Dollar Stretcher: Clothes dryer efficiency

Marco Eagle

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Summer flea control

If your dog spends time outdoors, it’s hard to keep him free of fleas, especially if you keep a chemical free home. We've found a solution that works for us. We planted pennyroyal around our yard and put cedar shavings in the dog house.


Clothes dryer efficiency

Here’s what all those cycles on your dryer actually do

A clothes dryer can use a lot of electricity, so I take out the lint screen once a month to give it a good cleaning. I don’t just take away any lint. I soak it in hot dishwater and then scrub it with an old toothbrush. Since I started doing this, I’ve cut my drying time by about a third!


Reducing the cost of vacation meals

We’re renting a condo in the mountains for a week this summer. To keep the cost of food down, we want to eat at the condo most days. Last year, we did that and I spent most of my time in the kitchen. Some vacation! This year, I’m doubling up on some recipes and freezing half. I’ll take these freezer
meals along and have quick, easy meals to serve my family.


Pool repair

If you have an above-ground pool or other inflatables, you expect to deal with some rips during the summer. I got tired of paying $10 for a pool repair kit that consisted of a piece of vinyl and some glue, so I went to my local craft store. I bought some clear vinyl and repair adhesive for $4 total! I can now patch my pool and any of the kids' summer inflatable toys.


I hate social media

I’m so over people showing off on social media. I really don’t want to see pictures of their new furniture or from their weekend getaway! This is especially true since I’m trying to pay off student loans. To help me feel better, I made up a game. When I see a picture like that, I estimate what it cost them. Sometimes I even picture that amount being added to a credit card balance. Then I congratulate myself for not spending the money.


Lowering lawn care costs

If you’re tired of spending your time and money on grass, consider adding more plants and ground cover. When we bought it, our house was surrounded by grass that needed fertilizing and cutting all the time. Gradually we added bushes and plants like English ivy. We’re down to a small patch of grass and love the fact that we don’t have to spend time caring for it. As an added bonus, our yard is unique and the neighbors admire the colors from our flowering bushes.


Say ‘no’ to auto payments

It’s convenient to let auto payments pay my bills, but when money in my checking account earns nothing and the balance on my credit card costs me 17 percent, it doesn’t make sense to leave money sitting in checking. Therefore, any time I have some extra money in checking, I make a small payment
towards my credit card balance. The interest I owe is calculated daily, so even $100 a few days early makes a difference. It also helps to know that I’m being aggressive in paying down debt.


Beware the HELOC

Two years ago, we used a home equity line of credit to pay for a kitchen remodel. It turned out great! We love our new kitchen, but we haven’t managed to pay off the debt. We’re working on rolling the line of credit into a mortgage refinance. I expect rates to go up, which would increase the cost of the line of credit. Therefore, now is the perfect time to lock in the rate.


Your garage or basement

I wanted cabinets in my garage, but I couldn’t afford new ones that were solid enough to not fall apart in a few years. Therefore, I went to one of those home repair apps and contacted some contractors. I asked if they ever removed kitchen cabinets. I offered to buy them, but I was offered them for free because one of the contractors didn’t want to pay the dumping fee. The cabinets are an old style, but they’re solid and just what I need for my tools and supplies. And, they didn’t cost me a dime!


Free firewood

Summer is tree trimming time. When any of our neighbors have a tree trimmed, I ask if we can have the wood. If they have a professional, I offer to pay any extra to have the wood cut into fireplace sized pieces. Most don't charge extra because they’re happy not to have to pay the dump charge. If it’s green, I have enough space to let it dry out. Last winter, I didn’t spend a dime on firewood!


Cutting food waste

One way to cut your food bill is to buy and cook larger batches, but that means using your freezer more. There’s nothing worse than taking something from the freezer to find it’s covered with ice crystals and ruined. Therefore, I’ve made an effort to combat freezer burn. The main culprit is air! I do everything I can to pack anything going into the freezer in an air tight container. I use a lot of clear wrap and also use a straw to suck the air out of freezer bags before I seal them. I’ve found that a minute or two carefully wrapping can help cut food waste.


Another kitchen savings tip

Another way to save in the kitchen is to make sure that your appliances are running efficiently. I’ve read that the fridge is a major electricity user, so I want mine to be in great shape. I’ve also heard that dirty coils make it work harder, so every couple of months, I vacuum the coils under my fridge. They can be hard to get at, but I do what I can. It only takes a minute.


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