The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman
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Dollar Stretcher Tips - July 4, 2013
The styrofoam bases from various kinds of vegetable and meat packages can be washed in the dishwasher and used as "paint trays" for children when they do their crafts. ~T.
To get rid of spiders, put dryer sheets all around. I put Downy dryer sheets behind pictures and in places that don't show. I started this about five years ago and haven't had spiders since. About once a year, I replace them with fresh ones. Before doing this, I had spiders all over. ~J.
Extra Towel Rod
I added another shower curtain rod (spring loaded) behind the existing rod to hang towels because my bathroom doesn't have enough towel racks. The towels can't be seen from behind the shower curtain. When showering, we just scoot the towels to the end away from the water. ~JMSO
Updating Patio Cushions
My cushions for my patio furniture were looking a bit worn and I wanted new ones. I dusted the cushions off and recovered them with a heavy, striped upholstery fabric I purchased at a discount store for $2.97/yard. The fabric was 60" wide, and it took three yards to do all of my cushions. Since my patio is covered, this type of fabric works just fine. It looks like I purchased them, and they now have an updated look. ~KB in Kansas
Cheap Stain Remover
I discovered that liquid hand soap is a wonderful stain remover for baby clothes (spit-up and diaper accidents) and most other stains that my family creates for me, including mustard, ketchup, mud, red soft drinks, fruit juices, etc. I simply rub the soap into the stain. If the suds immediately start looking dirty, I rinse it out and repeat. If the suds don't show signs of cleaning it immediately, I just fill a small container with water (as hot as the item can take, except always use cold water for blood stains) and soak the treated item in it for a couple hours or overnight. This has even removed some stains in baby clothes from yard sales. ~Sarah
I recently made a stepping stone path in our yard for absolutely free. First, I measured the area and estimated how many "steps" I'd need. Then, I drove around to various construction sites in our area. Wherever I'd see broken chunks of concrete, I'd stop and ask if I could take a few of the smaller pieces. I looked for pieces that had a flat side and were roughly about a foot square. Within three days, I had enough chunks to start my project! Next, I laid the chunks out in the desired path. For each one, I dug about two feet down, so that the flat top was flush with the ground. It took a little patience to get each step level, but it turned out great. I finished the edges of my new path off with pea gravel and sprinkled it with pretty marbles and colored stones. Now I get comments all the time on my lovely, homemade path. Similar stones cost around $2 to $3 each, so I saved about $60! ~Shaunna
Shading Sliding Doors
The sun hits our sliding glass doors first thing in the morning, which really heats the house up. We had considered hanging a bamboo shade outside to block the morning sun, but found a solution we like even better. We put up a simple 10 x 10 fold-up canopy right in front of the doors. It doesn't block our usage of the backyard and creates a nice shady spot on our deck. We waited until the canopies went on sale last year, so we got it cheap. We filled clean gallon size milk jugs with water and secured them to the legs. Even when the wind kicks in, the canopy stays put. ~MK
Odds and Ends
When I have some raw veggies and fruit that I don't think I will be able to use up, or even scraps of raw veggies and fruit, I shred them and make a slaw out of them. Last night, I used up a quarter of a head of lettuce, about a quarter of a head of cabbage, a half of a red onion that didn't have much life left, and an apple by shredding them and putting them all together in a bowl with some mayonnaise, a capful of white vinegar, salt, and pepper. Then I chilled the mixture. It was delicious. We had it as a cold side dish with our grilled burgers last night. We ended up with almost two pounds of coleslaw for pennies, and it tasted much better than the deli version. You can add many more types of veggies to this like chopped cucumbers, any kind of onion, chopped celery, etc. ~CM
Amusement Park Food
Amusement park tickets are high enough without adding the price for a family of four or more to eat inside the park. My parents always packed a very elaborate lunch/dinner/snack and took it with us to enjoy out in the parking lot. Most parks offer trees, grass, and picnic tables surrounding their parking lots. We'd have subs, chips, sodas and bottled water for lunch, and around dinnertime, we'd head out again. For dinner, we'd enjoy hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill (small Coleman camping grill) and then we went back inside the park to ride until closing. We ate great compared to what the park restaurants were serving at inflated prices. ~W.
Spouse's Spending Habits
I had a problem with my hubby and his spending. Despite my persistent pleading, he kept charging things and saying that the balance on our credit card was "not that bad." I signed us up for a get out of debt class at our community college. It cost about $50 for both of us. It was worth a hundred times that amount. We paid off our credit cards within a year and started a savings plan. I stopped some bad habits as well. It was easy for him to see that we were really throwing away money on interest, lunches, and meals out. Hearing from an "expert" third party on the subject was just what he needed. After the class, he became quite aware of spending. In fact, it sometimes gets annoying. Remember that there is no one more critical than a reformed spendthrift. ~K.
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