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.

Saving on Spices

I buy all of my “jar” spices and dried herbs at a local health food store that buys in bulk, then breaks the product down into approximately ounce-sized portions in little baggies. The prices are much lower than those in the grocery store (even the “bargain” spices at the discount stores) and are much fresher. You’re paying for packaging most of the time, and packaging is not what you are buying.

I’ve saved small jars from baby food or even small condiment jars to use as containers for these spices, then label them with marker on a piece of tape. When the containers are empty I just use them again.
Sue

More spice savings: 7 Recipes for inexpensive Homemade Seasoning Mixes

A Budgeting Trick to Keep Credit Card Spending in Check

One way I keep credit card debt in check is to have a monthly budget that includes the monthly credit card debt limit, in my case $50. I can charge up to $50, and make two payments, one on the first, and the second on the day before the due date.

Just a thought on how people can avoid being in over their heads with credit card debt. It works and builds up good credit, and I don’t lose sleep worrying about a bill.
Kathie R. of Pierre, SD

Learn more: How to Stick to a Budget and Still Use Credit Cards

A Frugal Foot Warmer

During a season as a professional bell ringer for the Salvation Army, I discovered that wearing two socks with a plastic bag (bread wrappers are ideal) on each foot keeps feet warmer. I didn’t believe it, so one day I wore the bread wrapper between socks on one foot and just the two socks on the other. It definitely made a difference!
Martha Y.

More ways to stay warm: Creative Winter Layering for Lowering Heating Costs

A Frugal Frozen Windshield Solution

Here’s an idea for the cold winter months. Windshield washer de-icing fluid is a great help for those freezing winter months, but it is usually two to three times the price of regular fluid.

Instead of filling the washer reservoir with the de-icing fluid, which can waste quite a bit of it, I fill a squirt bottle with the fluid and keep it inside the car. After a few quick squirts, turn the wipers on. The windshield will be clear! Using this method can make one gallon of de-icing fluid last quite a long time.
Paul I.

Additional cold weather tips: 10 Ways to Keep Your Car Running This Winter

Prolong the Life of Your Christmas Tree

If you use a real Christmas tree like we do, try putting it in clear soda (Sprite, 7-up) instead of water. It helps the tree last longer and the needles don’t fall off as much.
Colleen

More tree tips: Get Your Money’s Worth When Buying a Christmas Tree

DIY Sprinkles

Instead of spending the money for store bought sugar sprinkles for cookies and cupcakes, make your own.

Put the amount of granulated sugar you want to dye into a coffee mug or any tall-sided container and add a little food coloring. Mix it up with a spoon until it’s evenly distributed. It’s ok if it clumps at first. It will smooth out the more you stir. (If it doesn’t smooth out after 3 minutes of stirring, add more sugar.) If you want pastel sprinkles, use the liquid food colors. If you want darker sprinkles, use the gel food colors. When you have your sugar the color you want, be sure it’s the consistency of fresh brown sugar. If it’s too wet, add more sugar. Put a paper towel on a plate and dump the mix on it to dry. Stir with a spoon every few hours. After it’s completely dry, sift it and put it into clean salt and pepper shakers.

I’ve seen kits with 12 1 oz. containers of sugar sand sell online for around $40!
Mari B.

More budget baking tips: Mix Up Your Own Homemade Chocolate Mixes on the Cheap

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Cheaper Eye Make-Up Remover

I can’t bear paying good money for oily eye makeup remover pads when they’re so easy to make.

I use an old T-shirt, which is soft and lint free naturally, cut it up into squares, and trim the edges if I’m feeling energetic, put these into a small container and soak them in baby oil. Voila! Hundreds of pads for virtually nothing. If I’m travelling, I just pop a few into a small ziplock bag.

It warms my frugal heart as well as keeps my eyes in good condition.
Brenda in Hong Kong

More budget beauty tips: Frugal Facial Oils for Fabulous Skin

Rethink Gift Giving

I have a group of about 10 girlfriends who have known each other for a very long time. We used to exchange Christmas presents with one another, but after many years it was getting expensive, not to mention we were running short on ideas for everyone!

We decided to discontinue this and donate as a group to a good cause every year. Everyone donates whatever amount they can spare at this costly time of year, and it makes us feel like we are really living the spirit of the Holidays. One year we went shopping together and bought coats for homeless people. Another year we donated our money to a single mom who had fallen on very hard times.

You could also do this with adult family members instead of exchanging gifts with them. Or, donate your time as a group at a shelter, food bank, hospital, or whatever organization may need you.
Mary in Denver

More ways to give: How Your Family Can Make a Difference on $5 or Less

Fire Starters Savings

My family and I use those firestarters (they look like mini bricks) to start fires in our home fireplace. I experimented with breaking them in half to see if they would work just as well. Surprise, they do and now we will get twice as much use out of the case that we buy.
Judy S.

For the frugal fireplace: 5 Places to Find Free Firewood

A Frugal Freezer Tip Using Cereal Bags

This is a recycling/money-saving tip I got from my mother-in-law.

When you finish a box of cereal, don’t throw out the lining bag. These are generally a heavy weight waxed bag that is great for protecting foods in the freezer. I brush out all the crumbs and use the bag as an outer wrap when I am freezing anything at all. Just wrap the food as you always would in plastic wrap or a lighter weight ziploc, and them put it in the cereal bag. I seal it with freezer tape and write what is in the bag on the tape.
Colleen G.

More ways to protect your frozen assets: How to Increase the Shelf Life of Frozen Foods

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Want a Raise?

Here’s a trick that could get you a raise. Before you approach your boss, talk to your HR person. Ask them what the salary range is for your job.

If there’s plenty of room in the range, you’re more likely to get a raise. If you’re near the top, you might be better off asking what you’d need to do to be moved to a higher job classification.
Tony

Take these steps towards your next raise: How to Position Yourself for a Salary Increase

Get It Military Clean

My sister was in the Marine Corps. And Marine inspections are tough. To clean the shower stalls, they would use cheap hair shampoo and a scrubber pad. I have used the shampoo and it really works, better than any cleaner I have ever used!
O.

A few cheap cleaning recipes: Homemade Natural Sink & Shower Cleanser

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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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.

Subscribers 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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