Live Oak — Want to live better on the money you already make? Visit TheDollarStretcher.com to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar! Copyright 2012 Dollar Stretcher, Inc.
Instead of purchasing expensive (and potentially toxic) bathroom air fresheners to get rid of bathroom odors, invest in a book of paper matches. Lighting a match in a bathroom will eliminate odors, save money, and reduce the garbage created by empty air freshener containers.
Decorating a new home? Do not overlook secondhand sources for electrical items. Our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore (building supply thrift store) sells ceiling fans (with or without lights) for as little as $25, depending on the style. That's less than half the cost of a new one. Habitat makes sure the fan works and is not a fire hazard. I've bought lamps for as little as $7 from local thrift stores. I inspect them carefully to make sure the wiring is okay. The ones I've bought are as good as new, but much cheaper.
One money-saving habit I have been doing a lot lately is signing up for free samples. Obviously, you get a free sample, but beyond that you get to reuse the packaging it comes in! Many samples I've received recently are mailed in bubble wrap envelopes. I open them carefully and save for items I sell on eBay or for sending gifts to relatives and friends! I figure I save a buck. Plus, I get a free sample!
Updating Vertical Blinds
There is a way to change the color or pattern of your vertical blinds, and it is very easy! Find some fabric that you love or that matches your new decor and then cut it into strips the same length and width as your blinds. Then use starch to stiffen them. Once they are dry and stiff, you just insert them into the vertical blinds just as you would the replacements that are more expensive! We have done this not only in my mother's house but in friends' houses as well, and it worked without any problems. It only cost them the starch and the fabric.
Emily in Oklahoma
Old Dryer Sheets
Instead of buying expensive dusting cloths or sprays, try a used dryer sheet. Often times, while folding laundry, I'll snag the used sheet and run it across the bookshelves and wooden dressers. They're great at picking up dust. Plus, they always have a little scent left in them, which makes the whole room smell nice. They work well on electronics too, but just around the edges. However, I don't use them on the TV or computer screen because they may leave streaks or residue.
Rebecca S. in Maryland
Bulk Buying Creates an Emergency Fund
I like buying in bulk on big sales, particularly non-perishables (like canned fruits, etc.) and toiletries (from toilet paper to soap and shampoo). It saves me money and adds to my supplies. If I do need some extra money (for an emergency or unexpected cost), I have it in those little bits I save off my budget by buying things when they're on a great special. Sure, I might have one to three month's worth of bathroom supplies, but when it's at less than half price (and I budgeted for the normal price), that's a fair bit of money saved with little effort.
Old Smoke Car Odors
Trying to get rid of smoke car odor? Mix together the cheapest apple sauce and cheapest cinnamon that you can find into a really thick glob (like really thick bread dough). It will take about 1/2 cup apple sauce and 1/4 cup cinnamon. Roll it around to mix. Put it in an old small margarine tub. Punch a few holes in the top with a pen and then stick it under the seat in your car.
This is the same recipe used to make cinnamon Christmas ornaments. I took some of the stuff with me in the car and rolled it under a seat. When the heat kicks in, or the car sits in the sun, the whole car gets a great cozy cinnamon smell to it.
Picture This Saving
To save money, I quit spending money on things that are wasteful, such as expensive portraits. When my children were younger, I spent a lot of money on professional pictures. I have lots of pictures just lying around from those days. Now, I use my camera and take pictures of them outside (mostly) in front of pretty trees or at the park on a swing (there are so many possibilities).
Then I can edit the pictures on my computer software and only print what I need instead of having to buy a package. I can crop the pictures, remove red eye, and make black and white photos. In my opinion, they look so much more natural and pretty than the pictures from the photo places. With a decent camera and computer (which most people have), anyone can do this. If you want an entire family portrait, just ask a friend, family member, or neighbor to help out.
White Vinegar Rinse
I used to buy cream rinse for my hair after I had shampooed. It conditioned my hair quite well. However, it also cost money. It wasn't a lot, but it is the nickels and dimes that do our budget in. Now, I use a water and white vinegar solution at one part vinegar to four parts of water. I do not rinse out the vinegar and water solution from my hair. This leaves my hair and scalp with no soap residue. My hair seems to have more life after using this solution, and it leaves it soft, shiny, and very manageable. There is no smell of vinegar left in my hair.
When I have finished applying the vinegar and water solution to my hair after shampooing, my hair does not feel nice, but when my hair is dry, it is soft, shiny, and full of life. It feels very clean and well conditioned for a fraction of the cost of cream rinse. This solution also really cleans your scalp.
I buy white vinegar in a large container as I also use it for cleaning windows and mopping my laminate floor. There is just a myriad of things that I use white vinegar for.