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

Dollar Stretcher Tips - May 15, 2014

Spring Clean Your Deck
Vinegar is wonderful for cleaning a dirty deck! I use it straight. It cuts the dirt much better than any deck cleaner I have ever used! And it's cheaper! ~Sonya

Bug Patrol
I buy fresh bay leaves every year and place them in all my kitchen cupboards and drawers, closets, and out-of-season clothing bins. It is a safe, clean method to keep bugs out of food and clothing. ~Denise B.

Grouting Ceramic Tile
Here's a trick I learned about ceramic tile. Instead of using a grout float, use a cake decorating bag to fill in the grout lines. You won't be pushing so much grout around and will save a lot of time. Check your hardware store. They may sell grout bags. You'll want to check the tip size. Some are too big for most home jobs. ~John

Shady Characters
We live in an apartment that has a balcony that faces west. It used to get very hot in the afternoon and much of that heat ended up in our apartment. Last summer, we installed a shade at the outer edge of the balcony. We can raise it when we want. In the afternoon, it's down and blocks the sun. This cut our air conditioning bills a bunch! ~Shiloh

A Willing Subject
Here's a way to make some extra money if you live near a university. Call the Psychology Department to ask if there are any ongoing experiments that need human subjects. The pay isn't huge, but it's pretty easy work. Once you get on their list, you'll get calls asking if you're available when they have an experiment. Many months, I can pick up an extra $50 or so. ~Ally

Easy Silver Solution
If you have silver, you've dealt with tarnish. Most of us don't use our silver often because we hate to clean the tarnish. So here's an easy solution. Boil water in a pan large enough to accommodate your silver. Add a tablespoon or so of baking soda. Turn off the heat. Wrap the silver in aluminum foil and drop it into the water. Then let it sit until cool enough to handle. Remove from water, open the foil, and the tarnish will be gone. ~Arlene

We Have a Winner!
Do you like to enter contests but think the odds are stacked against you? Try entering local radio call-ins. I've worked for radio stations, and advertisers often want to do a promotion that includes a giveaway. Sometimes they give away tickets, trips, or even cash. You'd be surprised how few entries are received. I can't enter, but I've encouraged friends and they've done great! Try it. You might be the next big winner! ~Cate

Before You Travel
Did you know that your cell phone can make a trip easier and more enjoyable? You can use it to take and store pictures of your driver's license and passport. This is very handy if they turn up missing. Take a picture of the inside of your packed bag. Now you have proof of its contents if it's lost. Have trouble remembering where you parked your car at the airport or theme park? A picture of the nearest location marker solves the problem. And, that's not to mention all the available apps that can help you find the cheapest gas or nearby restaurants! ~Sergio

We had a terrible time with moths. It seemed they were taking over the house. I now take one hour each month (or every other month) to take all foodstuffs out of my cupboards and wipe them down with the paper towels that I use for the liner. This saves time and money. I once again line the cupboards with paper towels and put a cotton ball or two that has 10 to 15 drops of eucalyptus oil on it. I also put these moistened cotton balls in the plastic container where I keep our bulk bag of rice, in the coat closets, on the shelves where I keep my yarn, in my sweater box, etc. The eucalyptus oil is very inexpensive. I buy NOW® brand at my health food store for $3.95 for one ounce and it lasts about two years. Although I get an occasional moth, it is usually because I let my cotton dry out, and as soon as I replenish, my moth problem is solved. This makes my house smell nice and clean. There are other oils that work as well, including lavender, lemongrass, rosemary, and citrus oils. ~Sharon

Meal Prep
I chop, slice, and dice a bunch of veggies shortly after my return from the grocery store. I also wash apples, pears, strawberries, grapes, etc. Then they go into the fridge. When I get home from work it's much quicker to prepare meals. The onions, carrots, and bell peppers are already chopped. A stir-fry only takes minutes if everything is already cut. It's not a huge time saver, but often just knowing that I don't have to cut anything is enough to prevent me from calling the pizza delivery guy! ~Heather

Many of our friends struggle with debt. Most of us have student loans that we're trying to repay. So when my husband and I got engaged, we decided that we wouldn't buy an expensive diamond engagement ring. We thought it was better to put our energies toward loving each other instead of worrying about how we'd pay the bills. We've been married a few years now and I'm so glad we made that choice. Yes, our wedding rings are simple. But we're quickly digging our way out of debt, and our relationship has never been stronger! ~Maylissa

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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