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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - August 9, 2012

Cleaner Car Carpets
I just bought a new car, but I have kids and clients coming in and out of my car all the time. I really wanted to keep it clean, but refused to keep hauling my vacuum cleaner out. Now, I use a small soft brush to brush off the car mats, and it picks up the dirt and dust. It takes seconds and costs nothing! I have a cleaner car, too! A.

Party Tablecloths
The cost of paper tablecloths for parties is pretty high. I learned that a better alternative is to get twin bed sized sheets from a thrift store and save them until the occasion arises. White is always good, but for holidays, there are pastels available, usually at the same low price. After the party, they can be washed and saved for the next big event. PL

Words to Live By
"When in doubt, do nothing." This quote has saved me from many horrible mistakes in my life. It makes me stop, think, and sleep on things I am not sure about, halting a rash decision based on uncertainty. Mickey

Creative Gift Card Uses
As a prize, I received a gift card to one of those coffeehouses that I don't frequent. I used the gift card to buy two smaller cards for teacher gifts! I also used a gift card from Applebee's that I had $8 left on to purchase a gift for someone in the amount of $15. NY

A Wallpaper Touch
We recently put wallpaper borders up around the top of the walls in our bathroom. I also removed the light switch cover, cut-to-size and wrapped a piece of the border over the front, "laminated" with wide clear plastic tape (to keep paper clean and washable), trimmed switch opening and screw holes, and remounted the plate. Then, I did the same with the GFCI outlet cover (just above the vanity level). I have a lovely pot of tulips on my bathroom light switch cover and some ivy around the GFCI! Elaine in NJ

Wedding Savings
We are planning for our daughter's wedding and have found that we can use photographers and caterers from a smaller community, about 25 miles outside our metropolitan area, for about 25% less. The business people that we have gotten estimates from are more than happy to make the trip into town and don't charge extra. Their local Chamber of Commerce referred them to us. T.

Our Babysitting Club
We save a lot on babysitting by belonging to a babysitting co-op. We have a group of families, and we exchange points instead of paying. It is a fairly easy system. We have a bookkeeper and a chairperson, which are "paid" in points each month that they hold their position. It really helps to know that I can just call on these people to watch my children and pay them points, which I can earn back by sitting with someone else's kids at another time. Judi E.

Protecting Plants and Trees
Wisconsin has been in a severe drought. To protect my newly planted cherry tree, I cut the bottom and top off of a two-liter pop bottle and sliced it up one side to fit around the tree trunk to keep the rabbits from chewing it. I also used smaller water or soda bottles in the same way to protect flower seedlings from becoming rabbit food. For a cheap mulch, I used hay around our stressed lilac bushes, purchased in a bale at a garden center. M.

Before You Get a Pet
Does your child want a pet? How do you try one out to see if your child is ready for the responsibility before you buy one? First, volunteer to pet-sit a school pet like a hamster over a holiday weekend. Have the pet-desperate child feed it, water it, and clean the cage. Return the pet when school starts and determine whether the child is responsible. Or offer to pet-sit pets for friends going on vacation. Have your child do most of the work under supervision. Tamara W.

Affordable Play and Craft Mats
It's nearing the end of summer, so it's a great time to stock up on clearance vinyl tablecloths with light cotton backing. They come in a variety of sizes and even more patterns. I usually stock up on these to use as play mats. They are great carpet savers when little ones are doing crafts. I've even washed these tablecloths on gentle cycle with no problem. I like being able to fold them up and shake them outside, and they store very easily. I've not only used these for kids, but also while doing any messy activity like hair cutting, dog grooming, crafting, etc. They are quick to fold and easy to shake out or even toss if they get too messy. Mary S.

Caring for "No Wax" Floors
I have a laminate floor and tried all the products with no success until my grandmother gave me the perfect solution. It is simply to use mild liquid soap and water to clean and then vinegar and water to rinse. The vinegar is the secret as it strips the floor of all the dulling film. The first time I used it, there was an immediate difference. Now, my floor always looks brand new and shiny. I just use equal parts of vinegar and water. If you don't like the smell of vinegar, add a few drops of essential oil. I now use vinegar and water to rinse every thing I can. It takes residue off of everything! For scuffing, try baking soda and a little water. Randall

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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