Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 09.27.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Post Hospital Help
I recently broke my foot. Since I live alone, many people I know offered me home cooked food, which was very thoughtful and appreciated. Since I was overwhelmed with food, the idea occurred to me that a gift of first aid items that I needed would have been nice. Since I had pins put in my foot, I had to buy various items. To be quite honest, these items really cost a lot of money. So, in the future, if anyone I know is down on their luck, I will ask if they need supplies instead of food.Cara

Menu Coordination
I'm sure everyone has heard of doing a weekly menu, but I do a monthly one. The last week of each month, I get the school calendar and game schedules and pencil in those nights, including any meetings I'm aware of. I keep a list of freezer contents on the refrigerator (add to list as I put them in the freezer). Then I make the menu. On nights we have games and won't get home until 8:30pm, it's a simple meal like tacos or grilled cheese. Other nights it's meat, potatoes, fruit and vegetables. I let the kids pick out a couple dinner ideas and add them to the menu. I have teenagers so they're asked to pick one night a month to fix dinner (with my supervision). This has saved me a lot of money! I buy items on sale ahead of time. I get food out to thaw the night before instead of running to the store to pick up dinner items. And this saves me from fast food!Kendra A.

Grocery Totes
I purchased four cheap plastic/canvas type tote bags on clearance (less than $5 each) to use and reuse for grocery shopping. They're stronger than the plastic bags you get at the store, hold more, and are easier to carry into the house.Patty S. in Norristown, PA

Easy Winter Preparations
I measured our windows and bought enough polar fleece at the fabric store (at 50% off) for all of our windows. I pieces about 2-4" wider than each window. Polar fleece doesn't fray or ravel so it needs no sewing. I cut slits in the top and bottom of the fleece to work like belt loops.
I found spring-tension rods at the dollar store. Then I ran the tension rods through these slits. The tension rods fit snuggly inside the window frames. There are two rods for each window with one at the top and one at the bottom. If we need to look outside, the fleece can slide side to side a little, or we can loosen the bottom tension rod so we can lift the fleece. For a kids' room, fleece with characters or a sports theme may be nice. We don't have kids, so I chose white for a uniform look from the outside. This immediately reduced window drafts. An excellent option for people who are not very craft- oriented.Gabby in Columbus, Ohio

'Child Proof' Solution
I use over-the-counter medicines. My disabilities make it hard to see the arrows on the childproof caps and bottles that need to be lined up before they open. I color them with red permanent marker. Now opening those bottles is a breeze.MR

Deadly Sweetness
Pour sugar on plants that you want to kill. Sugar gets microbes into high gear; that is why teeth rot from sugars. The sugar actually improves the health of your soil long term, but it will cause so much microbe action that the plant/root will overload and die. This is a great way to kill off stubborn thickets or vines, which you keep trimming back.W.

Tasty Rolls
To warm bread or rolls from the refrigerator, put them in the microwave next to a cup of water. This makes them come out fresh, moist and warm.JF

Ground Meat Stretcher
The easiest and cheapest way to stretch ground meat is to add fresh bean sprouts to the raw meat and brown it with the meat. The veggies will pick up the flavor of the meat from the meat juices, and once it is browned, you cannot tell which bite started out as meat and which was veggie sprouts. This works very well for strongly flavored foods like chili, taco meat, etc. I have often stretched two ground beef patties to enough to feed four to six adults this way. And it is lower calorie, higher fiber, etc.
I have used this for bulk sausage, ground beef and ground turkey and see no reason why it would not work with venison or chicken as well.Debbie

Luscious Lips!
The easiest and tastiest lip mask I've ever tried is plain honey straight on the lips! A thin layer will do, and it will work miracles if you can resist licking it off before it can work its magic. Make sure your lips are clean. It's great if used daily for about three days to a week. You can leave it on as long as you'd like, and I like to put it on right before bed and let it sink in all night. My lips are so sweet in the morning!
Honey is bacteria-resistant and has a generally emollient effect. Because it's such a great skin softener, it can be used on the face and neck as a simple moisturizing mask.Grace H.

Removing Pet Urine Smells
I had a tenant that had an older cat that sprayed and urinated behind their entertainment center. After trying just about everything, I decided to cut out the sub-floor. I had already pulled back the carpet and padding (it was time to replace the carpet anyway) when a neighbor stopped by and suggested I try vanilla flavoring. All I had was pure vanilla extract, so I poured it on. It killed the smell that was emanating from the plywood.Michael E.

Controlling 'Cling' Wrap
Plastic wrap or cling wrap often gets wasted as it tears apart or sticks together. A simple solution that I found is to keep it in the freezer. It pulls apart easily with no more wasted wrap.Angie

Spot Free Dishes
Instead of buying expensive spot eliminators for the dishwasher (i.e. Jet Dry), fill the reservoir with plain white household vinegar. It works just as well and it is much cheaper. It's probably better for the environment as well.Lorre J. in Phoenix, AZ

Easy Dusting
I keep an old paintbrush with my cleaning supplies. Whenever I have to dust the bookshelves, I spray it with Endust and brush the dust away. It's also made dusting a favorite job for my two kids.Iris S.

Need Extra Freezer Space?
I have a small apartment refrigerator with a freezer above. I have found that I double my freezer space simply by taking the frozen contents out of the boxes that they are purchased in. Most frozen items are sealed in plastic inside a box or other container. I simply cut out the instructions for cooking and tape to the plastic. This works really well for pizzas or boil-in-bag vegetables. Now I take advantage of sales on frozen items and stock up with no worry about freezer space. If you're concerned about the sell by date, then just cut the date out as well and tape it to the item.Charyl S.

'Gentle' Dishwashing
When my son was an infant, we had received a little basket to use on the top rack of the dishwasher to hold the bottle nipples and bottle rings. That came in handy then, and when he was a toddler, I used it for sippy cup parts. Now six years later, I'm still using it, but I'm using it for the little plastic containers and such. We don't use the heated dry on our dishwasher, so I can even toss in the cream cheese container to wash and re-use for storing single servings after dinner.Jen B.

Last Year's Backpack
My 5- and 8-year-old boys share a room so storage is an issue. I almost threw out their backpacks from last year because they were a little ratty, but instead, I washed them and use them to keep things in under the beds.Cindy B.

Funding Next Year's Garden
I love to vegetable garden. I always have more than I can use. I take my produce into the office and have a "Take Some and Leave a Quarter" cup next to them. I use this to buy my plants for next year. They get fresh produce, and I haven't had to pay for new plants in three years! I even take requests.Christian F. in Olathe, KS

Delightful Souvenirs
We travel several times a year. We like to go to a local "antique/junk" shop and browse for a souvenir. There are always local items available that delight us. We have a framed painted feather with the Tuzigoot parrot symbol from AZ, a pair of a child's Chinese slippers, a enormous skeleton door key from England, and a myriad of other souvenirs. Each time I see one of these items displayed in my house, I think of the place we visited and the money I saved that I can use toward the next trip!Lyn

Used Auto Auctions
We just bought a used van at an auto auction. We took our time and shopped at the auction over a six month time period until we found what met our needs and what constituted a good deal. When we took possession of our recently purchased van (a bank repo that we got for 50% of retail), the engine light was on. We weren't worried because we did all of the checks. The engine sounds wonderfully quiet. When I took the van to the auto repair shop, they wanted $78 to scan and tell us what the engine light code meant!
Being a do-it-yourselfer, I went home and researched what was needed to do the scan. Just imagine when I found out that I could buy the software and cable hook-up that scans the van for a mere $120. That's less than having to diagnose two engine lights! We may also let our friends and neighbors know that we will provide this service for a small fee! Our scanner will pay for itself in no time! So, shop and research to make sure that you know what you are getting and what you are paying for! By the way, the scan showed that it was time for an oil change.D. B. in Manitoba, Canada

Brown Sugar
Brown sugar never gets lumpy in my house. I always have it available and I never have to pay the extra price to purchase it either. Instead, I put together just the right amount of brown sugar when I have a recipe that calls for it. I always have granulated sugar and molasses on hand. When I have a recipe that calls for brown sugar, I first measure the granulated sugar for the exact amount the recipes calls for and then pour in a drop or two of the molasses at a time (it only takes a little) and work it in until I get just the right color.Cheryl C. in Midlothian, VA

Keeping Veggies
I have at least doubled the life of my fresh veggies by first washing them, then wrapping them in a paper towel and wetting the paper prior to putting them in the crisper. If you keep the paper towel damp your lettuce and other veggies will last two to three times as long!Jim O. in New Westminster BC

Visit the Country
I live in the suburbs of a large metropolitan area. My sister lives in a rural area, just 10 minutes from my house. My pet recently needed veterinarian care and she suggested her rural vet. I called around and I saved $150 by using her vet over the one down the street. This was well worth the trip! Apparently he makes most of his money on livestock, not household pets.Teresa E.

Frugally Famous
It's easy to go over the food budget when you're frequently asked to bring a dish to family, work, church and social events. So become "famous" for something inexpensive. I'm "famous" for my hard rolls. I purchase the yeast at discount pricing and flour on sale. The rolls are five inches in diameter and four inches high with an egg wash glaze. They are tasty and delicious, and even if I include the cost of gas for the oven, 16 cost about 40 cents. Even if I make honey butter to go with them, I spend less than a dollar for my specialty. Never become famous for something like cheesecake. It can destroy the food budget quickly.Mary Ann

Stinky Clothes?
While working in the theater wardrobe department, I learned that Vodka will eliminate odors. Just put in a spray bottle and spray. It evaporates leaving no stains or odors. It not only saves on cleaning bills, but will help conserve your clothing.Susan G.

Before You Begin Christmas Shopping
This would be the time to send out letters to family and friends to finally stop exchanging Christmas gifts. Most people have more than they need, and extra shopping just ends up causing stress. Last year, I received a card that read "a donation has been made in all the names of the people of my Christmas list and sheep have been purchased for an underprivileged village" in a 3rd world country. I was very touched to receive such a gift!WB

Running Tally
I arm myself with a small calculator when I shop for groceries. It's a snap to keep a running tally of my purchases so I never go over budget. It also reminds me to buy according to needs not wants because I can see immediately what a dent the wants make in my spending.M.

The Code Readers
We had a friend pass along this tip to us that has saved us a ton of money at the car repair shop. Most auto parts stores will hook their reader up to your car when your check engine (or any other light) comes on and tell you exactly what the error message is and what it means. They don't charge for this service. Recently this happened with one of our cars. We found out that my husband hadn't screwed the gas cap on all way. We tightened the cap, the auto part store employee reset the light, and it has never come on again. It saved us the time and trouble of taking the car into a repair shop, especially since we have to drive 60 miles to the nearest car dealer.Stacey S. in Muncie, IN

Part-Time Teacher
If you enjoy teaching and have a special skill or hobby that others might enjoy, check with your local community or junior college about their non-credit or adult education classes. Our community college is always looking for new ideas for classes and the instructors to teach them. I have taught several classes on both professional, work-related topics and leisure or travel-related topics. After my class proposal has been accepted, I work with their class coordinator to determine the night(s) and times and we schedule the class. It is printed in their booklet and online, so they take care of the marketing for me. I can either ask them to order a book for the students or I can prepare my own materials. I am paid a flat fee for teaching based on the contact hours. It's a fun way to earn some extra money, meet new people and, on occasion, create a new business contact.Tina B.

To prevent clothes from wrinkling, place a sheet of tissue paper on the garment and then fold as you normally do. This keeps them from wrinkling both in a drawer or in a suitcase.Eileen K. in Philadelphia, PA

Textbook Savings
The prices for textbooks today are ridiculous. Often, the professors don't like it either, but don't have much choice in their assignments. I've learned to ask my professors at the beginning of every semester if the previous edition of a text is acceptable for class. When it is, it can mean big savings. The Chemistry book, 10th edition, for my course was $180. The professor said the 9th edition was fine, and I was able to purchase it from (used books online) for $13.
I've also ordered international editions of texts. Even with shipping, it was much cheaper to get the international edition of my anatomy text from India. Just remember to allow for shipping time. Email your professor before the semester starts if possible. Also check reviews if you're buying an international edition to make sure it's the same content.Renee



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Friday, August 03, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 08.03.07

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Just the Plate, Please

We broke the glass plate from the bottom of our microwave. My husband called the manufacturer and learned that it would cost us $40 plus shipping to replace it. We didn't have the extra money to put out at the time, so we just let it go. A short time later, my husband was browsing in a thrift store and found a used microwave identical to ours for $12. Needless to say, he bought it and we disposed of the microwave and kept the plate!

