Dollar Stretcher Tips for November 5, 2015


Christmas Candy Now!

Right after Halloween is a great time to stock up on Christmas candy. Just choose bags where the individual wrappers aren’t Halloween themed. I put a few bags in my freezer and have plenty for holiday gatherings and visitors.

Shaving Secrets

I like to use regular hand lotion when I shave. It lubricates and moisturizes my face. Occasionally, I’ll use a skin conditioning lotion that contains the fragrance of my favorite cologne. If you prefer the soapy lather, you can simply work up a lather in your hands using regular bar soap and hot water. Soaps that contain lotion are particularly nice.

Frugal Foaming Hand Cleaner

Everyone knows that you can make your own foaming cleaner by mixing liquid soap and water, but I found out that I can use cheap shampoo in place of the liquid soap and save even more. I can buy a large, inexpensive bottle of shampoo for less than the refill bottles of liquid soap. When I travel, I bring home those small bottles of shampoo that the hotel provides. One of those small bottles is just about the right amount to mix with water for the average foaming dispenser.

Free Firewood!

There’s a lot of new construction in our area. I’ve gotten in the habit of driving through these neighborhoods. I look for piles of scrap lumber that are waiting to be hauled away. If I ask the construction foreman, they’re usually happy to let me take any pieces that I want. I’m careful not to leave a mess. I don’t take any pressure treated, but 2x4s can be easily cut to a length that fits into my fireplace. I also find a lot of smaller pieces that are good for a wood cook stove that I have in my garage.

Love My Oats

I use quick oats for more than breakfast. I add them uncooked to ground beef before I make burgers, meatloaf, or spaghetti sauce. Not only do they stretch the meat, but also they help ground meat hold together while it’s being cooked. I also add some oats to my bread recipes, especially banana nut. When I happened to mention that to a nurse friend, she told me that the oats probably help to keep my cholesterol down, which is an added bonus!

Organizing Spices

For years, I had a shelf in the cabinet with my spices. Any time I wanted to try a new recipe, I dug through the shelf to see if I had the spices I’d need. And if I found them, I was never sure if the spice was beyond its date code. Finally I decided to get organized. I saved three small boxes. Each one holds part of my spice inventory. I can easily take out a box and find a needed spice. Each spice is marked with the date it was purchased. Now I can quickly see what I have and whether it’s still good. I will no longer buy duplicates because I don’t know what I have.

Cooking for One…Not!

I’m divorced, and my kids are grown. I got tired of cooking just for myself or buying microwave dinners. Then I had an idea. Two friends and I meet for coffee once a week. I suggested that we cook for each other. Now I cook once a week for three people. I choose casseroles and other dishes that can be partially cooked and then finished later. For most, when they’re about 75% done, I remove two portions and put them in plastic containers for my friends. These containers go into the refrigerator until we meet for coffee. The meals I get from them only take a few minutes in the oven or microwave. Now I’m getting a healthy meal at a fraction of what the microwave dinners were costing me.

Next Year’s Garden

Most of us are putting our gardens to bed for the winter. One step that makes the work much easier next spring is to spread weed mat or old newspapers over the garden once it’s cleared of old plants. The weed mat will prevent weeds from taking hold that will need to be pulled before preparing the soil. This past spring, I just poked holes in the weed mat and planted through the holes. This made weeding much easier all summer long!

Dealing With Drain Flies

I thought I had fruit flies but the normal fixes didn’t work and I would find them in areas like my bathroom and in the middle of winter. I did some research and found out I had drain flies, not fruit flies. You can look up pictures of them online. They are similar to fruit flies but slightly larger. Drain flies like drains you don’t use very often. I had a bathtub that I used rarely, but I cleaned it each week, so it meant there was always a little water in the drain. To solve the problem, I did two things. First, I covered the seldom used drain with a rubber mat. Then I poured boiling water down my drains every two nights for a week or so. That killed the eggs that were laid in the drain. I haven’t had problems since doing this.

Yes, I Can!

Last January, when I got my credit card bills, I swore that I wouldn’t charge Christmas this year. Friends and co-workers told me that I couldn’t save enough to pay cash for gifts and entertaining. I estimated what I’d need this year and broke it down into weekly portions. Broken down, this wasn’t so intimidating. To help motivate me, I taped a bow to my fridge door! With just a few weeks to go, I’m at about 85% of my goal. I’ve been putting the money into a separate account each week. I’m so happy that I’m planning on doing it again next year and will probably start a goal plan for my vacation, too!

Canned Pumpkin for Less

Since canned pumpkin has doubled in price the last few years, I have looked for the small pie pumpkins used as decoration and usually discarded in various places. Sometimes people keep these through Thanksgiving, but it is worthwhile to ask to get the pumpkins when they are no longer used that way.

All you have to do is bake the pumpkin until tender and remove the seeds and interior. The flesh is easily stored in freezer containers but probably best used fresh rather than frozen. There are many good pumpkin recipes other than pie, and most dogs benefit from eating a little pumpkin mixed in wet food to help digestion (and they really like it, too). Best of all, it is free rather than $1.88 for a can in our area.

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