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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - January 2, 2014

My Insurance Claim
Our home was robbed and we had a terrible time with the claim. As a result, we now take photos of jewelry and valuables. When buying jewelry, I always request a detailed description. ~P.

Cold Feet?
During a season as a professional bell ringer for the Salvation Army, I discovered that wearing two socks with a plastic bag (bread wrappers are ideal) on each foot keeps feet warmer. I didn't believe it, so one day I wore the bread wrapper between socks on one foot and just the two socks on the other. It definitely made a difference! ~M.

Cleaner Chimneys
This is for wood burning folks. I thought everyone knew this old tip, but I was surprised to find that is not so. As a senior, this is what was done by my parents and grandparents and now me. I put my potato peels in my wood burning stove and clean my stove pipes. It makes for less work later and helps to prevent fires up the pipe. So next time you have a fire going in your wood stove, just throw in your potato peels and let them burn with your wood. ~KA

Hazy Tile Floors?
When we first installed tile floors, I quickly discovered that most floor cleaners leave a hazy film on ceramic tile. Being a potter, I knew that the glaze on ceramics (including tile) was really a form of glass, so I tried glass cleaner. It worked great! Then I figured that the active ingredient in most window cleaners was ammonia, so I tried regular cheap ammonia. And it worked even better! Be sure to purchase the "no sudsing" ammonia because the regular kind has some kind of soap product in it that will still leave a haze on the tiles. ~Suz

Keeping Toddlers Warm at Night
The key to keeping your toddler warm at night is layering. I turn the heat down at night, but my grandson stays warm. I start with a t-shirt, socks and his diaper. I then add a long-sleeve onesie. Then, I put on a toddler blanket sleeper with feet. They zip up easily. If it is very cold, you might want to include tights instead of the socks for an extra leg layer. When we dress my grandson this way at night, there are no worries about him kicking off the blankets. Often, he only requires a very light blanket at night and keeps nice and warm even though the heat is turned down to 60 degrees. ~Elizabeth in Denver, CO

The Many Uses for Rice
My grandmother always made a big pot of rice on Sundays and then used it in every meal, as rice takes on the flavor of whatever it is placed with. She had beef stew with veggies poured over a bed of rice, or she mixed rice in soups. Sometimes she'd put rice in meat balls as meat extender, etc. Black beans and rice was one of our favorites as it was a complete meal. Today my family enjoys and celebrates the usefulness of rice. Rice is healthy and filling. ~Saga

Fabric Scents
I use dryer balls instead of chemical softeners, but missed the lovely scents some of them give the clothing. I had a sample of the new scent crystals and loved them, but the price was scary. Plain Epsom salts scented with a few drops (about 30 drops per quart of salts) of essential oil work great as scent crystals to add to the washer. The clothing comes out soft and smelling great. ~Beth

Preparing for Christmas Next Year
Every year I buy a plastic container to put my three granddaughters' Christmas gifts in for the next year. Throughout the year, if I find things on sale, I buy them and put them in the container. I look at garage sales, estate sales, and thrift stores to see what I can find for them. I also make each child a quilt, a crochet blanket, clothes, and a knapsack for their adventures in life in their specific colors (also saves on gas and my sanity at Christmas time). Then just before Christmas, I organize their container so all they see is the quilt through the container. They can't see the many things I have found, bought, or sewed for them inside. I save on buying wrapping paper, ribbon, and tape by doing this. Plus, the girls have a container to put all their "goodie" items in throughout the year. ~C.

Better Than Wrapping Paper
Take the insanity out of the wrapping paper dilemma and save the environment while you're at it! Go to your local fabric stores, looking for sales on Christmas fabrics, bows, ribbons, etc. I recently purchased 50 yards of wonderful fabrics, all for only 50 cents a yard! Spools of satin ribbon were 10 cents a yard! Once you get the stuff home, run all the fabric through your washing machine and dryer to pre-shrink it. Now comes the fun part. Simply cut the fabric into various size "gift bags" (simple squares or rectangles). Serge the sides, make a "cuff" at the top to draw a strand of ribbon through, and you've got beautiful, reusable gift bags. If you don't know how to sew, just cut the cloth into large squares that can be used like wrapping paper. Don't cut off any extra. Just fold it under. That way you can reuse the cloth again next year! ~P.

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 2014 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.


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