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.

A Different Thanksgiving

This year we’re going to do Thanksgiving a little differently. Instead of everyone sitting around watching football while I cook, we’re going to decorate our house for the holidays. With the kids and grandkids, there will be plenty of hands to help. And it’ll be a good way to get into the holiday spirit. Plus all the activity should give everyone a good appetite for the turkey I’ll be cooking!

How I Make a Habit of Finding Savings

One “out the box” way to make money is to set aside a certain time each week to figure out how to save money. Every Wednesday while doing laundry I decide what to save money on and do research on how to save in one area of my life, like using less gas, checking out frugal tips, cooking and freezing frugal meals, sewing items for gifts, reworking clothes not used, etc. I have been doing this for years and think of this as a part-time, pay-no-taxes, stay-at-home job.
Dee Bee

additional TDS resource: 7 Habits of Highly Frugal People

Before You Rent Equipment

I always ask the neighbors to see if they want to share costs when I am planning to rent a big piece of equipment, such as a rototiller or carpet cleaner. Two or three people can usually use the item in the time alotted (such as a weekend) and split the cost making it cheaper for everyone.

additional TDS resource: How to Live Frugally in Suburbia

Save the Car Mats

Living in the cold and snowy north, our car mats get very full of sand, salt, slush and grime in the winter. I use door runner plastic to protect my carpets. It’s cheaper than the custom fitted floor protectors. In the spring I can just hose it off, roll them up and put them in the garage until next winter.

Too Big to Wrap?

Sometimes I don’t wrap the whole gift. For example, for a remote-control car, I’ll just wrap the remote. Then I’ll include a note with directions to find the gift hidden somewhere in the house. This works for new TVs, snow tires (wrap a scraper), sports equipment, kitchen equipment (wrap a wooden spoon), and, of course, tickets to a show or trip. The treasure hunt is part of the fun!
Evelyn S.

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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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Free Massage?

My husband and I were going to take a massage class this fall, but our local high school has cancelled adult ed classes. But we came up with a backup plan – youtube videos! We can watch how to do massage and then practice on each other. It’s been great. Especially since we haven’t gone out much lately.

additional TDS resource: The Best Adult Education Resources

How to Wrap Gift Cards

Looks like we’re going to have to do a distant Christmas this year. That means gift shopping will be a challenge. We’ll probably do a lot of gift cards this year. If you wanted to personalize it add something small to go with it, tuck it in with a small stuffed animal or on top of a box of chocolates. The combined package will be easy to wrap and ship. And by adding something to the gift card you make the gift personal.

additional TDS resource: A Merry Christmas from a Distance

The Cook Isn’t Feeling Well

My husband and I both cook for our family. But it seems that if one of us is sick, the other has all they can do to care for the kids, etc. without cooking dinner. So for a few days the budget gets blown on fast food and pizza. I’ve decided this winter is going to be different. I’ve made a few freezer meals that we can quickly prepare when one of us is sick. It wasn’t hard to do. I just doubled up on some recipes over the last month. Mostly casseroles and soups.

Protect Your Clothing

I find that using home dry-cleaning kits on new washable items that are black and/or navy reduces fading and maintains these items in nearly new condition for a much longer period of time. For example, I used Dryel to clean a new black cotton sweater along with a couple of washable woolen blend sweaters. The new sweaters remained “newer” looking for a longer period of time.

additional TDS resource: 9 Ways to Extend the Life of Clothing

Loaning Tools

When letting someone borrow a tool, it might be best to then use the tool (or at least turn it on) when the person returns it. Unfortunately, after a family member borrowed my chain saw, it was months before I even tried to use it. The repair shop said it appeared the wrong kind of gas was used and it was ruined. Had it been sooner, it would have been realistic to let the borrower know this.

Going Halfsies

Did you know that you can cut a turkey in half if it’s not frozen? Or if it is frozen, the butcher at your local supermarket can do it. Buy them on sale before or after Thanksgiving. By doing this, you don’t have to roast an entire huge turkey to take advantage of the low price. When baking a cut-in-half turkey, just place the cut side down in the roasting pan.

