Dollar Stretcher Tips for February 11, 2016


Dollar Stretcher Tips for February 11, 2016

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!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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