Dollar Stretcher Tips for October 20, 2016


Dollar Stretcher Tips for October 20, 2016

Pumpkin Recycling

Last fall, we tried an experiment with our kids. When we carved our pumpkin, we left some seeds inside. After we displayed it, we added some potting soil (a couple of inches will do). Then we placed it in the garden and watched it grow! Our kids learned a lot about how plants grow. This year, they can’t wait to do it all again!

The Cost of Bread

I love good fresh bread, but I hate how much it costs. It seems like it’s twice as much as it was just a few years ago. And if you like anything fancy, it’s really outrageous! Therefore, I learned to make my own. It’s not nearly as much work as you might think, and it costs much less than the store loaves. I don’t even have a bread machine. I find that kneading is good exercise!

Special Outings

For a family of six (three boys and one girl), going out can be expensive. Even a museum can be expensive. My husband and I came up with something we call “special outings.” We decide on an outing that’s free or nearly free. It could be a nature walk, a skate park, or a picnic near a lake. During the days before, we give the kids hints but won’t tell them what the special outing is going to be. This builds excitement. We always try to have something special with the outing. For the skate park, we had a simple trick that they were to try to master. We videoed the attempts to play back when we got home. It didn’t cost anything, but this made it all the more fun!

Save the Harvest

Most gardeners end up with too much produce, and it’s a real waste to throw it away. Therefore, I freeze mine! There’s a good chance the produce can be frozen without any special preparation. Peas, tomatoes, peppers, and other veggies can go straight from being washed into the freezer. A few like corn and carrots require blanching (which isn’t hard) before being frozen. Now I’ll have free veggies for months!

Smoked Meats

We have a small backyard, so I don’t have room for a smoker. I learned to use my kettle grill to cook smoked meats. I made a divider that cuts the bottom of my grill in half. This allows me to put charcoal on one side of the grill, which concentrates the heat on that side. I can add wood chips to that side and create as much smoke as I want. Since many smoked meats are best if they cook low and slow, I put them on the other side of the grill, so the heat is indirect. With the cover on the grill, I can control the temperature and amount of smoke. I probably won’t win any BBQ cook-offs, but my family sure is happy!

Handy Cam

I love the fact that my phone takes pictures. I find that they’re a great way to remember little things that I might forget. When I went to pick up my sister last weekend at the airport, I was afraid that I would forget which floor and location I parked my car, so I took a quick picture. If I need a part for a home repair, I take a picture of the old part and maybe the model number in case that’s important. I’ve even taken pictures of bugs that were eating my garden. After showing it to an expert gardener, he was able to tell me exactly how to get rid of them. I’m always looking for more ways to make my life easier!

Family Costumes

Here’s an easy and inexpensive family costume idea. Make each person into a Christmas present! Find boxes big enough to cover from shoulders to waist. Cut a hole for your head and cover with wrapping paper. Add a ribbon and you’re all set! If you want, you could add those little elf hats or anything else that’s holiday related. If you don’t want to use that much wrapping paper, consider aluminum foil or paint the boxes different colors. Stencil them if you want. This idea didn’t cost much and the costumes were comfortable to wear. We got a lot of compliments!

Dinner for One

I live alone and have friends over for dinner every week. I never want to run out of food, so I cook a little extra. I portion anything that’s left over into meal-sized servings that I freeze. Usually I end up with two or three meals that I can take from the freezer and warm in the microwave to have an instant dinner. It’s much better than eating alone in the restaurant or bringing in junk food.

Easy Lawn Edging

We have a large yard and needed a lot of edging between the grass, shrubs, and flower beds. I went to our home center and purchased a ‘broken bundle’ of roofing shingles. I cut them to the desired shape and set them flat on the ground. No grass or weeds will grow through them. They stay in place and are super easy to maintain. I can run my lawn mower over them without a problem. I chose a dark color that blends in with the dirt. It’s a cheap and easy solution!

Simple Money Habits

I’m chiming in to say this article has great advice, as I found out the hard way. Years ago, I let mail pile up, thinking it was all junk, only to find that my former university had recommended me for a $15,000 scholarship to a drama school in New York City. All I had to do was sign and return a form by a certain date. Yes, I had missed the date by not opening the letter. I went to the school anyway, but I had to pay all the costs myself. I have opened every envelope every day of my life since! My friend throws unopened junk mail into the communal recycling bin by her mailbox, and it makes me cringe to see her do it. I have begged her to please just open the envelopes to make sure!

Keeping a box to throw receipts into every day is the simplest way I know to find what I need at tax filing time. I just go to the box once a year, extract anything that can be claimed on my tax returns, and shred the rest. It saves so much time.

Another friend had $200 saved in a big plastic jar. He used it for a family treat. I tend to roll mine up and take them to the credit union when it gets to more than a few dollars. All the tips in the article are easy habits and could save a lot of money (like $15,000 for example).
Ann in NYC

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