she used color copies of pictures from her computer (about two or three inches tall). She sandwiched them between sticky tape, cut around the figures, and added a toothpick to stick them in the cupcake. The decorations were very colorful and almost free, and the cupcakes were a big hit with the guests. Colorful gift-wrap decorations would work well, too. ~Grammy Tommie of Abilene TX

Help for Dying Plants
My houseplants were looking sickly and maybe needing to be repotted to a larger pot. I went to my local technical school to the horticulture department. I showed them all of my plants and asked for advice. They gave their expert advice for free and repotted them to a larger pot for a very small fee (the potting soil price). My plants have never looked better and are growing like a weed as they say. Also, they have beautiful, healthy plants for sale growing there. If I go in May or the beginning of June (which is the end of the school year), I can buy them for next to nothing. ~Elizabeth P.

Save the Remaining Paint
The enemy of partially used cans of paint or stain is air. No matter how tightly you seal the containers, there is still an air pocket at the top, which will eventually work against the paint and stain and ruin it. Those empty glass jars you've been throwing away or recycling can save the day! You have two choices. First, recant the paint or stain into the jars, filling all the way to the top to minimize the size of the air pocket. Or, if you'd rather, thoroughly wash the "outside" of the jars and seal them tightly. Then drop them into the larger gallon paint or stain cans. That will displace and raise the level of the contents, thus minimizing the air pocket. Put a heavy object in the jar if you want it to sink. For smaller pint or quart cans of paint and stain, dropping glass marbles into the can will have the same effect. ~Rick

Why My Clothes Always Look New
My friend recently went into my laundry room and noticed I keep a lot of RIT dye in the laundry room and asked where I purchased it as she needed to dye some material for her grandson's play. I told her I bought it at the grocery store. However, curiosity got the best of her and she asked me why I kept so much of it around. I told her that all my black clothes are years old, and they stay black because I occasionally use RIT dye packets to refresh the black. I also keep a bottle of the blue jean coloring to refresh blue jeans. She couldn't believe it when I told her some of my t-shirts and dressier clothes were many years old and looked brand new simply because I ran them through a dye every now and then. I further told her that RIT has a whitening process in packets. Occasionally, I run my whites through it, and RIT has a rust packet process remover I use when my dear husband gets rust all over his white shirts when working around the house. When you buy it all on sale and use it all when you need it, everything lasts longer, and you'll save money. ~Denise M.

Want to live better on the money you already make? Visit www.stretcher.com/index.cfm?TipsSyn to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar! Copyright 2012 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

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