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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - June 28, 2012

Save the Nail Polish
If you want to save your nail polish from going bad and getting too thick, place it in the refrigerator. I keep a little container filled with all of my nail polishes in the refrigerator, and they last for years. The liquid stays consistent and does not dry out or get too thick. ~Lori

Earring Storage
Tired of misplacing and/or losing 14K gold and white gold backs to my earrings, I started using a contact lens case to store them in. I can get several pairs in each side, and I no longer have lost backs. ~Kathy H.

Protect Your Microwave
An appliance repairman told me that most microwaves fail because the switch that allows it to start breaks. This is caused, for the most part, by slamming the door. The switch is inside the door panel. Our old microwave with touch pad is over nine years old and still going strong. Gently shut the door. Don't slam it! ~Deb S.

Sweat Stains
I use hair shampoo on yellowing sweat stains on collars and underarms, scrubbing it in with an old toothbrush. I use shampoo for oily hair, as this helps break down the oil our bodies leave on the clothing. Then I just toss it in the washing machine after I've scrubbed it. ~Karen in KY

Inexpensive Gift Idea
For inexpensive gifts, check out the end caps at all stores you visit. An end cap is at the end of an aisle where almost all stores put their clearance items. I bought two Winnie the Pooh cake pans with cupcake liners and paste food coloring for $5 each at Target a few years ago. Last fall, I found little plastic zippered pouches with a variety of Burt's Bees® items inside for $2.34 each. Burt's Bees® items never go on sale. I bought two, and the friend I was with bought the remaining eight. They made great Christmas presents. Most times, I don't find anything I want, but I check these areas every time I go into a store. ~Christine

Puppy Treats
As the owners of a seven-month-old puppy, we are still very much in "training" mode at home. But instead of training our pup with "treats," someone at the local pet store suggested we just use a different flavor of her dog food. Basically anything that's different from her regular food is a "treat," and we just use one tiny little pellet at a time to train her. We bought a five-pound bag of a different flavor dog food with a coupon for $9, and by using it as "treats only," it will last us a very long time. We also don't have to worry about upsetting her stomach since it's the same maker and same base formula, just a different flavor. We have no expensive treats to buy, and our dog stays healthy and motivated. ~Ann F.

Creative Storage
I live in a 1940s bungalow style home with small closets and very little storage. To store my off-season clothing, I purchased plastic brown garbage cans that are large and round. I removed the lid, placed clothes inside, and replaced the lid with round tabletop glass that I purchased for as little as $3. On top of that, I added a round tablecloth. I've done this in our bedroom with two being used as nightstands and one in my son's room used also as a nightstand. No one can tell they are garbage cans. We also have no linen closets to store our sheets. I purchased under-the-bed storage containers, and our sheets all go under the bed until they are needed. Bath towels and wash cloths are rolled and kept in very large wicker baskets. The baskets are placed in a handy spot in the bathroom, so these items can be grabbed as needed. ~Sheila C.

Finding Frugal Bed Sheets
I've done really well buying sheets at thrift shops like Salvation Army, Goodwill, Savers, etc. You have to keep looking, but many really nice sheets do eventually get donated, and you will get the same sheet for $4 that typically costs $20 retail. Sometimes the set is sold together, and sometimes the pieces are near each other but priced individually. Sometimes you can mix and match, as in a print sheet with a coordinating solid color. I'll never buy sheets retail again. The price is so dramatically different, and I have found some truly wonderful sheets secondhand. As I say, you have to keep looking; I have turned it into a lunch-hour or on-the-way-home-from-work hobby. ~Anne

Why Wrap Gifts?
I have saved a lot of money by not buying wrapping paper. On our third son's 6th birthday, I forgot to buy the wrapping paper, so we decided to hide his gifts. We gave him the first clue, and he had to figure out where it was hidden. When he found the gift, there was a clue to the next gift until he found them all with the birthday card on the last gift. All of the kids had so much fun, so we had to do all of their birthdays this way. We even tried to go back to wrapping the presents once, and they were very disappointed. Our kids are now 22, 20, 18 (this is the one we started with at 6), 13, 6 and 4. The older ones still talk about how much they enjoyed finding their gifts. It saved us money and created some fun family memories. ~Shelly

The Daily Dealer
There are an abundance of sites online that will send you the "deal of the day" for your city or online. Groupon, LivingSocial, Urban Dealight are just a few. I've joined every available one for my area. The deals I've scored have included a graduation portrait package for $45 (with CD), mini golf for six with free sodas and necklaces for $24, entrance to a popular arcade/ride place for two for $24 (unlimited rides), and half-price (or less!) meals at restaurants, sports bars, and grills. It takes just a second to delete the emails if you're not interested. And living in a large urban area, I need to check out where the deal is located to be sure it's within my driving area. So far this summer, I've managed to keep my kids entertained and my budget intact by trying out these deals! ~Deb C.

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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