The Dollar Stretcher 07.26.07

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It never fails. Shortly after you put a clean plastic liner in the kitchen wastebasket, something really smelly gets thrown away before the bag is full. I’ve found I can eliminate rotten odors in a wastebasket by completely covering the offending waste with a few layers of newspapers. I use the newspaper ad supplements that fill up my mailbox each week. The paper absorbs the smell entirely so you can use each bag to capacity.
Julie B. in Houston TX

The Hanging Heat Reducer

I did something very inexpensive this year that made a huge difference in the temperature of our kitchen. It would work on any room in the house.

We live in Texas. Summers are very long and very hot here. The large window in the eating area of our kitchen faces West. From about 2pm on each day, the sun pours through that window and bakes the room. By the time we sit down for dinner, the area is unbearably warm (despite air conditioning) and the bright sun is blinding to those of us facing the window.

This year, I cut a large piece of “black-out fabric” a bit larger than the window. Black-out fabric is actually white and can be purchased very inexpensively at fabric stores. I installed three grommets across the top. Then I tacked three small finishing nails above the top of the window above the wooden trim. At noon each day, I can easily hang up the curtain, and by 5pm when we eat dinner, the area is much cooler and there is no more glare! After 30 years of eating at a miserably hot dinner table, it’s finally very comfortable!
JR in Houston

Cheaper Flavored Teas

Many people in our area enjoy the raspberry flavored iced tea available at restaurants. Enjoy it at home by using dry drink mixes as the flavoring agent. Kool-Aid is a very concentrated flavor so use sparingly. Select a flavor (raspberry, lemonade, cherry, orange, etc.) and add to dry instant tea to make a dry mix. It can also be added to reconstituted instant tea or brewed tea for a ready-to-drink beverage. Store it in the refrigerator. Add your own preferred sweetener.

For a flavored hot tea, an alternative with more flavors available would be the gelatin dessert mixes such as Jell-O. Besides more easily accommodating different preferences, these also can be more frugal than other flavored tea options.

Cereal Savings

I bought three cylindrical plastic containers with lids. I no longer buy a cereal just because it tastes good since we normally go through 15 to 20 boxes a month. I now buy the bags, discounted damaged boxes, and cheaper brands. I pour the cereal in the clear plastic container when I get home and then everyone can see what it is and won’t shun it because it’s generic or has a dented box.
Candy M.

Doggie Toys

If you have dogs, you know how expensive and short-lived dog toys can be. Instead of purchasing new, consider your local Goodwill or Salvation Army. We can buy a large box of children’s stuffed animals for the price of one PetSmart dog toy (without putting a dent in the thrift store’s sad, abundant supply!). Our box will last all year and the dogs love the suspense of a “new” toy, especially at Christmas. Best of all, the money dished out goes for a good cause. If you don’t have a thrift store nearby, consider Just be sure that there’s nothing that could be chewed off of the toy that would be dangerous for your pet.
Mary in IL

Charitable Causes

One of the things that drives me absolutely bonkers is when a charity I have never heard of before sends me a solicitation that includes nickels or dimes and then goes on to explain how even these small amounts can do wonders for their cause! I am also aggravated when some organizations send me return envelopes that already have the postage on them. To the organizations that send cash, I send nothing and give that money to other charitable causes. As for the stamped envelopes, I soak the stamps off guilt free and again use them when I mail to other charitable groups.
Ed G.

Meals to Go!

When we needed to travel across the country to spend time with our grandchildren, we went as inexpensively as possible. I doubled the recipe of some of our favorite meals while I made them for supper and froze them in resealable bags. We were gone for four weeks and traveled 2,000 miles in our little camper trailer we pulled behind our truck. I also bought chips and snacks ahead of time while they were on sale. I made meals of fried chicken, meatloaf, etc. and we kept them in the cooler with dry ice.

I would take supper out of the cooler when we ate breakfast, place it in the fridge while we traveled, and it was ready to eat cold or warm up when we stopped for the night. I also put a frozen breakfast in the slow cooker on low at night and it would be thawed and ready to eat when we awoke in the morning.

We saved a lot of money, especially at campsites since it was out of the normal tourist season. We did not have any upset stomachs from eating out all the time and saved a lot of time by having our meals already prepared. We only ate out once when our kids took us out to eat before we left!
Judy in NE

Lettuce Keeper

If you will slam your iceberg lettuce against the inside of the sink with the core taking the hit, it allows you to pull the whole core out by hand and rinse the lettuce without inserting a knife. It doesn’t bruise the lettuce at all and this will help it stay fresher in your refrigerator.
Diane S. in Oklahoma

An Organized Desk

Recently, I redid our home office and found myself in need of several different sized containers for organizing things. I bought a roll of contact paper and just covered cardboard boxes (with the top flaps cut off) in sizes that I needed. I reinforced the bottoms and corners with packing tape to help them last longer before covering them with the contact paper. When I was finished, I had several really nice matching and perfectly sized organizers for the cost of a roll of contact paper.
Heather B in CA

Fly Away

Suspend a gallon baggie half full of water from each section of your porch (between each post). Stapling is the best way to secure. The light refraction through the water in the bag repels flies. We have even had a large table filled with food set out and not a fly on any of it. It’s nice to not be bothered by flies without having to spray expensive chemicals or light stinky candles.
Jennifer K. in Ingraham, IL

“No Sew” Curtains

Curtains for the sewing-challenged can be easy. Use the curtain hooks that have little clips to hold the fabric on them. They are sometimes called curtain clips. Then you can use any fabric you like with the hooks, such as a patterned flat sheet. You don’t have to sew at all and you can use the fabric later for something else. Curtain clips are inexpensive and can sometimes even be found at dollar stores at ten for a dollar. They seem to be very fashionable now.
Emilie J.

Published July 26, 2007 by:

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

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