Hotel Parking

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2016 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

Hotel Parking
Most big city hotels charge for parking. Sometimes it’s quite a bit. So before I travel, I do a search for public parking a lot near the hotel. I’ve often saved more than $10 a day by walking across the street. Jason

Making Your Garden Pay
I often have to thin out my garden. Lately, I’ve put my extras into peat pots and taken them to the local flea market. I’ve been selling them for a dollar or so. I don’t make a lot, but it’s better than putting them on the compost heap. Josh

Lady’s Shoes
Being a woman that needs wide shoes isn’t easy or cheap. I wear a ladies size 8W. Usually my choices are limited and often expensive. Recently, I discovered that I could wear boys size 6. I am limited to loafers or sneakers (obviously no heels.), but at least, I can buy some of my shoes for less. Holly

The Organized Handbag
Hate a messy handbag? Me too. I keep mine organized by using smaller bags (like a make-up bag or even a resealable baggie). Similar things go into a bag. Make-up goes in one bag. Aspirin, lip balm, and bandages go into another. When I need to change from my everyday bag to something fancier, I can do it in seconds. Karla

Corn for Campers
We love to roast corn on the cob when we go camping. To make it easy to serve, we found a way to easily spread butter on it. We just heat up some water and melt butter. The butter sits on top of the water. We dunk the corn in the water, and it comes out with butter evenly spread on the whole cob. There’s no mess and no fuss. Corene

Gift Shops? Not
We’re going to vacation on the beach in Virginia this summer. My three kids like to bring home a keepsake to remember the trip, but we won’t be visiting the area gift shops for souvenirs. Instead, we’ll visit the local Salvation Army store or other thrift shop. They have all kinds of local t-shirts, coffee mugs, and trinkets available at great prices. My kids’ allowance money will go much, much farther there. Natalie

Weekend Gigs
My wife and I were looking for some extra income that wouldn’t interfere with our regular full-time jobs and would allow us to decide how much we wanted to work. We found the perfect solution at a local hotel that hosts conferences and banquets. We both applied as servers. Most of the time they call us for a gig that’s on a Friday night, Saturday, or Sunday. They are rarely during the week. We can turn down an offer, but we try not to do that too often. We make $10 an hour plus tips. The work isn’t hard. People are trying to have a good time, so they’re fun to be around. Plus, we often get to take home leftover food or beverages.  Rick

Who Makes Store Brands
I retired from Colonial Bakery in Muncie, Indiana. We would run 50,000 loaves of name brand bread and then change the bags to a generic brand and run 20,000 loaves. Then we’d do 15,000 loaves of a different name brand and then 10,000 loaves of a white generic bag. It was all the same bread with the same recipe. DC

Who’s In Charge
Here is something I learned awhile back when looking for a discount. It’s important to find out if the person you’re talking with has the authority to give a discount. Often they’re not, but they won’t say anything if you don’t ask. Instead, they’ll just say ‘no’ to your request. Often getting the right person makes all the difference. You’d be surprised how often they’re willing to knock something off the price.  Gene

Leave Something Behind
A lot of people move during the summer. You probably know that you’re not supposed to put canned goods or food products onto a moving van. I think it’s a federal law. So instead of breaking the law or throwing good food in the dumpster, why not take it to a local food pantry? There are plenty of people who can put it to good use, and it won’t cost you a dime. Nora

Eyeglass Cleaners
I was tired of spending the money to buy lens-cleaning cloths for my eyeglasses and hated the thought of all the little foil packages that were getting thrown in the landfill when I used them. One day I realized that they were nothing but a small piece of soft cloth soaked in alcohol. Now, I make my own.
If I’m home, I just wet a small piece of clean, white, soft paper towel (the cheaper kinds work better because they usually don’t have metal in them to make them stronger) with a small amount of rubbing alcohol. Then I clean my glasses and polish with another piece of paper towel.
When I’m going out, I put a couple of alcohol-dampened pieces of paper toweling into a zipper baggie and have another baggie with pieces of dry paper toweling. I can clean my glasses over and over again for less than 10% of what the lens cleaners used to cost me. Kamia

Dishwasher Haze

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2016 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Dishwasher Haze
You don’t need to buy rinse aid to get clean dishes. Just add some white vinegar to the dispenser. You’ll get the same clear results for just pennies. Becca

Handy Herbs
I grow my own herbs, and I always have some herbs in the freezer. I chop them up and put them into an ice cube tray (remember them?) with just enough water to cover the herb. Once frozen, I put them into a marked freezer bag. When I need one, I can add it frozen to just about any recipe I want. They’re always ready and super easy to use. Elly

Valuable Words
For years, when someone wanted me to buy something or go out, I was embarrassed to say that I didn’t have the money. Then I watched a friend tell a co-worker who was selling Avon that it wasn’t in her budget. There was no embarrassment and no hard feelings. I’ve started using that explanation myself. You’d be surprised how much it’s saved me. Gwen

Cleaning Tile Floors
When we first installed tile floors, I quickly discovered that most floor cleaners leave a hazy film on ceramic tile. Being a potter, I knew that the glaze on ceramics (including tile) was really a form of glass, so I tried glass cleaner. It worked great. Then I figured that the active ingredient in most window cleaners was ammonia, so I tried regular cheap ammonia. And it worked even better. Be sure to purchase the “no sudsing” ammonia, because the regular kind has some kind of soap product in it that will still leave a haze on the tiles. Suz

Don’t you just love iced coffee in the summer? I do. But I hate paying coffee shop prices, so I make my own. I keep crushed ice in my freezer. I put some in my favorite insulated coffee mug. Then I add regular brewed coffee and a little cream. Sometimes I use flavored cream or add a teaspoon of sugar. I guess I should keep track of the money I’m saving this summer. I bet it’s a bunch.

Pricing Garage Sale Items
Each spring, we hold a neighborhood garage sale. Typically about eight families participate. I used to have a hard time guessing how much to ask for my stuff. Then I came up with this strategy. For anything that’s really collectible or valuable, I put it on eBay if it can be shipped or Craigslist if it’s too big for shipment. That leaves lower priced things for the garage sale. So even if I make a mistake, it’s not a big one. Then I ask myself two questions. First, do I want to store it another year if it doesn’t sell? If not, I price it real cheap to make sure it’s gone. And what would I pay for the item if I found it at a garage sale? I price it a little above that so I have room to come down if someone wants to dicker. Becca

Leftover Paint
An old painter taught me this trick on what to do with leftover paint that I want to save for later touch-ups. If it’s a small amount, I just pour it into a small bottle with a good seal like a baby food jar. If it’s too much for a small jar (like half a gallon), I wash off a small empty jar and place it in the gallon can. It’ll take up space in the can. The idea is to get as much air out of the can as possible. He explained that air was the enemy of storing paint, so keeping it out of any storage bottle or can was important. David

Before You Buy
For years, I’ve asked myself a question before I buy any clothes. How often will I wear this and how much will it cost me each time I do? For instance, a $200 pair of shoes seems expensive, but if I wear them twice a week for two years, that’s about $1 per wear. On the other hand, a $100 dress is very expensive if I only wear it two or three times. I use the same test for other things. Kitchen gadgets and lawn/garden equipment are often expensive on a per use basis. Therefore, wherever possible, I either rent or borrow from my sister or a neighbor. They do the same with me. Rita

Summer Swaps
I love the spring gardening season. It’s so nice to be outside again. Each year, before I start working on the garden, I contact my gardening friends and we compare notes. Often we find that one of us is thinning or dividing a plant that the other person would like to add to their garden. I’ve even been in the middle where I got something from one person and passed it on to another who was looking for it. At the end of the season, we all share our produce, too.

Costly Move
If you’re moving long distance and paying for your own move, you need to know this trick. Sometimes you can ship stuff via UPS, FedEx, or even the post office for less than the mover would charge. Last time we moved, UPS charged less per pound than the mover. Therefore, anything that could be easily boxed up and wasn’t breakable went UPS. I borrowed a friend’s pickup and took it to the shipper the day before we moved. By the time it was delivered days later, we were already at our new address. It didn’t save a lot, but given how expensive that move was, we needed to save every dollar we could. Keith

Party Food Planning
We host several big parties a year because we have a larger home and a full-size volleyball court, both of which are a rarity in our mountain community. Anyway, we can have the same crowd over on two different occasions and people will consume totally different amounts. You just never know. The key is to serve things that you like and that freeze well. I typically buy a boneless sliced ham and turkey from Costco along with cheese and rolls for people to make little sandwiches. Paula

The reason the number of hot dogs in a pack and the number of hot dog buns in a pack don’t match is beyond me. We always end up with either extra dogs or buns. Getting rid of the extra hotdogs is easy. I grill them and then cut them up. They make a great after-school snack on crackers or just with a little ketchup or mustard. I use the buns to make garlic toast or pizza rolls. I can serve them as a snack or as part of a dinner. There will be no wasted dogs or rolls this summer.

Ready for Another Week
Cooking on Sunday for the next week is helpful. Boiled potatoes, rice, pasta, boiled eggs, fruit salad, and coleslaw will keep all week in the fridge and can be added to easily when making a meal. D.

Storing Winter Clothes
It’s finally time to store my winter clothes. I put them into garment bags that seal. One thing I do to keep them fresh is to drop in a dryer sheet before I zip the bag shut. That’s just enough to give them a fresh smell when I open the bag next fall. Lauren

Handy Shakers
I love to reuse parmesan cheese containers. I use one for flour. It makes it easy to add a little flour when I’m making gravy without getting out the big container. I use others for various seasoning mixes. Just remember to label them, so you know which one contains each mix. Sally

Before You Move
If you’re planning a move, consider selling stuff before you do. We listed all kinds of things on Craigslist and eBay. We’ll never miss some things. I’ll buy other things at thrift stores once we get resettled. We made over $900. It’s enough to offset part of the cost of the move.

Spring Cleaning My Washer
Each spring, I run my washer though a cleaning cycle. I use the long wash cycle with a medium temperature. I add about one cup of vinegar to the drum. This helps remove old detergent and hard water deposits. It costs only pennies, and my laundry always comes out looking great. Tasha

Competitor’s Discounts
Our small town only has one chain pet store. Sometimes I get coupons from a different chain in the next town. It’s not worthwhile to drive there for one item. I take the coupon to my local chain and ask them if they’ll honor it. Almost without exception, if they carry the item, they’ll take the coupon. Leigh

Part-Time College
If you’re a college student, you’re probably familiar with all the fees they charge. I called to ask them to explain some of them. To my surprise, when they found out that I only take evening classes, they eliminated the health services fee. It turns out the clinic is only open until 5pm each day. It pays to ask questions. Aimee

PT Retirement Income
My husband and I are newly retired. We wanted to get some exercise but didn’t want to pay for gym membership. So instead of paying to exercise, we found a way to make exercise pay us. We started a small neighborhood dog walking service. Right now, we take three dogs out twice a day. We get our exercise, enjoy being with the dogs, and get paid too. Barbara

Casual Clothing for Less
I buy all my casual clothes for half off. How? It’s easy. I get on the mailing list for stores that I like. At the beginning of the season, I always get a flier or catalog. I circle the things that would fit my wardrobe. Then I wait until the end of the season. Since I gave them my email address, I usually get an email telling me when they’re having a clearance sale. I look for the items that I circled earlier. They’re mostly between 50 and 70% off. I still pass on some items because I’ve decided that I don’t really need them. It’s a great way to save money and look great. Ronnie

Cleaning Laminate Floors
We recently had a laminate floor put in our kitchen, laundry room, and powder room. The installer told me to use window cleaner to clean it. The ammonia in the window cleaner allows it to dry quickly. After sweeping or vacuuming, I spray the window cleaner on a small area and then use a dry sweeper sheet (or a paper towel) attached to my dry sweeper mop to clean the area. This method lets me clean as big or as small an area as I want to without getting out a mop and bucket and committing to washing the entire floor. I buy the economy size window cleaner at a restaurant supply store and use it to refill my spray bottle, which saves money as well. Nancy in IL

Better Gas Mileage
Do you hate paying to gas up your car? I do. With two kids, it seems like I’m always in the car driving them to one thing or another. I decided to do what I could to get better gas mileage. First, I got rid of some extra stuff that was stored in the trunk. Why carry around an extra 50 pounds? Then I started coasting when I saw a red light or a line of cars ahead. I figured that every time I hit the brake, it was costing me money. I’ve only been at it for a short time, but I think that I’m getting an extra mile or two out of each gallon. If I can delay a fill-up by just one day, it’s a victory for my wallet. Dede

Cleaning Brass
Lemon juice and salt will clean most brass fireplace trim and tools. Dip half a lemon into ordinary table salt and rub directly onto the area that needs cleaning. Alternatively, mix lemon juice and salt into a paste and rub onto the area with a cloth. For both options, the area will need to be wiped over with a damp cloth and followed by a clean, dry cloth to buff the shine up. Beckie

For Your Compost

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2016 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
For Your Compost
We have a local coffee shop that gives their used grounds for gardening or composting. I’ve been adding the coffee grounds to my composter for years and love the results. Dwayne

Can’t Afford CSA
If you’re struggling with your grocery bill, contact a local CSA. The one I belong to allows people to pay for their share by working for it. You’ll get some great organic produce for a few hours of honest work. It’s a great deal for everyone. Anonymous

Better Face and Body Lotions
I mix in a little olive oil with my face and body lotion. It helps the lotion spread much better (does not streak) and absorb better. Also, it is a fine toner for the skin. I am 50 and have very few facial lines and almost no wrinkles, so guess this old wives’ tale is not a tale. Shanti

Collecting on Insurance Claims
It’s important to take a photo of new items to have a record in the event of an insurance claim. You should do this when you purchase the item and take a photo of the sales receipt as well. That will give you the needed proof of the cost of the item and date purchased. Carol

A Healthier Diet
A healthier diet doesn’t need to be more expensive. For instance, grains are cheap and healthy. I cook with bulgur, wheat berries, oat groats, brown rice, couscous, and cracked wheat. I can make a main course out of a cup of groats, some zucchini, and tomatoes. There is no cheaper meal for a family of four. Cindi
Summer Shade
We love to spend time on our back patio. It has a pergola, an outdoor dining set, and a comfortable seating area. But, it’s on the southwest side of the house and gets hot in the afternoon sun, so I made outdoor drapes for it. I can pull them up and secure them with a tieback. If the sun is too strong, we can easily drop them down and still use our wonderful patio. Jeanie

Safely Freezing Meats
We have butchered our own beef since I was a small child (I am over 50) and freezer paper is the only way to go. In fact, the meat should be first wrapped in plastic wrap and then wrapped in freezer paper. Although it may seem rather expensive, freezer paper is made specifically for this purpose and will eliminate freezer burn on your meat. We have kept frozen meat this way for several years and have seen no evidence of freezer burn. The waxy side should go next to the meat with the dull side out. Margie

Vacation Rentals
Since our kids grew up and moved away, we rent a vacation home each summer and they join us with their families. One thing we’ve learned (the hard way) is to take pictures of each room and the exterior when we arrive and again when we leave. That way, we can document any damage that the landlord says we caused. Not only are we protecting our damage deposit, but also we’re recording family vacation memories. Chelsea

Couponing for Grandkids
We’d love to help our three grandkids with money for college, but we don’t have extra to put into an account for them. Then I came up with an idea. I used to be a coupon lover but quit couponing because it seemed like too much work. I took it up again, and I put any money I save into an account for my kids. I find that since I have a reason to save, I don’t mind the effort. I’ve signed up on a number of coupon sites and even use the Walmart app. It might not seem like a lot now, but every $25 that I put in now will be worth about $100 when they enter college. Shirley

Tiny Kitchen? Try This
Our kitchen was tight with just enough cabinets for my pots and pans, but no space to store any food. So I went to my local hardware store and bought a four-shelf unit with wheels. It’s about 18 by 24 inches. Since it rolls, I can move it around as necessary. When I’m prepping meals, it’s near the kitchen table. When we’re eating, it’s in front of the sink or stove. And I can store all my canned goods, etc. on it.  Connie

Protect Your Carpet
We made a big mistake when we were moving heavy furniture in our carpeted family room. The sofa was too heavy to lift, so we dragged it across the carpet. We didn’t notice that the carpet was bunching up under the sofa. I don’t know if we stretched the carpet or what, but now we’ve got a ripple in our carpet that I don’t know how to fix. Do yourself a favor if you have to move heavy furniture. Either get a bunch of people to lift the item or use something that won’t bunch up the carpet. Lorie

Veggie Wash
I work for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, so I asked one of our food specialists about the ingredients in Fit veggie wash. Know what he told me? It’s mainly vinegar and a few other things. My grandmother always soaked her produce in equal amounts of vinegar and water and then rinsed with cold water.
FIT doesn’t really clean any better than this, but it does take a little less effort. As a small cautionary, you should never soak mushrooms in this manner. Scrub them and then rinse minimally under cold running water. Letting them soak allows them to absorb extra water. As long as you have a large bowl and a colander, you can make your own veggie wash. Place the colander inside the bowl, fill with vinegar-water mixture, and put your fruit/vegetables inside. Then when they’ve soaked for five to ten minutes, just lift the colander out and rinse. It works great. Lynne

Quick Room Renewal
Want a quick way to give a room a new look? Just paint one wall. Not only is it easy to do, but also usually one quart of paint will do the job, so it doesn’t cost much either. It works especially well if the other three walls are a fairly neutral color. Marcy

A Night Out
My husband and I check the community calendar section of websites for our city. Often there are plays, concerts, and dinner fundraisers that we attend. Often they’re bargain priced, and even if they aren’t, we’re helping to support local organizations.  Claire

Cleaning Silk Flowers
The easiest and cheapest way that I have found to clean silk flowers is cheap hair spray. Buy the least expensive kind you can find (make sure it is aerosol) and just spray directly on the plants. Make sure to do it outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. It works like a charm. The dust disappears and the plants look brand new. Jan J.

Natural Hair Conditioner
If you want to go natural with your hair, try this recipe for hair conditioner. Mix 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and 1 quart of water. I keep a squirt bottle of it in my shower. Just rinse your hair with it after shampooing. I let it soak in for a minute and then rinse with water. My hair has never looked better. Diane

You Won’t Believe This Marinade
I keep a jar of leftover coffee in my fridge. It’s the best marinade for venison. I marinate the meat all-day or overnight. Then I drain the coffee from stew meat or steaks and cook the meat as usual. For roasts, I leave the meat in the coffee and cook the whole thing in my slow cooker. It’s tender and delicious. It’s the only way my husband wants it done now.
Marge K.

Kids Toys (and Other Devices)
Many toys require more than one battery. Until recently, when a toy stopped working, I replaced all of the batteries at once. Then I bought a simple voltmeter. In just a second, it can tell me how much voltage each battery is producing. Most of the time, it’s just one or two that are bad, so I only replace those. There’s no sense in throwing batteries away that still have life. Julie

Let Me Count the Ways
I use plain distilled vinegar for more things than I can count. If I find a line of ants invading my house, I put a little vinegar in their path. I add some to my son’s sandbox and it helps keep neighborhood cats from using it. I also add a little to the laundry when I wash clothes for the first time. It helps to keep them looking good longer. I can’t think of a single room in my house where I don’t use vinegar for one thing or another.  Leanne

Can We Afford It
Too many of my friends buy something and then realize that they can’t afford it. I have a solution that works for me. Let’s say I’m thinking about buying a new car and the payment will be $300 a month. First, I make sure that the payment will be about $300 (sometimes it’s more than I think). Then I start taking $300 out of my checking account each month and transfer it to savings. If I can do that for three or four months, then I can be pretty sure that I can afford the car. If not, I can wait or consider something less expensive. Either way, I’ve avoided making a big time mistake. Josh

Watering Your Garden
I use rain barrels to collect water that runs off the roof of our house. I have three, each fed by my gutters. They sit on cement blocks to keep them off of the ground. Each has a hose spigot attached. I use the water for my garden. Using rainwater reduces my water bill. Each barrel has a cover, so no pets or children can fall in and drown. I also had to check with my county planners to make sure that rain barrels were legal where we live. It’s a great way to work with nature to grow food. Tina

Take an Inventory
It may be a little late for spring-cleaning, but it’s still a good idea. Each year as I clean my house, I take pictures of any new items in the house that are valuable like electronics, furniture, collectibles, etc. I keep a digital file on a thumb drive that my sister keeps. If I ever have an insurance claim, I will be able to prove what I own. Without pictures or other proof, I would have a hard time collecting. Cindy

Beware Free Wi-Fi
If you travel, you’ll often find free Wi-Fi. Unless I know who’s offering the service, I won’t use them. Often hackers set them up in places that get a lot of traffic. Once you sign on, they can capture any information you send. It’s especially dangerous if you do any banking or shopping while connected through their hotspot. I’d much rather use a little more of my data plan than have to fix an ID theft problem. Jonah

When Friends Say You’re Cheap
The best thing to do when faced with friends that make comments about your financial status is to smile like you know a secret they don’t. This is true because you know a sense of freedom they can’t comprehend.
I have been living frugally for the past eleven years, and for the first several years, I was constantly trying to infect my friends with the excitement I felt at learning to take control of my money. Being frugal lets me do and have the things that are really important to me.
But sadly, not everyone (even our nearest and dearest friends) sees things the way we do. Though I tried very hard, I could not get my friends to see what I was doing. The need to “keep up with the Jones’” is a way of life a lot of people don’t want to give up, and we can’t change that, no matter how destructive we might think it is. C.

The Dollar Store Party

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2016 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

The Dollar Store Party
Before I go shopping for party supplies, I always hit the dollar store first. Often I can find cups, plates, balloons, streamers, and other party stuff for cheap. I can usually find most of the stuff I’m looking for before I go to the party store.  Rena

Natural Flea and Tick Prevention
You don’t need nasty chemicals to keep your pets free of fleas and ticks this summer. Just add some garlic to your dog food and some brewer’s yeast to your cat’s diet. It’s natural and will keep fleas and ticks from making your pet their home. Jeanie

Auto Insurance Discounts
Since I work close to home, I don’t put many miles on my car. That allows me to keep them for a long time. It also means that I get a discount on my insurance. They have a special low mileage category that I qualify for. It saves me about $250 a year. Mary

Tax Refund Rip-Off
I know that it’s nice getting a tax refund, but I refuse to let the government use my money for months without paying me any interest. So, I set my withholding to just cover my expected taxes. I don’t get a refund, but I am able to save a few dollars each month instead of sending them to the taxman. Myra

Weekly BBQ
Our summers always seem busy and finding time to cook is hard, so I do a weekly BBQ on the weekends during the summer. I cook up enough for three or four meals. During the week, I have a couple of meals that only need sides to be ready. I can come home from work and set the table while the veggies cook. It is nice and easy. Gina

Selective Downsizing
We’re probably years away from moving out of our home, but we’re already starting to clear out some stuff that we don’t need anymore. I make a point of listening when friends and family say that they’re shopping for an item. Occasionally it’s something that we have and don’t really use any more, so I give it to them. They’re happy and so am I. Donna

A Better Backyard
This year, I’m going to create a backyard oasis. I’ve already purchased a small fountain. Next I’m going to decorate the fence. On the western part, I’m going to hang planters. On the northern side, I’m going to sketch out a mural. I don’t want it to be complicated. Instead, I just want something to draw attention to the space. It should be a great view from the sitting area I created last summer. Elise

Dinner Out
Our family liked to try different restaurants, but with price increases, it was getting too expensive. So we tried something different. We pile in the car and go to the grocery store. Then we hit the frozen dinner section. Everyone gets to choose their own dinner. Often we’ll have a theme like all seafood or all from the same country. While they’re cooking at home, we do a little research on the country or some other topic that we’ve chosen. We get good food and great conversation all at an affordable price. Emily

Paint Savers
We were repainting a bedroom and knew that it would take two coats to cover the old color. I like to use high quality paint, but it is expensive, so I looked at the mistints at my hardware store. I found a color that was close to what my final coat would be for a fraction of what my expensive paint would cost. We rolled the mistint on first and then covered with the high quality paint. The room looks awesome. Carla

Old Fruit Saver
Wanting to encourage my family to eat more fresh fruit, I always have some around the kitchen for them to snack on. But, I was throwing away overripe fruit every few days. My solution? Freeze it. Just before it starts to go bad, I put it in the freezer. Then whenever one of us wants a smoothie, we have a selection of frozen fruit waiting for us. I put it in the blender frozen and add a little juice, milk, etc. It tastes great, and it’s nutritious too. And I’m not throwing away good fruit anymore. Ellen

Increased Income
When I got my first real job out of school, it seemed like a lot of money. Instead of spending it all, my dad suggested that I set aside a little from each paycheck and put it in a savings account. I still lived better than before, just not up to my full check. I kept doing that as I got raises. If I got a 5percent raise, I’d allow my spending to increase 5percent, but never up to my full income. I’m nearly 35 now and my wife and I have accumulated a nice amount. Makes life a lot less stressful knowing that we have some savings in case we lose a job or have a major expense. Jason

New Home Upgrades and Warranties
I work in warranty service for a custom homebuilder and I often deal with customers who choose to use another vendor or who do certain parts of the building themselves. You should be aware that any item that is provided by a homeowner or an outside subcontractor is not covered under any warranties. For example, if you bring in an outside vendor to do wood flooring and a plumbing leak damages the floor, neither the builder nor the outside vendor are required to warrant the total cost of floor repairs. However, if the builder’s subcontractor did the floors, all repairs will be covered.
Such warranty is usually only for one year, so it would be best to let any problems expose themselves in that year and then you will have to take full responsibility for all repairs anyway. This issue is particularly important in damage from roof, window, or plumbing leaks, tile cracks, electrical/lighting repairs, countertop scratches (that may occur while under construction, but are still not covered), etc. Sometimes it is more cost effective in the short term, but there is a risk you assume when you go outside the system for your extras. SRB

Automatic Plant Watering
I found the secret to watering my indoor plants automatically. I use those dish detergent bottles with the pullout tips. I fill them with water and add some liquid plant food occasionally. I bury the nozzle an inch below the surface. This way, I can easily see when the bottle needs refilling. It works great. Lila

Single Serving Savings
When portioning out for a single-size portion, line a small oven- or microwave-safe pan or dish with plastic wrap or foil and freeze. When frozen, remove from pan, wrap, and put back in freezer. When ready to use, take off wrapping and put in pan to fit and reheat. There is no need to keep original pan or bowl in freezer.
Carole L.

Mini-Pallets for Decorating
I wanted to give a pallet look to vertical planters, but I wanted it smaller for household use. By using wood shims (any size), a hot glue gun, a staple gun (or some tacks), a small bit of landscape fabric, and some paint (or stain) to dress them up, I was able to get a miniaturized pallet look. Wood shims are thin wedge shapes of wood. One end is thin and the other is thicker. They are readily available at any store that sells lumber. To build a mini-pallet, take two shims and make a sandwich of them, placing the thin end of one wedge next to the thick end of the other. Apply hot glue between the two pieces of wood. You may wish to use a small wood clamp to keep them tightly together. Do this four times. These are the sides of your mini-pallet. Hot glue the four sides together to make a square (or rectangle depending on which size shim you use). Using a staple gun (or tacks), attach a small piece of landscape fabric to the back. This will hold the soil inside. Using a hot glue gun, attach a shim or two on the front, so it looks like a mini-pallet. Paint or stain your creation, allow it to dry, and then add soil to it. Once you put your plants in, allow the pallet to sit on a flat surface for a week or so for good root establishment. Once your plants are well established, you can turn your pallet upright and hang it using a hook, picture wire, or whatever suits your fancy. I plan on starting a small herb garden in one of my mini-pallets. Shims are very cheap, readily adhere with hot glue, and easily accept paint as well as wood stain. Mini-pallets can be used to make planters for cactus and other succulents as well as air plants. The internet is filled with ideas on what to make with wood shims. Dolly

Multi-City Travel
The other day, I wanted to make an airplane reservation to go from one city to a second city and return to a different city. When I looked at it as a “multi-city” flight, I got a price of almost $2000. Since I had looked for a one-way for the last leg of the trip and gotten $250 for that, I decided to do this as two one-way flights. Even with all the added costs (special seats, etc.), the total was about $750. Therefore, before accepting the price for a multi-city trip, check if you would be better off to do one-way trips
Gladys D.

Tired Old Decor
Last fall, my friend suggested something that seemed crazy at first. She wanted to trade some of the artwork that we had in our houses. My first thought was to decline, but then I started thinking about it. We swapped two pictures from our living rooms. Our styles are similar, so her stuff fit right in, and the change was subtle but freshened up my living room. Now we’re talking about doing our family rooms. I can’t wait. Becca

I refuse to buy a lot of things that I’ll only use once or twice a year. Instead of buying a fertilizer spreader, power washer or carpet cleaner, I rent them. To reduce costs, I often team up with a neighbor and split the rental cost. I don’t need a full day to fertilize my yard, so I use it in the morning and my neighbor has the afternoon for his yard. In some cases, I don’t even use the rental center. If a friend or neighbor has something I need, I rent it from him. I’m careful to return it in good condition. It’s a win/win. Mike

The Uncluttered Closet
To control my spending and keep an uncluttered closet, I have a rule. For every new item of clothing I bring home, I must donate one to Goodwill. When I’m about to take something to the counter to pay for it, I ask myself what I will be willing to give up. Sometimes that’s enough to cause me to skip the purchase. Now if I could just apply the same rule to my shoe collection. Shirley

Keurig 2.0 Hack
I love my new Keurig, but hated the fact that I couldn’t use non-Keurig coffees or devices that let me brew my own ground coffee. I did a search on YouTube and found a couple of videos that show how to make an adjustment to the machine to allow it to use other coffees. Just search YouTube for “Keurig 2.0 hack” and you’ll find the instructions. Now I can love my Keurig and still save money. Mel

Humane Mouse Removal
The best solution for getting rid of mice is to get rid of their food source. Find out what is attracting the mice to the garage and get rid of it or seal it up. We had a mouse problem in our home and did this. We put our garbage in a sealed container, wiped up any food spills, sealed up pet food, and didn’t leave food setting out. Our mouse problem disappeared. Melissa G.

Baby Gifts
I work on the maternity floor of a hospital. When given balloons as a gift, most recipients leave the balloons behind when it’s time to go home. Usually the new parents have enough to carry and worry about driving with balloons. It’s a big distraction that parents don’t want with a new baby on board. The balloons only last a day or two anyway and are bad for the environment when discarded. And they are usually purchased in the hospital gift shop and can be quite expensive to buy. Skip the balloons and bring some fruit or bakery goodies; these gifts always get taken home and enjoyed. Annie

Budgeting with an Unpredictable Income
My husband has an unstable income, and I’m a stay-at-home mom. The budgeting part is really difficult. I found that if I know approximately what we will make in a year, I can figure pretty accurately. For instance, if he makes $36,000, I know that I have $3,000 a month to work with. In the months that he brings in more than that, I can put away the rest for following months. I’ve been able to do this by paying my bills ahead. If I have a car payment for $200 and I have an extra $1,000 that month, I make three or four car payments. I put them in envelopes with the date they are due in the corner where I will place the stamp. Once I’m a little ahead on one bill, I start working on others. Eventually I was able to get about three months ahead and then the lack of money one month no longer affected my budget, and the abundance another month was not a temptation since it was used to paying bills immediately.
The one other trick that worked for me was putting at least five- to ten-percent of every check in an emergency account until I had enough funds to cover myself for three months. I know it seems tough to do this, but it was worth it to cut back for a while to have the security of an emergency fund.ˆJG

Mosquito Season
Here’s an easy way to take the itch out of a mosquito bite. Just wet a cotton ball or cotton swab with rubbing alcohol and put it on the bite.
When I’m hiking or camping, I keep a small bottle in my backpack and just dab it on. Ross

Preventing Pantry Waste
I run a local food pantry. We stock newer items in the back just like a store does. This way, the new items are in the back and the older items are in the front. There’s no more expired food to throw out. This saves money and time.
Judy in NY

Burglary Prevention
There have been some burglaries in our neighborhood, but I don’t worry. Our doors all have deadbolts, and under each window, we planted thorny bushes. No one is going to crawl through a window at our house when we’re not home. Rudy

Small Bathroom Update
One way to give your bathroom a new look is to use peel and stick tiles on the floor. As long as you carefully clean the floor first, they adhere well. They’re cheap and easy to install. All you really need is a ruler, marker, razor knife, and a little time.  Joanne

Softer Skin
Want to have soft skin? Try this body scrub. Take some regular sugar and add enough baby oil to make it moist (not wet). If you want, add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil. Scrub before you step into the shower. When you step out, your skin will be smooth.  Kathy

Daily Inspiration
This year, I purchased one of those daily inspirational calendars. I was throwing away the page each day when it occurred to me that I really liked the quotes that were included on each one, so I’ve been cutting them off and putting them in an empty jar. When the calendar runs out, I’ll still have a jar full of great quotes to greet me each day.  Becky

Buying Good China
I always wanted good china for special occasions, but could never afford any. Then I happened to see some at an estate sale. It was missing a few pieces, so the price was low. I quickly googled it and found that it was a common pattern, so I bought it. That was two years ago. I’ve since found more of the same pattern on Craigslist and in another estate sale. I also look any time I’m in a second hand shop, garage sale, or thrift shop. Usually I just find a plate or two. But I’ve accumulated a complete service for eight. With extra pieces, I don’t feel bad about using them. If a piece gets broken, I already have a replacement for cheap. Gwen

Removing Food Stains
I keep a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide and blue Dawn dish soap by my washing machine. The mixture is about half hydrogen peroxide and half dish soap. I spray it on and very lightly rub it in with my fingers. It always removes the stains. Occasionally I have to treat the stain twice, but it always comes out. I’ve even sprayed stained items that had been through the dryer and the stains still came out. Betsy

The Sharing Society
A good friend and neighbor and I have been sharing a lawnmower for years. After an extremely harsh winter and a realization of our ages, we also bought a snow blower together. We share the maintenance costs and certainly bought a better model since we were sharing the initial cost. And the neighbors appreciate the snow blowing as we walk it down the block to each other’s home.  Steve F.

The One Way Trip Trick
Whenever I pack for a trip, the first thing I do is bring out the bag in my closet I have for clothing to be donated to Goodwill. If I have items in that bag that I can wear for layers or as pajamas, I pack them. By doing this, I can reduce the weight of my checked baggage on my return trip. When I make my way back to the airport, I just place the clothing in a bin for charity donations. The bins are usually located around shopping centers in major cities. If I buy gifts or souvenirs while I travel, this plan also saves some space in my checked return bag.  Heidi B.

Part-Time Income
My husband and I have found the perfect part-time job. It is flexible and pays well. We are banquet servers for the catering company at our city’s convention center. We set up, serve, bus tables after the meals, and tear down the job at the end of the event. We simply went to the little catering office at the convention center and submitted an application. Quarterly, we give them our availability and only work a few days a month. We are paid minimum wage plus a percentage of the job as a gratuity. We always bring home (after taxes and union fees) at least $20 per hour.  Jenny

Electronic Clutter
Spring cleaning revealed something to me. My house is full of electronic clutter that we’ll never use again. Scattered around are old TVs that don’t work properly, old video games, last generation cell phones, and even a VCR that we’ll never use again. I’ve decided to get rid of all this stuff over the next four weeks. The TV will go on Freecycle. Perhaps someone knows how and wants to fix it. We never will. The old video game system will go to a women’s shelter. I’m going to check out one of those sites that buys old phones, too. I might even make a few dollars.  Liz

Stinky Shoes

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2016 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Stinky Shoes
You don’t need to buy expensive foot powders or charcoal inserts for your shoes. Just sprinkle a little baking soda into your shoes every few days. It’s cheap and does a good a job of soaking up the smell. Julie

Add In Shipping
The other day, I was buying a large bag of dog food online. I found it on one site and then looked on Amazon. The price was exactly the same, so I just went through with the Amazon purchase. When I got to the last page, the shipping was over $17. On the other site, it was only $4.95. Those costs can either make or break a deal.  Joan

Don’t Forget It
When traveling, I need to recharge my phone, tablet, and Kindle at night. I’m always afraid that I’m going to forget something. I got in the habit of putting something that I can’t leave behind like my bag or car keys with whatever is being charged. I might get as far as my car, but I won’t drive away and leave my tablet behind without my car keys. Diana

Making Crock Cooking Even Easier
I love my slow cooker. I especially love coming home to a meal that’s ready to eat without any real effort on my part. The one thing I don’t like is getting it ready in the morning, so I do some prep work on the weekends when I have time. I get my onions, celery, and carrots ready. If I won’t be using them in the next few days, I put them in the freezer. In the morning, I put the veggies, whatever meat I’m cooking, and any seasoning I want along with some broth or water into the crock. After I set it on low, away I go. Karen

Designer Secret
You can change the mood of a room completely without replacing all your furnishings. Just change the lighting. In my living room, I have a mix of overhead lighting, along with floor and table lamps. Not only can I vary the amount of light in the room, but some lamps use the softer white light bulbs. I’m even experimenting with some of the colored LED lights. I especially like the blue on a low level. It’s really romantic. Lena

Check Locally
Recently our old water heater needed replacing. At the last minute, before I rushed to the big box store, I checked out the website of our electric company. They furnished a list of small local retailers who work with them to sell water heaters with a $100 rebate. Also, the cost of the water heater is divided into 12 payments and added to our electric bill with no interest or carrying charges. I was pleased to get the water heater for less than the big box store price, support our local small business, and get the “one year same as cash” payments.
Bruce from TN

Make Your TV Look Better
When you buy a TV, they always try to convince you to pay more for a better picture. In many cases, you can get a great picture on even the cheapest set. It’s just a matter of setting the picture to your room conditions. A lot depends on the amount of light in the room and your eyesight. For instance, many sets will use sensors to adjust picture settings. I turn the ‘auto’ setting off and adjust the picture myself. I find that the picture looks much better when I’m in control. I also set things like the background and color intensity and contrast to my taste. When I’m through, I get a picture every bit as good as the best TVs. Bill

Count Off
I’m probably compulsive, but I count the pills when I bring home a prescription. You’d be surprised, but occasionally they short me. I’m sure it’s not intentional, but you do have a human counting them out and they probably get distracted or something. When it happens, I take the bottle back to the pharmacy and they always correct it. It’s not a lot, but some of my prescriptions are fairly expensive even with insurance. Diana

Flea Market Furniture
I’ve created a small side gig for myself refurbishing and selling furniture. I search flea markets and garage sales for quality furniture that’s worn out. I found out early on that I needed a good piece to start the project, so I don’t buy anything made of pressed board or plywood laminates. Only good hardwood works for me. I also look for things that were well constructed when they were new from name brand manufacturers. I buy pieces that need reupholstering and/or refinishing. My workshop is in my garage.. I sell on Craigslist. Sometimes it’ll take a few weeks or even months to find the right buyer, but since most things I buy are cheap, it’s no big deal to wait. Lately I’ve been making a few hundred dollars a month for something that I’d enjoy doing for free. Cecelia

Cooking for 1 or 2
When we became “empty nesters,” I had a problem with cooking too large. My mom gave me an answer. Buy small glass casserole pans at garage sales, thrift stores, etc. When making a meal, make the normal amount and split as far as it will go into one- and two-serving dishes. My hubby works occasional nights and the singles get used when he’s away. I pull out a two-serving dish for both of us. It’s so nice to have an assortment in the freezer. After adding veggies, bread, and fruit, supper is served. I do have a warning. When heating up a cold (or frozen) glass dish, be sure to put it into cold oven and then turn on oven. Suddenly placing a frozen glass dish into a hot oven will break the dish. Karen P.