Different Types of Projects

Having limited space for storing craft supplies, I started to look at how to organize my sewing and other craft things. Nothing appealed to me, so I was looking at my husband's latest tool catalog. I found a toolbox base with a power strip (Sears called them project centers. Don't buy the cheapest. Instead, buy the middle priced one for better quality.) and five drawers. It works great! Also, I can roll it into my kitchen and use it as a kitchen cart. I carved the Thanksgiving turkey on a platter on the cart and then I rolled it to the dining room. This gave me more room on the table for other yummies.
Larie C.

Snack Stock

Ever come across a great deal on snacks, such as potato chips, pretzels, crackers, cereal bars, etc., but their expiration date is looming or has already passed? Buy them anyway and freeze them in their original packaging. With the brands we've bought, we've seen no difference in quality, taste or texture. Of course, allow ample time for thawing.
Cindy in Muncy, PA

Considering a Pet?

Looking for a cheap, low-maintenance pet? Consider "feeder goldfish," which can cost less than 10 cents. Their food is around a $1 and lasts many months. One can use any type of glass bowl or antique canning jar to keep them in. They do live for years and are fun to keep near the kitchen sink. Some can have a personality and are very happy to see you in the morning. I was told they are cold water fish and do not like heated water, which is a big plus as there is no expensive heater or tank to keep up. I usually keep two fish together for company.
Ann from CT

Biking Two-fer

Recently, out of frustration with road construction and high gas prices, I decided to ditch my car commute and bike to work. I discovered that the 12.5-mile drive that took me 30 minutes by car on a good day (60 minutes or more in construction or bad weather) took about 60 minutes by bike.

Since I spend the same amount of time in the gym in the morning anyway, I followed the same routine (wake up time and packing a bag with business clothes for the day). It was a surprisingly small adjustment to my routine and I wondered why I hadn't done this sooner. I'm lucky that my workplace has a tiny locker room and shower.

I have found that I am saving not only gas costs ($25/month) but also my gym membership costs ($60/month), so I'm saving at least $85/month and getting daily exercise. Since I live in Minneapolis, I won't be able to bike year round. Still, it has an impact on my budget and reduces my impact on pollution!
Danae R.

Travel Tip

I just got back from vacation and learned this tip from a fellow traveler. Bring your own water bottle. Refill the water bottle at a water fountain near the restrooms and save $3 or more.
Janet H.

Old Cell Phone

When you upgrade your cell phone, hold onto your old phone and don't pay for phone insurance. If your new phone dies and you can't get a free new phone from your service provider, simply have them reactivate your old phone. Some providers will do it for free. Alternatively, if your provider runs on a GSM network, you may be able to swap the SIM cards and avoid having to contact your provider.
Cathy in Los Angeles

The Neighborhood Swapshop

Organize a neighborhood "swapshop." Have each person donate
ten items that they would normally give to charity or no longer use and then each person can swap their goods for new ones. I have been able to save on clothes and toys for the last two years. We love it!
Letanie G.

Mop and Broom Storage

To keep broom, mop handles, etc. from sliding down while leaning against a wall, cut the fingers from rubber gloves and put on top of handles. There will be no more slipping and sliding.
Betty S.

Call a Contractor

I have a money saving tip for those looking to spruce up their homes for a lower price. Many people are remodeling and some of the homes being remodeled aren't really out of date. Call a few local contractors and tell them what you are interested in finding, such as a bathroom vanity and sink, kitchen cabinets, etc. Find out if you can purchase what you need from a remodel they are doing. If you can wait for what you want and follow- up with the contractors frequently, you should be able to find what you want at a low price (or even free!) and reduce landfill waste at the same time!
Susie R. in Springfield, IL



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Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher 07.26.07

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!


It never fails. Shortly after you put a clean plastic liner in the kitchen wastebasket, something really smelly gets thrown away before the bag is full. I've found I can eliminate rotten odors in a wastebasket by completely covering the offending waste with a few layers of newspapers. I use the newspaper ad supplements that fill up my mailbox each week. The paper absorbs the smell entirely so you can use each bag to capacity.
Julie B. in Houston TX

The Hanging Heat Reducer

I did something very inexpensive this year that made a huge difference in the temperature of our kitchen. It would work on any room in the house.

We live in Texas. Summers are very long and very hot here. The large window in the eating area of our kitchen faces West. From about 2pm on each day, the sun pours through that window and bakes the room. By the time we sit down for dinner, the area is unbearably warm (despite air conditioning) and the bright sun is blinding to those of us facing the window.

This year, I cut a large piece of "black-out fabric" a bit larger than the window. Black-out fabric is actually white and can be purchased very inexpensively at fabric stores. I installed three grommets across the top. Then I tacked three small finishing nails above the top of the window above the wooden trim. At noon each day, I can easily hang up the curtain, and by 5pm when we eat dinner, the area is much cooler and there is no more glare! After 30 years of eating at a miserably hot dinner table, it's finally very comfortable!
JR in Houston

Cheaper Flavored Teas

Many people in our area enjoy the raspberry flavored iced tea available at restaurants. Enjoy it at home by using dry drink mixes as the flavoring agent. Kool-Aid is a very concentrated flavor so use sparingly. Select a flavor (raspberry, lemonade, cherry, orange, etc.) and add to dry instant tea to make a dry mix. It can also be added to reconstituted instant tea or brewed tea for a ready-to-drink beverage. Store it in the refrigerator. Add your own preferred sweetener.

For a flavored hot tea, an alternative with more flavors available would be the gelatin dessert mixes such as Jell-O. Besides more easily accommodating different preferences, these also can be more frugal than other flavored tea options.

Cereal Savings

I bought three cylindrical plastic containers with lids. I no longer buy a cereal just because it tastes good since we normally go through 15 to 20 boxes a month. I now buy the bags, discounted damaged boxes, and cheaper brands. I pour the cereal in the clear plastic container when I get home and then everyone can see what it is and won't shun it because it's generic or has a dented box.
Candy M.

Doggie Toys

If you have dogs, you know how expensive and short-lived dog toys can be. Instead of purchasing new, consider your local Goodwill or Salvation Army. We can buy a large box of children's stuffed animals for the price of one PetSmart dog toy (without putting a dent in the thrift store's sad, abundant supply!). Our box will last all year and the dogs love the suspense of a "new" toy, especially at Christmas. Best of all, the money dished out goes for a good cause. If you don't have a thrift store nearby, consider Just be sure that there's nothing that could be chewed off of the toy that would be dangerous for your pet.
Mary in IL

Charitable Causes

One of the things that drives me absolutely bonkers is when a charity I have never heard of before sends me a solicitation that includes nickels or dimes and then goes on to explain how even these small amounts can do wonders for their cause! I am also aggravated when some organizations send me return envelopes that already have the postage on them. To the organizations that send cash, I send nothing and give that money to other charitable causes. As for the stamped envelopes, I soak the stamps off guilt free and again use them when I mail to other charitable groups.
Ed G.

Meals to Go!

When we needed to travel across the country to spend time with our grandchildren, we went as inexpensively as possible. I doubled the recipe of some of our favorite meals while I made them for supper and froze them in resealable bags. We were gone for four weeks and traveled 2,000 miles in our little camper trailer we pulled behind our truck. I also bought chips and snacks ahead of time while they were on sale. I made meals of fried chicken, meatloaf, etc. and we kept them in the cooler with dry ice.

I would take supper out of the cooler when we ate breakfast, place it in the fridge while we traveled, and it was ready to eat cold or warm up when we stopped for the night. I also put a frozen breakfast in the slow cooker on low at night and it would be thawed and ready to eat when we awoke in the morning.

We saved a lot of money, especially at campsites since it was out of the normal tourist season. We did not have any upset stomachs from eating out all the time and saved a lot of time by having our meals already prepared. We only ate out once when our kids took us out to eat before we left!
Judy in NE

Lettuce Keeper

If you will slam your iceberg lettuce against the inside of the sink with the core taking the hit, it allows you to pull the whole core out by hand and rinse the lettuce without inserting a knife. It doesn't bruise the lettuce at all and this will help it stay fresher in your refrigerator.
Diane S. in Oklahoma

An Organized Desk

Recently, I redid our home office and found myself in need of several different sized containers for organizing things. I bought a roll of contact paper and just covered cardboard boxes (with the top flaps cut off) in sizes that I needed. I reinforced the bottoms and corners with packing tape to help them last longer before covering them with the contact paper. When I was finished, I had several really nice matching and perfectly sized organizers for the cost of a roll of contact paper.
Heather B in CA

Fly Away

Suspend a gallon baggie half full of water from each section of your porch (between each post). Stapling is the best way to secure. The light refraction through the water in the bag repels flies. We have even had a large table filled with food set out and not a fly on any of it. It's nice to not be bothered by flies without having to spray expensive chemicals or light stinky candles.
Jennifer K. in Ingraham, IL

"No Sew" Curtains

Curtains for the sewing-challenged can be easy. Use the curtain hooks that have little clips to hold the fabric on them. They are sometimes called curtain clips. Then you can use any fabric you like with the hooks, such as a patterned flat sheet. You don't have to sew at all and you can use the fabric later for something else. Curtain clips are inexpensive and can sometimes even be found at dollar stores at ten for a dollar. They seem to be very fashionable now.
Emilie J.



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Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 07.19.07

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Cool Tips

As the temperature outside rises, so does our electric bills, elevated by all those fans and air conditioners. To minimize their elevation, prepare your air conditioner for the cooling season.

Clean the condenser coils on your window or through-the-wall units. Remove the cover to gain access to the coils and clean them with a soft bristle brush. While you're in there, clean out any lint build up and oil the motor if it is equipped with oil ports on the sides.

Outdoor compressors for whole house units could use a good cleaning, too. Remove sticks, leaves and those fluffy seeds with a hose sprayer.

Protecting your outdoor compressor or your window unit from the hot direct sun can help increase its energy efficiency.

Don't forget to clean or replace your air conditioner's filter.
Naomi K.

Simple Rash Soother

My daughter often has rashes from unknown causes so we tend to keep some of those expensive oatmeal bath preparations in the medicine cabinet. One night she came in from a long evening of playing outdoors, and of course, she had a rash. I discovered that we were out of the normal Aveeno oatmeal bath! Ugh! I decided to try regular oatmeal (not the instant flavored oatmeal) and put it into our coffee grinder. We had an instant oatmeal bath, and it worked even better than that drugstore stuff!
Roben K. in Fresno CA

Dinner to Go

For our vacation this summer, my family will be staying for a week in a beach condominium with a full kitchen. In order to save money and eat healthier, we have decided to keep eating out to a minimum. But, who wants to spend a lot of time cooking or haul a lot of ingredients? So, I decided to pre-assemble freezer meals here at home using ingredients I bought on sale. The dinners will fit in a zipper bag and will stay cold in our ice chest until we get to our destination. They will go into the freezer and I will cook them up when we're ready to eat them. I'll just add a salad and some bread. We look forward to easy-to-prepare, affordable, and healthy meals away from home, and some great beach memories.
Erin J.

Creative Corn Silk Solution

While processing 400 ears of corn for freezing this week, our family needed extra corn silk brushes, so we improvised and discovered a great tip. Use a microfiber cloth to silk the corn before blanching. The microfiber cloth is slightly sticky to the corn silks and absorbs any corn milk. This eliminates the corn silk beautifully and makes less mess than a brush.
Linda in Raleigh NC

Natural Mosquito Repellant

I read in a book about putting basil around and the mosquitoes will leave you alone. I had a plant growing in my home and took it outdoors on the 4th of July. I sat on the porch for about four hours to watch the fireworks and did not see one mosquito.

Cleaning Discount

Cleaning products are so expensive and take up an unbelievable amount of space to store. We mix equal parts of vinegar and water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid into a spray bottle to use as everyday household cleaner. This works great on sinks, shower stalls, tile and linoleum floors, counter tops, etc. Plus, it saves a ton at the discount stores at check out.
Denise O. in Beemer, NE

Nasty Gnats

To get rid of gnats, fill a disposable pie pan with 1 3/4 cups white vinegar, 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap, and 2 cups water. Let this mixture sit on your kitchen counter or other problem area. You will be surprised at how many you'll get.
Melissa J. in Madison, IN.

