Dollar Stretcher: Kitchen too dark?

Marco Eagle

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Kitchen too dark?

If your kitchen is too dark, try this. Add some under-cabinet lighting. We found some online for cheap. It was a fairly easy DIY install. Not only does it provide needed light over countertop work areas, but it also makes the kitchen seem much lighter and open.


File: Under-cabinet lighting makes the backsplash shine.

Pre-teen financial training

I wanted to teach my twin girls about how to shop, but I didn't think they were ready for a clothing allowance. Therefore, I decided to allow them to buy their own hygiene products like shampoo, conditioner, acne medicine, etc. They can't make a big mistake and what they're learning now will be really big for them later.


Heavy duty kitchen cleaner

With a big family, our kitchen gets a workout. To make cleaning easier, I like really good products. Instead of buying the stuff they have at the grocery store, I go to a restaurant/janitorial supply store. They have concentrated cleaners that cost much less and are stronger than the national brands. They are easier to use, and this saves me money. What's not to like?


My insurance plan

Our insurance bills really add up. Between medical, homeowners, auto and life insurance, it seems like we're always looking at a big bill. Two years ago, I totaled them all up. I decided to put 1/12th of that total into a separate account each month. That way, I have most, if not all, of the bill saved. I actually added 10 percent to the total, figuring that some bills (like health insurance) would increase. This year, I'm going to make a real effort to shop to get the best deals.


Midday meditation

I hate spending money on my work days. Instead of going out to lunch, I spend my lunch break in my car, and I love it! The night before I set out some snack foods and I pack leftovers or a sandwich for lunch. In the morning, I use a travel mug or two and pour a big cup of coffee and/or tea.
I keep it sealed up and it is hot and delightful at lunchtime. I sit in my car with my music or (free) podcast or even a meditation app and eat my snacks and enjoy my time. As I head back to work, I make sure to throw out the trash. Having a little "me time" during the day refreshes me and gets me through the day, and not spending money during my break gets me closer to my goals.

Jennifer T.

Social gardening

It's still winter here in Ohio, but I'm already thinking about my garden. It is part of my way to cope with winter. Around mid-February, I start checking out my favorite gardening sites and boards. I get into discussions on what we'll all be growing this year. I've also met some local gardeners and traded seeds. We plan on swapping some produce later this year. There may still be snow on the ground, but my heart is already in springtime.


Can I afford ...

I don't like to carry a credit card balance. The interest rate seems so unfair. One way I avoid that is to delay purchases until I get my credit card bill paid in full. I bookmark or shopping cart online items that I'd like to buy, but I don't checkout. Then when my credit card is paid, I let myself spend a little. It's been a year since I couldn't pay my whole credit card bill. I like my new system.


Car dealer doubletalk

One way that car dealers get you is on the price of the loan. They get you to say how much you can afford each month on a car payment. Then they work backward from that and the price of the car to figure out an interest rate.
Often it's higher than what you could get from an outside lender. You'll do best to shop for a loan before you shop for a car. Take that interest rate into the dealer and see if they can beat it. They want to talk about the amount you can afford. You need to talk about the interest rate on the loan.


Household touch-up kit

I learned this from a friend who installs and repairs tile. He uses nail polish to hide small chips and cracks. He says he can always find a color to match. I took his idea and even used it to hide some scratches on a wall. I didn't have any leftover paint and didn't want to buy a quart for touch-up. I found some nail polish that was a good match. There was no mark after I was done.


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