Dollar Stretcher: Granite counter cleanser
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When I am cooking with hamburger meat, I always make sure that I save enough out to make one hamburger patty that I can freeze for later. In no time, I have several frozen for a quick and easy meal.
Granite counter cleanser
You can make your own granite counter cleanser. Just mix rubbing alcohol and water in equal parts. Add one ounce of dishwashing liquid to a 10- or 12-ounce bottle of the mixture. There you have it for only pennies!
DIY 'user fees'
Do you hate paying so-called user fees? I do! I decided to turn it around. Each time I start my car, I put $1 in the armrest container. It doesn’t seem like much, but it's been enough to pay for gas and a little more. I’m hoping to have enough saved up for my next oil change.
Credit safety first
The first thing I do when I receive a new credit card is to make a copy of the front and back. That way, if it's ever lost or stolen, I know who to call and have all the needed information. I have a special hiding place where I keep the copies. If I ever need them, I won’t be wasting valuable time searching for card numbers.
Cheaper gift bags
I buy all my gift bags at the grocery store. I buy the reusable grocery bags. I find them for $1 each and choose ones with flowers or other pretty designs. Sometimes you can find holiday themed bags right after the holidays on clearance. Not only are they cheaper than the paper bags you’d buy, but also they’re strong and can be used over and over.
Turn the menu around
We enjoy hosting small dinner parties. I used to choose a menu and then check the sales ads for the ingredients I needed. Then it dawned on me that I was doing it backwards. Now, I start with the ads and look for good sales. Then I search for recipes that use the sale items. I've saved money and also get to experiment with new recipes. They're not all great, but my guests enjoy the adventure of trying something new.
Short term goals
Each month, I play a game with myself. I choose a goal for the month like bringing my lunch to work every day. Then I decide what an appropriate reward would be if I make my goal, such as $25 to spend on anything I want. Obviously, the reward needs to be less than the savings from the goal. I’ve found that with a reward and a short period of time, I can get myself to do things that I might otherwise fail at.
Preparing for retirement
A big part of preparing for retirement is knowing how finances will work. I don't want to assume that I'll have enough money for my lifestyle, so I'm creating a retirement budget and an income plan. For the budget, I'm estimating how my current expenses will change when I retire. Some things like clothes for work will go down. Others like travel will go up. I'm also looking at whether my Social Security and income from my 401k and IRA will be enough to cover the expected budget expenses. If I start now and see a problem, I still have a few years to fix it, but so far, it looks like I'll be fine.
Not only do we check our finances at the end of the year, but we also do a mid-year check-up. I take a look at our expenses and notice anything out of the ordinary that might need attention. Last year, I noticed that our water bill had been creeping up. It turned out that we had a leak we didn't know
about. I hope I don't find anything like that this year, but you never know.
Beautify your yard
If you are trying to save money but still want to have a nice looking yard, consider waiting until this time of the year to purchase your perennials. They are usually all on sale now for half off or more. You can have beautiful gardens with plants that you only have to pay for once. They will come up year after year for your pleasure. The trick is to make sure you give them attention and water.
DIY A/C maintenance
Besides cleaning your air filters, there are some other simple tasks that will keep your A/C unit running well and help avoid service calls. Make sure that the outside compressor isn’t buried in plant growth. It needs circulating air to work properly. If possible, keep it in the shade. Finally, add a little bleach to the lines that carry condensation outdoors. You should find a place on the line near the air handler designed for this. These simple steps can reduce the cost of keeping your house cool this summer.
Cooking with a solar oven
In the summer, I don’t want to heat up the house cooking, so I have an outdoor kitchen. I use a solar oven. I bought two of them on eBay at very good prices. After the purchase cost, the rest is free. A solar oven uses only the sun to cook. I have cooked so many things in mine. The food always comes out very good. If you can cast a shadow, you can use your solar oven. You can even cook in the cold. If you want to know more about solar ovens, go to YouTube to check them out. You can make one, but I chose to buy them. I wanted to make sure my food was properly cooked. A trip to the ER is not my idea of a fun time. Each has pros and cons, and you will have to learn how to cook in them as they cook like a slow cooker. Do your research. You may have to wait a while, but you will eventually find one in your price
range. I believe you will find it worth the wait.
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