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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - December 19, 2013

My Coupon Binder
I have been into couponing for a while, but I just got around to putting a binder together. I asked a fellow coupon lover where she bought the inserts to put the coupons in. I had purchased some from Walmart, but they were not cheap in price but they were in quality. She suggested our local baseball card shop. The inserts were half the price and a much better quality. ~Toni F.

Buying Spices
When shopping for spices, I always look in the ethnic section first. I can often find the same spices for cheaper, especially commonly used ones like cinnamon, rosemary, oregano, etc. For example, this week I looked in the ethnic section for curry powder and found it at $1.79 for a plastic jar. The same sized glass jar was $4.99 in the baking aisle. ~DW

Dryer Reminder
When I put items in the washer that I don't want to go into the dryer, I simply place a clothes hanger on top of the washer as a reminder. If there is only one item, I use one hanger, two hangers for two items, and so forth. After completely ruining a beautiful sweater by inadvertently throwing it into the dryer, this method has saved me from many mistakes. ~Sue S. in San Antonio, TX

Grab Bag Gift Idea
Since the holidays are drawing near and so many people are feeling the crunch financially, I want to share a neat idea! We do a lot of gift grabs. So this year, I asked everyone to wrap and give something of their own for which they no longer have any use. It has to be something in good shape, in good working order, and useful. I think this will be a fun thing! What do you think? ~Anita K.

Downsize Yourself
A couple years ago, I developed an allergy and could not wear makeup. I made no mention of the problem to co-workers. To my surprise, no one commented on this change, at work or in my personal life! Later I had foot surgery and had to give up skirts, high heels, and pantyhose in favor of slacks and flat shoes with socks. I maintained a professional appearance in this new style and received a promotion. When I questioned my co-workers discreetly, no one had even noticed the change. Now I am more comfortable at work. Plus, I don't have the fuss and expense of pantyhose and makeup. ~Clare

Lots of Gift Bags for Less
I would urge anyone who likes to decorate gift bags to check for a local paper or restaurant supply company. My friends and I go together and get a case of 250 to split. The bags end up costing about 20 cents each. I use my rubber stamps and scrapbooking supplies on them. Or you could let the kids paint or color on them for grandparents and other family members. They can be personalized for any occasion too. For the holidays this year, I purchased plain wrapping paper in green, red, and blue. I cut strips from brown paper bags with a craft scissors, stamped the strips, and put them around the boxes instead of ribbon. My stamped gift tags double as bows, and my gifts can be stacked or shipped with ease. There are no bows to crush, my packages look pretty, and my creative muscles are getting used (plus it's just plain fun!). ~Marianne in Iowa

The One-Sided Christmas Tree
Living in a small home with three kids at Christmas time can be a challenge. Last year, I thought it would be nice to have a little more room during the holidays. We have a large artificial tree. I put up the trunk, and then wired it to a nail already in the wall. We then put the branches on the tree but left off the ones on the back and then decorated it as usual. This huge tree only comes out from the wall about 2 1/2 feet. Our tree is gorgeous, and there is a lot of room for our children to play. Who says a Christmas tree needs a back? ~R.

My 'New' Bike
The past several years, my mode of transportation has been by bicycle. Even though I had an inexpensive lock on it, my bike was stolen. I kept checking the police station and each time they brought me to a shed where they kept all recovered bikes. I finally asked them what they did with the bikes that weren't reclaimed. They told me that they have a police auction twice a year and sell them there. I went to the next auction and bought a bike for $65. My kids were surprised as they said my bike was like brand new and would sell for around $400. Also, at the auction were all sorts of things like TVs and paintings. ~S.

Overlooked Heating Trick
I see so many articles at this time of the year about how to save on heating bills. While they are all good pointers, I have one that no one seems to think about. I've added small humidifiers to my most-used rooms. The moisture meets with the heated air and the rooms are quite a bit warmer feeling. I'm careful to get vaporizers and humidifiers that read "warm air," because the others are cold air and don't seem to work as well in getting the room warmer. I go to a large drug store chain and buy the VicksŪ vaporizers that are labeled for warm air. I fill them sometimes twice a day. If moisture forms on the windows, then I disconnect the unit for several hours. I make sure the unit in the bedroom is on during the night, so I can breathe comfortably. This makes turning the thermostat down a little more doable for me. ~Cate

Making Christmas Memories
Our family has enjoyed the tradition of a special Christmas Eve dinner, celebrating our "roots." Our menu includes one or more ethnic dishes from our family tree. We always have perogies (Polish), a fish dish (Danish), something British (thanks to my daughter-in-law's joining the family), and a Mennonite dish. Our dessert is always the Danish Christmas Eve rice pudding, which contains a whole almond. Whoever gets the almond in his/her serving expects to have good luck for the coming year! In the Slavic tradition, an extra place is set at the table in honor of dead family and friends and of Christ. This is a cooperative meal that also honors our origins, and we all look forward to it. ~Kelbar

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 2013 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

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