Grind It Yourself and Save
I have a stand mixer that I received as a gift. I asked for a meat grinder attachment for Christmas one year. Bed Bath & Beyond® sells the attachment for around $30. You can buy any meat and grind it yourself. Buying ground chicken at the store is over $3/lb., and you don’t know if it’s white or dark meat. This way, you have control over exactly what you’re eating. Also, it’s less expensive and healthier. Tami in Greece, NY

Spring HVAC Maintenance
Now that spring is here, it’s a great time to give your heat and air conditioning service a once over. I know I should change filters more often, but sometimes I forget. In the spring and fall, I make sure to replace them. I also look at the ductwork in the basement to make sure that there are no leaks. I also check around the outside air conditioner to make sure that no shrubbery is blocking the air flow around it. And then one weekend, I check around the windows and doors to make sure that winter hasn’t damaged any weather-stripping or caulking that could cause air leaks. Sean
Klipsntips vtile20160210 24172 17yihd0

Pasta Plus

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2016 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

Pasta Plus
If you’re like me, you always end up cooking a little extra pasta when you make spaghetti or anything over noodles. It’s hard to get it right and you don’t want to run out. Instead of tossing it, I either freeze individual portions for later use with leftover sauce or add it to scrambled eggs the next morning at breakfast.  Jackie

A Less Messy House
My family is a bunch of messies. We just hate to throw anything away. We always can find some reason that we might need it later. I’ve started asking two questions. If I needed this item, would I remember that I have one? And would I know where to look for it? If I can’t answer “yes” to both, it’s time to get rid of it. Reba

Protect Your Garden
In our neighborhood, rabbits are a real threat to a garden. And while I have nothing against rabbits, I don’t feel like feeding them the produce I work so hard to grow. I’ve found that spreading some whole coffee beans in my garden keeps them away. I add fresh beans every two weeks. One bag will lasts the whole summer. Alicia

Easy Electricity Savings
Want to keep your electric bill down? Here’s an easy way to save. Your refrigerator is a big user of electricity. It’s like a little air conditioner. There are coils that release hot air into your kitchen. Usually they’re on the bottom of the fridge. It’s a great place to attract dust bunnies that coat the coils. So every few months, you should use a vacuum attachment to clean the coils. There’s a grill that comes off the front. It’s also a good idea to use a long handled bath brush to run over the coils. Clean coils mean a more efficient fridge. Celeste

Crazy Frame
We had some 8x10 glossy photos from our last vacation that I wanted to hang in our family room, but I didn’t want boring old frames. Then I had a brainstorm. An old tennis racket was in the garage. I took out the strings and cut the photo to fit inside the racket. Now it’s a focal point that everyone notices. I think I’m going to do something similar with an old broken hand mirror I haven’t thrown away. Michelle

Preparing for a Home Sale
We’ll be selling our house this summer. I’ve been putting together a three-ring notebook with all kinds of house information that includes copies of our tax, utility, and insurance bills. I also have information about major purchases (water heater and A/C unit) and major repairs. Last time we sold a home, people had all kinds of questions. This should help them feel that they know the home and make it easier for them to put in an offer. At least, that’s what we’re hoping

Candle Replay
Don’t you just hate it when your jar candle burns down? I’ve learned two tricks to making them new again. Both involve putting the jar on a coffee cup warmer that’s just hot enough to melt the wax. (I suppose you could do it in a pan of warm water on the stove top too.) Once the wax is melted, I can either drop a cheap votive candle in the center or put in a new wick. Either way, I get extra enjoyment out of my favorite candles. Dede

Before You Move
I made an 1,800 mile move from the coast to the Midwest, and it cost me a fortune renting a truck, packing everything, and then hauling it all out once I got to my destination, only to find that much of what I had brought was completely inappropriate to my new locale. Based on that experience, I would never move a ton of stuff again. I suggest you bite the bullet and sell anything that does not have deep sentimental value. When you pay for storage, you are just buying your things over and over. It’s pretty much a waste of money. You can ship the small items through UPS or the mail for almost nothing. Once you have identified your new home, and with the money you’ve saved on moving and storage expenses, you can buy new that fits perfectly with your new lifestyle. Kamia

And the Total Is...
Last month, I did something that was a real eye opener. I kept all my fast food receipts. I often use a drive thru on my way home from work when I’m too tired to cook. When I totaled the receipts, it came to $136.87. That’s more than $5 per day. So I’m going to try to make some fast food at home. Last Sunday, I made eight burgers and six burritos. I only cooked the burgers until they were about 75% done. I figure with a quick shot in the microwave, they’ll be perfect. The burritos were easy. I browned two pounds of ground beef and added some shredded cheese, sour cream, and taco sauce. Then I wrapped each individually and stuck them in the freezer. I did the same thing with the burgers. Now I can come home and have a fast food dinner in minutes. Sonny

My Organization Book
I’ve been helping my 80+ mom with organizing her household and Christmas decor. She’s quite the collector.
I got a small spiral notebook, and as we put away Christmas decorations last year, we got down all the Christmas stuff and went through and repacked, donated, and recycled stuff. Then we numbered the boxes and wrote the corresponding number on each page of the notebook and detailed the items that were in the box if there was a variety.
Plus, we were always looking for the punch bowl for holidays, so we made additional pages in alphabetical order with notes about where other things are stored.
The notebook has a “Where’s My Stuff?” label on the front. It was a joke at first, but now it holds a place of honor in the house. She was a bit skeptical at first, but now she tells me once a month about how she found something with the help of the book and has added notations of her own. Karon

Cleaning Greasy Kitchen Cabinets
I use white vinegar to clean greasy kitchen cabinets. I use two cups to a gallon of hot water. It is very thrifty as a gallon of white vinegar costs about $2. White vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner. It’s also great for floors and windows. There is no need for all the expensive cleaners. Nancy

Time to Buy
This time of year, I always check out the sales racks in my favorite stores. I often find great fall/winter clothes on clearance. This year, I’m looking for some heavy dress slacks and sweaters that I can wear to work. Last year, I found a lovely jacket that was thrift store priced. I enjoyed it all winter. Destiny

Apartment Laundry
Hate lugging your laundry detergent, stain remover, softener, etc. up and down the stairs to your laundry room? Try this trick. Scoop a load sized amount of detergent into a sandwich zipper bag and pour liquid softener into a plastic travel mug. When you do laundry, you can now just take what you need, making your load much lighter. Mary

Spring Clean Your Roof
Each year I spring clean my roof. The shingles get mildewed each summer. I just spread some baking soda on the roof. I’m always generous with it. The roof appears whitish when I’m done. After a few days, I hose it off and the mildew is gone. I believe that the baking soda changes the pH and makes it hard for the mildew to survive. Justin

Bathroom Basics
Our kids use the same bath that guests use. Because the kids tend to use too much soap and shampoo, the tub always looks dirty, so I picked up a couple of liquid soap dispensers at Walmart. The white one is for soap. The blue one is for shampoo. Not only does the bathroom look prettier, but also the kids know to only use one pump. We are saving money, and the tub stays cleaner longer, too. Susannah

Before You Rent or Buy
Here’s something to think about when deciding where to buy/rent. Check school district websites. There are parameters regarding how far students are bused. As kids get older, they have to live farther away in some cases to get a bus. Especially for working parents, this may be a factor with kids walking home alone, etc. Busing distances may change whether you feel the need for daycare etc. before/after school. Some families on my street have kids that have to walk over a mile to high school, but just a few houses down, neighbors can catch a bus from K-12.  TS

Cleaning Your Coffee Grinder
I’m a coffee snob. I admit it. So I grind my own beans daily. Once a week, I like to clean my grinder. To get it really clean without soap (which would leave a nasty taste), I use uncooked white rice. I put enough in to cover the blades and then run the grinder. The rice scrapes off any bean residue from the blades. Then I wash everything in warm water. The rice doesn’t leave any flavor behind. When I have my coffee the next morning, I get only the coffee flavor I’m expecting. Ah, heaven. Rich

Car Shopping Secret
My brother taught me a car-shopping tip that really helped when I bought a new car. He told me to bring something called an amortization table. You can find them online. The table shows how much you’ll pay in interest on a loan. Without the table, your payment will probably be based on how much you can afford. They tailor the loan to your payment, but you never hear them say the interest rate. And even if you’re good with math, it’s hard to figure out quickly. With the table, you can know in a minute or two whether you’re getting a good rate or not. The rate that the dealer offered me was about three percent higher than what my bank had preapproved. You can guess where I got the car loan. I’ll put the extra money toward repaying my student loan. Lori

Auto Accident Claims
Unless you have an older car, you probably have collision coverage. If you have an accident, you might not be getting as big a check as you deserve. Insurance companies are notorious for only paying to repair your car, but with CarFax® recording the accident, your car is worth less when you go to resell it because of the accident. Most collision insurance is supposed to cover this loss, but unless you press the company, you won’t see that money. Ask your agent about it now and you’ll know what to expect if you have an accident. Drew

Inexpensive Wedding Gift
My grandmother gave us a gift we’ll keep forever that hardly cost a thing. She bought a scrapbook and partially filled it up with newspaper clippings from the day and year we were married. She included things like new car ads, grocery store ads, clothing ads, etc. Now we can look back and see what those things “used” to cost back when we were married. She also included newspaper and magazine clippings in the areas of politics and the environment and from our local newspaper with the weather for the day we were married. We have since added to it (as suggested when given the gift) new car stickers, receipts from the hospital when each of our two daughters were born, and news clippings from momentous days in our history as a nation. It’s one of my very favorite things. Kim

Painting Hacks
As soon as we can open up the house for spring, I like to do a little painting in my house. Usually I do one or two rooms each year. Two tricks have saved me both time and money. I know that people like to wrap their paint rollers in plastic wrap, so they’ll stay good for the next day, but I always end up getting paint all over me when I take off the wrap. Now, I use one of those round potato chip cans with the reseal lid. The roller cover fits in and the lid keeps it sealed tightly. When I’m ready to paint again, I pull it out and put it back on the roller handle. It’s easy.
I also cut the top off and thoroughly wash out either a paper orange juice or milk carton. It makes a great container when doing small paint jobs (like cutting in trim). It’s light and small, and when I’m through with it, I can easily pour the remaining paint back into its can and throw my milk container away. No cost, no mess. Emily

Natural Odor Eaters
My husband took one of our coolers on a fishing trip. It’s no surprise that  it came back stinking of fish. I took leftover used coffee grounds and put  them in the cooler. After closing the lid, I let this sit for two days. The  grounds soaked up all the fish smell. It didn’t even need a second pass.  Dee

Anyone for Ham
You recently ran a tip about buying an extra corned beef roast the day  after St. Patrick’s Day. I do the same thing right after Easter with ham.  This year, we’re planning on a big graduation party for our daughter. I’m  going to buy four boneless hams and freeze them. When graduation comes,  we’ll be eating fine.

Fly Control
My dad had a great way to rid us of flies near the home on our farm. He  hung lidded jars from the porch or trees near the house. He would poke a  hole in the top of the jar and put a piece of raw hamburger inside. It is  safe and will catch a ton of flies. Once they get inside the jar, they  can’t get back out. When the jars were filled, he would just put them in  the burn barrel, but I am sure you could just throw them in the garbage.  Gramma

Kitchen Odors
With just the two of us in the house, we don’t create a lot of kitchen  trash, so we often don’t take out the trash bag for days. And although  we’re careful what we put in the trash, some odors can’t be helped.  Therefore, I got in the habit of sprinkling some baking powder into the  trash bag when I put in a fresh one. The baking soda eats the odors,  keeping our kitchen smelling fresher.  Mel

You Don’t Need a New Car
We were thinking of getting a new car. We’re planning a car trip this  summer and didn’t think our old van would make it. It hasn’t given us a bit  of trouble, but we didn’t want to take the chance of a long trip in it.  Then we shopped for a new one. We were looking at years of payments, so we  decided to rent a van. We can get one for about $1250 for two weeks. That’s  a lot of money, but only a couple of payments for a new van.

Protecting My Blouses
I never dry my blouses completely in the dryer. It’s too hard on them. I  spin them an extra time in the washing machine and then put them in the  dryer on low heat for just a few minutes. Then I hang them damp and let  them dry naturally. If I hang them carefully, they don’t wrinkle. I have  blouses that I’ve worn for years that still look like they’re brand new.  Justine

Building a Home
We just moved into our new home. Before we signed the contract, my Dad  suggested that we tell the builder that we were going to hire a home  inspector to check it over before closing. It cost us a few hundred  dollars, but I think that it was money well spent. Because we told the  builder upfront, I think his crews were a little more careful about our  home. The inspector did find a few minor problems and the builder fixed  them before we took possession. Now we know that everything is just the way it should be and we’re enjoying our new home. Carla

Clothing Shopping Secret
When looking for clothing, especially during end-of-season sales, do not  remain loyal to what you may think is your size. One reason perfectly good  clothing winds up on the clearance rack is that it’s sized improperly. This  is also true for smaller adults who may be able to wear children’s sized  clothing or shoes. My latest “steal” was a beautiful purple (I was  specifically looking for purple) down coat for 90% off. It was sized a 3X,  which would normally be far too large for me. But, since I scanned the  entire clearance rack, I was able to find this fantastic coat for just a  few bucks. My petite daughter routinely finds sweaters and t-shirts in the  children’s section since she is an adult size 0-2.  JD in St Louis

Cleaning a Gas Grill
Your gas grill can be cleaned the same way you do an oven. First, you  should remove the gas source. Next, take the grill apart. Clean out all the  debris in the bottom of the grill. Using a water hose, spray the grill  down. Use a good oven cleaner and spray a generous amount. Let this sit for  an hour or more. You may have to reapply the oven spray if your grill is  extra messy. Get a couple of large garbage bags and place the inside parts  of the grill in them. Spray the oven cleaner on them. Tighten the bags and  let the parts soak in the oven cleaner for an hour or two. Using old rags,  wipe off as much of the oven cleaner (along with the dirt, grease, and  grime) as you can. Rinse with the water hose and see if you have to repeat  the cleaning process. If the removal of the grime meets your expectations,  use hot water and a good degreaser like Dawn(r) dish detergent to wash the  grill all over. Then rinse and dry again.  James

My Aerobics Routine
Ever notice those athletes running up and down stadium stairs to build  stamina? I decided to imitate them. I don’t run, but I walk up and down the  stairs in my two-story house. You’d be surprised how hard it gets after a  few trips. I’m up to eight times now and hope to add one time every couple  of weeks. I’ve also started parking at the edge of the parking lot at work and when  I’m shopping. It’s only a few steps more, but I get a little free exercise  and my car suffers fewer parking lot dings. Jordan
Message vtile20160210 18971 ueg470

My Reminder File

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2016 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
My Reminder File
Awhile back, I started keeping clothing sizes on my phone, so I’d have them for garage sales. I keep them not only for my kids, but my sister’s kids, too. That’s worked so well that I started keeping other notes on my phone like the size of my furnace filters.  Tara

Microwave Clean Up
Does your microwave ever stink? Mine did after I cooked a bunch of bacon in it. To fix that, I put a bowl with a half-cup of baking soda in the microwave. Then I let it sit there for a few hours. I didn’t run the microwave. Instead, I just left the baking soda. The results? No smell. Zena

DIY Video
I take a lot of video with my phone. It’s handy, and I can share it on my accounts. One thing I learned is that using the zoom feature didn’t work for me. It was always too much or too little, so I started just walking closer or further away from whatever I was recording. Now unless I want a real close-up, I never use the zoom. Emily

My mom always said that it was important to make a home’s entryway inviting, so I have a variety of welcome mats that I rotate. I also like to have live flowers nearby. Last year, I took an old watering can and painted it with some leftover latex. I half filled it with water and took some of the branches I pruned from our evergreen bushes and added them. They lasted for months. This year I’m going to do the same thing. The only difference is that I found a rusty tricycle with a basket. The watering can will sit in the trike basket. Allyson

Painful Haircuts
Looking over our 2015 expenses, I added up all that we were spending at the barber and beauty shops. I was amazed. My husband and teenaged son were spending $14 each every six weeks. I won’t even tell you what my daughter and I spent. So I started watching some how-to videos. I’ve touched up my husband and son. Our plan is for me to do them two times and they can go into the barber for the third cut. I’ve also trimmed my daughter’s bangs. I’m trying to get up enough courage to have her trim my split ends. If this works, we’ll save a bundle this year. A

Winning Lotto
I was addicted to scratch-off lottery tickets, but I read something on The Dollar Stretcher that said the odds of being a big winner were ridiculous, so I came up with a new strategy. I had been playing at least one ticket per day. Now, when I don’t buy a ticket, I put that money in an envelope. After a few weeks, it gets pretty fat. Each month I plan on adding that to the check for my Visa account. I may not hit the lotto, but at least I’ll be reducing my credit card balance. Bill

Easy Room Makeover
If you want to redo a room but can’t afford new furniture, try what I did. I just changed the lighting in the room. I replaced a couple of the lamps. To get the proper effect, I read a few online articles about how light can affect your room decor. I found the lamps at a thrift store. In one case, I used one of my lamps, but bought a new shade for it. My friends look at the room and ask me what’s different. I love explaining how little it cost to update it.

Keeping Warm This Winter
An easy and inexpensive way to get warm is to simply move. If you sit at a desk all day, there are lots of ways you can do this. Take 30 seconds and repeatedly raise your hands above your head. Swing your feet under your desk. Rotate your ankles and/or wrists. If you really want to warm up, go to the restroom and do 10 jumping jacks or walk in place (if no one else is there). The key is to get your circulation going. An added benefit is burning calories. Katie

Cooking for One or Two
Back before the kids moved out, I used to make a beef roast once a week. But now that it’s just the two of us that’s too much meat. I came up with a way that works for the two of us. I buy a regular beef roast when they’re on sale. I brown it in a frying pan and then put it in a slow cooker. The only thing I add is a quart of beef broth. After about six hours on low heat, it’s ready. I cool the roast in the fridge. After it’s cool, I slice it into meal-sized portions. Each portion goes into a freezer bag.
Next I take the broth and add some flour to make gravy. I let the gravy cool and divide it among the freezer bags. They get sealed and put into the freezer. Now I have between three and six meal starters. I can take the contents of the bag from the freezer, and using my microwave, I have beef and gravy in just minutes. Making a salad and heating some sides isn’t a big deal. It’s almost like an instant dinner. Lucy

Eliminating Mothball Odors
I had a problem with a lingering mothball smell. I had used cedar strips, squares, etc. before to protect my clothes, but didn’t have any spares for the trunk so I used mothballs to protect my wool clothes in storage one summer. In the fall, when I unpacked my clothes, the mothball smell was overwhelming. I tried airing the clothes and the trunk numerous times in the early fall when the weather was still warm, but the smell still lingered. I hung those clothes on the line for days but still they smelled like mothballs. So one evening in late fall when the weather was cooler, I set the clothes and the trunk out in our screen room to air overnight. The screen room protected the clothes and trunk from the damp air but allowed the cooler air to circulate.
The cooler air worked. The clothes and trunk were then odor free. This worked great without adding any chemicals or sprays to the clothes and trunk. Now I use cedar all the time and have never again purchased mothballs. The cedar strips work very well and are a natural solution, especially important for people with allergies or chemical sensitivities.
Depke vtile20160210 18971 xzvsoh

Brown Sugar Bricks

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2016 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Brown Sugar Bricks
Most kitchens have a brick of brown sugar. Once exposed to air, it’s almost impossible to keep any type of package of brown sugar from turning into a brick. I found a solution. I keep my brown sugar in the freezer. It doesn’t freeze, but it doesn’t get hard either. Marni

Phone Lifesaver
Everyone knows to program the ICE on your phone, but I go a step further. I add my prescriptions and allergies. I know that if I’m in an accident the ER doctors will check the ICE information. Knowing what meds I take could help them save my life. It only took a second to do, and I think it’s great life insurance. Donna

Why I Check My Credit Report
I was recently turned down for a new credit card. At first, I was upset because I’m never late on bills. Then I decided to check my credit score. It said that I had declared bankruptcy. It took a little doing, but I got them to correct the report. I’m planning on checking my credit report every three months. I don’t want small errors to cause me higher interest rates. Lydia

Easy Veggies
I’m a big believer in fresh veggies, but like most families, sometimes it’s hard to find time to cook a fancy dinner. Therefore, when I get back from the grocery store, I prepare the veggies I bought. I wash and cut them up for whatever recipes I’ll be making during the week. They get stored in baggies in the refrigerator until I’m ready to cook that meal. I believe that it cuts down my dinner prep time by half. And after a long day at work, that’s a real treat. Tawnya

Removing Urine Odors
My husband found a way to get rid of urine odors in carpet. First, he sprinkled baking soda on the affected area and left it to absorb overnight. The next day, he vacuumed up the first batch of soda and then poured another dry batch on the carpet. Using a wet cloth, he rubbed the creamy wet mixture into the area. Then he rinsed the mixture with clean water. He vacuumed well when it was dry. My own nose could no longer detect the smell, but more importantly, my cats did not. Before doing this, they were always visiting the smell, regardless of what we had used to attempt to clean it. They rolled in it, which concerned me. I thought that they might eventually add their own, but they did not. JS

Colorful Clothes
Most of my work wardrobe is made up of quality clothes that I can wear for years, so I like to keep them looking good. One way I do that is to use a trick my mom showed me. When I buy a dark or bright blouse or skirt, I soak it in a cold salt solution. I fill my sink with cold water and add a half of a cup of salt. After letting the garment soak for 30 minutes, I wash it. The salt solution helps set the color, so it doesn’t look faded after a few washings. Eve

Nighttime Driving Safety
If your car is getting older, there’s a good chance that your headlights are getting cloudy. You can buy one of those headlight restoration kits for about $8 to $10. But, you can achieve the same thing with a mixture of salt and dish detergent. The salt actually smoothes the surface of the headlights while the dish detergent provides some lubrication. You can use any kitchen sponge. Just be careful to only scrub the light, not the surrounding paint. Ron

Carpet Runners
If you have kids and pets, you know how fast a carpet can wear in certain places. When we got new carpet, I asked the salesman about using the excess as runners. For just a few dollars, they made runners and small rugs for busy traffic areas. They cut them to size and put a banding around the edge. Now instead of cleaning the entire carpet, I just clean the smaller pieces. Tanya

Read Those Bills
We had decided not to renew our food club membership, so we just ignored their billing. At first, it was just the renewal fee we were being billed for, so I put the whole thing out of my mind. The following month, the bill was slightly more than the renewal fee. I ignored it. The next month, it was higher still, and I thought maybe my husband had purchased something I had forgotten about, so I called. Imagine my surprise when I learned that they were charging me interest on the unpaid membership renewal. I told them that they confirmed our decision not to renew with their shabby, deceitful practice.  JD

Becoming a One Income Family
We want to start a family soon. When we do, I want to stay home with the baby. Some of our friends have tried but ran into financial troubles. We think that we’ve found a way to avoid that. We started banking all of my take-home pay and living off of my husband’s salary. It’s been tough, but it’s a good test run for being a one income family. We know that a baby will add expenses, but we also figure that with one of us at home, we can find some savings. As an added bonus, we’re building up a good emergency fund. Julianne

Credit Score Hits
You might not expect it, but anything that gets sent to a collection agency could hurt your credit score. Whether it’s a library fine, unpaid parking ticket or medical bill, if it gets turned over to a collection agency, there’s a chance that it’ll show up on your credit score. Therefore, before applying for a credit card, auto loan or mortgage, you might want to clean up any unpaid bills, even if they seem small and unimportant. Brianna

Special Salad Dressings

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2016 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Special Salad Dressings
Whenever I use canned fruit, I save the juice that’s packed with the fruit. I add some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and spices. Then I pour the mixture into an old salad dressing bottle. This makes a unique, special homemade salad dressing. Kat

End of Month Clean-Out
About the 20th of each month, I take an inventory of the food in our fridge, freezer, and pantry. I pay special attention to anything that’s likely to go bad soon. Then I search for recipes that use those items. I’ve found that I save money on my last shopping trip for the month, and we waste less food. Also, my family gets to try some new dishes. It’s a win, win, win. Tracie

Dryer Efficiency
Using your clothes dryer correctly can make a difference in your electric bill. I use two tricks to keep my dryer running efficiently. First, I never overload the machine. Clothes need room to tumble and to have the hot air circulate around them. Second, I often don’t use the hottest setting. I know that it’s tempting to turn up the heat. You might dry your clothes quicker, but you’ll damage them in the process. All that heat makes clothes look old much sooner. Korrine

Grocery Shopping With Children
Every expert will tell you not to take your kids grocery shopping with you, but as a single mom, I don’t have a choice. So, I decided to make it work for me. When we go shopping, both of my children get $3 to spend as they like on candy, sugary breakfast cereal, ice cream, etc. By leaving the decision up to them, I give them the chance to learn how to compare options and even delay gratification by saving their $3 to be added to another $3 on our next shopping trip. You’d be surprised how quickly they pick up the concepts. Honore

Sew and Save
I like to sew, but I really don’t want to make my clothes from scratch, so I scout for end-of-season sales. Often the best deals are on the biggest sizes. I buy them for cheap and use my sewing skills to modify them to my size. If I’m careful in what I buy, it usually is only a few seams that need to be ripped and modified. Often I resize designer labels that I could never afford otherwise. My friends think that I spend a lot on clothes. They’d be surprised if they knew my secret. C.

Icing Inside and Out
During the latest storm, my kids had a snow day. Our teen daughter would have spent the entire time talking with her friends online, but I wanted to get her away from her tablet. I asked her to make us a snowfall cake. She started with a boxed cake mix. I had some white icing available. I showed her how to color the icing with food coloring. We put each color into a quart sized zipper baggie and cut off a tiny bit of the corner. She used the colored icing to draw a snowman on ice skates on the cake.  Laura

Free Savings for a Newer Car
Once my car is about six years old, I drop collision coverage. I always check with my insurance company to see what they’d pay if I totaled the car. After they subtract the deductible, it’s hardly worth it even if I do have an accident. I take the savings from my insurance and put it into an account for when I need to replace my car. Right now, my car is in year ten and I probably can get another two years out of it. I’ve saved thousands for my next ride. Julian

Selling Your House This Year
We’re planning on selling our home this summer. I spoke with a real estate agent and asked what we could do that would increase the sale price. He offered two suggestions that were low-cost improvements. He suggested that we repaint a few rooms that were looking worn and update the light fixtures in our dining and bathrooms. We can do the work ourselves, so the only cost will be materials. Julianne

Gift Basket Ideas
The key to a good gift basket is to create one that you know the person would like. For example, I love ice cream. I have a great ice cream maker, and my friends know it. For one birthday, a friend gave me a gift basket with ice cream paraphernalia, including sprinkles, nuts, an ice cream dish, and a long spoon. I will always remember that gift even though it was about 30 years ago because it was so fitting for me. Linda

Funny Money
My husband introduced me to this idea when we were dating. Each week, he set aside $5 for something that was just fun. I picked up the habit, and we’ve been doing it now for 25 years. Over the years, we’ve increased the amount to $10 per week to keep up with inflation. He can spend his however he wants. He can accumulate it for something bigger. I have the same rights. We don’t get to judge or approve of each other’s purchases. I once saved mine for a massage, which I know he thought was silly. Since it was my funny money, he said that he was glad I enjoyed it. Not only does it help us keep from fighting about money, but it also gives each of us something to look forward to when we’re saving in other places. Gina

Restoring Yard Tools
The shovels and axes we use for field operations in the Marine Corps get a beating. These tools often come back from the deserts of Twenty-Nine Palms or the cold, wet climate of Norway in really bad condition.
We sand down the wooden handles with light grade sandpaper and then apply linseed oil liberally to the wooden handle. For metal parts, we first sand them down, preferably with a wire brush grinder, and then we spray paint them with cheap paint found just about anywhere. Staff Sergeant S.B., USMC

Baker’s Savings

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2016 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Baker’s Savings
My family loves my cookies, so I bake often. I realized that I could reuse the parchment paper on my cookie sheets. I just roll the parchment paper up and put it into an empty paper towel roll to keep it neat. Celeste

Health Savings Accounts
I was talking with our HR representative when she reminded me that I hadn’t listed a beneficiary on my Health Savings Account. I didn’t know that if I died, my wife (who is my beneficiary) doesn’t get taxed if she assumes ownership of the account. Wil

Scratch and Dent Savings
We recently purchased our first home. We needed to buy appliances but didn’t want to run up our credit card balance. So we visited a local scratch and dent store. We found a fridge and stove that had dents on the side that’s hidden in our kitchen. We did have to pay full price for the dishwasher, but still scored a big savings. Selena

Teething Puppy Chews
My puppy was teething and chewing on everything. My vet suggested that I take an old kitchen towel, wet it thoroughly, wring it out, and put it in a zipper baggie in the freezer. When frozen, it’s hard enough for puppy to chew on and the cold helps sooth any teething pain. It won’t stay frozen long, so it needs to be rotated with two or three others.  Burt

Too Much Info
As a Facebook junkie, I love it when people comment on my posts or poke me, but after a friend had her identity stolen, I started wondering about all that personal information I post online. I decided it was wise to remove my address and birth date from the profile. It’s nice getting birthday wishes, but not if it helps someone trying to steal my identity. Melinda

Dryer Efficiency
Your electric clothes dryer can be very expensive to operate. Recently, I had to call a repairman for my washer. While he was working, he gave me some tips. He said that not only was it important to make sure that the dryer vent was clear, but also that I shouldn’t overload the dryer. It seems that clothes dry quicker if they can tumble around in the dryer. Lisa

When You Donate
I have an idea when giving clothes and household items. Don’t just give the items to Goodwill all the time. There are women’s (and men’s) shelters that need items as well. When the ladies and men come in, they barely have anything. All kinds of items are needed, including clothes, household goods, and various items. Call your local women’s shelter in your town and give to these people. Don’t let them be the forgotten ones.
Connie in NC

Understanding Detergent
You wouldn’t know it, but detergent doesn’t actually clean your clothes. Its main purpose is to lower the surface tension of the water, which allows the water to do the cleaning. That’s why the hardness of your water is so important. The harder the water the more detergent you’ll need to use. Most detergents estimate the amount needed based on fairly hard water. So, in most cases, you can experiment and use less. Very soft water will use about half of what’s recommended. Dianna

The Walk Away Price
I’m convinced that the way to get the best price on a car (new or used) is to walk away from the dealership. If you’re close to a price they can do, they’ll call you and either encourage you to come back or offer you a better deal. I take a test drive and talk to the salesperson. But after they take their second trip to the manager’s office, I tell them that I want to think about it and leave. They’ll try to talk me out of it, but I insist. Last time, I didn’t even get home before my phone was ringing. Kiley

Housekeeping Help
It’s hard being a mom who works. My husband helps with the housework, but we’re always behind. There’s never enough time to do everything. Then it dawned on me that part of raising kids was teaching them basic skills, so I tied their allowances to chores around the house. Each week they get a basic allowance, but by doing various clean-ups around the house, they can earn additional allowance. Not only are they learning how to clean their home, but they’re also learning money skills. It’s a two-fer in my book. honda

Kids’ Birthday Parties
Our 10-year-old son wanted a birthday party. I didn’t want to put a Chucky Cheese party on my credit card, so I needed an idea for an at-home party. He’s into airplanes and rockets. We decided to have an airplane party. I found some patterns for paper airplanes online. I printed off enough copies for all the kids that were attending. For each type of paper plane, we had a contest to see whose plane could fly the best or farthest. I had small prizes for each winner. The boys loved it. Instead of goody bags, I found an inexpensive book with plane designs and gave each of them a copy. I figured that would encourage them to read (an extra bonus.). After adding a homemade cake, we had a very cheap and very fun birthday party. Next I’m thinking of doing something with sewing for our 12-year-old daughter’s party. Krista

Owner Occupied Duplex
My husband and I own a duplex unit that has an additional 400-square-foot studio apartment at the rear of the two-car detached garage. It is located in one of the older parts of town, is surrounded by lovely historic houses, and is considered to be a very family friendly neighborhood. If we have any two of the three units rented out, it pays for our mortgage. Living on the property allows the owner to be immediately responsive to maintenance issues and potential tenant difficulties. An added bonus is that if you inform prospective tenants that the owner/landlord lives onsite, the irresponsible folks will tend to avoid that type of situation. We have been delighted with our tenants and it has become a very compatible neighborhood for all of us. We take care of the lawn maintenance (raking, mowing, watering, shoveling snow, etc.), but in the past, we have offered rent rebate/reduction to tenants who offered to take over these duties when we went on vacation, etc. Karen

Dirty Plastic Toys

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2016 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Dirty Plastic Toys
When I was little, my mom used to scrub my plastic toys in the bathtub. I found a much easier way. I just run them through my dishwasher. I set it to air dry (don’t want to melt anything.) and use a mesh bag for small parts. Taylor

Cleaning Stainless Cookware
To clean the black marks off pots and pans, mix enough white vinegar with cream of tartar to make a paste. Scrub with a non-abrasive pad and the black will come right off. You can let it sit for a bit if the mark is really tough. I cleaned my own pots with this and the difference was amazing. Stephanie

My Savings Plan
I came up with a new savings plan for 2016. I put a dollar aside every time I start my car. It sounds strange, but it causes me to save $2 to $5 each day. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to make me watch where I spend my money. Even if it’s only $2 each day, that’ll be around $700 by next Christmas.  Cody

Senior Strength
The New Year seems to get us all thinking of getting fit or improving our get-fit routines. And medical authorities are advocating that seniors need to maintain upper body strength in order to maintain their independence simply because one needs that muscle strength just to get out of a chair, out of bed, or to lift and carry lifestyle items in the home. Jody

Spring Shopping Season
I love springtime when I can shop yard sales. Since I can’t go now, I prepare for later. I make sure that I have a current list of sizes for my whole family. I carry the sizes for my husband and kids but also my sister’s family. I also put together a wish list of things I’d like to find. My kit includes various size batteries to check battery operated toys and electronics and a tape measure. I can’t wait to go to yard sales again. Amy

Lower That Thermostat
We lower our thermostat when we go to bed, but I wanted to be able to drop it down earlier to save. My family complained until I bought a couple of thrift store blankets for our family room. We snuggle under them while we watch TV. One is even an electric blanket. I don’t know how much we’ll save on heat, but I bet that we cover the cost of the blankets in just the first month that we use them. Natalie

Winter Woes
It’s not uncommon for people to get a little depressed in the winter. Doctors say that a lack of sunlight can be the cause. I make a point of opening the blinds and shades that face the sun. I also bought a small sunlamp that I put in the kitchen (since I spend a lot of time there.). I’ve also read that lighter colors in the room help, so I’m making some light colored slip covers for our sofa in the family room. Tisha

Invading Squirrels
I have huge trees in my yard. This winter I noticed I had squirrels hanging around. Sure enough, when an outdoor light quit working, the electrician found a squirrel’s nest in the attic. He told me to go to the sporting goods department (hunting gear section) of a big box hardware store and buy a bottle of red fox urine scent. Spray it on some rags and scatter them around in the attic. He said that this will scare off any rodents or squirrels because they smell the odor and think a predator is nearby. It’s not poisonous, so it doesn’t leave carcasses in the attic. N2W

Easy Ceiling Fan Update
The ceiling fan in our family room was looking tired, but I really didn’t want to replace it. Then it occurred to me that if I changed the look of the blades that the fan would take on a new appearance, so I removed the four blades (easy work). I did make a note of which blade came from which bracket, so I didn’t have to rebalance the fan. I took the blades down to my workshop, and after cleaning them thoroughly, I sprayed them with a color that contrasted with my family room. After doing a little clean-up on the fan body and reattaching the blades, the room had an entirely new feel. Dave

My Headboard
We just moved to a new home and bought a king-sized mattress, but we didn’t have the money to buy a fancy headboard. I told my husband that we didn’t need one and that I would take care of it. In one DIY blog, I saw a headboard that someone made using old pictures tacked to the wall where the headboard would be. I didn’t want to do that. Instead, I painted a headboard on the wall. I had some brown paint from another project. I wanted to try a technique I read about to create a wood look. It came out great.  Lila

Trying Out Shoes
I used to work in a shoe store. I learned a lot about shoes. One thing was that if someone had worn the shoes and scuffed the soles and decided that they didn’t fit well, we couldn’t take them back. Recently, I’ve begun to buy my shoes online. I try them out around the house, so I’m only walking on the carpet. That way, if I don’t think they fit, I can send them back without any problems. Emily

Freezer Too Small
My freezer is on the small side, but I save a lot of money by buying bulk and freezing. I just started taking products out of their box before freezing and putting them in cereal box liners as added protection. I cut out cooking directions from the box and put them on top of the freezer. The boxes are so much bigger than the products.
When I remember, I also try to take out the foam trays that meats come in, so I can wrap them tightly before freezing. Katie

Starting Seeds
It’s seed starting season. I am ordering my seeds. I have been saving the containers that cooked rotisserie chicken comes in from the supermarket. What’s great about them is that they have a clear cover.  Cynthia H.

