Want to live better on the money you already make? Visit to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar! Copyright 2011 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
A quick, easy laundry pretreater is to mix three tablespoons of dish soap to one cup of water. Pour this mixture into a clean spray bottle. This works great on most food or greasy stains. Spray to saturate and wash as usual.
Don't throw out vegetable scraps while cooking. Many scraps can be used to make vegetable broth for soups and other dishes. Items like celery leaves and broccoli stems can be great in salads, sandwiches, and stir fry. And everything else can be composted.
No More Rinse Aid
I used to buy rinse aid products for my dishwasher, and after being out for awhile, I realized that I didn't like the way my dishes weren't "sparkling" any more. However, I also didn't like the cost of the rinse aid product either. So, I put vinegar in the little dispenser and filled it to the same level as the other product. Then I tried it on a load. My dishes are sparkling again, and I will be saving money by using a common household product!
Rhonda C. in Spring Hill, KS
Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster. And, store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!
Celia C. in Kansas City, MO
Making Coupons Work
The trick to really save money with coupons is to wait until the item on the coupon goes on sale. Sometimes you can get the item for free when doing this. My dad taught me this trick years ago, and it has been a real saver for me the last 30 years.
Easy Garden Dispenser
My money-saving idea has to do with yard work. I use the leftover, empty salsa bottles that come from Sam's wholesale. They have a wide mouth and come with a handle. I drill a few holes in the top, and fill it with ant powder to sprinkle over the ant piles in my yard. It became too hard for me to carry around the bag of ant powder without spilling the entire package and wasting it. I used a two-liter bottle for a few years, but I would always spill a lot when I tried to fill the bottle. This saves me time and money and is convenient at the same time.
Before You Move
I have moved eight times in just five years and wanted to share something I just discovered. When I was ready to move back to Florida, where I had lots of friends, I realized that if I shipped books, unbreakables, linens, and even clothing at the lowest USPS rates, it would be a huge savings. Other than my valuables and breakables, like my TV, everything got shipped at a cost of less than $300 for all!
Parlaying Gift Cards
When I needed to pay my bill for Disney recently, I bought several gift cards at the wholesale store since a $100 card was only $98. Plus, each $100 card came with a $10 card for souvenir stores. When I called to pay my bill, I just read the numbers off the back of the card like a regular gift card. There were 29 cards, so I apologized to the telephone person, but she was impressed! I could have used a credit card for "cash back," but this worked out hundreds better. We saved almost $60 just buying the cards. Plus, we had $290 to spend on gifts.
Last year, we took a trip to Disney, which was fabulous, but can be very expensive if you don't plan accordingly. Several weeks before our trip, I kept my eyes open when I hit the local dollar store for Disney themed items. Over several weeks, I picked up lipgloss, light-up key chains, parachute characters, bubbles, bouncy balls, and sunglasses. All of these were official Disney themed items and for a total cost of $12.
I packed them up in our luggage and kept them secret. Before we left for the parks each morning, I'd give my daughters their "Disney treat for the day," and they were thrilled. The sunglasses came in handy, the bubbles kept them and other kids happy when waiting in lines, and the key chains were a big hit. I actually had other parents asking where we got several of the items. My kids understood that there was no begging during the day because they already had their "Disney treat." This saved both money and headaches, and we had happy kids on the trip of a lifetime!
I have found an extremely inexpensive and environmentally sound way to reduce the number of mosquitoes that invade backyard outings.
First, remove all standing water. If you have plants that you water often, make sure they have proper drainage. Buckets of water or other devices that are able to hold water are great breading grounds for mosquitoes.
Second, citronella plants are effective up to about 10 feet from the plant. Place a few of the large foliage plants around the area that you spend the most time.
Third, purple martins are not only a beautiful bird with a wonderful voice, but also they are a mosquito's archenemy. Place a birdhouse specifically designed for martins in your yard. You will need a long pole to set the house on, as well as a generous opening in your yard to act as a long runway for the birds to coast into their new habitat.
Lastly, with a little surfing, you will find a few simple designs for a bat house. It resembles a birdhouse without a hole in the side. It's just a box with an open bottom. Place the bat house on the west side of a tree approximately 6-10 feet off the ground. Bats are known to eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes an hour. As they are feared by most people, bats often get a bad rap because of media portrayal. There are no known poisonous bats in North America, as all venomous bats do not adapt well to changing cold climates. These friendly little characters are fun to watch and make a great conversation piece for your backyard outings.
(end Dollar Stretcher Tips)