Dollar Stretcher Tips - 07/22/04


Dollar Stretcher Tips courtesy of
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More Efficient Bill-Paying

I have found that I send certain things in the mail just about every month. Some have return envelopes, and some don't. For the ones that don't, I keep one on hand already addressed to use the next month. This makes it quicker for me to do bill paying as I always have one on hand and I don't have to hunt addresses. I just copy a new one each time that I use the old one.

Also, I found that it is handy to have a trash can and recycling bin at the desk. I can toss stuff in the right place without getting up, and at the end of the week, the trash is ready to go out and so is the recycling.
Nancy G.

You'll Save If...

My best suggestion for saving money is to stay home! Anytime you leave home, it costs money!
Lorrie G.
Jackson, OH

The Vinegar Antidote

My family swims at the Wellness Center all year. Chlorine can cause the spandex and elastic in swimsuits to disintegrate very rapidly even after they have been laundered. I was given the tip of rinsing the swimsuits in 1 cup vinegar to 1 gallon of water prior to laundering. The vinegar neutralizes the chlorine.

We have light blonde hair that is easily damaged by chlorine. The same vinegar rinse does wonders for that as well. It doesn't leave a scent behind either.
Terri L.


Years ago, a friend told me to put cucumber peels in a small open dish under my sink to repel small ants. It worked and I use this tip every summer. Remember to replace the peels often, so that they don't spoil.
Kathy W.

Shredding Savings

Don't buy shredded cheese! It costs $2.39 for eight ounces and it is only $2.89 per pound in the deli! I've seen this tip over and over, but (kind of like a small child!) I have to see it for myself.
Kelly in Michigan

Cheap Used Transportation

Recently, I was in a position to replace my aging car or pay exorbitant mechanic fees to have it repaired. I came up with almost $5,000. I surfed the Internet for days researching. I knew I wanted a mini-van and saw that the re-sale value on mini-vans was very high.

I checked out some local small car dealerships and became discouraged. I thought that I would need to broaden my search. However, my husband made a very wise suggestion. He encouraged me to go to the lots of large new car dealers. He thought that they may have trade-ins that they want to get rid of and may be willing part with them at a fair price.

I began calling around, telling the dealerships what I was looking for and how much I was willing to pay. Sure enough, within the day, two dealerships called me back with exactly what I wanted. I ended up getting a reliable mini-van in excellent condition with less than 90,000 miles for just $4800 cash. The blue book value was $9800!

Also, our local library was able to provide me with the gas mileage information for the vehicles I was considering so that I could compare that cost. Also, my insurance agency was happy to give me quotes for the cars I was considering. I'm still very pleased with myself for finding such a great buy!


If you are able to find cookbooks from the War Years, or even the Great Depression, they contain excellent ways to stretch your grocery budget. The cookbook that I have from 1945 lists ways to stretch meat and sugar rations. It helps me save money every time I use it.
Elizabeth J.

Local 'Visitors'

When I've traveled to other cities for vacations, the hotel lobbies are always packed full of brochures for that city's attractions. Most have coupons for dollars off the entrance fee or other savings.

I live in a large metropolitan area. When looking for coupons for local attractions, I decided to check out the hotel lobbies. So I stopped at a large chain hotel, ran inside the lobby, and helped myself to brochures on all the attractions I wanted to visit during the summer with my kids. We saved quite a bit of money with these brochures that are provided for "visitors to the city."
Deb C.

Dollar Store Dates

We have a lake home that we visit as often as we can, but sometimes, months go by before we get there. Last time we were there, I visited the local dollar store and bought some Frosted Flakes. When I got home, I found that I had an unopened box from the previous season in the cabinet.

My daughter thought the new box of Frosted Flakes tasted a bit stale. When we compared the expiration dates, we realized that the cereal that had been sitting in our cabinet for over a year expired later than the one we had just purchased at the dollar store. It had expired two years before. The boxes were both name brand cereal.

So, check the expiration dates on items that might tolerate a long shelf life to make sure you are really getting a bargain.
Andrea R.

Swimmer's Hair

As swimmers and blondes, my family and I are constantly battling the effects of chlorine in our hair. Green tint and dry hair being the worst. There is a swimmer's shampoo available, but it is expensive.

We've discovered that if your hair is already green, wash it with a pasty mixture of regular shampoo and baking soda. It may take two applications, but the green really does come out.

To prevent green and dry hair, try wetting your hair before swimming. Then put some of your regular conditioner in your hair. Don't rinse it out. Just swim with it. It helps block the chlorine. Then, after swimming, rinse and wash like regular.

I'm enjoying the best summer at the pool yet, with soft blonde hair.

Just One Week

Always wait a week before purchasing anything over $50. Spontaneous purchases are a bad thing. About half of the time, you will find that you really don't need the item. Plus, it gives you time to shop around and barter a little.

Carpet Cream?

My dog recently had an accident on our new Berber carpet. I was out of carpet cleaner and the smell was not pleasing. I decided to use my husband's shaving cream and it worked wonders!

It took the smell out and it didn't bleach the carpet. I went out and bought a can of Colgate Shaving Cream from the dollar store and now can clean any carpet mess in an instant!
Mary J.
Norwalk, CT

Homemade Italian Ice

My husband and I love going to the chain Italian ice stores for gelatos, the ice and ice cream mixes, but at $3 per cup, it's an expensive treat. Instead, he froze fruit juice in ice cube trays, mashed the cubes, and put them in a cup, alternating with layers of vanilla ice cream. They taste just as good, and the savings are huge. A carton of ice cream is $2.50 and a bottle of juice is $2. We've enjoyed more than a dozen "gelatos" without running out.

We also discovered during a recent bout with bronchitis that the frozen juice cubes alone are just as soothing as expensive cough drops.

Trial Before You Buy Big

When trying new hair care products, don't waste money purchasing the large-size bottles when you're not familiar with a product's performance. Instead, visit your local beauty supply store and scan the shelves for pint-size bottles of shampoos, conditioners, gels, mousses, sprays, etc. Most name-brand products carry smaller, sample sizes for a dollar and under.

Also, if there's a certain product that interests you, be sure to ask an employee if they have any samples up for grabs. You can often get sample-size products free, especially when there is a current promotion going on. Don't be shy in asking!

Once you find a product you are pleased with, you can be confident investing in the larger bottle. After all your cost-effective experimentation, you will know which products work well, and which ones don't. Best of all, large unused bottles of hair care products will no longer litter your bathroom or your pocketbook.
Brea, CA

Cookbook Clearance

I had about 30 cookbooks that I never used wasting space in my cupboard. In most of them, I only liked two or three recipes. One day, I went through every single cookbook, and if I saw a recipe I liked and would realistically use, I copied it and gave the cookbook away.

I organized all my recipes into a single binder and inserted the recipe pages into sheet protectors to avoid splattering my recipes while cooking. Now I know exactly where to find the recipe I want and I know I like every single recipe in my personalized cookbook.
Kristin in Seattle

Wedding Food

For my wedding two years ago, we found a way to spend nearly nothing for food at the reception. My mom makes beautiful wedding cakes, so that was no problem, but we were uneasy about spending lots of money on little finger foods. (We are all tightwads in my family.) So, whenever someone asked us what they could do to help with the wedding, we told them to bring a plate of veggies, fruit, or cookies to the reception.

We borrowed antique sliver platters from a friend to serve the food. It gave the reception a uniform look. We ended up with plenty of food and even an unexpected groom's cake. It was great because we had a wide variety of tasty, homemade treats, and we knew most everyone at the reception was bound to find food they liked. They would at least enjoy eating whatever they brought!
Allison in TN


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