Dollar Stretcher: Dishwasher TLC
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Clothes dryer efficiency
Most of us use dryer sheets. Until recently, I didn't realize they left a residue on the lint catcher that attracts lint. This means that I need to clean the lint catcher weekly. If I don't, the dryer takes longer to dry clothes and that costs money.
Hard water was building up on my dishwasher until I started adding a cup of white vinegar to every fourth load. I put a coffee cup face up in the top rack and fill it halfway with vinegar. Then I run a normal cycle. This keeps my dishwasher clean and running fine.
We like to bird watch, and to encourage them, we put out birdseed every day. It was getting expensive until I went to the local farm feed store. They have chicken scratch in 50-pound bags that costs about half what regular birdseed costs. Now we can indulge our feathered friends and not worry about the cost.
Preparing for downsizing
When my mom died and my dad downsized to an assisted living apartment, we taped signs to one empty room's walls with the names of various charities and organizations. As we went through stuff, we placed items under each sign. At the end of each day, the stuff was boxed and labeled with the name
of the group. Once we were done, everything was delivered. We blessed 10 groups with stuff ranging from clothes and canned goods to furniture and office supplies. It felt good and made it easier for my dad to know their stuff was going to good use instead of being dumped somewhere.
Super glue secrets
I use super glue quite a bit because I work with wood, so I get slivers. When I get a sliver, I put a dab of glue on it, let it sit for a while, and then just pull the glue off. The sliver disappears. That being said, I was tired of always having to throw the tube away because it would seal up, and I could never get the top off again. I found if I apply a small amount of petroleum jelly on it, it will open up easier the next time it is used. This saves me a lot of money by not having to buy a new tube all the time. This trick works well on bottles of nail polish as well. Just make sure you don't get it into the actual polish.
Instead of resolutions
Instead of New Year's resolutions, I have a few goals that I'll be working towards this year. Resolutions always seem like an all or nothing deal, but I can reach for my goals as slowly or quickly as I want. For instance, I want to bring my lunch to work. Therefore, I plan on doing it as often as I can until it becomes a habit. Then I'll move on to my next goal, which is clearing the clutter in our house. I have six goals I hope to work on this year.
My exercise plan
I want to get in better shape this year, but I don't have the time or money for a gym. Therefore, I'm going to do more physical work around the house. Last summer, I paid a teenager to cut my grass. This year, I'll do it myself. I'll also look for ways to get extra exercise in my daily routine. For instance, I won't look for the closest parking space. It is better to walk a bit. You get the idea. I know it's not as good as a formal workout, but it's what I can afford.
Clearing out clutter
Looking to clear out odd items lying around the house? Sometimes there are things that just don't seem right for the charity bin. When this happens, I go to Facebook to search for local online yard sales or local "buy nothing" pages. For example, a woman was recently looking for a wooden crate to serve as a bookcase for kids' books. I happened to have such a crate, which I certainly couldn't have given to charity. I have sold or given away CDs, clothing, decor items, and more. Some people use the sites to borrow all sorts of gear for special occasions, too. Be sure to read the group's rules, as they may differ from place to place.
The recycler remodeler
My husband and I bought an old house (1940s) that needs serious remodeling, but our student loans don't leave us much money to pay for updates. We came up with a solution that solves both problems. We started a side gig hauling away materials for people who are remodeling their home. We get paid a fee for the hauling service. We also get to keep anything we want. The extra cash goes towards our student loans. The materials we salvage go towards remodeling our home. It's a win/win situation!
Unaffordable medical bills
Insurance companies pay what is called a "negotiated rate." You can also negotiate a rate with your hospital, other medical facility, or doctor. It's great if you can do this before it is needed, but in the case of an urgent or emergency situation, that's not possible. You can call the health care provider to determine what they pay an insurance company for a treatment, surgery, visit, or drug. You might be astounded to learn that the negotiated rate is far less than what you are expected to pay with cash. Ask for other forms of help if you are simply unable to pay an agreed upon amount each month or in one payment, but push hard to determine what the negotiated rate is before you agree to a payment plan or anything else. The negotiated rate has almost nothing to do with the billed charge. Further, the "allowed amount" is the part of the bill that insurance companies will pay after things like co-pay, deductible, out of pocket, co-insurance, etc. For instance, the hospital may bill $2500 for an MRI, but after all the negotiations and exceptions are done and said, insurance will pay maybe $350. That's a fact! Take advantage of that and press hard to negotiate your own rate.
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