Dollar Stretcher Tips for July 7, 2016


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Going Upscale

I’ve had the best luck going to garage sales in expensive neighborhoods. I often find brand new items (Christmas gifts?) for great prices. The kids’ toys and clothes are in better shape, too. I used to try to find the best sales based on what their ads said. Now, I just go to a few expensive neighborhoods.

All Day Coffee

We like to keep a coffee pot on in our small office, but after the coffee sits for an hour or more, it starts to get too strong. We found a very simple solution. We just put three pennies on the coffeemaker’s hot plate. That lifts the pot off just enough to keep it warm but not overcook the coffee. Try it. All it costs is three cents!

Discount Gift Cards

Readers who are 50 or older can save on gift cards (you can use them yourself) by buying them at If you are a member of AARP, you can also earn points toward discounts on these and other items. A typical savings is a $50 card for $45 or a $100 card for $90. Combine these with sales and deals to save even more.
Barbara in SC

Medic Alerts

We all know to have ‘in case of emergency’ numbers on our phone, but I’ve gone a step further. I have one contact that’s not a person, but a list of the medications I take. I only take three, but if something should happen to me, I don’t want my family to be trying to find that out. I also keep a card in my wallet with the information.


When we bought our house four years ago, the lender required us to get PMI. Now that the house is appreciated, they were real slow to acknowledge that it’s worth more than what we paid for it and cancel the PMI. I finally got mad and found my own solution. We refinanced! Not only did we eliminate PMI, but we were also able to go from a 30-year fixed to a 15-year fixed for just about the same payment! It’s a win-win for me (and a loss for the bank!).

Expensive Cosmetics

One of the things that I hated giving up was expensive perfumes, scented lotions, and body powders. Buying groceries for my family had to come first, but I found a solution. Whenever I stop at a thrift store or go to a garage/estate sale, I see if they have any of the better stuff for sale. I often find unopened products priced at a fraction of their retail price. I also watch Craigslist for deals. Now I can pamper myself and still feed my growing boys!

Grocery Cycle Savings

Working in a grocery store has taught me to watch for sale cycles. I buy extra when things are on special. I’ve cut my grocery bill by over 10% doing this. It works really well if you don’t rely on prepackaged foods and do your own cooking. For instance, every time there’s a holiday, I find soda, beer, juice drinks, chips, etc. on sale. I buy my baking needs around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. As you’d expect, cookout items are cheapest at the beginning of summer. And, don’t forget the ethnic products. Italian products will be cheapest before Columbus Day or Easter. Jewish products will be cheapest before Rosh Hashanah, and Chinese items will be cheapest before the Chinese New Year.

A Vacation from Your Vacation

Last summer, we returned from our vacation needing a vacation! We did theme parks and had a great time, but everyone came back tired. This year, we’re intentionally scheduling two half-day breaks in our vacation. It will be time set aside to do nothing but hang around the pool or read a good book. We’re also cutting costs by finding some free stuff in the area. We did a search and contacted the local Chamber of Commerce. We found a number of cool things to do that won’t cost a penny!

DIY ‘Oxygen’ Cleaner

I like the so-called oxygen cleaners, but don’t like the store or ‘as seen on TV’ price. Therefore, I decided to make my own. I mix one cup hot water, 1/2 cup baking soda, and 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide. It’s so easy that I mix a fresh batch every time I do laundry. Typically, I soak stained clothes in it for half an hour or overnight if the stain is stubborn. So far, I haven’t damaged or discolored any clothing, and I’ve yet to meet a stain that wouldn’t come out.

Our Family’s Sweet Tooth

Every member of my family has a sweet tooth and loves a good dessert. Until recently, we’d go out to eat once a week, but now that’s gotten too expensive. This is especially true if we add a sundae or piece of pie to the bill. We found a way to make up for the loss. Each week, we have a special dessert night. Sometimes I’ll go buy a pie from our favorite bakery. We can easily get eight slices for the same amount that we’d spend on two or three in the restaurant. Other nights, I set up an ice cream bar. I buy a banana or two and some strawberries. Chop a few walnuts and whip some cream. We already have all kinds of toppings. For less than $10, my family is happy!

Tired of Living a Frugal Life?

Frugal fatigue is no different than falling off of the diet bandwagon. You work and work to lose weight only to be thwarted by an office birthday party or a dinner out with friends. However, just because you gain a couple of pounds back does not mean you should abandon the diet altogether. No, you just start the next day fresh and try again. The same is true for your finances. If you are a frugal person, you can still treat yourself from time to time. In fact, just like dieting, if you allow yourself a few small splurges, you are much less likely to go hog wild and make a huge splurge that will set you way back. Everything will be fine as long as you climb back on the frugal bandwagon. You know you are doing what is best so stick with it and you will see results!
Apryle in El Cajon, CA

The Organized Family

With one grade schooler and two teens, our home is always busy. Keeping track of all their activities and making sure everyone knew what was going on was always a challenge. I used to hate it when I thought that one of the teens was picking up the grade schooler and it didn’t happen. Now, we use two tools to solve the problem. We have a calendar in the kitchen that includes everyone’s activities. Each person has a color. A check in your color next to someone else’s activity means you’re responsible for picking them up. The teens and I also have coordinating calendars on our phones. We can even have a reminder notify us when something needs to happen. We’re still a very busy family, but the chaos has ended!

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