Not Really Non-Refundable
Most non-refundable airfares can be refunded without penalty within 24 hours of booking the flight. You can usually also get a refund if the flight is significantly delayed. Check the fine print before you book. Jordan

Bitter Coffee
If your coffee has developed a bitter taste, don’t complain to the coffee manufacturer. Change the brand filters you use. The cheaper ones, usually packed in glassine bags, often cause the bitter taste. Use brand name filters like Mr. Coffee and you will get your zesty coffee flavor back. Ed H.

Homemade Shower Cleaners
I don’t understand all the hype about shower cleaners. My practice is to wipe down the shower walls with a dry towel when we’re all done showering in the morning. Without the moisture, the mold/mildew doesn’t have a chance. And no soap scum builds up. It takes a few seconds to do this and I never have to scrub grout, etc. C.H.

My Gift Card Pantry
Most weeks when I shop, I buy a $10 or $15 gift card for the grocery store. I keep a collection of them for months that money is tighter than usual. I can use one or two to avoid bringing out the credit cards. Then at Christmas, when we do some entertaining, I don’t have to worry about the extra expense. I’ve already paid for it earlier in the year. Toni

Kitchen Decor
I like my kitchen to look nice. It’s where people tend to congregate in our house. One thing that always bugged me was the bottle of dish washing detergent by the sink, so I bought a soap dispenser that matched my kitchen. Instead of hand soap, I fill it with detergent. Not only does my kitchen look nicer, but also I find that I use much less detergent. Maurine

Time to Declutter
Winter is the perfect time to declutter your home. Since I’m stuck inside, I use the time to do some house decluttering. Old papers get shredded or tossed. I always find a few items that have some value that we don’t use any more. I put those up for sale on Craigslist or eBay. Yes, it takes some time, but outside of binge watching TV, what else can I do on those cold winter evenings? Rebekkah

Frugal Get togethers
One frugal answer to dinner parties or house parties (both potentially costly events) is to revive the kaffeeklatsch. Invite your friends to spend a weekend morning or holiday morning with you. You provide coffee and coffeecake. Homemade coffeecake costs very little. Internet recipes abound; don’t overlook the simplest, old-fashioned recipes, which are delicious and very kind to your budget. Your clean-up times, before and after, are minimal, and dress is always casual. A bonus to the kaffeeklatsch is that the rest of everyone’s day is free. Don’t be concerned that a kaffeeklatsch isn’t fancy or focused on food. The best get-togethers are those where the company is congenial. M.

A Medicinal Herb Garden
My family often uses medicinal herbs. To keep the cost down, I’ve started growing my own. They’re really easy. I’ve planted chamomile, Echinacea, lemon balm, peppermint and yarrow. They’re the basics for most natural treatments. A search will give you instructions on how to plant them and use them for simple salves and teas. My family still goes to the doctor when needed, but we’ve found that herbs can help cut down the number of visits. Julianne

Energy Zappers
I read that having piles of stuff everywhere can zap your energy. It’s something about making your brain feel overwhelmed, so I decided to start by cleaning up my desk at work. I was surprised at first, but it did seem like I had more energy. I took a weekend and cleaned my kitchen and family room. And, I found even more energy. I didn’t realize it, but my mind was seeing all the things that I should be doing. I don’t know how that translates into energy, but I can tell you that clearing out the clutter made a big difference for me. Ron

Icicle Alert
Those icicles look like they belong on a holiday picture, but don’t be fooled. They’re costing you money. They form when the heat that’s supposed to be inside your house warms the roof enough to melt the snow. As the water drips, it refreezes into an icicle. Each winter, I take pictures of any icicles that form. During the spring, I check for air leaks or any other insulation issues. Not only does it reduce our winter heating bill, but it also helps to keep the A/C bill down. Zeke

Unwanted Christmas Gifts
Did you get a real lemon of a Christmas gift? Would it be awkward to ask the giver for the necessary receipt in order to return it to the store? Instead of saving the item to regift to someone else, consider donating it to a charitable cause. The domestic violence shelter has many female residents who wouldn’t mind using the off brand toiletries. They have nothing except what the shelter stocks. The charitable thrift store would be happy to sell a brand new knickknack that clashes with your home’s decor or the item of clothing Auntie Clara thought was perfect for your teenagers, who wouldn’t be caught dead in something so out of style. The homeless shelter or ministry could distribute the ill-fitting gloves, socks, or warm clothes to those living on the street. The food pantry could find a family who is happy to serve the fruitcake or fancy bread that’s not permitted on your diabetic or gluten free diet. Even the poorly knitted afghan your niece made you could benefit the critters at the animal shelter. You’ll be able to tell the givers you put their gifts to good use (just don’t say how) while getting a tax receipt for helping a good cause. You kept the item out of the landfill while getting rid of useless clutter. Lynn B.

Heated Towels

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2016 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Heated Towels
Our house has forced air heat with a vent in our master bath. I placed a towel rack and some clothing hooks above the vent. When I dry off after a shower or put on my pajamas, they’re nice and warm. It’s just like what I’d get at one of those fancy spas. Dianne

Too Many Cords
Every year at Christmas, it seems like we get one or two things that have cords and power supplies. Some are universal like HDMI cables, but some are unique to the device. To those, I add a label that says which device the cord or power supply goes to. It only takes a minute and avoids confusion later on. Sean

Wiping Away the Tears
Little ones often need comforting after scraping a knee or elbow. I take a washcloth, dampen it, and put it in the microwave for just a few seconds. I put it in just enough to warm it, being careful not to get it too hot. Then I place the warm cloth on the wound before I bandage it. My kids call it mom’s special cloth.  Chantel

Creative Home Decor
I got this idea from watching a movie. They had taken those little cheap acrylic box frames and filled them with different things, including dried flowers and a collection of buttons. Just use your hot glue gun to arrange the items attractively. You can set the acrylic box on an end table or hang on the wall for instant decor. Caleigh

Kitchen Charging Station
I like to charge my phone while I’m cooking dinner, but I was always afraid that I’d spill something on it. I took one drawer and set it up as a charging station. I drilled a hole in the back of the drawer and ran a power cord through it. The cord belongs to a power strip, so I can charge more than one thing at a time. Now when I get home, I pop my phone on the charger. If I happen to get a call, it’s easy to pull it from the drawer. I have no more worries about spilling something on it or taking up needed counter space.  Adele

DIY Workouts
One thing I didn’t like about gym workouts and classes was they became routine quickly. I hate boring. Now I look for different workouts on Some are good and some aren’t. I choose the best ones and do them for a week or two until I get bored. Then I look for a new one. Not only does it keep my enthusiasm up, but it also keeps me from overlooking any part of my body. Julian

Affordable Fine Silver
When we got married, I wanted fancy silverware for special occasions, but we couldn’t afford to buy it new and no one gave us any as a wedding present. Then I happened to go to an estate sale that had some. I got a beautiful old set for a fraction of what it would have cost new at the store. When I used it the first time, one of my friends asked me how we could afford such fancy tableware. Renee

Easy Clean Paintbrushes
Having a good quality paintbrush makes the job go much easier, and if you clean them thoroughly, they’ll last for years. But even with water-based paints, sometimes it’s hard to really get them clean. A professional painter told me his secret. After he washes his brushes, he rubs them with hair conditioner. Then he washes them a second time. The conditioner helps the brush shed the paint. Using this trick, I have brushes that I’ve used for many projects, and they’re still like new. Emily

Making Really Great Coffee
I work in a coffee shop and this is a frequent complaint from our customers. They buy a bag of a coffee they had in the store and loved, only to find that it doesn’t taste the same at home. There are several possible reasons for this. First, we only use filtered water when making coffee at the shop. Tap water can ruin the flavor of good coffee. Second, we grind the coffee right before we brew it, so it maintains as much flavor as possible. The longer the time between grinding and brewing, the less flavor in the coffee. We also store our beans in opaque, tightly sealed bags with all the air forced out and in a dark, cool place. Light and air exposure can alter the taste of the beans (and you should never store coffee in the freezer). Also, if you buy your coffee from a coffee shop, I would suggest asking the baristas for any tips they might have. We’re very friendly and we usually know quite a bit. Elise

Outrageous Vet Bills
I worked for a vet clinic for close to two years and I saw some unbelievable bills for sick animals. My suggestions may be common sense, but sometimes it’s hard to think about these things when your animal is sick. Make sure you know exactly what the vet is doing for your animal. Ask for an itemized statement if they don’t give you one automatically. Check to see if any medications the vet wants to send for your animal are available at your local pharmacy. Compare prices on the medications. Sometimes the pharmacy will be cheaper. Make sure to tell the vet when you go in you only want done to the animal what has to be done. Sometimes they will want to do a stool check or something that is unnecessary at the time. These items can end up costing a fortune. Finally, unless you really like your current vet, check around for prices at other clinics. You would be surprised at the difference in cost. Stacey

Winter Hair
I have a solution for dry winter, “fly away” hair. When I wash my hairbrush, I soak it in a glass of water with a few drops of fabric softener added. It’s simple to do and the results are wonderful. Eve

Fabric Softener Stretcher
You can stretch your liquid fabric softener. Just mix it half and half with white vinegar. The vinegar cuts down on odors and reduces static cling. And, it’s much cheaper than fabric softener. Judy

Cheaper Kitty Litter
My daughter has many cats and uses horse bedding as cat litter. It is scoopable, economical, and 100 percent biodegradable. It consists of natural wood fibers. She purchases 40-pound bags at a grain and feed store for under $10. A.

The Ultimate Packing Mistake
I read that the airlines lose over 20 million bags each year. So I never pack valuables or my medications in any bag that I check. I’m sure that they ‘find’ almost all of the bags, but I’m much more comfortable knowing that I have the important stuff right with me. Glenna

Heat Habits
I like to keep the heat set no higher than 70 degrees during the winter, but my kids were turning it up continually. When I challenged them, they said that they forgot. So I put a sticky note on the thermostat reminding them that 70 is the heat limit. It worked all last winter, and so far, it’s working this winter, too.

Natural Oven Cleaning
Here’s a quick, easy, natural way to clean your oven without nasty chemicals. Use water and baking soda to make a paste. Rub it all over the oven walls and door. Then close the oven and run it for 15 minutes at 200 degrees. Once it cools down, you can wipe it clean. In rare cases, a second application may be needed, but unless something is really baked on, once has been enough for me. Darlene

Sewing Specials
After Christmas is a great time to buy themed cloth and remnants. If you sew, you can buy discounted fabric to make table cloths and runners for the mantle or your buffet. Remnants are excellent for napkins and cloth gift bags. Don’t forget to see if they have any holiday ribbon on sale. Whether you use it on a sewing project or just save it for packages next December, you’ll be glad you bought it now. Ronnie

Cheap Date Nights
When my husband and I were first married (29 years ago), we had game night for the two of us. I bought complete board games at Goodwill, or we asked for them for gifting occasions. We looked forward to a night of Yahtzee. I know it sounds silly, but it was fun. We even wrote high scores and dates on the inside of the box lid. We love looking at that now and remembering those “frugal days” and how it helped us grow together. Dona

Under Arm Stains
My teenaged boys leave sweat stains on their white t-shirts. I wash with hot water, but they often come out with yellowish underarm stains. Then I started treating the stains with one part baking soda, one part hydrogen peroxide, and one part water. I mix up the three ingredients. About 1/4 cup of each is just right for one shirt. I put an old white towel under the t-shirt and run the solution into the stain. I have a small fingernail brush that I use if the stain is particularly bad. I let it sit for 30 minutes or so and then wash with the other whites. Debi

Reducing the Cost of Craft Beers
My wife and I used to be regulars at the local brew pub. We both enjoy craft beers. But until we get our student loans paid, we decided to try to cut back on any unnecessary spending. We didn’t want to give up enjoying craft beers, so we came up with a different strategy. Fortunately, we found a shop that carries a very large number of microbrews. My wife and I select a couple and take them home. We set aside an evening, turn the lights down, and put on some music. Frosted beer glasses are in the freezer waiting for us. We don’t have the selection we had at the brew pub, but we only spend about a quarter of what we would before.  Mike

Ready for Big Bills
Big bills like for a major car repair or our annual property taxes always were a problem. We never had enough in savings and ended up putting it on a credit card. Then we struggled to pay that off for months. Then we decided to expect these big bills. We started with our property taxes. Each month we save 1/12th of last year’s tax bill and put it into an interest bearing checking account. We commit to not touching the money for anything except paying our taxes. That worked so well that we added our auto and home insurance. Now each month we save for those things as well as for major appliances (washer, dryer, stove, fridge, AC, furnace). We think that we’ll need a new roof in a few years. I think I know how we’ll be ready for it. The best part is that by going into this gradually we never missed the money. We put it in the special checking account on the first of the month and always managed to get to the end of the month with a few dollars left in our pocket and purse. The second best part is the lack of credit card debt. Rich
Easy Silver Cleaning
Here’s a super easy way to clean your silver. Just put aluminum foil in a bowl with the shiny side up. Add a couple of teaspoons of baking soda and boiling water. Add any silver you want cleaned. Wait half an hour and your silver will sparkle. Luna

Unfreezing Car Door Locks
Winter’s here. In northern Minnesota, that means frozen car door locks, especially when the car is parked outside. I spray the lock and the latching mechanism with WD-40® when I get home for the night. I keep a can in the cup holder, so I don’t forget. Dan

Just Enough Warmth
We turn our electric blanket on 30 minutes before we go to bed. When we get there, it’s nice and toasty. But, we turn it off when we climb into bed. In a few minutes, our body heat is all we need under our big blankets. There’s no need to use electricity all night. Hanileah

Finding Quality Shoes for Less
For the most part, you really do get what you pay for. It might be worth it to look at this as an investment in your well-being. I like shopping on because they offer free returns, which is a good thing if you’re hard to fit. Otherwise, if you’re not squeamish, perhaps you can try checking in consignment shops that sell high-quality designer brands for lower prices. Dana

Easy Draft Dodgers
I’m sure that everyone knows about the draft dodgers that can be placed on the floor in front of outside doors to prevent drafts. I didn’t want to buy them and I don’t know how to sew. So, I found old pillowcases that matched the color of the room. I stuffed them with old t-shirt rags. I tied ribbon around them every six inches. I left an end to the ribbon that I could tack to the door, so the draft dodger moved with the door when it opened. When one gets dirty, I just toss it into the washer and dryer. No sewing required. Alice

Spending Addiction
I had a problem controlling my spending. My mother taught me a way to combat this and it has never failed me in 30 years. Before I leave the house, I figure out how much money it is going to cost me for the day. For example, if I think it will cost me $100 at the grocery store, $50 at the drug store and $20 at the gas station, I take only $170, plus enough money to make an emergency phone call if necessary. I leave all of my credit cards and my checkbook at home, so I do not have any extra money on me. It takes a while to learn how to estimate expenses correctly. The last thing that I want is to over-estimate my expenses. If I do so every time, I am defeating my purpose. If I can follow this simple rule, anyone can. It sure worked for me. Terry H.

No Gym for Me
Last January, I decided that I needed to get more exercise. I was going to get a gym membership and then it occurred to me that I had a bunch of jobs that needed doing around our house that I had been putting off. Now, instead of hiring a neighborhood teen to shovel my sidewalk, I do it myself. When spring comes, there will be a number of outdoor projects I can take on. During the winter, there are plenty of things that I can do inside that will help my wife. I probably still need to do some cardio, but it’s surprising how many muscles are used when working around the house. Jim

Party Punch
Each year, we throw a New Year’s party. Instead of serving mixed drinks, we have a large punchbowl. I mix the punch the day before. I pour it into gallon water jugs I’ve saved. I also make some ice floats with various containers I’ve saved. To make sure that they don’t dilute the punch, I make the floats out of punch. During the party, it’s easy to keep the punch flowing. All I have to do is keep the bowl full. Happy New Year Ronny

Before You Toss the Packaging
Every spring, I have a garage sale. Among the things that I sell are the toys that my kids have outgrown. I quickly found out that it’s much easier to sell toys if they have the original packaging. So each Christmas I save the boxes that toys come in. I stack them in the garage until it’s time to offer that toy in our spring sale. You’d be surprised how much more boxed toys bring. Louise

Cheaper Lunchmeat
The simplest way to beat the deli lunchmeat counter is to cook a roast yourself and then slice it and freeze in portions suitable for a day or two of sandwiches. This need not be a big job. Either buy a larger roast when you are cooking one anyway, or buy a smaller extra one and put it in the oven or slow cooker at any convenient time. If you buy beef one week, ham the next and so forth, you will soon have a good selection in the freezer. The bonus is that home-cooked roasts do not have the added water and salt of deli meats, so you get more for your money and healthier food as well. Also consider interesting non-meat sandwiches, such as hummus with lettuce and tomato. Make your own hummus in minutes with a can of chickpeas, a little lemon juice, olive oil, and seasonings of your choice.
Barbara in CT

Getting Another Opinion

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

Getting Another Opinion
This time of year it’s hard not to see ads that encourage you to buy or ask for something as a gift. I’ve found an antidote. When something catches my attention, I search out sites that include negative reviews of the product. Often that’s enough to turn me off on the product. Loreen

Super Scramble
My husband and I like scrambled eggs. Since the kids are all gone, we only use milk for eggs, and often it would go bad before we used it all. Then one day when I didn’t have milk, I tried using dry milk. It worked perfectly. In fact, it might even be better. Unlike regular milk, it doesn’t separate when I cook the eggs. Amber

Fly Away Hair
During the winter, my hair tends to get dry and doesn’t hold well. I hate using a lot of hairspray, so I found another way to keep my hair under control. Once a week, I soak my hairbrush in water that’s had a few drops of fabric softener added to it. I let it dry without rinsing. It’s amazing how something so simple can help control my hair. Amanda

Ditch the Paper
With three toddlers in the house, it’s easy to reach for a paper towel every time something gets spilled. I was going through a lot of paper towels. Finally, I took my sister’s advice and bought some old cloth diapers. They’re super absorbent, and I can use bleach or whatever I want to get them clean. And, I think I can wash them 1000 times before they wear out.  Leila

I’m a Paid Cook
Some nights I’m not motivated to cook dinner for my family. I found a way to make it easier. If I’m making lasagna, I figure out what we would pay if all four of us went to a restaurant and had it. It would probably be somewhere around $50. So I look at it as if I’ve saved that money for my family. Knowing that I’m putting us closer to paying off our credit cards makes me feel much better.

Protect Your Carpet
We like a live Christmas tree but don’t want to take a chance that we’ll damage our living room carpet. So we bought one of those plastic trays that are used under a washing machine. We put the tree stand on top and any spills are contained in the tray. Then we use a big old table cloth on top of the stand that catches any needles and sap. Between the two, we enjoy our tree and never need to worry about our carpet. Rick

Save the Hot Air
Everyone knows that hot air rises. Therefore, it’s warmer near the ceiling than near the floor where you typically stand or sit. The solution? Turn on your ceiling fan. Just make sure that you change direction and have it run in a clockwise direction. Most fans have a small switch near the base that determines its direction. There’s no reason to heat your ceiling. Push all that hot air down to where you are. Jeena

Clothes Dryer Maintenance
During the summer, we try to line-dry our clothes, but winter weather changes all that. Therefore, I do an annual clothes dryer maintenance. I unplug it and turn off the gas. Then I take off the top and front. There are only a couple of screws holding them on. Next, I check the drive belt for any cracks. I apply some belt dressing that I get from my auto parts store. Then using my shop vac, I clean out all the traps and airways. You’d be surprised how much lint collects in a year. After I reassemble it, the dryer runs like new and much more efficiently than if it was still full of lint. Chad

Winter Lawn Tool Storage
I saw a great tip for storing rakes, shovels, etc. on a do-it-yourself show. You need a length of heavy-duty chain, some “S” hooks, and some eye screws. Simply insert the eye screws into the top of the handles of the tools. Then, hang the chain from a stud in the ceiling and place the “S” hooks down the chain. Hook the tools on the “S” hooks. You can store a lot of tools in a relatively small amount of space. Julie

Breakfast to Go
Since there are days that I don’t have time to make a nutritious breakfast, I always keep a batch of quiche muffins in the freezer. They’re so easy to make. I just mix four eggs and a handful of onions, peppers, spinach, cheese, bacon, or whatever I like at the moment in a bowl. Then I pour it into greased muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. After they cool, I can keep them in the fridge for days or freeze them and take them out as I need them. It beats grabbing a toaster pastry. Sharon

Winterizing Your Grill
Most of us are finished grilling for the year. I like to take a few minutes to winterize my gas grill before I put it away. I begin by wrapping the grill surface with foil and then turning the burners on full blast for about 15 minutes. That pretty much vaporizes anything left on the grill. Once it cools, I dust it off and coat it with cooking spray. I then remove the gas tank and store it in the shed away from the house. The grill goes into the garage for the winter. Kris

Think Outside the Gift Box
This time of year, a lot of stores offer bonus gift cards when gift cards are bought. We don’t have a lot of people that we give gifts to, so normally we wouldn’t be buying gift cards. However, when a store or restaurant where we go frequently offers a deal, we buy them for ourselves. For instance, last Christmas, one store offered a $25 card if we bought one for $100. We used it when we needed a new microwave oven. They had a model we liked on sale. Besides the sale price, we got an additional 25 percent off because of the gift card bonus. One other benefit is that it’s a little like having a small savings account. We set aside the money now, so it’ll be a little easier on the wallet in the future. Alissa

Christmas Lights and WIFI
If it seems like your WIFI signal at home isn’t as strong/quick as it usually is, it could be Christmas lights are creating interference. If that’s the case, move your router to a circuit on the other side of the house.  Ben

Those Bits of Leftovers
I’m sure that everyone has heard about using those little bits of leftovers to make soup, but here’s another idea. Use them in a stir-fry. With a little oil and seasoning plus some rice, you have a completely different dinner. Lorie

Make Your Dryer More Efficient
If you use fabric softener sheets, you could be making your dryer less efficient. They leave a coating on your lint screen that attracts lint. Along with cleaning the lint trap, you should take it out and wash it with soap and water on a regular basis. Clark

Party Time
We love family gatherings and parties. One thing that always used to happen was we’d run out of ice, so a few of us got in the habit of emptying our ice makers into a small thermal ice chest. It doesn’t cost anything and has saved us many trips to buy a bag of ice. Julie

Gifts for Seniors
Most elderly people don’t need more stuff. They’re busy trying to simplify their lives, not make them more difficult. So what can you get them for Christmas? Try a gift card for their favorite grocery store or restaurant. Or arrange for someone to come in and clean for them once a month.  Dianne

Winter Comfort
We can’t afford a humidifier to fight the dry winter air in our house, so I do the next best thing. Each day I put a stockpot full of water on the stove. I bring it to a boil and then back it down to warm. All through the day, it adds water to the air. Since we spend a lot of time in the kitchen and our family room is right next to the kitchen, it works wonderfully. Kathi

Free Wreath
Last October, my husband lost his job, so Christmas was going to be on the cheap. We had a few strings of outdoor lights, but I wanted something for our front door. I had to come up with something creative. I noticed that Christmas tree sellers often were throwing out limbs from the trees. I asked if I could have a few. They were glad to give them to me for no charge. At home, I fashioned a circle with old coat hangers. To that, I tied pieces of the tree branches. Pretty soon I had a wonderful natural wreath. After adding a bow with some ribbon I had, I hung it on the door. A no-cost wreath. Dotty

Our Christmas Club
Each year, I like to challenge my family for the holidays. This year, we’re all giving up soda for the month of December. Instead we’re drinking water from the faucet (although we are using one of those Brita filters). We’ll take the money that we save and use it for a contribution to our local homeless shelter. It feels good to be giving something of ourselves. Watching my kids tally up how much we’re saving is priceless. Debbi

Living With Clutter
My mom had a “slob box,” which was a box in her closet where she put items we left where they didn’t belong. When looking for something we left lying around, we would ask her if she knew where it was and she would many times reply “in the slob box.” To get our item back, we had to do a chore. When I was a kid, it was by far one of the lamest things ever. However, over 20 years later, I can’t wait for my kids to get old enough so I can have my own slob box. Becky

Credit Limit Gotcha
My wife and I were about to ask the credit card company to lower our credit limit. We didn’t want to run the risk of adding to the amount that we already owe and thought that would be a way to prevent it. But then we realized that could hurt our credit score. Part of the score is what percentage of available credit we have used. Therefore, lowering the amount available would make it look worse. We decided on another way to prevent spending. We leave our cards at home and only take them with us for spending that’s planned and in our budget. Zack

Drafty Home
We live in an old farmhouse. Over the years, it’s been modified and improved many times. But, it’s always been drafty and cold in the winter. Last month, I took a candle and used it to find drafts. I turned off the furnace and fan and closed all the windows and outside doors. Then I lit a candle and walked slowly along the outside walls of the house. When the flame stayed calm, I knew there was no draft. But if it danced, I knew I probably had a draft that I could caulk or stop with insulation. It’s a low tech method, but it works well. Erin

Natural Fever Blister Fix

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Natural Fever Blister Fix
Last winter, I found the perfect natural fever blister fix. It’s honey. When I feel a blister or cold sore coming on, I put a dab of honey on the spot. This prevents the blister or sore. And, if I already have one, it shortens the duration.Justine

Teacher Gifts
Every year students bring me gifts for Christmas. I’m grateful for the gifts, but I honestly don’t need another “#1 Teacher” coffee mug. I’d much rather if they brought in some school supplies or a box of tissues. Every year I buy those things myself, so any that I don’t have to buy saves me money. It is just a thought.

Over 65 Eye Exams
Many seniors don’t have insurance to cover eye exams. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has a program through that can provide a free exam for seniors without insurance who haven’t had an exam in the last three years. You can see if you qualify on their site. Lucille

Toy Gifts
Before you hit Black Friday or start shopping online, spend some time on Craigslist or thrift stores. You’d be surprised how many people give away toys this time of year. Many of them are in nearly perfect condition. My kids would rather have two or three used toys than one new one. With our budget being tight, that’s the exact choice I face, so I’ll be watching Craigslist closely for the next few weeks. Ashleigh

Instead of a Fire Pit
We decided that as much as we loved outdoor fire pits, we found we were limited to how often we could burn due to the level of wind. We decided to put a small wood burning stove with a long smoke stack outside to have year-round contained fireside enjoyment without the worry of the wind blowing. We placed some reduced ceramic tile we picked up at Lowe’s in a unique design pattern on the patio and placed the little black stove on top. We are now the talk of the neighborhood. Everyone loves the stove idea and it’s great to stand around after working in the yard on a bitter cold day to warm hands and feet. Susan W.

Make Cooking Easy
I used to keep all of my homemade bread ingredients in different places around my kitchen and pantry. Making bread became a hassle. I put some thought into it and now have a baking section under my big dough rising towel in the least stressed corner of my kitchen. It’s so much easier now to bake bread and other goodies each week. I wish I had done this years ago. Glenda

Great Entertainment for Less
We love to entertain our friends, but dinner for six or eight was stretching our budget. Then we decided to time shift. Instead of Friday or Saturday night dinner, now we do Saturday or Sunday breakfast. Almost anything we do (French toast, waffles, pancakes, eggs, bagels) is cheaper than a dinner menu. And being breakfast, there’s no need for a couple of bottles of wine. We still get to see our friends and visit just like before, but now the cost of hosting is a fraction of what we were spending. Josh

How I Got Out of Debt
Last fall, I was facing a debt problem, so I got a part-time job at a local retail store. I worked every hour I could get and every dollar I earned went to reducing debt. Not only was that a big help, but also because I was so busy, I spent a lot less on the holidays. Friends and relatives knew that I was too busy to shop, so they didn’t mind that I shorted them on presents. I’m in much better shape this year, but I’m going to work ahead to finish off repaying those debts that remain. Aubrey

The Cook Isn’t Feeling Well
My husband and I both cook for our family, but it seems if one of us is sick, the other has all they can do to care for the kids, etc. without cooking dinner. For a few days, the budget gets blown on fast food and pizza. I’ve decided this winter is going to be different. I’ve made a few freezer meals that we can quickly prepare when one of us is sick. It wasn’t hard to do. I just doubled up on some recipes over the last month. They are mostly casseroles and soups. Ginny

Before You Reserve a Hotel
Hotels have gotten smart. They know that most of us are using various sites and apps to compare prices. So they’ve lowered their “price” but added extra mandatory fees that you don’t see until your get there and register. Recently I got hit with a “housekeeping” fee. I’ve read that some have concierge and resort fees, too. Next time I’m going to use the comparison site to identify the three cheapest hotels. Then I’ll call each one and ask about any extra mandatory fees and taxes before reserving a room. I think I’ll also ask about any discounts I could get. Luke

Custom Christmas Gifts
My daughter is crafty and wanted to do something for her friends this Christmas. She couldn’t spend a lot of money, so whatever she came up with had to be low cost. I love the idea that she’s working on now. She bought some of those white 2’ x 4’ ceiling tiles at Lowe’s. She cut them into smaller 2’ x 2’ pieces. She’s using them to make customized bulletin boards for her friends. Using stencils she found on the Internet, she’s putting her friend’s name on the board with acrylic paints that she already has from other projects. On some, she’s stapled pictures of things that the person loves. She’s also added pictures of her friend and others from their group. It’s costing her almost nothing, and it is so personal. Simon

Easy, Inexpensive Bed Warmer
Each winter I take a flat piece of fleece and place it under the bottom sheet on my bed. You’d be surprised how much warmer it is. It’s cheap and doesn’t require any sewing. Too easy. Seleena

Large Gift Wrapping
My 5-year-old is getting a bike for Christmas. I want to wrap it, but the paper would cost more than the bike. I’m heading down to a dollar store and buying a cheap tablecloth. It’s big enough and cheap enough. Marianne

Custom Gift Tags
All year long, I’ve taken pictures of my kids. Now it’s time to take them off my phone and print them. I will use the prints as gift tags on their Christmas presents. This should make Christmas morning a little more interesting. Giselle

Natural Stomach Relief
We don’t bother with Rolaids® or Tums® in our house. Instead we use a natural solution when we get an upset stomach. We put half of a teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water. Stir it until the baking soda dissolves. Then drink it down. It tastes bad, but it does a great job on that tummy. Lina

Shower Door Solution
I hate it when my glass shower enclosure gets cloudy with soap scum. I tried all kinds of products without liking any of them. Finally a friend suggested I use hair conditioner. I put a little onto my shower sponge and wipe it over the glass. After a few minutes, I wipe off any excess. The water (and soap scum) just sheet right off the glass now.  Tanya

Making Christmas Grocery Shopping Affordable
Our grocery budget is always tight around the holidays, so I take the month of December as an opportunity to use as much as I can from my pantry and freezer. Sometimes that means searching for recipes that use what I have. Not only do I manage to cut my grocery bill down, but I also use a lot of food that would otherwise be forgotten and go to waste.

Eliminating Stuff
It’s been an on-going project, but my wife and I have digitized all of our financial records, music, and books. We used a scanning service for the books. We had hundreds of books, thousands of CDs, and four file cabinets filled with paper. It all now fits easily on a thumb drive. Since all of our family pictures, documents, and history are scanned, I can easily provide copies of everything to anyone in the family who wants them. And, it doesn’t take up any space in their house. My father moved from a 3,000 sq. ft. house to a 600 sq. ft. retirement apartment, and it was an inspiration watching him do that.  Rick

Ready to Entertain
I clean houses for a living. One thing I’ve noticed is that people tend to believe a house is clean if it smells clean. Therefore, when I’m cleaning a house, I make sure it smells clean. I choose an essential oil that the client likes. I place a few drops in the kitchen and bathroom drains. Then I put a little on paper towels and place them in the wastebaskets. When I’m entertaining at home, I do the same thing before guests arrive. They always think I’ve cleaned the house just for them.Alexandra

Being Conspicuously Thrifty
The best way to be thrifty and envied for it is to learn how to be “self-sufficient.” My father was a dentist and a hobby rancher. His goal was always to do, fix, build, grow, maintain, and preserve everything about the family’s life. By doing this, he was able to amass a considerable estate before he died. I think many of our seniors learned this from the Depression and the uncertainty of the future. In today’s world, it seems everyone wants to be rich but has little interest in putting forth the effort and time to learn it and earn it. Most people do envy the person who is a “can do” individual. Ralph

Memorable Gift
My grandma was known for her cooking. This year, I’m going to do something for my sisters and girl cousins. My mom had grandma’s cookbook. She used recipe cards, mostly in her own handwriting. I’ve made copies of some and put them on a poster board. I’ll frame them and give them this Christmas. They make an excellent wall hanging for the kitchen or family room. And it’s a great reminder to cook the way grandma did at least occasionally. Alicia

An Overspending Mate
The most important method I used to convert a spender was to set specific goals for our money. It was very hard for my wife to save money just for fun. However, once we set goals, it was much easier. We wanted to have a house and for her to stay at home with our son. We established a budget with flexibility where she wanted it (some dinners out, trips to family, etc.). She had full input into the goals and budget. Then we tracked the budget over two months. We saw where our $7 lunch here and there really added up. I was very supportive of my wife. I didn’t look over her shoulder or second-guess her decisions. I just kept our goal in front of her and showed our progress. This worked for us.
I would sit down with your husband in a non-threatening setting. Talk to him about your short- and long-term goals (not just financial). Let him talk about his goals. Ask open and closed ended questions to help him explore the future he wants. Write all this down. Create a list with your goals combined and set an amount for each. This will shape your budget. Involve your husband in the monthly budget summary. Show him the successes. John

Before Bed

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Before Bed
I like a warm bed, so I turn my electric blanket on 30 minutes before going to bed. I can often turn it lower or even off when I crawl under the covers. This saves a little on the electric bill. Sarah

Why Not Reuse Them
Around the holidays, many of us use those foil pans to cook turkeys or other dishes. I used to throw them away, but now I wash them and reuse them. I’ve found that they’re great for casseroles, too. Angela

Stale Smelling Suitcases
Since we don’t travel often, our suitcases take on a musty smell. I have a solution. I just keep a dryer sheet in each one while they’re stored in the basement. When I’m ready to use them, there’s no musty smell. Jeanie

Simple Stain Solution
A $1 bar of Fels-Naptha goes a long way to removing stains. I’ve even had it remove set-in stains from my work shirts. It has also even restored a young friend’s ruined school clothes. I keep a bar and a veggie peeler by the washer. I just scrape a few curls into the washer before I load in the clothes. Tabatha

Entertaining for Less
We love to go out with friends, but meeting at a restaurant for dinner can be pricey. We now suggest other activities. We go to museums when they have a free admission day, watch school or little league baseball games, and share cheese, crackers, and a bottle of wine in the country. We keep finding more ideas and our friends love it. Mariah

Computer Getting Slow
I just sped up my computer by removing some software that came pre-installed. There were some games and toolbars that I never use. Finally I decided to take the time to uninstall them. When I did, I found that my laptop booted faster and ran better. Who knew? So if there’s stuff on your desktop that you didn’t put there, consider spending a little time removing the unwanted stuff. David

Poster Perfect
My son likes to decorate his room with posters. We couldn’t afford to frame them, and I didn’t want to fill his room with thumbtack holes. Then we came up with the idea of using painter’s tape. We bought the wider tape that’s two inches. Then we framed the poster with the tape, putting half of the tape on the poster and half on the wall. We trimmed the corners to make it look neat. The tape holds the poster in place, but won’t leave any marks on the poster or the wall when we take it down. It’s a perfect solution. Taylor

Thanksgiving Pie
What do you do with Thanksgiving leftovers? After a day or two, everyone in my household is tired of turkey. I buy a couple of pre-made pie shells before Thanksgiving. After dinner, I cut up some turkey, some string beans, and anything else that would go into a turkey potpie. I add a can of cream of mushroom soup and use the second pie shell for the top. Here’s the key. I put it in the freezer. In a couple of weeks when I’m busy with Christmas stuff, I can pull out a potpie and heat it in the oven. Instant dinner. Bella

Cleaner Carpets
I like to spot clean my carpets before holiday entertaining. I’ve found an easy way to get the job done. Using the old steam iron my mom gave me, I set it on steam. I don’t touch the carpet. Instead, I just spray some steam on the stain. Then I blot with a white towel and most stains disappear. For more stubborn stains (like those that have been on the carpet for a while), I spritz some white vinegar on the stain and blot it.  Nadine

More Kitchen Storage Space
The best way to double (or triple) your kitchen storage space is to use the “dead space” that’s already there. In the kitchen, I’ve added cup hooks to the undersides of the cabinets and those handy, expandable shelves to give myself two surfaces instead of one. All of my dish and pantry storage is double-decker. Another kitchen space saver is to buy drinking glasses that stack; IKEA sells them very inexpensively. Drawer dividers organize utensils most efficiently. If you have a broom closet somewhere (even if it isn’t in the kitchen), consider adding shelves to it to make pantry storage. I keep overflow canned goods and staples in a plastic bin in my basement.

