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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - May 31, 2012

Controlling My Time
I now complete more goals/tasks in a week's time than I used to because I refrain from checking my emails each day until after I complete my most important daily tasks/goals. ~Janet H.

Natural Rinse Agent
Most dishwashers have a receptacle for putting in rinse agents. I use plain vinegar in the dispenser. This is much cheaper, and the dishes come out squeaky clean. Keeps the dishwasher free of any scum, too. ~Ann N. in Medinah, Illinois

Laundry Detergent Extender
I've found that powder laundry detergent lasts five times longer than the liquid. I add a large box of baking soda to the powdered detergent. The baking soda is a natural stain remover and stretches the powder even further. ~Tina

Inexpensive Wedding Presents
Love is in the air! With summer approaching fast, many people will be getting married. For a creative gift, I always buy a laundry basket and fill it with household cleaners, such as laundry detergent, fabric softener sheets, garbage bags, sponges, all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner, a toilet bowl brush, etc. You can add anything you want, and most of these items can be found at your local dollar store! ~Stella C.

Cheaper Vacuum Bags
I purchase sweeper bags at rummage sales, flea markets, etc. for 25 cents. Most people get rid of their old sweeper bags and donate them to these places. Over the years, I haven't bought "new" sweeper bags since I bought my upright sweeper for $35. Check where the hole in the bag is located and be sure it will work. If they are too long, I just fold up the bottom. Sometimes I've gotten as many as three to six bags in a package this way. Of course, a bagless sweeper is the way to go, but until mine quits working altogether, this one will do. ~Lilly P.

Organized Groceries
Here are some tips on saving on groceries. Date everything you buy, including dry, canned, and frozen foods. This allows you to rotate your pantry stock to reduce the problem of items becoming out of date. We just write the month and year on each item with a waterproof marker. With freezer items, this is a little more work, but we keep a running inventory on a master list on top of the freezer. Our categories include beef, pork, chicken, seafood, vegetable, fruit, bread, juice, and miscellaneous. Then, every three months or so, we do a complete freezer inventory and place the older items on a shelf by themselves. We also keep a separate "use up" list of what's on that shelf and use it to plan menus. We have rarely had to dispose of food that has gone bad. ~TSD

Before You Move
This is the time of year when people move out of town. There is a federal law that says you can't load canned goods, aerosol cans, food products, plants, etc. onto a moving van or rented moving truck. Instead of throwing out these items, share them with others. For instance, the local food bank could use unopened frozen and canned foods. Perhaps a nursing home could distribute any plants to residents who have few visitors. The battered women's shelter could use all of the above items, along with toiletries. Habitat for Humanity or ReStore may be able to use paint, spray paint, varnish or other products in your garage. Other charitable thrift stores, such as Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc., can sell your unwanted household goods, furniture and clothing. You can get a tax deduction by donating to these charities. Are there needy families in your church that could benefit from items you're not taking along? Or, simply give things to friends and neighbors. All of this will help keep items out of the landfill and benefit other frugal folks. ~N2W

Food on the Road
If you travel for business, then you know food on the road can be unhealthy and expensive. You're limited by time, availability, and whether or not your hotel room has a fridge. Since my work travel almost always involves a plane, I try to take a few granola bars and some dried fruit on my trip. Before I get to my destination, I've already looked up grocery stores in the area. I stock up on snacks like granola bars, dried fruit, fruit leathers, sparkling water (as a treat because I love it and don't drink soda), whole fruit and vegetables, nuts, and rice cakes to name a few. This works for me because I can snack throughout the day at a convention without paying too much for unhealthy food, and I know what I am getting. I can also tap this stash for a quick breakfast when I'm in a hurry or dinner when it is just too late. It also keeps while I am traveling home, and my family will finish eating whatever I bring home. ~Emily L.

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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