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.
Here's an easy and cheap way to clean granite counter-tops. Take an old spray bottle and fill it with rubbing alcohol. Keep it by your sink and give it a spray anytime you want to clean your counter-top. Wipe with a paper towel.
Finding a good mechanic
I was new in town. My old Honda Civic needed a new timing belt, but I didn't want to pay dealer prices to have it replaced. How could a find a good reputable mechanic? I stopped at a couple of used car lots and asked who they used. Three of them told me about the same shop, so that's where I went.
Furnishing a student apartment?
Here's a great idea if you're furnishing a student apartment. Most home centers are selling their outdoor furniture at sale prices now that summer's nearly over. Nothing says that you can't use patio furniture in
your apartment living room. If you move out of the apartment next spring, you can take it home for your parent's patio. Everyone wins.
We've become early birds
My boyfriend and I like to eat out at nice restaurants, but we need to keep our spending down. Therefore, we use a couple of tricks to eat out for less. First, we try to catch the early bird specials. We actually enjoy sharing the restaurant with seniors. Next, we often order one full meal and one appetizer. With large portions, that's enough for both of us. Because we're eating early, we don't want dessert at the restaurant. Instead, we generally have something at home later in the evening.
Be a volunteer
Does your town have any festivals? If they do, you should volunteer. Whether it's an art festival, BBQ cook-off or early American festival, if you volunteer, you'll probably get free admission, free food, and an event t-shirt. The work is usually easy and fun. I've served drinks, taken tickets, and handed out fliers. Sometimes I even get a chance to talk with performers that others can't get to.
The label detective
It pays to read labels. You'd think that every bottle of bleach would be the same, but that's not true. Read the labels, and you'll find that some brands are diluted more than others. The same thing is true for other products, especially cleaning products. Don't assume because both brands come in a 16-ounce bottle that you can simply compare the price. Read the label before you choose which one to put in your grocery cart.
Buy like a pro
For cleaning and personal care products, you'll save a lot of money if you buy where the pros do. Find a local janitorial supply for your cleaning products. They have concentrated cleaners at a fraction of the cost that are every bit as good as the advertised brands you find in the grocery store. The same thing is true of your beauty products. Find out where the stylists go for supplies and buy there. You'd be surprised how much you can save.
Once or twice a year, I make a point of checking out our trash. Sometimes what we're throwing out can lead us to savings. For instance, I noticed that there were a lot of paper towels in the trash, so I bought some cheap wash cloths that we keep in the kitchen. Another time I realized that a lot of leftovers were going bad in the fridge and getting thrown out. Therefore, I began to either freeze or have a specific plan on how leftovers would be used. Not sure what I'll find next time, but it's like finding dollar bills in my trashcan.
We were on a camping trip when my son's bike tire started leaking. I didn't have a spare inner tube, so I got creative and covered the puncture with a 2" x 2" piece of duct tape. I made sure the tube was clean, so it stuck. Then I covered that patch with a larger 3" x 3" patch.
I reassembled the tire and it's been holding air for nearly a year now. I had a similar problem with our above ground swimming pool this spring. There was a small hole below the water line. Once again, I cleaned the area well, cut a small
duct tape patch, and applied it with a second larger patch on top. I put it on the inside of the lining, so the water forces the tape against the liner. It's worked fine all summer. They say you can fix anything with duct tape, but who knew it was true?
Older car safety
If your car is more than a few years old, your headlight lenses have probably gotten cloudy, which means you're not seeing as well as you should when driving at night. You can buy a lens cleaning kit, or you can do it yourself. A wet towel and some baking soda is all you need. Sprinkle the baking powder onto the wet hand towel and rub the headlight cover. Avoid the surrounding metal. The baking soda will gently scrub the lens and make it clear again.
Shut up and listen
If you're shopping for a big ticket item (like a fridge or washer/dryer combo), don't talk too much. Let the salesperson know that you're looking for a bargain and tell them any specific needs that you have. Then say as little as possible. Most people hate silence, especially salespeople. They'll start by asking questions about what you want and how you'll use it. If you give them short answers, they'll feel that they need to keep the conversation going. Sometimes they'll walk away, but often they'll mention
that they could throw in free delivery or some other perk.
Why I love older cars
Most of us know that a car loses about 30 percent of its value in the first year or so. Until I bought a three-year-old car and then drove it for 10 years, I didn't have any idea how much I'd save. After the first two years, I had all the payments done. Because the car was less expensive than a new one, I could afford to pay it off quicker. I kept setting aside my payment amount in the third year. That allowed me to increase my deductibles, which lowered my insurance rates. I didn't want to deal with repair bills, so I
bought an extended warranty. I could have gotten by without it. When it got to be about seven years old, I dropped my collision insurance. I've saved enough that when I buy another three-year-old replacement, I'll be able to pay cash for it. No more car payments for me.
Do you have a tip that you’d like to share? Just send your suggestion to Tips@stretcher.com.