Dollar Stretcher Tips - 07/08/04


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No Down Payment

There are so many options and programs available that having no money for a down payment should not create problems. Even borrowers with troubled credit history can find 100% financing. If your rate seems a little high, ask your loan officer about doing a pre-payment penalty or an adjustable rate mortgage (aka ARM). I do a lot of 100% financing and have found that most first time homebuyers are payment sensitive. By doing a pre-payment penalty and/or an ARM, your payment is much lower. Please make sure you ask the details of the prepayment penalty. For example, some pre-payment penalties will allow you to sell your house to someone other than a close family member and the penalty is waived. However, if you win the lottery or refinance and pay the loan off before the prepayment term is expired, you may have to pay a hefty penalty. Also, ask your loan officer and realtor about doing a FHA loan, "rolling in" 3% of your closing costs and using down payment assistance, if necessary. All of these things should keep you from taking much, if anything, to the closing table.
Sr. Loan Officer

Really Free Stuff

There's a free service, hosted on Yahoo, with a web site You sign up to become a member, then you receive one email each day listing all of the free items that are available in your city, or surrounding suburbs.

So far, in one week I have picked up (from within a 3 mile radius of my home) a patio table and 4 chairs, crafts for my little girls to do outside, and 2 large dog crates (for rescues). Tonight I am going to pick up a plethora of educational software and a marble standing lamp.

Free membership, free goodies, from computer equipment, cameras, clothes, Lego's, you name it. And best of all the price is right!
Fort Lauderdale


I thought I was really being smart buying an off-brand wrinkle releaser at the dollar store. I hate to iron, and it uses electricity, etc.

Today I started spraying a blouse with water that I was going to get the wrinkles out by throwing in the dryer for a few minutes, when right before my eyes the wrinkles started to come out. So I went ahead and smoothed the fabric, just like the wrinkle release products recommend, and my blouse is now wrinkle-free. I tried it on several more of my blouses, and a shirt of my husband's that is part polyester and cotton. (The first ones were all cotton.) I had to use a little wrinkle release on my husband's shirt, but not as much as usual.

No electricity needed, no hours standing over an ironing board, no adding heat to the kitchen, and, best of all, no chemicals sprayed in the kitchen.
Donna E.

Appliance Repair Made Easy

A great source of information on repairing your appliances is your local appliance parts store. I recently repaired my own electric dryer when the belt broke. I called the appliance parts store to locate the part (after checking to make sure I knew the exact model name and number). Not only did he have the part but he gave me great instructions on replacing the belt that were not listed in my appliance repair book. Cost: $20 and 15 minutes of my time.
Debbie P.

Cheap Clip

Why buy one of those fancy "Chip Clips" in the grocery store? If my husband or I don't finish a bag of anything (not just chips), I use one of those spring-hinged wooden clothespins to close the bag.

Works just as well, and at something like $1.99 for a bag of 50, it's a lot cheaper than the plastic ones that will break in a month!

Dog Bed

I recently acquired a two-inch thick piece of foam, cut to accommodate the size of my dog. I took an old vinyl tablecloth and made a "pillowcase" to fit the piece of foam and sewed the ends together. I placed my dog's eighty-nine cent rug on top of her new "pillow."

Now, if my dog has an accident, it's easy enough to wash off her "pillowcase," and it's inexpensive to replace her rug.

Super Window Wash

I saw an ad the other day for a spray that would remove spots from windows. My windows have been looking pretty shabby and I thought I'd give it a try, but I nearly choked on the $8.95 (plus shipping and handling) that they were charging for a quart spray bottle.

It occurred to me that since my sink scrub powder "hadn't scratched yet," it wasn't likely to start scratching my windows. I sprinkled a little onto a wet rag, gave my windows a good rub down, and then washed them as I normally do. Now my windows are spotless!
Doreen B.
Corbett, OR

Detergent Stretcher

My mother told me to use some washing soda with the wash and cut back on the amount of detergent that is used.
Cynthia T.

