The Frugal Life News
The Frugal Life
May 30, 2002
The Frugal Life* (TFL) is published every Monday by, Randal Watkins,
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� A Note From Randal
� Surviving Layoffs –by Gary Foreman
� Luring Ladybugs Into Your Garden –by Arzeena
� Readers Needs
� Last Week Readers Needs
� Readers Tips
� Subscription info
A Note from Randal
Hello everyone! I am sure many of you have wondered what happened to
“The Frugal Life” newsletter. You will be happy to know this issue will
resume the normal weekly schedule. Many of you have been around since Sarah Kennington began the TFL site and then she turned it over to Keren Wells. Now you have got me, but don’t despair just because I am a male. My wife and I have been “frugally living” since 1987. My wife, Donna, met Sarah online. Nearly a year later we were going to be near her hometown. She invited us to stay in her home and get acquainted with her and her family. It was a great time. When Keren mentioned to Sarah that her load was too much to do home life and “The Frugal Life,” Sarah emailed us and asked us if we would like to further “The Frugal Life” website and ezine. We realized it was a perfect match to the community of great people we are building at The Herbs Place.com:
I am confident together we can build a strong network of frugal ideas that can help at home, office or play. I am here to serve you and it sure is a pleasure to work with such a wonderful group of individuals.
There are lots of changes to the website and there will be other helpful changes in the near future. Check out the new look at the site:
Just post your question/answer at our new bulletin board here
I look forward to serving as your editor and I am very grateful for your readership.
Until next time,
SURVIVING LAYOFFS � by Gary Foreman
Dear Dollar Stretcher
I am frustrated by stories on conventional financial planning. I have been
“downsized” three times in my career and suffered a major setback each time, so the usual planning doesn’t succeed. Also, technical jobs are few and
low-paying in my area so it’s harder to come back each time. A data center where I worked was closed in 1990 and it took me nine years to work my way back up to the same income. Plus, I had to “eat” my 401(k) portfolio to survive. then of course I was penalized by the government in extra taxes. Just this month, my current company downsized with no notice and I was laid off at 53. Luckily I have a good emergency nest egg, but my new job will be a $2.50 per hour pay cut. The advantage is that I’m switching to a health care company where layoffs don’t seem to happen, but again, I’m working my way back up. Any helpful hints on surviving in the New Economy, where job security is nil?
Thanks! Nick T. in Sioux Falls, SD
Nick is not alone. Nearly 150 million people work in the U.S. About 12
million of them experienced some period of unemployment last year (U.S.
Dept of Labor).
He has already taken the first step. That’s recognizing that he’s responsible for providing his own security. Both in his career and in his financial affairs.
An emergency fund is a necessity. Fortunately, Nick has accumulated one.
Without it any job loss will be a struggle. In fact, credit counselors say that about half of their clients were doing fine until they faced a job loss or medical crisis without savings.
Granted, saving money isn’t always easy. But if you’re spending all of your
income now, you will not survive the lower income that follows a layoff
without serious financial problems.
401k’s are a good savings tool. Even if you have to take money out early
like Nick. Remember that some of that money was contributed by your
ex-employer. And that it’s been growing without taxes. So even with the
early withdrawal penalty, Nick was ahead of the game.
As much as possible, invest your 401k in something besides your company’s stock. That way if the company has trouble you won’t lose your job and your savings.
Nick would be wise to routinely try to figure out how he’d honor his commitments if his paycheck were replaced by an unemployment check. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) study showed the median length of unemployment was a little over 12 weeks. So his plan should cover at least three months of lower income.
Always try to avoid any commitments that you couldn’t make if you lost your job. You might want a new car. But if you couldn’t cover the payments during a layoff, you could lose it and your good credit rating, too.
If you are carrying credit card balances you might want to get credit insurance. It’s usually not a good deal, but if you suspect a layoff is coming it will continue to pay your monthly minimums while you’re unemployed.
Don’t wait until you fall behind to contact your lenders. As soon as you lose your job talk with them. Some may offer to reduce your minimum payments until you’re employed again.
