Dollar Stretcher Tips 03.29.2007

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Natural Plant Protection

I use garlic powder anywhere that I want to keep the varmints out. This works around flowerbeds, vegetable plots and containers. Just sprinkle garlic powder (I get mine at the dollar store) around whatever you want to keep the rabbits, deer, raccoons, skunks, mice, etc. away from. This works for several days and doesn’t hurt the plants, animals or the environment. I have been doing this for at least ten years. However, you have to keep up with it. For me, it’s the best.

Part-Time Work

I needed to start a second job in order to pay off some credit card debt. In the past when I needed a second job, I worked retail during evening hours and weekends. I missed my time with my husband. I found the perfect job for me, which is worth a shot for some women (or even men) that live in resort areas. I live in Florida and I started cleaning condos on Saturdays. This pays by the unit and not the hour. Depending on how many units I clean, I can make a very good part-time income. Many people do not like to work weekends, so resorts may hire for Saturdays only or weekends. I didn’t start working until 9:00am (because it was my first day), and in four hours, I made $105. I was home by the afternoon. Florida’s minimum wage is $6.15 an hour. If I found a job working for minimum wage to earn as much as I did on my first day, I would have had to work 17 hours. If you have kids and time is precious, this is the perfect way to go.
Debbie in Ft. Walton Beach, FL

Cereal Substitute

Cereal is so expensive, and if you have school age children, cereal can really eat into a grocery budget. In the mornings before school, I make minute rice in the microwave. Then I add milk and sugar, and I have a great substitution for cereal. The kids love the taste, and it is nutritious to boot.
Holly S.

Easy Clean Combs

When it’s time to clean my combs, I just drop them into the laundry along with my whites, which I wash in warm to hot water and a touch of bleach. Then, I let the washer do the work. They come out totally clean and sterilized.

A Wise Weeder

It is time to do the dreaded task of weeding my flower gardens. With the mild winter we have had and the rain, I have a million (looks like it) weeds that have sprouted up on the top of the mulch beds. I went to the kitchen and looked around for something that would make it easier to pull the weeds instead of the usual garden tools that I have. After a few minutes, I decided to try a good old fork! It is small and easily handled. It will pop the weeds right out of the ground, even the ones that have deeper roots. I chose a fork that is not one of my good ones, so it’s no big deal if misplaced! This has been a great help to me!
Jonnie C.

Stinkless Shoes

Instead of buying those expensive foot powders or charcoal inserts for less than fragrant tennis shoes, try putting a teaspoon or two of baking soda into the offending shoes before you wear them. I tried this with my husband’s work shoes and it worked like a charm! Now we just add a little baking soda every month to keep them smelling fresh all year.
Deborah B.


Ants abhor white flour. They will not cross it. Sprinkle some on window ledges and around doorways, and they will stay away!
Krystyna C.

It Pays to Check

I had collected a large box full of used batteries from all of our kids’ toys. When it came time to recycle them, I decided to see if the batteries were all really dead. I used an electrician’s multi-tester that I had bought for $5. To my surprise, over half the batteries still had a good charge in them. Apparently, the batteries did not discharge at the same rate in the toys. I saved over $50 in batteries that day! Now when I test the batteries in a toy that has stopped working properly, I find that usually only one or two of them need to be replaced.
Bill S. in Grandville, MI

Company’s Coming

When putting away dishes that are used only occasionally or on special occasions (such as punch bowls, large platters, dip sets, etc.), it works really well to cover them with plastic wrap and stretch it so it forms a tight seal around the edge. By doing this, there is no need to wash because of accumulated dust when you take them down again. For punch bowls, I also store the cups inside (protected by paper towels so they won’t chip). This saves a lot of time in not having to wash these items before using them again.

A Touch of Color

When you would like to add a little color to a kitchen or bathroom, it only takes a drop or two of food coloring. I just add the coloring to the near empty liquid soap dispenser and fill with clear liquid soap. Shake a little. It’s just that easy to get a nice addition to a room for a few cents.

Use That Credit Card!

I recycle credit cards and use them as pot scrubbers. They do not scratch pots and save you money in that you don’t have to buy pot scrubbers. I haven’t bought a pot scrubber in years.

Homeowner’s How-To

My husband has shown me numerous times how the sprinkler system works, where shutoff valves are for our plumbing, or how to program the thermostat, but I never remember and never really got it in the first place. So he’s taking digital photos of all these things, such as toilets, sinks, thermostats, garage door opener, furnace, hot water, lawnmower, etc. He’s then putting the photos into a Word document and writing directions for me. I call it the “Make-Me-Less-Stupid Manual,” but it’s really a house manual. When it’s done, we’ll “walk the estate” together and work our way through the manual. I think what prompted this idea was when I came home from 48 straight hours of travel with my handy husband still on the road to find a broken garage door and a problem toilet at 9:30pm. I need to be able to handle these minor things myself! And the cost? A lot of my wonderful husband’s time, attention, thought, and care.
Clueless in Colorado


Keep your indoor trashcans smelling fresh by sprinkling some baking soda in the bottom of the can before putting in a liner. It will stay much fresher, especially in the kitchen.
Jen W. in Roanoke Rapids, NC

My Turn!

