From the Editor’s Desk

Gary Foreman

It’s a Good Time to Stock Up on Essentials

Hello to all my Frugal Friends!

According to a recent Forbes headline, Cyberattacks Against U.S. Infrastructure Are ‘Here To Stay’. In just the last few weeks we’ve seen a petroleum pipeline shutdown cause gas lines and a shutdown of one of the few meat processing plants. It appears that it’s not over yet.

While I never like panic responses, I do think that it’s wise to be prepared. Especially when we’re likely to see more of the same. One way to be prepared is to have an inventory of needed items.

For instance, who doesn’t remember last year when we had the brief toilet paper shortage. It was no big deal in my house. We always try to have extra essentials on hand. We stock up when the item is on sale so we don’t end up making special trips to the store because we ran out. I didn’t anticipate the shortage, but the inventory made it a non-event.

Given the possibility (probability?) of more hacks on essential services, it’s a good idea to stock up on some essentials. To make sure you could ride out a week or two without buying whatever is in short supply.

Of course, we’ve always been a fan of stocking up when prices are cheap. How a Full Pantry Saves You Money explains.

Once you have a pantry, you’ll need to know what you have so that it doesn’t go to waste. Ideally you’ll rotate inventory. Keeping Track of Pantry Inventory Can Reduce Food Costs will show you how.

Naturally you’ll want to make sure that you don’t lose food due to spoilage. You’ll want to know the Food Storage Practices that Reduce Food Waste.

It’s especially important to store meats properly. After all, they’re the most expensive thing in your grocery inventory. You’ll want to know how to Frugally Freeze Meats and Protect Your Savings from Freezer Burn.

I can’t predict whether there will be further hacks. But I can tell you that whether there are or not, you’ll save money with a proper inventory of consumables.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

Spend More Time Outdoors without Breaking the Bank

Hello to all my Frugal Friends!

What’s the line from that old song? “Summertime and the living is easy…” For many of us that means spending more time outdoors. I like to think that here at TDS we can help you do that without breaking the bank.

One popular trend is to create an outdoor room. Especially since we’ve been mostly cooped up for a year. How to Create an Outdoor Room on a Budget is the first step to adding living space without construction!

One way to reduce the costs of your outdoor living space is to use the things that you already have. Especially things that aren’t getting much use now. Repurposing Items for Your Garden and Outdoor Living Space is often just a matter of letting your imagination run wild.

Perhaps you’re having a hard time envisioning that backyard space. We can help that, too. 4 Ideas for an Affordable Backyard Oasis could get your creative juices flowing.

And backyard living doesn’t have to end at sunset. Why not continue to enjoy the day with a Budget Backyard Fire Pit?

Of course, we can’t enjoy summer outdoor living without acknowledging our sworn enemy the mosquito! We’ve got you covered there, too. Eliminate them with Natural Backyard Mosquito Control on the Cheap.

Finally, I’d like to ask a favor. While you’re enjoying that outdoor lifestyle, I’ve no doubt that you’ll probably spend some time with your tablet or phone. Why not tell your friends about what we do?

The last year or so has been hard for many financially. Please share our Facebook posts. Send the link to a friend.

You might also encourage them to subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter or After 50 Finances. Who knows? You might help them get through some challenging times.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

Wishing You Good Mental Health and a Full Pantry

Hello to all my Frugal Friends!

As more and more people get vaccinated, we’re starting to see things go back to a pre-COVID state. What we originally were told would take a couple weeks to ‘flatten the curve’ has been with us for over a year. But now we’re finally getting back to a more normal existence.

According to the CDC: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient.” (source:

When you’re stuck at home and fighting stress, it’s easy to look for some relief. And for too many that means online shopping therapy. Before you self-medicate online, take a few moments to read The Emotions Behind Buying Stuff. You might avoid some unnecessary purchases.

On a separate note, you’ve probably all become more aware of price increases. It’s become harder and harder to keep grocery spending within your budgeted amount. You might be wondering why food prices are increasing yet the ‘inflation rate’ doesn’t seem to show those increases. The reason is that what’s often being reported is the ‘core inflation rate’. That calculation does not include food prices!

Food is not the only thing that’s costing more. Both home prices and the cost of construction have increased dramatically.

“The average sales price of a new home in 2020 was 389,400 U.S. dollars and in 2021, it reached 408,800 U.S. dollars.” That compares to $383,900 in 2019. (source:

Cost increases in construction materials is part of the reason. “Lumber hit an all-time high of $1,686 per thousand board feet this month, surging by 406 percent from the $333 it was trading at the same time last year.” (source: NBC quotes in

I know that I keep highlighting inflation. There’s two reasons for that. First, if something you’ll use will cost more tomorrow, it’s smart to buy it today. Whether that’s toilet paper, canned soup, an auto or a house. Normally you’d wait to find a great deal. Inflation makes that concept much harder. Being a Dollar Stretcher means getting the most for your dollars. So stocking up is a good idea.

The second reason I track higher prices is that inflation has it’s greatest impact on the poorest among us. The people who really need to be Dollar Stretchers. When you can barely afford rent, groceries and gas, it becomes difficult when their prices go up. It’s been wisely said that inflation is a tax on the poor.

So here’s wishing you good mental health and a full pantry!

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

About the Author

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar website and newsletters in 1996. He's the author of How to Conquer Debt No Matter How Much You Have and he's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, and You can read Gary's full bio here. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. Gary is available for audio, video or print interviews.

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