Dollar Stretcher Tips for October 27, 2016
Broken Car Windows
If your car windows won't work, try this before you take it in for repairs (which are expensive!). Spray some silicone lubricant in the tracks. Use enough so it drips down the track. I did that with my 12-year-old Honda and now they open and shut just like new!
I enjoy estate sales. Often they include rarely used and well cared for items. For instance, last summer I found some great luggage for my daughter who was leaving for college. It was good quality luggage in great shape and priced to sell. I've already started buying the things she'll need when she gets her first apartment.
My Time Is Valuable!
I know that some people estimate how long they'll need to work before they buy something. I do that and it's helped me curb my spending, but I go a step further. I also consider how much upkeep or maintenance it'll require. For instance, if something is “dry clean only,” I know that I'll need to work a third of an hour every time I have to take it to the cleaners. When we added a puppy to the family, I estimated how much time his upkeep would take each month. That may sound cold, but we decided that having a puppy was worth it. Now that we made an informed decision, I don't second guess spending what we originally estimated on him. I'm sure you can think of other things that require time or money to keep up.
My wife makes a small hourly wage at a grocery store. I'm a commissioned salesman and never know how much I'll make each month. That made planning our finances hard until we came up with this system. We use the last year's average monthly income as a starting point. Anything we make above that either goes into savings or into prepaying bills. That way when we have a month that's below average, we have the money sitting in savings to cover the shortage. We've also been setting a little aside each month in a separate emergency fund account. It's not where we want it, but at least it's growing.
Lose Your Wallet?
What would you do if you lost your wallet or had it stolen? That became real for me last month when my purse was snatched! Fortunately, I had an inventory of everything in it. I had photocopies of all my credit cards front and back. I also had copies of my insurance cards and other association cards (like AAA). It was still a pain, but that did make it easier to notify those who needed to know.
Making Line Drying Clothes Easy
One way I save on electric bills is by hanging my laundry outside. It comes in smelling wonderful and there's no need for dryer sheets or rinse agents. Very few people have clotheslines in their yard, but there is an alternative that works well. It's called a clothes horse, and it's available at Walmart or other hardware stores. I run my laundry in the dryer for ten minutes to get the wrinkles out and then hang the clothes out on my patio on a clothes horse. The city I live in sends out a message every month to tell us how we compare with other homes in the city for electric use. My usage is always below the normal home.
Personalized Wedding Gift
Sometimes it's hard to find a good wedding present on a tight budget, so I tried thinking outside the box. I give a Christmas starter set to the newlyweds. If shopping online, it's possible to buy Christmas decorations anytime. I usually pick an ornament with the year they were married and then a selection of other decorations to go with it. I can spend as much or as little as I want. And it's a gift that they'll use for years.
My Own Steakhouse
My wife and I love a good steak, but we can't afford Outback prices. I googled how to make the perfect steak. It begins with some fat marbled in the meat. Leaner cuts might be healthier, but they won't taste as good! Then I season it with salt and pepper generously. When I put it in my broiler, I cook it using high heat for the first five minutes on each side. That sears the meat and keeps the juices inside. If rare is desired, it's done. If well done is desired, I give it another few minutes on a lower heat setting. Then I let it sit for a few minutes before cutting into it. To go the extra step, I sometimes melt some real butter to pour on top. It doesn't take much work and our taste buds always thank us!
Better Than Packing Peanuts
If you're like me, you'll mail a few Christmas presents this year. Instead of using those peanuts that create a mess or pay for bubble wrap, try this. Close a zipper baggie around a straw. Blow into the bag, pull out the straw, and seal the bag. You'll have the perfect packing material, and there's no waste since whoever receives it can use the baggie in their kitchen!
Save the Stainless
We just moved into a home with stainless steel appliances. I don't know how or why, but they were covered with scratches, and this really made the kitchen look bad. Naturally, we didn't have money to replace them, so I bought some 0000 steel wool pads. That's the finest grade you can get. I rubbed them over the scratches and they disappeared! Now my kitchen looks like a designer just finished it!
It's time to take your winter clothes out of storage. I store mine with mothballs, but I hate the smell they leave on my clothes. Therefore, I remove the mothballs from the storage bags and replace them with charcoal briquettes. After about a week, I take them out of the bag and anything that's washable is washed. I put two cups of vinegar into the washer. That kills the smell!
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