Dollar Stretcher Tips - 07/15/04


Dollar Stretcher Tips courtesy of
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Exercise Equipment Alternatives

To build exercise into your daily routine, forget about being efficient. Be effective instead! Park your car at the far end of parking lots. You won't miss the extra two or three minutes you use to get to the door of the store, but you'll see the difference in no time. Go up and down the stairs at home frequently. Wash your own car, clean your own house, till your own garden, and shovel your own walks and driveway.

All of these activities and many others around the house qualify as exercise. They really make a difference. I've lost and kept off over 85 pounds, going from size 16-18 to size 4, doing all these things. I also walk around the neighborhood and to nearby stores. I even walk to some of the schools where I substitute teach.

Desert Days

We live in the Mojave desert and electric bills can be high during the summer, but we have an evaporative cooler (swamp cooler). The majority of homes don't use these, but we love it. When the humidity is low, our electric bill runs around $60 a month for our 1300-square-foot house. As the humidity goes up, we have to use the air conditioner and the bill can more than double with two week's use.

Another perk with a swamp cooler is that you have doors and/or windows open to circulate the cool air and you don't feel closed in all summer. This is also great when you have kids or pets running in and out.
Janice D.
Henderson, NV

Teen Room Redo for $10

Early last week, my 13-year-old daughter decided that she wanted to redecorate her bedroom. Her pattern choice was a leopard print. We live in a log cabin that has a complete wood interior, so paint and wall paper were not an option.

We started with a trip to the local thrift shop. Would you believe that there was a leopard print bed skirt in just the right size for her full-size bed? This item was on sale for $2. This was a good place to start. We also picked up a leopard print scarf for 50 cents, which we attached to the wall over her headboard for a little extra pizzazz.

Our next stop was the local discount fabric store. In the clearance section, there was a bolt of fabric that was just perfect for curtains and throw pillows. We bought three yards, and because there was less than a yard remaining on the bolt after our three yards, we were offered the remaining fabric at 50% off. For the grand total of $6.61, we purchased almost four yards of fabric. We used the old pillow forms that she was using and made removable covers for them. I made valances for each of her windows and had enough fabric left over to make a matching scarf for her dresser and one for her nightstand.

We recycled a black sleeping bag to be used as a coordinating comforter, and for the grand total of $9.11, her room has a totally different look and she loves it. I love it because it only cost me $9.11. I can't wait to see how much I can save with my next redecorating project.

Vacation Days

A family vacation just wasn't in our budget this year, so my husband and I have created "Family Activity Thursday." We arranged to take vacation days from work every Thursday in July and August and have planned a variety of low-cost, local outings with our two young children. Most are simple, such as a picnic at the park, a visit to a local historical site, a train ride to a nearby town where we stop for ice cream, etc.

This plan allows us to spend quality time together as a family and investigate local attractions we don't normally go to. We avoid spending hours in a car or airplane, and have fun together without spending a lot of money on hotels, restaurants, and overpriced theme parks.
Joanne in Suffern, NY

Diaper Double Duty

One thing no one ever seems to mention is that cloth diapers last through several children, and many of us only have one or two children.

When I was pregnant with my new son, I put the word out that I was planning to cloth diaper, that I was flat broke, and that I was willing to accept slightly stained diapers. After all, they'll just get more stained. I received, from family and from church friends, two days' worth of medium-size, fitted, velcro-closing cloth diapers (plus a lot of large-size diapers), two diaper pails, and three very nice Kushies diaper wraps. Many said, "I didn't want to throw them out because they're still good, but I don't need them anymore."

Diapering my son has cost me nothing more than the washing costs and some Borax.

Cheap Auto Deodorizer

I put a sheet of fabric softener under each seat in my car. The smell is magnificent and it is much cheaper than the Christmas tree shaped deodorizers. Plus, I usually have a coupon when I buy the dryer sheets. What a bargain!
Lisa P

Better Late Than Never

Here's a tip we discovered accidentally. We happened to have free tickets to a local minor league baseball game, so we decided to attend even though we would be late. We arrived at the ballgame during the fifth inning, and to our surprise, we did not have to pay for parking and no one was there to collect our tickets!

I inquired with the team office the next day and found out that parking and admission to the game are always free at the bottom of the fifth inning. Additionally, we were able to snag great seats due to people leaving the game early. My kids were thrilled when they found out we could attend all the home baseball games as long as we came late!

We have always said, "Hurry up! We don't want to be late!" Well, going to the baseball game is now one time we can be glad we're late!
Beth H.
North Carolina

No Rust

Keep your soap pads (SOS, Brillo, etc.) in a container of water with about a tablespoon of baking soda when not using and they will not rust.

Interstate Welcome Mat

When you travel, check out the Welcome Center in the state that you're visiting. They'll have travel coupon books filled with hotel discounts. We went to Disney in Florida this past March and we stayed at name brand hotels the whole time for half of the normal rate.

Custom Borders

I am doing my kitchen in an Italian theme and could not find any border at any of the home stores or paint stores that I liked at any price. So I took the post cards I got in Italy along with the street maps and tickets to places I had seen and put them along the top of the kitchen wall. With the postcards, I had to soak them first in plain water to get the pictures off because they were too heavy to stay on the wall with the wallpaper paste.

I bought wallpaper paste for $4, and then I positioned my pictures ahead of time, cutting them to make an attractive border. Now I can look at my walls and remember my trip, but best of all, this only cost $4 and some time. Now my postcards are not in some box in the attic.

Sun Spots

For stubborn stains, I put lemon juice on the stain and put it out in the sun. 99% of the time the stain will disappear. Sometimes, but not often, a second application is needed.
Sandy in Calgary, Canada

Perfect Patio Furniture

I tried power washing my white outdoor furniture that had black mold marks on it from the winter. That did a decent job, but it wasn't entirely clean. I then decided to try Tilex. It was extremely quick and effortless and I just hosed it off. You can bet I'll do this every year. My patio furniture looks brand new.
Mary Ann

Looking for Kitty Clearance

I have noticed a lot of the pet stores are catching onto the idea of a clearance shelf. Now, even Petsmart is doing it. I have found quite a few bargains by checking the 25-50% off racks.

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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