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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - August 23, 2012

Need to Find a Good Mechanic?
A great way to find a good mechanic is to ask a few local used car dealers who they take their cars to for work. I found a mechanic this way, and he charges about half the rate of the dealerships! Robin in Santa Fe

Cleaning Baseball Caps
I was looking for some plastic "cap" holders to keep my caps in shape while washing them. I couldn't find the holders so I put them in the dishwasher. We had white caps that had turned a little yellow. I sprayed them with Shout® and used powder dishwasher soap. I washed them twice and laid them on a towel to dry overnight. They turned out great. BJ

Shipping Tip
My family is scattered around the country, and we're always mailing parcels to each other for birthday gifts and such. We've learned to use a layer of plastic cling wrap instead of tape to secure the bubble wrap around an item we're packing. It's not only more secure, but it's also a great deal easier to remove the bubble wrap without tearing, so it can be reused. I bet a few pieces of the bubble wrap in my stash have been back and forth across the country a dozen times by now! Robin

Ground Meat Stretcher
A way to stretch good ground meat is to add bread crumbs to the meat and hand mix in a bowl. Then form burger patties as usual and freeze. You can use leftover stale bread and dry in an oven. Grate it in a blender or by hand. I take this even further and add my own homegrown dehydrated onion and garlic into the mixture for flavor. The possibilities for additions are endless. S.

Portable Fridge
The hotel we were staying at rented out fridges for an extra $10 per day, and we were staying six days. We decided to purchase a "plug in cooler" at Walmart for $65 instead. It's really a cooler sized fridge that stands up or lays down like a cooler. We used it every day and now have it for road trips since it has an attachment for a car lighter. It's great for long trips and also for grocery shopping in the summer! As a bonus, there is a heat setting if you are ever going to a potluck with a warm dish. S. in Rochester, NY

Frugal "Date Nights"
My husband and I love a great bargain. For our "date nights," we start a lot earlier. We found that if we have a very late lunch at our favorite restaurant and catch the twilight movie, we save about half of what we would normally pay. Plus, since we eat before the movie, we aren't tempted to spend money on soda and popcorn, which are loaded with calories that we don't need anyway. Cathy T.

Why I "Bulk Cook"
I cook in bulk twice weekly, once on Saturday and once on Wednesday, when the week's shopping happens (currently, this is the only day all of us are home at the same time). Bulk cooking has a lot of benefits. It saves power, water, time, and food. It lets me teach my kids cooking skills, organization skills, how to multiply recipes, how to shop for a menu, how to stay within a budget, and how to make clean-up easy. And it gives us one night a week where we are together, working on a mutual project whose outcome we all care about. It's not just a money-saving strategy, but it's also real quality family time. WC

Over-Ripe Fresh Fruit?
Here's an easy way to always have ice pops available for the kids. It's also a great way to use up fresh fruit before it goes bad and you have to throw it away. To make 4 pops, place 2 cups of cut up fruit, 1 tablespoon sugar (or whatever sweetener you prefer), and 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice into your blender with a couple tablespoons of water to make a thick slush. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour into pop molds if you have them or small paper cups. Insert sticks and freeze until solid. You can pick up craft/popsicle sticks at any dollar store. DS

Wrinkle Releaser Savings
The wrinkle releasers are a great idea, but I would never spend the money. I found a great alternative that costs nothing. Use water! I promise it works great! Just mist the water on your clothing. Stretch and smooth. It really works great. Even my kids do it for their t-shirts. Saves me from ironing, and they get a kick out of doing it themselves! Cyndi

Saving Seriously Burned Cookware
I have another wonderful use for baking soda. It is great for removing the baked and burned on grease and crud from pots and pans. Simply fill the pan with water and add 1/2 to 1-cup baking soda and bake in a 350-degree oven for 2 to 3 hours. Allow to cool, and the grease will just lift off. This tip saved me from having to throw out a good quality roasting pan that I thought had been ruined by a careless roommate. After the baking soda treatment, a good 1/4-inch of burned grease came off and the pan was left as sparkly clean as the day I bought it! Jennifer

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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