The Frugal Life Newsletter
The Frugal Life
October 25th, 2001
o The Frugal Life* (TFL) is published every
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o A Note From Keren
o The Good Mother –by B.G. Markstad o Patriotic Spending? –by Gary Foreman o Make Money This Holiday Season; Don’t Just Spend It –by Liz Folger o Readers Needs
o Last Weeks Readers Needs
o Readers Tips
o Subscription info
A Note from Keren
I can’t believe our new baby is already a month old! Sometimes is challenging being a mom of two children under the age of two. Organizing my time for the day is a priority… both of the girls need me in a different way. One needs to be fed every two hours and the other one needs to be busy with different activities during the day so she won’t be glued to the TV all day. I am running out of ideas for activities for my 19th month old girl. I’m planning to visit the library to get books on crafts and activities for toddlers, but I would like to hear from you too.
THE GOOD MOTHER –BY B.G. MARKSTAD
My son did everything but hand out cigars when he got his new Ford. He has
devoted the last five days to making this used vehicle distinctively his.
First the sound system of course, then the blue interior lights for a
night-time ambiance I don’t care to know about. Then the seatcovers, then
the hole drilled in the back seat for skis to fit through. And today’s
project- the felt on the dashboard which he measured and cut himself and
velcroed down – a project of at least two hours as he sat in the driveway
listening to his tunes at about 50 decibels.
He has given the family the tour of the car after each accessorizing
addition, curtain calls obligatory and when his sisters’ eyes started to
glaze over, roped in the neighbor, random passersby and at least one dog.
Soon he was left alone to his hobby and I, in a surge of motherly devotion
decided I would help sew the felt.
My contribution would be a surprise, a cover for the stereo accessory which
looked very stealable exposed whenever the trunk was open.
So as he sat in the wind sewing in his vehicle, I secretly worked away in
the kitchen cutting, stitching. This story in any other mother’s book would
have a Normal Rockwoman type ending where I would beamingly place said
stereo cover on to the delight and grateful embrace of my son.
And so it does. I dragged out my 1940 Singer sewing machine, placed it
strategically on the hallway floor, the only place it reaches the electric
outlet, and sat in front of it, leg extended to hit the power since my hands
were aligning fabric and turning the wheel. After twenty or so threading
attempts we were off and I got in at least ten stitches before the thread
snapped. This pattern repeated itself with annoying predictability for the
next hour, despite bobbin changes, rewindings, unwindings, tension
adjustments and putting on my glasses. But that was normal. My Home Ec mark
had always been my lowest mark and one time I had had to write lines for not
filling the double boiler base with water before I put the heat on.
I had forgotten, since last making curtains with this sewing machine five
years ago that it knows when I am in a hurry. We discussed, I tried to look
calm. I even took a break to let the dog out. But it was not deceived. And
ultimately, as it often does, it won. I resorted ultimately to
hand-stitching with the one needle I could thread since I now could not find
The idea was to make an elasticized cover over the front of the stereo.
Simple enough. I cut an approximate square of fabric and had an inspiration
of using pre-elasticized sheet edge for the elastic. I used all the corners
from the sheet and then sewed these bits together to avoid having to sew
corners. I sewed the fabric over the elastic all around but not being sure
how much to stretch the elastic to do this, ended up with a doll-size stereo
Generation two of the cover took another square of fabric but this time I
was more generous. I guesstimated bigger. And this one not only fit over the
stereo cover but over half the spare tire..
Generation three of the cover was my inspiration as dinner hour fast
approached and I should be cooking. I opted to forego sewing completely and
move directly to stapling. I’d make the whole thing just a nice three sided
flat cover. I turned the fabric over in my hands about 30 times trying to
visualize which way to fold things over so that all the ‘wrong’ sides were
on the same side. I was fine until I got to the edges and then was not sure
how to do the 90 degree fold. I opted to just fold and staple and
hope.Staples were flying and the dog wandered into the kitchen and started
to limp so I knew she’d found at least one staple.
