Best dollar-stretching tips??

Let's face it, asthma and allergic disorders can be expensive. For instance, some of us have to be brand loyal. We can't always pick up the shampoo or detergent that's on sale because the fragrance might trigger our asthma. Others of us have to afford extra medication costs and doctor's visits and tests. 

I like to think of saving money as a game, and the tips and tricks that people share, I use to help me get to the next "level." 

Some of the most helpful strategies people have shared with me:

  • making use of my library — it's a free bookstore, and they'll even provide me with free off-site storage for books I want to read in the future AND audio and ebooks!
  • using a pressure cooker and a slow cooker to make cooking easier and eating out less tempting
  • not going down any aisles of a grocery store that I don't have to
  • not going into ANY store that I don't absolutely need to — and making "shallow loops" in stores that I must dive into — in other words, if I need something from the gardening entrance end of Walmart, I go in that area, pick it up and go straight to the cash register.

What are some of your favorite, easy dollar stretching tips?


Comments 58

  • LK

    That is a great way of looking at it!  A game to get to the next level!  

    I especially like your third and fourth items.  If I can keep my shopping trips to only the places I truly need to go then I stand a much better chance of sticking to our budget.  I have been doing some of my regular and grocery shopping online with store pickup and that makes it easier to stick to my shopping list. 

    One thing that I need to do is clean out the pantry in the kitchen.  The cabinets are deep and it is so easy for items to get shoved way to the back and there they sit until they expire.  A few of our cabinets have it where the shelves pull out so that makes it so much easier to see what is there.  Looking into seeing what it would cost to add a few more of those roll-out shelves.  They would be especially handy on the lower levels that house my pots and pans!  The older I get the more the knees complain when I get down that low!   


  • Brenda Silvia-Torma

    I agree, making it a game is a fun way to look at saving money!  This is a great topic. I try to:

    • Avoid grocery shopping when I'm hungry
    • Shop in my fun stores (Michaels/AC Moore) ONLY when I have a coupon and I have a purpose for what I'm buying. It's too easy to buy things I don't need.  Ex: I  yarn!! I have more yarn at home than I have time to use…but I always see yarn I want to buy….So, unless I have a reason for buying yarn–like I'm making something for someone, I stay far away from that section!
    • Target….I try to only go in there when I absolutely need something from that store, and only that store. Otherwise, I walk out having spent at least 100 dollars. If I can get out with only having spent $50 dollars, I consider it a win! lol


  • Kari J

    I do a lot of my grocery shopping through Thrive.  While you do have a yearly payment, it saves me so much time and money vs going to the store.  Plus it's easy to re-order the same products, so I don't have to go through it all every time.I also make a list when I go to any store so I don't get distracted by clearance items that I will never use.We have a credit card that gives us money back- we pay off the bill every month, but use the points towards our vacations (which we plan around how much $ we know we will have coming to us).

  • LK

    Kari J, I haven't heard of Thrive.  Is it a grocery store or an app or ??  


    We also stay current on any bills so avoid the late charges or interest fees.

  • Kari J

    It's online- I wasn't sure if we were allowed to post links, so didn't!   They have their own brand of food but also offer many other brands.  You can shop by diet (Keto, vegan, etc).  Thrivemarket


  • Deborah Bartlett

    I spend alot of time every Thursday going through the entire grocery store flyer. I write down all sale items I may need in a notebook…that I get for 25 cents each in September. If there are flyer coupons I can use, I clip them. ✂ I go through my manufacturers coupon file box and look for coupons for the sale items. If there is a flyer coupon for an item I can also use a manufacturers coupon. I only buy sale items. I go to Wal-Mart every Saturday when they open at 7 am, to avoid crowds, germs and perfume! After that I go to Shop Rite for groceries. I go home and put away dairy, frozen and produce items. Then I go back out and do any other errands I may have. I put the non perishables away when I am through for the day. I buy alot of things at the Dollar Tree. Paper goods are a great buy there. I got rolls of Christmas wrapping paper for 50 cents each to use this Christmas. I put them in a closet. I am a clearance shopper. I always check clearance items. I have gotten great deals. I got large packages of plastic cutlery for my cookout at Wal-Mart for 25 cents each. I am sure we willblots of fun trading our money saving tips!!! I love it!!!! 😁

  • K8sMom2002

    Ooh, I love it when I can stack coupons! 

