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Ways To Stretch A Dollar

Are you looking for ways to make your dollar go further. Here's a list of over 100 ideas you can consider to help you manage or lower your expenses.


Staying on a budget can often be challenging. Following is a list of ideas to help with debt and stay on track each month. When reading this list, keep in mind that your budget should be created and managed according to your personal financial circumstances. Some of these ideas may not be right for you, so be sure to think of some on your own.


  • Buy regular gas if possible
  • Change your own oil
  • Compare retail prices to Bluebook prices before buying a car
  • Consider leasing versus buying
  • Keep your tires inflated properly to get better gas mileage
  • Perform regular preventive maintenance
  • Use a reputable mechanicFor an interesting analysis of how much it costs to own a car, see the Get Rich Slowly blog article, .


  • Avoid ATM's that charge fees
  • Don't carry your checkbook with you so you won't be tempted to make extra purchases
  • Use an interest-bearing checking account.See the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation article, , about minimizing fees associated with banking accounts and loans.


  • Accept hand-me-downs
  • Buy clothing off-season
  • Designate play clothes
  • Don't buy dry clean-only clothes
  • Make your own clothes
  • Never buy anything that isn't on sale
  • Repair/mend torn items
  • Re-wear unsoiled clothing
  • Shop secondhand or thrift stores
  • Take old clothing to a consignment shop
  • Use a clothesline instead of a dryer
  • Use slightly less detergent than recommended
  • Wash in cold water


  • After you pay off a debt, apply the payment amount to the debt with the next highest interest rate
  • Analyze fees and compare
  • Ask credit card companies to lower your interest rate
  • Consolidate multiple credit cards to avoid multiple fees
  • Don't carry your credit cards with you to avoid the temptation to make additional purchases
  • Pay off high interest rate credit cards first


  • Buy generic brands
  • Buy in bulk
  • Cook from scratch
  • Grow a garden
  • Limit eating out
  • Plan meals in advance and around sale items
  • Save and eat leftovers
  • Shop only with a list
  • Take a brown bag lunch
  • Use coupons


  • Ask for generic prescriptions
  • Ask your doctor for sample medications
  • Give up alcohol
  • Have regular checkups
  • Obtain services from clinics and the health department
  • Stop smoking


  • Caulk windows and doors
  • Check into refinancing
  • Do your own painting
  • Learn to do simple repairs
  • Make your own cleaning supplies
  • Recycle newspapers
  • Replace 100 watt bulbs with 60 watt bulbs to cut back on electricity usage
  • Use glass instead of paper cups
  • Use worn out towels to make washcloths


  • Carry only liability on older model cars because the cost to carry collision may be more than the car is worth
  • Carry only the minimum required insurance
  • Check your coverage
  • Comparison shop frequently
  • Increase deductibles
  • Purchase all insurance from the same carrier to obtain maximum discounts


  • Buy low-cost cosmetics and hygiene products
  • Don't use a pet groomer
  • Do your own manicures and pedicures
  • Give time, not money, to charities
  • Learn to trim your hair
  • Make gifts instead of buying them

Recreation and Entertainment

  • Attend high school sports events instead of more expensive college or professional events
  • Cancel magazine subscriptions
  • Drop your gym membership
  • Eliminate cable TV
  • Host potluck dinners at home
  • Meet friends for coffee and dessert instead of dinner
  • Rent movies instead of going to the theater
  • Use public parks and free museums
  • Use the public libraryFor more money-saving tips related to recreation and entertainment, see Chris Brogan's article, .


  • Drop extra services such as caller ID and call waiting
  • Limit your long-distance calls and make them at night or on weekends
  • Shop around for better long-distance rates
  • Stop your cell phone service
  • Use the phone book instead of directory assistance
  • Write letters or email instead of long-distance calling


  • Carpool
  • Drive small, economical cars
  • Live close to work to save on commuting costs
  • Use public transportation


  • Conserve water by turning off the faucet while you're brushing your teeth
  • Don't use your dishwasher's drying cycle
  • Lower the temperature on your hot water heater
  • Lower your thermostat at night
  • Set your thermostat to 75 in the summer and 65 in the winter
  • Take a five-minute shower
  • Use lights only when necessary
  • Use low water flush toilets or similar water saving devices
  • Use the utility company's budget plan
  • Water your garden at night


  • Carry your expense tracker with you to monitor miscellaneous expenses
  • List savings as a fixed expense on your budget
  • Look for package deals for regular telephone, cell phone, and Internet service
  • Mark your calendar with due dates of upcoming bills so you pay them on time and avoid late fees
  • Pay bills the day they arrive
  • Prorate and save for non-monthly expenses every month
  • Save pocket change
  • Save receipts
  • Search the Internet for freebies
  • Set aside fun money for the entire family

Some of these ideas may be just what you need for a temporary solution and others may be perfect for you long term. If you want to stretch your dollar, try selecting five or more of these ideas and implement them for a few months. For fun, keep track of what you didn't spend and watch the money add up. Remember that creating and managing a budget plays a crucial part in your financial health. For more ideas on spending less, read the Consumer Literacy Consortium brochure 66 Ways To Save Money.

Take control of your finances with our debt help tools. Use our calculators and budget planner to help you manage your money.

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