Meanwhile my son had entered, hungry, and noticed the disarray of the house,
sewing machine, thread and needles out but not in use, fabric all over the
floor and table, the dog limping and me stapling. I told him, “Don’t even
talk to me” and he slumped back outside. As he sat in the front seat I
sneaked to the trunk and spread the cursed rag again over the stereo. It
kept slipping off until I stretched the extricated elastic from version two
over it. That somehow fit though now it looked like a sheet with a white
girdle over it.
Generation four of the cover was made by hand-sewing again, this time using
a gathering stitch I recalled from school. I made this stitch all around
version three, and then laced the elastic all around the circle using a
diaper pin to pull it along. I gingerly stretched the fabric along the
gather hoping it would not rip the stitching and sure enough it did rip, but
just in each corner. To my surprise as I stretched the whole thing over the
stereo, it fit! Of course it fit! Has anything I ever turned my hand to
failed? Well, except that .
Easy enough and it only took me three hours. We had beans for supper and
anyone who wasn’t grateful for them could go hang. My son looked at the
cover, threads dangling off the top, white elastic peeking out at each
corner, put his arm around me and said, “Aw mom… That’s very nice”
He drove off for the evening. I suspect the cover will be removed shortly.
But I don’t care as long as I don’t know about it. After all, I am a good
B. G. Markstad ~~~~~~
Patriotic Spending? –by Gary Foreman
Dear Dollar Stretcher,
During times of national crisis the general public has a natural tendency
to conserve. That is actually the worst thing we can do right now. The
economy will take a nosedive from the recent tragedy. If you really want to
do something for your country go out and spend $20. Then, next week, spend
another $20. Always be sure to buy American made from American businesses.
By doing so, the country’s economy will bounce back much faster, which
helps us all in the long run.
Donna makes an interesting point. Our normal instinct in uncertain times is
to conserve our resources and spend less. Yet, after the terrorists’
attack, the economy is struggling and could use some stimulus. Consumer
spending could be part of that stimulus.
So is going to the mall each week and spending an extra $20 a patriotic
thing to do?
When Donna buys that pizza it does help a local merchant. If enough people
join Donna, employees work hours won’t be reduced. And, the merchant will
buy more ingredients. So Donna’s spending will have a ripple effect.
But, let’s remember that something else happens, too. Donna has either
taken money out of savings or borrowed the money. So she has less money
than before. And, if she used a credit card she’ll repay the loan with
So Donna has taken money out of the investment world (banks, the stock
market, etc). That means less money is available for businesses to borrow
to help meet payrolls. If they can’t pay their workers, they’ll need to lay
So spending alone might not be the answer. Then how can Donna make a
decision that helps her country? She can do the most good by making ‘normal
and prudent’ purchases.
The terrorists assumed that it would be very hard for business to recover.
Fortunately, the capitalist system is resilient. There are many companies
that can supply most products or services. If one company is crippled
another steps in. The result is that any disruption is pretty quickly fixed.
But, being able to supply the goods and services that people need isn’t
enough. Americans, and consumers around the world, will need to buy what
business has to offer.
The ‘nosedive’ will be corrected if we just return to our normal spending
patterns. That means going about our business and our lives in our usual
manner. If we spend the same amount that we did before the terrorist attack
the economy will be just as big as it was before.
We really don’t need to do any unusual spending. Just go back to doing the
same things economically that you did before the attack. If your family
goes out for pizza on Tuesday nights, go out this week. If you were going
to visit Grandma at Thanksgiving, buy those plane tickets.
Donna’s right. In any emergency, our instinct tells us to conserve. That’s
where the ‘prudence’ comes in. We know that feeding our families tomorrow
is more important than buying non-essentials today.
So, is buying a new car now prudent? It really depends on your situation.
Suppose your old car is worn out. You’ve saved for a newer one, can afford
the payments and had planned to make the purchase now. Then you should
start shopping for the car.
But if you have a year to go on your present payments and your car is
running fine, buying a car to prove your patriotism is foolish.
The reason is simple. You don’t create wealth by spending money. Wealth is
created by producing something of value. Yes, you’ll help keep the car
salesman employed. But if you borrow money that you’ll struggle to repay,
you’ve actually become a burden to our society.
More debt makes our society weaker. If you have too much debt you can’t
afford to help others. You’ll be in a worse position if something
interrupts your income. Then you could end up asking the government to help
pay your bills and become a burden.
