Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More tips from the Dollar Stretcher

Those "Free" Vacations

A huge way people get taken advantage of in travel scams is to get a free vacation to visit a potential vacation investment. People are wary of the hard sell tactics used by these hucksters.

What they frequently don't realize is that the "free" air travel and three-night stay will result in a Form MISC-1099 to the IRS for the full value of the air fare (not discounted)and hotel stay that will create a large federal and possible state income tax liability. I have had clients owe taxes in excess of what they would have paid out-of-pocket for a nice vacation if they had shopped for bargain fares themselves and not had to waste a vacation day listening to the hard sell of condo investors and time-share sellers. Arlene C., CPA

We Don't Need Gas This Summer

To save a little money when every dollar counts, I called my gas company and asked if they charged for turning off the gas and turning it on again. They said that there was not a charge. We only use gas for the furnace and the pilot light is electric. They were charging me every month for not using any gas but for the line, taxes and such to the amount of over $20 per month. I now have them shut off the gas on the first of May and turn on when needed in the fall. Be sure to check with your gas company about the charges. Jean H.

Reviving Veggies

I have always cut my celery stocks into chunks and plunged those into cold water in the fridge to get the celery to stiffen back to its original state after becoming limp. I wondered if I could do something similar to revive some lettuce that I had. My romaine lettuce had become terribly wilted, but not brown on the edge of the leaves. I tore the wilted leaves from the rest of the "stalk" and stood them with the torn/cut ends in a glass of water in the door of the fridge for a day. The water was about two to three inches deep in the glass. I was shocked and pleased to see that the wilted leaves came back to their original crispy fresh state. I have even resurrected the same lettuce leaves more than once with this method. I hate to waste food and I'm not fond of wilted lettuce leaves in salad so this was a delight to discover. Not only did I not waste the food (and money I spent on it), but I also could enjoy it more in its revived state. Dawn F. in Spokane, Washington

Doggie Digging Up Flowers

My dog kept digging in my flowerbed next to my house. A friend of mine told me to put chicken wire over weed prevention covering and secure it with stakes or rocks. My dog could not dig in my flowerbed anymore. This also works on stray dogs or cats that get into your flowerbeds. Velma

Little Luxuries: My Front Porch

Here's one of my little luxuries. With the warm weather here in Kentucky, I make a pitcher of lemonade from scratch, use a crystal pitcher from a yard sale, and kick back on my front porch.

1 cup sugar
5 cups cold water
1 cup lemon juice

Dissolve sugar in lemon juice and half of the water. When fully dissolved, add rest of water. For extra flare, serve over crushed ice with a slice of lemon. Makes 6 1/2 cups

As a kid, I remember visiting the elderly ladies in my neighborhood and sitting on their front porches with them as they enjoyed fresh lemonade. It was always a special thing to savor the sweet and sour in the heat of summer.

A friend balked at the price of my little treat as the cost of lemons is roughly $10 for three gallons of lemonade. It's true that it may be high but an easy cheat is using bottled lemon juice from the store, which is about $3 a bottle. Either way, sometimes when life is tough, lemonade is the answer. Sarah in KY

Note from Lucy: Making homemade lemonade is probably the way to go.... I noticed that the lemonade from the grocery store has High Fructose Corn syrup in it.... Have a great week everyone!


At 11:21 AM, Blogger Big Dave T said...

One of my blogging buddies took one of those vacations where they get the time share pitch. That's a surprise. My son who was reading the tax code recently told me that any "gift" your employer gives to you should be claimed on your taxes. So if your boss takes you out to lunch on the company dime, you've got to claim it.

I think I pay enough taxes.

At 2:24 PM, Anonymous Jahn said...

Another really good hot-weather drink is called "Switched":

Mix 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of honey, 1/2 cup of dark molasses, 1/4
cup of white or cider vinegar and 1½ tsp of ground ginger.

At 5:29 PM, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Jahn, that sounds yumnmmmmm.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Marla said...

Those are some interesting tips. I not sure about the drink recipe that Jahn commented about. If you try it, let me know what it tastes like.

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Putz said...

thanks velma via lucy and hi marla jayne

At 1:27 PM, Blogger Oh great One said...

Great tips! I had no idea about the free vacations. Good to know.

At 11:44 PM, Blogger Cliff said...

I really like homemade lemonade. Thanks for reminding me of that.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Rachel said...

I'm going to make some lemonade!
Great tips Lucy!! Thanks!!

At 4:01 PM, Blogger Fred said...

We love lemonade around here, so I think I'll pass that along to the kids.


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