Your Dollar Stretcher Tips for April 7, 2016
Automatic Plant Watering
I found the secret to watering my indoor plants automatically. I use those dish detergent bottles with the pull-out 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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