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.
A different yard sale
I like to keep my lawn looking good, which means regular applications of fertilizer. I always look for torn bags. Most garden centers are happy to get rid of them and almost give them away. Any that spills on the way home can easily be washed out of my pickup.
Most Baby Boomers don't think of themselves as "seniors," but in many cases, they do qualify for senior discounts. Whether at a museum, movie, restaurant, hotel or shopping for auto insurance, boomers should be sure to ask about senior discounts. Usually it's not a big amount, but it all adds up over the years.
Next time I buy ...
I don't always find the best prices on items at the same store, and I don't always remember where I bought things that I don't buy frequently, such as vitamins. I've started using a permanent marker to write the store and price on the item, so I know where to go when I need it again. If I see it somewhere else for less, I can pick it up there instead.
Lorraine in NH
Hardcover book savings
I love to read best sellers when they first come out, but hardcover books can get really expensive. My library gets them, but I could wait months for my turn. Now I just wait a couple of weeks and look for used copies on Amazon. They're just like new and generally about half of full price. Better still, I resell them when I'm finished for nearly as much as I paid!
The gift card double dip
Our local Kroger store sometimes offers 4X the gas points of the purchase price of the card (redeemable off gas purchases at their station). We purchase cards during these promotions, pay using a credit card that gives us two-percent cash back (paid in full each month). We purchase gift cards only for stores or restaurants we routinely go to or we know the recipient will use. We don't purchase any cards that have a fee to purchase, such as pre-paid credit cards. By "double dipping" on the 4X points and two-percent back, it's a win-win.
Water your veggies
If your veggies start to wilt before you have a chance to use them, put them in a cup of water like you would with cut flowers. They just might come back to life and give you more time to chop and eat those nutrients. This works well with chard and celery, but I bet it would work with other veggies. The most expensive food you buy is food you throw away, so use it up.
Jennifer in Aptos, CA
We're fortunate to be able to take a vacation each year. We don't want our kids to take things for granted, so we have created a vacation tradition. Each year before we go away, we make a shopping run just like we were going to be home. We deliver the food to our local food pantry for those who need
some help. Because we do it right before going away, the kids are reminded how good they have things. Hopefully, it's a lesson they'll remember the rest of their lives.
My daughter's designer decision
Like so many teens, my daughter wanted designer label clothing. I refuse to pay for someone's overpriced name and buy most of my clothes at thrift stores. Instead of arguing with my daughter (who ever really won an argument with a teenager?), I made a deal with her. I'd give her thrift store money and she could spend it as she liked. If she needed more, she could earn it. To my surprise, she started shopping thrift stores but looked for the designer labels there. It's worked out so well that I'm going to do the same thing when our youngest turns teen.
During the school year, my kids buy lunch at school most days, but in the summer, they have lunch at home every day. To keep my lunch meat bill affordable, I make a whole roast, turkey breast, or ham and slice it myself. It's about half what I'd pay per pound at the deli counter. It's so easy that I'm thinking I might send them to school with sandwiches. That would be a double savings!
Can't touch savings plan
Many people probably have a place where they keep change and turn it into the bank for an emergency fund. I found that at the end of the month, I'd hit mine for a few dollars. Then I came up with a solution. I took a two-liter soda bottle and cut a slot in the side. After I glued the cap on, I began to use it for my spare change. The only way to get at the money is to cut open the bottle. I do that about every three months when I take it to the bank. It's working so well that I think I'm going to start adding singles to my soda bank. Then what I save will really add up quick!
For one- or two-person households, it still pays to buy the family size packages of ground beef on sale. I used to divide the raw meat into patties and amounts for casseroles, tacos, etc. and put it in the freezer. I found an even better way to save money. Now I cook all the meat the same day I buy it. I form some into patties and keep the rest crumbled. It saves both time and money. The stove doesn't have to be turned on for each meal, and it makes getting a meal together fast. All the crumbles go into one baggie in the freezer, and I can take out what I need for a couple of tacos or whatever is needed for that meal. Depending on what I am making, it can be thawed or added to the other ingredients and cooked. This saves me from heating up the kitchen in the summer, too.
Do you have a tip that you’d like to share? Just send your suggestion to Tips@stretcher.com.