If you can’t keep up, consider credit counseling. It will affect your credit rating. But continuing to fall farther behind or a bankruptcy would be worse.
Expect to not only change companies, but also to change careers during your life. Very few career paths will remain the same for three or four decades. And the jobs that offer more advancement are the ones most likely to change.
A BLS survey shows that about 45% of displaced workers received advanced written notice that their jobs were going to be eliminated. Unfortunately Nick wasn’t one of them. But there are often warning signs. When you do the same work as younger, lower paid workers you’re in jeopardy. Also, watch your company for signs of trouble. A company that struggles for earnings each quarter or a change in management could be a sign of impending layoffs.
Check job openings in your field even while you’re employed. A lack of openings isn’t good. Especially as you get older and farther up the pay grade. Let’s face it. A higher salary makes you less attractive to prospective employers. BLS studies show that older workers have a harder time finding comparable employment after a job loss.
Continually learn new skills. As jobs change, so must you. What will you need to know to hold your job in three years? And do you have those tools
or do you need to learn them?
Be realistic in your expectations when searching for a new job. Of the people who lost their jobs 24% took a pay cut of 20% or more. Don’t turn
down a lesser paying job because you’re holding out for something that doesn’t exist.
Nick has proved that you can survive in uncertain times. It’s often a challenge, but it can be done. Let’s hope that his new job is a great one!
Gary Foreman is a former Certified Financial Planner who currently edits
The Dollar Stretcher website. You’ll find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar!
LURING LADYBUGS INTO YOUR GARDEN
Of all the insects in the garden, the ladybug is probably the most easily recognized. Ladybugs, also called lady beetles or ladybirds, are a gardener’ s best friend. Not only do they feed on insect pests, especially aphids, but
their bright coloring also brings cheer into the garden.
Attracting them into your garden requires some planning and but can help
immensely with your pest control. However, if you just don’t have the space to plant the types of plants that ladybugs like, releasing commercially bought ladybugs can help you clean up infested plants while you work to establish your own population.
Adult lady beetles are usually oval or domed shaped, and can range in colour from red to orange. The number of black markings can also range anywhere from no spots to 15 spots. Some species are even solid black or black with a red spot (the Twice Stabbed Lady Beetle).
The young, larval form of the ladybug is often less recognized. They tend to resemble tiny, six-legged alligators, blue-black in colour with orange spots. Often, gardeners unknowingly squish or spray the larval form of the
ladybug, not knowing what a benefit they are to the garden.
Both adults and larvae feed on many different soft-bodied insects but aphids are their main food source. One larva will eat about 400 aphids during its development and single adult can eat a whopping 5,000 aphids in
its lifetime. In addition, they will also eat other insects such as mealybugs and spider mites as well as the eggs of the Colorado Potato Beetle
and European Corn Borer.
Within a year, there can be as many as 5-6 generations of ladybugs as the
average time from egg to adult only takes about 3-4 weeks. In the spring,
adults find food and then the females lay anywhere from 50-300 eggs. The
tiny eggs are yellow & oval shaped and are usually found in clusters of
10-50, near aphid colonies. The eggs take 3-5 days to hatch and the larvae
voraciously feed on aphids for 2-3 weeks before they pupate into adults.
In the fall, adults hibernate in plant refuse and crevices. They often do
this en masse where several hundred adults will gather at the base of a
tree, along a fencerow or under a rock. They especially like areas where
leaves protect them from cold winter temperatures.
Attracting Ladybugs in the Garden
Apart from aphids, ladybugs also require a source of pollen for food and are attracted to specific types of plants. The most popular ones have umbrella shaped flowers such as fennel, dill, cilantro, caraway, angelica, tansy, wild carrot & yarrow. Other plants that also attract ladybugs include cosmos (especially the white ones), coreopsis, and scented geraniums, dandelions.
Apart from planting attractive plants in the garden, you can also promote
ladybug populations by cutting bag on spraying insecticides. Not only are
ladybugs sensitive to most synthetic insecticides, but if the majority of
their food source is gone, they won’t lay their eggs in your garden. As
difficult as it may be, allowing aphids to live on certain plants is
necessary to ensure that there is enough food for ladybugs. In addition,
resist the urge to squish bugs & eggs in the garden, unless you’re certain
that they are not beneficial.