    I am not a champion couponer like some folks … but I try to get the low-hanging fruit:

    • loyalty cards to my favorite stores (I love Kroger's gasoline cents-off program)
    • the coupons on my Kroger app
    • the coupons Kroger sends to me in the mail
    • the coupons I get through the sales flyers.

    Brenda, a long time ago I developed a terrible "WalMart" habit, where I would drop $50 every time I went. Someone suggested I make a "WalMart list" like I do when I grocery shop … but don't go to WalMart until the list totals up to at least $50. 

    It was an amazing tip … for one, I knew how much money I was dropping at one point, so it dampened my enthusiasm for any more shopping. And two, I wound up waiting on some things until I no longer needed them. Win-win!

    Lisa, what a great idea to "shop at home!" My grandmother had a great motto:

    Use it up, 

    Wear it out,

    Make it do, or

    Do without!

    Kari, as long as you don't directly benefit from a link and it's not spam or malware, feel free to share. Is this the link? ?

  • Pljohns

    Ohhhh…LOVE this thread.  I'm a coupon and sale nut-the boys laugh and say Mom won't buy anything without a coupon-and they are about right.  I'm super tired right now and tonight is the night I pick up groceries so I looked around and found a coupon for free delivery!  Win win for me-I've also found that by not going into walmart and using the order groceried ahead and pick up, it keeps me from picking up things we don't need.  DH is the WORST compulsive shopper on the planet-he'll buy anything for no reason-I don't let him lose in stores often.  I make a grocery list, order in the walmart app and then go back to my list to make sure they gave me everything I ordered.  

    There is a great app called retailmenot-  it finds coupons for any store you are in and shows them to you on your phone.  I always check before I go to get something and see if there is an applicable coupon for it.  

    I try to buy our clothes at Kohls and use the kohls dollars they give you (one time I actually got DH and shirt jacket FREE-and they let you stack coupons with kohls cash and other coupons.  

    Teenagers LOVE pizza but they are expensive.  I found that i can get a loaf of Italian bread (or pretty much any bread from teh deli) for $1, slice it like you were making a sub sandwich, add pizza sauce, cheese and whatever toppings you want and you have a pile of pizza cheap!  I make 2 and it feeds 4 of us-including 2 teenagers-and we usually have some left over for less than $5.

    I shop at Sams/Costco every other week for bulk items but you have to be careful.  Everyone assumes that things are cheaper in bulk but not always.  I look at prices PER UNIT and you have to consider if you have coupons or not.  Every once in a while WM will put the soda that the boys drink on "rollback" for $3/6 pack but it doesn't stay that price and I'm sure that's how they catch people.  About every other week, it jumps back up to almost $4/6 pack.  i can get 4/6 packs at Sams for $13 so I watch WM for the "rollback" price or get it at Sams when they need more.

    Cynthia-THANK YOU for starting this thread!!!!

  • Melissa G

    We do our grocery shopping between Wal-Mart and Safeway. With Safeway, I can also use their electronic coupons and we earn money off of gas when we shop there. 

    I use ebates when I shop online. 

    We clip lots of coupons and use them whenever we can. 

  • Deborah Bartlett

    I have 15 dollars in coupons to use at the grocery store tomorrow. I'm glad because it seems that food goes up in price each week. 

  • Shea

    Eating at home is definitely a cost-saver for us. That, and using home, parks, and relatives house for recreation are big things for us. I cut both our hair so that is a cost saver too. Cutting cable was good for me too. I think we probably will keep Netflix after the free trial, but we can do that for like $8/month– so internet and Netflix is still about 60 cheaper than internet and cable were. 

    I dont like the library because sometimes there are dogs in there and they only email me AFTER a book is late– Id rather just buy books than deal with late fees. Late fees are my worst enemies. 

    I do enjoy the process of shopping– especially at places like Target vs Walmart because it is fun to see what is out– I really appreciate all the cool things people make and it inspires me. When I cant afford the things– I say lets try to make that! And it can be fun. Plus, then I am not spending money on other things and I am having a free outing that is entertainment. 

    I get invites to go to outings at the theme parks and zoos and so many things around here but they can be expensive and not allergy-friendly, so I limit it.