Divide and Conquer

When I buy any plant at the store, I separate the perennials when I get home. I bought a plant for $4.99 and was able to get five plants out of it, putting it in different parts of my yard. Make sure to only buy the healthiest plants.
Melinda M.

Cool Slumber

Place a wet washcloth somewhere on yourself when you lie down to sleep with a fan set on "Low" blowing directly on you. You'll cool off fast because the heat of your body will be drawn to the "cold spot." This works the same way if you put a cold wet towel around your neck while you do yard work, etc.
Diane S. in North Olmsted, OH

Removing Mildew

Borax is one of those often forgotten cleaners our grandparents swore by. To remove mildew from upholstery and other fabrics, soak a sponge in a solution of 1/2 cup borax dissolved in 2 cups hot water, and rub it into the affected areas. Let it soak in for several hours until the stain disappears, then rinse well.

To remove mildew from clothing, soak it in a solution of 2 cups borax in 2 quarts (2 liters) water. Of course, modern fabrics can be a bit more fragile than our grandmother's generation, so it's a good idea to test a hidden corner first for sensitivity, but so far I haven't found any problems.
Pam M.



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Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 07.12.07

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Clean Eyeglasses

A lot of us wear eye glasses and know the little nose piece that is cushioned can get awful dirty and stained. Just put them in a tall glass at night when you go to bed with a few drops of liquid soap (I use Dawn). Rinse them the next morning, and they will be squeaky clean. If really dirty, it may take several soakings to get it all off.
Janice H. in Somerset, KY

Less Air to Lose

Opening and closing a refrigerator wastes a lot of cold air. Keep the refrigerator full to minimize air loss when opening it. Or, if your refrigerator isn't full, fill it with empty bottles to minimize air loss.

Harvest Again and Again

When you harvest leaf lettuce, leave the bottom two inches of each plant, cutting off the top leafy part. If you water, you will get another crop of lettuce. You can do this over and over and have a constant supply of lettuce as long as you keep the plants watered. You can grow basil and mint and harvest part of the leaves and more will grow back as well. The same is true with rhubarb, which isn't just a spring crop if you keep it well watered and fed.
Karen K.

Mini-Blind Care

If your vinyl mini blinds are just dusty, take an unused dryer sheet and rub over the mini-blind. The dust just falls to the floor in clumps and can be vacuumed up. If the blinds are dirty, take outside on a day that isn't too windy. Place top of mini-blind over nails nailed into wide tree or fence. Spray blind with "Scrubbing Bubbles" bathroom cleaner. The dirt starts to foam up immediately. Let sit for a few minutes and hose off with water, no scrubbing required.


A great way to save money on costume jewelry that has become tarnished, instead of throwing it away spray paint it. A lot of the new costume jewelry is red, blue, black, white etc. This works great on hoops etc. A quick coating of paint and you have a new pair of fashionable earrings.
Angie M.

Blowing Bugs Away

I have small grandchildren and we enjoy sitting outside on the porch. I had been using tiki torches and various citronella candles to shoo away the mosquitoes, I always worried about the kids burning themselves or knocking them over. (The kids are drawn to the flames like moths.) I found that putting a portable fan and allowing it to oscillate keeps the mosquitoes away. They can't land! It also provides a refreshing breeze.
Linda C.

Smoke-Free Rental Cars

My husband and I were on vacation. Since most rental places do not rent smoke-free cars, we had to come up with something fast to get the cigarette smoke out of the car. We went to the grocery store and bought a potato, sliced it in half, and put one half in the front seat and one half in the back seat. The next day the smoke smell was virtually gone.
Theresa in NE

Cheaper Bath Salts

I love Dead Sea bath salts, but they can be very expensive, often $15 or more for a pound. However, craft stores sell a kit for making scented and colored bath salt gifts. You don't even need to buy the kit; the stores sell refills, and you can get a two-pound jar of Dead Sea salts for around $7. The craft stores usually include in their weekly ad a coupon for 40% off any item not on sale, which reduces the price even more.

I don't mind the plain salts, but you can also buy small bottles of fragrance or color. It just takes a couple of drops to customize your salts. For a quick gift, the same stores sell small decorative jars. Fill them with bath salts, add color or fragrance if you like, and tie with a pretty ribbon. If you don't need the minerals for which Dead Sea salts are famous, you can do the same thing with Epsom salts. This is a nice soak for tired or sore muscles, and it's available at drug stores for even less money.
Melissa D.

Going Buggy

My three-year-old son loves bugs. Me, too! So we were checking out some bug collecting supplies, but everything was quite expensive. I checked out my local dollar store and found a very large light plastic jug, perfectly clear, with a lid that had a handle. After putting a few small holes in the top, we had a butterfly house. It also works for other creatures; I currently have two slugs in it, munching on carrots.

For smaller catchers, those little tiny Ziploc containers work great. They're clear enough to see the bug. Plus check out the school supply section for magnifying glasses. I did spring for a net, though. I spent a whole $1.99. Everything was so cheap that I made two sets, one for here and one for Grandma's house. As an added bonus, everything, except the net, can be stored in the big jug! Please note that these supplies are more for catch, observe and release, not for permanent collections.

From 30 to 15

My husband and I refinanced our mortgage a few years back. Not only did we get a great interest rate, but we refinanced from a 30 year to a 15 year loan. We will have our home paid for by the time we are 53. We will save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. We refinanced on one income. The monthly payments are still reasonable. I didn't think we could swing a 15 year loan nor did I think it would make a big difference in the long run. Was I ever wrong! Best decision we've made in a long time.



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Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 07.05.07

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Coupon Savings...Not!

I learned my lesson yesterday about coupons. I had $5 to $6 worth of coupons to use at Wal-Mart, and when I got home, I looked at the receipt and realized the cashier never entered my coupons so I was out the money and the coupons! It would have cost me more in gas to drive back to the store to complain than the coupons were worth. Now I will not only pay attention to the change I receive from cashiers, but I will also make sure they enter the coupons I give them. No more feeling rushed through the line for me.
Shannon in PA


Please tell your readers to make sure to find out if their HSA plan will rollover from year to year. Mine does not, and the monies saved must be used by March of the following year or are forfeited. It's still a useful plan for covering deductibles, but be careful or you can lose money.

It's Nice to Be Wanted

Keep your eyes peeled for weekly flyers from pharmacy/grocery stores with pharmacies inside. Many of them are competing for your prescription business and will have promotions for a free gift card with a transferred or new prescription.

I frequently transfer my prescription back and forth, pay my prescription cost of $5, and end up with a gift card for free groceries or items at Walgreens or CVS in the amount of usually $25-$30! I've probably amassed close to $300 in free groceries/merchandise this way and always feel great about the savings.
Christina B.

Freezer Find-It

I stockpile meat when it is on sale. I could never find anything in my upright freezer, so I bought four plastic bins (we used to call them dishpans) at Wal-Mart and labeled each one with a different name: beef, pork, poultry, and vegetables. We put each on a different shelf in the freezer and divided the items into the appropriate bin. Half of the shelf is still available for larger items, such as turkeys or a large roast. Wire bins would be better, but I could not find them at the time. I have one that I got at garage sale. I use it for miscellaneous items, so I can see what is in it at a glance.

I also date everything that I put in my freezer. When I buy new items, I move the older dates to the top. Because I buy meat only on sale, I am often able to share what I have in my freezer with my grown children.
Sharon C.

Can Opener Maintenance

Manual can openers always seem to get balky over time. When mine no longer operates smoothly, I spritz the gear area with flavor-free cooking spray before each use. The "lubrication" makes turning the handle much easier, and the cooking spray is safe to use. I always make sure to wash the can opener thoroughly afterwards.
Lynn in Dallas

Volunteer Savings

I have just found a dynamite way to save money. Volunteer in a thrift store. The one I work in is "manned" mostly by women except for one man who comes in on the weekend to check out the electrical donations and make small repairs. We have some folks who work two four-hour shifts per week and are on call for emergencies. We also have some that only work a few hours occasionally. But we all get the 10% discount and sometimes 50%. The problem I have now is that I am spending too much money! Of course, I'm very well dressed, have a couple of pieces of jewelry I have longed for, and have canes and a walker for bad days. All bought at extremely low prices.
Judith D.

"Upscale" Garage Sales

Don't forget to visit yard sales in upscale neighborhoods. I recently came across one in my area that offered several new unopened lotion gift baskets, similar to the ones that retail for $20-$30 at those body lotion stores at the mall. They were marked for $5 each, so I bought all that the woman had for sale. The next time an unexpected emergency present was needed, there was no need to shop out of desperation, which often results in a more expensive gift.

The Bathroom Bag

Bathroom space at a premium? Place each family member's personal grooming items into a small drawstring bag or, for the children, a sand-pail. Keep each person's items in their own bedroom; they can carry their bag or pail to the bathroom and then back to their bedroom when finished in the bathroom. It cuts down on the space that is needed in the bathroom and frees up space for the towels, tissues, etc.

Website Patience

A lot of company websites have a sale of the day or web only sales. If there is something you see that you like in a catalog, check out their website. If you are willing to be patient, you will often be able to get it at a greatly reduced price. I got a pair of Ugg slippers for $35. They are usually $70.
Mary Z. in Woods Hole, MA

In an Emergency...

I have a terrible time remembering the names and dosage of the medications I take. In the event of an emergency, I would not be able to notify medical personnel of my medications. I've found that the pharmacy prints extra labels with the name and dosage of each medication along with my physician's name, address and phone number. I place these stickers (about the size of a return address label) on a card in my wallet. If there are any dosage changes, I just place the new sticker over the old. This helps me keep track of all my medications.
Mary in St. Joseph, MO



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Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 06.28.07

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Here is a double dose of tips since I wasn't able to post last week! Enjoy!

Instead of Cash

Instead of keeping cash for emergencies in my car/billfold/house, I keep travelers checks. Most places will accept them in an emergency. Yet, they are just hard enough to spend that I am not tempted to use them just because I see something that I want. Plus, they never expire and can be replaced if lost. CB

Autopay Caution

I pay some of my bills automatically with a credit card that gives me cash back. I recently became aware that when anything changes on a credit card, such as a new expiration date, then you have to notify the appropriate billing departments of the changes. Otherwise, you may be hit with late fees when charges to the credit card are denied. This will happen even if the credit card number is the same and your credit is good.Some billing departments will let you know when a card expiration date is coming up and advise you to "resubscribe" to the auto payment. Some are happy to collect late fees. Sandy G.

Rainy Vacation Days

We take a trip to the beach twice a summer. We spend one week with my in-laws and one week with my side of the family. The kids love the beach and the pool, but sometime during the week, it's going to rain or the kids are going to want to do something different. A couple of years ago, I thought I would head off the situation before it started. I surfed the Internet for free things to do in the area where we vacation. Tara G.

I'm Looking for...

I have several small grandchildren, and I like to buy a lot of their toys and play clothes at garage sales. However, with the high cost of gas, even that is not always cost effective. Now I post on our local library and grocery store bulletin board exactly what I am looking for (certain toys, clothing, etc.), and I have people calling me before their garage sale. I can get what I want without a lot of driving. The added benefit is that I have met other grandmas doing the same thing. Paula B.


After reading the catalogs and seeing a lot of capri pants offered for sale, I noticed that they gave the inside seam measurement as 20 inches. That gave me an idea. I had several pair of slacks that I didn't like wearing because they were a little shorter than I liked. I pulled out the scissors and cut them to 21 inches inside seam. Then I folded the hem twice (1/2 inch) and hemmed them. I now have four pair of capri pants that cost nothing but the time to hem them. Pat in Kitchener

Coupon Control

I heard a great tip the other day. Make sure you eat before cutting coupons. Then the Oreo, potato chip, etc. coupons won't be nearly so desirable to cut out. And if you don't cut them out, you're less likely to buy them. Carol

Homemade = Savings

I recently got sick of being in debt so I picked up a job delivering pizzas at night for a major pizza chain. They would kill me for saying this, but I was able to figure out how much people are paying for pizza versus if they made it themselves.If you order a pizza from us, you usually pay $15 dollars for two mediums (even with a coupon) with two toppings. I sat down and did the math. If you went to the store and purchased the pre-made pizza crust (about $3 for two), one can of sauce ($1.40), cheese ($2), and toppings (which of course can vary), you would save at least $5 to $10. Make your own pizza crust, which can be done in a bread maker or just by hand, and you save another $2 or so. And you can customize your pizza and get better toppings (a lot of the toppings in the restaurant are frozen and thawed out!). When you add in tip (which I hope you do) for the driver, you're paying $20 for two medium pizzas that you could have made yourself for half of that! Not that I don't want to be busy, but I couldn't believe the costs!
Matt in Colorado

Handy Bags

We wash and reuse our resealable plastic bags, as long as there was no raw meat stored in them. But storing them after they've been washed and allowed to dry was a problem. They overflowed the "bag drawer" whenever the door was opened. Trying to stuff them back into the original box was futile. In desperation, I found three large storage containers, labeled each one with tape and a marker "Gallon," "Sandwich Size," and "Snack Size." Now, when putting away bags, I simply stuff the bags into the appropriately marked container. My kids can pull what they need easily for packing lunches, and putting away leftovers is much easier when we don't have to hunt for the correct size. Ann S.

