Dollar Stretcher: Natural snake protection
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I love to enter contests. I don't bother with the big ones that have thousands of entries. Rather I enter the ones on my local radio station like the "10th caller wins ... " I also look for contests or surveys on the
bottom of my receipts. They only take a minute or two to enter, and I'm surprised how often I win a gift card or free product.
My husband and I have crazy work schedules. We're rarely home for dinner at the same time, so making a regular meal is hard. I've learned to make personalized meals. Instead of making a regular meatloaf, I use a muffin tin to make personalized, tiny meatloaves! They freeze well, and after a quick heat-up in the microwave, dinner for one is ready. I do similar things with lasagna and other dishes. Until I started making personalized meals, we were both eating a lot of junk food. We're saving money and our waistlines!
Natural snake protection
Here in Florida, we have a lot of snakes. One way to keep them away from your house is to spread lime around the outside of your house. Somehow it's hard on the snakes' skin, so they avoid it. You can buy bags of lime at the local home center or feed and seed store. Pets and kids won't be harmed if they walk on grass treated with lime. It is an easy way to keep snakes off your property!
Each time the seasons change, I update my wardrobe. For instance, this year I'll begin by getting rid of things that I haven't worn all winter. If I didn't wear them this year, it's not likely I'll wear them next winter. Any clothes that need dry cleaning or repair will get what they need before I put them away for the summer. I'll also note anything that I'll need next winter and try to find an end-of-season sale or someone selling on Craigslist. When I take out my spring and summer clothes, I'll have a wardrobe that's ready to wear. I like to buy a few bright accessories each season. It could be a belt, scarf, handbag, or necklace. I want it be something that people will notice about my outfit.
Pamela G. in Dallas, TX
Before your car trip
We're planning a two week car trip vacation this summer. Our eight-year-old van is probably too old to make the trip. Plus, it doesn't have some of the conveniences like satellite radio. We were thinking of shopping for a new van until we saw the prices. Instead, we're going to rent a minivan for the trip. We can rent one for about what two car payments would be. Sure, it's expensive, but we really don't want to sign up for years of car payments. This is especially true since our own van is fine for another few years.
I was redoing our dining room. It was nothing major, just a little paint, etc. One thing I did after painting was add a wallpaper border. It added a little color to the room. The chandelier was beginning to look its age. I was shopping for a replacement when I realized that I could paint the old one a color that matched the new border. A little sandpaper and a can of spray paint did the trick. The room came together beautifully!
We wanted to buy our first house, but it looked like we were priced out of the market. We looked at smaller homes but even they were expensive. Then we got the idea of buying a bigger house and renting out the extra rooms. We bought a 2100 square foot, 3-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath home. Both of the extra bedrooms are rented out. We were very careful in deciding who to rent to. We did background checks and asked for and talked to referrals. We set out rules for cleaning and using common areas like the kitchen. It's a little like being in college again, but it got us into a house that we love and couldn't afford otherwise. When we're ready to start a family, we can reclaim the bedrooms and stay in the house we love.
There were two things I wanted in 2018. I wanted a new tablet and to get some regular exercise. Here's how I paired the two up. I've been taking walks (about two miles) three or four times a week. Each time I do, I add $2 to an account that's for my new tablet. The one I wanted was kind of expensive, but I'm getting close to my goal. Now I just need to watch for a sale!
Each month, I take an hour to review all my credit card and bank statements. I look for any errors or monthly services that I no longer use and can cancel. I've also found charges that I did not approve. Looking at each bill also makes me aware of where my money is going. Instead of just disappearing into thin air, I can see those smaller expenses that add up like my $3 afternoon coffee break habit. I don't eliminate all those little pleasantries, but at least I can make an informed decision.
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