Septic Tank Care

For those of you who have septic tanks in your yard, once a month (I do it on the 1st to make it easy to remember) put one tablespoon of baking yeast in the kitchen sink or commode and flush it down. The yeast helps nature’s processes along!

Carpet Spots

Before the holidays is a great time to do a little home upkeep. Like cleaning spots from your carpets. I found an easy and cheap way to remove them. I got my iron, put it on steam, and without touching the carpet, I sprayed the hot steam on the stain. Then I blotted it with a towel and the stain was gone.

If the stain has set, take some white distilled vinegar and apply onto the stain after you have steamed and then take a towel and blot it up. Don’t rub. That hurts the carpet fibers. Blotting pulls the stain out. Be sure to try the vinegar on a safe place first to check for colorfastness.

additional TDS resource: 7 Frugal Homemade Cleanser Recipes

Cheaper? Or Better?

Yes, sometimes “living better for less” means spend more upfront. It’s not being penny wise and pound foolish. If you buy better quality things they last. You save by not having to replace over and over. Especially something that is used daily, such as pots and pans. I have had some quality cookware for almost 15 years. I have taken care of it. I bought the set on sale and have never regretted the purchase. My sister bought cheap stuff and needs to replace it every few years.
Michelle S.

additional TDS resource: Frugal? Or Just Plain Cheap?

Easy Oven Clean

A really easy and economical way of cleaning one’s oven without the problems of the canned stuff is to simply mix equal amounts of baking soda and salt and then adding enough water to make a paste out of it. I usually will use about 1 cup of each and then just gradually add the water until it becomes pasty. Then you close the oven door and bake as you would with the canned stuff. When it cools down, you simply use a damp sponge or cloth and wipe everything down. It really does work!
Joyce K.

Safe Get Togethers With Friends

For years we socialized with friends over dinner. Usually at restaurants. COVID changed all that. For awhile we were meeting on Zoom, but that got old. So now we’re looking for ways that we can stay safe and still see each other. Last week we held a tennis tournament. None of us are any good but we had a lot of laughs. I’m trying to remember where we stored those old horseshoes. That would make another great contest!

Almost-Free Pet Beds

With money being tight, I couldn’t afford to keep buying Goldie, our border collie, new pet beds. She’d chew up a new one in no time. So I decided to make my own. You can make great pet beds reusing Styrofoam packing peanuts. Stuff them into 2 gallon Ziploc type bags the dollar store sells. Cover with a pillow case. They are waterproof, conform to your pet’s body and reflect their own body heat.

Homemade Windshield De-Icer

To prevent your car’s windows/mirrors from icing up in the winter, treat the windows before you go to bed each night. The window treatment can be made up of 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water and placed in a spray bottle. This mixture will prevent ice from forming. It is important to spray all of the car’s windows and not just the windshield. You can also use the same mixture using rubbing alcohol.

additional TDS resource: 15 Winter Fuel Economy Tips

Computer Getting Slow?

I just sped up my computer by removing some software that came pre-installed. There were some games and toolbars that I never use. Finally I decided to take the time to uninstall them. When I did, I found that my laptop booted faster and ran better. Who knew? So if there’s stuff on your desktop that you didn’t put there, consider spending a little time removing the unwanted stuff.

Thanksgiving Leftover Plan

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I thought I would share what we do with leftovers. When we have potatoes, turkey, stuffing and veggies left over, we simply buy piecrusts. Unfold one sheet. Using only half of the full circle of dough, put your combination of turkey and leftovers in the middle and along the sides. Take the other empty half and fold over. Pinch the edges and you have a crescent shaped turkey pot pie. We simply freeze them on cookie sheets, and when frozen, we place them in a resealable bag. We can have Thanksgiving throughout the year simply by opening a can of gravy and baking our little pot pie. Makes short work of any leftovers and it’s marvelous!
Betty in NJ

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!

Your Email:

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