Cooler Times Two

I live in Central Florida and just realized that I can have an ice cold drink after having the cooler in the car all day if I just place my small cooler inside a larger cooler. I find that one cooler just doesn't do the trick here in our heat. Coolers are easy to find at yard sales and flea markets cheaply. This is especially refreshing after a day in a theme park. Sue in FL

Shopping with a Purpose

When I feel like shopping and know it is not good for my budget, I go shopping for gifts that I will need in the next several months. That way, I can satisfy my urge to go shopping, get nice things, but do not feel bad afterwards. Of course, I occasionally buy things just to please myself, but gifts are a good thing to shop for, as they are not overly expensive things. I just buy things like books or cosmetics. Jana

Going Cashless

Long ago, I received some very good advice about money from a local frugal businessman. He and I were discussing living on $5,000 a year and his first piece of advice was to carry no currency, no checks, and no credit cards at all. I thought about it and realized that I had a cell phone, a vehicle and the nearest help for a true emergency was minutes away. What did I have to lose? I have been doing this for several years now, and it has cut down on my impulse spending tremendously! On payday, I fill my tank, buy groceries (with a single check I put in my purse for that purpose) and pay the one bill I have each week. I also keep enough cash at home to pay my daughter's allowance and lunch money for the week.Brenda T. in Frederick, MD

Look-a-Like Luggage

We recently returned from a trip. Retrieving our luggage is always hectic, especially when most of the suitcases are the standard black color. I have done a lot of painting with acrylic paint on fabric so I decided to paint pretty flowers on my black suitcases. I used chalk for the original sketching and then acrylic paints to make big, bold flowers on all sides of the suitcase. They really stand out and are easily recognized when they tumble down the airline chute. I sprayed them with a fixative acrylic spray to protect the paint. I am very pleased with the results. Mary Esther

Graduation Celebration

When my nephew graduated from high school (20 years ago), I had hardly any money at all and didn't know what to do for a gift for him. I wrote out 12 checks for $10 with each dated a different month. Actually, I gave him $120 for graduation. He was thrilled with it, and it was easier for me to give. Joann S.

Easy to Reach

I have small children that are constantly throwing or dropping items behind dressers or under the bed where I cannot reach them. My solution was to attach pantyhose with a rubberband around the vacuum hose. Turn on the vacuum and the items can be pulled out without being sucked into the machine. This has saved my back on many occasions. C.

Summer Cookouts

Cover a cotton ball or swab with a light coating of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) and use as a fire starter in your open fire or fire range. This is much cheaper than traditional fire starters. And they hold their flame for about five minutes, which is plenty of time to add that dry wood.Ang
Savings StashedWhen I use coupons or a store rewards card, there is usually a total of what was saved on that shopping trip. I've started taking that amount and keeping a list of what was saved for the entire month. At the end of the month, I put the money "saved" by using coupons or the rewards card into a savings account. The amount varies from month to month, but it's built up a nice emergency account. Heidi P. O. in Pittsburgh, PA

International Cuisine Saves Cash

A good way to save money is to learn to cook ethnic foods. Thai, Mexican and Indian, in particular, are cheap to make and so tasty with the spices that you really benefit, especially with vegetarian options. I'm not a vegetarian, but those dishes, along with ones with a little meat like a stir-fry, will save you money on your grocery bill. has a lot of good ideas, or you can get a (used) cookbook from Amazon. Erica C. in Chicago, IL

Traveler's Alert

If you are like me and do not fly much, you sometimes are not sure what you can take and not take on the plane. I had knitting needles with me on one trip and they were allowed, but then on another trip, they were denied and my boarded bag had already gone to the bottom of the plane. Now, I carry a big self-addressed envelope with me so I can mail the items back to me without a financial loss. Susan W.

Sewer's Secret

Need a few buttons for a sewing project? Don't buy them at the craft store where they are expensive. Go to your local thrift store; they generally sell clothing items for less than a dollar. Search through the shirts for buttons you like. Cut off the buttons and use for your project. This is much cheaper than buying them new. Also, keep the fabric from the clothing item in your scrap bin for future projects. Melissa J. in Independence, KS

Bedclothes Storage Solution

My linen closet is small, and I find it so hard to keep things wrinkle free, especially pillowcases and sheets. So when my last guest left and the linens were ready to put away again, I decided to fold them in a manner that was the width of the bed they are used on. I then made the bed and placed the linens at the head of the bed. The pillows then went back on along with the coverlet. Not only is this a good place to store them, but also they stay fresh, and it makes the pillows look real fluffy. Alice



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Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 06.14.07

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!


I recently tried the experiment of unplugging all appliances that were not being used, including cell phone chargers, and saved $15 on my electric bill in one month.
Ilsa G.


Instead of saving leftovers in Rubbermaid or Corning containers, scoop them into zip top bags and store in one of the drawers of your refrigerator. They take up so much less room, and the family gets used to looking in that one spot instead of moving things around on the shelves. Things seldom get "lost" because they've been pushed to the back, and you can see exactly what's available. Use a permanent marker and label with date and contents.
Barb C.

Free Gym Membership

Are you bored watching your child at swim class or other lessons at the rec center? Use that time to exercise for free! Our local rec center allows parents and/or siblings to swim or use the gym facilities free while their children are attending class. We cannot use the entire pool, but can still use most of it. We can also use it between lessons since the siblings do not have lessons at the same time. They do not publicize this and it is not applicable for every class, but a quick phone call can confirm if your center will allow it or not. For the price of two children in swim lessons, my entire family of five can get a workout. I am still close enough to watch my children in class, and I am modeling healthy behavior.
Susanne M. in Wheat Ridge, CO

Desktop Solution

I recently uncovered an old desk my parents had in storage that I could use. However, the top was all scratched and chipped. I bought a dry erase board panel, cut it to the size of the desk top using a veneer saw blade in my saw, glued it on with liquid nails, and painted the desk. Voila! I now have a smooth desk top that is a snap to clean. When working at the desk, I don't have to look for paper to write on. And my daughter loves to draw on it. I spent less than $20 and have a "brand new" desk that everyone loves to use. Also, by putting magnets on the back of my leftover dry erase board, I now have a place on my refrigerator for notes.

CD Clean

I needed to clean some of my music CDs and a DVD (which didn't work when I first received it) and so I carefully used an optical lens cleaner sheet (like you get from Sam's in the eyeglass section). These sheets are less than $6 for 180 (large ones) compared to $7 or so for about 20 in an electronics store. I had to unfold the section that I wanted to use and gently wipe off the disk in the right direction (from the center to the outside). Now, the DVD works and the CDs are clean. This is quite inexpensive, and I figured that it was worth a try since the lens cleaner was safe for my glasses.
Cynthia S.

Not One, But Five

I never make one cup of tea. With two bags and a teapot, I get five big mugs of tea. If we don't finish the hot tea, we put it in the refrigerator for tomorrow's iced tea. Also, I get tea from the local "deals only" store for about a dollar a box or in bulk at the health food store. One heaping tablespoon of bulk tea per pot is a thrifty alternative to bagged tea.
Beth H.

Take the Savings and Run

When I use coupons, I ask the checker to let me pay the full pre-coupon amount and give me the value of the coupons in cash. Last year, I accumulated over $2300, which I have set aside for emergencies and special family gifts. And, of course, I never buy anything I wouldn't also buy without a coupon.
Nancy in Santee

Family Auction

We are planning a family gathering/pig roast during Labor Day. We did this annually for several years. One thing that we did to help with the cost of the pig was have everyone bring a used item to auction off. We had everything from children's toys (never over 50 cents) to small household appliances. After a few years, some people got donations from their employers of gift certificates for various restaurants. After the first time, everyone looked forward to the "auction," especially the kids.
Sue L.

Remembering Grandma

Last year my mother-in-law died suddenly. We didn't know if she had any insurance and we didn't have the cash to pay the $7000 to $9000 the funeral home told us it would cost to bury her. She already owned a plot. My brother-in-law contacted a funeral home here about cremation. The cremation and related services was about $1200. We did the memorial service/funeral ourselves.

We printed flyers with the information about her on them. We created the memorial book and customized it with the things she loved, so it really reflected her. We printed the RESERVED signs for the pews at the church. We asked a couple of friends who came to the service if they would help with ushering people in and out. My son made a CD of music for the before and after music. We found many pictures of her from different times in her life and created a lovely display at the front of the church. One of her passions was her Red Hat group, so we prepared a display of her hats and things that she had collected around that.

I think some people in the small town may have been a bit taken aback, but I though it was a lovely Red Hat funeral and befitted her. My son commented that he felt a great deal of closure from the whole process. Our family came together and worked together to create a time of fond memories in what was a truly stressful time. We know that it was unconventional, but that adds a little more to the whole experience. We stepped out of tradition and created some new family traditions. In the process, we probably saved at least $5000!
Penny H.



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Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 06.07.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Blow By

If you open a window at each end of the house and place a window box fan backwards in one of the windows so that it blows outside of the house, it pulls the air through the house (especially in the early morning hours) and cools your home.

Expiration Unlimited

Be wary of renewal notices! I used to receive several renewal notices for a magazine subscription. They were months apart and I didn't notice so I paid them. Finally, after receiving a notice close to a recent renewal (which I paid for!), I checked my subscription. I was paid up through 2012! So check your renewals with your subscription departments. You may not need to renew.
Bill in Rockford, MI

Just Dry and Reuse

Our community has a pool, and if you have a little one, the cost of swim diapers quickly escalates a "free" trip to the pool. Last summer, I started washing and re-using our swim diapers. Generally, they are just wet when we get home so I just rinse them in the sink with a little soap and water and hang to dry with the swimsuit. If the diaper was more than wet, I disposed of it. I don't think I bought more than one package of swim diapers for the whole season.
Marquita H.

Calorie Packs

You can easily make your own 100-calorie packs. I used a calorie book and nutrition information to make a list of the size of various servings of my favorite snacks and the calorie counts. I posted it in my pantry and use it as inspiration to keep my low calorie snack basket full. I keep hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit and clean yogurt containers with pretzels, carrot or celery sticks in a small basket in my fridge. I replenish it every few days. It makes finding a healthy snack easy and even makes finding filler for lunches a breeze.
Kimberly M. in Alta Loma, CA

Natural Facial

The best facial to remove oil is one egg yolk and a teaspoon of mayonnaise. I know it sounds funny, but it makes your skin feel so soft and look new. Just rub it on, wait thirty minutes, and then remove with warm water.

Odor Fighters

A lit match will take away bathroom odor. Strike a match (I use the wooden kitchen kind for easy handling) and the odor disappears. This is much better for us than the air sprays and much cheaper, too. I sometimes light the match and then light a candle, but the match alone eliminates the odor.

Also, after cutting onions, if you run your fingers over the knife under running water, the onion odor disappears.

I don't know the scientific reason for either of these but I have a very sensitive nose and these both work great.
Pat in St. Louis, MO

Buy the Bucket

I'm an avid gardener and go through a lot of potting soil to plant my container gardens. It can end up costing a lot of money to plant those flowers! Thankfully, I discovered that our local business that sells landscaping products sells dirt, pea gravel, bark, and an assortment of different soils by the bucket full. You just take your bucket and fill it yourself. This is so much cheaper than buying it by the bag.

