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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - December 12, 2013

Find the Pen
Tired of looking for a pen or pencil at the bottom of my purse, I repurposed an eyeglasses case. I can fit six pens in it comfortably, and it is much easier to find than a single pen. ~Susan B.

Prevent Car Starting Problems
Before cold weather hits, disconnect and clean off the corrosion on your car battery terminals with a wire brush. Then coat the terminal with Vaseline after it is disconnected. This ensures a good connection all winter long, which hopefully will keep your jumper cables unused. ~T.

Easy Shower Clean
You're not likely to reuse your washcloth after you've washed in the shower, but there's still a lot of soap on it. Why waste it? Soap is soap, right? I use mine to give my shower stall a quick scrub. It also gives me an excuse to be under that nice, hot water for a few extra seconds. ~NS

Changing Your Home Decor
I like to freshen up my home's space by adding little touches here and there. My new favorite is wall stickers! I have been able to achieve many different looks, depending on which I choose. From dry erase calendars in the kitchen to a beautiful quote in the bedroom, these have been an easy and inexpensive freshener for my home! ~E

Staying Warm
I am a single, work-at-home mom. Most of my days start off in sweats. When I go to bed at night, I simply put the next day's sweats underneath the covers on the empty side of my bed. In the morning, I put on warm clothes! I've also found that putting a quilt underneath the fitted sheet also makes a big difference in warmth. ~B.

Short-Term Pets
For those of you who enjoy animals, but don't enjoy the long-term responsibility or high cost, our family has found the answer. We do foster care. Our local animal shelter has a foster program where we can foster young or ill animals for a short time. The shelter gives us everything we need (food, bedding, cage, toys, etc.) for free, and we provide a safe home with lots of cuddles. The shelter does this so that animals get used to the sights, sounds, and smells of a home, so whoever adopts the animal will not have any animal behavior problems that unsocialized animals often have. It's also a great way to see if you really want to have the long-term commitment and expense of owning a pet. Our oldest daughter (11) wants to be a vet, so this has been a great way for her to learn about different animals. In the past two years, we've had twelve bunnies and six cats at different times for four to six weeks at a time. We hope to get a litter of puppies in the spring. ~Tiffany in Irvine, CA

Natural Christmas Decor
When I buy my fresh tree, I ask the owner if I can pick up the extra branches that were cut off from the bottom of sold trees. I use those to decorate my mantle. I insert small figurines or Christmas bulbs in the fresh green pine needles of the branches. Usually they'll make a fresh cut on the bottom of trees when they're sold. I pick up those trunk ends. They can be sanded down. My kids and I paint or wood burn decorations in them. ~P.

Cleaning Supplies
I discovered a professional janitorial supply store when I used the restroom at a local store and the soap they used was wonderful. I asked the name, so they gave me an almost empty bottle and told me where to get it locally. I have to buy it by the case since it is a special item, but since the case is six one-gallon jugs, it lasts forever. I usually order one case every three years for $25. We use it in our bathrooms and kitchen and love it. I also buy commercial cleaning products at the supply store. It's much cheaper and means less trips since a gallon of commercial strength glass cleaner (for example) lasts for about five years. Check out a local janitorial supply store! You will save money and trips. ~V.

Don't Waste the Paste
Most recipes call for only a small portion of tomato paste. After using a tablespoon or two, the rest invariably goes to waste. To save the remainder, carefully open both ends of the can with a can opener. Remove one end and discard it. Leave the other in place. Wrap the entire can in plastic wrap and freeze overnight. The next day, use the metal end to push the frozen paste out the open end. Discard the can, tightly rewrap the unused portion, and store in the freezer for up to three months. Slice off what you need each time you cook. ~Ileana

Lowering Your Grocery Bill
One of the easiest ways to lower one's food budget and eat well at the same time is to plan vegetarian meals. They are as easy as rice and beans or as elaborate as a plantain-sweet potato stew with collards. Another favorite easy dish of mine is made with eggs and stale bread. Soak about eight slices of bread or a small baguette in about a cup of milk, saving out a few triangular cut pieces for decoration. Mix four eggs with another cup of milk and salt and pepper. Pour over the bread. I like to add in whatever vegetables I have on hand. Frozen mixed vegetables are great. Stand the bread triangles up on end around the casserole. Bake like a custard at 325 degrees until done in the middle. It's yummy, easy, healthy, and delicious. I usually add a can of cannellini or chickpeas to stews that offer little protein. Better yet, buy a bag of dried beans, cook it all at once, divide into usable portions, and freeze. Two pounds of beans make at least eight servings and cost under $2. They cook in 15 minutes in a pressure cooker or an hour or two in a regular pot after soaking. You will be doing both your wallet and your health a big favor. ~Barbara

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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