Sometimes the best way to stretch a buck is to look in the most unlikely places. I’m a huge fan of the fresh produce at 99 Cents Only stores. And milk, as compared to the price at my supermarket, is a bargain at the Walgreens across the street. But who knew we could decorate our homes from places like Dollar General? Our first reader discovered that, and I think her tactic is simply brilliant!

Stretch A Buck



My husband and I recently repainted our living room for a fresh, new look and then realized our curtains no longer worked with the new color. We couldn’t find anything that we both liked. To our surprise, we found fabric shower curtains at Dollar General that worked perfectly—only $10 each. Because of how wide our window is, we needed four of them, but for only $40 we have a totally new look in our living room and we love it. Trish


I display photos on my fridge without the heavy magnets covering part of the picture. I use the magnetic business cards from advertisers, cut them in half lengthwise and tape one half of the magnet on the upper third of the back of the photo. Double-sided tape works the best, but I’ve also just taped the ends of the magnets with regular tape, and that works, too. One strip is fine for a 4×6-inch photo, but a larger photo may need two. Maggie


When my kids were younger and just learning to cook, they had many mishaps with the bottle of vegetable oil. Often they poured too much because the opening of the bottle was so large. As I was cleaning out a squeeze ketchup bottle, it occurred to me that it could be a great solution to the oil spills. I filled the flip-top squeeze bottle with oil, and now the kids use it with ease. It even helps me use less oil when sautéing. And the bonus is that the bottle fits better in the cupboard, too. Nancy


When it comes to treating exposure to poison ivy, time is of the essence. Fels Naptha works great, but so do most soaps. I’ve even used horse shampoo. One of my trail buddies soaps her forearms with Fels Naptha before heading into the woods and then rinses it off after the ride. Joan


Order a hot coffee and a cup of ice. Pour the coffee in the cup and you’ve got iced coffee. While this tactic dilutes your drink, where I live it still saves nearly 55 cents when you purchase a grande (savings vary by state). Tom


If you’re not a huge coffee drinker you know the smallest size on the Starbucks menu is Tall. Here’s the tip: Order the size that isn’t on the menu—Short. The short size will save you about about 80 cents. Hint: Short has the same amount of espresso as Tall. Susan


Starbucks water and ice are triple filtered. So the water they pour off the tap could be cleaner than the filtered water in the bottle. So just ask for a water it will cost MUCH less. Sylvie


It happens all the time in my classroom, and usually I’m the culprit. I, or one of my students, grabs the wrong marker to write on the whiteboard. Here’s the best way to remove the permanent marks: Cover the mistaken writing with a dry-erase marker—any color—covering the mistake completely. Now wipe it away. Like magic, the board will be clean as a whistle. Brad


If your printer is out of black ink, change the text color to dark blue—you’ll be able to print a couple more times before needing a refill. And always print in Garamond typeface rather than more popular fonts like Times New Roman, Century Gothic or Comic Sans, since Garamond uses less ink. Rhonda


Always remember to zip up jeans and other garments that have metal zippers before laundering them. Those little metal teeth are like miniature chainsaws, tearing up and ruining other expensive clothing in the washer and dryer. Francesca


Many health insurance plans offer reimbursements or discounts on gym memberships. For example, UnitedHealthcare has plans that will reimburse you for up to $240 per year in gym costs. Benefits vary by provider, so check with your insurance to see if you’re eligible. Bonnie


I love scented bath powder, but at $17 to $25, it is simply too expensive. I took an empty container of my bath powder and layered it with unscented baby powder and cotton balls that I had sprayed with my favorite perfume. I gave the powder puff from the original container a few spritzes of perfume, put it back in the container and closed it overnight. The scent was distributed evenly, and once again I can indulge myself with scented bath powder at a fraction of the cost. Barbara


Real cheapskates (hoarders perhaps?) know that eventually all annual calendars will be useful again. For example, your 2015 wall calendar can be used again in the years 2026, 2037, 2043, 2054, 2065, 2071, 2082 and counting. For a handy schedule of when you can reuse your old calendars, visit: Tina


Lower the brightness level on your TV and computer screen. This will greatly benefit your eye health, but by lowering the brightness on TVs and monitors from the default setting you can reduce your power consumption by up to 40%. The default brightness is the setting that is made to make the TV or computer look good and bright in stores under all that fluorescent overhead lighting!). Geoffrey

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