Dollar Stretcher: Knowledge is savings
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Are you the one?
I've made it a habit of asking for discounts whenever I can. I've also noticed that many people will turn you down automatically, but if you ask them if there's someone who could approve a discount, they'll bring over a manager. So I ask! Often the manager will approve the discount I want.
The 2-minute grilled burger
When my husband grills out, usually hamburgers and hot dogs, he makes enough to fill the grill. Whatever we have leftover (usually much more than we eat), we freeze. I work at home, so I just pop a frozen burger in the microwave and have a delicious grilled burger without making more mess. This comes in handy in the summer months when our teenage son is home. Not only do we save time grilling, but we also save on propane.
If you've ever worked in advertising, you know that the pictures used are selected for a reason. They're often used online to attract your eyes and get attention. Once they have your attention (online or in print), they want to elicit an emotion from you. If you're not looking for it, you'll miss it, but the ads will often put you into a fear or feeling good mode. Pictures can also be used to condition you to larger helping sizes or using more of a product like detergent or toothpaste. If you want to have some fun, pay attention to the pictures that you see in ads. You'll learn a lot about the product and yourself.
Shuffle the cards
My husband and I both have the same credit cards. To protect ourselves when we travel, we each have at least one card that the other person isn't taking with. For instance, my husband might leave our MasterCard at home. I'll leave the Discover card. That way, if we lose our wallet or somehow a card gets compromised, we still have a card that we can use to get home safely. We've never had to use this, but it's good to know that we could if necessary. I'd hate to be stuck in a strange city with nothing but the cash in my purse.
Knowledge is savings
Many things that are still high quality are much cheaper at a dollar store, and I check there first on any of my purchases. However, many things are not cheaper. For instance, at Aldi and Walmart, I pay $.79 for tuna, $.89 for sardines, and approximately $.45 for canned vegetables. This is not a big difference if you are only buying one or two of these items, but when you are buying a dozen or more of each at each shopping trip, it adds up fast. This is just a sampling. On the flip side, I wouldn't buy my gift bags, tissue paper, pocket tissues, reading glasses, socks, or many other items anywhere else. It's important to know your prices.
Stock up during holidays. I am certain I save hundreds of dollars every year by paying attention to grocery ads. For instance, the week before Thanksgiving, some stores run canned vegetables and chicken broth for three cans for a dollar. That's almost 70 percent off the regular cost. It's worth it to
go to multiple stores to buy the limit, and my canned food pantry is usually fairly well stocked until the following summer. At Christmas, baking goods are dirt cheap, and both flour and butter can easily be
frozen. The summer holidays are the time to stock up on condiments, ground beef, hot dogs (yes, you can freeze hot dogs), charcoal, napkins, and paper plates. I've also caught great prices on corned beef after St Pat's, hams after Easter, etc. If you have a sweet tooth, after Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter, you will find stores practically giving away remaining candy. All of this is very freezable and much less expensive than the prices that stores normally charge. Since there are celebrations
involving food just about every month of the year, a little planning can go a long way in helping you keep your pantries and freezers well stocked at huge savings.
Ali in Mesa, AZ
Mini garden greenhouses
Something kept chewing on some of my seedlings as soon as they emerged and were about an inch high. I kept replanting the seeds and the same would happen again. I finally had an idea. I save most of my nicer glass jars with straight sides and wide openings that some foods come in, mainly peanut butter. They are also great for storing sunflower seeds, flax seeds, shelled nuts, rice, etc. Anyway, back to the point of this tip, I placed the jars over the emerging seedlings and twisted them around a bit, so the
rims went under the earth by about half of an inch. Happily, the seedlings grew quite a bit in one or two days and weren't chewed off. It's been three days since I placed the jars over them and they have already grown so much that the leaves are touching the top of the jars (about six inches high). I think the jars were acting like miniature greenhouses since they grew so quickly. I think that is amazing growth from barely breaking through the ground to six inches in three days! Just to be sure they don't get chewed off since I will have to remove the jars today, I'll try putting popsicle sticks or toothpicks really close to and around the stems and hope that helps keep them safe.
Carolyn from NC
My veggie plan
I no longer buy pre-washed packaged greens and precut carrots, etc. Not only are they more expensive due to the labor involved to wash and package, but they also are not as fresh due to the time the preparations take. For just the two of us, I almost always had to throw away uneaten slimy greens/veggies after picking through them to salvage what I could.
Now I only buy fresh lettuce and vegetables. However, all the grocery stores spray the vegetables in the wall cases and they are always damp. In order to extend the refrigerator life of all the fresh vegetables I buy, I wrap them in absorbent paper towels and put in a brown paper lunch bag before refrigerating. If I cut my bell peppers but do not use them all up, I wrap those in paper toweling as well before returning to the refrigerator. Mushrooms are also put in a brown paper lunch bag. If a paper bag gets damp, I switch to a dry one. Moisture is not our friend in this regard! Celery is wrapped in paper toweling and then sealed inside aluminum foil. It lasts for weeks this way. Along this same line, I no longer prewash fresh fruits and vegetables before refrigerating or storing. The dryer they are when stored, the longer they will last.
Avocados (which cost a fortune these days) go into the refrigerator after spending enough time on the kitchen counter to ripen, just enough to yield slightly to a gentle squeeze. Then they go into the refrigerator. The same is true for kiwi, peaches, and other similar fruits, even bananas.
Since I began doing these things, produce has been lasting for several (at least three) weeks without any deterioration. Needless to say, it also helps to read your refrigerator manual and make sure your produce drawers' temperature settings are correct for what you are storing in them. I read the manual of the refrigerator that came with my house when we bought it and found that I could set the drawers for a variety of uses. Now I have a drawer set for produce and another set for dairy. Now my cheeses, sour cream, etc. last longer, too!
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