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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - October 9, 2014

Cleaning Fruit
To clean fruit, fill your sink with water, add one cup of vinegar, and stir. Add all fruits. Soak 10 minutes. Water will be dirty, but your fruit will be sparkly clean with no wax or dirty film. Rinse. This is great for berries and strawberries to prevent mold and to make them last longer. ~Shirley M.

Area Rugs
Looking for an inexpensive area rug? Try calling your local carpet cleaners. In our area, if an area rug doesn't come out 100%, the cleaners will sometimes reimburse their client and then sell the rugs dirt-cheap, so they don't have to store them. I bought a 5x7 one for under $10, and it looks great. ~Beverly

Cleaning Grout
When we bought our four-year-old home from a couple that must have hated cleaning floors, the grout on my otherwise beautifully tiled floor was the primary reason I started looking into different grout cleaning methods. The best way I found to clean grout was to go the local home improvement store and rent a steam grout cleaner. It made for a full day's work, but when I was finished, my grout looked like new, even in the guest bathroom where it was the worst. With some new grout touch-up and a good sealer, my wife and I now love our tile floors. ~Randy

Quality Furniture for Less
For good furniture at low prices, check out estate sales. It takes some shopping around, but the good deals are worth it. These sales often occur after someone has died and the family hires a company that comes in and sells the contents of the estate. The family is usually not looking for much of a profit from the items and they just want to recoup funeral costs and estate taxes. There will be items in all different price ranges, so shop around. One advantage of estate sales are that things are sold in sets. Recently, my wife went to her first estate sale. The ladies running the sale were very polite and nice. She found an antique dining room table, eight chairs, and a china closet for $1000. ~RT

Winter Lawn Equipment Care
This is how I clean my mowers and garden tools to store for winter. First, I wash and rinse clean under mower decks. Then I use my leaf blower to dry the tools. I move the mower's tiller outside to air dry. I then spray WD-40 on all the cables, wheels, nuts, bolts, blades, and under mower decks. This keeps it from rusting. Also, I empty gas tanks. After I finish washing and drying all garden tools, I use a cheap motor oil to wipe them down. A little work saves a lot of money in repairs and replacement. ~Judy

End of Picnic & BBQ Season
Now is the perfect time to replace old broken picnic coolers. They're big and bulky, so stores don't want to keep them until next spring. That means sales for you and me! But don't throw away older ones just because they're cracked. They make a great place to store bird seed and dry pet food in your garage. Once in the cooler, you won't need to worry about bugs and rats getting into your stash. ~John

Seasons Change...
I like to change the look of my home with the seasons. One way I update my kitchen for less is to buy seasonal vinyl tablecloths at the end of the season. I buy them for a fraction of their regular price. I've also found that if I turn them over and iron the backside that the creases from storage come out. Often I'll add a few items in the kitchen that feature the main color of the tablecloth, such as a centerpiece or even colored salt/pepper shakers. I use something to highlight the color. ~Keesha

Freshwater Aquariums
Keeping a freshwater aquarium doesn't need to be expensive. Most people buy and feed their fish way too much food. They can easily go a day or two without any food. And, don't feed them too much. If they look swollen after feeding, you're giving them too much. Look online for tank supplies. Prices are often cheaper than your local pet store. The quality is the same, but the price is lower! ~Tess

Fringe Benefits
I wanted to join a health club, but the cost of membership was expensive. Then something occurred to me. I also thought that it might be fun to audit a class at the local community college to keep my mind sharp. While I was looking at the college catalog, I found out that on-campus gym membership was free to students! For the cost of one course that I wanted to take anyway, I get full gym benefits, including use of the swimming pool, racquetball and basketball courts, and all the weight and cardio machines! ~Andrew

Custom Toys
I love the fancy toy catalogs and sites, but can't afford to shop them. So I use them for inspiration to make my own versions of toys that I see. For instance, I just made a doctor's kit for my six-year-old son. A too big white shirt was his lab coat. An assortment of bandages, tongue depressors, and a plastic stethoscope that I found in a thrift store filled out the kit. I also made a handyman kit for my nine-year-old son. I put a few old tools found at garage sales this summer in a wood toolbox that my husband made out of scrap lumber. After adding some old hardware, he was in business! Next I'll make an executive kit for my daughter! ~Denise

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 2014 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

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