Love Those Fake Credit Cards

If you've seen the new bladeless cream hair removers and thought about giving them a try, try this trick instead. Buy the generic or cheapest brand of cream hair remover, and instead of using a washcloth (very messy!) to remove the product, use one of those fake credit cards that keep showing up in the mail. This works just as well as the expensive, premium product for about half the cost. For soothing softness, smooth on a light film of Vaseline or baby oil afterwards. No need for expensive specialty products to soften your legs, since Vaseline works just as well or better for just pennies.
Victoria in Watertown, NY

Home Sharing

My mom is currently sharing her home with my sister and me in New York City. My mother is retired and has very limited income. She has to supplement her retirement income by working for minimum wage for a few hours per day.

Even though my sister and I are grown, there are advantages we all enjoy such as being able to contribute to the mortgage according to our income and sharing expenses which enables us to keep our housing cost to approximately 30% and lower. My single mom gets to enjoy her family and not being left alone and we get to save more.

I would recommend kids sharing a home with their parent(s), providing they act responsible in every way and respect their parents while living there. This advice is especially good for expensive cities, such as New York City.

Veggie Packs

When you chop up those almost done vegetables to put in the freezer, measure them into 1/4, 1/2, 1 cup portions in little sandwich bags and put these bags into a larger bag. This works great!
Leah D.



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Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 05.31.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

"Uniform" Solution

I save a ton of money, time and energy at my office job by creating a work uniform for myself. I purchased five black slacks (the heavy-duty kind for construction workers as they stay pressed-looking after days of wear in an office) and ten polo shirts of different colors. I simply wash and wear. Before this, I used to get up early and try to coordinate slacks, blouses, belts and shoes. Lately, I realized that I just need to be clean, pressed and presentable. Every piece in my new work outfit is always perfectly interchangeable, and with the differently colored polo shirts, I never get bored with what I'm wearing. Now if I spend time or money on clothes, it's to wear for a night on the town where it really counts to look my best!

Holey Half

When opening up a new box of cleaning powder (Ajax, etc.), leave half of the holes covered with the opening sticky paper. This way, you only use half the amount of powder to clean. I have found this to be enough to get the job done.

Destination Savings

We were planing a trip to Orlando to go to Disney World. One of the biggest savers on our trip was getting on a national entertainment book website and ordering an Orlando coupon book. Most people only order these for their own hometowns.

By ordering one for the place you plan to visit, you will find all kinds of "buy one get one free" coupons for places to eat and things to do, as well as places to visit. Because these are "hometown" places, you can go where the locals eat instead of the tourist places that you would normally go to. You'll pay so much less, and by using your coupons, you'll save even more!

The book saved us a lot of money and we had a great time going to "off the beaten path" places instead of the crowed places most tourists attend!
Karen M. in Fairhope, AL

Party Planning

Two years ago when my high school son graduated, I bought all the party supplies that I needed. I hadn't planned ahead and bought at full price. What was I thinking??? I spent a small fortune. Do you have someone graduating next year? Be smart, buy the party items, plates, napkins, cups, picture frames and other fun stuff this year. Watch for clearance items at the end of this month. Just don't buy anything with the year on it. Party supply stores have lots of choices, and lots of items. No need to pay full price. For the stuff with the year on it, just wait until right after next New Year's!
Tammy A.

Better Bows

I have found a cheap and fun way to wrap gifts without buying expensive bows. After wrapping the gift in colorful wrapping paper and using thin curling ribbon to tie the gift in the traditional crisscross manner I use a bag of candy such as skittles or M&M's at the bow by the taking thin ribbon and tying the candy in the middle and curling the excess ribbon. The bag candy tied in the middle had the shape of a bow tie and the ribbon curls around it make it look festive. Kids are much happier with this than a bow they throw out and it is much cheaper.
Linda C.

Picnic Corn-on-the-Cob

One of my favorite picnic food items is corn on the cob, but it is such a hassle to spread butter on it. We've found that if you heat up water in a large metal can (old coffee can or large pork and beans can) and then melt butter in it, the butter stays on the top. When your corn is done, all you have to do is dip it in the butter/water and pull it out. It comes out nicely buttered with no mess or hassle.
Cindy M. in North Pole, Alaska


My family recently decided to go on vacation. I found that if I looked up the rates from the hotels directly, I saved about $10 per room per night. But that is not my tip. My tip is to call your chosen hotels 1-800 number to make the reservation. Of the three I called, all three of them offered me freebies to book with them. The one I chose sent me $40 off for gas! And my children got to stay for free!
Devery J. in Houston, TX

Flea Market Garden

While weeding my garden from unwanted plants, I wondered if someone else would like some of my surplus plants. I had extra spearmint, garlic and chives. I put them in some peat pots, took them to a flea market, and sold them for $1.00 each. The money came in handy, and the buyers found plants that were less expensive plants than they could buy elsewhere.

Basket Storage

Everyone has Easter baskets or other baskets to store. Instead of stacking bulky baskets and taking up a lot of space in a closet for storage, I hang mine from cup hooks inserted into a closet ceiling. This keeps them out of the way until I need them, and uses a usually unusable space.
Kris W.

Moving Kitchen Heat Outdoors

We live in Florida and try to avoid heating the kitchen in the summer. Cooking on a grill can sure help. Our children love grilled teriyaki salmon, BBQ chicken breasts and drumsticks, turkey legs, and London Broil (great for a crowd), corn in the husks, and foil packet dinners.

We often use a wood plank (cedar/alder), which keeps the meat moist, adds flavor and helps keep your meat from getting overdone while you're busy playing with the kids or puttering about the backyard.

Foil packets are great for vegetables (carrots, potatoes, peppers, onions) and fruits (pineapple, mango, apples) with your meat. Everything turns out tender and steamed to perfection. Again, like the plank cooking, you don't have to worry as much about flare-ups and burning your grilled items.



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Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 05.24.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!


My son and daughter-in-law are traveling to Rome in a few weeks and are allowed only one suitcase each. They are packing half of her clothes and half of his clothes in each of the suitcases just in case one is sent to some other airport. They are also carrying a backpack for passports, a change of underwear, their medications, and the rest of their pockets' regular contents.
Hope O. in Charleston, SC

Easy to Spot

I hang dh's clothes on dark plastic hangers (blue, black, green) and my clothes on light plastic hangers (white, pink, yellow), so that when I go to hang them in our closet, they are easy to separate. Also, I can see at a glance if something was hung up on the wrong side of the closet.
Beverly G.
Marion Jct, AL

Used Cell Phones

I don't think anyone needs to take out cell phone insurance especially if you're like me with used cell phones you've not disposed of. Here's why. My son's cell phone was run over by a car and smashed to pieces. He had one month to go on his cell phone contract and would be eligible for a discounted upgrade in 30 days. What to do? He borrowed a friend's old, used cell phone (from the same provider), called the company and they transferred my son's service to the used phone. I learned from this to keep at least one of my old cell phones.

Clothing Stain Cover

If you have a stain you just can't get out, try disguising it with fabric paint. My son had a very nice kelly green t-shirt that I just couldn't get the stain out of so with the help of a stencil and some fabric paint I turned it into a lizard on a rock. Turned out really cute and it's still nice enough to wear to town. Give it a try, what's the worst that can happen...
Iris S.

If That Happened...

Last summer, I used some "STP Son Of a Gun Tire Cleaner" on my tires. It dripped onto our driveway. The spots where it dripped still repel water to this day. That got me thinking. Why not try this stuff on my faded vinyl shutters? So I tried it, and I am pleased with the results. It cleans grime and it does a very good job of bringing the color back out on vinyl shutters. Just spray on and wipe with a paper towel.
Brent R.

Travel Time

When my girls were little, I used to package up little puzzles, games, etc., and as we were traveling, one package would be given out every hour. This made the trip easier for the girls. They had something new to look forward to while traveling long miles.
Tasha S. in Abbotsford BC

No Trash Here

In my hometown in N.C., the local solid waste service has a great thing! It is called the "Swap Shop." The Swap Shop is for residents to bring/take useable items. When we have a yard sale, we drop off the items that have not sold, and we have gotten things in return, like a RCA TV, Vicks humidifier (new in the box), toaster, and a bunch of books for my kids!

I have checked and a lot of local solid waste services have this program too! The purpose of the swap is to encourage waste reduction through the practice of reuse. The goal is to divert good, useable items away from the waste stream and conserve valuable landfill space.
Arlene in Raleigh, NC

The Mother of Invention

As a mother of five, there isn't a lot of extra money. A repair bill would be an unexpected expense. Our icemaker quit working so I decided to remove the cover and look inside to see if I could tell what was wrong. I figured I couldn't make it any worse! First, I disconnected the electricity. It was easy to see the problem. I removed the broken piece, took it to the parts store, got the replacement and put it back together being careful to not over tighten the screws. It works wonderful and I saved a lot of money!

Dumping Big Box

I found that I am saving money (and stress) in a surprisingly easy way. I'm staying away from the "Big Box" superstores. While the super store's prices are usually lower on many grocery items, I find myself browsing around for clothes, CDs, craft items and other items that I don't really need. I can resist anything but temptation! I recently became very frustrated with our local superstore never having enough cashiers, making for seemingly endless wait times in the checkout line. I realize less help translates to lower prices, but my time spent in line also has a value that I am no longer willing to waste.
Michelle D.

Kitchen Lighting

In remodeling our kitchen, my husband came up with a great idea to provide ample lighting, while keeping the cost down. He put in canned recessed lights in four sets of three lights. One set is over the sink, one set is over the kitchen island where food prep occurs, one set is over the counters and stove, and one set is over the breakfast nook. We can have all the lights on when we feel like we need bright lighting in the kitchen (like when I'm preparing a meal), or we can have fewer lights on when we are just eating or doing the dishes. It's nice having the ability to light the kitchen brightly to read recipes and see the texture of food cooking on the stove. It's also a big money-savings to not have to have all the lights on when they are not needed. You can easily swap out the incandescent light bulbs for the more energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs in each of these recessed lights.
Jill in Santa Cruz, CA



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Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 05.17.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Handy Touch Up

After painting a room in my home, I always pour some extra paint of each color into a resealable box/container and put them with my other household items like nails, screws, and tools.

That way, whenever I need to touch up, it is a breeze! I don't have to worry about opening and lugging around a one-gallon can of paint or pouring into a paint tray. I simply dip into my resealable box with a brush, and the paint in my home stays fresh and clean looking. If you're concerned about the bag leaking, you can put it inside of a mayonnaise or spaghetti sauce jar.
Tanya W.

Comfortable Inn

I always provide my guests with a bathrobe to use while staying with me. This gives them the comfort of being able to move around the house without needing to get dressed in case they haven't brought or don't usually wear pajamas. I also leave out instant coffee, tea bags, mugs, spoons, and a kettle. If someone can't sleep due to jet lag or unfamiliar surroundings or if they are an early riser, they can make themselves a cup of coffee or tea without having to wait for me to get up.
Evelyn S.

What to Say

When my daughter was in Girl Scouts, there were a lot of mothers that "had big money," but their quote was "we're on a budget." This taught me a lot. I no longer say that I can't afford something. Instead, I say that I am on a budget.

Instant Baby Wipes

I raised four kids and didn't buy baby wipes for home or travel. A roll of toilet paper or box of generic facial tissue and a bottle of dollar store baby oil is grand! All you do is take a few squares of toilet paper or a couple tissues and put a squirt of baby oil on it and wipe. This is warmer than sometimes chilly baby wipes and I believe does a much better job of cleaning the little ones tender tushies. A pediatrician who grew up in a poor area of NYC actually gave me this tip many years ago.
Kay T. in Wyandotte, MI

Having a Birthday

Join the Birthday Club, VIP club or email club of restaurants via their websites, and many of them will email you a certificate to print out for a freebie on your birthday! You can also sign your children and spouses up for the club and get free meals or appetizers for them too.

We got free kids' meals for my twins for their birthday this year and coupons for a free appetizer at several places just for signing up for their email club. They usually have a short expiration date, two to three weeks, so make sure you use them before they expire. Many of these places also have specials and coupons they will email to you throughout the year.
Heather in Coon Rapids, MN

Unexpected Savings

Do you go though a lot of milk? I am amazed how much it costs at the grocery store. You can find milk much cheaper at gas stations. I save about 50 cents to a dollar per gallon! They have it in bags or in the regular cartons. Both are much cheaper than what you find at the grocery stores. It tastes great and is often fresher than what is in the grocery store because they are selling so much of it! Some gas stations even give you a punch card that lets you earn free milk. You're stopping to get gas anyway. Why not run inside and grab some milk? You can save money and save time.

