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Want to live better on the money you already make? Visit stretcher.com to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

Affordable skincare

You don't need expensive scrubs to have a glowing complexion. You can do what my dermatologist suggested to me. Three times a week, I wash my face with my normal liquid soap with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed in. It's gentle and inexpensive. My skin looks great! My boyfriend thinks so, too!

Nicole

Overly long showers?

I love a long, hot shower! It feels so good that sometimes I forget about how long I've been in the shower. Then I decided to put a timer on the light switch. I can set it for 5 or 10 minutes. When the light goes out, I know it's time to dry off and get going!

Rudy

Custom blends

I think that spices are a wonderful way to add interest to meals. I like all kinds of rubs and spice combinations, but rather than buy them at the grocery store, I make my own. In fact, some are so good that my friends ask me for them. If this keeps up, I'm thinking of turning it into a side gig!

Kara

More: Dollar Stretcher: Summer dryer maintenance

Motivating the cook

Most family cooks get tired after years of making sure there's dinner every night for the family. Here's how I keep motivated. For each dinner I make, I estimate how much we saved by not going to a restaurant or bringing in takeout. At the end of the month, I total the savings; 10 percent goes into our
emergency fund. I put another 10 percent into an account that I use to treat myself! I figure that's a small reward for all the money I'm saving my family!

Candy

Before you hire a contractor

Everyone knows to get three bids before having any major work done on a home, but something else you need to do is check with your city or county to find out if there are any permits required and how much they cost for the work you're doing. I had one bidder include a $400 permit fee for a permit that I knew only cost $95. I know that it takes time to get the permit, but that's a lot of money for a trip to the county offices. I decided to go with a different contractor.

Billy

Out from under a payday loan

If you're stuck in a payday or other high interest loan, you might want to try this. It worked for me. I had a $350 payday loan, and I rolled it over for six weeks. I didn't have the money to pay it off, but then I had an idea. I called the bank that held my auto loan and asked if they would allow me to delay one payment. They agreed. I used that money to repay the payday loan. I am not sure if it'll work for you, but it's worth a try!

Tammi

Rental car rates

Here's something I found that reduced the cost of a rental car. Instead of prepaying for a small discount, give yourself the chance to change at the last minute. This is especially true if you're flexible about the rental car and company. I used AutoSlash.com to help monitor what was available. Unless you're traveling on a holiday weekend or to a really popular destination, there's a good chance that one company or another will have extra cars and drop their daily rates. AutoSlash will send you an email
when that happens, so you can change your reservation. Another way to find the best rate is to call each rental company when your plane lands to ask for their best deal. If they have too many cars on the lot, they may give you a better price.

Jules

Great steaks

A great steak is a real treat! Steakhouse prices, however, are out of our reach, so my wife and I studied up and now we do our own steaks. First, we buy a good cut of meat. I go to the butcher shop and talk with the butcher. He's taught me to buy the choice cuts that are well marbled with fat (that provides flavor) and he cuts one a little thicker than normal. I take the steak home and salt it heavily on both sides. Then I let it sit in the fridge for three days uncovered. It'll dry out a bit and shrink. That condenses its flavor. Before cooking it, I shave a real thin layer from the outside. With a little dusting of pepper, it goes on the grill or under the broiler. At first, I want to use real high heat to sear it and seal in the juices. To test if it's done, I just push my finger into it. It should give a little and spring right back. Never cut it with a knife to look. That allows all the juices to escape. Finally after it's done, I put a little melted butter on it and let it sit for about 15 minutes before serving. It's a little work, but I like my steaks better than anything I could get at a steakhouse at any price!

Rob

Handy USB port

Most hotel TVs have a USB Port on the back that you can utilize for your own electronic devices. Home TVs have this USB port also.

Janet
 

A/C efficiency

I made a simple cover for my air conditioner out of PVC pipe and a thermal blanket. I made it so that it's about two feet bigger than the air conditioner and it's about two feet higher. The sun bounces off the thermal blanket and the blanket shades the unit. It took less than an hour to make and cost less than $5. If what I've read is right, I should save about 10 percent on electric bill.

Lynn

Time is money

Everyone's heard that time is money, but I think that money is time. Before I make a purchase, I do a rough estimate of how long I'll have to work to earn that money. I'm hoping to retire early, so anything I spend moves my retirement date back just a little.

Greg

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