Stretching My Meager Dollars

Stretching My Meager DollarsI am a single mother of two kids. The income I have comes from what little I make from my full time job, my job working in my church's nursery on Sundays, and Child Support for my oldest. I am constantly learning new ways to stretch my meager dollars. This is what I do to stretch what I have:


  • I do use the A/C constantly as it gets hot and humid where I live, but I hang clothes to dry. I turn off lights when not using them, raise the thermostat when no one is home so the AC isn't running and unplug things when not being used.

  • I walk to work. When I need to go to the store for one or two items, I walk to the store if it's close by.

  • I use fans as much as I can, too.

  • I open the blinds during the day and use the light from the outside instead of turning on a light.

  • I use sites like My Coke Rewards, and other places where I can enter codes, as well as survey sites where I can get points to get things like magazine subscriptions, household items, gift cards, money through PayPal, etc.

  • I save aluminum cans to cash in for money. When I am taking a walk, or am at the store, I pick up any aluminum cans I see.

  • I have food stamps and go to food pantries as well, as I am low income. I also stretch my food as long as I can. I save leftovers for the next day for lunch, or another dinner. I even save meats and vegetables for soups.

  • I recently had some socks that had holes in them. Instead of throwing them away, I took the socks that no longer had mates and patched up the holes with them. I do any kind of simple mending I can.

  • I pretty much try to make do with what I have and see what I can do to keep using the stuff I already have without having to go buy the same thing new.

  • Instead of buying trash bags, I use the grocery store bags, bread bags, etc. I even use the big bags that my pet food comes in as trash bags.


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June 17, 20130 found this helpful
Top Comment

Your ideas are great ones for sure, and some indicate you may be living in the USA vs me here in Ont. Canada.
I am adamant about the recycling and am always angered by the amount of trash on the side of the street. When I walk my dogs I carry a plastic bag that I put the little "poop & scoop" bags into; I also pick-up garbage as I go and take it home for proper disposal.

We always flatten any cans, plastics etc., to prevent them blowing off down the street and also to allow for extra space in the recycling box.

I saw a show about our "energy footprint" and one item which caught my interest was the amount of extra humidity added to a home by leaving laundry on indoor racks to dry (during the non dry winter months). This puts extra strain on the A.C., can cause mold problems and adds to allergies etc. Like many folk I thought it was best to air-dry vs using the dryer. Now - I use the dryer in the evenings, and never on the hottest cycle; it kills the fabrics.


When my kids were very young (I was a Single Mum) and my finances were very tight... I kept all leftover vegetables cooked for meals and put them into a large ziplock baggie in the freezer. When there was a large enough quantity...the kids and I would buy a cabbage, some other veggies and make a big pot of soup, some homemade biscuits and have a great "value" meal~

My daughter was likely the only one at her Gr.8 graduation with a beautiful, in vogue dress, which we paid all of $6.00 for at a second hand shop. Yeah! Why not...she wore it once and I believe too many folks get just ridiculous about the prices they pay for kids clothing.

Thanks for sharing your tips. I always appreciate reading more and knowing others' are paying attention to what really matters. We are far too instant and disposable, a society for our own good.


Cheers from Oshawa Ontario

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December 15, 20140 found this helpful
Top Comment

I am 64 and I have always used my clothing (anything) till they are no longer wearable. When they become too ragged to wear I will take the buttons, zippers and anything else I can salvage for other things and then I take and make rags for my husband to use when he is working on our vehicles. If I have large enough pieces and they are in good shape they are saved in a box until I have enough to patch together to make a quilt. I take old ragged towels and make wash rags or dish rags. I have never had a dishwasher and we always put just enough soap into the water to clean the dishes.


Nothing goes to waste in the house. Bread bags are saved for freezing food that we separate when we buy it or for leftover vegetables. I pick up wallpaper sample books and use them in my crafts which saves buying paper to make things with.
You can wrap Christmas gifts with the comics of the newspaper if you get the Sunday paper for the coupons and if you have a sports fan save the pages from the sport they like and wrap presents in that.

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June 17, 20132 found this helpful

Those are very good tips! I admire you single moms who are showing their children that frugal and thrifty are NOT "bad" words!

As far as holes in socks have you thought about learning to darn? My mama taught me when I was very young (now 64) and the money it saves is amazing!


It is also very relaxing. You don't have to buy a darning egg, either. Just use the old fashioned light bulbs as your darning egg. You can find instructions by doing a search online. Kudo's to you!

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March 7, 20142 found this helpful

I love the idea of "soup". As a way to get veggies into the family diet, I' e always served soup before the meal, and find that our portions are more reasonable. I grow a lot of vege's in summer and feeze them. I know what I am serving is healthy.

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March 9, 20140 found this helpful

I applaud your efforts. It's not easy. I was a single mom too. We did many of the same things. The person before mentioned one of my favorites. I kept a large plastic container in the freezer & each night ANY vegetable leftover - no matter how small - a spoon of corn, half a cup of green beans, whatever, went into the carton.

Once a month I bought a can of tomato juice & put it all in the crockpot. When we got home, we had "Freebie Soup" & crackers. Except for the juice & crackers... all free... things I'd have thrown out. And... it made plenty! We had enough for other meals.

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December 1, 20140 found this helpful

I do not understand why Brenda thinks the posting mum is American. Thrifty exists everywhere. It is an attitude that makes sense. Even if you have money why waste it. You can give it to charity. I love darning socks, and when I was young and very poor I considered darned socks a sign of how much I was loved amongst the neglected kids in the bombed out city where I was born.

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December 1, 20140 found this helpful

Thanks so much for this! I'm going to put a baggie in the freezer now! Also, when I was a single mom, I used coupons with Food Stamps, and this stretched the stamps a bit further.

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January 12, 20150 found this helpful

Being economical is not being "cheap", it is being wasteful that clutters this earth, it's only common sense. Of course use store bags for everything (collecting recyclables, sorting garbage, house wastebaskets), keep empty bottles/jars to store things, darn your socks and anything else that needs it, sew on buttons, keep heat off at night (it's healthier for sleeping), use fans instead of ACs, have your kids join Scouts (usually fees are waived if you are low-income), utilize your public library for many activities, movies, crafts, contests, shows for adults and children (it's also an air conditioned haven in the summer) and here's one I haven't yet seen here - get your family to church: aside from feeding your soul there are food drives, soup kitchens, social and recreational activities for adults and children, and no one will judge you or your lifestyle. Live to conserve, not waste, and see how much your life improves.

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February 14, 20161 found this helpful

for everyone...I shop the dollar (only) store for everything...however, choose the food/fzr..shelves for VALUE: ie: nutrition/portion & or child safty !!! We've done baby,bridal showers, grads, anything for a crowd,
endless possibilities.

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December 6, 20200 found this helpful

I like how people can re-purpose stuff, like bags, bottles etc. I do the same. I've even saved the cardboard from cereal boxes to cut up for tags for my recycling bags. I also save things like large jars and use them in my pantry and for candle use. Just today I almost got rid of an old shirt; then I thought about making a beautiful mask!
I understand how someone would reuse a lot of different things. It's very smart to try to save money.

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