Your Dollar Stretcher Tips for January 2, 2017
I always buy the store brand milk. I know that it's the same as the national brands because I used to work in a dairy. We filled different brand containers with the exact same milk.
In our city, the public works department will give you free sand and rock salt mix for your sidewalks. You just need to pick it up. I take a couple of five-gallon buckets and fill them up. It's cheaper than anything the store has to offer.
I got tired of buying and then throwing out resealable bags. Therefore, I bought some containers that I can reuse. They didn't cost much, and now I've cut down on our baggie use. It's not a big savings, but I'd rather spend my grocery money on food than plastic.
In my office, we go through a lot of coffee. I've asked my co-workers to save the used grounds for me. They just put the filter and the grounds into a container that I brought in. I take it home each week and add it to my compost container. I'm already looking forward to gardening season.
If you're looking to make some extra money, here's a fun way to do it. When you do your shopping, ask the store if they need help with anything. In the past, I've delivered pizzas and brochures for an A/C company. One time I helped a janitorial supply company reorganize their storeroom. You never know what will turn up if you just ask.
The Coin Operated Trick
I have a trick that I use when I do laundry. I pretend that I'm at the laundromat and have to pay to use the washer and dryer. I keep an empty coffee can nearby. Every time I use the washer or dryer, I put a buck in the can. It's not a lot, but it adds up over a few months. Of course, it does make me wonder why I have to do so much laundry!
My New Year's resolution to lose weight wasn't going anywhere. After two weeks of failing, I decided to try something new. I put it in writing, and I read it first thing every morning. I don't know if it's the fact that it's right in front of me, but I've met my goal the last few days. I think I'm going to try the same thing for saving money (something else that's been hard to do).
Looking for a Job?
I worked in the HR department of a large company. There are two pieces of advice that I give anyone who's looking for a job. First, research the company before the interview. Read about what they're doing, so you can ask the interviewer some questions about the company. That immediately separates you from most of the people who will be interviewed. Secondly, don't ask about salary or perks until they make an offer. You're trying to impress them with what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you.
Check Your Credit
I was the victim of identity theft and didn't know it. I had a number of credit cards with a zero balance that I didn't use. I didn't think anything when I didn't get a statement from them. I didn't know that someone claiming to be me changed the address and ran up a balance on the card. I only found out about it when I saw my credit score start to drop. Now I check the balance on all my credit card accounts at least once a month. That won't keep me from being a victim, but it will minimize the damage.
If you've ever lost your wallet, you'll understand this. Don't keep important papers where you can lose them and make sure that you have copies somewhere safe. You should never carry your Social Security card in your wallet. You do need to carry credit cards but have a copy saved at home. The same thing is true with your car. Don't keep the only copy of your insurance card in the console. If your car is stolen, you'll need it.
Don't Run Out
With three teens in the house, I couldn't tell when we were running out of things. I never knew what to put on the grocery list or what I could count on when I was making dinner. I came up with two solutions. I put together a list of all of our grocery items in a Word document. It's posted in our pantry. If someone takes the last of something, he/she is responsible for putting a check mark on the inventory list. I do something similar with the fridge and freezer. I keep a handwritten list on the door. When I put a roast in the freezer or leftovers in the fridge, it goes on the inventory. If someone eats up an inventory item, he/she needs to cross the item off the list. Now I know what to buy in the grocery store!
The Weekly Meeting
Each Monday evening right after dinner, my wife and I have a short finance meeting. Together we update our financial software and discuss anything that's happened in the past week. If either of us overspent our allowance, it's time to fess up. The weekly meeting also allows us to plan for things like insurance and property taxes, so we're never caught off guard. They say that finances break up a lot of marriages. We're not going to be one of them!
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