Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stretching a Dollar

I must admit, I don't know much about this concept. But I'm learning. I know I'm forevermore talking about being better at sticking to a budget, but all one can do is learn, move forward, fall, mess up and get back up again.

Essentially, stretching a dollar simply means that you try to get the most out of your money. For instance, you aren't getting a lot for your dollar when you drop $50-60 bucks in one weekend eating out (like we often do), when you can get more by spending that money on real groceries that will make 15-18 meals instead of spending it on just 3!Not smart, I know.

Like I said, I'm by no means an expert, but here are a few ways I try to stretch a dollar. And trust me, none of these are original ideas. Many of them are borrowed. Like I said, I learn a lot from you guys out there in blog world! But here are a few that I've put into practice none the less.

1. I use up what I have in the kitchen to make meals. I seriously have come to a point where I'm just sick of wasting food. I've easily wasted thousands of dollars in food over my adult life and it just makes me ill to think how much I could have saved by being a little more conscious of it. But I'm doing better. Because, I've found that nothing is more satisfying than taking a bunch of leftovers and turning it into something delicious for my family! I did this just tonight (for myself). I took my last potato, my last egg and some leeks that were about to go bad and made a frittata type thing. Maybe it was more like a hash? was amazingly good! And I didn't spend an extra dime by running out to grab a quick burger or whatever.

2, I use coupons. Nothing says stretching a dollar like allowing the manufacturer of a product or the grocery store to front the costs for the stuff you're buying. If you do your homework and put some effort into it, you can literally walk in with pocket change and a handful of coupons and walk out with a cart full of groceries. I know, because I've done it! Talk about fun!

3. I reuse Ziploc bags. This may seem a little odd, but I learned this from my grandmother, who always washed them out with hot water and a little bleach. Those little boogers are expensive! Especially the zipper kind (which is what I prefer)! So, why not just wash them out? She also reuses tin pans, butter containers, brown paper bags (she uses them for her trash. Why? I'm not sure. She just always has. I guess because they fit her super old trash container), and bread bags (she stores her fresh popped popcorn in them...tied with a twist tie! lol) and aluminum foil. I've tried reusing foil, but I just gave up. I just rip it all to pieces and get frustrated! lol

4. I stay home. It's easy to stretch out a full tank of today's crazy expensive gas over a week or even two if you just stay home and don't make unnecessary trips. I'm the queen of this. I love to just get out and drive. But I've learned to just keep the car parked and find other things to do besides burn gas running the roads.

5. I cut things in half. Anything that can be cut in half, I rip right down the center (except toilet paper)! For example, baby wipes, paper towels and dryer sheets are just as good most of the time if they're halved (with the exception of baby wipes and a really messy diaper!).

6. I learned to use my freezer. Sure it took 10 years or so of my adult life, but I finally realized that leftovers could go in the freezer and be used later. So, that big pot of spaghetti or veggie soup that we didn't finish could be frozen and eaten again later. I know...DUH!

7. I use cloth napkins. Why waste paper towels at dinner time when a cloth napkin does a better job and can be washed and reused? And I don't wash them after each use either. Of course I do if they get particularly soiled, but for the most part, they do not, so I just reuse them a few times before they go in the wash. Besides, cloth napkins add a little something nice and special to dinner time.

8. I use honey to cleanse my face. This is a new one I'm trying. But I read on a blog recently that honey has all kinds of benefits for your skin, including antiseptic, moisturizing and drying properties. I know, it sounds weird. Moisturizing and drying at the same time? But yes, it does! My skin has been looking so smooth and fresh since I've been using honey. I mean, Cleopatra did it. She full on bathed in honey! And I bet she didn't even know it was a great way to stretch her beauty dollar! To learn more go here.

9. I use water to clean my floor. A lot of flooring manufacturers recommend this anyway, so I'm not sure why I've been using harsh cleansers all these years. And what a waste of money using the Swiffer is! Sure it's convenient and it smells good. I do miss it sometimes. But those bottles of cleanser and the cloths are just ridiculously expensive! So, I've been utilizing water and my steam mop to do my floors and I love it! I also just get on my hands and knees with a rag and clean them. It's a great workout and you can see all the stuff that's hanging out down low that you often miss with a mop.

10. I use less laundry detergent or make my own. A box of laundry detergent come with an ENORMOUS scoop! I've always thought it was too bit. I use half or less of that scoop and my clothes come out just fine. I've also made my own detergent which I like a lot. But I've been getting good deals lately with coupons, which is cheaper than making it myself. 

11. I use newspaper to clean windows and mirrors. I had never heard of this before. But once while I was visiting a friend, she started cleaning her front door glass with Windex and newspaper. And the glass sparkled! She said that her mother always did this to save paper towels (those older ladies are the queens of stretching a dollar!). So, when I have newspaper around, I whip it out and clean windows with it.

12. We drink tap water for the most part. Sure I like a good bottled water like the next person. But it's expensive and the thought of all those bottles going into the trash really bugs me. I keep water in a pitcher in the fridge with some sliced lemon. It tastes great. I know a lot of you would be concerned about the chemicals in tap water, but I am not one of those people. :)

13. We have date nights at home. I believe in date nights as much as the next person. But if it starts to become a burdensome expense because of babysitter expenses and for the cost of dinner or an activity, etc, then I think it can hurt more than help. Since moving to a new town, with no babysitter available, we've learned to make due with snuggles on the couch, watching a good movie or relaxing and talking in the hot tub (our new house came with one!) at night. Talk about stretching your electricity dollar! ha! That's all I'm going to say about that.

14. I don't go to stores or the mall. There's no better way to stretch (or better yet, preserve) your hard earned dollars then to NOT spend it at all! I stay out of clothing stores, toy stores and the mall. I like to shop, don't get me wrong. I mean, please. I am of the female sex! ;) But it's just best if I don't go at all. Because it's inevitable that I will buy something. I even stay away from thrift stores, the Goodwill and yard sales unless I'm looking for something specific, because I easily become enticed by all the cheap stuff that I don't need! However, buying gently used, perfectly good items is a tremendous money saver! I'm currently looking for a working bread machine and CD player/boombox, if you happen to see any. ;)

How do you stretch your dollars? I'd love to learn some of your tips and tricks!

1 comment:

  1. A couple of days ago my 5 year old son was asking me why I threw away a Ziploc bag instead of washing it and reusing it. He said "Remember, Mom, the 3 R's--reduce, reuse recycle". I have taught him well but need to follow my own advice!
    My mother reused bread bags, too, and almost everything else!


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