Some gas stations also have very affordable bread, eggs and even fruits and vegetables. They have these staple items priced cheaply hoping that you will buy other things when you are in their store. If you don't buy other things, you come out ahead. I figured I saved about $120 last year. That's a lot of gas!
Julie G.

Carpet Stains

A professional carpet cleaner gave me this advice. The absolute best stain remover for carpet is Dawn liquid soap diluted in the hottest water you can handle. I've also found that Dawn is excellent for getting out stains on clothing, including hard-to-remove grease stains. Don't waste your money on separate stain removers for each item in your house!
Carla A. in Elkton, SD

Garden Water Savers

This spring I have been collecting plastic water bottles. I poke a small hole in the bottom (for slow drainage) and plant them in my garden, just deep enough that I can fill them with water. This way I am recycling and I use less water in the garden. The bottles allow the water to get to the deeper, more vital roots of my vegetables. It works great!
Katy W.

That's Enough!

Sometimes I find myself going back for one more helping of a particularly good meal, even when I am no longer hungry. Now, when I know I have eaten enough, I put a single strong flavored mint in my mouth, such as Altoids. This changes the taste in my mouth and I no longer crave the taste for the meal. I save the terrific meal for tomorrow's lunch. This saves on the cost of food and the size of my waist.
Carol C. in Jersey City, NJ

Neat Extension Cords

I save small quantities of leftover paint in baby food jars. When I have a few empty toilet tissue rolls, I paint them with the leftover paint and then use them to wrap up the cords on my electronics and appliances. The tubes keep the cords neat, the paint gives the tubes added strength, and they look pretty!
Judy T.

Doggie Treats

I use a decorative cookie jar for my dog's treats. No one coming into the kitchen can tell the jar is for him and not for the family.
K. H. in Lubbock, Texas



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Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 05.10.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Custom Recipe Book

I love to use recipes I find in magazines or online, but I was tired of trying to find what I needed in a stack of papers and old magazines. And buying cookbooks gets expensive and takes up a lot of space. Here is a great solution! I bought a 1 1/2" three-ring binder and a package of page protectors. Now, whenever I find a great recipe, I either tear it out or print it out and slide it in my notebook (that I decorated for the fun of it). It is now filled with recipes I know work for my family. When I need a recipe, I know where to find it. As an added bonus, I was able to get rid of clutter. Cindy in Lebanon, ME

On Campus Pot of Gold

Now that college graduation time is near, my daughter taught me a great money saver. College grads, and even some under-grads, often leave behind many of their school and dorm stuff. We have gotten sheets, towels, a printer, a computer, clothing and more books than we can handle. Others tell us of microwaves, toasters, coffeemakers and other small appliances. One lady even got an entire bedroom full of furniture just because she asked. Some colleges have "free" rooms at the end of the year where kids can put the stuff they want to give away, and Princeton actually has a warehouse that is open to the public for a limited number of hours weekly. It is full of furniture and other items that the school is disposing of. So if you live near a college or university, you may just have a real "pot of gold" in your neighborhood! L. Kent

Cleaning Up

I frequently find that I am asked to volunteer at various events. I find that if I am on the "clean-up shift," which frequently means staying back after everyone has gone, I will get offered the leftovers because they do not want to carry it or store it. Recently at a community business function, I left with a beautiful flower arrangement. I am offered cakes, decorations, and even prizes that they have forgotten to give out. They just want to get rid of these things, and it is better they come home to me than go to waste. Anise in Australia

Pretty Bag Storage

A cookie jar makes a wonderful keeper for plastic bags. I used to fold mine and put them in a rack under the sink, but it was a hassle. Now I just put them in the jar, and it holds so many! Pam L. in Keasbey, NJ

No Purchase Required

Even if you don't drink, be sure to pass through the wine and beer section at your grocery store to look for coupons and special offers. This week, I found coupons for $10 off the purchase of ham or meat compliments of a beer company. Wineries offered $2 off produce and $6 off flowers. All with no purchase required! Kim in Montross, Virginia

What's the Craving?

I love eating sushi, but it's a very expensive. However, I had an important realization today. It is actually the three condiments that always accompany sushi that I like best, which include pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce. Those three items can be purchased at any grocery store for next to nothing. The next time I get a craving for sushi, I am going to ask myself if it's the sushi that I want or just the wonderful flavors of the condiments. I can eat the ginger, wasabi and soy sauce at home for pennies (along with another form of protein) and suffice my cravings while saving money too. JR in Houston

Cold Pool?

We are asking our neighbors if we can borrow their hoses to help us fill our pool. We are hoping to have 10 to 15 of them in total. Our pool is located just behind our house. One hose would reach. But, as the water comes from the tap it is freezing. So, we run the water through multiple hoses. As the sun beats down on the hoses, it warms the water. We started the summer last year with 87 degree water! Laurabeth G.

To Go...Again

I have accumulated several plastic containers by saving the ones I get from Chinese food take out. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes with tight fitting lids, and they are usually very heavy duty. Once I've enjoyed my food, I wash and store the containers and use them to carry my lunch to work, etc. They make great containers for leftovers at home. Linda I. In Houston, TX

Handy Address Book

I tend to lose my address book and have always struggled with loose scraps of paper to keep addresses. I came up with another plan. Many people use email services that have a built in address book. Now, I simply add addresses under the email associated with each person. It's always there. I never need to dig through the cupboard or in a box downstairs. And if I ever need to go to mail something and I forget to address it prior to leaving the house, the library is always nearby. I can just get into my email at the computer there to get the address instead of going all the way back to the house. Laura


Maple syrup is very expensive. Try putting melted butter on pancakes and topping with sprinkled brown sugar. It tastes better than syrup. Susan in Ohio

Culture...for Free!

The universities where I live all have multiple lecture series, films, music programs, etc., which are open to the public and, in most cases, free. We can see everything from almost first-run films to historically important cinema just for the cost of driving out there and paying to park. There are also lecture series catering to various professional groups and senior citizens. Judith D.

Better Coffee "Creamer"

Before adding that "cheap" coffee creamer to your coffee, read the ingredients! There's nothing there worth putting into your body. When I ran out of creamer recently, I grabbed the box of instant nonfat milk I keep in the pantry and used it, thinking it would be sufficient until I could get more creamer. It was not only good, but I realized I was getting no artificial ingredients or fat. Instead, I was getting just good, wholesome milk and calcium. It's a great way to get a whole serving of milk if you drink several cups of coffee in the morning. Pat



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Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 05.03.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Emergency Lights

Power went out in my parents' home and my mom went outside and got one of her solar lights that outline the front yard. It was the best light she used. It stayed lit the entire night until the power came back on. Plus she was able to walk around the house with it and it lit up everything. Lori

Garage Storage

Use inexpensive rain gutters to create convenient storage for molding, lightweight lumber, pipes, and other long, thin items. To install the vinyl or aluminum gutters, cut the lengths you want and use screws to fasten the mounting brackets to studs. Then snap the gutters into place. Use the brackets alone as hooks for garden hoses, extension cords, and wire coils. Kyra M.

Test Drive Your New Home

If you're thinking of moving up to a bigger apartment or home and anticipate a larger monthly payment, here's a way to see if the increased monthly payment will fit in your budget. For 9 to 12 months save the difference between your current rent or mortgage and the anticipated amount of your new rent or mortgage. For instance, if your rent is $500 and you want to get into a house and you think the payments will be $800, then put $300 per month in the bank. If you have to miss a month of depositing the $300, you'll know that the new rent or mortgage is more than your budget can provide for, as you'd have missed your payment for that month. Also, you'll be growing your savings for the year. April G. in Cordova, TN

Personalized Thank You Notes

Instead of sending regular "thank you" notes after my children's birthday parties, I get double prints of my child with each guest and write a note on the back of one and send it to the guest. This way, each child has a nice reminder that is much more personal than a "form letter" thank you! Carrie W.

Breastfeeding and Insurance

One place that people forget to look for savings in regards to breastfeeding is their own health insurance! My pediatrician referred me to a lactation consultant due to breastfeeding problems, and I only had to pay my $10 co-pay for each visit. In addition, my pediatrician "prescribed" a breast pump for me. Under the terms of my health insurance contract, I only had to pay $5/month for "medical equipment rental." I did buy the tubing/bottles from the hospital new ($50). However, you can now buy them off of eBay for a little bit cheaper. Andrea B.

Expert Self-Defense Advice

A friend of mine has a second-degree black belt in karate. He often does self-defense talks for women. He always encourages women to try to run, as that's your best defense. If you can't run, go for the eyes, throat or knees. If you try to inflict pain, like going for the groin, you are risking the possibility that this person could be on drugs, which will mask their pain response. If you go for the eyes, they won't be able to see you. If you go for the throat, they won't be able to breathe. If you go for the knees, they won't be able to run. Donna in Raleigh

Fresh Frozen Fish

If you catch or buy more fish than you can eat right away and want to freeze the excess, just place the fish in a quart-size or sandwich-size freezer bag, fill with plain tap water to about an inch below the top, squeeze the air out, and seal. This leaves room for the bag to accommodate expansion of the water when it freezes. Freeze them and enjoy later! I've kept fish (freshwater and saltwater) this way for up to three years, and they were as fresh and good as the day caught. Thawing does take about twice as long. Michael C. in Kennewick, WA

Expensive 'Melts'

I just got back from my local mega-center where I purchased cough syrup for my daughter. Some cough medicines now come in tablets or "melts." While the prices are the same, the liquid contains almost twice the medicine that the tablets do. My daughter needs 1 tsp. of syrup (5 ml), and from a 118-ml bottle, she gets almost 23 doses. The "melts" box only contained 12 doses for the same cost. That's a significant difference, especially if you're dosing more than one child. Teresa in MO

Cookie Cutter

When making cookies, instead of rolling dough and cutting into shapes or dropping dough by spoon-full, I pat dough onto a jelly roll pan or pizza pan and bake. Then I cut the warm dough with a pizza cutter as soon as I remove it from oven. This makes baking cookies so much faster. They taste good, and it saves time in kitchen. Barbara

Military Care Packages

My son, who is in the Marines, is deployed to Iraq. I like to send him care packages frequently and also to other soldiers who aren't getting any mail. Whenever I get fast food, I ask for condiments. I collect those, the free mints given out after dinner, and any other freebies I can find to help fill up the care packages. This may not seem like a big deal, but anything that will spice up the MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) is a good thing. I also collect little lotions, soaps, etc. that I get in motels and send those along. And you know those salsa bags that come with the Mexican dinner kits (get them when they're buy one get one)? Those are good too. You can save them up and look up a local organization that sends care packages. For almost nothing, you have something to contribute. And remember, a letter to a service person is the cheapest form of cheer!



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Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 04.26.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Designated Shopper

I try to stay out of the grocery store after I have done my weekly shopping. If I do go for a loaf of bread, I wind up spending much more. To solve this problem, I have my husband go instead. He hates grocery shopping so much that if I send him for bread, he will run in and come right back out with a loaf of bread. It's kind of funny really, but it's also great for the budget.
Janet S.

Cheaper Futon Cover Choices

We have a futon in our loft that serves as extra seating as well as a makeshift spare room for guests. The covers can be very expensive, but I have found two great alternatives. I was using a full-sized fitted sheet and this worked quite well. They are very inexpensive if you shop sale or clearance. I decide I wanted an even better fit and tried a full/queen size duvet cover that I found on clearance for less than $10. It works great! These two options are much less expensive and the choices in patterns and fabrics are endless.
Karissa W.

See Through!

When cleaning windows, eye glasses, shower doors, mirrors or anything glass, I've found that using rubbing alcohol does the trick! It's cheaper than those "commercial" glass cleaners, takes less wiping and it's streak-free. Obviously, take appropriate care for pets and children.

Super White

We like our white clothes to look the whitest they can so I keep a five-gallon bucket in my laundry room sink. I fill it half full of water and one scoop of BIZ. When we change white clothes, I put them into the bucket until wash day. Each time I add clothes, I swish them around to get the full benefit of the BIZ. Sometimes you may need to add more water and don't forget to swish them when you do. Wash as usual. It may take a couple of soakings to get them as white as new.
Janice H.