Building a Business Casual Wardrobe
A good way to build a basic “business casual” wardrobe is to stick to one neutral color of slacks or skirts and then add the visual interest with a few tops and a couple of jackets or cardigans.
The same basic black pencil skirt or slacks looks totally different when worn with various blouses. Pairing them with a finishing piece (maybe a jacket or cardigan) gives you even more variety and makes you seem more put-together. Don’t forget accessories. One bag and one good pair of shoes in your neutral color and a few pieces of jewelry will suffice.
Spend your money on quality bottoms, which take the most wear and tear, and save on the tops. Search out sales, clearance, consignment shops, and thrift shops. With just a couple of bottoms, five tops, and a couple of jackets, along with a few accessories, you have a good, basic wardrobe that you can always build on later. Diva

Homemade After Shave

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Homemade After Shave
I made my husband a custom after shave lotion. You can, too. Fill an empty bottle a quarter full with rubbing alcohol and then water until completely full. Add a touch of cologne or essential oil to the mix and shake. It’s easy. I’m thinking of making some for the men on my Christmas list. Marianne

Natural Beauty Secret
It seems like I’ve always struggled with skin care. Finally I asked a friend who has flawless skin her secret. She laughed and said that I wouldn’t believe it. She uses baking soda as an exfoliant. Twice a week, I mix baking soda and water to make a paste. I rub it on my face, neck, and arms. Then take a shower. In just a few weeks, my skin was silky smooth. Lauren

Easy, Peasey Decorating
Want to give a room a new look but have only a few dollars to spend? Do what I did. Visit home decorating sites online and then your paint store. You don’t even need to paint the whole room to get a totally new feel. Just painting one wall in an accent color can make a huge difference. Or paint the bottom three feet of every wall a contrasting color. You might want to divide the upper and bottom colors with a wooden chair rail or one-inch stripe in a third coordinating color. For $50, you can get a whole new look for your room. Genevieve

Better DIY Rain Barrels
Living in Florida, we get some very heavy rains. I use rain barrels to catch the water from my roof to use in my garden, but sometimes in a big rain, they overflow. Since they’re right next to my house, all that water could erode my foundation. I decided to put an overflow drain into each rain barrel. About one inch from the top, I added a PVC drain that’s always open. Connected to it is an old section of hose that takes the water about eight feet from my house. Any time that the water gets to that one inch level, it just flows out the top drain and away from the house.  Ethan

Midnight Trash Inspectors
Raccoons were tipping over our trash cans and tearing open the bags that contained any food scraps. I got tired of sweeping up the mess and decided to do something about it. I knew that animals tended to mark their territory with urine. Since we don’t have a dog, I did the next best thing. I sprinkled some ammonia over the trash bags and around the trash cans. I re-sprinkle both each week. So far, it’s kept the little critters away. Lenora

Personalized Holiday Gift
Here’s a simple craft that makes a wonderful Christmas gift. I buy plates with a white background at the thrift or dollar store. Then I take a black Sharpie and write a saying that reflects the person who will get it. I like to use something that talks about helping others if they’re a giver or being a good parent, etc. After I’ve written what I want, I put it in a 150 degree oven for 30 minutes. That bakes the words into the plate. I add a hook on the back to make it easy to hang in their kitchen or hallway. Total cost? It’s usually less than $2 each. Sherilee

Ordering Gifts Online
There have been robberies in our subdivision. They drive around and look for packages that are sitting on doorsteps and porches because no one was home to take delivery. I plan on doing most of my Christmas shopping online, so I contacted my police department for some solutions. They suggested that I could have the packages delivered to a retired neighbor’s house or see if I could have packages delivered at work. Another option would be to rent an address at one of those mailing places for the month. Finally, if none of that works, they suggested that I could always set up a video camera to record what happens on my porch. I might not prevent the robbery, but I would increase the chance of catching the robbers. Joanie

“Instant” Oatmeal
My family didn’t like the flavor of microwave instant oatmeal and always wanted me to make it the old-fashioned way. However, some mornings that’s not possible. Then I learned a trick. I had some leftover oatmeal one morning after breakfast. I put it in a container in the fridge. The next day I wanted a snack and remembered that I had it. I reheated it in the microwave with a little milk. It tasted just like I had cooked it fresh on the stovetop. So now I make a little extra and store it as individual servings. When one of the kids needs a snack or has an early morning, they can have their oatmeal in just a minute. Medina

Token Gifts
I have several people that I like to give at least a token gift each year (mail carrier, beautician, library assistant), but even token gifts can add up to a major expense. This time of year, I begin to buy one $10 or $15 gift card each week or so from a place that is used by most, has no fees or expiration associated with the gift cards, and is handy for me to stop by. For me, that’s a national gas station chain. I place those cards safely in a drawer until I see each intended recipient. Then I pop each card into a greeting card with a small note expressing my appreciation for the person’s service. To make my token gifts even easier for me and possibly more meaningful for the recipients, I tend to give them around Thanksgiving rather than Christmas. One bonus is that should the person no longer work at the place I use, I have not lost any money. I simple make use of the card myself for its full face value. JD in St Louis

Christmas Candy Now

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

Christmas Candy Now
Right after Halloween is a great time to stock up on Christmas candy. Just choose bags where the individual wrappers aren’t Halloween themed. I put a few bags in my freezer and have plenty for holiday gatherings and visitors. Shaunna

Shaving Secrets
I like to use regular hand lotion when I shave. It lubricates and moisturizes my face. Occasionally, I’ll use a skin conditioning lotion that contains the fragrance of my favorite cologne. If you prefer the soapy lather, you can simply work up lather in your hands using regular bar soap and hot water. Soaps that contain lotion are particularly nice. Vance

Frugal Foaming Hand Cleaner
Everyone knows that you can make your own foaming cleaner by mixing liquid soap and water, but I found out that I can use cheap shampoo in place of the liquid soap and save even more. I can buy a large, inexpensive bottle of shampoo for less than the refill bottles of liquid soap. When I travel, I bring home those small bottles of shampoo that the hotel provides. One of those small bottles is just about the right amount to mix with water for the average foaming dispenser. Helena

Free Firewood
There’s a lot of new construction in our area. I’ve gotten in the habit of driving through these neighborhoods. I look for piles of scrap lumber that are waiting to be hauled away. If I ask the construction foreman, they’re usually happy to let me take any pieces that I want. I’m careful not to leave a mess. I don’t take any pressure treated, but 2x4s can be easily cut to a length that fits into my fireplace. I also find a lot of smaller pieces that are good for a wood cook stove that I have in my garage. Peter

Love My Oats
I use quick oats for more than breakfast. I add them uncooked to ground beef before I make burgers, meatloaf, or spaghetti sauce. Not only do they stretch the meat, but also they help ground meat hold together while it’s being cooked. I also add some oats to my bread recipes, especially banana nut. When I happened to mention that to a nurse friend, she told me that the oats probably help to keep my cholesterol down, which is an added bonus. Lena

Organizing Spices
For years, I had a shelf in the cabinet with my spices. Any time I wanted to try a new recipe, I dug through the shelf to see if I had the spices I’d need. And if I found them, I was never sure if the spice was beyond its date code. Finally I decided to get organized. I saved three small boxes. Each one holds part of my spice inventory. I can easily take out a box and find a needed spice. Each spice is marked with the date it was purchased. Now I can quickly see what I have and whether it’s still good. I will no longer buy duplicates because I don’t know what I have. Celeste

Cooking for One...Not
I’m divorced, and my kids are grown. I got tired of cooking just for myself or buying microwave dinners. Then I had an idea. Two friends and I meet for coffee once a week. I suggested that we cook for each other. Now I cook once a week for three people. I choose casseroles and other dishes that can be partially cooked and then finished later. For most, when they’re about 75 percent done, I remove two portions and put them in plastic containers for my friends. These containers go into the refrigerator until we meet for coffee. The meals I get from them only take a few minutes in the oven or microwave. Now I’m getting a healthy meal at a fraction of what the microwave dinners were costing me. Lucille

Next Year’s Garden
Most of us are putting our gardens to bed for the winter. One step that makes the work much easier next spring is to spread weed mat or old newspapers over the garden once it’s cleared of old plants. The weed mat will prevent weeds from taking hold that will need to be pulled before preparing the soil. This past spring, I just poked holes in the weed mat and planted through the holes. This made weeding much easier all summer long. Cory

Dealing With Drain Flies
I thought I had fruit flies but the normal fixes didn’t work and I would find them in areas like my bathroom and in the middle of winter. I did some research and found out I had drain flies, not fruit flies. You can look up pictures of them online. They are similar to fruit flies but slightly larger. Drain flies like drains you don’t use very often. I had a bathtub that I used rarely, but I cleaned it each week, so it meant there was always a little water in the drain. To solve the problem, I did two things. First, I covered the seldom-used drain with a rubber mat. Then I poured boiling water down my drains every two nights for a week or so. That killed the eggs that were laid in the drain. I haven’t had problems since doing this. Linda

Yes, I Can
Last January, when I got my credit card bills, I swore that I wouldn’t charge Christmas this year. Friends and co-workers told me that I couldn’t save enough to pay cash for gifts and entertaining. I estimated what I’d need this year and broke it down into weekly portions. Broken down, this wasn’t so intimidating. To help motivate me, I taped a bow to my fridge door. With just a few weeks to go, I’m at about 85 percent of my goal. I’ve been putting the money into a separate account each week. I’m so happy that I’m planning on doing it again next year and will probably start a goal plan for my vacation, too. Tanya

Canned Pumpkin for Less
Since canned pumpkin has doubled in price the last few years, I have looked for the small pie pumpkins used as decoration and usually discarded in various places. Sometimes people keep these through Thanksgiving, but it is worthwhile to ask to get the pumpkins when they are no longer used that way.
All you have to do is bake the pumpkin until tender and remove the seeds and interior. The flesh is easily stored in freezer containers but probably best used fresh rather than frozen. There are many good pumpkin recipes other than pie, and most dogs’ benefit from eating a little pumpkin mixed in wet food to help digestion (and they really like it, too). Best of all, it is free rather than $1.88 for a can in our area. Kathy

Unwelcome Mice
Mice often look for a warm place to call home during the winter. An easy way to dis-invite them is to leave a fabric softener sheet anywhere you don’t want them to take up residence. I’ll put a few in our attic, my tool shed, and our basement. Jayson

Before You Refinance
Before you refinance, make sure you total all the costs that you’re adding into your new mortgage. For our refinance, the fees would have totaled $1400 plus another $1900 original fee on the loan. Since we only plan to stay in our house for another year or two, we decided that the lower interest rate wouldn’t recover the extra costs of the refinance. Gloria

Shipping Charges
A lot of sites have been using shipping charges as a way to increase their revenue. This year, as I do my Christmas shopping, I’ll be including them when I figure out who has the best deals. I’ll also be looking for coupon codes that provide free shipping. I’ve also read that many firms will offer free shipping on “Free Shipping Day,” which is December 18.

Holiday Travel
With the airlines trying to get you for everything they can, I know that it will be tough to bring presents along when I fly this Christmas. Therefore, I’m working to get my shopping done by Thanksgiving, so I can ship everything by early December. Not only will I save myself some money, but also traveling will be much easier if I don’t have to worry about extra bags. Talia

All Inclusive Cruises
We are planning on booking a cruise that we have dreamed about for years. When talking with my brother-in-law, he warned me of something that we wouldn’t have known. I thought that “all inclusive” meant that everything (all.) was included. Not so. Often it includes your room, standard meals, entertainment, and use of the ship’s various pools and other facilities, but things like drinks (soft, alcoholic, and even specialty coffees), special restaurants, and some other amenities are not included. I’m glad we found out now. At least now we can budget for it, so we don’t have to put it on a credit card.  Laurie

Natural Roach Remedy
This is the cheapest, simplest, least toxic, and most effective roach treatment ever, and it has worked for over a year now in my house. Stir together equal parts of sugar and baking soda. Roaches gobble up the sugar, and the baking soda gives them gas, messes up their stomachs, and ultimately kills them. It only takes a cup or so of the mixture to treat a house, placing dabs in strategic spots like behind or beneath appliances, in closets, or near wastebaskets. If you have pets, limit the mixture to places or containers your pets can’t get into because it might make them sick if they eat it. I found that empty pill bottles wedged horizontally into tight spots and plates underneath furniture work well to keep things tidy. L

Easy to Find
I just reorganized my kitchen. When we moved in, everything was just put into the nearest cabinet. Now I put the things that I use most often in the handiest spots. Things that don’t get used so often are stuck in the back or corners. I also added some baskets for condiments and spices. One final step remains. I still need to go through the junk drawer. I’m betting I can throw away a bunch of that stuff. Rochelle

Custom Pizza Time
Everyone is raving over the fancy pizzas that include all kinds of meats and veggies. Instead of going out and paying big money for one, we do it at home with leftovers. Have a leftover slice of meatloaf? Crumbled up, it makes a great topping. A few extra string beans? Or even some corn? You’ve just created a new type of pizza. About every week or so, we pick up two plain cheese pizzas. We clean out the fridge of any leftovers that can be cut up and put on the pizza. We can do half pizzas or even individual slices if we want. After a minute or so in the microwave, we have our own custom pizza creation (and no leftovers going bad in the fridge.). Molly

Rental Car Savings
We recently got hit with a $13 a day charge for an additional driver on our rental car. I was complaining about it to some friends. They suggested that I should have used my AAA membership on the rental. With it, additional drivers are free. I’m told that the same thing is true for AARP and most corporate rental plans. So if you’re going to have an additional driver on your rental car, check out how to avoid the charge before you get to the rental counter. Rob

Lost In The Freezer
It seemed like there were always freezer burnt items in the back of my freezer that we had forgotten. Then I saw two ideas that worked for my freezer. The first was keeping an inventory on the door. I listed the items and the dates they went into the freezer. Now, I can use the oldest items before they become icicles. The second was color coding the items, using different colors for beef, chicken, pork, etc. I made some simple cloth bags in each color. I also used the color when I listed the item on my inventory. If I’m now looking for a raw chicken I froze two weeks ago, I look for a green bag. It has been working great. Robin

Cold Floor Hack
We have a finished basement with a tile floor. We like to run around in stockings, but the floor gets really cold no matter how high we have the heat set. I was thinking of buying a heated rug when I saw one of those anti-fatigue floor coverings at a kitchen supply store. It was made of rubber, so I thought that it might act as an insulator under the throw rugs that we have downstairs. I bought one, and it worked wonders. I’m going to buy more for the other rugs for this winter. Stephanie

I Can’t Stop Shopping
For years, I tried to break myself of the shopping habit. I’d stay away from stores only to find myself on the shopping channel. I was beginning to think that I couldn’t free myself from the shopping bug. Then a friend asked me to join her as she window-shopped thrift stores. I found it was perfect for me. I could still “go shopping,” but it was really hard to spend money. There were very few things that tempted me and those that did were usually inexpensive. Since then, I’ve even started shopping garage sales. Talk about spending hours shopping without spending much. Chelsea

Removing Odors

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Removing Odors
To get rid of nasty laundry odors, add one cup of rubbing alcohol to the washer after it fills with water. It is cheap and does an awesome job. Jenanne

Pinterest Inspired Coat Rack
Before winter, I wanted to get a coat rack for our entryway. I saw a neat one on Pinterest. Since my dad is really good with tools, I asked him if he could build something similar. Not only could he build it, but also he made it even better by adding some extra hooks for gloves and umbrellas. Zoe

Lock Savings
After being robbed, we wanted to replace the locks on our house. I was shopping for new locksets for every outside door when the salesperson suggested that I just rekey the locks. I did have to bring the locks in, but they put in new cylinders and gave me new keys for a fraction of what new locks would have cost. Matt

Flea Market Flip
We have a flea market in our town that’s like a huge garage sale. I especially like it later in the day when many dealers are happy to get rid of things. Some will even give away things that are left. I’ve been known to take those items and resell them at my own garage sale. I don’t make a lot, but it’s a hobby that doesn’t cost me anything, and I make a few dollars. Alicia

Cold Prevention
As a grade school teacher, I’m continually exposed to kids with cold germs. It used to be that I was never healthy during the school year. Then I read that flushing my sinuses with saline solution would kill many germs. Now I use a sterile saline nasal spray each day before and after school. I keep it in my desk drawer. It cuts down the number of colds big time. Ginny

Winterize Your Attic
Last winter, we winterized our attic. We bought a sheet of foam insulation. I cut a piece that fit the pull-down stairs for attic access. It just sits on top of the frame that holds the stairs. I even put a duct tape handle on it to make it easy to position when I’m leaving the attic. I also cut a piece for the two attic vents on either gable. A single screw holds each of those.  Vivienne

Money Talks
My husband and I realized that the only time we talked about money was when we argued. We finally decided that this wasn’t healthy. We now set aside some time every two weeks to talk about our finances. To keep it from turning into an argument, we have it in a public place like Starbucks. We’ve even developed a small agenda. We’ll talk about our current month’s finances and any big upcoming bills (like property taxes or vacations). We have even started some planning for the kids’ college funds. We’ve found that it’s better to plan our finances than fight about them later. Ashleigh

Looking for Savings
I live where there are many more grocery stores per square mile than any place I’ve lived. One day I happened to find a sales flyer for a store I’d never visited. It advertises only within its own town. The sales prices are unbelievably low and even beat many prices at my favorite discount grocer. It’s just a few miles further to this store, and they have sections with marked-down produce and marked-down meats. I check the store’s website weekly for their sales. While I shop as seldom as possible as part of my frugality strategy, I keep an eye on this site for times to stock up. I recommend looking in your area for grocery stores you may not know about because it can really pay off. M.

Tree Removal
Do you have a tree that you’d like cut down? My husband is constantly scouring for people who have trees that we can use for firewood. He’ll take them standing (he’ll fall the tree) or on the ground and has all the equipment and experience to cut it up to size and bring it home. Try it. We prefer hardwoods (oak and fruit trees), but we have friends who like the softer woods (pine, redwood, etc.) because of physical disabilities that prevent them from lifting heavier logs for the fireplace. Jill

Reduce the Cost of Holiday Cooking
We have a large family and have a number of holiday get-togethers that involve food. Last year, the added expense to my grocery budget caused some problems, so I decided to do something different this year. I’ve already decided what menu we’ll have for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. I made up the shopping list, and when I go to the store each week, I buy anything that’s on sale that won’t spoil or could be frozen. It adds a few dollars to each week’s bill, but I won’t have a huge budget shock later. Renee

Magical Mystery Tour
Since we didn’t have money for an expensive vacation this year, we decided to take inexpensive day trips. To make it interesting, my husband and I decided to make each day trip a mystery tour. We’d give the kids hints for days before the trip but wouldn’t tell them where we were going. Sometimes it was just for a little league game (we brought our own hot dogs.) or for a picnic on the lake. But, each day was special. Sometimes they’d ask what to wear or what to bring along. Having them guess where we were going added a lot of fun to cheap family outings. Gwen

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

Save the Pantyhose

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Save the Pantyhose
I have to wear pantyhose to work every day. To help them last, I soak them in saltwater overnight when I first buy them. Then I let them drip-dry before I wear them the first time. Now I’m getting half the runs I used to get. Paula

Frozen Bread
I buy bread at the day old bakery store and freeze it. Until I learned this trick, it always got soggy when I defrosted it. Now I add two paper towels inside the re-sealable bag. They soak up the moisture when the bread thaws.  Yolanda

Natural Weed Kill
We have found that boiling water will kill the weeds just as effectively as those expensive weed killers. Every time you boil the kettle for a coffee, walk outside and pour the remaining hot water onto a weed or two. In a few days, they will have shriveled up and died.
Michael C. in Australia

Handy Storage
I was about to buy some of those plastic storage containers when I remembered that we had some old luggage that I had been meaning to send to Goodwill, so I repurposed them. Now they hold the stuff that was going to go into those containers I didn’t have to buy. Darlene

Don’t Fall for This Trick
Stores know that many shoppers notice the end of the aisle. Those end-caps are made to look like sale items, but they often are just impulse items that the store wants you to buy. Unless you have that end-cap item on your shopping list and/or the price is good, you should just walk on by. Reena

Just the Basics
I avoid the center of my grocery store and the frozen food cases. If I just shop the outside aisles, I get the basics and save a lot of money. It does mean giving up convenience foods, but we are healthier and the savings are substantial. I didn’t think that I’d like to cook, but my teenage son helps me after school. I think that I’m teaching him good eating habits and good shopping habits, too. Olivia

Avoid the Christmas Rush
Last year, we were so busy that we couldn’t enjoy the holidays. I vowed to do it differently this year. I just returned from my local fabric shop. I bought a few yards of cloth that I’ll use to make gift bags in the next few weeks. I know about how many gifts we’ll buy and will make a variety of sizes. When Christmas comes, all I’ll have to do is to drop the gift in the bag, make a label, and pull the drawstring. Talley

Saving Drive Time
Recently, I was in the drive-thru line to get my breakfast on the way to work. The line was long and I started thinking about what I was doing. I was spending each day nearly $5 for a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich, and it added about ten minutes to my drive time. I decided to make my own. I bought some English muffins, precooked sausage patties, and a dozen eggs. On Sundays, I scramble the eggs and assemble the sandwiches. Each morning, I take one out and microwave it. For a half of an hour’s work, I’m saving about $3 each day and ten minutes each morning. I used the savings from the first couple of weeks to buy a coffeemaker with a timer, so the coffee is hot when I’m ready to head out the door. Jeani

No More Dry Cleaning
I hate dry cleaning bills. Because of this, whenever I buy clothes, I avoid things that are dry clean only. I’ve found that sometimes I can gently hand-wash them or use the “at home” dry cleaning kits. For years, I’d purchase a bargain at a consignment shop and later find that it cost more to dry clean the dress than I had paid for it. So now, that’s the first tag I look for when I take something off the rack. Mindy

The Mark-Down Maven
I do my grocery shopping early in the morning. Most stores do their markdowns during the night, so I’m one of the first ones to get a chance at them. Any meats that I buy go straight into the freezer. Fruits and veggies are immediately cut up and used in dinner or the kids’ lunches. I’ve found that I don’t even mind the alarm clock waking me up early on shopping mornings. I know that the savings will make up for the lack of sleep.

Doggie Allergies
Our dog spends a lot of time outside and seems to suffer from allergies. She’s continually licking her paws and sometimes chews them. We tried supplements and even gave her small amounts of antihistamines but nothing seemed to work. Finally our vet suggested that we wash her paws with warm water once or twice a day. It worked. I guess that we are washing off any pollen that attached itself to her paws. It’s a cheap and natural solution. Haley

From Mom
It’s heading towards the holidays again. That’s when turkeys go on sale. Most everyone knows that this is a good time to buy an extra turkey or two, but I go one step further. I have the butcher in the grocery store cut them in half. Half a turkey is roughly the size of a good roasting chicken. And, I’ve found that most chicken recipes taste fine with turkey. I’m just hoping that I can find a really good deal on turkeys this year. Deidra

Nasty Shower
We had renters in a house and were grossed out when we saw the shower after they moved out. I’d never seen one so grimy. I was dreading cleaning it. My friend suggested I try something called Fast Orange® that can be bought at an auto parts store. In less than an hour, it had it looking like new. It worked so well I think that I’ll use it on my two showers every month to help keep them spotless Justine

Darn Cling Wrap

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Darn Cling Wrap
If your cling wrap clings to self, keep it in the refrigerator and your problem is solved. Shirley

Cleaning Down Comforters
I was going to take my down comforter to the dry cleaner, but my sister talked me out of it. She said that I could wash it in cold water with regular laundry detergent. To dry, she suggested that I add a couple of new tennis balls to the dryer. The balls fluffed the comforter nicely. Nily

Time for Closet Organization
I just finished organizing my closet. I used back-to-school sales to buy cubes and bins that are advertised for college students. I use them to put similar things together that I don’t use on an everyday basis. I also got shoe holders and some other specialty items. My closet looks better, and it’s so much easier to find what I need now. Dawn

No Streaks
I was at my local coffee shop enjoying a cup when the window washer showed up. He made it look so easy. I asked him what he used. He told me that he used four drops of dishwashing liquid to a quart of water in a spray bottle. I watched as he sprayed the window, rubbed it briefly with his cloth (microfiber I think), and then used his squeegee.  Kitty

Let’s Swap
Everyone has probably heard about clothing swaps. My friends at work have taken it a step further. We’re always looking for new things to swap. Last month, we swapped framed pictures from our living and family rooms. Before that, we swapped lamps, candle holders, and vases. We’ve even swapped small kitchen appliances. I always wanted to try a juicer but didn’t want to spend the money for something I might not use. Therefore, I swapped a milk shake mixer for a juicer. We’d had our fill of milkshakes, and it was just collecting dust. Our group continues to look for things that we can swap. It’s fun and doesn’t cost us a penny. Mia

The $100 Kitchen Makeover
I wanted to do something with my kitchen. Of course, I didn’t have much money to spend. I decided to replace all the drawer pulls. I found a site that had great prices on them. While I had the old ones off, I used a mixture of vegetable oil and baking soda to scrub down the front of the cabinets. I painted the wall by our dinette set a different color, too. For less than $100, my kitchen has a new look. Danielle

Reducing My Car Payment
We just finished paying off our auto loan. It was for five years and cost about $450 per month. Normally, I’d start shopping for a new car now and use my old car as a down payment. But, I don’t have that many miles on it, so I’ve decided to keep it for another year. I figure that if I wait a year, I’ll have an extra $5,500 for my new car. That’ll either reduce the payment by about $90 per month or shorten the loan by about one year.

Grandma’s OK
Since my children live away from me and I live alone, I email them every morning when I get up. This lets them know I’m okay, and if they don’t hear from me, they start checking. At first, I would basically give them a weather report, but it has turned into a newsletter with jokes and memories of my youth. I now send to 13 different children and grandchildren as they have asked. They get to know me a little better and get a laugh to start their day after hearing some of the funny things that have happened to me in the past. Phyllis C.

Extending Tomato Season
We live in Western Michigan where the first frost comes early. For years, I still had tomatoes that weren’t quite ripe when the first frost happened. A neighbor showed me an old-timers trick. I pull the plants up root and all. Shake off the leaves and hang them upside down in my basement, making sure that none of the plant touches the ground. The tomatoes continue to slowly ripen. We’ve even had fresh tomatoes with our Thanksgiving dinner. Jayson

Homemade Hair Conditioner
I have recently been using a homemade hair conditioner and am surprised and pleased with the results. Mix 1/4- to 1/2-cup apple cider vinegar with a little bit of lemon juice and a quart of water and rinse your hair with it after shampooing. Wait a few minutes and then rinse with clear water. Your hair will be so easy to comb and soft. It’s amazing. The smell of vinegar is gone by the time your hair is dry, and it’s not really that bad anyway. R

Country Time
I live in a large city that’s surrounded by farming areas. I’ve found that many things are cheaper in those communities. For instance, the vet I use for my dog is a country vet. He recently saved me over $100. About once a month, I’ll go shopping outside the city. Some things are more expensive, but a lot of stuff is cheaper. I’ve also discovered that there are some things that I can buy at the farm supply store that are sold in small packages at my local grocery store at a huge markup.  Julia

Eliminating Musty Smells
My brother used to work for a tannery and they used fresh coffee grounds to eradicate smells in the trucks that hauled hides. They would open the truck doors and pour out a fresh can of coffee and then lock the doors. In a day or so, they would sweep out the grounds and no smell would remain.
We began using that idea as a military family moving frequently and having our household goods periodically put in storage. After cleaning out our refrigerators and freezers prior to a move and going into storage, we would be sure each was thoroughly dried inside. Then I would take about one to two cups of fresh coffee grounds and place them in a brown paper bag (lunch size) and staple shut. This would be put on a refrigerator shelf and another in the freezer compartment. Our things were often in storage for a month, and when delivered, we would always be able to open the appliance doors, take out the coffee grounds bags, close the doors, and plug the appliances into the power. There was never that stale “refrigerator” smell, but always a clean, fresh smell.
This would probably work as well in a storage unit. However, you might have to place several sacks around the unit to get full coverage. It impressed me when I first heard of it since it had been proven to remove the smell of hides. We have shared this with many friends through the years, and all have had the same positive result we did. K.L.
If you get a splinter and don’t have a tweezers available, here’s a hack to get it out. Put a little Elmer’s® glue on it. Let the glue dry and then pull the glue off. The splinter will come off with the glue.  Jordan

Weed Kill
I use a kettle of boiling water to kill the weeds that grow in the cracks of our sidewalk. I just pour it on the weeds (especially at the root) every day until they die. It works pretty well, and it is safe for kids and pets after treatment. Melissa W.

Making Cleaning Easy
Cleaning house isn’t my favorite chore. To make it easier, I keep a set of cleansers in the kitchen and each bathroom. That way, it takes just a minute to clean that space. There’s no need to gather my supplies. I’ve found that by keeping up with it on a regular basis, I don’t end up with a big cleanup on my hands. Becky

Updating Outdoor Light Fixtures
The brass light fixtures outside our front door were beginning to look nasty, so I decided to give them a little attention. I took them down and hit them with some sandpaper. Then I sprayed them using a rust proofing paint. The color matched our house’s trim. After washing and replacing the glass globe, they looked sharp. Robbie

Extra Peppers
During this time of year, we can buy green peppers for cheap at local farmers’ markets. I like to stock up. I rinse them off, crush them, and place them in a zipper bag in the freezer. During winter when I want a bit of pepper, I pull off a piece and add it to whatever recipe I’m cooking. They freeze well and don’t stick together.  Annabelle

Home Projects
We just finished a kitchen remodel. I love my new kitchen, but I remembered something about half way through the project that we learned earlier. When you figure your initial budget for a project, add an extra 20 percent for surprises. It seems like there’s always an upgrade that you want or something nasty behind the drywall that will add to the cost. There’s nothing worse than getting part way through a project and finding out that you don’t have enough money to finish it. Melanee

Happy Birthday to Me
Do you love birthdays? I do. Ever since I was a little girl, birthdays have been my favorite. I sign up for any birthday freebies I can find. Also, I sign up at any sites (especially restaurants) that ask for my birthday. To protect myself from hackers, I use a date that’s one week after my actual birthday. I get all kinds of neat coupons, freebies, and discount offers. If I get any gift cards from my family, it’s a perfect time to take advantage of the discounts. Monique

Rewards System
I’ve read about people who reward themselves for achieving their goals. Someone I work with rewards herself with Starbucks every time she goes to the gym. I liked the idea (because I dislike the gym), but I decided to take it a step farther. Each time I go, I add $2 to an account that I use for special purchases. If I don’t go for a scheduled workout (three times per week), I add $2 to my mortgage payment. It’s not a lot, but it helps keep me motivated. And even if I don’t go, I’m still really rewarded because I’ve done a little extra to pay off the mortgage. Sheila

Liked it. Not
I had trouble with a kitchen appliance. I went to the company’s website and couldn’t find a place to ask for help or file a complaint. I did find that they had a Facebook page, so I posted my problem there. Instead of replying, they deleted it. That made me mad, so I did some more checking. I found that they also had a Twitter account, so I tweeted my problem with the company name hashtagged. They couldn’t delete my tweet. The next day, they were asking what they could do to help. It took a bit of hassle, but they finally replaced it. Renee

A/C Maintenance
I recently had my A/C go out. Luckily, it was two fuses but it still cost $283. The tech told me the unit was dirty, and it would work better if I hosed it off during the summer and before frost in fall. I was always afraid I would “do something wrong.” He pointed out it gets rained on and snowed on and is built to get wet. He said that I can do it while the unit is running. I use a hose with a spray nozzle and turn the water all the way up. Then I spray slowly from the top to bottom moving around the unit. Then I spray right to left around the base and under the unit. The water runs off. It is easy and A/C units run $3,500 in my area. I will do this religiously.  Connie

Birthday Sleepover
My 10-year-old daughter wanted a birthday party. I didn’t want to disappoint her, but we didn’t have much to spend. I suggested a sleepover for her friends. We saved a couple of “girlie” movies to our Netflix queue. To add some fun, I bought each girl a new white pillowcase. We brought out our fabric markers and let each girl decorate her own pillowcase. With a discount code for pizza and some popcorn, we were all set. The girls had a great time, and each had a keepsake to take home with them.  Keysha

Beginning to Barter
As a bookkeeper/accountant, I have bartered with a great deal of people. I eat Chinese food for free, fill up my car with gas and get it repaired, get groceries at our small local grocer, and get haircuts and tans. Over the years, I have also had rooms remodeled and building projects completed.
The best way to find people to barter with is to just ask. Many small businesses would love to have someone do a task they dislike in exchange for whatever service or product they provide. Many small business owners are short on cash, but can easily provide their skill to you. There are also barter networks on the internet, and I think some large towns have barter networks in place. Just keep an open mind and ask around, and you will be bartering before you know it. Jennifer

Natural Fly Catcher

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Natural Fly Catcher
If you want to rid your kitchen of fruit flies, pour some red wine vinegar into a small bowl near where they gather. Add a few drops of dish soap. You’ll find your problem solved in just a day or two. Connie

Removing Smoky Kitchen Odors
The very best technique I have found for removing odors is charcoal briquettes. A person who worked for a company that cleaned up after fires gave me this tip. Just set them around, but be cautious of children and pets, of course

Baking Soda Trick
I keep a box of baking soda in the fridge to soak up odors. The box says that it should be replaced monthly, but I never do. I learned that I can find out if the baking soda is still good by giving it a bubble test. I take a teaspoon of baking soda and add a little vinegar. If it bubbles vigorously, it’s still good. If it barely bubbles or doesn’t bubble at all, it’s time to get a new box. Shannon

Save Your Home Videos
Many of us have home videos on VCR tapes. We don’t want to lose them but can’t afford to pay $20 or $25 per tape to have them converted to DVDs. Here’s an answer. You can buy a converter for about $20 that you use to connect your old VCR player to your computer. You play the tape and record it on your computer. From there, you can copy it to DVD.  Debi

Children’s Wish List
Both of my kids are grade school age. I encourage them to keep a list of things they think that they’d like to have. You’d think that would cause them to want more stuff, but it doesn’t. For instance, they’ll add toys and stuff to the list now, but by the time Christmas comes, they’ll be scratching things off the list because whatever it is lost its charm. I’m hoping they’ll learn a little patience when it comes to buying things. This could be a great lesson for when they’re grown.

