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The Frugal Life News – 2/18/02

The Frugal Life Newsletter

The Frugal Life
February 18, 2002
133rd. issue

o The Frugal Life* (TFL) is published every
Monday by, Keren Wells, publisher.
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o A Note From Keren
o Was 2001 Your Wakeup Call to get Debt FREE? –by Greg Moore
o Maximize Your Tax Refund –by Gary Foreman
o Readers Needs
o Last Week Readers Needs
o Readers Tips
o Disclaimer
o Subscription info

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~~ A Note from Keren

I am pleased to inform everybody the baby clothes I offered to give away,
are going to a very special family.  Also I got the opportunity to learn
of a very special person in Kentucky.  She lives in a community where
people are very poor, and she is trying to help her community along with
her cousin by having a resource center.  They need canned goods, soap,
clothes for children and adults (some children don’t even have underware,
and that is already a problem at school), baby items, pads, toothbrushes,
etc.  Some homes don’t have running water…  they need the basics, things
that we (even the frugal people), take for granted.

I have been praying for this community and would like to help, and in the
meantime if anyone knows or have the resources to help this community on a
big or small scale, please let me know (), I know
they will greatly appreciate your help and interest.

Well, that’s all I have to say for now.  Have a happy and blessed week.

Keren Wells

Lessons from My Journey to Debt FREEDOM
Greg Moore, CFISL

           Was 2001 Your Wakeup Call to get Debt FREE?

The journey to Debt Freedom is becoming a race. We can no longer
afford a leisurely stroll… racking up debts hoping to pay them
from decades of future earnings… if ever.

It’s a race against increasing uncertainty and insecurity…

     * Layoffs are at a nine year high;

     * Consumer confidence is at a five year low;

     * 401Ks have become 201Ks;

     * War;

     * ENRON;

     * 1% CDs.

Stay focused.

Execute your Debt Freedom plan… if you have one. Get one if you
don’t. Pick up the pace a bit. In these turbulent times, each debt
you pay off:

     ++ Decreases the amount of income you need;

     ++ Increases the amount of cash you can save.

Both of which increase your sense of security and decrease your
need to worry.

As Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “You can only give away what you have.”
If you have security, then that is what you can give to others. 

It’s just like the airline steward says during pre-flight
instructions when the plane experiences a sudden drop in pressure
and those yellow masks drop from the ceiling…

      “Put YOUR mask on first, then help your child.”

Which is obviously good advice. But the next statement is
of paramount importance…

                  “Then breathe normally.”

Get to Debt Freedom.

Get there as quickly as you can.

Then give away security to others — help them get to Debt
Freedom, too.

It will come back to you.

    Greg Moore is the author of the Debt Freedom eCourse,
“DebtIntoWealth — Lessons from My Journey to Debt Freedom”.
     For a FREE Lesson 1 of this course, go here:
Maximize Your Tax Refund –by Gary Foreman

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
I have 4 children and do not work outside the home. As tax season
approaches we are anxious to get that large tax check. As usual, we have
it spent before it gets here. There are so many things we need. My washer and
dryer are breathing their last, the car has a leak in the radiator. Then
there is the desire for a date with my husband. We haven’t had any private
fun in such a long time.

I know that it would please our creditors to just plunk down the tax check
in their lap. There won’t be enough to pay all of them. But when that
money is gone, what do we do to buy the high-dollar items that we need? Would it really help to use maybe $1,000 or so of the tax check on one of the
loans?  Should we use it on the highest interest loan?

Cathy asks a good question. While it’s tempting to use a tax refund to
treat yourself to some special purchase, in many cases it’s more important
to use the money to pay off bills or make necessary purchases.

The honest answer to Cathy’s question is – it depends. What she does with
the tax refund may be less important than what she does with the other
bills and expenses that she faces.

Using a $1,000 tax refund to pay off her credit card could save Cathy $180
a year (assuming 18% interest rate). So if she’s able to keep the balance
down she’d save that much every year for the rest of her life.

However, a more likely scenario is that she’ll use the card for an auto
repair or other purchase soon after and have the same credit card balance
that she started with. In that case, she really hasn’t accomplished

She can gain an advantage by using the refund to pay down the account
that’s charging her the highest rate of interest. Then put new purchases
on the card that’s charging her the lowest rate of interest.

Cathy should always be trying to move her debts to the lowest cost credit
card. It may not seem like much, but if she has a $7,000 balance and can
reduce her rate from 18% to 13% she’ll save $350 each year.

What happens if Cathy spends the refund? Again, it depends on what she
buys and how she buys it.

Anyone who is married with children can appreciate Cathy’s desire for a
date with her spouse. But, she might be better off planning a candlelight
dessert with hubby at home after the kids’ bedtime once each month.

What about the auto repairs or a new washer and dryer? She could visit her
mechanic and have him install a new radiator. An alternative would be to
have her husband or a neighbor install a radiator purchased at a junkyard.
That could reduce the cost of the repair by 50% or more.

It’s possible that the IRS refund could give Cathy some buying leverage.
Take her washer and dryer for instance. If she waits until they break
she’ll probably be forced to buy immediately. Having the refund check
available means that she’s a ‘cash’ buyer. That could allow her to drive a
better bargain. It would also allow her to look for a good used deal in

Another possibility would be to save the old washer and dryer. Perhaps a
$100 service call would buy some time.

The trick is not to use the refund to momentarily feel wealthy and pay
retail. Use it to give you flexibility to make it go further.