    I do my own lawn and housework, so that saves money too. I just have to wear my masks, cover my skin, and shower right after. Sometimes it is hard to do when I am not feeling well, but I get it done. Tommy and I both have dust, mold, and pollen allergies so it is important to keep up on all the work. 

  • Shea

    Oof Deborah, I suppose All sorts of "reasons"– once my old library actually advertised there'd be a dog there for dog story time or something, and twice my new library had a person with a small lap dog in there– I dont even ask anymore I just walk out and say to myself– one less place, they don't deserve my business– I am done wasting my breath. For prior places I have went to employees or store managers and the employees feel they cant ask ( and if they do the person says its there service dog and they cant do anything) some places wont even ask tbe person the 2 questions even if you ask them to. So I just dont easte my time anymore. Every DVD I ever rented from the library is scratched anyways, and I can find books cheap on my kindle or at Books-A-Million (since my Barnes and Noble is pet-friendly I dont go there anymore). I guess you could say avoiding places with lots of dogs frequenting saves me money. 

  • Deborah Bartlett

    Today vwas the last day that the Lowes would be open in the next town over. We went 8n to look around. Picked up a watering can for 10 cents for my Mom. Got some packs of screws and hooks for 3 cents per pack. Good deals!!

  • K8sMom2002

    Deborah, I'm a little sad that your Lowes is going out of business, but I'm so glad you found some amazing deals!

    Shea, I'm like you — if I don't go somewhere, then I don't spend money. I've found that stretches to home decorating types of magazines as well … and online catalogs … and home improvement channels. Once I start looking at those beautiful glossy photos or those perfect displays, suddenly my perfectly acceptable house is not so perfect. So a long time ago I started not watching the DIY channels. I will sometimes still watch THIS OLD HOUSE because they concentrate more on the building part of it. But it blows my mind when I see "budget" home improvements where they're spending tens of thousands of dollars. 

    Lynn, I try to plan my meals and my grocery list each week, too. I like the Mealboard App on my phone because it will let me know what I need for each meal … and it also lets me put in the price. I'm constantly surprised by how often stores change prices! I guess with scanners, they can do that more easily. 

    But meal planning really does help me contain costs. I also have tried to cut back on the amount of meat that we eat — not just for cost purposes but because I've seen so many health reports and climate reports that say folks tend to eat too much meat.  

    I noticed that Shea said on the What's For Dinner thread that she is using up her leftover tenderloin …

    What are some ways that you guys re-purpose leftovers? 

  • Deborah Bartlett

    Leftover cooked pasta makes a lunch salad for DH. Cut up some raw veggies and add some mayo…also can add leftover chicken or some tuna. 

    Leftover mozzarella makes a great Insalata Caprese.

    Leftover unfrosted cake is the beginning of a lovely trifle!

  • Deborah Bartlett

    Metal shower curtain hooks can be used for a myriad of different things. As a matter of fact, I don't even use them to hang shower curtains. I use one for all my store courtesy/rewards cards. They are all on the hook and I just have to flip through to find the one I need. I hang windchimes and other yard decorations with them. They come in handy for hanging things up on the house. A pack of these hooks is very inexpensive. You can even use them as key rings. If you have a key to unlock a padlock that is on your outdoor shed, you can use one of these hooks for that key and hang It in your garage. This is a household multi-tasker! ⭐

  • K8sMom2002

    Very cool! I'd never thought of that! I'll bet you could take one of those and hook it on one of these …

    And you'd have a handy way to store a bunch of keys on the side of your fridge!

  • K8sMom2002
    Deborah Bartlett posted:

    Yeah….that would be a handy idea Cynthia!!! Here I am, fishing for tips. I must say…I'm hooked! 😉

    That is too punny! Thank you for giving me a chuckle!

    On another thread, Lynn posted a great idea about using e-books from the library — you don't even have to spend gas money to get there, and they automatically return, so no late fees!

  • K8sMom2002

    How could I forget this tip?? It's one of my favorite ones, especially because it allows me to use soap that doesn't trigger my asthma but in a convenient way.

    If you have a "disposable" foaming soap dispenser that you use without an issue, you can refill it for pennies by doing this:

    When it is empty, take a tablespoon or two of your favorite liquid dish detergent and add it to the soap dispenser container. Fill the rest with water. Replace the nozzle, give it a shake, and voila! You now have foaming soap that won't trigger your asthma.

