Dollar Stretcher: Cutting back by sharing expenses
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My neighbor and I share a lawnmower. Because we shared the cost, we were able to buy a better mower. We’ve been sharing for two years. Since we bought the mower together, we've also bought a weed eater and a leaf blower. It’s not a huge savings, but why spend money when you don’t have to?
If you have some really tough cleaning to do, visit your auto parts store. They have cleaners like Fast Orange(r) and GoJo(r) that are made to handle grease and grime. We had a rental house, and when the tenants moved out, the bathroom was disgusting! The Fast Orange(r) had it sparkling in no time.
Don't microwave it
Maybe I'm overreacting, but I try to avoid microwave ovens as much as possible. When I have something to reheat, I use a large stainless steel cooking pot with a strainer insert and steam it. Most foods reheat fine. A few things get too moist, but that's rare. I feel better knowing that I'm not doing strange things with the food my family eats.
We just moved into a brand-new house, and we have a brand new yard without any landscaping. We didn't want to buy very small trees and bushes, but we also couldn't afford the bigger, more expensive ones. Then my husband had an idea. We both spread the word where we work that we were looking for landscaping plants, and if anyone had some that they were removing, we'd take them. So far, we've gotten two trees for the front yard and one for the back and a couple of bushes for near the house. We have also planted some small plants that we bought. At least, our yard won't look empty until they grow up.
Why I'm a part-time student
Colleges offer a lot of extras for students like fancy gyms, low-cost entertainment, discounts plans, etc. Therefore, my wife and I decided to audit at least one class a semester. We pick something that we like that meets one evening a week. Since we're auditing, it's not a big deal if we miss a class. We do pay for the class, but we get all the extras for free. It's like joining a regular gym and getting all kinds of other benefits.
I work in an office with a business casual dress code. I have developed a work "uniform" that consists of only dress black pants and button-up blouses of various solid colors. I wear only black shoes and black socks. All items are no-iron, wash-and-wear items. I have two cardigans and several scarves, as well as some simple jewelry to dress up the outfits. This saves me time when getting dressed, and every item is appropriate for the office. It also saves me money because dry cleaning is not necessary, and I only buy new work clothes when an item needs to be replaced.
Better dog beds
I got tired of the dog bed for my two small dogs disintegrating after being washed a few times. My husband cut down an old laundry container (about the size of a kitchen garbage container) to approximately 12- to 15-inches high and then cut an opening along one side for the pups to enter the bed. I lined it with old soft towels and blankets. Now I just wipe it out and wash and replace the bedding each week. It is easy to keep clean, and it will last forever. My little guys love it.
I was in a laundromat a few days ago and was looking through a stack of reading material that other patrons had gladly brought along for folks to enjoy. In the stack of reading material, there was a women's clothing catalog. The person that had brought it to the laundromat had crossed out her name and address on the back of the catalog, but she had failed to mark it out on the order form on the inside of the catalog. Those who receive such mail should either remove the order blanks and shred them up or remember to mark out their name and address on these as well. Most people I know have credit cards attached to these catalogs, and there could be a risk of identity theft and or having credit card charges that the person who had the catalog in the first place did not make.
Finding furniture bargains
As one who drastically downsized her household in order to live in a tiny apartment while house hunting and whose retirement income just pays the bills, let me offer how I've furnished my small house. I am blessed to have a car and time to shop in the nearby high-dollar urban area. Also, I have the patience to wait for what matters to me, which is all wood furniture in styles that fit into my home. Thrift store shopping keeps me busy, especially on Tuesdays and first Saturdays when I get discounts or sale prices.
I had my grandmother's round oak dining table but no chairs. I found a set of four in a thrift store for $40. There was no dresser for my bedroom, but now there is for less than $20. It does need to have its paint refreshed, and I'll give it different drawer knobs. The side table with two drawers and a long shelf in my dining area is in less than perfect condition, but for about $15, I can give it a bit more "distressing." There are two sturdy and attractive bookcases for less than $20 each. There's a nice sturdy chair for my sewing table for $6. Now I'm on the lookout for a demi lune table, a small, pretty rocker, and two swivel bar stools.
Spring car care
I hope that we’ve seen the last of snow for the year. Every spring I make sure that my car gets a good spring cleaning both inside and out. Not only does that help keep my car looking good, but it also makes me feel like it is springtime. It is time to start thinking about all those great summer activities.
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