'Packrat' Cure

Here's my solution for reducing the amount of "stuff" in your home, when you fear you might need it later.

Find some good sturdy boxes, some paper and packing tape. Write a number only on the outside of the box. Box up all the things with which you're not sure you can part. Write a list of the things you place in each box, then seal the box with packing tape, and store it in your basement, attic, closet, etc.

After a year has passed, if you haven't had to dig into the box, you can safely assume you'll never need it again. Take the box to your local charity shop or a church clothes drive and get a charitable contribution deduction on your taxes.

If you have a strong will, open the boxes and have a yard sale, but be warned! A friend of mine thought this would work for her, until she opened the boxes and caved into keeping everything again!
Mary in Kentucky

Demolition Derby

My honey and I were able to save a load of money by going to demolition sales. In our area of Florida, a lot of folks buy property, planning to tear down an existing building. However, before the dwelling is removed, the pieces (flooring, toilets, faucets, etc.) are offered for practically free.

You have to tear things out and prepare them for use in your own home. It is a lot of extra work, but in our case, we had more time than money. The pieces we have pulled out of these homes are beautiful and we managed to have our dream home built using 22% recycled pieces.
Ro B.

Kid-Safe Weed Killer

Instead of buying expensive weed killer, use ordinary white vinegar. Put vinegar in a spray bottle and spray away. Weeds will die within 3 to 5 days. It is safer than commercial weed killer for pets and children.
Kathleen H.

Sundry Tracking

I keep track of the date I open large sundry items such as cleaners, cotton balls, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. I started doing this out of curiosity because some things seemed to last forever even though I used them constantly, such as bulk shampoo. By checking the date I first started using an item, I can better gauge how many I need to keep on hand or how many to buy when I come upon a sale.

This has saved me money because I always seemed to buy extra items when they were on sale and ended up with a lot more items than space. Now if I come upon a sale and know that I have an extra item on hand (I keep a spreadsheet of my extra items in my planner in my purse), I know I can let that sale slide and wait for a sale closer to the time we should be running out of that item.

Instant Donuts

You can make your own donuts at home anytime with refrigerated biscuit dough. Simply drop one biscuit at a time into hot oil (a deep fryer works well, or use about a 1/4 inch of oil in a skillet). Brown lightly on all sides and remove and drain on paper towels. Roll in powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar or melted chocolate and serve warm. Yummmmm!

If you purchase rolls of dough at four for a dollar, this treat is very economical. You can also get fancy and cut out the middle of the biscuit to make them look like real donuts, cut out the middle after cooking and fill with jam, or simply serve them plain and warm. And watch your family devour them!
Lucy K.
Lanesville, Indiana

Travel Memories

I take a small, unlined notebook, a glue stick, a couple pens, and markers with me when I travel. Pick a notebook that is a little bigger than a postcard.

Save any little bits of paper, such as receipts with store names, boarding passes, ticket stubs, restaurant sugar packets, etc. Every night, glue in your bits, and in a couple sentences, describe the highlights of the day. Also, glue in postcards and leave room for photos to be added when you get home.

I have done this on several trips, both domestically and internationally, and looking back through the books, I'm reminded of many situations that surely would have slipped away without those memories!

From Kitchen to Compost

I got tired of running to the composter a couple of times per day to get rid of the kitchen waste. So I started to put coffee grounds, peelings, egg shells, etc. in a plastic bag in the freezer. Once the bag is full, then I take it to the composter.

No more smelly kitchen and the freezing makes the peelings, etc. break down quicker once they are in the composter, so I soon have some organic fertilizer to feed to my plants.
Liz M.

Do you have a good idea for saving time and money? Send it to Dollar Stretcher Tips, PO Box 141460, Bradenton FL 34280-4160 and we'll send you a copy of our print newsletter.

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