Dollar Stretcher: ATM withdrawals; where did the cash go?

Marco Eagle

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Kitchen trick

Want to wash your veggies without using one of those expensive cleaners? Fill your sink with water. Add four tablespoons of salt. Let the produce sit in the salt water for 10 minutes or more.


Spice shopping

If you cook, you use spices, and they can get costly. Next time you need to buy a spice, first check the foreign food section of your grocery store. Some ethnic brand spices are priced much less than the domestic brands.


Where did it go?

If you find yourself visiting the ATM for cash often, do what I did. I started writing anything that I bought with the cash on the back of the ATM slip. Just the simple fact of writing it down caused me to skip some purchases. I still visit the ATM, but not nearly as often.


The cost of using an out-of-network ATM machine continues to rise.

Your property taxes

I decided to question my property taxes last year. I felt that they had too high a value on my house. I checked the county online records to see what other similar houses showed. I also looked for recent sales of houses similar to mine. I took the data to the property appraiser's office. They didn't want to make an adjustment at first until I asked for a hearing date. Then they adjusted my value down by $45k. Not bad for a few hours work.


Cooking for one

When my husband died, I quit doing a lot of things, including cooking. It just didn't seem worthwhile to cook for just myself. After a few months of junk food and skipping meals, I realized that I needed to do something different. Therefore, I began to cook my regular recipes that served four. I divide the meat, veggies, etc. into meal sized portions and freeze them. With the microwave's help, I have four meals on one preparation. I still miss my husband, but at least, I'm eating better.


Online shopping control

I love to online window shop. I love it so much that it was adding to my credit card balance. Then I made up some rules for myself. I use one browser (Firefox) only when I shop online. If I see something I want, I can't buy it then. I must leave the tab open for at least 24 hours. Then I can come back and complete the purchase if I really want it. Most of the time, I just close the tab. I do miss out on some specials, but it's the only way I could control my shopping.


Second marriage finances

My husband and I are both on our second marriage and both have kids from the first. When we got married, we worked out an arrangement where we both contributed to household expenses like the mortgage, food, etc. However, on things that were unique to our kids (clothes, child support, college), we each were responsible for our own kids. We'll celebrate our 11th anniversary soon, and it's worked out well for us. We rarely disagree about money and have been able to work out anything that we might have fought over.


Part-time income

I've found a way to generate some part-time income while I control the schedule. I watch for local special events. I look for anything from drag races to the county fair. I can usually find contact information. I ask if they need any help for their event. I've taken tickets, guided parking, sold water, etc. It's usually only for a couple of days, but the work isn't hard and the money is a huge help.


The anniversary hunt

We've been married over 25 years. We've had good and bad times money wise. One year, when we couldn't afford fancy anniversary gifts, we created something that we call the anniversary game. We set a limit on how much can be spent. During the first year, it was $10. In better times, it's been as high as $25. The gift can be new or used, as long as it's something that is special to the receiver. Then we each hide the gift somewhere in the house. The receiver can ask questions and move around the house getting "hotter" or "colder." It might not seem like much, but finding a gift that's special with a limited budget can be a real test of love.



Our apartment complex has a "sharing" table in the laundry room. People leave anything that's usable, but they don't need anymore. You'll often see clothes (both kids and adults) and small household items. It is the kind of thing that you might otherwise give to a thrift shop. Nothing seems to stay very long, so we must be doing our part for recycling. It works so well that I'm getting one set up at my church, too!


Cheap tires

I ran over a curb and needed a new tire and wheel. I didn't have the money for a new tire and didn't want to charge it either. Therefore, I went to an auto junkyard. I bought a used wheel and tire from a car that had been totaled. It cost less than the wheel alone would have cost new.


Finishing a basement

We needed an extra room, but we couldn't afford to add on or move. We found the solution in our basement once we bought a dehumidifier. Instead of seeming damp and moldy all the time, now it's just like another room! We've started hanging some drywall and should have it all done before winter.


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