Tips to Stretch the Dollar

Last week I shared some budget tips and how we manage our money. It isn’t easy and I am often needing to find solutions to make the dollar stretch a little further. I have gotten creative in the past and am pulling out all the stops this time around.


save at the grocery store

beeki / Pixabay

Food and Groceries:

I use coupons when I can but because of my dietary restrictions it is hard to coupon regularly. The only coupons I use are ones that I can get online or come in the mail.

A few months ago I created a 4 week rotational dinner menu. I know what I need when I go grocery shopping and what staples too keep in my house. This allows me to buy in bulk and stock up during sales without fear of wasting food.

Contrary to what most “savings blogs” recommend, I only grocery shop once a month. The only grocery store in my town is priced higher than some. I live about 25 miles from a cheaper grocery store. To save time and money, I go once a month. I know there are weekly sales, coupons to use, etc but I have found that shopping this way saves more money.


daviddchristensen / Pixabay

Free Samples:

I love my free samples!

I highly recommend creating an email address just for free samples. You will get lots of junk email.

I don’t buy razors. I bought deodorant once in the past 7 years and that is because Miss Crafty now uses it. I don’t buy any travel size items (shampoo, soap, etc). I had enough laundry soap that I was able to go a month on samples only. I rarely buy lotion. I haven’t bought bar soap for about 5 years. It adds up.

To find samples can be very overwhelming. I recommend following a frugal blog or two. They are all over the place and often have similar samples. Try a few and find one or two that you like.

I also use a service called PinchMe. Many Tuesdays at 12PM EST they release boxes. You can request up to 3 different samples. You have to be there right at noon as samples run out quickly.


Mobile Apps:

There are a lot of mobile savings apps out there. Each one works a little differently but they all help you save money. Some of my favorites are



Keep it homemade:

Often homemade things are cheaper. Vinegar can be used in so many different places around the home. It is a greener option, and saves me some money as I clean. However, sometimes vinegar doesn’t cut it. I have my jar of PineSol as a back up.

I make everything I can from scratch. Instead of buying expensive rice flour, I buy rice in 25 lb bags. I have a WonderMill Grain Mill. It is an investment (currently $240 on Amazon) but it has been worth every penny. I can now get flour for $0.50 per pound instead of $3-4 per pound.

I also make my own laundry soap, liquid hand soap, and stain remover. It saves so much money. I can make a two gallons of laundry soap for under $1. Compared to what it would cost at the grocery store, this is a significant savings.



I take surveys. I took them several years ago, took a break, and have recently begun taking them again. In the past, I have used the money to pay for our extra fun things like birthdays and Christmas. This time the money is going toward bills.

There are so many companies out there. Some are good, some are not, and some are scams. I like the survey companies that pay in cash and not reward points. This is because I know how much I am going to make. Often they promise thousands of reward points per survey but when you check out the redemption catalog, you realize that you made 10 cents.

You will not make a lot of money, and most days you won’t make minimum wage, but every penny adds up and it makes a difference in my house.

Next week I am going to type up a blog post on surveys and how I have learned to maximize my profits. I will share more details and all of the companies, but if you are interested in getting started now, here are two of the companies I use:


JD power panel


As with free samples, please create a separate email address. You may get a lot of extra emails.


Let’s help each other!

What are some creative ways you save money?




4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tracey
    Jun 17, 2014 @ 07:31:52

    One note for your readers on Cartwheel, sometimes it seems like it doesn’t work. 1, it now won’t show the reduced total until after total is hit, and 2, I recently learned that if the cashier does a quantity entry (scan 1, hit qty and enter like 4), it doesn’t seem to work on that item.

    So while that issue is being cleared up – if you have a good one, either scatter then on the belt or ask them to not do that. With cartwheel be sure to get the mobile coupons if you can too – they often stack nicely!



    • Crystal
      Jun 17, 2014 @ 08:49:09

      Thank you Tracey! It is always helpful to have some feedback on how it works from the other side. I forgot to mention stacking coupons. That is another thing that makes the savings add up.



  2. Heather
    Jun 17, 2014 @ 07:47:19

    Great ideas! Groceries are where I struggle the most. We don’t eat a lot of processed food…and it doesn’t seem like they ever offer coupons for the produce that seems to break my budget every week! Some other things we do are try to preserve as much as we can during the summer months, as well as growing our own. As far as cleaning goes, we spend a lot of time using homemade cleaners like baking soda and vinegar, it seems to work just as well, and I am not concerned about my kids pitching in 🙂



    • Crystal
      Jun 17, 2014 @ 08:51:21

      I have nearly given up trying to save on groceries Heather. For produce I used to use Bountiful Baskets. The model didn’t work for my family but if there is one in your area, it may be a way to get fresh produce at an affordable price.



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