The 10 Percent Calculation
We have a couple of stores that price match with a 10 percent discount. I’ve found that sometimes it makes sense to buy from the more expensive store. For instance, I was comparison-shopping a range hood. One store had it for $129. The second store had it at $119. With the 10 percent price match, the more expensive store actually sold it to me for $116.10 ($129-12.90). That’s not a big savings on this purchase, but it can add up if I’m buying a kitchen appliance or something more expensive. Michael

Use By Dating
When you go to the grocery store, many items have a “sell by” date on the package. I’ve begun to do that with the things that I freeze. Instead of marking when they went into the freezer, I mark when they should be eaten by. I also keep a list on the freezer door of what’s inside. I know that I have a little leeway on when something has to be used, but since I started my new system, I haven’t found any freezer burned meat stuck in the back of the freezer. Lili

Sweater Repairs
It won’t be long and we’ll be pulling out our winter clothes again. I always take mine out a little early and look everything over for needed repairs. I usually find a few buttons that need attention. Often a sweater or two has a snag. I’ve learned to push the snag through the back and then tie it off. It looks fine from the front and won’t unravel.  Corene

Time to Drop Coverage
We used to trade for a new car when it was three or four years old. However, we’ve found that we can save a lot of money by keeping them until they’re eight or even ten years old. We drive an average amount and most cars don’t need major repairs until after 125k or 150k miles. We’ve also found that after a car is about five years old, we can drop collision insurance. Even if we happen to total a car (which happily hasn’t happened), the amount that we’d collect isn’t worth the annual premium. Because we have an emergency fund that could pay for a replacement older car, we dropped our collision coverage. Brad

Rejuvenated Sofa
After years of good use, our sofa was on its way out, but I hated sending it to a landfill. There weren’t any stains or rips. It was just that the seat cushions were crushed flat. Then one day when I was shopping for material for curtains, I noticed that they had the kind of foam used for furniture. I went home and looked at the cushions. They were removable, so I decided that I could remove one seam and replace the foam. I did that and hand stitched the cushions. Now our sofa is almost like new again. Rachel

Birds Only, Please
I love to watch the birds. I always have at least two bird feeders in my yard. If you’ve ever had a bird feeder, you know that they attract squirrels and raccoons. I tried greasing the poles that the feeders sit on, but that didn’t seem to work. Finally I thought that maybe if I planted cactus plants around the pole, it might discourage them. And it did. They don’t like to push through the cactus to get to the pole. Now I’m only feeding the birds that I love. Cate

A Master Gardener’s Advice
My neighbor is a certified master gardener. I was struggling with a small veggie garden, so I asked for some advice. He told me to take a soil sample to my County Extension office. They charged me $15 to do a soil analysis. It showed me exactly what was missing from my soil, so I knew exactly what soil additives to use. This year, I have a great crop for my effort. It might be too late for your garden this year, but you can bet that I’m going to be having my soil analyzed before I plant next year and every year. Rob
Cat Hair Problem
Ever try brushing your cat with a lint brush? It is soothing to them and collects all the falling cat hair. Shirley M.

Natural Bug Bite Protection
I enjoy gardening, but I hate getting bit by bugs. And I don’t enjoy spraying myself with pesticides to keep them away. I discovered that if I use a spray bottle and mist myself with vinegar, the bugs leave me alone.  Cheryl

$5 Date Night
Last night, my guy surprised me. Just after dark he invited me out on our deck. He had set up two small jar candles and two ice cream sundaes. Pandora on a phone provided the mood music. We counted the stars and held hands. It was paradise. Amber

Packing for Trips
This is a vacation tip for women. Don’t pack a lot of clothes in different colors. Try and stick to one/two basic colors for your wardrobe and then bring jewelry, scarves, etc. to change the look every day and even recycle an item or two during your trip, which means less packing overall. PM

College Cash
If you want a side hustle while you’re in school, offer to tutor other students. You can set your own hours and work as much or as little as you want. Just pick a subject that you aced. If you can, get the prof or grad assistant to write you a letter saying you’re good in the subject. Beats working for minimum wage at a burger joint. Corin

Cleaning Cast Iron
I love to use my cast iron skillet. Since I won’t put it in the dishwasher, I have to wash it by hand. Here’s what I do. I sprinkle some salt into the dirty pan. I add a little bit of olive or vegetable oil. Then I rub the salt all over the pan. If the pan is properly seasoned, all the gunk will come right off. Then I finish with a quick rinse of plain water.  Janyce

Moving Day
No matter how you plan, moving day is always stressful and confusing. I’ve learned one way to make it go easier is to have something I call “Box 1.” We mark one box, and we put a roll of toilet paper, two rolls of paper toweling, a bar of soap, some energy bars, and a few light bulbs in it. This box goes into my car, not in the moving van.  Mia

A/C Efficiency
When our A/C unit seemed to be running more than usual, we called to have it checked. The technician looked at the outside unit and said that it was working too hard because of all the bushes that had grown up around it. He said to make sure that there was at least one foot of clear space around the unit. We did that and our unit is running much better now. Pat

Travel Warning
I learned the hard way not to pack valuables in my suitcase. During our vacation, my jewelry box was in our suitcase. With all the anti-terror rules, the suitcase was unlocked. When we got to our hotel, I realized that my jewelry box was missing. The airline blamed the NTSB. They blamed the airline. I was left without my jewelry. Fortunately, I didn’t bring anything that was too valuable or irreplaceable. During my next trip, I’ll put any jewelry into my carry-on bag. If you’re flying, I’d suggest that you do the same. Celine

Getting Dripped Wax Out of Your Carpet
If you love candles, you’ve probably dropped hot wax onto your carpet at some point. I found an easy way to remove the wax. First, I get all that I can without damaging the carpet by scraping it away. Next, I cut a section out of a brown grocery bag that’s larger than the drip. I put the brown paper over the drip. I heat my clothes iron to warm and circle it on the brown paper. The heat softens the wax and the paper soaks it up. Sometimes it’s necessary to move the paper a few times to get a fresh spot to soak up wax, but in a few minutes, the carpet is saved. Gwen

Potato Chip Hack
I recently learned that I have high cholesterol and am working hard to change my eating habits. I know my love affair with jalapeno potato chips should really come to an end, but I crave their salty, spicy crunch.
I created a “diet hack” for myself. I slice red radishes thinly (or thicker for more crunch), pat each slice dry, and then sprinkle them lightly with a dry jalapeno seasoning I found in the spice aisle. I get my spicy, salty crunch with virtually zero calories, zero cholesterol, no MSG, and zero fat.
Even better, a big bunch of radishes are only 99 cents and the $3.99 I spent on the seasoning will last a long time since only a pinch is used each time. Dry seasonings are sold in a myriad of flavors, including Cajun and barbecue. Dipping in vinegar and a tiny bit of salt is also very good. Slicing jicama instead of radishes will reduce their “bite” and works best for sweeter seasoning flavors.
Now I can reduce my cholesterol and grocery bill all at once while still enjoying my favorite “chips.” JR
Green Tea
I’m a big fan of green tea. Not only is it an enjoyable drink, but it also helps boost my metabolism. I have a cup during my afternoon break and also before bed. Celeste

Greasy Dishes
Whenever I have a load of dishes from a particularly greasy meal, I add some baking soda to the detergent. It helps to absorb the grease and makes the dish soap work better. Since I started adding the baking soda, I rarely have to run anything a second time. Donnette

College Cash
My son will be a senior in college this year. At the beginning of each semester, he lets it be known that he has a car and is willing to be the “designated driver.” Sometimes he’ll go to a concert or just wait for a call to pick up students at a local bar. He doesn’t make a lot, but he does make as much as he would with a more structured job. Barb

Removing Stains from Clothes
The best way to clean clothes and save money on all those pre-treatments is with baking soda and vinegar. Add 1/2 cup baking soda to your detergent in the wash cycle or use detergent that already has baking soda in it. Then add 3/4 cup vinegar in the rinse. It gets the colors brighter and the whites whiter, and I rarely have to use any pre-treatments.  
Sharon P.

DIY Filters
If you want good gas mileage, you need to replace your car’s air filter regularly. You can pay to have it done, but it’s a simple do-it-yourself project. Anyone can do it (usually without any tools). Filters aren’t expensive. They are about $15 at an auto parts store. They’ll help you choose the right one. Replacing it takes less than 10 minutes. It’s easy. Nora

No Need to Replace It
If your showerhead, kitchen faucet, or kitchen sprayer is clogged with deposits, you don’t need to replace it. Just take a baggie, fill it with white vinegar, and secure it so that the showerhead, faucet, or sprayer is soaking in the vinegar. Make sure it’s covered completely. Let it sit overnight and the vinegar will dissolve the crude that’s blocking the water flow

Saving With Water
Water is a key ingredient to my financial survival. Shifting from Starbucks and soda to water saves me a couple of dollars every day. When I go to a restaurant, I order water to drink, saving me another couple of dollars. I drink a big glass of water before most meals, which causes me to eat less so I don’t need Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers. And, drinking so much water is healthy for me. I don’t know how much I’m saving in medical bills, but I’m glad to save that, too. Gloria

For Mom
My Mom lives alone and doesn’t like to cook for herself. I have a family that doesn’t like to eat leftovers. I put the two things together and solved both. I package any leftovers we have as a complete meal on a disposable plate. I give a portion of the meat, potato/pasta, and veggie. I place it in a gallon freezer bag and put it in my freezer. When I visit Mom (at least once a week), I bring over these frozen meals. Each night for dinner, she can pull one out of her freezer and pop it into the microwave. In just a few minutes, she has a healthy, balanced meal to eat with no pots or pans to wash. She’s happy, and my family is happy, too. Leanne

A Little Treat
I’m a competitive person. To help me stick to my budget, I turned it into a game. I begin each month with a spending plan. At the end of the month, I compare my actual expenses to my plan. For every $10 below my plan, I allow myself $1 for something that I want but didn’t budget for in my spending plan. For instance, I was $110 under my budget last month. I used the $11 to treat myself to pie and coffee at a local restaurant. I know it’s not big, but it helps to keep me in the game throughout the month.

Skylight Shade
We love the skylight in our family room, but in the summer, it lets in a lot of heat. We checked on a cover, but they were extremely expensive. Therefore, I decided to make my own. I bought UV solar screening from Home Depot and two tension rods. After cutting the screening to a little larger than the skylight, I sewed pockets on either side of the screen. Then we inserted the tension rods into each pocket. The tension rods hold it in place, but make it easy to remove. So far, it’s made a big difference this summer. Adrienne

The Wake Up Call
My elderly mom lives by herself. I worry about her. We talk almost every night, but I don’t have time to call each morning to make sure she’s okay. We found a solution. She never wanted a cell phone, but I got her one anyway. I taught her to send me a text each morning when she gets up. It only takes a second, and I can go to work knowing that she’s fine. An added advantage is that if she ever falls or feels faint, I’m a speed dial away. Dorrie

Last Christmas
Last Christmas, I promised that we’d do it different this year. Coming from a big family, presents can get out of hand. We stopped buying for adults, but even covering the kids is too much. This year, I’m going to approach everyone now about each of us donating an amount to a favorite charity. Our kids have enough stuff already, and knowing that we all contributed to a needy cause could help them appreciate how good they’ve got it. Blake

Easy Shower Cleaning

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Easy Shower Cleaning
I found a great way to keep my tile shower clean. I take my used dryer sheets and use them to scrub the shower. They’re just rough enough to get the job done, but they don’t mark the tile. I’m getting one more use for the dryer sheet before it hits the trashcan. Marie

Designer Dry Erase Board
I wanted a dry erase board for my kitchen to share notes with my kids, but I didn’t want a large white board to destroy the country theme of my kitchen. So, I came up with my own designer dry erase board. I bought an old framed picture that was about 24” x 36” at Goodwill. Took out the picture (it was terrible.) and replaced it with a piece of single color wrapping paper. After reassembling it, I hung it in my kitchen. It adds to the decor. We use dry erase markers to write on the glass. We can erase just like a dry erase board. Annabelle

Wallpaper Accents
I was redecorating my daughter’s bedroom. I wanted to keep it simple and yet make it interesting for her. She’s crazy about horses. She wanted to wallpaper the whole room in a horse pattern, but I was sure that was just too many horses. So I came up with the idea of using the horse paper she liked but only as a border. I cut strips four inch wide. Then I pasted them where the wall meets the ceiling and on the walls 40 inches from the floor. It adds interest to the room, makes my daughter happy, and didn’t cost much at all. Karen

Yes, I Can
I’ve decided to be brave and learn new things. There are all kinds of how-to videos on YouTube and articles on different sites. So far, I’ve learned to give my kids haircuts. I saved the price of the clippers the very first time we didn’t have to go to the barbershop. Next, I began doing some basic sewing. Now when a shirt loses a button, it doesn’t end up in the back of my closet never to be worn again. I fix the button. For my next challenge, I want to learn to change oil in my car. Reba

Tired Of Your Apartment
After my divorce, my ex got the house and I moved into an apartment. I missed things like my backyard and hot tub. Last summer, a friend asked if I’d housesit their dog while they went on vacation. I moved into their home. Along with the dog, the house had a swimming pool and a great video system. I had a great time. So this year, I put an ad on Craigslist offering to housesit. I’ve completed two jobs and have one to go. Not only do I get to stay in a wonderful home with some of the amenities that I miss, but I also earn a few dollars. I feel like I’m getting paid for sleeping on the job. Rick

Lunch Savings
I always wanted to bring my lunch to work to save money, but somehow I always managed to forget to make a sandwich the night before or I’d run out of lunchmeat. So, I didn’t do anything. Then I realized that I could still bring my soda, dessert, and snack from home even if I didn’t have a sandwich. I buy that at work, but I save a lot on all the other stuff. I still wish I could get myself to bring a complete lunch every day, but at least I’m saving some money every day. Sophie

Before You Move to a New Neighborhood
This hint is for prospective college students and their parents when considering a college or university located someplace other than your hometown. When you visit the campus during your decision-making process, stop in coffee shops and diners and make conversation with local people. Ask about crime rates and safety, both for the general population and for students. Our city is popular among tourists and is also home to a pricey college. Generally speaking, the college and the newspaper downplay the crime rate. I learned from personal experience that police often refuse to take reports on minor crimes in order to keep statistics looking good. The paper is a better source for information, but it no longer publishes the weekly police reports. The college is notorious for keeping quiet on crimes against students in their literature made available to prospective scholars. There are frequent dormitory and apartment break-ins as well as muggings, but you won’t hear much about those unless you talk with year-round residents.  M.

Affordable Entertainment
My boyfriend and I are trying to repay student loans and save for a house, so we cut back on everything else. But, we enjoy getting out. We look for free or cheap things to do in our city. Our local community college has both a baseball and basketball team. Tickets are cheap and the games are good. Our local theatre group offers live plays for less than the cost of a movie ticket. One park hosts a model plane fly-in. Another has a medieval festival. Both are free. Don’t complain that you can’t afford to do anything. If you can’t find something local, try inviting friends over. We’ve had some great times over a bottle of wine or testing out a new video game, too. Chantal

Packing Noodles
I was trying to figure a way to pack my gown and dresses for my son’s wedding in Europe, so I Googled ways to pack. A few people stated to buy round poster tubes and roll clothes around them. The poster tubes were expensive, so I discovered a better, less expensive item. I went to a dollar store and purchased two pool noodles. I cut them to the length I needed (a steak knife worked fine to cut them). I got at least two out of each noodle. They were lightweight, so it didn’t add any weight to my luggage.
I just laid my pieces of clothing out on the bed (folded in half if needed) and put the noodle on the top of the item and rolled. Then I gently put them in my suitcase. It worked perfectly. My clothes arrived in great shape for the wedding.
Jan V.

Why Buy New
When we feel that we need something, it’s tempting to just go out and buy it, but that might not be the best choice. Sometimes you’re much better off with a well-cared-for used version of the same product.
For instance, consider appliances. I just bought a used washer/dryer set from an elderly lady who was moving out of her home. The set was 10 years old, but she barely ran a load every two weeks. Since she was moving, I got them cheap, and they work just like they were new. And I’m pretty sure that they’re made better than the ones you can buy today. I’m not sure if it’s true for everything, but whether it’s a pair of jeans or a washing machine, I’ll always consider buying used before I make a purchase. Ally
Measuring Sticky Liquids
When measuring honey or molasses for cooking/baking, it’s hard to get it all out of the measuring cup. Solve the problem with a quick spritz of oil on the measuring cup before pouring in the honey. It’ll pour right out. Jolene

Dishwasher Care
Is your dishwasher smelling and not cleaning like it used to? Then you should do what I do. Each time I empty it of clean dishes, I put 1/2 cup of baking soda in it. I just pour it onto the bottom. It soaks up odors and helps clean next time I run it. Dede

Cleaning Granite Countertops
Granite countertop cleansers are expensive, but you can do the job with plain old rubbing alcohol that only costs a few cents per once. I pour it undiluted into a spray bottle that I keep by the sink. After meals or anytime I see something on the countertop, I give it a spritz and a quick wipe. Easy clean. Julia

Repelling Raccoons
Are raccoons raiding your garbage dumpster? Do what I did. I applied a coat of Armor All® to the outside of the dumpster. The raccoons have a hard time climbing the slick surface and don’t like the taste on their paws. If you don’t have Armor All®, any spray oil like WD-40® will probably work, too. Rich

Home Odor Eater
I like a clean smelling home, but I don’t like those fragrances that just cover one smell with another. My solution is to put a bowl of vinegar out when I’m cooking. I just set it on the counter. I also run a little on odors that cling to my carpet or upholstery. The vinegar smell dissipates and leaves a nice neutral smell. Shaunna

More Affordable Landscaping
As we head into the fall, it’s a perfect time to upgrade landscaping. Find a local nursery and see if they discount plants as winter approaches. Most do. They’d rather sell cheaply as opposed to caring for plants that they can’t sell all winter. I’ll be adding a couple of trees to my front yard this year for a fraction of what I would have spent last April or May. Jordan

Closet Queen
I have a nasty habit of buying new clothes. I have always been attracted to malls, catalogs, and websites that carry fashionable clothing. Finally, when I became desperate to control my spending, I decided to see how long it would take to wear the clothes that I already had in my closet. I went over three months without wearing the same skirt, blouse, or dress twice. I realized that I had no business buying anything new for a while. I also found some things that were out of style or too small that I sent to Goodwill. The urge to just go shopping disappeared.

Dining Out for Less
My boyfriend and I love to try different restaurants, but with menu prices on the rise, it became too pricey. So we’ve begun trying some new tricks to get the same value at a lesser cost. If we both leave work a little early, we can make the “early bird special.” Sure, there are a lot of seniors around, but typically it’s less crowded and the server isn’t anxious to get us out of the joint. We’ve also found that many places have appetizers that are big enough to be treated like an entree. With portions being so big, we’ll order one dinner and one appetizer for the two of us. There is one thing we don’t skimp on. We try to be generous with the server. We figure that they’re just trying to make a living, too. Holly

When packing for a move, there are many things that need to be specially cushioned, like glassware, dishes, and other breakables. I used to use newspaper for this task, and some people use brown paper. I saved time and money this time, just using my existing fabric to wrap items. My linen closet and drawers are full of fabric like dishtowels, hand towels, dish cloths, wash cloths, dinner napkins, and pillowcases for smaller pieces. I also used sheets and bath towels for bigger stuff, to line boxes, and to help fill up partial boxes. Then, when unpacking, I just refolded the fabric piece, stacking as I went, and stored them away in the new house. All those dishes were clean, so there was no need to launder the linens. This saved me from separately packing all those linens too. I didn’t have to buy paper for packing and didn’t have to have extra “linens” boxes. Plus, not having to gather up and throw away all that paper helped the environment, so it’s a win all around. Anne W.

Senior Learning Secret
When my kids headed off to college, I found that I had some extra time on my hands. I happened to see that my local college had a large number of classes that could be audited for less than the normal price. Plus, anyone 55 or older got a special senior discount that made the classes very affordable. I started with an oil painting class. Then I tried Spanish and even tai chi. I think that this fall I’m going to sign up for a creative writing class. I might even start my own blog. Joanne

Free Streaming
I just discovered a new way to get digital access to full current issues of print magazines and thousands of movies to stream for free. Who knew the public library has all of this?
My public library has Zinio for magazines and maybe your library does too. It’s also called RB Digital Gateway. You can “check out” the latest or back issues of many, many magazines to read on your computer. They also have ways to do this for your mobile devices. I don’t need to subscribe to Consumer Reports or Atlantic Monthly when I can read it for free. Anything my library subscribes to is available digitally, and it’s available to me as part of my library membership. What a savings over digital subscriptions.
For movies, my public library has IndieFlix movies through RB Digital Gateway, and I can stream thousands of shorts, feature films, and documentaries, some of which aren’t available anywhere else. Again, this is all part of my library membership. What a great free substitute for Netflix Instant. Anne W.

Zipper Repair

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit <> to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Zipper Repair
If you break the pull tab off a zipper, an easy fix is to insert a key ring in place of the tab. Generally you can work it in just as if you were adding a key to the ring. And it’s easy to pull and doesn’t look unusual. Bonnie

Cut the Humidity
We bought a dehumidifier and put it in our basement two months ago. I’m amazed at the difference it has made. Not only has the bug population almost completely disappeared, but the basement doesn’t feel moldy. We’re even talking about setting it up to use as a cooler summer room. Staci

Student Housing
If you have a student living off campus but not at home, check your insurance policy to see if they’re covered for burglaries. In most cases, they are not. That means that if their apartment is robbed, you’ll be out the cost of replacing those items. Most apartment insurance is low cost and would be real welcome if they ever have a break in. Mari

Avoiding Temptation
It is easier to control temptation when you design your life not to face those temptations. For example, when dieting, don’t have the tempting ice cream and high calorie snacks around the house. Instead, you should have a number of healthy alternatives on hand. When it comes to finances, design your life to avoid the over-spending temptations. Your default way to spend a weekend should be to call friends for a potluck dinner, not shopping at the mall with them where you blow a couple hundred dollars while socializing or a hundred bucks on just the meal. The book The Cheapskate Next Door puts it succinctly in the section called “Shopping Isn’t a Cheapskate Sport.” Tamara W.

End of Season Tomatoes
Most years, I have more tomatoes than my family can eat. Since I don’t like the amount of work that it takes to can them, I’ve come up with a different solution. I core the tomatoes and then put them in my blender, including the peel. Then I run the blender on puree. I pour that into zipper Baggies and place them flat in the freezer. Now when I want to make spaghetti, chili or tomato soup, I have the taste of homegrown tomatoes waiting in my freezer. Natalie

Affordable Home Upgrade
We bought an older foreclosed home. It needs a lot of work, but we can be patient. We wanted to redo the half bath and laundry room but didn’t have money for fixtures. A friend told us how they had contacted contractors who do baths and kitchens. Often they pull out good, older cabinets and fixtures. They’re happy to give them away. We tried it and got a new to us toilet, sink, bathroom cabinet, and some kitchen cabinets that are perfect for our laundry room. The fixtures are about 10 years old, but they don’t look outdated. We get an upgrade and all it cost us was our labor. Sheila

Before You Buy a Replacement
I know that we live in a disposable society where people rarely fix anything, but I can’t see throwing out a good slow cooker because a handle breaks. So, I do two things before replacing anything. In many cases, a broken item can be glued. Your hardware store has all kinds of glues and epoxies. All that my slow cooker handle needed was an inexpensive tube of super glue. Now, it’s good as new. The other thing I do is to search Google and YouTube for the problem. Often someone will have posted an article or video with the same problem and a solution. I’ve fixed a vacuum cleaner and rewired a lamp that would have been trashed otherwise.  Nora

End of Season Salvage
Each summer, we join our community pool. At the end of the summer, we talk with the lifeguards. Typically they save all unclaimed towels, swimsuits, goggles, etc. during the summer. At the end of the season, they’re glad to give them to me. I take them to a charitable thrift store and donate the items. The lifeguards told me that if I didn’t take the stuff, it would end up in a dumpster. You might want to check with your pool and see if you can’t recycle some lost and found items. Lindsey

Clean Screens
We live near a freeway, so our window screens get nasty. It doesn’t matter so much during the summer when the windows are closed, but I like to open the windows and enjoy the cool breezes of fall. That’s when I want clean screens. Since we don’t have a pressure washer, I take them over to a local DIY car wash. I stand them against the wall and set the wand to wash. After soaping them, I change to rinse. Then I take them home and re-hang them. Can’t get much cleaner than that. Shane

Free Tree Removal
Want to get rid of an old dead tree? Try listing free firewood on Freecycle and Craigslist. We had taken down an old oak but didn’t want the wood and didn’t want to pay someone to haul it away. So I put ads on Freecycle and Craigslist. We received a call that evening and two guys came over the next day with a chainsaw and a pickup truck. In just two hours, the tree was gone. Colby

Time to Buy Propane
If you heat your house with propane, summer is often the best time of the year to fill your tank. Even if propane prices aren’t at their lowest (although they often are), dealers are more willing to give you a break. For instance, we were paying a monthly rental fee for the tank on our property. We told our supplier that we were shopping and would stay with them if they dropped the fee. They did. It only totaled around $100 each year, but that’s still money in our pocket. Zach

Protect That Cheese
We are cheese lovers, but it is distressing and wasteful to find block cheese molding around the edges before we use it all up. Since vinegar has such keeping qualities for so many uses, I decided to try using it to keep my cheese good to the end. And it works. I wrap the opened cheese in a paper towel that I have fully moistened with white vinegar before putting it in a plastic bag or container. The paper towel is damp (not dripping) with vinegar. I have not had to throw out or trim moldy edges since I started this.
Ruth in MN

Simple Veggie Wash

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Simple Veggie Wash
Working in a school lunchroom has given me the opportunity to learn some kitchen tricks. We were taught to wash produce with salt water. Just fill your sink with water and add a couple of tablespoons of salt. Make sure the produce is covered with water for about 10 minutes.  Sherri

Glass Top Stove Clean Up
I drink a lot of hot tea. I just fill up the kettle and put it on a different burner every time. I overfill it slightly, and the hot water boils onto the stovetop. The grease and stains wipe up easily after being hit with the boiling hot water. This is easier and cheaper than any product in the store. Adrienne

Less Expensive Hair Care
My 6-year-old has really thick hair. As a single mom, expensive hair products really hurt my budget. So instead of de-tangling sprays, I use a mixture of 1/3 conditioner and 2/3 water. I keep it in an old spray bottle and shake it before each use. I actually think it’s better than the store stuff. Angela

A/C Efficiency
It’s hot, but our electric bill forced me into our attic to look at the A/C ductwork. I found cold air leaking at a number of joints. So I got some aluminum insulating tape and eliminated the leaks. I’m not sure how much we’ll save, but it sure seems like the A/C is running a lot less than it did before.  Jerry

Seeing Screen Doors
Our kids (and the adults too) were continually walking into the sliding screen door that leads to our deck because they didn’t see it. I got tired of fixing it. Then I saw the decals that they put on glass sliding doors and had an idea. I took some bright thread and wove the outline of a butterfly in the screen at eye level for both kids and adults. Problem solved. Tara

Clean Your Coffeemaker
When I worked at a restaurant, we cleaned our coffeemaker and pots often. We used ice, salt, and lemon juice for the pots. The mix doesn’t need to be exact. Just swish it around and the stains disappear. For the coffeemaker, run a cycle with white vinegar (no coffee in the basket.). Then follow with plain water. In two cycles, you’re ready to brew some great tasting coffee. Dean

Protect Your Air Conditioning Unit
My friend works for an HVAC company. He does many of their maintenance calls. He told me that there’s no reason a homeowner can’t do most of it themselves. He told me to clean the outdoor compressor on our system. Trim or remove any bushes that surround the unit. Also remove any debris like sticks or leaves. If possible, it’s important to keep the compressor out of the mid-day sun. Some people even build a cover, but the cover shouldn’t hinder airflow around the compressor. Clean or replace the inside filters. Finally, pour a little bleach in the lines that carry the condensation outdoors.  Niki

Before You Store
We moved from a home we owned to a rental. We planned on purchasing a home when the lease was up in a year. We were planning on taking our fridge, washer, and dryer along and putting them in storage. The storage was going to cost us $90 a month. That’s $1,080 for the year. Since they were all getting old, we decided to sell them on Craigslist and save the rental fee. When we buy a house, if it needs appliances, we’ll buy new. If the house comes with appliances, we’ll save a bunch of money. Teri

Renting Trucks
If you’re going to rent a truck, there are a few things you need to do to protect yourself. First, use your phone to take pictures of any previous damage to the truck. Make sure they’re noted on your contract. Then open the back. If the contract says the truck has a hand truck and/or blankets, make sure they’re present and that any cable ties are secure. If the ties are broken, it’ll be assumed that you used them and you’ll be charged. Finally, get in the driver’s seat and start the engine. Check lights, turn signals, and the air conditioner. You don’t want to load the truck and get ten miles out of town and find out that the air conditioning doesn’t work. Kelli

Instant Sunscreen
Our kitchen and dining room both have west-facing windows. I tried putting up drapes to block the sun, but it made the rooms really dark, so I took them down. This made it too hot to eat dinner comfortably. Then I came up with a simple solution. I put three small hooks above each window. I put one on each corner and one in the middle. I bought enough “black out” fabric to cover the windows and sewed up drapes. I added three grommets to the top of each drape that match the hooks. Now I can hang up the drapes mid-afternoon and take them down in the morning. It only took a few seconds and the cost was minimal.
Denise in Phoenix

Free Storage
Do you have a pickup truck and good muscles? Then you, too, may be able to get storage space for just the cost of gasoline. Free entertainment centers pop up on Craigslist all the time where I live. People get rid of them as they purchase flat-screen TVs and no longer need the deep shelves on the entertainment centers. This item of furniture is perfect for us frugal folks who want storage shelves. If you don’t mind that the styles and colors don’t match, you can get the storage you want easily. Line your basement and/or garage walls with entertainment centers. You can customize them if you like. They can also be turned into cat condos, children’s play kitchens, and other things with some work (get online for instructions). I’m on the lookout for one with the right configuration to fit my kitchen wall where it can then house cookbooks, kitchenware, and a cat bed (on the bottom). The area for a TV will be a space to frame my window and give me room for plants. M.

Appealing Property Tax Appraisals
I just finished fighting the property tax appraisal on our house. I began by using the online services to document other similar properties in my neighborhood that were for sale. I made a spreadsheet that included square footage, number of rooms, and other key features. Then I went to the county database and looked for comparable properties there. Where they were assessed at a lower rate that I was getting I noted them and added them to my spreadsheet. I took the spreadsheet into the appraiser’s office. They didn’t relent right away, but after a week, they notified me that they were reducing our appraisal by $25k. Robbie

Removing Rust Spots

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Removing Rust Spots
To remove rust spots from tubs and sinks, cover the rust spot with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide and sprinkle with cream of tartar. Let this sit for 30 minutes and wipe off with a sponge.
Cyndi S.

Nature’s Stain Removal
If you have a really stubborn stain, use nature’s tools. Put a little lemon juice on the stain and let it sit out in the sun. In a few hours, if the stain isn’t completely gone, add a little more lemon juice. That’ll remove about 99 percent of all stains.

We were hiking in the woods when my dog was sprayed by a skunk. I tried various dog shampoos, but I couldn’t get the smell out. Finally, I added a quarter cup of baking soda to his normal shampoo and bathed him. The smell is gone.

Car Deodorizer
With my kids always eating in my van, there was always a strange smell in it. The deodorizers that are made for cars can be pretty overwhelming. I just put a fabric softener sheet under each row of seats. It’s a nice smell, but it’s not too powerful.

Natural Flea Control
I worked with a man who had bird dogs and his wife was a student in plant sciences. They found that planting tansy (an herb) around the dogs’ pens kept the problem in check. Their children played in the same yard as the dogs, and they were not bitten at all. This is a safe and effective way to solve a flea problem.

Dishwasher Care
We have hard water where we live. It tends to block up my dishwasher. To fight the hard water, I add a half-cup of vinegar to every third or fourth load. I put a coffee cup right side up in the top basket with the vinegar inside the cup. It disperses during the wash cycle. This keeps my dishwasher running great.

Cleaning Mini-Blinds
About once a month, I take a clean dryer sheet and run it over my mini-blinds. The dust doesn’t stick to the sheet, but falls to the floor where I can vacuum it up. Once a year, I take them outside and spray them with bathroom cleaner. After 30 minutes, I rinse them with the water hose. Instant clean with no scrubbing.

Really Clean Eyeglasses
Everyone who wears glasses knows how hard it is to get the little nose pads clean. I learned that I could soak them in a tall glass with a bit of dishwashing soap overnight and they come out clean. If they’re really bad, they might need a second night in the bath, but you’ll be surprised how clean they get.

Bedroom Makeover
Want to give your bedroom a makeover, but don’t have it in the budget? I got an entirely new look with a couple gallons of paint and a few accents. I also got rid of some of the clutter that had collected in my bedroom. If you really want to go all the way, you can add some colorful throw pillows and some fragrance.

Learn From Those Who Knew
My granny used to talk about how they cooked during the war. She said that rationing forced them to return to simple recipes. When she passed, I inherited her cookbook from the 1930s. It’s full of great, simple recipes. I’ve added a few other old cookbooks that I found on eBay. I love it when someone asks where I got the recipe and I just tell them it was an old recipe I had in my collection.

Next Christmas Will Be Easy
It’s finally here. It’s that time of year when our favorite fruits are in season and I’m thinking about Christmas. We like to do a little something for coworkers, neighbors, teachers, etc. around the holidays and now is the perfect time to plan ahead by making large amounts of jam. I’ve tried a few different types over the years. My favorites for giving are flavors that you can’t get off the shelf at your local grocery store. This week, I stocked up on blueberries for $.99 a pint and made multiple batches of blueberry chardonnay jam. I’ll make tags on my computer that includes a list of ingredients and appropriate clip art. When the busy holiday season arrives, I’ll have gifts that keep well and are ready to give for those special people that touch our daily lives. By planning ahead, I can make the holidays a little less stressful and take advantage of the great prices while the fruit is in season.

Vacation Meals
We’re renting a condo on the beach for two weeks this summer. We don’t want to spend a lot of money in restaurants, but I don’t want to spend the whole vacation in the kitchen. My solution is to do much of the cooking before vacation. I’ve been doubling up on a number of meals for the last few weeks. The second meal goes into the freezer. I’ll be taking them along on our trip. After putting the extra meal in the oven or microwave for a few minutes, I’ll add a little salad (no hard prep there) and a dessert. We will eat great and I won’t have to spend much time in the kitchen.

Reduce Drying Time

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

Reduce Drying Time
I run the spin cycle twice on my washer. I’ve found that running it a second time reduces the amount of time that clothes need to spend in the dryer. And that saves money. Krystin

Nearly Cash
I like to use cash because it helps me reduce my spending, but I don’t like the thought of being robbed. I started carrying traveler’s checks. I can use them like cash, but if I’m robbed, I can stop payment on them. Audrey

Unexpected Senior Discounts
Check with your state. Ohio has a “Golden Buckeye Card” available to seniors 60 and up and the disabled. We get 10 percent off at many places and even 25% off pizzas at Papa John’s. Your state may have a similar program. Joyce

Cheap Packing Material
Shipping supplies were eating up the profits from my eBay business. Then I started collecting empty egg cartons from friends. They make excellent cushioning materials for breakables. You can easily cut them to any size you want, and they weigh almost nothing. Lina

Hurricane Prep
Every year, I save empty soda and milk bottles. I clean them and set them aside. If a hurricane threatens, I fill them up with drinking water. They say that you need about one gallon per day per person. That’s a lot of water. Not only do I save money, but also driving from store to store to find water when a storm is approaching isn’t any fun. Annette

Which Paint Color?
We wanted to repaint our living room but couldn’t decide on a color. Our current color looked good in daylight, but not so good at night. I got a bunch of paint chips and taped them to the wall. Then I looked at them hourly throughout the day. As the light changed, I removed the ones that I didn’t like. By the end of the day, I had one that I liked no matter what the lighting.  Marjo

Fast Food at Home
Tired of paying $3 or more for a fast food hamburger? I’ve solved the problem. When my butcher has ground round on sale, I buy 10 pounds. Once home, I make 1/4 pound patties. I like to add some breadcrumbs, a little oil, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Then I grill them all at once. After grilling, I freeze them with wax paper between each burger. When we want a quick meal, I pull as many as I need from the freezer and pop them into the microwave. Hit the defrost button, and in a few minutes, we have burgers. They taste like they just came off the grill. Colleen

Trip Memories
I like to have a record of our family vacations. I used to save postcards, napkins, receipts, or anything else that described our trip. Now I keep a digital record. All through the trip, I take pictures of anything that’s something I want to remember. Instead of keeping a menu, I just take a picture of it. I do the same thing with ticket stubs, etc. When I get home, I assemble a PowerPoint with all the pictures and anything that I want to write about the memory. It’s an easy digital record of our vacation. Plus, when the kids grow up, it’ll be easy to give them their own copy of the file. Gwen

Do-It-Yourself Play Structures
We were in the market for a play structure last year. My husband is an excellent woodworker and I am an architect. We thought that we could easily design and build a play structure for less money than the ready-made ones. In researching the cost of materials and the time involved (we have two small children), it became apparent that even when building one on our own, we were not going to save that much money. Quality materials (redwood, cedar, etc.) are surprisingly expensive. Then I started checking the local paper. Many people sell their structures after a few years because their kids outgrow them or they are moving and it is too much trouble to move. We ended up getting a play structure that was only two years old for about a quarter of the cost of a new one. And the best part was that the only labor involved was disassembling and reassembling it at our house. One note is that if you see an ad, call immediately. There is a lot of competition for a good quality play structure at a great price. Sue W.

