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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - December 4, 2014

In the Freezer
Did you know that milk can be frozen? We always keep some in the freezer. I've avoided many trips to the store by freezing milk. We found that whole milk can separate when it's thawed, but the taste is unchanged. Therefore, it works better for cooking than drinking. ~Dana

Wrapping Large Gifts
Until I found this idea, I always struggled when wrapping big gifts. Then it occurred to me that I could buy a disposable plastic tablecloth from a dollar store. Often I can even get one with a holiday theme. This sure beats trying to piece together sheets of wrapping paper. ~Ricci

Old Repurposed Stereo
A friend inherited his grandmother's house and all the furnishings. He repurposed her old-fashioned 1960s chest stereo into a really nice, sturdy stand for his wide screen HD television. It's heavier than and not as wobbly as the ones you'd buy at the store today. I'm thinking of doing the same thing with an old cedar chest I have. ~Lynn B.

Better Body Scrub
If you enjoy taking care of your appearance, you probably use a body scrub regularly. I do, but I found that it was getting expensive to buy little jars for $10 or more! I decided to make my own. I began by reading the ingredients on some popular brands. Most were largely sugar. I experimented by adding some essential oils to sugar. I've found a few favorites that I use regularly, and they hardly cost me anything. ~Amanda L.

Eliminating Refrigerator Odors
My old boss saved a dorm-sized fridge from being thrown out by the mechanics next door. The fridge had been sitting unplugged with old food in it for a long time. My boss simply took a bottle of vanilla extract (not imitation) and poured it all over the interior. He left it for a day (plugged in by this point) and came back and wiped it out with more vanilla. We have used the fridge for years since. ~Sarah in KY

Shipping Gifts?
If you're packing and shipping gifts, here's a way to make sure that your bows don't get crushed in transit. When you're packaging your gift for shipment, take a small box that's just bigger than the bow and place it upside down over the bow to protect it. If it's too tall, you can cut it down. Add some crumpled paper or peanuts around the box to keep it from shifting too much. ~Jared

Homemade Holiday Gift
I made these wonderful gifts for three friends a few years ago. They are very inexpensive but truly from the heart. This gift made all three friends cry. Take a pretty jar with a lid and place a note inside, either hand written or typed and signed, telling your friend/loved one just what they mean to you. I reminded each of how we had met and told them that I had no idea at the time how much she would come to mean to me. I also told each one how much I cherish her friendship. I then told them that this is a "Love Jar" and that it was filled with love from me to her. Any time my friend was feeling unloved, unlovable, used, abused, or just blue, she was to open the jar and let my love flow out to her. I also told her that the jar could never run out of love. You get the idea. I have never been able to top that gift since. ~Jayne

Leftover Noodles
Noodles can make for a filling meal, but by themselves, they're pretty bland. I've gotten in the habit of frying them with some onion, butter and maybe some mushrooms or tomato sauce. If I have some leftover veggies or meat, they get thrown in, too! If you want, you can add a little grated cheese when you're done cooking. This is a great way to use leftovers and create a new meal every time! ~Katrina

Always Running Toilet
We had a toilet that frequently would refill even if we didn't flush it. I tried replacing the float, but that didn't help. Then a friend at work suggested that our hard water could have left deposits on the drain from the tank to the bowl, making it hard for the flapper to seal. I scrubbed the built up crud off that opening and reinstalled the flapper. That solved the problem! ~Holly

Reducing Holiday Stress
Last year, we did something that was a real stress reducer for my family. We made a point to have a sit down dinner at least four nights a week as a family. That wasn't easy with two teens, a pre-teen, and two working parents. Not only did we have dinner together, but each one of us told about something that reminded them of the true spirit of Christmas. It slowed us down and kept us from going crazy with all the other stuff going on during the holidays. ~Carrie

Recycled Christmas
Our family has a money-saving, fun, and creative way to exchange Christmas gifts. We call it our "Goodwill to All Mankind" gift exchange. Other than gifts for younger children, all gifts are to be used, recycled, free-cycled, pre-cycled, or homemade. For instance, I shop for Christmas gifts at Goodwill, thrift stores, eBay, Freecycle, garage sales, and the library! The library is always clearing out old books and DVDs for cheap. Shopping this way makes us really think about the recipients. Opening gifts on Christmas morning is so fun, and often there's an interesting story about how we found a gift. It's a win/win/win situation. It's frugal. It's creative. And it's green! I'm an artist and my daughter found me a new 30"x40" canvas for $5 at Goodwill. She never would've thought of that as a gift and a new one would have cost about $40! Try it out! ~Rani M.

Being a Good Houseguest
My travels often have me staying with relatives and friends for a few days at a time. It's a great money-saver and also a good way to keep up with people who are important to me. I always try to make sure to show my appreciation. I always get a rental car, so I don't burden my hosts with any transportation issues. If they want to go out to eat, I take them. If they prefer to stay in, I bring in something like pizza or take-out Chinese food. After my visit, I either send them a thank you note, or if they're big on social media, I post a note thanking them on Facebook. ~Erik

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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