This Week’s Readers’ Tips

by Dollar Stretcher Reader Contributors

Readers Tips photo

Each week we publish a new batch of money-saving tips from our frugal readers that can help you stretch your dollars and live better…for less.

Finding Affordable Handyman Help

We removed the old flooring in our kitchen and wanted to tile. I had done smaller tile jobs but was afraid this was beyond my ability. I looked for a contractor but couldn’t find one that we could afford. Then a neighbor told me he had contacted the local Seniors Job Bureau. They have a list of semi-retired professionals. I found one that let me help him do the job. Not only did he do an excellent job for a reasonable price, but by helping him I learned a great deal, too. Not to mention the fact that now I can tell visitors that I was involved in doing the tiling!

More Cheap Movies

Tell the lady who got out her old VCR player to watch old movies – and anyone else who is doing the same – that many thrift stores still sell movies on VHS tapes. Often, you can buy them for under a dollar, and I’ve even lucked out and found them priced a dime each (10 for a dollar). You won’t get the latest releases, but many times you’ll find old favorites and beloved classic movies this way. I’ve even run across documentaries on VHS and they are really interesting.

Many thrift stores also sell donated DVD movies and TV series – and these are also sold at a very steep discount. I haven’t seen many Blu Ray movies yet, but I expect that will eventually happen.
Lynn B.

Emergency Cash

I’d just like to point out that $20 in ones is a lot handier than a $20 bill, when push comes to shove. I generally keep $50.00 in ones in case of emergency. You don’t want to fork over all your money for a bottle of water or something else you NEED just because nobody is able to make change for you.

additional TDS resource: Struggling to Save an Emergency Fund

Splurge on Basics

When I have a need to splurge, I buy the very best staple item that I can. For example, I’ll buy a luxury soap or imported jam and bakery bread. It’s true the item that I’m buying is double or triple what I regularly pay, but it affects my budget by only a few dollars extra and I feel really pampered. Also, I get multiple “pamperings” from most of my indulgences.
Kendra M.

Weed Block

If you want to prevent weeds from going around trees and other landscape borders use shingles as a weed block. They’re effective, relatively inexpensive and very durable. Choose a color that matches the dirt or something to add a little color to your yard. If you want to plant something just cut a hole in the shingle.

Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher, our free weekly newsletter aimed at helping you live better for less on the money you already have! And get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

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Little Luxuries

Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher, our free weekly newsletter aimed at helping you live better for less on the money you already have!

Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

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Lawn Tool Storage

A good way to keep your lawn tools clean and rust-free for the winter is to build a small wooden box about 6″ deep, two feet by one foot. Seal up the bottom, fill it with sand, and pour in enough used motor oil to keep the sand wet. When you are finished using a tool, work it into the sandbox. The sand removes any grime and scale, and the oil clings to it just enough to keep the tool from rusting.

School Fundraisers

Instead of purchasing school fundraiser items, donate $10 or $15 to the project. That way, you have donated money and have not purchased more “junk.” Cash is always welcome.

Car Window Stuck?

If your car window is stuck or moving slowly, use spray silicone lubricant on the window tracks. Spray enough so that it runs down the track. Often the motor burns out because over time there’s more friction between the window and it’s track. With the cost of replacing a motor at $100+, it’s a good idea to lubricate the window tracks regularly.

Single Serving Meals

I spent last month looking for ways to reduce our food spending. I found something that surprised me. It seemed like almost every day at least one of my 3 teenagers wanted money for a quick fast food meal. It was really adding up! My first step was to start packaging leftovers into single meal plates. I use paper plates and freezer bags. Instead of a drive-thru on the way home, they pull out a frozen meal and use the microwave. It’s working well. I may run out of leftovers, in which case I’ll cook some things for the freezer.

Affordable Rice

Rice is a good choice when wanting to stretch your food dollar. We serve rice two or three times a week as a side dish with chili or soup on top. It really helps stretch the food and we love it. Rice is also versatile. You can serve it plain, with butter, with soy sauce, with vegetables mixed in, or with spices like garlic or chili powder added. The possibilities are endless!

additional TDS resource: Bulk Rice Storage Tips

Financial Education for Teens

For parents who wish that schools taught personal finance, I suggest that they check with their school to see if a course that includes this information is being taught and they are unaware of it. I think that most schools include this in their curriculum and students choose not to enroll in that course. I taught this course (Consumer Education) for twenty-five years at the high school level and some years the enrollment was very low. I am sure that many parents never even realized that this course was an elective option for their children.
Betty R.