Keeping Cool
Working outdoors can be tough in the summer months. Keeping cool is important. One thing I do is to make sure that I always have cool water to drink and stay hydrated. I also learned that it helps if I keep my wrists and neck cool, so I pour cool water over wristbands and a headband. Then I put them on my wrists and neck. I don’t know why, but it makes me much more comfortable no matter what the temperature. Jake

Savings for Singles
Eleven years ago, I found myself going through a divorce and suddenly single. I had a $1200 mortgage payment and a job making $10.50/hour. The first thing I did was find a roommate. It wasn’t my preferred way of living, but it did add $6,000 to my yearly income. Plus, it cut my utilities in half. Then I looked for a better paying job. After a couple of years, I was able to drop the roommate and live alone again. As soon as I could, I started saving $100/month into a mutual fund, and I kept increasing my contribution rate as I was able to. That fund has over $80,000 now and will cover me in the worst of scenarios in case of job loss and possibly pay off my mortgage early. I’ve changed jobs three times since then, always looking for companies that offer better opportunities. I now make over four times what I did ten years ago. It’s possible to live well as a single, but it takes sacrifices at times. I still drive my 1987 Honda, for example. Be frugal and be proud. Stephanie

Cutting Corners on Landscaping
I love to help young couples move into their first homes. One way that I help them is to provide plants for their yards. Buying grown plants can be really expensive. This is especially true for someone who has just purchased a home. I grow all kinds of plants from cuttings, so I can give them away freely. I’ve done junipers, hydrangea, pine trees, magnolia trees, viburnum, and miniature lilac.
I just mix peat moss with a little good soil. Then I pull all but a few top leaves off the stem and make a diagonal slice at the bottom of the branch. Insert the shrub stem in a container of the peat and dirt. I water frequently and replant when it has taken root. Not every plant survives, but even if I lose half, I still have half to give away at no cost to me. Connie

Summer Cooler
As a special summer treat, we store a few glasses in our freezer. When we want a really cool drink of water, soda, or beer, we have a frosty glass to make it that much better. Dana

Kids’ Crafts
My kids love to do crafts over the summer holidays, so I save up the styrofoam bases that veggies come on. I also get baby food jars from a friend at work. Between them, I’m set for a variety of painting projects with my kids.  Corina

Biting Mosquitoes
You can make your own after-bite treatment for mosquitoes and red ants. All you need is a little ammonia and a cotton swab or a paper towel. Just dab a drop or two of ammonia on the bite. In just a few seconds, the itching will stop. Problem solved. Chae

Prevent Burglaries
For low cost home security, if your home gets a fair amount of sun, you can use plants around your house that would make burglars think twice about breaking in. Cactus and pyracanthus are two good choices. A bunch of stickers are a good deterrent. Check your planting zone to see what grows well where you live. Barbara

A Clean Start
I’ve found that laundry soap builds up in my washer. I try using less with each wash, but that’s not enough. Now about every six months, I do a few loads of laundry using baking soda as my detergent. This not only cleans out my washing machine, but it also removes a bunch of soap from towels or whatever I’m washing.  Allyson

Time Off
When we vacation, we leave some free time in the schedule. We always find something that looks interesting no matter where we go. We may find an inexpensive factory tour or a great free spot for a picnic. Instead of feeling like we missed something or trying to cram too much into our trip, now we can add something to the schedule without feeling rushed. DeeDee

Taking a Long Vacation
Since we retired, we often close up the house for a month or more. Sometimes we’re visiting with our children and other times we’re just traveling. We learned that some bills can be suspended or reduced if we are away. Two examples are our car insurance and the cable bill. If you’re going to be away, you might want to call and see if you can do that as well. Gloria

An Old Entertainment Center
Repurposed entertainment centers make great play areas for children. A little paint and a lot of creativity can result in a little girl’s (or boy’s) kitchen, a tool station, a hair salon, or a dress up area. There are lots of ideas and photos on Pinterest. If you don’t have young children of your own, it would make a great gift or you could even sell it on Craigslist or eBay. Christine

Family Finance Fights
My husband and I used to get into the worst fights over money. I hated it when he spent money golfing with his buddies. He got mad every time I bought a new pair of shoes. We both work and felt like we should have some freedom to spend what we wanted. So we set up two debit cards. We each have one to use however we want. They’re refilled each month with a preset amount. Currently it’s $150 per month. The rest of our earnings go into our joint account to cover our household expenses. As long as I use my debit card, he can’t say anything about the new bag that’s being delivered tomorrow. Kerry

Hotel Deals
My wife and I love to travel. When I’m checking in at the hotel, I always ask if there are any discounts I missed when I made the reservation. Or if I don’t have a reservation, I ask if there are any discounts that apply now. You’d be surprised how often they’ll give me a discount that I never even knew about. I’ve also found that they’re much more likely to help if I’m polite and cheerful when I’m checking in. Even if they don’t have a discount for me, I’ve had a chance to make their day a little more cheerful

Long Car Trips
We’re taking a two-week vacation by car this year. A trick we learned last Christmas should make the trip more pleasant. We’ll have a teenager, a seven year old, my husband and me in the car. We all like different kinds of music. Instead of everyone putting on headphones (which makes it impossible to talk about the things we’ll see while driving), we’ll use Pandora. Each one of us has a separate channel for our favorite type of music. I connect my phone to the van’s sound system and start the app. When I set it for shuffle, it gives everyone’s music a play. It made our holiday car trip more fun. I can’t wait to use it for our vacation. Rachel

Gender Bending Shopping
Some products are marketed as specifically for men or women, but if you look closely at the product or its ingredients, you may find that the only difference is in the packaging and pricing. For instance, some toiletries (like antiperspirant or shave cream) are virtually the same, but the prices aren’t the same. The same thing is true with white sweat socks. I don’t care if the package says it’s for men. If the product is the same and the price is cheaper, it goes into my basket. Julia

Better BBQ
I’m particular about my BBQ. After using lighter fluid, I wait for all of it to burn off, so it doesn’t ruin the taste of whatever I’m grilling or smoking. However, sometimes I’m in a hurry. At those times, I use cooking oil. I take a wadded up paper towel and pour cooking oil onto it. Then I put that among the charcoal and light it. It burns off faster and doesn’t leave any flavor in the food. Brad

Protect Your Flower Beds

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Protect Your Flower Beds
My flower beds were always being dug up by my dog. Finally I put chicken wire on the ground around the flowers. I used stakes to hold it down. Now my pooch leaves my flowers alone. A

Protect the Fruit
We have a few fruit trees. To protect the fruit from birds, I hang old CDs or Christmas garland in the trees. For some reason, this seems to keep the birds away. It might look a little strange, but I’d rather eat the fruit myself. Kathy

Athlete’s Foot Prevention
The cheapest and most effective way to prevent athlete’s foot is bicarbonate of soda. Sprinkle a little between your toes before you put your socks and shoes on. Also, make sure your socks are 100 percent cotton to help the skin breath.
Samantha in Manchester U.K.

Protect Your Hair
Spending time on the beach or at a pool is great, but it’s hard on my hair. Therefore, I carry a bottle of conditioner in my beach bag. When I get there, I run some through my hair and leave it in. This simple step keeps my hair looking good all summer. Zoe

First Anniversary Present
First I totally agree with the idea of eliminating wedding favors. They just get thrown away. One thing I do keep is the wedding invitation. On the first anniversary, I arrange to have the wedding invitation sealed in a picture frame and present it to the couple as a gift. It has always been warmly received.
Kate S. in Victoria BC Canada

I learned how to kill roaches when I was out of the country and didn’t have access to pest control products. The locals mixed 50/50 cornstarch and plaster of Paris. They left it on can lids under cabinets, dressers, etc. Roaches were attracted to it, ate it, and died. The only caution is to keep it away from pets and babies. Jenn

Feeling Down
Sometimes I get to feeling down and have a hard time getting out of the rut. My sister told me what she does when this happens. She takes just two minutes to write down all the good things that she has in her life and the good things that have happened recently. I tried it, and it works. I always run out of time before I run out of good things. And it never fails to give me a better outlook on life. Arleen

Selling Your Home
Before you put your home up for sale, you’ll want to complete those little repairs that you’ve been putting off. Fix all the squeaky hinges and dings in the walls. Fix anything that might make buyers think that maintenance has been neglected. Another way to reassure potential buyers is to pay for an independent home inspection and let them see the report. Jude

Really Under Cabinet Storage
We moved to a smaller home after our kids moved out. The kitchen lacked cabinet space, so my husband built small drawers on wheels. He took off the kick plates on the base cabinets and the drawers roll under the cabinets. I store my cookie sheets and some canned goods there. We’re inspired by those tiny houses. Now, if we can only figure out some extra storage in our bedroom, we’d be set.  Dianna

Can You
One of the biggest savings tools I’ve found is learning to do some basic home repairs myself. When something breaks (like a lamp or faucet), I search on Google and YouTube to see how to fix it. Sometimes the repair is beyond my comfort level or the tools that I have, but at other times, I can do the repair for a fraction of what it would cost to have replaced or have someone repair it for me. An added plus is that I get to brag on Facebook. Rick

The Sun Solution
We have a west window in our home that lets in a lot of afternoon sun and heat. I like the morning and afternoon view, but I wanted to block the late afternoon heat. I picked up one of those solar blankets for $2, but it tore when I put it up and took it down. Then I had the idea of attaching it to an old roll-up window shade that I had lying around. Now it rolls up and down without a problem. Andreana

Waiting for Your Doctor
Hate waiting for a doctor’s appointment? Then try these two tricks I learned as a receptionist. First try to book an appointment first thing in the morning. Most doctors run late because of unplanned interruptions. They accumulate as the day wears on. Therefore, earlier appointments are more likely to be on time. It also doesn’t hurt to call before you leave for your appointment to ask if the doctor is running on time. The receptionist won’t mind telling you if they’re running behind schedule. Reeba

What’s Your Car Cost
Two weeks ago, I started biking as much as the weather and time permits to go to work as well as run errands. I found an interactive tool on a website where you can calculate the true cost of driving your particular vehicle. In my case, it is a Chevy Equinox. It calculated that it is costing me 63 cents per kilometer (I live in Canada). Every time I go somewhere by bike, I determine the distance from Google Maps and then figure out my savings. In the last two weeks alone, I have saved over $150. Seeing this dollar amount has really motivated me to keep on doing it and now I really make sure I have the time to do it. Not only am I saving money, but I’m getting fitter as well. Patti B.

Better Cereal

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

Better Cereal
I buy store brand cereals to save money, but to make them special, I add chopped nuts and any dried fruit that isn’t used in other dishes I’m cooking. My family gets something special. I get the savings. Julia

Loves Dogs, But...
I rent where no pets are allowed. To get my puppy fix, I volunteer at my local animal shelter. I get to walk, play with, and care for a variety of dogs. The only downside is that much as I’d like to take one home, I can’t. Ilene

Cheap Detergent
My family has allergies, so I can’t use cheap detergents on our clothing. However, I can still use it on area rugs, cleaning towels, etc. Therefore, I buy two detergents. I buy one more expensive brand for clothing and a cheaper brand for everything else. Micki

Summer Fire Starters
You don’t need to use Match Light® charcoal. Just cover a cotton ball or swab with a coating of Vaseline®. Light it and put it on your grill. It’ll burn for up to five minutes, which should be enough to get your fire started. This is especially true if you use dry wood or some newspaper, too. Jack

Still Good?
My pantry isn’t well organized, and I often find things that I forgot were there. When that happens, I’m often unsure whether I can still use them or not, so I go to Many times, the sell-by date is not the date that counts. Any food that you save is money in the bank. Colline

The Duster
If you have a dust problem, I know the solution. Just take a 20x20 furnace filter and put it in front of a running box fan. The fan will suck the filter, so it stays put. We leave it running 24 hours a day. It’s amazing how much dust it accumulates over a few days. We use the type of filter that can be cleaned, but the disposable ones would work too.  Chrysa

Hair De-Tangler
I am Italian and have always had very curly, wiry hair. When I was little, I would scream and scream when Mom tried to brush it after a bath. My mother’s hairdresser told her to mix 1/3 regular conditioner with 2/3 water in a spray bottle and use as a “leave-in conditioner” for after a shower. It doesn’t take much, and it works just like the name brand no tangle formula. Cristina

$5 Fridays
We have a summer tradition in our home. We call it $5 Friday. Each week, my three kids and I think about what we can do to have fun while only spending $5 or less. One week, we bought flavors and made snow cones. At another time, we bought balloons and had a water balloon fight. The kids are always coming up with new ideas. Not only does it help keep them occupied during the summer, but also it helps to teach them about the value of money and saving.  Jules

Summer Cool
Here’s a great way to keep cool this summer. It makes a fan super-efficient. I freeze an old quart milk bottle that I’ve filled with water. I place it in front of the fan that blows on me. The fan blows air over the melting ice and keeps me really cool. To catch the dripping condensation from the outside of the bottle, I place the bottle on a cake pan. It’s the cheapest way to get cool that I know. Scott

Affordable Organic
The key to organic is to simplify your menu first. Figure out what your family likes or can live without and go from there. Consider a garden to get the much needed tomatoes, green peppers, spinach, etc. in order to make the favorites for the family. Then learn to can and freeze your food properly. Consider canning the best recycling ever. Get canning equipment for next to nothing by just asking around, and maybe can with a friend to make it “less painful.” I gave up “convenience” foods, especially in the organic health food section. I can’t rationalize boxed macaroni and cheese when making it from scratch is way better and just as easy. Invest in simplified cookbooks that break it down to the basics, such as Moosewood Classics, Cheap. Fast. Good., Miserly Meals, and the indispensable More-With-Less Cookbook. These are the most used books in my cupboard because of the wide range of menus and simple ingredients. Heidi

Can’t Afford Wedding
Since we couldn’t afford a fancy wedding, we came up with an alternative. We invited just our close family to a private wedding ceremony. Then three weeks later, we had a big potluck party for extended family and friends. Since it wasn’t a formal wedding, we didn’t have to hire a band or a caterer. We just used our neighborhood clubhouse. We told people not to bring presents, but rather bring a dish to share. Music was provided by Pandora and we all had a great time. We’re thinking of doing it again next year on our anniversary. Shaina

Quickie Summer Meals
My husband likes to grill and my family loves charbroiled foods, so we always cook extra any time he fires up the grill. We’ll do extra hotdogs, burgers, even chicken and pork chops. For the pieces that we won’t be eating that night, we pull them off the grill when they’re about 80 percent cooked and put them into the fridge. When we want a quick meal, I put them in a bowl of water and finish cooking them in the microwave. They taste like they just came off the fire. Vera

Shorter Showers

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

Shorter Showers
Our teens seemed to spend forever in the shower. Then my husband put a 15-minute timer on the bathroom light. Now our kids manage to finish their showers in less than that time. Lorie

Shaving Cream
One day I ran out of shaving cream, so I reached for my wife’s hand lotion. I put a generous amount on my hands and rubbed it on my face. I got a great shave. Since then, I’ve also just used regular bar soap, too. I’ll never buy canned shaving lather again. Vince

Summer Storage
Instead of those expensive clothing storage bags, I just use big green trash bags. I use my vacuum hose to suck all the air out just like the pricey ones. I like them because they take up less space, and since they’re sealed, I don’t have to worry about moths or other bugs taking up residence. Darlene

When I was a teen, I came home from the beach with a sunburn. My dad made me take a cold shower as soon as I got home. I didn’t want to at first, but I’m glad I did. The cold water soothed my burned skin and helped my skin heal faster. I’ve read that sunburned skin swells a little and I think that the cold water helped that, too. Best of all, I avoided peeling. Katey

Cool Breezes
Most nights our temperature drops into the high 60s to low 70s. At sunset, we open windows on both sides of the house. We have box fans that we put in the windows. On one side of the house, they pull cooler outside air into the house. On the other side, they pull the inside air and blow it out. The effect is to draw the nighttime cooler air through the house. Our A/C runs for less time, and we don’t get that stuffy feeling that a perpetually closed house tends to have.

Outdoor Celebration
My wife and I wanted to do something special to celebrate our first anniversary, but we didn’t have much money. Instead of going to a fancy restaurant, we decided on a romantic picnic. We bought a bottle of wine and made a nice dinner to take along. We even brought a battery-powered lantern to imitate a candelabra. It didn’t cost much, and we had a great time. We’re not sure if we’ll do it again next year, but we’ll always remember this anniversary. Zach

Declutter Home for Sale
Having spent 10 years selling real estate, I feel that the number one pre-sale improvement is to rid your home of extra clutter. Remove all the extra furniture, too. All surfaces should be clean, dust free, and as bare as possible. It doesn’t cost anything (except for a storage unit if you have too much) and having a garage sale can help with moving expenses. Be sure the garage, if you have one, is free from all the toys (both kids’ toys and hubby’s toys). Put the out-of-season stuff away, too. Have a friend go through and help you decide what should be put away. David

No Chemical Window Cleaning
I hate to use chemicals to clean my windows. We have French doors going out to our deck and the dog licks them after I clean them. Not only do they get dirty again, but also it can’t be healthy for our puppy. Then I found that I can get them perfectly clean by using microfiber cloths. I wet one and wipe the window. Then take the second cloth and wipe it dry. I end up with perfectly clean windows, and even if our dog does give them a lick, there’s nothing that will harm him. Tanya

Permanent...or Temporary
We were redecorating my daughter’s bedroom. It’s time to go from baby to “big girl.” I saw a hand painted border that would look wonderful, but I wasn’t sure that I could do it. And I was afraid that if I used regular latex paint and messed up, I might have to repaint the entire room. Then I had an idea. I painted the border using water colors. I used a good quality brush, not the one that usually comes with water colors. I did make a mistake or two, but they were easily corrected with a little water. Once I was finished, it looked just like I did it in latex. The only drawback is that I can’t wash the walls without removing the border, but I shouldn’t have to worry about that for a while. Leanne

Dusty Ceiling Fans
The ceiling fan in our bedroom is placed right over the bed. That’s fine except when I need to dust it. Even when using stuff that’s supposed to attract the dust to the dust cloth, it seems that it always drops a bunch of dust bunnies on our bed. Now I wait to dust the fan until it’s time to change my sheets. If the dust falls on the sheets, I don’t care. Their next stop is the laundry. Rachele

Better Than The Steakhouse
My wife and I like a good steak, but steakhouses can get pricy. We’ve learned how to imitate the best steak restaurants. We begin by buying a good quality steak. We go to our butcher shop and buy “choice” cuts. They have more marbling, which is what provides the taste. We buy it thicker than what we need. Next we dry age it. We rub a lot of salt onto both sides of the steak and put it on a tray in the fridge for two or three days. The steak will lose a little moisture and shrink a bit. That concentrates the flavor. Just before cooking it, I shave a small layer off the steak. Then I broil or grill it. This is just as good as the best steakhouse at a fraction of the cost. Doug

Homemade Headboard
I’ve been looking at headboards on Pinterest. I saw a lot that I liked, but couldn’t afford. Then one day, we happened to visit a salvage yard that had a section of rusted iron fencing for sale. It was a little big for a headboard, but I figured I could cut it to size. I bought it for a few dollars. After cutting it with a hacksaw to the size I wanted, I used a wire brush to get most of the rust off. I liked the aged look, so I just clear coated it. After bolting on some brackets to mount it to the bedframe, I was done. It’s better than anything I had seen in Pinterest. Chrissy

From Thin to Win

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.
Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

From Thin to Win
When I thin out my garden, I save the unwanted plants and replant them in pots. Then when a neighbor is having a yard sale, I put my plants out and have a plant sale. I price them real cheap and usually have them all sold out by mid-morning. Rolly

Use By Date
I keep a magnetic dry erase board on my freezer door. Anything in the fridge or freezer that has a “use by” date is listed on the board along with the date that it should be used by. I’m finding that a lot more food is getting used up instead of thrown out now. Kelli

Laundry Time Saver
We have two clothes hampers. One is for colors and one is for whites. I line each one with one of those large green trash bags. When I’m ready to do laundry, I just pull the bag out of the hamper and take it to the Laundromat. I also leave my detergent right in the bag. It’s super convenient. Justine

Big City Hotels
When we visit my son, we stay at a downtown hotel. They have parking, but it’s not free. In fact, it’s getting very expensive. Last time we visited, I googled “parking garages” and found one right near the hotel for a fraction of the cost. It means we have to drop off our luggage and then park the car, but to save $30 per day, it’s well worth it. Andy

My Storeroom
Most people can fruits and veggies in the fall, but I can all year long. It began when I started canning meals to take on our camping trips. Then I started making large batches of spaghetti sauce, soups, and stew and canning a few quart jars for future use. Now I often pull some canned foods from my storeroom and have an easy time in the kitchen. Kathi

Found on Craigslist
My wife and I both like to work with our hands. It’s a relief after spending all day in an office. I’m more into repairing things. She likes to be creative. We watch Craigslist for things that we can repair or repurpose. It’s a great hobby. We’ve even turned it into a small business. Once we’ve performed our magic, we put the same things back on Craigslist for sale. Cade

Souvenir Savings
With three kids, buying souvenirs can get expensive. This is especially true if you buy them at theme parks. So we tried something different. We searched for thrift shops near our motel. They had t-shirts, coffee mugs, key chains, and other trinkets that were just like what we would have bought at the park. But, we bought these items at thrift store prices. Now my kids can use more of their allowance to buy ice cream or other vacation treats. Nina

My Work Uniform
Dressing for work used to be a real problem for me. Office casual is the norm. Every evening I was looking to match tops with skirts or slacks. Shopping was a challenge, too. Then I decided to simplify. All of my work skirts and slacks are either black or grey. I can match virtually any top with either color. Shopping and choosing an outfit are much easier now. The only problem left is to decide which pair of shoes to wear. Amanda

Children’s Party Favors
For my daughter’s birthday party last month, we came up with a unique and fun idea for party favors. We bought some soap blocks and soap making molds at a craft store. We then purchased small “prizes” to put inside of the soap when we poured the molds. We used very small Christmas Santa ornaments, but you could use your imagination to put other surprises in the soap, such as small beaded bracelets, shells, or silk flowers. The girls had fun making the soap, which involved melting the soap block in the microwave, pouring it into the molds, and popping their Santa ornament into the soap. After about 30 minutes, the soap cooled and easily popped out of the mold. We then put the soaps into Baggies and tied the Baggies with bows. The girls had a great time doing this project and got to bring their own handmade soap home. Sherrie

Puppy Treats
For really safe treats, I buy the cheapest roast beef I can find. Then I ask the butcher to slice it thin for making beef jerky and to slice it with the grain. I put it in my food dehydrator and let it completely dry out. I don’t add any seasonings, and my dogs love it. The cost is way cheaper than a pound of commercial beef jerky. I paid $3.49 for a pound of beef, compared to many times more than that for a few ounces of commercial jerky. And it is better for my dogs without any additives. Joann S.

Before You Leave
If you’re planning a trip this summer, call your credit card company and let them know. Last summer, we were driving cross country. Near Memphis, we had our card turned down when we wanted to buy gas. I called the credit card company, and they told me that the pattern of charges looked suspicious. We still have a landline, so they called our house. Naturally there was no answer, so they cut off the card. This year, I’ll be calling them before we hit the road.

My Hidden Pantry
I was looking for space to store pantry items. I noticed that the door between our kitchen and utility room only opened 90 degrees and had about a six-inch space behind it when it was open. With such a narrow space, we never tried to put anything besides brooms and mops behind it. Then it occurred to me that I could build a bunch of four-inch shelves behind it. This is perfect for storing (and finding) canned goods and other pantry items. I used those rails that allowed me to put brackets in wherever I wanted them. I have some shelves that are one can high and others that are for taller items. James

Cleaning Combs and Brushes

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Cleaning Combs and Brushes
An easy way to clean combs and brushes is to put a cup of peroxide into a large bowl and fill the bowl with water. Then drop in combs and brushes for five to ten minutes. Rinse with plain water. It’s a no fuss way to a clean brush.

Just In Case
I’ve never lost a bag while traveling, but my friends have. I learned that it’s very helpful to have a list of what’s inside your bag. When I pack, I make a list and keep it in my purse just in case the airline manages to “misplace” my bag. Rona

Area Rugs
Every month I take up my area rugs and put them in the dryer with a hand towel dampened with plain vinegar. I run them on the fluff cycle for about 20 minutes. They don’t get wet, but they do get deodorized. My house smells fresher for days after I do this. Nadine

Self-Cleaning Ovens
I’ve found that I can stop the self-cleaning cycle on my oven after an hour. The automatic timer would let it run much longer. After an hour, the stove is perfectly clean. I do have to wipe out the ashes when it cools down. I’m guessing that the extra time would have vaporized the ashes, too. Susie

Upside Down Tomatoes
I wanted to try the upside down tomatoes on my apartment balcony, but I didn’t like the price. Then I spotted a stack of those reusable grocery bags on sale for a dollar or two. I cut two small holes in the bottom and then filled it with dirt. I planted my tomatoes in the holes and hung the whole bag on my balcony just like it was one of those expensive planters. I can’t wait to start harvesting those tomatoes. Jacob

Hospital Bills
Mom was in the hospital twice last year. The first time she was there for three days. When we got the bill, we couldn’t remember what was done, so we had no way of telling whether the bill was accurate or not. During the second time she was in, we made a habit of listing all the things they did. Every time a doctor/nurse/aid came in, we marked it down. I even used the camera on my phone to take pictures of everything I could think of. The second bill was still a nightmare, but we did see a few things that we could get taken off of the bill. We sure wish they didn’t make it so difficult. Sandra

Just a Little Longer
I’ve always been in the habit of grocery shopping once a week, but last summer money was tight. I found that I could go eight days between shopping. This means that I make about one less trip to the store every two months. And, I’ve found that my grocery bill has not increased by more than a few dollars, so I’m saving money, too. At this rate, I’ll avoid six trips to the store. I’m putting the money into my IRA, so I can feed myself after I retire. Liza

My Brand of Flavored Water
I know how important it is to stay hydrated, so I drink a lot of water. I really like the flavored waters, but I don’t like what they do to my food bill. Now, I make my own. I buy 100 percent juice and add it to tap water that I’ve run through my filter. I have plenty of cups with lids, so it’s easy to take my water with me. Now I enjoy my flavored water without being concerned about the cost. Josie

Garage Sale Addiction
I’m addicted to garage sales, but I don’t need any more stuff in my home. Now I only allow myself to buy things that I can use as Christmas and birthday gifts for my family. Often I can find great things for their hobbies or interests for just pennies. It allows me to shop without spending a lot on things I don’t need. And, when the holidays come, I have most of my Christmas shopping already done. Susanna

Too Many Dishes
Our family drinks a lot of water and juice, especially in the summer. It seemed like I was running the dishwasher at least once a day with dirty glasses, so I bought some colored plastic glasses. Each set had six colors. I bought three sets. Each member of my family now has their own color. I encourage them to use the same glass all day long. Now, at the end of the day, we have six glasses in the dishwasher, not 16. LeeAnne

I’m Going First Class
My friends say I’m lucky because I manage to get upgraded to first class frequently when I fly. I don’t think its luck. I’m always nice to the gate attendants, and I make sure that I wear clothing that wouldn’t look out of place in first class (no shorts or T-shirts). I also book flights early in the day when they’re more likely to have open spaces in first class.  Dwayne

Mortgage Prepays
My husband and I just bought our first house. We’d like to have the mortgage paid off long before 30 years pass, so we’ve come up with this strategy. We have a copy of the amortization table. It says how much of each payment goes to pay interest and how much to reduce principal. Our goal is to add the amount of principal reduction to each payment.
In the early years, not much of our payment goes to the principal, so it should be easy to add it to the payment amount. We expect it’ll get tougher in later years, but we hope to have a higher income by then. Even if we don’t reach our goal each month, we still should be building equity much faster than we would otherwise.  Amanda

Free Landscaping

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Free Landscaping
I’ve been busy trading plants with my friends and neighbors. Many plants need to be divided or propagated, so we all swap what we don’t need. It’s a great way to bring variety to a yard or garden without spending any money. Terri

My Hot Water Is On Vacation
Our water heater has a “vacation” setting. Each day after my family has taken their morning showers and I’ve run the dishwasher, I change the setting on the water heater to vacation and leave it there until bedtime. The savings have been surprising. Laura

Moldy Cheese
Tired of throwing away cheese because it got moldy? Store it in the fridge with the cheese wrapped tightly with a sugar cube. That’ll increase the shelf life dramatically. And, if you do get mold, you can wipe it off with a paper towel soaked in vinegar. It’s safe and won’t change the flavor. Zach

Discounted Groceries
I make a habit of asking questions at my grocery store. I try to talk with the different department managers to find out when they drop prices to move inventory that’s nearing its sell by date. Now I shop to take advantage of the marked down meats, veggies, and dairy products. My family is eating a lot better for less

Natural Bath and Kitchen Scrub
My daughter is sensitive to chemicals and allergens, so I avoid most of the cleaning products you can buy at the store. Instead, I make my own. For the kitchen and bath, I make a 50/50 mix of borax and baking soda. It’s cheap, non-toxic, and works well in the tub, sinks, and toilets. I just lightly scrub with a brush or cloth. Kitty

Great Grad Gift
I know exactly what I’m going to give my niece for her graduation. I bought one of those picture frames that has multiple openings in them for a variety of pictures. I’ll take my niece’s graduation invitation and place it in one opening. In the others, I’ll place some pictures of her as she was growing up. It’ll be a nice keepsake for her. Rachel

Water Waster
Everyone is aware of the water shortage in California. We don’t have a shortage where I live, but water is expensive, especially since I have a nice garden each summer. I found that a drip irrigation system in my garden works just as well as more traditional sprinklers, but uses just a fraction of the water. My garden is happy, and I’m happy with the lower water bills. Leon

Handy Herbs
I like to use herbs and spices in my cooking. I like to always have some herbs ready, so I chop them up and put a teaspoon into each spot in an ice cube tray. Then I add a little water and freeze them. Once frozen, I put them in a baggie that’s marked with which herb the cube contains. When I want the herb, I just toss a cube into my soup, sauce, or recipe. It melts as it’s cooking. It’s easy and tasty. Luci

Not Driving Today
As a work-at-home mom, it seemed like I had an errand or two to run every day. Not only was this taking an hour or so out of my day, but it also required me to gas up the car more often. So I decided that Tuesday and Thursday would be “no drive days” at our house. Unless there’s some type of emergency, I do everything I can to avoid running any errands on those days. I’ve found that I’m saving both time and gasoline. You should try it. Shannon

Free Entertainment
My city’s public library has a startlingly enormous collection of DVDs for classic and contemporary movies. They also have a website from which I can find any item in their collection and have it sent to my nearest branch library and held for me. This is all a free service. I had used it for years for books, but just recently realized that almost every movie I would want to see, except for the most recent ones, is in their collection already. I had a Netflix queue of 150 movies I had found to be interested in, and I spent some time going down the queue. Almost every movie on that list was also in the library’s collection. That means I can easily get any of them without Netflix for free. So I printed out that queue, cancelled my Netflix subscription, and will borrow them from the library. Another monthly cost eliminated, and those monthly costs do add up quickly. Anne in Austin

Saving Leftover Paint
Whether I’m painting a room or doing trim, I like to save the extra paint for future touch-ups. But, I found that no matter how tightly I sealed the can, the paint only seemed to last for a few years before it went bad. Then I had an idea. Figuring that the air left in the paint can was the enemy, I wanted to remove it. I began to put clean, empty baby food jars into the partially empty paint can to take up space. When I had added enough so that the paint was near the top, I sealed the can. Now my leftover paint is good for many years.  Nick

Saving on Healthy Foods
I find a lot of healthy foods at ethnic grocery stores. There is a store is our area featuring European foods, and they have a lot of fresh produce, bulk foods, ethnic bakery goods, and ethnic prepared foods. These stores are very reasonable and have wonderful deals on fresh produce. They have a lot of whole-wheat products, many different kinds of cheese, whole grain breads from ethnic bakeries, and all kinds of Mexican, Greek and Asian foods. I still shop at Whole Foods once in a while, but I go to the ethnic grocery store first. They have the best selection of olive oil I’ve ever seen. They also carry types of dried beans that I never even heard of. There are all kinds of beans sold in bulk. They have unusual foods just like at Whole Foods but at a fraction of the price. Look in the yellow pages to find some ethnic stores and check them out. Marilynn T.

Handy Wash

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

Handy Wash
When I was in Trinidad, I noticed that there was always a small bowl of dish soap mixed with water beside the kitchen sink. It makes it really easy to just dip a sponge in the bowl for cleaning. Plus, less soap is used. Brian

Reducing Dryer Time
My electric dryer costs a lot to operate and really heats up my home in the summer, so I now use homemade dryer balls. I ball up aluminum foil and put it in the dryer with my wet clothes. This works just as well as the more expensive dryer balls you can buy. Leesa

Clean Out
I learned a trick from a friend of mine. She told me that you should never work on spotted clothes from the front. If you do, your scrubbing pushes the stain into the fabric. If you work on it from the back, you’re pushing it out of the fabric. I’ve been using her trick for years, and it works great. Celeste

Candle Holders
We entertain guests for dinner, and I like to use candles to help set the mood. But, I hate cleaning the melted wax off the candle holders. I’ve found that I can place them on foil in the oven at 200 degrees. In just a few minutes, the wax melts off the holders and falls onto the foil. Then I just wipe off the candle holders and throw out the foil. Becky

Non-Refundable Fares...Really
I was surprised to find out that most non-refundable airfares are refundable for the first 24 hours after you book the flight without any penalty. Check the terms and conditions before you book. I keep shopping during those 24 hours to see if I can find a cheaper alternative. You’d be amazed at how many refunds I’ve gotten on non-refundable tickets.