Sometimes, there just isn’t enough room in the garden to have ladybug-attracting plants or you or your neighbour may have been over diligent with the pest control. In certain circumstances, purchasing ladybugs can help to control a severe problem or help a population become established.
Scientists have found that indoor-reared ladybugs fail to find their own
food when released outside so the majority of commercially available
ladybugs are collected from the wild. Before releasing them into the garden,
here are a few tips to help ensure that they stay where you want them:
1. Only release ladybugs after sun down or before sun-up. Ladybugs navigate by the sun and in the evenings & early mornings, they tend to stay put.
2. Pre-water the area where you are releasing them. Not only will the ladybugs appreciate the drink, free-moisture on the leaves helps the ladybugs to “stick” to plants.
3. In the warm months, it helps to chill the ladybugs in the fridge before releasing them. Ladybugs tend to crawl more than fly in colder temperatures and the overnight stay in the fridge won’t harm them in anyway.
4. On severely infested plants like roses, drape a floating row cover or thin sheet over the plant and release the ladybugs underneath. Within a day, the ladybugs will have found the aphids and will be happily munching away at
One Note: The Asian Ladybug
If you are planning to purchase ladybugs for your garden or greenhouse, I encourage you to select the native ladybugs species, Hippodamia convergens, rather than the Asian ladybug, Harmonia axyridis. Although the latter is very effective at controlling aphids and is often the species of choice for commercial greenhouse growers, it is the main cause for “ladybug
infestations” inside houses.
While the native ladybug is happy to hibernate outdoors, the Asian species
requires warmer temperatures and often ends up becoming a pest to homeowners as it congregates in large numbers inside. In addition, it seems to be establishing fairly large numbers in the wild and there is some concern it will begin competing with the native species. Some suppliers of predatory insects do sell both species and it’s best to choose the native one if you can.
For more information on ladybugs, here are some great University websites:
Arzeena is an agronomist and garden writer with Organic Living Newsletter. Subscribe to this free e-newsletter at
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Here’s some questions from our readers. Please send your answers to the editor..
Q. I have well water. Is there anyway that I can detect how much well water I have? Also can someone recommend a good reading source so that I may look up any other questions and/or concerns that I may have on this topic?
Q. Is having a garbage disposal helpful in reducing your garbage? I now pay for sanitation and would love to know if there is a way to reduce waste.
Q. Also, I live in NY and we are having a serious drought in the tri-state area. Just wondering if there are any flowers which I can plant that require little maintenance and water.
Q. With the latest can openers making it possible to remove the tops of cans with no sharp edges, I hate to throw the lids away. (I’m a pack rat..) Does anyone have any ideas of what I could do with these lids? – Vonnie
ANSWERS TO READERS’ NEEDS
Q. I have a problem with rust spots on my clothes from the dryer. I have tried CLR and various other things with no luck at all. If you know what will take it out I would sure appreciate the help! Thanks
A. I don’t have any first time experience with that problem. I did find that the book “How to Clean Practically Anything” suggests trying a paste of salt and vinegar and let it stand for 30 minutes and then wash. If that doesn’t work then a paste of salt and lemon juice and then wash. – Editor
Note: If any of you have any other ideas please let me know that I may post them in next weeks issue, Thanks! – Editor
CAT HAIR OFF FURNITURE
Use a Bounce (or Downy) dryer sheet to clean the cat hair off furniture. It works great and just clumps the hair together and sticks to the dryer sheet.
Your guests will love you.
NOTE: If you have any frugal tips, please send them to the editor
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TFL’s readers, however, publication of an ad in TFL does not constitute an
endorsement for such product or service. There is no remuneration for suggestions, tips, or ideas submitted by readers. All suggestions, tips, and ideas, submitted for publication in The Frugal Life, become the property of The Frugal Life, notwithstanding similar rights of the reader submitting such suggestions, tips, or ideas. TFL publishes readers name with their suggestions, tips, and ideas unless a reader requests otherwise at the time of the submission.