Dollar Stretcher: Stretching your grocery budget
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.
Student auto insurance discounts
If your student is going away to school and won't have a car, you should ask your insurance agent for a discount. They should have an “occasional driver” discount that'll make a big difference.
The sample queen
I love samples! And they're really easy to get online. My favorite blogs list sites offering samples. Sometimes I go to the website of a product I like and use their "contact us" area to ask for a sample. If I get something that I won't use, I give it to the homeless shelter.
Reducing college fees
Colleges have a standard fee that they charge all students. My niece is a part-time student and can't use many of the facilities for which she pays. For instance, the health center closes at 5 p.m. All her classes are night classes. They prorated her bill, which was a real help for someone working her way through school!
Get ahead time
I've changed my Facebook addiction. My tablet was always with me while I was watching TV at night, but I've kicked the habit. Instead of Facebook during commercials, I do something to prepare for the next day like make a sandwich for work or lay out my clothes for the morning. It might not seem like much when I do it, but it sure makes a difference in the morning.
End of year biology lab
Check with your local high school or college to see if they have a lab where they grow plants. At the end of the term, they may want to get rid of them. I've gotten some excellent free plants this way. The schools can't care for them during the summer, and there are too many for the teacher to take home. It is much better than paying lawn and garden center prices!
I don't budget
I hate budgets, but I understand they can provide useful information about my spending habits. Therefore, instead of keeping a budget, I use one cash-back credit card for as many purchases as possible. Each month, I review my statement. I do this to make sure it's correct and to see where I'm spending money. It's not foolproof, but it does give me a pretty good idea if my spending is getting out of control.
Stretching your grocery budget
Here's a way to reduce the cost of feeding your family. Instead of going grocery shopping once a week, try only going four times per month. A few times each month, you'll need to delay by one day. I try not to spend any more than I did when I was shopping weekly. I've found that it's made me more creative, and I don't end up with stuff hidden in the back of my cabinets that's way out of date. It's made me a more creative cook as well!
I know that some neighborhoods share garden and DIY tools, but we go a step further. There are six of us that contact everyone if we're going to rent anything (like a carpet cleaner or post hole digger) or if we're hiring a contractor (like a painter or roofer). More than once, we've managed to share an expense and save money. We've also become much better neighbors!
A simple wedding
If you can't afford an expensive wedding, do what we did. Last year, we got married in a church with the reception at the fellowship hall. If you don't belong to a church, find a hall to rent. We had the ceremony in the evening (7 p.m.) and had a dessert buffet after the service. To keep the costs of the desserts down, my friend works at a bakery and got us a deal, but you could even buy them at a big box store if you wanted. We had all the advantages of a big wedding with none of the headaches.
Car wash scam
I like to keep my car looking good. Therefore, I take it through the car wash regularly, but I never pay for their wax ($4 extra!). No matter what they call it, there's no way that something that's sprayed on and then rinsed off can do much to protect your paint. Any product that won't streak your windows or stain your rubber or vinyl trim can't be worth much. Instead, I have a detailer hand wax my car once per year. It's less expensive than repeatedly doing the car wash thing, and my cars always look like new.
Do you have a tip that you’d like to share? Just send your suggestion to Tips@stretcher.com.