Self-Cleaning Worthwhile

I have a self-cleaning oven, which can be expensive to operate. To make the best use of the energy requirements, I do two things. First, I only clean the oven after it's been used for cooking a meal. The oven is already partially heated and I can reduce the energy consumption of heating it up from cold. Second, I throw in my enamel on steel broiler pan, baked on enamel roasting pans or BBQ racks so they get cleaned too.
Cindy B.

Sticky Labels

Have you ever had a label that didn't want come off of a jar, a sticker that your kids placed on a mirror, or a bumper sticker you didn't want? Simply heat it up with a blow dryer. When the adhesive starts to melt, the sticker will peel right off!
Susan S. in Florissant, MO

Sweet Ride

In the mail and at department stores, I often receive those small papers with the perfume sample inside the flap. Place one on the floor of the car or in the air vent. Not only will your car smell wonderful, but also you're able to "try on" a new perfume to see if you like it.
Karen B. in White Bear Lake, MN

Grad Gifts

We are approaching high school/college graduation time. My favorite high school graduation gift was from my grandmother. She filled a storage crate with shampoo, lotion, rolled quarters (for laundry), laundry soap, snacks, etc. Gram made a crate for each semester that we were in college. I now like to give a crate or laundry basket full of supplies that a college student would need to start school. This gift can be given to someone that is moving into his/her first apartment or house.
Heidi W.

Cheaper Cereal

My husband only likes cereal for breakfast (and boxed cereals are expensive, even with a coupon). Instead, we now go to our local co-op and buy oats in bulk at 59 cents per pound. This is even cheaper than the generic brands in the canisters at the grocery store, which are usually 99 cents per pound. It also saves us on the cost of milk since oatmeal takes less milk than a bowl of cereal!
Julia in White River Junction, VT



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Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 04.19.2007

Do you guys still want me to continue publishing these? I wasn't sure if you were getting anything out of these. Just let me know by leaving a comment!

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Child's Play
My four-year-old daughter loves to play outside after school. To keep her wardrobe in good condition and to cut down on clothing expenses, I came up with a way to help her change into "play" clothes. When I'm taking care of our laundry, I fold her play clothes inside out. That way, when she's pulling clothing from her dresser drawer, she knows which items are okay to wear for play outdoors. I considered keeping them in a separate drawer, but they could easily get misplaced. My inside out plan works perfectly, and she's proud of her new independence. Valerie in Michigan

Extend Your Mattress' Life
It's hard to remember to flip and turn your mattress, but it's well known that this is the way to extend the use of this expensive part of your home. Use Daylight Savings time changes to help you remember. Spin in Spring so that the head is now at the foot of your bed. Flip in Fall to bring the underneath side to the top. Over the course of two years, your mattress will be back where it started. Sharon F. in Coronado, CA

My Allowance = Impulse Control
I have a calculated allowance that I grant myself every week that I keep in a separate wallet. I then remove all credit cards (leave them at home) and only keep my bank card for emergencies. I find that when I have a set amount of money for spending, I only look towards that wallet, and if the item I want goes over what's in there, I find it easy to keep away from the impulsive purchase. Annette

When it's time to relocate to another home or apartment, finding an inexpensive source for moving boxes is always a challenge. I found the perfect solution with my last move, and that is the shoe store! Each day, shoe stores receive dozens of large boxes filled with nothing but smaller boxes (which in turn are filled with brand new shoes). Though I'm not ordinarily a "dumpster diver," my local store manager gave me permission to take whatever I needed from his bin outside. The boxes were clean. Best of all, they were plentiful and free! Glenda in Chicago

Breastfeeding Pumps
Here's a quick idea on breastfeeding. You can borrow a breast pump or get one used and replace the tubing, which is where the sanitation issues lie. The pump itself is nothing more than an engine to get the pump to work. I did this with my second child and saved hundreds of dollars on buying/renting a pump. JHM in Boston, MA

We placed a cork board on the front door so that we can see it as we are leaving the house. On this, we post a monthly calendar where we list all of our activities and are able to post notes. We also have a slot that we can put rented movies or other things that need to be returned. This has saved us a lot in gas by not having to travel back home because we forgot something. It also saves in late fees from forgetting returns and helps our family of 5 (all going in different directions) run smoother. Theresa G.

Got It Covered
After Hurricane Isabel flooded our home, our furniture needs were so great. We got a fantastic deal on several pieces with a local furniture store. With five children, we were concerned about them scratching the coffee and end tables with their toys. We invested less than $50 on used plastic sheeting (Lexan) from a company that considered it scrap. We cut it to the right length and placed it on the top of the tables. We used little felt 'feet' attached to the bottom of the plastic to lift it off of the tables. That allows for air flow. The plastic does not affect appearance, is waterproof for drinks, and has protected the surface from scratches, crayons and markers. Not only is it saving the furniture, but also it saves time in cleaning. I can pick up the plastic sheeting and see exactly where it needs to be wiped off. It's been well worth the small investment to protect our tables. Wendy A. in Hayes, VA

Let's Do That Again!
My favorite time tip is to put little post-it notes on the pages of my favorite recipes in my cookbook. It's great when I'm feeling uninspired or need something new to make for dinner. I just flip through the tabs where I've marked our favorite recipes and choose something we haven't eaten in a while. Kathy

Fresh Flowers Plus
I've always loved having an arrangement of fresh flowers, but the cost was too much for me. Also, they would die too quickly! Now I indulge myself without guilt. I buy a small potted flower and set this on my dining room table to enjoy for about a week. Then I plant it outside. My yard looks beautiful! Lataine from N.C.

Family On a Mission
Because we live frugally in order to homeschool our kids, we as a family understand this mission and everyone is expected to contribute. When my 12-year-old cleans the kitchen, I am able to have more time to cook from scratch instead of getting tired from doing all of the chores and ordering pizza. When my 8-year-old picks up after the dogs and cleans the yard, my husband has more time to fix the lawn mower rather than drop it off at the repair shop. Additional benefits include having two sons who can fend for themselves, aren't scared of hard work, and are always courteous guests. Rachel in St. Louis, MO

Garden "Beds"
We started our first vegetable garden after reading the book "Square Foot Gardening." We built one 4x4 bed as outlined in the book (using cedar) and used an old waterbed frame for the other. (We posted for one using and received several offers.) We had great results in both beds and received many compliments. No one had realized that one of the beds was literally a bed frame simply tossed onto the yard and filled with old newspaper and soil. If we can grow a great garden in our small yard, almost anyone can. Mary in IL



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Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 04.12.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

The Energy Contest- We are trying desperately to cut down on our utility bills. This month I came up with a fun way to get everyone to pitch in. We are playing a game in which every family member can earn points by saving energy. If someone is caught leaving a light on in the house that they are not using, a point is deducted. Everyone who helps hang clothes on the line, take them down, fold them and put them away, earns a point for each load. There are weekly prizes planned and a grand prize at the end of the month. Angela B-F

Bowl Breakfasts- Rice saves amazingly well in the fridge, so when I make a pot of rice, I make enough to last our family of five for two days. I purchased Tupperware bowls that fit one serving perfectly, and I put the rice, cinnamon and sugar in the bowls and pack them in the fridge.

The kids pull a bowl out, microwave it, and have a hot healthy breakfast ready for them with the right amount of sugar! I also fry sausage links every other day so that they have two sausage links to go with their rice and I keep fruit that they can grab and milk. They have a healthy breakfast every morning! You can also do this with flavored oatmeal, grits, and healthy cereal. If the bowl is made ahead of time, you know your kids are getting the right servings.Theresa G.

Old Socks- When traveling with a bottle of refrigerated water, I put it into a sock that is long enough to cover the top. Carrying water this way in my bag or tote keeps it cool even in the summer. Also, if you accidentally neglect to screw the top on the bottle tight enough, the sock absorbs some of the spilled water before it leaks into your tote.Hilary S.

Daily Gift- I received a Zen page a day calendar this year. I save every page (I cut off the date), and at Christmas, I will buy or make a nice container and put all the folded-up sayings inside it. Voila! My sister will have a Zen saying every day! I've also collected inspirational quotes. Following the same procedure listed above, I will have several presents that will last all year and some very happy recipients! They will also know that I put time, effort (very little!) and love (a lot!) into their gift.Rebecca S.

'Real' Savings- After a couple years of cutting my own hair, I thought about all the money I'd "saved." Then it dawned on me that it wasn't "saved" at all. It just wasn't spent on a hair cut. Starting the first of this year, I decided I did such a good job of cutting my own hair, I budgeted and paid myself $20 a month. The $20 then gets put in the savings account. Now, it is saved.KG

Custom Cold Packs- I have bad knees, so I often need to ice them. I was using ice cubes or frozen bags of water, but all those corners are terribly unpleasant. I went to the pharmacy to buy one of those reusable gel packs only to find out that they are terribly expensive! My husband joked that we should fill a bag with whiskey and put that in the freezer, which gave me an even cheaper idea. I took an 89-cent bottle of rubbing alcohol out of the medicine cabinet, poured some into a freezer bag with twice as much water, and stuck it in the freezer. I had a reusable gel-pack with no sharp corners for less than a dollar. I have two in my freezer all the time, so after I've used one, I can exchange it for the other.Janine S.

Cabinet Protection- When we installed our new cabinets about 10 years ago, we used new floor linoleum to put under the sink inside the cabinet. Water leaks no longer cause damage to our cabinet. You can get scraps cheap at any store that sells linoleum.Lakie A.

Ceiling Fan Cleaning- Don't waste your money on special fan blade cleaning brushes or your time trying to dust them by hand only to have the dust fall into your hair and eyes. Instead, when you change the bed linens, take your used pillowcase and slip it over a blade. Then grip it firmly on both sides of the blade and pull the pillowcase towards you. Both sides are now dusted, and the mess is contained within the pillowcase. When done, just toss the pillowcase into the washer.Barbara P.

Just a Bit- When you need just a portion of a cabbage or lettuce head, remove the undesirable outside leaves/skin but keep the root end intact. Cut off from the top as you need it and wash well for use. Keep root end portion stored in refrigerator as usual. This works for onions as well. Gladys

Camping Cooler- Every summer my husband and I attend a big camping event for eight or nine days. Before we leave, I buy bottled water and freeze enough to fill our cooler and we take these bottles with us. This provides two benefits. We don't have to buy ice until four or five days into the event (when everyone else we know is making almost daily ice runs), and we have ice cold water for several days of camping.Tammy

Dent Removal- How many of us have moved heavy furniture and saw those dreaded indents in the carpet where the furniture sat? Just take a steam iron, place a cloth under it on the indent, and let it sit a second. The steam will swell the padding back to it original level. Janice H.



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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Dollar Stretcher Tips 04.05.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

No Longer Stiff

Regarding the problem of stiff clothes that are line dried, here's how I solved the same problem when line drying my husband's blue jeans. After completely drying the clothes on the line, put them in the dryer on the fluff cycle for a few minutes and they will soften up as if they had been dried by machine.
Bonnie B.

Cheap Shelf Liner

Liner paper for cabinets is very expensive. A great liner for cabinets is wallpaper. You can buy rolls cheaply at yard sales for 50 cents or $1, or you can even find it at discount stores. The patterns are really beautiful and can really brighten up your kitchen for a tremendous savings. You can also use them to line drawers.
Joan W.

House Game Rules

It has been reported how kids lack exercise due in part to computer games. Problem solved. My husband instituted a new rule much to my children's dismay. Before the games are geared up, the kid playing has to do a set number of push-ups. First they could hardly do eight (the starting limit) and now they can do 40! The unexpected benefits that we have seen are increased confidence and more stamina in their favorite sports.
Kathy in Addison, NY

Half Price Kitchen Remodel

To save on our kitchen remodel, instead of purchasing new cabinets, we refaced our old cabinets. The box frames were in excellent condition. The frames were refaced while new doors and hardware were put on. It looks great! It came out to be about half the price of the quotes we received for new cabinets! With the money we saved, we were able to afford nice granite countertops. I'd suggest people look into this option especially if they have no need to rearrange the configuration of their kitchen.

1, 2, 3 Squirts...Enough!

