Here are your Dollar Stretcher Tips for January 14, 2016
It's seed starting season. I am ordering my seeds. I have been saving the containers that cooked rotisserie chicken comes in from the supermarket. What's great about them is that they have a clear cover.
Not Really Non-Refundable
Most non-refundable airfares can be refunded without penalty within 24 hours of booking the flight. You can usually also get a refund if the flight is significantly delayed. Check the fine print before you book.
If your coffee has developed a bitter taste, don't complain to the coffee manufacturer. Change the brand filters you use. The cheaper ones, usually packed in glassine bags, often cause the bitter taste. Use brand name filters like Mr. Coffee and you will get your zesty coffee flavor back.
Homemade Shower Cleaners
I don't understand all the hype about shower cleaners. My practice is to wipe down the shower walls with a dry towel when we're all done showering in the morning. Without the moisture, the mold/mildew doesn't have a chance! And no soap scum builds up. It takes a few seconds to do this and I never have to scrub grout, etc.
My Gift Card Pantry
Most weeks when I shop, I buy a $10 or $15 gift card for the grocery store. I keep a collection of them for months that money is tighter than usual. I can use one or two to avoid bringing out the credit cards. Then at Christmas, when we do some entertaining, I don't have to worry about the extra expense. I've already paid for it earlier in the year!
I like my kitchen to look nice. It's where people tend to congregate in our house. One thing that always bugged me was the bottle of dish washing detergent by the sink, so I bought a soap dispenser that matched my kitchen. Instead of hand soap, I fill it with detergent. Not only does my kitchen look nicer, but also I find that I use much less detergent.
Time to Declutter
Winter is the perfect time to declutter your home. Since I'm stuck inside, I use the time to do some house decluttering. Old papers get shredded or tossed. I always find a few items that have some value that we don't use any more. I put those up for sale on Craigslist or eBay. Yes, it takes some time, but outside of binge watching TV, what else can I do on those cold winter evenings?
One frugal answer to dinner parties or house parties (both potentially costly events) is to revive the kaffeeklatsch. Invite your friends to spend a weekend morning or holiday morning with you. You provide coffee and coffeecake. Homemade coffeecake costs very little. Internet recipes abound; don't overlook the simplest, old-fashioned recipes, which are delicious and very kind to your budget. Your clean-up times, before and after, are minimal, and dress is always casual. A bonus to the kaffeeklatsch is that the rest of everyone's day is free. Don't be concerned that a kaffeeklatsch isn't fancy or focused on food. The best get-togethers are those where the company is congenial.
A Medicinal Herb Garden
My family often uses medicinal herbs. To keep the cost down, I've started growing my own. They're really easy. I've planted chamomile, echinacea, lemon balm, peppermint and yarrow. They're the basics for most natural treatments. A search will give you instructions on how to plant them and use them for simple salves and teas. My family still goes to the doctor when needed, but we've found that herbs can help cut down the number of visits.
I read that having piles of stuff everywhere can zap your energy. It's something about making your brain feel overwhelmed, so I decided to start by cleaning up my desk at work. I was surprised at first, but it did seem like I had more energy. I took a weekend and cleaned my kitchen and family room. And, I found even more energy! I didn't realize it, but my mind was seeing all the things that I should be doing. I don't know how that translates into energy, but I can tell you that clearing out the clutter made a big difference for me.
Those icicles look like they belong on a holiday picture, but don't be fooled. They're costing you money. They form when the heat that's supposed to be inside your house warms the roof enough to melt the snow. As the water drips, it refreezes into an icicle. Each winter, I take pictures of any icicles that form. During the spring, I check for air leaks or any other insulation issues. Not only does it reduce our winter heating bill, but it also helps to keep the A/C bill down.
Unwanted Christmas Gifts?
Did you get a real lemon of a Christmas gift? Would it be awkward to ask the giver for the necessary receipt in order to return it to the store? Instead of saving the item to regift to someone else, consider donating it to a charitable cause. The domestic violence shelter has many female residents who wouldn't mind using the off brand toiletries. They have nothing except what the shelter stocks. The charitable thrift store would be happy to sell a brand new knickknack that clashes with your home's decor or the item of clothing Auntie Clara thought was perfect for your teenagers, who wouldn't be caught dead in something so out of style. The homeless shelter or ministry could distribute the ill-fitting gloves, socks, or warm clothes to those living on the street. The food pantry could find a family who is happy to serve the fruitcake or fancy bread that's not permitted on your diabetic or gluten free diet. Even the poorly knitted afghan your niece made you could benefit the critters at the animal shelter. You'll be able to tell the givers you put their gifts to good use (just don't say how) while getting a tax receipt for helping a good cause. You kept the item out of the landfill while getting rid of useless clutter.
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