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 Few Cheap, Simple Kitchen Updates

After a long winter and COVID restrictions, I’m really tired of being stuck inside! And tired of the way my house looks!

I wanted to make my kitchen different but couldn’t afford new cabinets or countertops. So I did the next best thing. I tiled the backsplashes between the countertops and upper cabinets. They had been painted. The tile was relatively inexpensive and I managed to do the job myself with the help of some video how-tos.

I also added some LED under-cabinet lighting where I can control the color! My kitchen has a whole new feel for a little investment.

additional TDS resource: A Budget-Friendly DIY Kitchen Remodel

No More Credit Card Debt

Having paid off my last credit card, I resolved to never carry a balance again. I hate the high interest rates! So now whenever I use my credit card (even if it’s only a few dollars for fast food), I transfer that amount into an account that’s used to pay my credit card bill each month. If I keep this up I’ll never pay interest again!

A Garage Storage Solution

Use inexpensive rain gutters to create convenient storage for molding, lightweight lumber, pipes, and other long, thin items.

To install the vinyl or aluminum gutters, cut the lengths you want and use screws to fasten the mounting brackets to studs. Then snap the gutters into place. Use the brackets alone as hooks for garden hoses, extension cords, and wire coils.
Kyra M.

Fresher Frozen Fish

If you catch or buy more fish than you can eat right away and want to freeze the excess, just place the fish in a quart-size or sandwich-size freezer bag, fill with plain tap water to about an inch below the top, squeeze the air out, and seal. This leaves room for the bag to accommodate expansion of the water when it freezes. Freeze them and enjoy later!

I’ve kept fish (freshwater and saltwater) this way for up to three years, and they were as fresh and good as the day caught. Thawing does take about twice as long.

Herb Savings

We often use fresh herbs in our cooking – makes a big difference. I have used prepacked herbs from the grocery store, and now go to a big box garden center and purchase the whole plant for about the same price as a grocery store package. The yield I get from the “plant” is significantly more and then I plant the plant and in most cases the plant will continue to grow and we get a much higher yield.

No More Bargains!

I was always a great bargain hunter. I collected coupons (print and on my phone), collected discount codes and signed up for every money-saving email I could find. But it seemed like the more I tried, the deeper in debt I got.

Finally I realized that every time I thought that I was saving money with a coupon or discount that I was actually spending money! So I canceled all my subscriptions to emailed discount codes and coupons. I’m not tempted to buy so-called bargains if I don’t see them!

Humane Society Shampoo

Our Humane Society makes their own shampoo. It is made with equal parts of Mrs. Murphy Oil soap (the original formula) and Lemon Joy dish washing soap. It mixes into a thick shampoo that leaves the dogs silky and clean. No skin allergies occur, as this is so gentle!
Nancy B.

Make Your Own Cracker Meal

The last time I searched for boxed cracker meal in my local grocery it was not to be found. I asked several employees before finally locating it. Then the price was ridiculous! Left it! I bought store brand saltine crackers, put them in my blender and made excellent cracker meal for way, way, way less money. The next time I ran out, I bought Dollar Tree saltines (even lower priced than store brands). It takes only minutes to make and I save the crumbs in a zip-lock plastic bag!

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Mother’s Day Ideas

For Mother’s Day, most Moms that I know would just like to have some time off or for someone to do a task that she doesn’t like to do. Don’t get her something that she has to clean or clean up after or find a place to put away.

Give her a coupon book for some of her least liked tasks. For example, clean her car, clean the inside of the windows, and vacuum the mats. Stock the car with tissues, mints and a new pair of sunglasses. Organize a surprise afternoon out for her with her “Mom” friends without spouses and kids.

A Better Sunday Brunch

We used to go out to brunch after church until the virus hit. We decided to do our own Sunday brunch. On Saturday I buy some fruit and our favorite breakfast foods. The kids and I work together to prepare everything. It’s more like a fun time than work. Now that we can go back to church in person again, we’re going to keep doing our own Sunday brunch!

Little Luxuries

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Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher, our free twice-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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Surge Protection Savings

It is far more economical to have an electrician install a whole-house surge protector rather than buy a bunch of individual ones for appliances. That way all the electronics are protected in your home.