    The dispensers will eventually stop working and need to be replaced, but they are much cheaper than a non-disposable foaming soap dispenser … and I was disappointed at how quickly THOSE stopped working for the price I paid. The disposable ones last just as long, but a fraction of the price … and you get free soap with the replacement. 

    And it's much cheaper to do DIY refills on the soap than buy new disposable containers. I kind of got when I realized how little soap and how much water it took to make foaming hand soap.

  • Deborah Bartlett

    Thanks for the tip Cynthia! I will be doing that here forever after. I have 3 bathroom sinks and a kitchen sink and a furnace room sink that are eagerly awaiting a new foamy friend!!

  • Melissa G

    We have a CVS savings card. I really like that we get several emails throughout the week that includes coupons that I can "send" to our CVS card. However, dh typically forgets to ask the cashier to check for coupons on our card. I am not sure what has gotten into him lately but he has been saving our CVS receipts, they have coupons on the bottom and he has been making sure the cashier checks our card for coupons. He was so proud of himself the other day, he went to CVS to pick up some otc medications and used several coupons. He came home beaming! 

  • LK
    Melissa G posted:

    We have a CVS savings card. I really like that we get several emails throughout the week that includes coupons that I can "send" to our CVS card. However, dh typically forgets to ask the cashier to check for coupons on our card. I am not sure what has gotten into him lately but he has been saving our CVS receipts, they have coupons on the bottom and he has been making sure the cashier checks our card for coupons. He was so proud of himself the other day, he went to CVS to pick up some otc medications and used several coupons. He came home beaming! 

    Melissa,  Way to go DH!!    More of those baby steps even for our DHs! 

  • Dar007

    I love this thread! I have to learn to better manage my budget. My work insurance doesn’t cover my maintenance inhaler or Singulair because the two together is managing everything well so far so i hardly have to use my rescue. So, the insurance said they will only insure the rescue. It costs me $1.70 for the Ventolin,  But now I have to pay $240 a month for my maintenance (Dulera) and Singulair per month. I live alone and that is a big expense considering the student loans, car payments, and mortgage I have to pay. I guess it could be worse and I am grateful to have a good job where I can manage, but I can’t really save money. Living paycheck to paycheck. I am going to start saving coupons and really using the flyers to cut down on my grocery spending. Living alone, I tend to buy way too much and it goes bad and I have to throw half away. Next day off I need to sit down and make a better budget. 

  • Deborah Bartlett

    Hi dar!!!! I sit down and go through the entire grocery flyer and jot down things I might want. Then I go through my coupons. If an item is on sale, and I have a coupon, bingo zingo…money saver! Tresemme shampoo and conditioner were on sale for: 2  28 ounce bottles for 4.00. I had a 4.00 coupon off 2. I got both bottles for free! It pays to read the flyer. Sometimes I do it while I eat my lunch. I have been sending for free product samples online. I have been getting freebies for over 30 years. Often, they include a coupon with a sample. I got a free Gillette Fusion razor 2 days ago. Some things you buy can be separated and frozen. This helps to avoid waste. 😀

  • Dar007

    Deborah, wow!!! Razors are SO expensive! That is it – I am going to get a plan together and do that. I can take a night I am off and go through and see what I need and what I can use coupons and sales for. Just need to be creative. That shampoo deal was amazing!!! 

  • Deborah Bartlett

    When an item is on sale for 1 dollar…let's say a can of tuna. A 50 cent coupon is doubled where I shop for groceries. Therefore, the tuna is free. I feel good about myself when I save money. Let's face it. The grocery prices have been going up every week for a long time, and continue to climb. 

  • Dar007

    Oh I know! $100 goes nowhere these days. Fresh vegetables and fruit are crazy expensive. And they go bad so fast. Half the time I am throwing away half of what a I bought. I have to do something. I hate to waste it and my money. 

  • Pljohns

    DAR-we got one of those storage containers that claims to make fruit last longer-it was like $12 but it actually works!  As long as I remember to use it, we don't have fruit go bad nearly as quickly as it did.  