Encouraging Thankfulness

This year has been hard for all of us. It’s easy to get down and depressed. So I’ve decided that we’re going to celebrate Thanksgiving all during the month of November. We’re making a ‘Thanksgiving tree’ out of craft materials. It’ll be a centerpiece for our Thanksgiving dinner. Twice a week I’ll ask each of my 3 kids to make a paper leaf with something that they’re thankful for to add to the tree. That should be 6 or 7 leaves per child. I’m hoping that will remind them that not everything is bad. Now if I can just get my husband to join in…

additional TDS resource: 5 Ways to Stash Some Holiday Cash

The $7 Kitchen Update

Here’s a one day cheap and easy kitchen update. If you have metal hardware on your kitchen cabinets, take them off and spray paint them. Anyone can remove hardware with a screwdriver. One can of spray paint is usually enough. Do multiple coats. Let each one dry (generally an hour or so) before you spray the next. Use a accent color. Your eye will be drawn to the hardware instead of your old cabinet doors. You won’t find an easier DIY project!

Easy Composting

Composting is easy. Just dig a few holes in your garden area, dump in useable organic material, cover when full and start another. Your soil and plants will love you. However, don’t
use bones or grease.

Save On Holiday Shipping

Most of us are having more packages delivered. And it looks like we might not be able to visit distant family at Christmas. That means shipping their presents to them. Here’s a way to save a few bucks. Save the packing material from the things that are being delivered to you now. Reuse the padded envelopes and shipping boxes that come in the mail. If they have address labels, you can buy sheets of blank labels to paste over them. It’s not a huge savings but every dollar helps!

Homeowners Insurance Mistake

It’s important to check your homeowners policy each year to make sure you have the proper coverage. Has the value of your home changed significantly? Would you have enough insurance if you had a fire? What about possessions? Did you add that new big screen TV to your inventory with a picture of the receipt and the model number tag? You get the idea. Just like you’d get an annual physical from your doctor, you should do an annual insurance physical.

No More Mortgage!

Want to get rid of your mortgage? Here’s how we did it. We were living in the same house for about 10 years. So we had built up some equity in it. We decided to sell. We took the equity (about $80k) and paid cash for a fixer-upper. (OK, I probably watch too much HGTV!) We had enough equity left over for a DIY upgrade. It’s taken us 3 years of living with one room at a time off limits and the dust can be a challenge. But now we have a house that’s easily worth 2 times what we put into it and we have no mortgage to pay! If you’re afraid to take on a whole house, why not just do one room of your current home? We’ll probably do it again but figure we should give ourselves a year or two to enjoy our completed fixer-upper!

additional TDS resource: A Budget-Friendly DIY Kitchen Remodel

Renewing Patio Furniture

Over the summer our plastic patio furniture became pretty ugly. It was so discolored that I was planning on getting rid of it and buying new next spring. But while I was pressure washing the patio, I happened to hit the plastic chair leg with the stream of water. It knocked off all the discoloration! I proceeded to pressure wash all the chairs and the table. They look like new! That’s one less thing I’ll have to buy next spring!

Something New for Dinner

I’ve been searching the internet for sauce and dressing recipes. I’m finding a lot of great ones that really make dinners a treat. You’d be surprised how a sauce can change a plain old roasted chicken! The first time I try a new recipe I only make a small amount. But some of the ones that we like have become favorites so I make double or triple batches!

additional TDS resource: 12 Hour Slow Cooker Recipes

Nasty Stainless Steel Pans

A way to get stains, burns, sticky hardened food, or oil out of stainless steel pans is to add about a quarter cup of baking soda to the water in the pan and bring to a boil. Then simmer for a few minutes. The residue will wipe out easily.

Getting a Deli Discount

It’s hard cooking for one person. Especially if you want to keep costs down. Often I’ll stop at the deli counter at my grocery store. I can buy a prepared meal or sandwich cheaper than I can make them. Since I work an evening shift and get off at 8PM, I get there near the end of day. Often they have whole chickens or other things, including their salads, at a discount. Great deal for me!

Do you have a money or time-saving tip you’d like to share? Just click here to submit your suggestion.

Little Luxuries

Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher, our free weekly newsletter aimed at helping you live better for less on the money you already have!

Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

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