25 tips to stretch your dollar

August 24th, 2012 Carol Petersen

After paying your bills, car insurance, groceries and putting away money for your retirement fund, there is often very little money left, making it even more important to save every dollar possible.

If you find yourself pinching pennies and finances are tight, don’t despair. There are a number of easy ways to stretch the dollar and maximize its use. Here are our top 25 ways to stretch your dollar.

Out and about – doing errands and shopping

1. Shop at local resale shops, discount and thrift stores to buy clothing at lower prices.
2. Sell your old clothing to resale stores to put a little bit of extra cash in your pocket.
3. Host your own neighborhood garage sale to sell and get rid of unwanted belongings.
4. Make sure to shop other garage sales for great steals.
5. Utilize coupons and local coupon books.
6. Shop eBay, Amazon and craigslist for larger, more expensive items. It may not be exactly the product you are looking for, but adding a coat of paint or fixing it up yourself can be a fun project and will make it uniquely your own.

In the home and paying the bills

7. Use energy-saving light bulbs, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs.
8. To cut down your energy bill, turn heating and cooling appliances to a more moderate temperature whenever possible.
9. Save money on your electricity bill by turning the lights off during the day and unplugging electronics and appliances when gone for long periods of time.
10. Consider eliminating your landline phone. Ask yourself, do you really use it or will a cell phone suffice?
11. Cut dryer sheets in half and make your own laundry detergent.

Food and the grocery store

12. Buy generic products over the name brand.
13. Skip your usual restaurant meal during the week to save money.
14. Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store. Most often, grocers will give you a small discount per reusable bag you bring. Plus, you are being environmentally friendly by saving paper and plastic.
15. Make your coffee at home. Try not to make it a habit to buy things such as soda, water, juice and coffee at convenient stores. Make them at home or buy in large containers, which will last for longer periods of time and you will save money.
16. Use reusable cups at work and on-the-go to avoid having to buy cups that have limited use.
17. Grow your own garden in the summer, and you will save money on buying expensive produce such as tomatoes, green beans and more.
18. Pack your lunch for work.


19. Save money on entertainment: instead of going to a movie in theaters, wait for it to come out as a rental.
20. Find cheaper or free summer entertainment in your community, such as free outdoor concerts, museums, zoos, plays or matinee movies.
21. Plan a date that is free, such as going for a walk, rollerblading or to the beach.


22. Whenever possible, walk or bike instead of driving your car.
23. Use public transportation.
24. If possible, carpool to work with those who work and live close to you.
25. Compare gasoline prices when you need to fill up your tank. Even within your town, gas prices can fluctuate.

About the author

Carol Petersen is Retail Managing Officer at MidWestOne Bank. She specializes in checking and savings accounts, consumer loans, auto loans and home equity loans.

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