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9 simple things you can do every day to stretch a buck

Try these 9 ideas to keep more money in your wallet.

Use junk mail as scratch paper

Ever need a piece of paper just to jot something down on quickly? Don’t use expensive paper from the printer!

Take your junk mail and open some of the envelopes all the way each day. That way you’ll have spare paper waiting around when you need it.

Never throw out a half-full garbage bag

Make sure your garbage bags are full before you toss them out. If they’re not, go around the house and empty all the wastebaskets into your main garbage bag. You’ll cut down on the amount of bags you use and save money by not having to buy them so often!

Cut everything in half — literally

You can cut many common household items in half to get twice the life out of them! Try it with napkins, paper towels, dryer sheets and anything else that you think may work!

Reuse paper bags
Reuse paper bags for lunches

If you have children in school or camp and you have to pack them lunch, put this reminder on their lunch. When one member of Team Clark tried this with his two children, both actually brought the bags home. But only one was clean enough for reuse the next day. The other was too crumpled and food-stained to salvage.

Oh well, that’s kids for you!

Turn off the lights and use natural sunlight

It may sound old fashioned, but it’s true. When not in use, turn off the juice! You’ll certainly be in good company. Queen Elizabeth II reportedly insists lights get turned off when not in use. Furthermore, she routinely reuses wrapping paper after royal gifts are opened.

Collect your pocket change and cash it in once or twice a month
Keep a jar with loose change and then exchange it for paper bills when full.

If you don’t take them out of your pockets, let’s face it — they pose a laundry hazard. They can puncture a hole in the drum of the washer or dryer. Now that’s a real wardrobe malfunction!

Instead, get any simple container and collect those coins.

Then take them to a free coin-counting machine and get some paper money back in your life. It’s like found money!

If you have to eat out, buy a partially used gift card

A lot of personal finance articles focus on how you should skip the expensive latte, brown-bag your lunch and so on. All great ideas, right? But sometimes, you just want to eat out. Turns out you can have your cake — or coffee, or sandwich, or burrito — and eat it, too!, and are just a few of the many sites that let you buy secondhand gift cards at a discount to their face value. For example, here are a few deals we found on ABCGiftCards:

  • Boston Market – save up to 13.84%

  • Chipotle – save up to 7.3%

  • Cracker Barrel – save up to 18.4%

  • IHOP – save up to 15.7%

  • Moe’s Southwest Grill – save up to 8.7%

Check with the website seller for their protection policy before you buy. Most will guarantee the card will work for 90-180 days or your money back.

Freeze your credit cards and go cash only for a week

Freezing your plastic will help you stretch a buck because you’ll be more mindful about the way you spend. Research shows there’s something tangible about cash in hand that makes us spend it more sparingly than we do with plastic. If you do this for a couple weeks and like the results, why not consider making it permanent and going to a cash-only envelope system in your life?

Dry your razor

Shaving is an equal opportunity kind of thing where both guys and gals can blow a lot of money on expensive razors.

But if you dry your razor like money expert Clark Howard does, you’ll extend the life of the blade and go so much more use out of it. That’s because razor blades degrade much faster when they’re left wet.

So be sure to blot your razor dry on a towel after use or maybe use a hair dryer to dry it for a minute.

Clark himself is famous for taking a 17-cent disposable razor that he uses everyday and making it last for 12 months by using the blotting method!

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