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This weeks Dollar Stretcher Tips

September 16, 2009
Dysart Reporter

No More Kitty Litter

I got tired of buying cat litter. To top that, I pay our garbage company to take my recyclables. I decided to shred all important papers and also some of the newspapers we recycle anyway. For awhile, I mixed the shredded paper with the cat litter to get our cats used to using it. Now, I simply use our recycled trash (paper) to fill the litter box. I just empty it daily. It saves money and the environment. Dawn B.

Don't Replace That Showerhead!

Has your showerhead, kitchen faucet, or kitchen sprayer gotten clogged up with deposits? Here's a quick and easy fix. You don't have to even take the clogged item apart! Simply take a plastic resealable bag, partially fill it with white vinegar, put it over the clogged item (make sure it is covered by the vinegar), and rubber band it on securely. I do this in the morning, and when I take it off when I get home at night, all the deposits are gone and the whole thing is sparkling clean! ROD

Extra College Cash

A friend told me her son made a lot of money in college by being paid to be the designated driver. His friends would buy him concert tickets, etc. or pay him to be the designated driver.

He also made money by doing other student's laundry. Apparently, not everybody's mom teaches him/her how to do it. Michelle

Freezing Recipe Ingredients

When I have a lot of green pepper or onions and want to freeze them, I chop the peppers or onions and measure into one-cup portions. I put each portion into a sandwich bag, and then put as many sandwich bags as I can into a gallon freezer bag. This way, I can take out a cup as I need it for a recipe. After years of using a lot of freezer bags, this has proved to be real money saver. You can do this with any produce that you will be using throughout the year a little at a time. You can even reuse the freezer bags. Dianne H. in Altoona, AL

Rewards of Rewards

I sign up for free rewards cards at every store I can, including Sephora, Aveda, Ulta, L'Occitane, LUSH, Bucca Di Beppo, Daphne's Greek Cafe, etc. Aside from the nice coupons they send you from time to time, they also give out free samples for your birthday. Last year I had almost no money for birthday goodies or a party, but I rounded up all my cards and printed up any "Free Birthday Stuff" notices I got in my inbox and went round to each store like a trick-or-treater. By the end of the day, not only did I have a bag full of free cosmetics from all the beauty stores, but I also ended up with a free lunch and a free dinner courtesy of two separate restaurants.

Just remember that having a rewards card doesn't mean that you have to spend a lot of money at that store! CM

DIY Skylight Cover

We have a large skylight in our kitchen, which lets in a lot of light and heat in the summer months. A screen to cover it was prohibitively expensive for our retiree budget, so I made a screen using solar UV screening from the home improvement store and tension rods.

I cut the screening about an inch wider than the skylight, added enough allowance on the ends for a rod pocket, and sewed the pockets on my sewing machine (hand sewing would have worked, too). We inserted tension rods on either end, which held it in place nicely. This gave us a perfectly good screen for less than $10 in about an hour. The light comes in nicely while the UV rays and most of the heat are blocked. Lutie L. in Bentley, KS

Affordable, Fast Breakfasts

I do most of my meals as freezer meals. I usually cook at least one big-batch freezer item each weekend and freeze it in meal-size portions.

One of my favorite freezer things to do is to re-stock my breakfast bin. I use a large plastic freezer container for quick breakfast items. I make blueberry pancakes, muffins, breakfast casserole, homemade granola bars, etc. I put a small piece of wax paper between each pancake and put them in a resealable bag. For the other items, I wrap them individually in plastic wrap. All items get "tossed" into my breakfast bin. Now, during a busy work/school week, morning breakfasts are fast, healthy and homemade! You just take out whichever item you want, heat it a minute or so in the microwave, and you are ready to go! Pancakes are good for in-home breakfasts, but the other items are perfect when you are in a rush and have to eat it in the car. And the added bonus is that most of these items can be made very inexpensively, so you are saving a lot of money. Julie in St. Amant, LA

Expensive Appliance Repair

A very expensive part, the keypad, went out on our four-year-old dishwasher. The electronic control module was still covered under warranty, but the keypad was not. This part was around $240 to replace. Along with the cost of the repairman, the cost to replace the part came to over $300. That was $40 less than the new purchase price. Ouch.

Someone suggested that I contact GE's customer relations department. It took some doing to find the phone number on GE's website and I waited on hold several minutes while I was transferred to the right department. I had all relevant information gathered before calling, including serial, model and part number, and the name of our appliance repairman (an authorized GE repairman). My jaw dropped when the woman told me to have my repairman fax them the diagnosis and GE would send me the part at no cost to me. I took down the information and took it to our repairman who immediately filled out the paperwork to fax to GE.

For the hour's worth of legwork and the courage to ask for a replacement part at a discount, we saved $240 plus tax and shipping costs. V.



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