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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - July 26, 2012

Affordable Cat Litter
My daughter has many cats and uses horse bedding as cat litter. It is scoopable, economical, and 100% biodegradable. It consists of natural wood fibers. She purchases 40-pound bags at a grain and feed store for under $7. A.

Potluck Containers
Here's another tip for containers to bring to parties, etc. I buy platters and casserole dishes at yard sales if I see them. These are great for taking to parties or when somebody needs help with a meal. They are not my "good" dishes, so I do not worry if I don't get them back. The cost to me is usually fifty cents to a dollar. A. Z.

Help for Small Home Repairs
I call the senior center in my area when I run into a project at home that I can't complete or can't complete without some help. They have a list of available handymen who worked as plumbers, carpenters, etc. before retiring and want to stay somewhat busy as well as make some money. I find that they do not charge large amounts and they take on jobs like hanging a door or painting a bedroom that contractors don't want to be bothered with doing. WV

Smoother Feet
Instead of paying for a salon pedicure, I now wait until I go to the beach. The sand works to gently clean up your feet without the use of tools. The sand is gentle on your feet and is very effective at working down calluses. I usually stand with my feet in the water and work them back and forth in the sand for short periods, but taking a walk in the sand/water would likely be just as effective. When I get home, I make sure my feet are clean and then polish as usual. My feet were never better! Tania from Winnipeg, MB

Cheap Cooling!
This is a tip I think a lot of people could use right now. If you are without air conditioning or just can't cool off, this works great. I do it all the time! Take a clean spray bottle and fill it with water. Spritz yourself on your face, neck, arms and legs, and you will cool off immediately. The water evaporates right away, so you don't have to worry about your clothes. Sit in front of a fan while you do this (if you dare) and you will get cold! Donna from NC

Affordable Charitable Donations
Please remind people that there is an ongoing need for whole blood, a need that can only be met by kind people as there is still no substitute for whole blood in many medical emergencies. It doesn't hurt! The technicians that man blood banks are so deft that you probably won't even feel it. Just look the other way if you don't want to watch. If you are over 110 pounds at least, call your local blood bank and see if you are eligible. Please give the literal gift of life. Beth

Party Trays
When you host a party, don't buy those expensive trays from caterers or grocery stores. A veggie tray is easy and quite cheap with baby carrots, radishes, celery sticks, broccoli florettes, and cauliflower pieces. Add a variety of dips that can also be used for a cheap cracker tray. Meat trays are easy and cheaper than the commercial ones. Deli ham, roast beef, and turkey are quickly rolled into attractive cones. If you want to get really fancy, buy some kale and decorate the trays. Keep in mind that the more work someone else puts into a product, the more you will pay. Most places double or triple their base labor cost and charge you the extra. Unless you are making more than ten trays of each item, you can do it yourself in a surprisingly short time. Linda E.

Comparing Airfares
I live in a city with a regional airport. The closest major airport is about 1.5 hours away. When I had to fly, I always assumed it was cheaper to drive to the major airport. Even with the extra costs of long-term parking and gas for the drive over, they had more total flights and more nonstops. Recently, I discovered some routes are cheaper from the regional airport in my city. This is because their first connecting stop is an even bigger hub than the major airport I usually drive to. Not all routes are cheaper this way, but I have found it pays to search every airport I would consider flying out of before I book a flight. I may get a bargain closer to home than I thought possible. Heidi

Free Flowers
In the spring, summer and fall, many of my friends have gorgeous perennial gardens blooming. During these months, at my church, volunteers go to fellow parishioners' gardens to gather flowers for the weekly service, saving us paying for hothouse flowers over the course of five months. It really adds up! If you know a perennial gardener, chances are that he/she is happy to share if you need a bouquet for a special day like a anniversary, birthday, etc. You don't need a fancy vase either. Mason jars, milk bottles, and even metal cans with labels removed look very "country" chic, and you can always tie a ribbon or some twine around the mouth to add appeal. It pays to talk to your friends. We often think only of the vegetables we can share, so remembering flowers is another way to barter, trade, save money, and spread the joy of our efforts. Teri K. in Laporte, Colorado

It Pays to Be Nice
Most large manufacturers are accustomed to users contacting them with complaints and problems. Have you ever noticed that when you write to complain you might get a courteous response along with coupons for the product that you complained about? Well, I decided to try a different approach. Any time I purchase a consumable product (toothbrushes, ketchup, personal hygiene products, etc.) that I'm particularly happy with, I write the manufacturer to let them know. I have always received a thank you reply along with coupons for more of the same product. I've found this works especially well if you use the not-so-popular or non-brand-name products. By spending a little in postage, I'm able to save a couple of dollars just about every month with these coupons. Paula from Tennessee

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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