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.

Closet Cents

I have found that most of my dresses and blouses often fall off of regular wire and plastic hangers. Padded hangers keep the clothes on the hanger, but they are pretty expensive.

Instead, I bought a square piece of felt with peel-off backing on it for a few bucks at a local discount department store. I cut the felt in narrow strips and peeled off the back of it. Then I carefully placed it over a wire hanger on each side, pressing the felt strips securely around the wire (no need to put felt at the bottom of the hanger, for me anyway!)

Presto! Instant non-sliding hanger for a fraction of the cost of a padded hanger!
Camille P.

Related: 10 Things You Don’t Want to Get Caught Doing In Your Closet

Reduced Apartment A/C Bills

We live in an apartment that has a balcony. We have installed a “bamboo” shade at the outer edge of the balcony. This prevents the sun from warming the patio doors and keeps our apartment cooler. And saves on using the air conditioning.
Shirley

Related: 12 Energy-Saving Tips for Your Apartment

Prepared for Emergencies

Almost all parts of the country have to deal with natural disasters from time to time – wild fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards. Don’t be caught unprepared if you find you need to evacuate your home on short notice.

I keep my important papers (passport, insurance, etc.) in a lightweight, waterproof container in a certain spot of the house. My medicine is in a multi-pocket shoe bag hanging on a wall ready to be taken down and packed at a moment’s notice. I also have a small case of personal essentials like grooming items and so on. Plus, I have just enough easy-care clothing to keep me going if I need to leave home suddenly for an unknown length of time. There’s a carrying case of pet items, too. You’re sure to have other items you’d need (and I emphasize “need”) as well.

I learned the hard way that the time to think about this is not when a fireman knocks on your door and tells you to evacuate immediately. If, heaven forbid, this should happen to you, at least you’ll be able to leave quickly and well-prepared.
M.

Related: Basic Emergency Preparedness on a Budget

A Small Stash for Lean Times

I have started a small savings that has paid off during those “lean” months.

Every time I buy something that is a multi-pack (toilet paper, tissue, soap, etc.), I take one out and put it on a separate shelf in my hall closet (behind some stuff where it won’t be readily seen). Then on weeks when we don’t have enough money to purchase some of these items, I know I can get by an extra week or two with my small stash of “necessities.”
JD in St. Louis

Related: The Benefits of a Household Stockpile

A Grocery Budget Control Trick

You can use gift cards to help stay within your grocery budget. I do most of my grocery shopping at two stores and they both sell gift cards. I buy the gift cards for myself and load them each with about 40% of my grocery budget (leaving 20% to spend at other stores). When the money is gone, I force myself to eat what I have on hand.

If I end the month with money still on the card, I reload the card back up to my monthly budget. For example, if my budget is $100 and there is $20 left on the card at the end of the month, I only put $80 more on the card so that I have $100 for the new month. That way, the extra money from the previous month stays in my bank account to either my transferred to savings or pay down debt.

If the gift cards aren’t re-loadable, just buy a new gift card and pay for part of it with the old gift card and the other part with a debit card or cash. Using the example above, I’d buy a new $100 gift card using the $20 from the old gift card and $80 from a debit card.
Wesley B.

Related: How a Grocery App Can Keep Your Food Budget in Check

Potato Saver

If I have potatoes that I am afraid may go bad, I bake them in the oven in foil and then throw them in the freezer. When I want a baked potato, I unwrap it and throw it in the microwave. It has that great oven-baked potato taste, and all my potatoes are used before they begin to sprout. This is also a good way to use a large bag (10 pounds or more) economically when you either live alone or have a small family.
Janet M.

Related: Freezing Potatoes: Frugal Homemade French Fries and Hash Browns

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Lower Electric Bills

After I have taken my shower, done my dishes and washed my clothes for the day, I turn my hot water heater thermostat to the “vacation” mode. By doing this, I save tons of money on my energy bill. I do this daily. We only use hot water for a little while during the day. Then for the rest of the day and all night long, it is heated and reheated over and over again, which will add up to a waste of energy and extra money.

Try it and see!
Laura B. in South Glens Falls, NY

Related: Simple Ways to Cut the High Cost of Hot Water

Older Is Better

There’s a very good reason why nothing is “built to last” these days. It’s called planned obsolescence. And it’s extremely unfortunate. Because we live in a consumer society, in order to keep us buying, buying and buying some more, the manufacturers have to make things wear out a lot faster. Years ago, people kept things seemingly forever. Goods were sturdy and more dependable. Nowadays, everything is throwaway.

Clothing always comes to mind. It is poorly made using low-quality materials. One spin in the wash, and most clothing items are rendered no longer wearable. Then there’s the whole “on trend” thing. Everyone has to be “in style,” whether it’s with clothing, home décor, or the latest car models. Have you noticed how many laundry detergents are now for front-load machines? And I’m sure they don’t hold up like the old washers did, either. If you have something old and it works well, it is best to keep on using it and save your money for something really important to you like eventually retiring one day.
Karen L.

Related: When Older is Better (and Cheaper)

Stale Bread Revival

It’s easy to revive bread that’s getting stale and hard. Just run a little hot water over the bread and place it in the oven for a few minutes. You’ll end up with hot bread that tastes like it just came out of the oven.
Reba

Related: 17 Ways to Use Stale Bread to Reduce Food Waste

Finding a Good Mechanic

I was new in town. My old Honda Civic needed a new timing belt, but I didn’t want to pay dealer prices to have it replaced. How could a find a good reputable mechanic? I stopped at a couple of used car lots and asked who they used. Three of them told me about the same shop, so that’s where I went!
Maggie

Related: Insider Report: Finding an Honest Auto Mechanic

Affording a Healthier Diet

I want my family to eat more fruits and veggies this year. I mentioned this to the produce manager at my local market. He told me that they often have slightly damaged items that they sell cheap. I might have to cut out a small section, but the rest of the fruit or veggie is fine for any recipe that I have. He told me to just ask when I visit the store, and he’ll let me know what he has available. I plan on talking with him weekly.
Dina

Related: Join the Ugly Food Movement and Reduce Produce Costs

Homemade Floor Cleaner

An economical, non-rinse floor cleaner can be made by mixing the following ingredients:

1/4 cup dish soap
2 cups vinegar
1 cup lemon juice
1 to 2 cups water

This is great for cleaning floors, bathrooms, walls, etc.
Shelly

Related: Frugal Homemade Floor Cleaner Recipes and ‘Ready Mop’ Alternatives

Do you have a money or time-saving tip you’d like to share? Just email your tip to andrea@thedollarstretcher.com.

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Debt Checklist

Subscribe to get money-saving tips just like these by email that can help you stretch and grow your dollars.

Twice each week you'll receive tips that can help you free up and keep more of your hard-earned money, even on the tightest of budgets. We send subscribers exclusive tips that we do not publish here on our weekly tips page.

Subscribers also receive a free copy of our eBook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better for Less.

We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

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