Watering Your Garden
I’m a big believer in using what nature gives us. One of those things is rain. I’ve rigged my gutters to pour the water into rain barrels. The rain barrels are hooked to a hose that I can use in my garden. Instead of water running off my roof and over watering my lawn, now it’s used to help grow veggies. You can find rain barrels online very inexpensively. Try one. Maggie

Extra Pay
I make my budget based on a regular 40-hour week and four checks per month. In the months when I get five checks, I put one into the account that holds my emergency fund. I also put in any overtime I get. By doing this, I’ve replaced a dishwasher and repaired an air conditioner and my car out of the emergency fund. I’m really glad that I didn’t have to put it on my credit card. Kayla

Loves Sushi
I love sushi, but the habit can get expensive. I looked for ways to cut costs. I realized that it was the taste of common spices they used that I liked, including pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce. I went to the grocery store and bought some of each. I also searched out some recipes that use these spices. Now, when I get the urge for sushi, I cook up one of these recipes. I save money and still get the taste that I’m craving. Casey

I’m Prepped
When I get home from work, I don’t have a lot of time to get dinner ready. I’ve gotten in the habit of preparing ingredients over the weekend. I chop onions, peppers, etc. Peel carrots and cut them. Also, I brown any ground beef that I’ll be using in tacos or spaghetti. I do anything I can in advance. That way, when I get home, it’s just a matter of assembly, which makes it much easier. Deanne

Having a Garage Sale
Each spring I have a garage sale. Trying to decide how to price items was always a challenge until I started asking myself this question. Is it something I want to get rid of or is it valuable enough that I don’t want to just give it away? For the cheaper stuff, I price really low and will take almost any offer. But, for the better stuff, I do some research on eBay to see what similar items are going for. If I don’t sell these items at the sale, I put them up for online auction. By doing this, I get rid of the clutter and get reasonable value for my things. Maggie

Making Friends
My job requires me to move often, so I’m always adjusting to a new community. I’ve found one thing that makes it easier to make friends. I sign up for an adult education class. Sometimes I sign up for a non-credit class at the local high school or I audit a class at the community college. Either way, I get to learn about a new subject and find other people who are interested in it as well. And it’s so easy to ask a class mate if they’d like to get a cup of coffee after class. Instant friend. Cheyenne

Retirement Parties
I was involved in the planning of a retirement party for someone who had worked 35 years at the company. These were some of the best ideas of our event. We collected photographs from the working environment from day one to present. We accumulated about 100 or more photos. Then we scanned the photos into a PowerPoint presentation and set the presentation on “loop.” We set this up in a corner of the room and just let it run all night. We even got some family photos from his wife and put those in the presentation as well. People migrated over to the slide presentation all evening. We also copied the presentation onto a CD and gave it to our retiree. It was his favorite gift.
For table decorations, we gave each table a theme. Our retiree was a civil engineer, a boy scout leader, a photographer, a father, a husband, an antique car buff, an Army veteran, and a collector of hats. We used each of these parts of his life as a theme for each of the tables. At each of the tables, we provided a short description of the reason these items were here and how they applied to the retiree’s life. The result was magical and impressive. For example, at the Civil Engineer table, we placed blueprints, a hardhat, drawing tools, boots, etc. Our retiree’s wife was very helpful and let us scrounge through their house for decorations. The tables created quite a sensation among all the guests, and since we borrowed the items, it was free. Lois

Fido’s Bath

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Fido’s Bath
After washing our dog, we always rinse him off with a bucket of warm water that includes a cup of vinegar. The vinegar removes any soap residue, and the smell disappears after just a few minutes. Our poodle used to be very uncomfortable after a bath. Now she’s a contented pooch. Camile

A/C Runoff
Living where it’s humid, our air conditioner removes a lot of moisture from the air. The runoff was staining our front sidewalk. I solved the problem by putting a potted plant under the drain. This year, I think I’m going to extend the plastic pipe to a nearby flowerbed. It’ll be like having an automatic sprinkler. Erica

Better Affordable Cookware
If you’re looking for good cookware that’s affordable, try buying strong aluminum pans. It’s ideal to buy them at a restaurant supply store. They can handle high temperatures, so they do a good job sauteing and searing. In restaurants, they get a lot of hard use, and they cost much less than the name brand cookware. Rudy

Easy Internet Returns
I found that when I order items from the internet, I sometimes have to send them back. So, I take a hair dryer and carefully warm up the label a few seconds and then I can easily peel the label right off. All labels need to be covered or removed to return the package, so any bar codes will not confuse the machinery that reads labels. Also, when I receive items in plastic bags, I can turn the plastic bag inside out and then seal it to return the item. It’s easy.
Seva I. in Port Huron, MI

Selective Grocery Shopping
I’ve read that grocery stores work to get us to go down specific aisles and into areas of the store. That’s where they put all the tempting high profit items. So, I resolved to just shop the perimeter. I used to think that having a shopping list was enough, but I always came home with a few extra items just because they looked good. So now I make a point of avoiding the areas (end caps for instance) where those items are displayed. I’m not sure how much I’m saving, but it’s probably reduced my bills by 5%. Doreen

Shiny Aluminum Doors
In the spring, I like to spend a little time making our house attractive. One thing that was always a challenge was the aluminum screen doors. I used various products but nothing brought back the shine. Last year, I was washing the screen with a solution of warm water, a few drops of dish soap, and two cups of white vinegar. A little ran down onto the aluminum. Presto. It was shiny. Now I know what to use this year. Danny

Mexican Pizza
My family likes pizza, but we can’t afford to buy it often. And, I usually don’t have time after work to prepare dough, so we started using tortilla shells as a base. I brush some olive oil on the tortilla and then add some tomato paste or bottled spaghetti sauce. Whatever toppings are in my fridge (often leftovers) go on top. Then I add some grated cheese and put them into a 350-degree oven until the cheese begins to brown. Sometimes I’ll even let the kids choose their own toppings for a personal pizza. Aggie

Garden Party
Last year, my niece graduated from high school. My sister wanted to throw a party, but couldn’t spend a lot. She decided to do a garden party. On her picnic table, she put a kid’s blow up pool and filled it with ice. Salad ingredients were placed in bowls that floated on the ice water. Everything was cold and tasty. My sister fed a bunch of people for very little money.  Tammy

Scuffed Shoes
My tip is for patent leather or leather shoes. Scrapes on patent leather (where the leather is peeling off the base) can be repaired with acrylic paint. Simply match the paint to the shoe and paint the affected area. Acrylic paint is $1.39 when not on sale at the hobby or fabric store. Paint several coats, allowing for drying time after each coat. If you did a good job matching the paint, the repair should be very difficult to see. It will blend in. Teresa H. in Medina, OH

Travel Hack
My husband and I like to travel. When we visit a new city, we like to learn what it’s really like. Therefore, we don’t use guidebooks. Instead, we use social media to try to make contact with some locals before we go. They tell us good places to visit, where the locals go to eat, and other neat things that only people who live there would know about. We get to see the city for what it really is. Luci

Gift for Elderly Parents
We were having a hard time finding presents for my parents. They have everything they need and are trying to empty their house. A few years ago, we began to give them workdays. For instance, this Mother’s Day, I’m going to do some reorganization in my Mom’s pantry. She can direct the work, but I’ll do all the lifting and cleaning. For Father’s Day, we’ll do some summer home maintenance for Dad. Not only do my parents appreciate the help, but also it makes it possible for them to stay in their home longer and saves us from spending money on useless gifts.  Melanie

Dust Mites
I found this information in a health newsletter. It stated that dust mites are one of the most common household allergens and a major risk factor for asthma sufferers. The article suggested that washing bedding with eucalyptus oil virtually eliminates these pesky critters, according to researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia. The researchers got rid of 99 percent of the mites on wool blankets by soaking the blankets for 60 minutes in a solution of six tablespoons of eucalyptus oil (0.4 percent concentration), 1 1/4 tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent, and 13 gallons of water. They then rinsed the blankets in cool water. Without the oil, the laundry detergent alone got rid of only 2.4 percent of the mites. You can purchase eucalyptus oil at most natural food stores or wherever essential oils are sold. Carolyn

Gym Bag Smell
If you have a smelly gym bag, you don’t need to buy expensive odor removers. Just put a dryer sheet into your gym bag. You’ll have no more sweaty smell

Fly Away
I’m not sure why it works, but if you fill a zipper baggie half full of water and place it by your door, flies won’t go through the door. I think that it has something to do with their eyes. But, that doesn’t matter. What counts is that it works for us. Justin

Moving Boxes
We moved from Florida to Indiana last summer. We did all of our own packing. Our local bookstore was a wonderful source for boxes. The boxes were just about the right size, heavy duty, and not too big to carry. All we had to do was to ask. Melody

Blanket Storage
We have one or two blankets for every bed in the house, so storing them takes up a lot of closet space. Then I had an idea. I bought some cheap fabric and made extra-large pillowcase covers. Each one holds one blanket. I can put them in a variety of places in the house. Or tuck them under the bed. Problem solved. Julianne

Make-Up Sponges
Those natural make-up sponges are wonderful, but they can get expensive. I’ve started buying them at the craft store for a fraction of the cost. I’ve also started using small squares of microfiber cloth for removing eye make-up. After a few days, I toss the square in the wash and reuse. Amy

It Pays to Take the Penalty
Recently, I saw a good rate on a CD account at 1.1%. I already had money in a CD that was collecting .4%. After doing the math, I decided to withdraw the money in the .4% account and place it in the 1.1% account. Sure, I lost three months’ worth of interest as a penalty, but I will gain it back and much more in the new account.  R.

Rental Wrecks
We usually rent a car on our vacation. After listening to a friend’s problem, we now make it a habit to take pictures of our rental car both before and after using it. That way, we can’t be blamed for something that happened before we got the car or after we turned it in. It only takes a few seconds, but this could potentially avoid an expensive battle. Glynith

Self-Cleaning Savings
It takes a lot of energy for a self-cleaning oven to run through its cycle. I do a couple of things to make that more efficient. First, I only clean the oven after I’ve cooked a meal in it. That way, it’s already at 300 or 350 degrees before the cleaning cycle begins. Then I also fill the oven with my enameled broiler pan and BBQ racks, so they can be cleaned, too. Celeste

Brother Swap
My brother and I live in the same city, but it seems like we don’t get to see each other often enough. We decided to devote two Saturdays to working together. This week, we’ll be at his house doing a little outdoor painting. Next week, we’ll do some landscaping at my house. We’ve always enjoyed working together and this way we’ll get some brother time in, too. Dwayne

Getting a Raise
Here’s something I learned at my first job. I got a raise and was tempted to spend it right away. Instead, I decided to put the raise into a retirement account and keep my expenses where they were. I didn’t miss the extra money. The next time I got a raise, I decided to use that money for my monthly budget. That one decision means that I’ll be saving for retirement continually. This is much better than when I always promised myself that I’d start putting away some money sometime soon.  Alyssa

Farmer’s Market Secret
When buying produce at a local farmer’s market, I noticed the sheets of plastic that are in the bottom of boxes of fruit. I asked if I could have a few of the sheets. At home, I cut them in sizes to fit the inside bottoms of inexpensive plastic containers. I found very quickly that cut fruits and vegetables stored using this method seem to last forever. Recently, I read that this is because the moisture is wicked away from the produce. Sharon

Saving Wet Carpet
Dealing with wet carpet, especially padding, is a situation that needs immediate response for health reasons. Once mold is present in the carpet and padding, the best advice is to discard these items. Mold can and will pose various respiratory illnesses. While one may feel frustrated at the cost of removing the floor coverings (especially the padding), in the long run, you will be much better off. The most important action taken in a flood is to locate the source and act quickly to remove the water. Humidity, temperature, and dew point levels will determine how quickly mold will develop (24-36 hours in ideal conditions).
Certain steps can greatly help to eliminate mold growth. First, lower the humidity and temperature with the use of many commercial floor fans and dehumidifiers, while setting A/C levels to coldest settings. Next, tent carpet to allow much needed airflow. Spreading 20 Mule Team® Borax on the carpet tends to slow and even kill mold spores, while being gentle on carpet fabric. The key is to act quickly making every effort to stop the hazard of mold in one’s house. Eric

Travel Help

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

Travel Help
I travel for business and need to look nice for meetings, etc. One item that I always pack is a hair straightener. Not only does it keep my hair looking good, but I also can use it as a mini-iron to touch up blouses and small wrinkles. Dianne

Lawn Mower Maintenance
Every spring, I spend a few minutes to prepare my mower for the summer ahead. I sharpen the blade, replace the spark plug and air filter, and change the oil. I’ve had the same mower for years, and with a little bit of attention, it’s never let me down. Dereck

Furniture Divots
I like to rearrange my living room on a regular basis. One problem I always had was what to do with those indentations in the carpet left by the furniture. I learned that if you place a cloth over the indent and place a steam iron on the cloth for just a few seconds that the steam will swell the carpet back to its original shape. Jeannine

Preventing Burglars
Our house is on a street that doesn’t get much traffic, so we’ve always been concerned about being robbed. We read that planting thorny bushes in front of windows makes it hard for someone to use them to enter the home. We went down to our local nursery and bought bushes for underneath our windows. So far no burglars. Ryan

Save Your Mattress
My nanny taught me this trick from when she was a girl. She said that twice a year, they turned their mattress to help it keep its shape. In the spring, they’d spin it, so the head was at the end of the bed. In the fall, they’d flip it, so the bottom was now the top. I’ve been using the switch to Daylight Saving Time as a reminder. Hannah

No Scrub Pot Cleaning
My teens are learning to cook. Occasionally we end up with pots and pans with burned-on food. To avoid scrubbing them, we developed this technique. We put a sprinkling of baking soda in the pot/pan and then add half of an inch of tap water. To that, we add 1/4 cup of vinegar. The vinegar makes the baking soda bubble. Then we put it on medium heat until the liquid simmers. After turning off the heat, we wait for it to cool. The food easily comes off of the pan. With a quick once over, the pot is good as new. Haley

We Negotiate
There was a time when I never would have questioned a bill from any professional. Whether it was the lawyer doing our wills or a plumber fixing a toilet, whatever they asked for I paid. No more. Recently, we went to have our wills updated with some minor changes. I was surprised at the bill and couldn’t help but ask about it. He adjusted it down and didn’t seem surprised by my questioning it. Now I feel free to ask about any bill. Sometimes I get a reduction and sometimes I don’t. Either way, I’ve decided it can’t hurt to ask. Roseanna

Easy Garlic Slices
My husband and I like garlic bread, but I hate to heat up the oven to make it. Then I found that I could drizzle a little olive oil on bread slices, sprinkle on some garlic powder, and put them in the microwave for about 30 seconds. I had to experiment a bit to find the right time and power setting, but now that I have it, we can have garlic bread anytime we want. Donna

Credit Card Transfer
We wanted to lower our payments, so we transferred our balances from three cards onto a 0% interest card. The card promised no interest for six months. We thought that we could make a big dent in the balance if we didn’t have to pay interest during that time. We neglected to notice that new purchases were put in front of the transfer and there was a higher rate on them. It took us two months before we realized that and stopped putting new charges on that card. We’ll read the fine print more carefully next time. Meredith

Garden Tools
Last year, I added a bucket of sand to the wagon that I use in my garden. It’s half filled with sand. I put my hand tools in when I’m not using them. The sand cleans off any dirt that’s stuck to the tool. And it also keeps them from getting rusty. I’m thinking of adding some used motor oil to the sand this year to give them a coat of oil each time I stick them in the sand.  Elyse

Lower Electric Bills
When I was cooking for our family, it made sense to use the oven for most things. Now that we’re empty nesters, I’ve been using my old toaster oven and slow cooker for many cooking duties. My husband and I aren’t big eaters, so there’s no need to heat up a big oven for a small roast. I’ve read that the oven is one of the biggest electricity users in a home, so I’ll be curious to see how much we save on our bill. Lois

Oily Skin Care
For years, I’ve had trouble with oily skin and plugged pores. Anything that seemed to help dried out my skin too much to keep using. Finally a friend from my daughter’s play group suggested that I try exfoliating daily with cornmeal mixed with just a little bit of olive oil. I massage it into my face and then wipe it off with a damp cloth. Not only does it solve the oily skin problem, but also my skin is wonderfully soft and has a very healthy appearance. It looks so good that I’ve cut down on my makeup. Kelli

Over 55 Drivers

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Over 55 Drivers
If you are 55 or order, take an AARP driving course, send your insurance company the proof you have taken the course, and get a savings on your total cost of car insurance. Barbara W.

Painter’s Tape
I never liked using painter’s tape because it always seemed to stick and left a ragged edge. Then I learned that the trick was softening the masking tape adhesive. Now I run my blow dryer on hot over the tape before I pull it. That simple trick made all the difference. Roxy

High School Ring
When it came time for our oldest daughter to buy a high school ring, we gave her a choice. We offered to spend an equivalent amount on real jewelry. She chose that option and bought a beautiful ring that she still wears years later. We’re about to give our youngest daughter the same choice.  Lori

Cheap Dates
With restaurant prices going up, we can’t afford to eat out so often on our date nights. But, we’ve found that we can have just as much fun if we go for dessert instead of the full meal. We’ll have a light meal at home and then go out on our date. Sometimes we’ll get two different desserts and share them. It’s twice the fun. Lianne

Cleaning Oven Racks
My oven racks and the stovetop grills needed a good cleaning. Since I prefer to work smart instead of hard, I put them in a green trash bag with a bowl filled with ammonia. I sealed the bag and let them sit overnight. I removed the racks and grills the next morning. The gunk wiped right off. Very little scrubbing was required. They almost look brand new again. Maria

Next Year’s Taxes
My husband and I just spent hours sorting through doctor’s bills, credit card statements, and drug store receipts to determine what we can deduct for our out-of-pocket medical expenses. We have decided to use one credit card for all our medical expenses, no matter how small, and to use it for nothing else. Of course, we’ll pay the balance every month. Next year, all of our medical expenses will be in one place. Elaine from PA

My Mixes
Tired of paying for pancake mix, cookie mix, and other mixes? The healthier ones can be especially pricey. I’ve started to make my own. Instead of making enough pancake mix for today, I’ll make enough for four or five meals. The extra is stored in marked containers and ready for use whenever I want them. And the raw ingredients are much cheaper than the mixes, so I save a lot. Kelli

Razor Saver
Have you seen the ads for the low-cost online razor suppliers? I have a better idea. Razors are prone to rust. That’s what makes them lose their edge and pull at your beard. I keep a coffee cup half full of water by the sink. When I’m through shaving, I put it blade down into the cup. Since air can’t get at the blade, it doesn’t rust. I use blades for a month or more since I started doing this. Now I can afford the fancy multi-blade razors since I buy so few of them. Jesse

Easy Tool Saver
We do a lot of home repair projects, so I’ve accumulated a large number of tools. Most are stored in our garage. Living in the south, the air is often humid. It was frustrating to go for a tool that I hadn’t used in a few years only to find it rusty. Then my neighbor told me if I put a dryer sheet in each of my toolboxes, it would prevent rust. He was right. Now I buy a box each year at a dollar store and put a fresh sheet in each toolbox or drawer of my bigger roll-around toolboxes.  Rudy

Now’s the Time
Right around Easter is a good time to buy an extra ham or turkey. Most groceries will have them on sale for a few days. I usually buy both a ham and a turkey. One gets cooked on Easter. The other I place in the freezer. This year, I’m going to buy a turkey breast, too. I have a slow cooker recipe that I’m anxious to try. It calls for putting the frozen breast in the pot, then adding a can of mushroom soup, a can of cream of celery soup, and an onion, and setting it on low all day.  Louise

After Taxes
Once you’ve finished doing your taxes, it’s a good time to look at your finances. You have all your financial records out, so it’s easy to do a quick net worth calculation. It’s also a perfect time to ask yourself if there have been any significant changes to your finances. New accounts? Are your wills and other legal papers in order? Do you need to change beneficiaries?
After finishing my taxes, I really don’t want to look at any statements, but it only takes a few minutes. And some of the things that you overlook can cause serious problems later. Don

Easter Baskets

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

Easter Baskets
I got tired of buying new Easter baskets each year for my kids. Last year, I bought a little better ones and we’ll be using them again this year and in the future, too. They don’t take up much storage space, so there’s no reason not to reuse them. Tina

Mosquito Repellent
Lemongrass is a natural mosquito repellent and one that my grandmother swears by. Depending on the layout of the area you’re trying to “de-mosquito,” you may even be able to plant some directly into your gardens or borders. We are going to put pots of lemongrass around the deck area in our backyard.

Where, When and How
My husband and I are both retired. For years, he’s taken care of certain things like yard work and home maintenance. All that time I’ve taken care of our family’s bills and financial affairs. We decided that it would be a good idea if we put together a notebook with instructions and other pertinent information about running our home and our lives. We were thinking it would be useful if either of us had an illness, but it even came in handy last summer when we traveled. We gave the notebook to our son who was looking after our home while we were away. Kathleen

Leftover Surprise
My family never liked leftovers, but I couldn’t stand to throw away uneaten food. Then I figured out a solution. Now when I make a meal, I visit one of the many recipe sites on the internet. I enter an ingredient or two in their search box and see what recipes appear. Often it’ll give me an idea on how to transform the leftovers into an entirely new meal. Not only does it use up the leftovers, but it also keeps our menu fresh. Cecil

No Ice Needed Picnic Cooler
Here’s a simple way to keep food cooler outdoors. You’ll need two unglazed clay pots. One should be larger than the other. Put the smaller one inside the larger one and fill the space outside the smaller one with sand. Pour water on the sand until it’s saturated. Then put your food in the smaller pot and cover with a damp cloth and a heavy lid. The inner temperature will be about 20 degrees cooler than the outside air until the water evaporates. I’ve never used it on things that spoil quickly like potato salad, but it’s great for veggies and fruits. Louise

Milk My Way
Milk prices are about the same for whole, 2%, 1%, and skim. I prefer not to use or drink whole milk because of the calorie content. However, I have been buying whole milk for the richness, and then dilute it with water. I use a second empty, clean gallon milk bottle and pour some of the whole milk into it. Then I add water, shake well, and refrigerate until very cold. I have discovered I can even dilute a gallon of whole milk by half with water, and I am quite happy with the result. I find it to be absolutely fine for cooking, in cereals, and even for drinking. This trick cuts my milk cost in half. Also, milk can also be frozen quite well. Just pour a little off the top to allow for expansion. Barb N.

Scam Alert
Recently, I was sent an email offering to sell me cheaper medications. Since my prescriptions have a high deductible, I thought that I might save some money, so I decided to check out the company. I was about to place my order when I realized that they had not asked for my prescription. No reputable pharmacy would send drugs without a prescription. Later I read that was a common scam. I’m glad that I didn’t fall for it. Linda

Easy Garden
I don’t have space for a big garden. I just use a small portion of my patio. Last year, my garden supply center had a great deal on broken bags of potting soil, so I bought six of them. I set them out on my patio and cut a few slits in the bottom and a hole in the top. I planted tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers in the bags. I watered them just like I would normally and had a mini-veggie garden. Arlene

Redecorate Your Home for Free
Last fall, my sister and I both wanted to do something different in our living rooms, but with the holidays coming up, neither of us had any extra cash to spend. We were sitting in my living room when she commented that a lamp I had would look great in her living room. Bingo. I gave her my lamp for one of her lamps. We swapped a couple of wall hangings, our coffee and end tables, and two lamps. Only our families know what we did. To our friends, it’s a completely new look.

Check Your Bills
I just checked my auto insurance renewal policy because I was wondering what additional discounts I might be eligible for and noticed the 55 and over discount wasn’t on there any longer. I checked the last few renewals and saw it was missing. I called my agent and asked why it disappeared from the last two statements and it seems the company accidentally left it out/off. I will be getting a refund of the difference and now know to check my statements. Carolyn

Packing Light
We all know that when we have a lot of stuff to take with us, a trip is harder. I love it when I can get everything into one bag that’s a carry-on. I’ve found that my tablet and phone can replace a lot of stuff. Before I leave, I load both with eBooks, movies, TV shows, apps, and anything else that can make my trip more pleasant. Now I just need to remember not to leave my charger in the hotel room. Jenn

Vinegar? Yes, But...
If you’re going natural on cleaning products, you’ll probably see articles recommending that you use vinegar as a disinfectant. As a chemist, I can tell you that’s not completely true. Vinegar temporarily immobilizes, but doesn’t kill bacteria. So using it on countertops and in the bathroom isn’t the germ killer that most people think.
Vinegar is still great for cleaning windows and removing water stains. But if you want to kill germs, you need to use something like an organic biocide. Lori

Clean Showers

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Clean Showers
For a really clean shower, mix one cup of white vinegar, two tablespoons of dishwasher rinse agent, and one quart of water in a spray bottle. It keeps my shower super clean and I never have a mold problem. Julie

Special Cereals
My family enjoys the more expensive cereals with fruit and nuts in them. I like the price of the generic brand better. Since I often bake, I’ve used leftover raisins and nuts and added it to the generic cereal. My family thinks that I’m buying them the more expensive brand again. Rena

Sorting My Laundry
My friend with four kids taught me this trick. I have a laundry basket for each of our kids and one for my husband and me. When I take an item out of the dryer, I put it in the appropriate basket unfolded. Our kids are responsible for folding their laundry. This saves me a lot of time doing a task that I really disliked.  Jackie

Sweeter Trash
Since we recycle and compost, we don’t create a lot of kitchen trash, so we don’t have to take out the trash nightly. We were having a problem with some trash odors. I started putting a little baking soda in the trashcan liner. It soaks up odors without adding any unwanted fragrances to my kitchen. Plus, it’s all natural. Rosanne

Painting Hack
My brother was a painting contractor. One thing that he taught me was that preparing the surface for paint was just as important as doing the painting. If you paint over a dirty surface, the paint will crack and chip. The same thing is true if the old paint is chalky. You may add a few hours to the job, but if you don’t, you’ll end up redoing the job much sooner. Lila

Lotsa Lipstick
Have you ever bought a new lipstick shade, and after you wore it a few times, you decided that you didn’t like the color? I had a dozen lipsticks in a drawer before I came up with a solution. Now, I use two colors applying one over the other. I’ve found a few combinations that I like. It didn’t cost anything and I have what I wanted, which is a new shade of lipstick. Polly

Safely Freezing Meats
We have been freezing our year’s meat and poultry supplies for years. Although we’ve tried a lot of different methods, our favorite (for both ease of use and good results) is wrapping the meat in plastic wrap and then in foil. These packets are then stored in gallon-size freezer bags. If you’d rather not use foil, freezer wrap works well. However, I’ve found it much harder to work with. Many people swear by the vacuum sealers, but we have not had good luck with them. In the first place, you have to “pre-freeze” the meats until the juices no longer run. If you skip this step, then the vacuum sealer sucks juices from the package as you are sealing it, ruining the seal. Secondly, we found that the bags get miniature holes from rubbing against other bags of frozen stuff in the freezer. We have had many bags fail the first time we used them even though the seals held. Talk about freezer burn then. In addition, these bags are incredibly expensive.

Insurance Company vs. Me
I recently had a claim on my homeowner’s policy. I submitted it and was upset when they turned it down. Since I’m a bit stubborn, I resubmitted the claim. Once again, I was turned down, but I didn’t give up and sent it in a third time. I don’t know why, but that time they paid me. It could be that a different adjustor looked at my claim or perhaps they realized I wasn’t giving up easily. I just know that from now on, any claim that they refuse will be resubmitted. Bryan

The Pressure Is On
My boyfriend and I just got out of college. With our student loans, money is tight, so I’m always cooking cheaper cuts of meat. One trick that I use I learned from my mother. She gave me an electric pressure cooker. I can put in a roast after work, and it’s done in less than an hour. The meat becomes so tender that we can cut it with a fork. It tastes great, too. I think that by cooking under pressure, spices get inside the meat. Allie

Good, Cheap Used Cars
I’ve had real success buying used cars from senior citizens or their estates. Almost all of them are low mileage and well cared for. Most are garaged. At first, I thought that they would all be little old man cars, but that’s not true. A lot of them drive smaller SUVs, Camrys, Accords, and Impalas. And they’re usually priced reasonably. The last two I bought even had repair and maintenance records since they were new.  Robbie

Why Buy a Machine
I was thinking of buying one of those new incline treadmills that are advertised on TV. I was planning on putting it in our upstairs bedroom. Then it hit me. Why buy steps when we already have steps? So I started walking up and down my steps. It took six weeks, but I’m finally up to 10 minutes on the stairs. I can’t adjust the incline like in the ads, but my stair stepper is free and doesn’t take up any room in my house. Dom

Garage Sale Specials
With all the online shopping, I’ve noticed a change in garage and estate sales. Sellers tend to put things that they think have value on eBay or Craigslist. The items that they think aren’t that valuable end up in a garage sale, so they price things lower and are more willing to bargain.
The shoppers are different, too. I used to see a lot of people at garage sales. Now, many are shopping online. That means fewer buyers and lower prices for me. So while I occasionally do some online shopping when I’m looking for something specific, I find more bargains than ever at garage sales. In fact, I’ve even started reselling online some things that were real bargains, but I didn’t need

Home Hair Coloring

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Home Hair Coloring
My sister is a retired hairdresser. She told me to use a semi-permanent hair color. It gives the impression of natural highlights in my hair and doesn’t look dyed. I only have to color it every six weeks or so. Since I do it at home, I save a bunch of money. Liz

Scrapbooking Secret
If you’re an avid scrapbooker, you probably wear out your punches and scissors regularly. Here’s a trick to keep them sharp. Fold aluminum foil three or four layers thick. Then punch or cut through the foil. You’ll need to do it a few times, but before long, you’ll get a clean punch or cut. Just like brand new. Lila

IRA Beneficiaries
We just had our wills updated. The lawyer told us that the beneficiary designation on our IRAs outranked our wills. It’s a good thing that he mentioned it. We assumed that the will would be in control. Since it’s possible that a big part of our estate will be in our IRAs, that could have messed up how we wanted to allocate our estate.  Drew

Workout Motivation
I got one of those step counters for Christmas. I use it to keep track of my fitness walks. One thing I do to keep motivated is to set aside $1 for each mile that I walk. It’s adding up really fast. I haven’t decided whether to use it on new clothes or for something special during my vacation. Either way I’m finding it much easier to get a walk in every day.

Collection? Or Clutter
Recently, I was thinking that I needed another bookcase or cabinet to store my expanding angel collection. I have all kinds that I’ve collected over many years. But then I started thinking about it and realized that I don’t do anything with them. That the thing I enjoy most is the hunt. So instead of buying something to hold more angels, I’ve developed a habit of selling one on eBay for each new one I collect. Not only does that keep the size of my collection the same, but it causes me to spend some time with them to decide which one gets sold. And the extra money that I get for the sale helps pay for my next find. Deena

Dry Carpet Cleaners
A professional carpet cleaner in our area came to do my carpeting some time ago. I asked what he recommended as I too did not like wet carpet and his company uses a dry-chem powder method of cleaning. His response was simple. He said that the best cleaner for your carpet is club soda. This makes good sense to me. It is fizzy and would likely be very effective in “lifting” any stains when caught early and would not leave any odor. Kevin

Fortune Cookie Finances
I know that you don’t often find wisdom in fortune cookies, but one quote has stuck with me. “Happiness isn’t having what you want. It’s wanting what you have.” Now when I want something, I consider the alternatives before I go shopping. Sometimes I find a substitute. Other times, I decide that the want was only a whim. I have no idea how much I’ve saved because of the saying, but I bet it’s a lot. Christyna

Allergies and Line Dried Clothes
I like to line dry my clothes. It saves money, and the clothes smell so nice. But my son suffers with allergies and hanging his clothes outside almost always triggered an allergy attack. I found a solution. After his clothes are mostly dry on the line, I put them in the dryer for five minutes without a dryer sheet. That’s just enough to remove the pollen. We have no more allergy attacks, and I get to use my clothesline. Roberta

Homemade Beef Marinades
The easiest, cheapest, and quickest beef marinade is also very delicious. Just use your leftover bottled salad dressing. You can add some aromatics like minced garlic or various herbs, but the dressing by itself will do a good job of tenderizing and flavoring the meat. I sometimes buy bottles of Italian dressing on sale just for this purpose, but using up whatever dressing you already have on hand works, too. Anne

Building a Home
Last year, we had a home built. We trusted the builder but wanted to make sure that it was well constructed. In our contract, we included a clause that we could have a home inspector inspect it before we took possession. When the house was done, the inspector said that everything was right. The job foreman knew that it would be inspected, and we think it helped encourage the workers to do a good job. Will

Rice Reheat
My family likes rice. Since it’s cheap, we eat a lot. One problem was what to do with leftover rice. I hated to throw it away, but if I put it in the fridge and reheated it, the results weren’t good. Finally I found a solution. I take any leftover rice and put it in the freezer. When I want some, I put it in a microwaveable bowl, add a few drops of water, and put a saucer on top of the bowl. Then I microwave it for just a half-minute or so. It works great.  Polly

Flipping Short Sales
We’ve found a way to live for almost nothing. Two years ago, we bought a short sale home. The price was way under the neighborhood because the house needed some work. We did the essentials first and moved in. Over the next year, we gradually made repairs and upgrades. It was mostly DIY work. Once we felt that it was good, we started looking for another short sale to buy. Once we had a contract on one, we put our current home on the market. We expect to get about 30% more than we have into our home. It’s almost like living rent or mortgage free. Julianne

Clearing Out the Toiletries

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

I travel for business and always take the half used shampoo, lotion, soaps, and conditioner home with me. My linen closet was overflowing with them, so I decided to use them up. It’s been six weeks and I haven’t bought any toiletries. Not only am I reducing clutter, but also I’m saving money.  Meredith

Natural Garden Pest Control
We had a problem with rabbits using our garden as a cafeteria. I found the answer in whole coffee beans. I just sprinkle them in my garden and the rabbits disappear. It seems they don’t like the smell of coffee. I buy the cheapest and strongest I can find. One bag does the job for the whole growing season. Ike

Travel Lighter
In an effort to avoid baggage fees when I fly, I looked for ways to reduce the amount of stuff that I pack. I’ve decided that I don’t really need to take my tablet, laptop, digital camera, and phone on my trips. I’m down to just my tablet and smartphone and getting along fine. Cutting down means that I need fewer accessories (think power cords) too. Reba

What’s That Size
Ever get to the home center intending to buy a furnace filter and realize that you forgot what size to buy? I’ve solved that problem by adding a person to my phone called “furnace” and entering the data there. My wife has done something similar with our kids’ clothing sizes. Since my phone is always with me, the data is right at my fingertips. Louis

Context for Impulse Buys
I love shopping online. However, I don’t enjoy the end-of-month statement. When I come across something I think I want, I print out a copy of the item and put in an envelope with my bills to be paid. When it’s time to pay bills, I review the items in the “want” envelope after paying bills. More often than not, I find incurring more debt isn’t worth it.  Peggy

Low Cost Entertainment
If you’re looking for some ideas for low cost things to do with kids or seniors (or just ideas to get them out of the house during the winter), try your local high school. There are basketball games just about every weekend (girls and boys) and there are school plays in early spring that might cost a few dollars. It’s great to cheer on your home team and their schedules can usually be found easily online too. This is especially good for tweens who can be tougher to please and may be headed to the school in the near future. Just be sure to double check if the weather is iffy since games can be canceled for bad weather. OA

A Comfortable Winter Home
I live in the center of the country, and it has been bitterly cold at times. The heater can make the house feel uncomfortable with noticeable static electricity, irritated eyes and nose, and dry skin. I discovered a helpful and free way to add moisture to the air. I have started washing a load of clothes in the evening. Then instead of using the dryer, I hang as much as possible in the doorways and closet doors near the bedrooms. The wet clothing adds the much-needed humidity to the air overnight as it dries. The next morning I simply put the dry items away in the closet. I do stick the towels in the dryer for a few minutes to soften them up, and I also do the same thing with any other garment that needs to be softened, fluffed, or refreshed. Barb N.

Natural Oven Cleaning
A really easy, economical way of cleaning one’s oven without the problems of the canned stuff is to simply mix equal amounts of baking soda and salt. Then add enough water to make a paste out of it. I usually use about one cup of each and then just gradually add the water until it becomes the right consistency. Then I close the oven door and bake as I would with the canned stuff. When it cools down, I simply use a damp sponge or cloth and wipe everything down. It really does work. Joyce K.

Save the Juice
In cooking, I had been accustomed to discarding various juices from canned fruit, cooking liquids, and other liquids not needed in the dish I was preparing. But, I realized that I was throwing money and nutrients down the drain, so I started saving these. Cooking liquid from vegetables or meat can be added to a container in the fridge or freezer, and then added to another dish like a soup or casserole or to cook rice. Liquid drained from canned fruit can be frozen in ice cube trays and then saved in a bag to add to a smoothie or for muffins or other baking. Why throw away the good stuff when with a little forethought, you can improve your next dish?  Anne W.

Selling Your Home
We’re in the process of selling our home. Since we moved in six years ago, I’ve kept track of repairs and upgrades. I put that information into a notebook that we leave for prospective buyers. I included receipts for things like A/C repairs and our new roof with dates. Also, I’ve included copies of our tax and utility bills. I used those clear plastic covers, so it makes a nice presentation. It answers a lot of questions and gives us a step up on other houses for sale. Denise

Lottery Winner
I was playing the lottery every week hoping to win the big prize. I was only spending a few dollars each week. Then I started tossing my losing lottery tickets into a shopping bag. At the end of the year, I decided to count the tickets. There were over 150 of them. Now instead of collecting losing tickets, I put that money in an envelope. So far, I have over $200 saved. I’ll soon put it in my checking account and buy myself a treat. Rory

Learner’s Permit
Just out of school, I was looking for a reason to get out of my apartment in the evenings. I signed up for a reupholstery adult education class. I haven’t reupholstered anything since the class, but it was a big help choosing furniture when we bought our first home. I understood how it was constructed and could separate the good stuff from the stuff that just looked good (but was cheaply made). Celine

Why Buy Rings

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Why Buy Rings
High school rings are generally a waste of money, especially if your student is going on to college. No one wears their high school rings once they get to college. It’s a big expense for something that they’ll only wear for a few months.

Private Papers
After finding a stack of papers that had gotten wet and dried, it was useless to try to pull them apart. Now when I want to destroy personal papers, I purposely soak them and squish them into a ball. No one is going to get useful data off them. Katie

Easy Clean
On my kitchen counter, I keep a spray bottle containing 2/3 white vinegar and 1/3 water. Any pan that’s really dirty gets a shot or two. Then I set it aside for a few minutes. Usually that’s enough to make clean up easy. Just a few swipes with no scrubbing. Julia

Just Before They Go Bad
When you notice that your bananas are suddenly starting to go brown on the outside, put them in plastic bag and then into the freezer. When you decide to make a smoothie, you will see that even though the peel turned brown, the inside of your banana still remains yellow. Roxanne W. in Eugene, OR

Remembering Pins
I have a couple of accounts that I don’t use often. And, when I want to use them, I have a hard time remembering the PINs. So I came up with a solution. I invented a person to enter into my phone. The name reminds me of the account. The phone number contains the PIN. I’m no longer frustrated because I can’t remember my PIN. Richie

A Spending Control
I’ve found a great way to control my spending. I used to have a problem buying too many clothes. Now I use a reloadable gift card for my clothing allowance. I can buy in a store or online. But when it’s gone, well, it’s gone. No more getting to the end of the month and scrambling to make up for the extra blouse that I just had to have. Gwen

Citrus Saver
I have a small tip for extending the use of lemons, limes, and even oranges. If you’re stuck with extra that may go to waste or even one that is starting to age, simply cut the fruit into slices. Lay them on a tray or pan and freeze until solid. Toss the slices into a freezer bag and use in your beverage of choice as needed. It works like an ice cube would, but this does not dilute your beverage. I have actually salvaged slices from Sangria and frozen those. They are wonderful used again in lemonade or tea.  Barb N.