So what should Donna do? She can ask herself a few questions before making
– Do I need this item or service?
– Would I have made this purchase before the attack?
– Can I afford to pay for it?
– Am I using patriotism as an excuse to spend?
– Will American businesses benefit from my purchase?
One final thought. Now is a wonderful time to contribute to charities
helping those who have been affected by the attacks. Perhaps Donna could do
more good by giving the $20 to a local food bank. The money will be spent
and help people keep their jobs like she wants. But instead of another pair
of shoes in her closet, Donna’s $20 might help replace a pair of holey
sneakers for a child who’s parents are unemployed.
Do we need Donna and everyone else to help speed up the economy? You bet!
But reckless spending will only make it weaker later on. So let’s think
before we act.
Gary Foreman is a former Certified Financial Planner who currently edits
The Dollar Stretcher website www.stretcher.com/save.htm You’ll find
hundreds of free articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Make Money This Holiday Season; Don’t Just Spend It –by Liz Folger What if you could make more money than you spend this holiday season? Sounds like a pretty good idea, you say? If you’d like to be on the making money end during the holidays, now is the time to start preparing. Below I’m going to give you several money-making ideas. Pick the one or two that interest you the most and have fun!
It doesn’t matter if you’re into woodworking, sewing, painting, pottery, or creating handmade paper. More than ever, people enjoy giving that one-of-a-kind special gift. You can sell your wares via the Net, at holiday bazaars or craft shows, or even consignment style. Once you become known for your crafts, word-of-mouth will keep you very busy.
One idea is to create your own line of holiday cards with rubber stamps. Melissa Duquette has found this to be a profitable business. She explains, �The card season is upon us and everyone will soon be searching for the perfect holiday card to send to family and friends. This is your opportunity to break out into business and create unique hand-stamped holiday cards. Or why not offer a class teaching this great hobby? Rubber stamping can be worked into so many different businesses.�
I’ve been to a rubber-stamping party where we were able to create our own cards. I had a great time hanging out with my friends and making my own unique cards. If you are into rubber stamping, seriously consider having a rubber stamping card party. You would supply everything needed, and could charge either a flat fee or charge per card made.
Kim Moya runs a T-shirt business and finds this a way to make extra cash during the holidays. She says you can create inexpensive holiday sweatshirts, and long- and short-sleeved T-shirts. And she doesn’t stop at T-shirts, but also includes tote bags, felt and cloth ornaments, advent and traditional calendars, aprons and many other items that you can purchase wholesale and sell at retail prices!
I don’t know about you, but I love fleece blankets. I was really excited when I found out I could make these awesome �Snuggly� blankets without having to sew a stitch. Cinda Louden has been making these types of blankets for a while now and explains, �These blankets are made out of Polar Fleece material. They are soft, warm, cozy, durable, and wonderfully �Snuggly.’ There’s no sewing or needlework involved; all you do is cut and tie. Making Snugglies is a great way to start and create a business, make a little extra cash, or just make them for gifts. It’s all up to you!�
Tamaira Sandifer, the owner of Fun Mail For Kids, has been creating Santa Letters for a while now. �I thought, what child wouldn’t like to get a letter in the mail full of goodies just for them from Santa Claus. Once I informed family and friends about starting Fun Mail For Kids, the letters practically sold themselves. Last year brought in approximately 680 requests, which is pretty phenomenal since I don’t do much advertising.� Tamaira says that running this type of business is fun because it allows her to do something she really enjoys. �So it doesn’t really seem like work,� she says.
The hype of eBay has not gone away, but has only grown. When among a group of people, I can usually find someone who has either bought or sold something in an online auction. Colleen Wallace has made it her business to sell merchandise online. �The holiday season is the best time of year for me. People are always looking for unique and interesting gifts to give their loved ones. What better place to find something different than the online auctions,� says Colleen. Start thinking about what you might have that you could sell online. Colleen has found that the items that sell well are those that can be used for stocking stuffers, are limited editions, or are signed items.