My family loves to use body wash instead of bar soap in the shower, but the expense can really add up. To solve this problem, we purchased a four bottle shower dispenser that hangs on the wall. Now we can tell the kids to use five pumps of body wash or three pumps of shampoo. Not only do we know they are using the right amount of soap without waste, but also they are saving us money.
Michele in DeKalb, IL

Those Ketchup Packets

Ever wonder what to do with all those condiment packages you get from fast food restaurants? Instead of just keeping them piled in your refrigerator for years on end, take them with you when you go camping or on a picnic. It takes up less space than lugging around big ketchup and mustard bottles, and they store better in your cooler.
Nikki B. (Mother of four)

Off Peak Power

If you haven't read your electric bill, you may not know that there are peak hour charges in many places. In northern Illinois for instance, it's cheaper to run utilities from 10PM to 8AM. Since we started running our dehumidifier, seed starting lights, dishwasher and chargers at bedtime, our bill has noticeably decreased.

One for One
For every one new item of clothing I purchase for my husband or myself, we donate one item that we already have. That way we keep our closet uncluttered and organized, and we wear all the clothes we have. Plus, someone else gets to have a "new" article of clothing from our closet.
Shanty M. in Dallas, TX

'Special' Spices

I thought I'd laugh out loud when my husband and I set up house together. He had shelled out money for spice combinations like "Cinnamon and Sugar," "Montreal Steak Salt," "Pumpkin Pie Spice," etc. I encouraged him to read the ingredients on the bottles. Sure enough, he could easily make four homemade bottles of cinnamon and sugar for the same price as the pre-mixed version. The steak salt was little more than coarse salt and pepper with a little garlic powder thrown in. Read the labels on the spice mixtures that you enjoy and see if you can't buy the ingredients cheaper. You'll have the extra benefit of having the single spices on hand when a recipe calls for it as well. After all, garlic powder shows up in more recipes than steak salt!
Gina P.

Computer Back-Ups

As a college student, I'm always looking for places to save a little money. My school allows free printing, which is nice. However, our school's computers don't have zip drives. This made it inconvenient for me to transfer files from my home computer. Instead of worrying about losing discs and transferring files, I just send an email to myself with the file attached. I can open my email and have all of my files at my fingertips. Nowadays, many email sites have a lot of storage anyway, so why not use all that space? Now I keep back-ups of all necessary files in my email account. Best of all, this doesn't cost me a thing!The only caution is that you might not want to send any files that have personal or private data on them like your credit card or bank account numbers.
Nikki in Houston, TX



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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dollar Stretcher Tips 03.29.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Natural Plant Protection

I use garlic powder anywhere that I want to keep the varmints out. This works around flowerbeds, vegetable plots and containers. Just sprinkle garlic powder (I get mine at the dollar store) around whatever you want to keep the rabbits, deer, raccoons, skunks, mice, etc. away from. This works for several days and doesn't hurt the plants, animals or the environment. I have been doing this for at least ten years. However, you have to keep up with it. For me, it's the best.

Part-Time Work

I needed to start a second job in order to pay off some credit card debt. In the past when I needed a second job, I worked retail during evening hours and weekends. I missed my time with my husband. I found the perfect job for me, which is worth a shot for some women (or even men) that live in resort areas. I live in Florida and I started cleaning condos on Saturdays. This pays by the unit and not the hour. Depending on how many units I clean, I can make a very good part-time income. Many people do not like to work weekends, so resorts may hire for Saturdays only or weekends. I didn't start working until 9:00am (because it was my first day), and in four hours, I made $105. I was home by the afternoon. Florida's minimum wage is $6.15 an hour. If I found a job working for minimum wage to earn as much as I did on my first day, I would have had to work 17 hours. If you have kids and time is precious, this is the perfect way to go.
Debbie in Ft. Walton Beach, FL

Cereal Substitute

Cereal is so expensive, and if you have school age children, cereal can really eat into a grocery budget. In the mornings before school, I make minute rice in the microwave. Then I add milk and sugar, and I have a great substitution for cereal. The kids love the taste, and it is nutritious to boot.
Holly S.

Easy Clean Combs

When it's time to clean my combs, I just drop them into the laundry along with my whites, which I wash in warm to hot water and a touch of bleach. Then, I let the washer do the work. They come out totally clean and sterilized.

A Wise Weeder

It is time to do the dreaded task of weeding my flower gardens. With the mild winter we have had and the rain, I have a million (looks like it) weeds that have sprouted up on the top of the mulch beds. I went to the kitchen and looked around for something that would make it easier to pull the weeds instead of the usual garden tools that I have. After a few minutes, I decided to try a good old fork! It is small and easily handled. It will pop the weeds right out of the ground, even the ones that have deeper roots. I chose a fork that is not one of my good ones, so it's no big deal if misplaced! This has been a great help to me!
Jonnie C.

Stinkless Shoes

Instead of buying those expensive foot powders or charcoal inserts for less than fragrant tennis shoes, try putting a teaspoon or two of baking soda into the offending shoes before you wear them. I tried this with my husband's work shoes and it worked like a charm! Now we just add a little baking soda every month to keep them smelling fresh all year.
Deborah B.


Ants abhor white flour. They will not cross it. Sprinkle some on window ledges and around doorways, and they will stay away!
Krystyna C.

It Pays to Check

I had collected a large box full of used batteries from all of our kids' toys. When it came time to recycle them, I decided to see if the batteries were all really dead. I used an electrician's multi-tester that I had bought for $5. To my surprise, over half the batteries still had a good charge in them. Apparently, the batteries did not discharge at the same rate in the toys. I saved over $50 in batteries that day! Now when I test the batteries in a toy that has stopped working properly, I find that usually only one or two of them need to be replaced.
Bill S. in Grandville, MI

Company's Coming

When putting away dishes that are used only occasionally or on special occasions (such as punch bowls, large platters, dip sets, etc.), it works really well to cover them with plastic wrap and stretch it so it forms a tight seal around the edge. By doing this, there is no need to wash because of accumulated dust when you take them down again. For punch bowls, I also store the cups inside (protected by paper towels so they won't chip). This saves a lot of time in not having to wash these items before using them again.

A Touch of Color

When you would like to add a little color to a kitchen or bathroom, it only takes a drop or two of food coloring. I just add the coloring to the near empty liquid soap dispenser and fill with clear liquid soap. Shake a little. It's just that easy to get a nice addition to a room for a few cents.

Use That Credit Card!

I recycle credit cards and use them as pot scrubbers. They do not scratch pots and save you money in that you don't have to buy pot scrubbers. I haven't bought a pot scrubber in years.

Homeowner's How-To

My husband has shown me numerous times how the sprinkler system works, where shutoff valves are for our plumbing, or how to program the thermostat, but I never remember and never really got it in the first place. So he's taking digital photos of all these things, such as toilets, sinks, thermostats, garage door opener, furnace, hot water, lawnmower, etc. He's then putting the photos into a Word document and writing directions for me. I call it the "Make-Me-Less-Stupid Manual," but it's really a house manual. When it's done, we'll "walk the estate" together and work our way through the manual. I think what prompted this idea was when I came home from 48 straight hours of travel with my handy husband still on the road to find a broken garage door and a problem toilet at 9:30pm. I need to be able to handle these minor things myself! And the cost? A lot of my wonderful husband's time, attention, thought, and care.
Clueless in Colorado


Keep your indoor trashcans smelling fresh by sprinkling some baking soda in the bottom of the can before putting in a liner. It will stay much fresher, especially in the kitchen.
Jen W. in Roanoke Rapids, NC

My Turn!

I have three grown children now, but when they were younger, they were always fighting about things like whose turn it was to ride up front in the car. So I started putting their names on each day of the month on the calendar. The person that was assigned that day got to ride up front, but he or she was also the first to take a bath that night. It stopped a whole lot of arguing. You can use that system for other things like who gets to pick the dinner menu for a particular day.

Southern Snake Prevention

I'm from South Carolina originally, and I live in Atlanta, GA now. Growing up in a farming family, it is a Southern custom to use lime. Lime irritates and eats away at a snake's or any reptile's skin, so they stay miles away from it. You can buy bags of lime at any feed and seed store, your local Wal-Mart, Home Depot or Lowe's. We in the South have always sprinkled lime under our houses and around our yards and gardens. It's a proven scientific method, and it's not harmful to humans at all!
Stephanie R.

Baking Soda Shampoo

I've been washing my hair for a few months with baking soda, and it works great. I've read that it helps to get your scalp back into balance from the chemicals that regular shampoos have in them. I found the recipe online. It said to make a paste of baking soda and water and rub it into your scalp. Then massage it in before washing it out. However, I usually just mix a tablespoon or less with water in a two-cup measuring cup, and pour it slowly over my head as I massage it in with my other hand, making sure it goes everywhere. Then I wash it out thoroughly. After that, if you want, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water is a good conditioner. Not sure if it's perfect for thick hair, but it works for mine. The baking soda alone seems to work for me. I love using the baking soda. It's so easy, quick and cheap! And there are no harmful chemicals for the environment or me.

Long Lasting Shirts

I never run the dryer to dry shirts. I wash them as usual but hang them for a day or so until they are dry. Iron them if you wish. This not only minimizes the expense of running the dryer, but with the elimination of the dry heat, shirts do not shrink. I have shirts that I still use on a weekly basis that I bought over ten years ago.
PJS in Philadelphia

Anniversary Party Idea

Instead of a guest book, print a 5" X 7" black and white photo of the couple, and then buy a large white matte (the matte can be any size that will accommodate the number of signatures of those attending) and a simple, metal black frame. Put it together and set it up on an easel so each guest can sign the matte. Be sure to have at least three good permanent "black" ink pens attached to the frame. After the party, insert the glass to protect the photo and signatures. Now the couple has something they can display and enjoy, remembering this very special day and all that love them. Guest books just seem to be put away never to be seen again.
Bobbie R. in Medford, Oregon

The Sunday Paper

I work in a large office building, and much to my surprise, I learned that many of the offices carry full weekly newspaper subscriptions, even though they're only open Monday through Friday. I have had two smaller offices approve giving me their Sunday paper coupon inserts for free. I also utilize the Sunday comics from time to time to wrap gifts for children (and children at heart). Of course, all leftovers get recycled!
Rachel R. in Minneapolis

Easy Open

We bought a house with a detached garage. We asked our son (who is an electrician) to run wiring so we could have the opener in the house instead of the garage. He suggested we buy another opener and program it to our opener in the garage and hang it next to the back door. Then when we want to open the door, we use the opener. This saved us a bunch of money and time.
Janice H.

Garden Clogs?

It's spring and I'm in my garden a lot, even with all the mud. Instead of buying those rubber garden clogs, which would still have to be washed off, I use plastic grocery bags. I slip one over each shoe and then tie it up around my ankle. When I leave the garden, I just untie or tear off the bag and throw it away, and my shoes stay clean. Mary R.

My Personal Trainers

A lot of us want to exercise more, but with busy schedules, it's difficult to find the time. On the other hand, our children have an abundance of time. I put the two concepts together, and now, I have two personal trainers, ages 10 and 12. After weeks without so much as an after-dinner walk, I was sadly out of shape. On Saturday morning, I did get a walk with my 12-year-old. I ended up complaining because she went so fast and I huffed and puffed the whole way. An idea was born. The kids are allowed to "take Mom for a walk" up to one time per day. The kids can each earn $1 if they set a pace that Mom has trouble keeping up with or the walk lasts at least 30 minutes. This is a win/win: * We are all getting exercise. * The kids are definitely motivated. * We have good conversations, fresh air, and sunshine. * And it's cheap! Last week, I got two exercise sessions. I shelled out $4 for my personal trainer. I don't know any gym that could beat that price.

Wash the Fleas Away

I have multiple dogs. A few years ago, these poor pups were just infested with fleas. No matter what we tried and to what expense, we could just not eliminate the problem. After talking to their groomer about all the products we had tried, she gave us a simple solution. First, use a pump sprayer for gardening and fill it with a mixture of Ivory dish soap and water. (2 parts water to 1 part Ivory) Spray your entire yard with it. Then bathe the dogs using Ivory dish soap. The Ivory kills the fleas and flea larva in the yard (and makes it smell great too!) and takes care of the fleas on the dogs! It worked! Within two days, we were flea free and have remained so. Remember to go out and spray the outer property lines once every couple months or so with the same mixture to keep the fleas out. I also continue to shampoo my dogs with Ivory dish soap each time I give them a bath. If you shampoo twice, you can use the dish liquid for the first wash, rinse, and then use your favorite doggie shampoo. It truly worked for us and we have never had a problem with fleas since!



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