Replace Your Water Heater? Not
My neighbor is a plumber. When my water heater quit providing hot water, I thought that I’d need a new one. But, my neighbor turned off the power (it’s an electric unit), drained the water, and removed the heating element. It was bad. After a quick trip to the home center to buy a $16 replacement, he showed me how to install it (easier than you’d think), and I had hot water again. This was much cheaper than replacing the whole water heater. Tara

Creative Redecorating
Be creative when you have very little money to redecorate. First, take everything out. Only put back the main pieces that you need, perhaps in a different arrangement. Then go shopping in your home. Often you can find items that look new in a different room. If you really need a new look, try paint. One gallon will cover most living rooms if you use a paintbrush instead of a roller. It might take a bit longer, but the results are great. Finally, if you really want to jazz it up, go to thrift stores or garage sales for a few new-to-you accessories. You can change the whole look of the room with just a few dollars.  Shaunna

No More Money Fights
My boyfriend and I always seemed to be fighting over money. I hated asking permission to spend my money. He didn’t like me questioning his spending. Finally we decided on a three-account solution. We each have our own account. Each month, we both contribute a set amount to a joint household account. Rent, utilities, and groceries come out of this account. Our personal accounts are for things like our cars, clothing, entertainment, and hobbies. If our household account gets low, we both contribute a little extra to get it back in shape. This system has eliminated fighting. Gwen

Homemade Dog Food
I quit buying dog food because my Yorkie was so picky and I would end up throwing her food away. After looking online and researching what dogs can actually have, I started making my own. I generally use leftover chicken breast, turkey, pot roast, or hamburger meat. I grind it in the food processor and add frozen carrots and peas with some chicken broth (homemade or store bought). Sometimes I add hard-boiled eggs or a yam and even oatmeal or apple. I did buy a powdered vitamin at the pet store to make sure she is getting all the vitamins that she needs.
My little girl has not skipped a meal since I have been making homemade dog food. I measure her food into one-cup containers and freeze. The only caution that I have is watch if she starts gaining weight because she will love your cooking. You can also order recipe books for dogs on Amazon. Diane B.

Stainless Steel Kitchen

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

Stainless Steel Kitchen
I loved my new kitchen with the stainless steel appliances, but I hated the fingerprints that were always present. Then my friend suggested that I give them a very light coat of baby oil. Just a tiny amount on a paper towel does the trick. Chrystal

Keeping Food from Sticking
Since I cook and bake a lot, I was buying cooking spray frequently. Finally, I decided to make my own. I mix one cup of shortening, one cup of flour, and two tablespoons of vegetable oil. I mix it up and keep it in an old butter tub in the fridge. I use crumpled up paper towel to spread it on my pans.  Darlene

Flavor Boosts
I make my own flavor enhancers. I mix various herbs and spices. I run them through the blender and then freeze them in ice cube trays. After they’re frozen, I put them into a zipper baggie. Then when I want one for a soup, casserole or roast, I take one or more from the freezer and add them to my recipe. I tried just keeping them unfrozen in plastic containers, but found that they lost taste after a short time. Freezing solved the problem. Having fresh spices ready makes cooking much easier. Dyan

Preventing Cat Clawing
This is my method of deterring and training cats to leave my furniture alone. I buy the thicker, crystal clear plastic that can be bought off a bolt at the hardware or fabric store. I tape it (with clear tape) or attach it with upholstery pins to the sides and corners of the piece. It is not horribly noticeable and spoils all the fun for the cats until they finally give up and find an appropriate place to claw like outside on a tree, a scratching post, etc. I no longer have to cover anything as my cats just ignore the furniture. Robin

Free Stuff
For the past few years, when spring arrived, I checked our local newspaper for yard sales, garage sales, and rummage sales. Several times, I found free rummage sales where all of the merchandise was free. Sometimes, they had a donation box, and at other times, they didn’t want anything but to give it away. I’ve found everything from free groceries to free clothing, bed sheets, blankets, and linens. What a great savings. All the items were very useable. Lilly P.

Food on the Go
We seem to always be delivering food to someone. We usually deliver to my mother-in-law, friends from work or church, or our daughter in college. Naturally, I want to keep it cold or hot until we get there. I’ve discovered that I can buy Styrofoam coolers at yard sales for just pennies. When I see one, I pick it up. Since they’re cheap, I don’t mind if they disappear. Rhonda

We Have Too Much Stuff
My husband and I decided that the best way to get rid of the cost and inconvenience of storage, as well as things we had “stuffed” into our small house, was to consign our items to auction. The auction house sent a team of people to pack up and move the items from the house as well as the storage. For a fair percentage of the total sale, everything was done for us. Individual items often don’t sell at expected prices at auction, but others can be very exciting. I had an old brass planter that I bought for $40 at an auction only three years before our move. It sold at auction for $350. In all, we avoided the hassles of a garage sale, got rid of a storage fee, made space in the house, and made a fine profit. I have one caution. Most auction dealers will offer to purchase your goods outright. My experience is that the price they quote will be quite a bit lower than what you could make by consigning. It was worth the risk for us. Barbara

Almost Free Throw Rugs
My neighbor suggested this. When they installed new carpeting, there were leftover pieces. Instead of tossing or storing them, they cut them into throw rugs and had the carpet company bind the edges. It only cost a few dollars and they match perfectly. We did the same and put the throws in our high traffic areas. Now instead of shampooing the whole carpet each spring, most years I can get by just doing the throws. Julianne

Removing Food Stains
The best thing I found to remove stains without any scrubbing is castile soap. I keep some in a small bottle with a spout and then squeeze some on stains when needed and allow the clothing item to soak overnight. This is especially great for greasy stains. The next day I wash as usual with other laundry. If the stains are fruit related, I pour some hydrogen peroxide on before throwing in the wash. Castile soap is not only great for laundry, but also has many other uses and is economical. There is no need for harsh chemicals on your clothes or body. Elizabeth

Foreign Travel
Occasionally, I have to travel to other countries for work. Before I go, I make sure that I email a scan of my passport to myself. I also take a picture with my phone. That way, if I lose it (or it’s stolen), I have all the information needed for a replacement. It’s also handy if I’ve put the passport in the hotel safe but need some of the details while out and about. All I need to do is look at the picture in my phone.  Robert

The Cook Team
On the first Saturday of the month, two friends and I get together to do some freezer meal cooking. We take turns hosting the cooking event. Each of us cook two dishes, but we cook enough for all three families. We each end up with six freezer meals to take home. Each of us brings the main ingredients and any special spices needed. The host has foil containers and standard spices available along with cookware. We usually brew up a big pot of coffee and buy a coffee cake to enjoy while we’re cooking.
We have been doing it for years and have it down to a routine. It’s so nice to start the month with a number of meals that just need a few minutes in the oven or microwave.

Stained Tablecloth

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Stained Tablecloth
Your favorite colored tablecloth has a stain? Try covering it with a lace tablecloth. The color will shine through, but the stain will not show. Doreen H.

No More Dryer Sheets
Tired of paying for dryer sheets? Try wadding up some aluminum foil and tossing it in the dryer. There will be no chemicals used, and you’ll find no static cling either.

Protect the Pantyhose
I need to wear pantyhose to work every day. For years, I was replacing them all the time. Then a friend suggested that I buy a size bigger than recommended. I’m average in height and weight, so I started buying queen size. The pantyhose are so stretchy that they don’t bag, but I don’t have to pull so hard to pull them up, so I’m much less likely to snag them. Now, they last much, much longer than before.

Why Buy Resealables
I got tired of buying, using, and throwing away those resealable bags for food, so I bought a good set of reusable containers. They cost a bit more to start, but I’ve cut my bag purchases to a minimum. The only time that I use them now is if I’m packing food that I’ll eat away from home and it would be inconvenient to carry a plastic container with me. Soledad

Overly Dry Winter Air
Every winter, the air in our house begins to feel like a desert. I hate the way it dries out my skin. We just found an unusual solution. It’s an aquarium. For Christmas, we got the kids a ten-gallon aquarium. We were surprised to find that we had to add a little water every few days. Then we realized that it was evaporating and adding to the moisture in the air. In just a few weeks, I’ve noticed that my skin isn’t so dry. I guess I got myself a present at Christmas, too. Zoe

Facial Cleaning Cloths
To really clean and exfoliate your face, add a couple teaspoons of baking soda to a squirt of your favorite liquid facial cleanser and rub this into your face. Start gently until you get a sense of what pressure works best. Rinse with warm water. I do this in the shower. You don’t need to use an expensive cleanser either. A baby wash will do. You will be amazed at how clean and glowing your skin will look. Also, your pores will appear smaller. Lyn

Keepin’ It Simple
My husband and I are both on our second marriage. When we combined households, we had a blend of towels, sheets, and linens. Over time, I’ve gradually replaced everything with white. Now I don’t have to wonder if a hand towel will match a guest bath towel. It is not only simpler, but also I can find bargains at estate sales, thrift stores, and yard sales. As a final bonus, I don’t need to worry about colors running. Kristina

A Spray Paint Solution
I can’t tell you how many cans of partly-used expensive spray paint I’ve tossed because the nozzle clogged (despite precautions) and couldn’t be cleaned. It finally dawned on me that replacement spray tips might be available, and they were. I found a pack of four tips for under $3 to replace the type I needed. Spending 70 cents to recoup a $6 to $7 can of paint is a good investment in my opinion, and it saves me a trip to the store. Julie

Emergency Warmth
Winter storms remind us that most of us depend on city utilities for our heat, and sometimes a storm can interrupt that service. That’s why we bought some of those Mylar space blankets to keep in our house and car. They maintain body heat and can keep us warm in an emergency.
They’re light weight, cost only a few dollars, don’t take up much storage room, and do a wonderful job of keeping us warm when a car breaks down or a heater doesn’t work. I’m so glad the space program invented them. Gina

Shelf Space
It took a little work, but it certainly was worth it. I took every can out of my pantry and separated them according to years. One shelf was for 2014 and another for 2015. Next year, I’ll add one for 2016.
It didn’t matter if there were all different products on each shelf. I lined them up accordingly. Now we are only eating from the 2014 shelf, and when I buy other canned goods, I can put it on the correct shelf immediately. No more rooting for the oldest. The oldest is right before me on the oldest labeled shelf. If I need something that is no longer on the 2014 shelf, I just go to the 2015 one. Connie S.

Better Gas Mileage
I thought I would share my tire pressure story. I was traveling from Las Vegas, NV to Houston, TX. As I started out, I had to stop every hour to fill up my 2006 Cadillac with gas. I noticed the tire pressure in the owner’s manual was the recommended 35 PSI, which is what I had it set at. However, the tires stated 40 PSI. I upped the tires to the 40 PSI and was able to get 29 miles to the gallon. Amazing. I did not have to fill my tank for almost 400 miles.
I asked my dealer later why the 35 PSI? He told me it made for a more comfortable and less bouncy ride. I will take “bouncy” over comfort any day.
Devery J.

We Trade Puzzles
We enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles. It was so surprising to find out that many of our family and friends do as well. We now have a “Round Robin” going with the puzzles. There are five we exchange with in this town, two in another town, five people in another place, and several more people in a retirement town.
After a person has put a puzzle together, they put their initials on the back and send it on. If a piece is missing, it is also noted and a circle is made where it should go on the puzzle box picture. I was so surprised that my neighbor does these and has for years. That family prefers just the 500-piece puzzles, so that is all I send over to them. So far, everyone has sent the puzzles back to me with a few additions. It is almost like a library here now, and when we are all through, the puzzles go to a senior center or a hospital waiting room. Most are still in very good shape. DMT

Nasty Showers
We recently bought a foreclosed home with a really dirty shower. A friend suggested that I buy the cheapest shampoo I could find and coat the shower with it. I let it soak for a couple of hours and literally just wiped it clean with hardly any effort. I was amazed at how easy it was. Joshua

First Stop In The Grocery Store
When grocery shopping in any store, I always look for the discount carts or dented cans cart. Many times, I find items discounted 50% or more. Only the cans are dented. They are not expired and the seals are not broken. I’ve stocked up on these items for my pantry. It’s quite a savings. Lilly P.

Stuck In the Snow
Here in Canada, we get a lot of snow. Since I drive in rural areas, there’s always the risk of getting stuck in a snowbank and not having help to get out. Therefore, I always keep some old boxes in my trunk. They fold flat and can be put under the wheels to get traction on ice or snow. It’s a cheap solution. Deena

TSA Approved
I learned recently that there are two ways to bring water on a flight without having to buy an overpriced new bottle after security. First, you can bring an empty bottle through security and then fill in the terminal. Or you can bring a frozen bottle of water through security. The TSA agent confirmed for me both are possible.  Valerie Y.

Big Savings
Every year about this time, I find good clothing sales, but mostly what’s left is large or small sizes. Since I’m in the middle, I couldn’t take advantage of the sales until I had an idea. I do some basic sewing. I buy something I like in a too large size for me. When I get it home, I take it in to my size. Usually it only takes a few minutes and I have new clothes for not a lot of money. Mona

Looking Forward to Spring
I love to garden. While the ground is still frozen, I enjoy looking at seed catalogs. I also visit garden websites that allow for seed swaps. I’ve gotten and grown many seeds for plants that I couldn’t have afforded if it weren’t for the seed swaps. Often the other person isn’t really interested in getting an equal return. They’re just happy to see their seeds going to a good home. Rodney

Working for Myself
Every time we had an unexpected expense, I swore that I would start an emergency fund. And, when the next unexpected expense came up, I made myself the same promise. Finally last spring, I came up with an idea. Each week, I put one hour’s pay into my emergency account. It doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up. I might not have all that I need to cover the next unexpected expense, but I will have a part of it covered. Donna

Don’t Throw That Out Yet
If you find a can or package of food in your cabinet that has recently passed the “best by” date, call the toll-free number on the product and ask the manufacturer’s representative if the food is still good to eat without any significant loss of quality or safety. I have found in such calls that many canned products maintain good quality for many months after the “best by” date. It pays to make a call before you toss out a product. Brenda

Reverse Engineering
As I understand it, reverse engineering means taking a completed product and working backwards to see how it was created. We do something similar at home. Everyone creates shopping lists. We create un-shopping lists. On the list are things that we can live without for a short or long time. For instance, we were running out of paper towels. We decided that we could live without them for a short time. We found the same thing with fabric softener sheets. Sometimes we even find that we like it better without the item or that we prefer the substitute that we were using. We’ve saved quite a bit with our “reverse engineering” game

Pressure Cookers
If you pay attention to sale prices on eBay and Amazon, you can pick up one of the electric pressure cookers for less than $50 and many are shipped free. I’ve been using a “refurbished” model for years now and all that’s said about their efficiency and speed without a loss of flavor is absolutely true. Many nights, I’ve returned home from work, pulled something from the freezer, and put it on the table in 45 minutes or less. Pressure cookers are absolutely a “less is more” approach to a faster home-cooked meal. Just be careful with things like cabbage. It will go from a fresh head to an inedible mess in under 10 minutes.  James S.

Tired of Being Cooped Up?
A wintertime idleness cure is spring cleaning early. We definitely have the time to when the weather does not permit us to go out. I am a small farmer and a lot of times spring cleaning gets placed on the back burner because everything outside is calling. This year, I decided to get a jump on things and clean closets that need to be dealt with and other nagging chores that I don’t have to wait for spring to clean. This little bit of effort is freeing me from putting spring cleaning on the back burner for another year. I challenge you to start your spring cleaning early and enjoy the warm weather when it finally gets here. Megan from VA

Super Clean Your Hair
Recently it seemed like my hair wasn’t as pretty as normal. When I went in for a haircut, I asked for some advice. The girl who cuts my hair thought that it might be a build-up of shampoo. I asked about something to remove it and she suggested that once a week, I take some baking soda in my hand and mix it with my shampoo. Then shampoo like normal.
What a difference. My hair has regained its luster and is soft as can be. Once again, I’m getting compliments on my hair (which I love.).  Luci

Cleaning Kitchen Cabinets

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.
Copyright 2015 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

Cleaning Kitchen Cabinets
I use white vinegar to clean greasy kitchen cabinets. I use two cups to a gallon of hot water. It is very thrifty as a gallon of white vinegar costs about $2. White vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner. It’s also great for floors and windows. There is no need for all the expensive cleaners. Nancy

A New Living Room
Want to do something new with your living room but don’t have much money? Try painting just one wall a contrasting color to the rest of the room. Rearrange your furniture and you’ll have a whole new look for the cost of a little paint and one afternoon’s work. Lilibeth

It’s Cold Outside
Every time we open our front door, I feel cold air rushing into the house. Our entryway seemed to tunnel it right into the living room. Last week, I took a tension rod and hung a bed sheet on it between our entryway and the living room. That has really cut down on the cold air entering our home. It feels warmer without adjusting the thermostat. R.

Cleaning Granite Countertops
I wanted to find a homemade recipe for a cleaner for my granite countertops. I looked at the ingredients on an expensive brand and found the ingredient list. Now, I use equal parts water and rubbing alcohol with a squirt of dishwashing soap. It works great. Connie

Menu Planning
For the first time in our 37 years of marriage, I started making out menus for the month. I wanted to be sure to use up what is in the pantry, which is well stocked with home canned food from the garden last summer. We are amazed at how far the pantry food is going and how little meat we actually use. We enjoy leftovers, so we have one meal of leftovers most days. Some days are no-cook days because there is food we need to use. My hubby is very easy to please, and we eat very healthy. We’ve been doing this for two months with grocery money going mainly for fresh fruit and dairy. I’ve budgeted between $150 and $200, depending on the month. We’ve easily stayed within the budget. Pam

They’re Not Entering Here
Home robberies have become more common in our neighborhood, so I was looking for things I could do to protect my home. Then I had a brainstorm. I love to garden. One of my favorites is the rose. I decided to plant roses under all the windows of my home. I figure that no burglar wants to fight with rose thorns while they’re trying to sneak in through a window. I can’t say that’s why we haven’t been robbed, but it makes my home prettier, gives me another reason to garden, and might even help keep us safe. Archer

Picture This
I love to window shop, but I’ve learned (from painful past experience) not to buy impulsively. If I’m in a store and see something I like, I take a picture of it with my phone. It only takes a second, and once the picture is taken, I walk away from the item. Later, I take a look at the picture and think about whether or not I really want to go back to the store to buy it. I’ve avoided many unnecessary purchases this way. Kelli

Protecting My Entryway
Each winter, our entrance hall became a mess. Between the boots and the snow that was brushed off of coats, the floors were always a mess. By spring, I’d find it necessary to refinish the wood floor. This winter, we used a couple of long rubber floor mats that were meant for the back of an SUV. I put them down on the entryway floor. Now the snow doesn’t get to my floors. Next winter, I may go down to the home center and buy some clear plastic runner. I figure it’ll look a little better than the black rubber mats and still protect my floors. Rebekah

Leftovers for Breakfast
I finally found a way to solve two problems. It’s always a struggle to get our six person family out of the house in the morning. I don’t really have time to cook up a proper breakfast and get the kids ready, so we were depending on instant this and that. I noticed that one of the favorites was frozen breakfast burritos. I began to make them myself out of the leftovers from dinner. Some nights I even scramble up a few eggs to add to the leftovers. I bag them, mark what they are, and put them in the freezer. Each morning, the kids can choose one and pop it into the microwave. The results? A healthy, balanced breakfast that cost me almost nothing. Heather

Doggie Bags
It is good that people take home what they don’t eat at restaurants and also the clean napkins that would be thrown out. I take home the sliced bread that they would throw out and feed it to the birds. My friends, who at first made fun of me, now collect half-pieces and uneaten slices from the open bread basket for me. The birds are thankful and the bread is not wasted.
Also, if you do not eat the food you bring home from a restaurant, the birds will eat that too. Stale cake and cookies are also appreciated, as are the fats skimmed off your meats. Clean the pan by gathering the fats on ends of bread and throw them to the birds. Fats build up birds’ heat in cold winter months, which is why suet cakes are so popular. You can use an old aluminum tray to hold the “goodies” until you have time to throw them to where the birds eat.
Terri in Ft Lee

Less Expensive Wedding Dresses
A friend of mine is a fashion student. She was touring a dressmaking company. At the end of the line, they sorted dresses for weddings, proms, and formal wear. Naturally, wedding dresses were the most expensive.
So when I started shopping for a wedding dress, I looked (and found) a white strapless, floor length evening gown that looked very similar to a wedding dress I’d seen that was twice the price.
Most of our friends knew that we didn’t have much to spend on a wedding, so they were all surprised to see me in my expensive wedding dress. Danielle

Party Beverages

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2014 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

Party Beverages
Serve one signature alcoholic mixed drink or one type of wine punch and one type of non-alcoholic fruit punch instead of many different drink choices at your party. Add coffee, tea, and water to round out your drink selections. This will saves you both money and time. Janet H.

Wrapping Gift Cards
I’m giving gift cards for Christmas and plan on wrapping them in novelty socks for my teenage granddaughters. I’ll just fold the socks up and wrap a ribbon around them, shaping them into a box around the gift card. This can be done with a man’s handkerchief or bandanna for a boy. Debbie

The Wide World of Savings
I like to shop the ethnic section of my local grocery store. I find that many of the products are cheaper than the name brand versions. And, it’s not just things like canned soups and veggies. Also, this includes soaps and laundry detergent. Check out the ethnic section and see what savings you can find. Kristina

Baby, It’s Cold Outside
Last winter, I decided that I needed to stop the drafts in my home, so I walked around the outer walls of the house with a lit candle. I turned off the central heat first and was careful not to set the drapes on fire. By holding the candle close to doors and windows, I was able to get a good idea of where cold air was entering our home. I watched for the flame to dance around. Once I found the leaks, I was able to take action. Julianne

Tree Too Big
My three-year-old child and I live in a one-bedroom apartment. It’s not real small, but a Christmas tree makes it seem tiny. Last year, when I went to buy a tree, I looked for one that was bare on one side. I got a good deal on it. The bare side goes against the wall and it doesn’t take nearly as much space as a fuller tree. This solves two problems at once. Charly

Doubly Snug
I live in Michigan where we have very cold winters. I had been using flannel sheets and a comforter, but that didn’t allow me to adjust the thermostat as low as I would have liked at night. I use fleece throws for wrapping up in on the sofa, and it keeps my back warm while sitting. I decided to try it for sleeping. I took a large fleece throw and used a safety pin in each corner to attach it to the fitted bed sheet. I still use the comforter, but I’m staying much warmer and sleeping much more comfortably. Teri T.

Before You Call a Repairman
My husband isn’t very handy around the house, so I’m accustomed to calling professionals for home repair jobs. Lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of checking online first. Often I can find an article or video with simple steps that I can try to fix the problem. I’ve even tried emailing the manufacturer with the problem to ask for help. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes I find that I can fix it myself. Lina

Preventing Dog Chewing
Star is my dog. I love her, but she’s a chewer and has bitten through her leash on more than one occasion. I had applied a liquid to prevent her from biting the leash, but it was expensive. I tried rubbing white vinegar on it. Star hated it. She no longer bites the leash. I’ve found that I need to reapply it every few days, but vinegar is cheap, so it’s still a great solution. Lia

Organic Stain Removal
If you have clothing that’s stained from an organic source (like blood), you can get it out by using salt mixed with just a little water. The salt attracts the stain away from the clothing.
Salt can also replace bleach in your wash. Just use a mixture of salt, baking soda, and detergent in the wash. Your clothes will come clean, and an added benefit is that clothes will last much longer when you stop using bleach. Kamia

Laundry Detergent Lesson
Back in high school chemistry class, I learned that laundry detergent doesn’t actually clean clothes. It just makes it easier for water to dissolve water-soluble dirt. It’s the agitation of the water that does the real work.
Therefore, I’ve always used less detergent than is recommended and been careful to load my washer per the directions. I especially avoid overloading. That way, I get the maximum agitation and use the least amount of detergent. My clothes get cleaner and last longer.

Second Life for Leggings
My daughters wear leggings every day (long, stretchy pants). Unfortunately, the fabric is unforgiving, so the girls only wear each pair a few times before holes appear. The stretchy fabric is really tough to repair.
So, on a whim, I cut each pant leg into five-inch rings from the ankle up. You can cut the bands as wide or narrow as you wish. They don’t fray.
The smallest rings make terrific scrunchies (hairbands for ponytails). The fabric is gentle and doesn’t pull out hair. The largest rings (widest) make traditional headbands that are super comfortable. They can be used to hold back hair when washing your face or just hanging around the house. The widest rings also make great napkins. The upper-most part of the pants makes excellent rags and wash clothes, as they are soft and absorbent. It’s a shame to throw out good leggings as soon as the first few holes appear and now I don’t have to throw them out. JR

Helping Others
My grocery budget is tight, but I want to contribute to our church’s food pantry. Therefore, I started watching for buy-one-get-one offers. If it’s an item that I use, I keep one for my family and put the second in the food pantry box. It might be a little bit more expensive than buying the item on sale, but it still doesn’t cost much to help those who are really struggling financially. Kaelin

When the Natural Food Market Is Cheaper
I like to buy organic, but often the prices are pretty high. I’ve found one exception. That’s dried herbs and spices. Instead of buying those little bottles, I buy herbs and spices by the pound at the natural food store. Typically I’m only buying an ounce or two, so it’s only a few cents. Why pay for a bottle and packaging that you’ll only throw away later? Anika

Save Time & Money Later
With four kids in the house, we get a lot of invites to birthday parties, so I always shop the after-Christmas sales for solid color wrapping paper and bows. I try to buy enough to last me for the entire year. Not only do I save money, but also I don’t have to make a special trip to the store to get wrapping paper when a party pops up. Lurlene

Helping Elderly Parents
My mom had a stroke, and I’m taking care of her finances. I have power of attorney and am listed as co-trustee of her trust. But there are some things in the trust (which was written 25 years ago) that I think she would change if she could. Now, she’s not mentally aware, so no changes can be made. If your parents have a trust that’s more than a few years old, you should encourage them to have an attorney specializing in elder law review it. It might cost a couple hundred dollars, but it could avoid some of the problems that I’m dealing with now. Donna

Free Theatre
I live in Seattle, and many of the local professional theatres let you see plays for free if you volunteer to help with the show. This usually consists of selling coffee or taking tickets. We’ve also found that many of the theatres have a “pay what you can” night. We like to pay as much as we can to support the theatre, but definitely less than a single ticket would usually cost. And if you’re not crunched for time, many theatres will sell their tickets at half price 15 minutes before the play starts if it is not sold out. This is usually not a problem on a weeknight or towards the end of a run. We’ve even gotten last minute tickets on a Saturday night. Amy F. L.

Disposing of Cooking Oil
I used to wash the bit of oil in the bottom of my fry pan down the drain. That seemed better than pouring it into the trash and hoping that my garbage bag wouldn’t leak. Then I started having problems with my septic system and got some advice from a neighbor. She said that when she has a little grease or cooking oil in the bottom of a pan, she soaks it up with newspaper or junk mail if she doesn’t have newspaper. The paper soaks up the oil and doesn’t cost her anything. Then it goes into the trash and never leaks. Nikky

Caring for Suede
After living in North Dakota my entire life and owning a suede coat during college, I found the best way to keep it nice was to purchase a can of the suede protector spray from a leather store in the mall. I sprayed my coat every fall after having it professionally cleaned and it worked great. I wore it for four years in college (walking everywhere in frigid temps, rain, sleet and snow.) and finally gave it away since I moved to a climate where a suede coat filled with down just wasn’t a practical winter coat. The spray repelled the water and stains and having it professionally cleaned every year kept it looking nice. Jane

Ready for Biscuits
We love homemade biscuits. Like most families, we don’t have a lot of time. When I do make biscuits, I make a triple batch. After I cut them out, I put most of them on aluminum pans, cover them with wax paper, and freeze them. Whenever we want some, I thaw them out and bake a few or a whole batch. When I take them out of the freezer, I remove the wax paper and let them sit for a few minutes. Then I bake them at 450 degrees until they’re golden. Rudy

Tell-Tale Snow
Last winter, I noticed that snow seemed to melt on a couple portions of my roof even if the sun wasn’t shining and the temperature was cold. I noted where the spots were and headed for the attic. Most of the attic was cold, but there were a few warm spots where a draft from below was warming up the underside of the roof. I bought some insulation and eliminated the drafts. My goal wasn’t to stop the snow from melting, but to keep the heat inside our house. This year, I expect our heating bills to be lower. Carlos

Buy the Right Ground Meat
I just finished a food science course and learned something that most people don’t know. When you buy ground meats, you should pay attention to the name. For instance, ground turkey can be any meaty part of the bird, including white or dark meat and even the skin.
A healthier choice would be to buy “ground turkey breast,” or if you’re buying beef, you should buy “ground chuck” or “ground round.” It costs a little more, but you get what you pay for. Melody

Tangled Hair
My sister who is a hairdresser told me that the best way to untangle little girls’ hair is to put some conditioner in the tangle and let it sit for five minutes. Then rinse. It should be much easier to comb out the tangles. Salerno

Fabric Softener Savings
Instead of fabric softener, I add a capful of cheap hair conditioner to a damp white washcloth. After rubbing it around on the cloth, I toss it in the dryer with my wet clothes. There’s no more need for those throw-away sheets. Rosie

Static Cling
Do you hate it when your panty hose cling to your slacks in winter? Instead of using one of those spray-on products, just rub a little lotion on your panty hose before you put them on. It’s a simple solution to this problem. Kayla

Fabulous French Toast
I don’t make French toast often, but when I do, there’s a twist that I think makes it better than most. I use a flavored liquid coffee creamer instead of milk. Just that little bit of flavor makes all the difference. I still add a bit of cinnamon and dip it into an egg bath like most people. Julianne

Yucky Thermos
Bringing my coffee to work each morning has saved me about $2 a day or nearly $500 this year, but I had one problem. I have a nice metal thermal mug that I wash daily. The plastic cap took on a funky smell. I finally found a solution about a month ago. I sterilize the cap in boiling water weekly. I heat a cup of water to a boil in my microwave. Then I scrub the cap, drop it in the boiling water, and let it soak in the water for a while. No more funky smell. Josh

Free Heat
I do a lot of baking and cooking in my oven during the winter. To take advantage of the heat in my oven, I use some firebricks, which are the bricks that are used to make a fireplace. I put one into an old bread tin and put it in the oven with whatever I’m making. Once I’ve finished cooking, I leave the stove door open. The firebricks store up heat and release it over the next few hours. I do this regularly except when my grandkids are visiting. I wouldn’t want to see them get burned. Granny Charmane

Really Cheap Wrapping Paper
If you want to find wrapping paper really cheap, visit any department store or shop that wraps gifts right after Christmas. They buy paper in large rolls and many are glad to get rid of it at almost any price. Besides not wanting to store it all summer, they also like to have different paper each year. So now’s the time to ask what they do with unused paper.

DIY Party Platters
At work or family potlucks, people bring plastic party trays with and without covers. At the end of the party, I save, wash, and store them for later use. I love veggie trays. Yes, they take a little time to make, but I save a lot of money by making the trays myself. Party trays at stores are way overpriced. Judy in KY

Stretching Ground Beef
We all run into situations where we need to stretch hamburger. Last week, my son dropped in for dinner with his two kids. I had planned a small meatloaf for hubby and me. Now I had to make it bigger without more meat. I ground up peppers, mushrooms, onions, and carrots in my food processor. Then I mixed the vegetables into the meatloaf and used my usual seasonings. Everyone liked the result. I’m thinking of doing that every time I make meatloaf. Darlene

Party Punch
Ice cubes in your holiday punchbowl will keep it cool, but they also tend to water down the punch. One way to solve the problem is to freeze whatever you’re using as the main ingredient of the punch. If it’s a juice based punch, freeze cubes of juice. If you want to get fancy, you can add some fruit cocktail to the iced juice or freeze the juice in holiday shapes, using whatever molds you might have around the house. Kayla

Cleaning Engineered Hardwood Floors
I have engineered hardwood floors and clean them about every other day. I use a sponge mop with a wringer apparatus and plain hot water for light cleanups. For heavier cleaning, I use a little anti-bacterial dish detergent in the hot water. This generally takes off everything except dried-on spots, and those respond well to a fingernail. Use a damp mop and never leave water standing on these floors. The manufacturers will claim the floors are waterproof, but this is not true. A cooler was left on the living room floor and it had a leaky drain tap. We now have a swollen board where the water entered the particle board, and it will never entirely flatten. Replace mop heads before they get low enough to scratch the floor. The finishes do scratch and they do chip.

Pet Meds
My vet prescribed a joint medicine for my border collie. Since I had never heard of it, I Googled it. There was a supplement that people take that’s the same thing at about a fourth of the cost. I checked with the vet, and he admitted that it was the same thing.
Since I was investigating, I checked out a couple of the other medications that the vet had prescribed for my dog. They were cheaper at the drug store than at the vet’s office. Veronica

Cleaning Outdoor Decorations

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2014 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Handy Cleaning Supplies

Want to live better on the money you already make?

Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Copyright 2014 • Dollar Stretcher, Inc.

Handy Cleaning Supplies
If you are like me with limited storage space for cleaning supplies, I found that if I hang a shoe bag on the back of a door, I can put all my bottles, cans, etc. into the pockets. They are easy to get to without rummaging through a bunch of stuff. Mary from Michigan

The daycare we use has a great idea. As the seasons change, the parents have a huge free swap. Everyone brings their outgrown, gently used toys, clothing, and baby items and we swap them. We even include Halloween costumes and fancy clothes that are perfect for the holidays.

Better Ground Beef
We’ve all been hit with higher meat prices this year, especially on ground beef. One way that I’ve fought back is to wait for a sale on chuck or round roasts. When I find a good one, I buy a couple of roasts and ask the butcher to grind them for me. There’s no charge for the service. I end up with better meat at a lower price. Patryce

An Organized Charger Station
I have a lot of little electronic devices, and each one has its charger. I use a dorm shower caddy with lots of pockets to store all those little transformers and keep them all in one place. I use Velcro cord keepers on the chords. I label each transformer, so I know which gadget it belongs to. The large center pocket holds a zipper pouch with spare ear buds and other small bits and pieces.
Judy in Tampa, FL

Give a Useful and Delicious Gift
With the price of food going up, a useful and delicious gift for an elderly person or anyone else is a fruit basket. However, instead of buying a pricey pre-made fruit or food basket, just get a pretty container and build one yourself. This could be a wicker basket, a bowl, or even a canvas grocery tote. Load it up with pretty fruit, such as apples, oranges or pears. Then add other surprises like cheese, candy, a small gadget or a gift card. Cover with clear plastic wrap and then “garnish” with a bow or other decoration. If there is a chance the recipient is on heart or blood pressure medication or certain other prescriptions, do not include grapefruit because it can adversely affect their medicine. Lynn B.

Better Leftovers
Most families get tired of leftovers a day or two after Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I developed a new way to use up the leftovers. I make my own individual meals. I take a plastic plate that can be microwaved. On it, I put a portion of meat, one or two veggies, and potatoes or stuffing. A few of these plates go into the refrigerator and some get frozen. On each, I list what’s inside. After a quick zap in the microwave, we have instant dinners. Daisy

Inexpensive Wedding Gift Idea
Looking for an affordable wedding gift? Take the wedding invitation sent to you in the mail and purchase an inexpensive picture frame and frame the wedding invitation yourself. You can even buy pre-cut mating that fit the frame. I usually spend less than $25 and everyone that receives this gift raves about how thoughtful I was, how pretty it is, and how it’s one of their favorite gifts. I usually buy a picture frame with a stand so the gift can be moved from room to room as the couple redecorates. That way, they don’t have to keep putting new holes in walls in order to hang it up. Kris

Cleaner Carpets
Each year, I clean my carpets before the holidays. With a family, they take a beating during the summer and I like them to look good for holiday decorating and visitors. My friend’s husband is a janitor for a large office building and he told me that they rarely use any carpet shampoo when steam cleaning carpet. They use just water. They will use a little carpet shampoo, but only a little, on stained areas. He said that the shampoo attracts dirt. Breanna

Easy Window Insulation
It’s that time of year again when we think about saving on heating costs. I cover my windows with small bubble wrap and it definitely makes the house a lot cozier. It cuts down on heat loss. If you have ever felt the window glass in your home on a cold day, the glass is very cold. Once you have bubble wrap on the windows and put your hand on it, it is not cold at all. The bubble wrap lets plenty of light in, adds some privacy, and resembles frosted glass.
This year, I found a 24” wide roll that was 175 feet long on Amazon for $19.31 and shipping was included in that price. I have enough left to do the windows in most of the town I live in and I will offer it to some of my friends. The 24” required very little trimming. I am thinking I may leave it up all year, as it may help with cooling cost as well. Installation is simple. I just cut it to size. I use a felt tip marker to mark the smooth side for cutting with a sharp scissors. Then I spray water on the glass and stick the smooth side to the glass. That’s all there is to it. Alisha

Exercise at Home
This is a tip that I use for my exercise routine. I walk/jog when I can on a walk/bike trail, but on bad weather days or when I only have a few minutes at a time to exercise, I use my mini trampoline or what some people call a rebounder.
It cost me $30 at Walmart. It comes with resistant straps. I can use this to walk and jog. I use it for 10- or 15-minute intervals, which I do to help keep my blood sugar from spiking after meals (I am diabetic). It is quiet, so I can do it while watching TV or listening to music on my MP3 player. Sometimes I move it behind my recliner and use the top of the recliner back as a book or magazine holder and read while marching.
The great thing about this form of exercise equipment is that it stands up on end and only takes up about six inches when not in use. It is lightweight and can be moved to anywhere in the house. It is also quiet when in use, so it doesn’t disturb others in the room. Finally, the “give” of the trampoline makes it easy on the joints. Margo