Then there are the people who cannot stop baking during the holidays. Are you the type of person who finds that at the close of the season, all of your neighbors’ refrigerators and cookie jars are bursting at the seams because baking is just your thing? Believe it or not, this is not the favorite activity of some people.
Stacy Robinson has found that A Holiday Home Boutique is a fun way to network with others who provide a holiday-related product or service. Each vendor displays her product or information about her service, and friends and neighbors are invited to come to shop and share fellowship.
�As a cake decorator, I sell gingerbread houses, as well as display and serve a holiday-themed decorated cake – which the hostesses love because this becomes part of the refreshments! Visitors to the boutique get a chance to taste and see my cakes, and I take orders for holiday party cakes. I also display a few �dummy cakes’ to showcase my designs for birthdays, weddings, etc.�
The niche market that has been Stacy’s holiday bread and butter since 1991 is selling gingerbread houses to real estate agents. She leaves a gingerbread house with order information in large real estate offices for a few days. She also offers free delivery to the real estate office, or delivery for a fee to their home-buying customers and other colleagues, such as mortgage brokers, closing attorneys, etc.
PLAN IT RIGHT
These are just a few ideas you can use to make a little extra cash this
holiday season. Use your imagination. Remember, people are more than willing to spend money for that special gift and holiday service. Why can’t you be the one who pockets that money? This is such a great time of year to make your business work.
Another great reason to consider this type of seasonal work: If you plan it right, you shouldn’t be working too close to or on the actual holiday. Being your own boss has never sounded better, now has it?
Start thinking now if you want this to be seasonal work, or if you want to continue your business into the new year. All of the business ideas I listed above can be run throughout the year. This could be the start of something very profitable!
Ebooks are available on each of the subjects listed above, and each ebook contains more information on starting that particular business. They include:
* Bizy’s Guide To: Making Snugglies! A Step-by-Step Guide to Making and Starting Your Own Fleece Blanket Business – By Cinda Louden
* Bizy’s Guide To: How to Create a Profitable Cake Decorating Business �From Scratch� – By Stacy Robinson
* Bizy’s Guide To: Making Money With Online Auctions – By Colleen Wallace
* Bizy’s Guide To: Starting Your Own Personalized Letter Service For Kids – By Tamaira Sandifer
* Bizy’s Guide on How to Start and Operate A Home-Based T-Shirt Business – By Kimberly Banfield Moya
* Bizy’s Guide To: Starting a Rubber Stamping Business – By Melissa Duquette
You can purchase any of these ebooks at http://www.bizymoms.com
Q. Is there a cheap way to get rid of ants. I seem to having the problem several times a year. I just came in from work and the table and counter were full of little black and. I need something that want smell. I have a problem and just about anysmell makes me sick. I try to keep the table and counter cleaned off but with 2 teenagers and a husband I have a hard time.Thanks for any help, Cindy Send your answers to editor ~~~~~~
Last Weeks Readers Needs
o Help! We have just moved to Southwest Florida from Michigan and don’t
understand the growing seasons here. When is the best time to grow what ?
Read the answers at http://www.thefrugallife.com/florida_gardening.htm ~~~~~~
o I have read your newsletter for about a year and recently saw someone
responding to a letter about someone else storing breast milk in ziploc
bags and the need for sterilization of materials that hold milk and
she was incorrect when she said that all containers for breast milk need
to be sterilized. According to the La Leche League Intl, breast milk
pumps need only be washed in hot soapy water, not sterilized between
uses and this include the receptacle part of the pump (pg 159 “the
womanly art of Breastfeeding”- published by LLL International). They do
suggest “occasional sterilization” of the pump but deem it unnecessary
after every use. They also say that “New research has shown that human
milk can be safely kept at room temperature (66-72 degrees F) for up to
ten hours because of its remarkable ability to retard the growth of
bacteria” (pg158 “the womanly art of Breastfeeding”
As a breastfeeding mom, I consulted a lactation consultant who happens
to be an LLL leader in this area and she advised that any glass jar
washed in hot soapy water and left to dry would be appropriate for
storage of breast milk. Their book suggests “a glass or plastic storage
container, baby bottle or plastic milk storage bag” (pg 158) so perhaps
the ziploc bag that your first reader suggested were appropriate if she
was washing them out?
