Dollar Stretcher Tips for July 2, 2015

Save on Landscaping and other Dollar

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!

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.

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% off at many places and even 25% off pizzas at Papa John’s. Your state may have a similar program.

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!

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!

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.

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 ten pounds. Once home, I make 1/4 pound patties. I like to add some bread crumbs, 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!

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!

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.

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!

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.


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