I have three grown children now, but when they were younger, they were always fighting about things like whose turn it was to ride up front in the car. So I started putting their names on each day of the month on the calendar. The person that was assigned that day got to ride up front, but he or she was also the first to take a bath that night. It stopped a whole lot of arguing. You can use that system for other things like who gets to pick the dinner menu for a particular day.

Southern Snake Prevention

I’m from South Carolina originally, and I live in Atlanta, GA now. Growing up in a farming family, it is a Southern custom to use lime. Lime irritates and eats away at a snake’s or any reptile’s skin, so they stay miles away from it. You can buy bags of lime at any feed and seed store, your local Wal-Mart, Home Depot or Lowe’s. We in the South have always sprinkled lime under our houses and around our yards and gardens. It’s
a proven scientific method, and it’s not harmful to humans at all!
Stephanie R.

Baking Soda Shampoo

I’ve been washing my hair for a few months with baking soda, and it works great. I’ve read that it helps to get your scalp back into balance from the chemicals that regular shampoos have in them. I found the recipe online. It said to make a paste of baking soda and water and rub it into your scalp. Then massage it in before washing it out. However, I usually just mix a tablespoon or less with water in a two-cup measuring cup, and pour it slowly over my head as I massage it in with my other hand, making sure it goes everywhere. Then I wash it out thoroughly. After that, if you want, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water is a good conditioner. Not sure if it’s perfect for thick hair, but it works for mine. The baking soda alone seems to work for me. I love using the baking soda. It’s so easy, quick and cheap! And there are no harmful chemicals for the environment or me.

Long Lasting Shirts

I never run the dryer to dry shirts. I wash them as usual but hang them for a day or so until they are dry. Iron them if you wish. This not only minimizes the expense of running the dryer, but with the elimination of the dry heat, shirts do not shrink. I have shirts that I still use on a weekly basis that I bought over ten years ago.
PJS in Philadelphia

Anniversary Party Idea

Instead of a guest book, print a 5″ X 7″ black and white photo of the couple, and then buy a large white matte (the matte can be any size that will accommodate the number of signatures of those attending) and a simple, metal black frame. Put it together and set it up on an easel so each guest can sign the matte. Be sure to have at least three good permanent “black” ink pens attached to the frame. After the party, insert the glass to protect the photo and signatures. Now the couple has something they can display and enjoy, remembering this very special day and all that love them. Guest books just seem to be put away never to be seen again.
Bobbie R. in Medford, Oregon

The Sunday Paper

I work in a large office building, and much to my surprise, I learned that many of the offices carry full weekly newspaper subscriptions, even though they’re only open Monday through Friday. I have had two smaller offices approve giving me their Sunday paper coupon inserts for free. I also utilize the Sunday comics from time to time to wrap gifts for children (and children at heart). Of course, all leftovers get recycled!
Rachel R. in Minneapolis

Easy Open

We bought a house with a detached garage. We asked our son (who is an electrician) to run wiring so we could have the opener in the house instead of the garage. He suggested we buy another opener and program it to our opener in the garage and hang it next to the back door. Then when we want to open the door, we use the opener. This saved us a bunch of money and time.
Janice H.

Garden Clogs?

It’s spring and I’m in my garden a lot, even with all the mud. Instead of buying those rubber garden clogs, which would still have to be washed off, I use plastic grocery bags. I slip one over each shoe and then tie it up around my ankle. When I leave the garden, I just untie or tear off the bag and throw it away, and my shoes stay clean. Mary R.

My Personal Trainers

A lot of us want to exercise more, but with busy schedules, it’s difficult to find the time. On the other hand, our children have an abundance of time. I put the two concepts together, and now, I have two personal trainers, ages 10 and 12. After weeks without so much as an after-dinner walk, I was sadly out of shape. On Saturday morning, I did get a walk with my 12-year-old. I ended up complaining because she went so fast and I huffed and puffed the whole way. An idea was born. The kids are allowed to “take Mom for a walk” up to one time per day. The kids can each earn $1 if they set a pace that Mom has trouble keeping up with or the walk lasts at least 30 minutes. This is a win/win: * We are all getting exercise. * The kids are definitely motivated. * We have good conversations, fresh air, and sunshine. * And it’s cheap! Last week, I got two exercise sessions. I shelled out $4 for my personal trainer. I don’t know any gym that could beat that price.

Wash the Fleas Away

I have multiple dogs. A few years ago, these poor pups were just infested with fleas. No matter what we tried and to what expense, we could just not eliminate the problem. After talking to their groomer about all the products we had tried, she gave us a simple solution. First, use a pump sprayer for gardening and fill it with a mixture of Ivory dish soap and water. (2 parts water to 1 part Ivory) Spray your entire yard with it. Then bathe the dogs using Ivory dish soap. The Ivory kills the fleas and flea larva in the yard (and makes it smell great too!) and takes care of the fleas on the dogs! It worked! Within two days, we were flea free and have remained so. Remember to go out and spray the outer property lines once every couple months or so with the same mixture to keep the fleas out. I also continue to shampoo my dogs with Ivory dish soap each time I give them a bath. If you shampoo twice, you can use the dish liquid for the first wash, rinse, and then use your favorite doggie shampoo. It truly worked for us and we have never had a problem with fleas since!

Published March 29, 2007 by:

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of You can read all about her here.

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