There’s still one other option for her tax refund. She could use the money
for a cash emergency fund. In most cases it would be silly to keep an
emergency fund that earns money market rates (about 2%) while she’s still
paying credit card debts at 18%. But, if Cathy could learn to face
emergencies without using her charge cards, it could be worth it.
Generally, once a family begins to put big expenses on their credit card
they’ll always carry a balance.

Two final thoughts. Part of every monthly budget should be money set aside
for medical, home and auto bills. It might not be easy setting aside $50
more each month. But it’s essential. In Cathy’s case, she might want to
find a part-time job that could generate that much.

Cathy and her husband may also want to have his withholding changed.
Remember that the IRS doesn’t pay you interest on your withheld taxes. So
instead of getting a big refund each year, Cathy could use the extra take
home pay and use it to reduce those 18% card balances each month.

Gary Foreman is a former Certified Financial Planner who currently edits
The Dollar Stretcher <> website. You’ll find
hundreds of free articles to stretch your day and your budget.

Reader’s Needs

Q. Recently my best friend and I, along with our husbands, started a
ministry called Great Blessings Ministry, to help the “working poor” and
disabled who do not qualify for government programs in our county. We help
with emergency services like food, utility bills and doctor visits. When
we give out meat like 1# packages of hamburger, chicken, tuna and hams we
would like to give out quick and inexpensive recipes along with the
ingredients needed. Recipes must feed 4-6 people. Can you please ask your
readers for help. They can email us at Gr************@ao*.com.
Thanks so much and God bless you.  –Karen Langreder

Q.  I was wondering if anyone had a low cost solution to commercial dog
food? I have 2 dogs and one is quite large, I feel i spend more on dog
food than I do on groceries for my family! I have tried the cheap stuff
and they won’t touch it, I do have kitchen scraps but I have a family of 5
and not much in the way of leftovers, any ideas?  Nancy

Q.  Does anyone know how to make the scented pinecones that are so popular during the Holiday season and how to make the scent last? –Martha

Send your answers to editor

Last Week Reader’s Needs

o I have a collection of men, women’s, belts and every color in the rainbow. Do you know of a craft which can be done with these? I do have a clothes closet where upon all my clothing, shoes, and miscellanous items are total free. But i am unable to get rid of these. Thank you

Read the Answers at

o   Every Mexican food restaurant in the country has the exact same
incredible cheese dip (white, bland, drippy, maybe not 100% cheese). I
have looked and looked for a retail outlet for this stuff but can’t find
it. Nothing else is as good but I calculate by buying it by the dish, I’m
paying about $100 per gallon. I can’t buy a gallon can from a wholesaler.
Anybody know where I can get this stuff retail? –Jay
Read the Answers at

Readers Tips

o  When you send birthday cards, etc., address in pencil and advise
recipient to re-cycle and send to someone else down the line for similar
occasion. –Jackie

o  This is truly not bird related, but it’s a bit of important info I’d like to pass along.

We all complain loudly to a manager, supervisor etc. when a
sales person, customer service rep or such just won’t
listen, is snide or such.  But have you EVER talked to the
manager/supervisor when you got good service?

Until about 2 years ago I occassionally did, but not often.
  Now I do every time.  The reason…besides being nice
…almost every customer service business in the nation
gives REWARDS to their good employees.  I know this for a
fact.  An individual in the industry told me and I’ve
checked it out.  Sure enough.

One company I talked to gave their employees an extra 15
minute break–we could all use that. Another gives out
prizes with the company logo on them. ie credit card
wallets, pen and pencil sets, tote bags.  Some give monetary
bonsus after so many good remarks.  The employees are not
allowed to tell you that, but if you ask them, then they can
say yes we do.  Then you asked to speak to their supervisor
and praise their work.

One young lady burst into tears when I told her that I
wanted to tell her supervisor what a good job she had done.
  It seems she’d had a truly horrible day and it was the
first good thing that had happened to her all day.

In a store and some one is extremely helpful.  Tell their
supervisor.  In all situations it not only gets them
immediate acknowledgement it goes on their record for their
next pay raise AND encourgages them to be nice to some one else.

Just thought I’d let you know. Jan

o  This is not exactly a frugal tip in the usual way, but it can save you
and alot of aggrevation.  When I go food shopping, the first thing I do is
get a shopping cart and put my pocketbook in the front “baby seat” section
of the cart.  I next take the baby restraint straps and wrap those straps
and around the straps of my pocketbook.
This way, if someone should try to snatch my purse, it isn’t going
as it is virtually strapped into the cart, and can not be removed without
undoing the strap restraints.  I do not live in a high crime area, but an
acquaintance lost her pocketbook out of a cart when she was not looking,
we all can imagine the agony of replacing everything in your purse.
   emembee in MA.

o  Bleach and water are great for shower
curtains.  However, to save you some time, put the
bleach with washwater and a little detergent in the
washing machine, put your shower curtain in wasing
macine along with a towel and wash.  Take shower
curtain out wet and hang on shower rod.  Piece of
cake, works great, everytime. — Louise

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
the use of information herein.

TFL does not knowingly accept ads from advertisers
deemed detrimental to 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, 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
of The Frugal Life, notwithstanding similar rights
of the reader submitting such suggestions, tips, or

TFL publishes readers name with their suggestions,
tips, and ideas unless a reader requests otherwise
at the time of the submission.

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