I just felt I wanted to contribute something to this discussion.
thanks for listening.
o Since I have six cats feeding them can be rather expensive, and I do buy
quality dry and wet food. I do not buy my cat food at the grocery store,
unless they can beat the price at my local PetSmart. PetSmart will often
have broken bags which they sell for 20% off of regular price. Most of those
bags do not have 20% of the food gone from them. This goes for the broken or
torn bags/boxes of cat litter. HOWEVER, they do not always give you the
discount at the register, so it pays to pay attention to what they are doing.
A discount isn’t a discount if it isn’t given. lol. Also, if I should buy
a bag of food that they stick their noses up at, I just mix it in with their
other dry cat food that they like, and then they eat both. Thus, I have
I also don’t use the bowls intended for cats, but instead use dog food bowls.
Not only do they hold more and I don’t have to fill them as often, but it is
much easier for the cats to eat out of. I have tried the “feeders” but for
some reason the cat food seems to “get hung up” and doesn’t always come out
of the hole. My cats haven’t learned to put their paw in there to make more
come down (they let me do it – lol). The same goes for their water dishes.
I have two, one upstairs and one downstairs and they get filled/refreshed
once a day.
Wet cat food. I never take the cat food directly from the can to the plate.
I empty the can into a plastic container, and then, I lightly rinse the can
to get the rest of the juice/liquid that is remaining in the can. That rinse
water goes into the cat food. I started doing this because I have a cat with
no teeth and it was easier for him to lap the cat food if is was runnier.
But, I also found that by doing this it takes the cats longer to eat (just
like us humans – lol) and they actually eat less.
Every cat owner will you tell you that the same food their cats liked last
week becomes the one they don’t like this week. When that happens in my
house I take a can that I know they like (chicken is one of their favorites)
and I will put it on top of the other. This way they end up eating both at
the same time.
Also any food left on the plates is scraped back into the plastic container
and put in the refrig. I don’t heat cat food, but I will add some warm water
right from the tap which takes the edge off of the cold. I also find by
using this method I can buy the bigger cans of cat food; again a cost savings.
With six cats I am constantly looking for containers for the used kitty
litter. Believe it or not, empty cereal boxes work really well, the bigger
the box the better. The plastic inside keeps the litter smell in and you can
fill up the entire box, whether it takes a day or several. The bigger boxes
of Tide (dry); the ones that come with a plastic handle and a lid that opens
up also work well. The cardboard is extra thick and sturdy and you can
fill them up. Again the close lid keeps the litter odor in. Bev
o Need an ashtray for the garage? Just take a large tuna can that has been
rinsed very well and fill it with the scoopable cat litter. The cigarette
butts are easy to discard later, and never a risk of fire from a smoldering
butt because the litter cuts off the oxygen supply to the cigarette. This
idea also works very well at outdoor get togethers. Just place many filled
cans around. When cleaning up you can discard the whole can with it contents
or if you want to be very frugal, just remove the butts saving the containers
for another time. Bev o I really enjoy your newsletter and would like to give a tip on how to save on Gift giving. Recently I purchased some discontinued wallpaper at a discount store for $2 a roll. Over the years I have save shoe boxes for kids school assignments and ect. I took the wallpaper and covered the shoe boxes, The make a great gift box, or picture box. For $2 dollars I made something look really nice. You can also use this for mats for picture frames. Or make your own gift bags.
thought I would give a tip for once
If you have any frugal tips, please send them to editor
+ DISCLAIMER – Information in TFL has been derived
from sources believed accurate and reliable. In no
event shall *The Frugal Life,* Keren Wells, or the
TFL staff be liable for any damages whatsoever
resulting from any action arising in connection with
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TFL does not knowingly accept ads from advertisers
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publication of an ad in TFL does not constitute an
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There is no remuneration for suggestions, tips, or
ideas submitted by readers, other than occasional
prizes offered by TFL and awarded at the
sole discretion of TFL and it’s staff.
All suggestions, tips, and ideas, submitted for
publication in The Frugal Life, become the property
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of the reader submitting such suggestions, tips, or
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tips, and ideas unless a reader requests otherwise
at the time of the submission.