    I do a lot of shopping at Sams/Costco BUT you have to be careful-people think just because something is sold by the case, it's cheaper when sometimes it's not.  I look at the cost PER ITEM and sometimes-especially if I have a coupon-it's cheaper somewhere else.  Walmart is bad about "rolling back" prices on an item but only for a week or so.  I check their price every time I need it because their "rollback" price is cheaper than Sams but their regular price isn't.  

    I do a lot of price compare's too.  My walmart will give you a lower price if you bring the ad with you showing the exact item cheaper somewhere else-they don't care if it a drug store or what-as long as you have a printed ad with you.  I've saved over $20 on several occasions doing this.  That is the one drawback to ordering groceries and not going in-they don't take coupons and you can't price match.  if I have a few things that I have coupons for or that I need that are on sale somewhere else, I'll order my regular not on sale items and then go in and get what I have coupons for or ad's for.  Still beats going through the entire store and picking up things you don't really need.

  • Deborah Bartlett

    Once in a while, I stop in the farmers market store. Their prices on fruits and veggies are alot lower than the grocery stores. They have tons of different varieties of produce. You can get as much or as little as you need!

  • K8sMom2002
    Dar007 posted:

    I love this thread! I have to learn to better manage my budget. My work insurance doesn’t cover my maintenance inhaler or Singulair because the two together is managing everything well so far so i hardly have to use my rescue. So, the insurance said they will only insure the rescue. It costs me $1.70 for the Ventolin,  But now I have to pay $240 a month for my maintenance (Dulera) and Singulair per month. . 

    Dar, have you appealed your insurance's decision not to cover your maintenance inhaler? You could talk to your doctor about helping you with that. 

    And could you check out Dulera's pharmaceutical assistance program?  … eligibility rules differ, of course. 

    You can find out more about different assistance programs with . There are some pharmacy savings programs that offer the generic of Singulair at no or low cost as well.

  • Dar007

    Wow! I will look into that. There has to be a way to get these costs down. It is insane. 

  • Pljohns

    Dar-if you use brand name meds and have private insurance, search on the internet for discount cards.  The legit ones are directly from the manufacturer but they really help.  I currently get one of my meds that costs almost $700 for $17

  • K8sMom2002
    Pljohns posted:

    Dar-if you use brand name meds and have private insurance, search on the internet for discount cards.  The legit ones are directly from the manufacturer but they really help.  I currently get one of my meds that costs almost $700 for $17

    AAFA just recently updated its with a listing of many of the links you'll need to find legitimate discount programs and websites. The page even includes whether Medicare/Medicaid patients are eligible AND if there is a membership fee required for a discount club/savings program. 

    Of course, things are always subject to change with outside programs. And there may be programs out there that AAFA doesn't know about. So if you see one that is not listed and not legit, suggest it!

  • MizWheezie

    Hi, my name is Wheezie, and I'm a "Coupon Queen" too (LOL)  – I don't leave home without them…

    Also, I always make a list when I go shopping, and that helps keep me on track and avoid impulse buying – I even make a list when I go to (my absolute favorite) Dollar Tree.

    With my allergy and asthma challenges, I can go thru a box of tissues a week, so why pay almost $3 for a box of Kleenex, when I can get a box of Scotties for $1 – I never leave Dollar Tree without at least 3 or 4 boxes of tissues.

    Also, I love me some Kroger – They constantly send me coupons in the mail, and I frequently download them to my Loyalty Card from the internet, when they send me email notices – And the best thing about that is, the coupons I get are for items that I always purchase – (Yeah, that's a result of my OCD kicking in, again – LOL)

    Also, last week, I was able to get 60 cents off (per gallon) when I filled my tank up, at Kroger's gas pumps – So, yeah, win-win-win!!! 

  • Pljohns

    I am quite tickled with my self-I get the electronic flyer for the publix grocery store that is literally in my parking lot and they had several things BOGO that i needed. I'm always very careful with BOGO because you may end up paying more than you would normally pay at WM for the same item.  I pulled up the WM grocery app and got their prices and compared them-ended up saving almost $20 just by getting them BOGO and I was able to take them off my grocery list this week.

  • LK

    This may not be a big money saver but I figure every bit helps!  When doing laundry, I try to plan it so I can keep using the dryer while it is still warm.  That way it is not having to reheat each time.