Dollar Stretcher Tips for December 25, 2014


Christmas Toys

We don’t allow our kids to tear into their gifts on Christmas morning. We purposely make them take their time and open one gift at a time. Not only does this give them a chance to recognize who gave them the gift, but also it gives me a chance to set aside the packaging. In a few years, when they’ve outgrown the toy, I can get top dollar for it at my garage sale if I still have the original packaging. It’s a win/win!

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.

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?

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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