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The Dollar Stretcher
by Gary Foreman

StorkNet.com > Columns > The Dollar Stretcher

Dollar Stretcher Tips - December 11, 2014

Cleaning Outdoor Decorations
Our Santa and Mrs. Claus were terribly dirty. Instead of using a hose to clean them, I used a spray bottle of half water and half white vinegar. It got all the nooks and crannies clean without any scrubbing. I just wiped it off. They are as good as new and bright with their lights on! ~Lilly P.

Cleaner Tubs
I hate it when our tub isn't really clean. So once a week when I'm draining the tub, I'll leave about two inches of water in it. To the water, I add a tablespoon of dishwashing powder and swirl it around. After about ten minutes, I give the tub a wipe down and then I rinse it. It always comes out looking great! ~Jeanine

My Car Hates Winter!
Living in Michigan, I'm used to starting a cold car on winter mornings. I learned that they start much easier if I take the time at the start of the season to disconnect the battery terminals and clean them thoroughly. I use a wire brush to scrape away any crud. After that, I coat it with WD-40® before reattaching the battery cables. Getting a good connection gives the starter a little extra on cold mornings. ~Blake

Thermal Blankets
We've all been hearing about the recent storms. It reminded me that although my car is in great shape, I could still get stuck on the road in a snowstorm. I went online and bought two thermal blankets. I'm going to keep one in my car for emergencies. The second one is going to be taped over a drafty window in my apartment that the landlord won't do anything about. ~Ryan

Before You Spend
I do one final check before I spend anything on non-essentials. I calculate how long I have to work to earn whatever it is. For instance, let's say that I want to buy a $100 item. I make a little less than $20 an hour, but taxes and deductions bring that down to a little over $15 an hour. Therefore, I'd need to work about 6.5 hours to earn enough to buy the $100 item ($100 / $15 = 6.6 hours). Most of the time, I can do the calculations in my head, but if not, my phone has a calculator app. Sometimes doing the math is enough to cause me to walk away without spending the money. ~Bryan

Fried Food Odors
My family likes fried foods, but I don't like the smell that remains in my kitchen afterwards. After years of trying different solutions, I finally found two that work. I slice up potatoes and put them in the oil. We even cut them up and eat them! I also place a pot with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water on another burner and let it simmer while I'm cooking. Between the two, my kitchen doesn't start to stink! ~Bella

New Product Fails
Trying out new products is always fun, especially if they come with a coupon. However, there are times I'm not real happy with the new product. I used to throw the unused portion out until I decided to try mixing in a little of the new product with my old favorite. For instance, I recently tried a new brand of coffee and didn't like it. When I'm making coffee now, I use 3/4 of my old favorite and 1/4 of the newer brand. I don't notice any change in flavor from my favorite. I'll soon use the other coffee up. ~Loria

Card Protection
My husband and I will be traveling for the holidays. After hearing a friend's experience, we'll be doing something different. Our friend and her husband were out of state when he lost his wallet with all his credit cards. Luckily, he kept a list of the cards, so he could stop them. But, that meant that the wife's cards were stopped, too! This year, I'm going to carry both of our Visa cards. My hubby will carry both Discover cards. If something should happen, we'll still have a card that we both can use to get home. ~Deanna

Cheaper Cleaning Supplies
Wherever possibly, I like to learn from professionals. When I saw a janitor's cart at my son's school, I couldn't help but look at the cleaning products they use. I didn't see anything that I buy at the grocery store for my home. Instead, all the cleaners were industrial strength and had labels on them from a local janitorial supply store. I visited the store and found that they sell retail, and I didn't have to buy in case lots. I could buy just one of most things. The best thing is that the prices are much less than what I had been paying and the products are often stronger. Some even are made to be diluted! Now, every couple of months, I make a stop at the janitorial supply and stock up on cleaning supplies. ~Brittany

Frugal Leftovers
I always felt so frugal when I would pack up all the little leftover tidbits from a meal and put them in the fridge, only to find them weeks later pushed to the back of the shelf and completely unidentifiable. I had such good intentions when I put the leftovers in the fridge but the follow through just got lost in the hectic days that followed. I do pretty well planning out my menus and keeping them posted on a magnetic dry erase board on the front of the fridge. This helps me to stay on track and keeps the family from using an important ingredient that I need for a later meal. Finally, the light bulb went off. As I am putting the leftovers in the fridge, I look at my menu on the dry erase board and see what meal or dish the leftover item can be added to and write it in. If there is nothing coming up that it would work with, then I pop it in the freezer and pencil in an appropriate meal or dish for its use on the magnetic notepad (also on the fridge) that I note things I need to add to the shopping list and meal ideas to use the next week. Now, my leftovers are getting used in a timely manner. Produce was another source of waste. Spoilage accounted for a hefty amount of food being thrown away. Now, the day before shopping day, I take out any leftover produce from the previous week, chop, and freeze it for soups, stews, and casseroles. I also round up the fruits that are not quite as fresh but still good from last week and make a fruit crisp. Suddenly the food waste in my household has decreased dramatically. ~Regina G. in Tucson AZ

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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