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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - January 3, 2013

Giving It the Brush-Off
I use a 2" cheap, clean, dry paint brush to clean hard-to-clean items. It works great on keyboards, plastic window shades, and furnace grates. ~Jolynn

Storing Christmas Ornaments
This year, while shopping the day after Christmas, I saw canisters filled with popcorn for a little over $2. I bought two of them to store my Christmas ornaments in. I layered pieces of extra fleece I had to protect the ornaments from breaking since they are stacked in the canister. This is a better storage option than what I had before (shoeboxes), and we got a lot of popcorn for the kids! ~Erin

Easy Car Detailing
When you're cleaning out your car and unable to get the hard-to-reach dirt and crumbs out of the cracks, just use an old makeup (blush) brush. It works like a charm! ~Linda

Easier Dish Washing
Not having a dishwasher, all our dishes and pans are washed by hand. My husband (a cook) taught me to think ahead and plate up the dinner, whether we plate individually or to a serving platter. Then I put 1/4 inch or so of water in the cooking pot and place it back on the stove top (with the burners off and the lid on). The residual heat will create a moist environment, make washing the pot easy, and will prevent those dreaded over-night soaks. ~Jessica W.

Replacing Juice Boxes
We all know how expensive boxes/pouches of juice can be and how many are not 100% juice. I purchase large multi-packs of eight-ounce water bottles and mix my own juice from generic concentrates to fill the bottles. They cost a lot less, hold more juice than the boxes/pouches, and can be washed and reused (though not a huge expense if lost or damaged on occasion). ~Elaine in NJ

Easy Organized Clothing
When a new season arrives, I hang all the items with the hangers facing backwards. When I wear and wash the item, I return it to the closet facing the proper way. At the end of the season, it's super easy to tell which of the items I never wore, and those are the ones I donate for someone else to enjoy. ~Suzie

Juicy Soda
Store-brand club soda is cheap and free of calories. By mixing it with fruit juice, I can save money and still enjoy the fruit juice I love without the high calories. It is also healthier and less expensive than soda, and I have a lot of variety of juices to choose from. ~D.W. in Florida

Trim Painting
For painting along the edges and trim work, I use a piece of a plastic bottle that I cut approximately two inches wide, and slide it along as I'm going. I tried an "edger," and after a few strokes, it was useless. Robert

More Than a Condiment
I have discovered that cayenne pepper has some great benefits, aside from cooking! It is an inexpensive pest repellant. Put a couple of teaspoons of the pepper into a spray bottle, fill with water, shake, and spray. Specifically, animals, such as rodents, do not like it. Spray in suspect areas, including the garbage can. It's natural, inexpensive, and quite a deterrent. Another use is to keep your feet warm. Sprinkle it in your socks before heading out skiing or snowboarding into the winter chill. You will see it doesn't take much and your toes and feet do stay quite toasty! ~Jeanie W.

The Right Colored Thread
Having two daughters in Girl Scouts, I find myself sewing patches on fairly often. Since each patch is usually a different color, I used to have to change the color of my thread in my sewing machine so my stitching wouldn't stand out. And I'd have to hope I had a color of thread that matched the patch! This year, I realized that I could just use white thread for all of the patches, and then after sewing each on, I use a Sharpie marker to color the top stitches to match the patch. It works like a charm! I already owned an assorted set of Sharpie markers, and I discovered that there is always one that matches really well. Now my stitches disappear without having to a buy colored spools of thread. And I don't have to take the time to change the thread for each patch. Coloring the top thread (and even the under-stitching) works really well for any project that doesn't have to be too perfect! ~Charly

Winter Warmth
Keeping the furnace low to save energy is one of my wintertime goals. So, it is important to have throws for most seats in our home. I sewed up some envelop pillow covers for cozy throws that match the room decor. When the kids are done snuggling under a cozy blanket, they fold the blanket and stash it in the pillow cover. The room stays tidy, and the blankets are right where they need them the next time they need to settle in. These are also good for extra bedding on a single bed. For extra quilts, I make large pillow covers and prop them against a wall for a cozy daybed. Plus, this eliminates storage. ~J.

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 2013 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.


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