Dollar Stretcher Tips content
Dinner for 6...Not!
Instead of inviting friends over for dinner and drinks, we invite them for
breakfast! Eggs are much cheaper than a roast! I can feed everyone without
busting my grocery budget. And we find that we enjoy each other's company
in the morning, too!
Renew Your Deck
Last spring, I decided that we need to do something with our old wood deck.
It was fading and looking old. I decided to paint it, but not just one
color. I created a maze like pattern with three colors! It's almost like
having a decorator carpet on my deck! I did this all for the price of some
paint and painter's tape!
Getting More Done
I recently changed my habits. Instead of checking my Facebook page first
thing when I get home from work, I spend some time on whatever task is on
my to-do list. Since I'm anxious to get to Facebook, I do the task quickly.
Once I do get to Facebook, I don't feel guilty about the work that I
haven't done. It's a win/win!
Building an Emergency Fund
There's an old saying that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a
time (not that I want to eat an elephant!). So when we decided we really
wanted to create a six-month emergency fund, we used that principal. We
broke it down into smaller amounts that equaled one month's worth of
expenses. Even that felt like a hard target, but we were determined to do
it. We're on month number two now. We celebrated with a special dinner when
we had the first month saved. Looking forward to our next celebration when
we get to month two!
Dialing for Free Dollars
All of our city's museums offer free admission one day per year. They're
packed on that day. Parking is a challenge, and the buses are jammed. I
learned that my favorite museum offers free admission to city residents
every Sunday all year round. One of the guards remarked how empty it is on
Sundays despite free admission. This museum also offers discounted
admissions to students and seniors on the other six days per week. It's
worth checking the museums in your town to see if you can get in free or
for a low cost.
What's a Dollar Worth?
Recently, my wife and I visited a financial planner. We were working on
some retirement planning. He pointed out something that I think is
important. Even though we haven't had much inflation lately, the average is
about 3% per year. Therefore, in a little more than 20 years (within our
lifetimes), prices will double, so the money that we have saved today will
only buy half as much. Even after we retire in a few years, we hope that
each year we can take a little more income to cover inflation without
hurting the amount we have saved.
Out of Debt!
My New Year's resolution was to get out of debt. I didn't have a lot, but I
had about $6k on my credit cards. I started looking for some side gigs. I
tried Uber, but I didn't think I made enough. Next, I put some skills out
on Fiverr.com, mostly in computer graphics. I've earned enough to cut my
debt down to about $3500. I hope to have it totally paid off by the end of
We like to use our woodstove and fireplace in the winter, so firewood is
always welcome. A neighbor was taking down a tree and offered us the wood.
We paid the tree company to cut it into one-foot sections for us. He was
glad to do it to avoid paying the tipping charge at the landfill. I told
him we'd take any that he wanted to drop off. He said that he'll probably
be able to drop off a full cord this summer. That's lots of free heat next
Money Back Guarantee!
I've worked in retail sales for years. I can tell you that there's one way
to get your money back if you're unhappy with a purchase. If the manager
won't give you a refund, tell them that you'll call your credit card
company and ask for a chargeback. Most stores hate that. Not only will they
lose the sale, but also the credit card company keeps track of which stores
have the most chargebacks. I've seen managers approve a refund as soon as
the word chargeback was mentioned.
Creating Space Digitally
Whether you're downsizing or just trying to reduce clutter, digitizing can
make your life easier. We reduced a whole file cabinet of papers when my
dad moved into an apartment. Now it's just a thumb drive. My husband and I
are doing the same thing around our house. Not only are we getting rid of
paper copies, but also we're replacing hardcover books that we think we
might read again with ebooks. So far, I've eliminated a whole bookcase
full! It's taking us a little time, but what other hobby actually saves you
Mortgage Payoff Plan
We bought our first house last year. We wanted to get a 15-year mortgage,
but we were afraid that we might not be able to keep up with the payments
at first. Then we came up with a way to speed things up. We got an
amortization table that shows how much of each payment goes to interest and
to principal. At first, not much of the payment reduces the loan. Most is
just interest. We decided that each month we would overpay by the amount of
principal reduction. It's not a lot in the early years, but it increases as
time goes on. We expect to have a bigger income when that happens. If we
keep it up, we'll really shorten the mortgage. Even if we can't keep adding
the full amount each month, we'll still increase the amount of each monthly
payment that goes to pay down the principal amount.