We learned this the hard way when our house was hit by lightning and we lost two laptops.
Paula (on a mountain at 9000 ft in Colorado – Lightening is a regular thing here)

Cheaper Snack Plates

I am able to purchase 150 filters for $1.00 at The Dollar Tree store. They are great for serving a quick snack – don’t waste a paper plate or have to wash a regular plate.

Natural Deodorant

I had read somewhere that vinegar works well for underarm odor. It changes the pH of the skin so that the bacteria that cause the odor are not able to grow. I had been afraid to try this because if it didn’t work, I would be walking around with body odor all day before I could get home to shower. I finally tried it and, amazingly, it worked great.

After taking a shower in the morning, I apply plain white vinegar to my armpits with a cotton ball and then that’s it. If it’s a hot day, I still perspire, but there is no odor. Also, for what it’s worth, when I’m done with the cotton balls, I leave them up on the fireplace mantel and they neutralize the cooking smells in the house from the night before.
Rose L.

additional TDS resource: 10 Ways to Save on Natural Skincare

Auto Accident Coverage

I was just in an auto accident. When I was collecting all the information from the driver that ran into me, I actually called his insurance agent on the spot to make sure his policy was good. I have heard horror stories where someone gets home and starts making calls only to find out that the information is false.
David S.

Are you paying too much for auto insurance?

Use this simple tool to make sure you're getting the lowest rate.

Before You Go Shopping

When I’m planning a shopping trip with a specific destination in mind, I usually try to visit the store’s website before my trip. Very often, store websites will have printable coupons.

For about five minutes of my time, I was once able to print a 10% off coupon before a shopping trip during which my husband purchased three high-quality business suits. Needless to say, we saved a considerable amount of money.
Claudia, NY

Helping Hands

My sister and I do a swap that we call “work weekends.” One Saturday in the spring, we get together at one house and work on a to-do list, and then on another weekend, we go to the
other person’s home. It’s a great way to get a lot done in one day and it gives us free labor! Our kids love it because they get to play with their cousins for the entire day.

We have washed windows, power washed the house, re-stacked the firewood, edged flowerbeds, put down five yards of mulch, and painted shutters all in one day. The person’s home where we are working is responsible for feeding everyone for the day. We’ve done this with family and friends. It’s a wonderful way to get help with other people’s skills!
Jennifer H.

Dishwasher Maintenance

My dishwasher wasn’t quite as effective as before. I read numerous tips about the power of vinegar to cut through grease, lime and scale. I took a gallon and filled bowls sitting in the top rack and ran a regular cycle. What a change! Sparkling! My dishes come out super clean. I’m delighted and will continue to use it occasionally to keep my elderly dishwasher clean and running optimally.

additional TDS resource: Maintain Your Appliances and Save

Rental Car Warning

We recently rented a car. We did not check it over before we took it off the lot. We drove it for a couple of days and dropped it back. Because we had never rented a car before, we did not ask a rental employee to look it over. A few hours later, an employee called us and said, “Sorry, there is damage.” We ended up being charged $900 because of a couple of small marks. We had no recourse.

Here is my advice. Never rent a car without taking pictures using your cell phone. Take pictures of every angle, and when you return the car, tell the employees that you have before and after pictures. Also, ask that an employee check the car out before you leave.

Homemade Beef Marinade

The easiest, cheapest, and quickest beef marinade is also very delicious. Just use your leftover bottled salad dressing! You can add some aromatics like minced garlic or various herbs, but just the dressing by itself will do a good job of tenderizing and flavoring the meat. I sometimes buy bottles of Italian dressing on sale just for this purpose, but using up whatever dressing you already have on hand works, too.

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

Bathing Your Pet

When bathing your dog, put a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in your hand before adding the shampoo. Rub the baking soda and shampoo together and it will make the shampoo into a richer lather. This will work into your pet’s coat much better. It also works as a conditioner to make their coat softer and fresher.
Letha in Eugene, OR

additional TDS resource: Do-It-Yourself Dog Grooming

Little Luxuries

Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher, our free twice-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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