THE FRUGAL LIFE NEWS
Published Weekly by Randal Watkins
June 21, 2002
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CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE:
A NOTE FOM RANDAL
Father’s Day Visit
Use for Tennis Balls?
Praying Mantis – Friend or Foe?
SHARING WHAT YOU KNOW
ANSWERS TO PREVIOUS QUESTIONS
A NOTE FROM RANDAL
I just returned from visiting my Son, Mom and Dad and other loved ones in
Oklahoma for Father’s Day. It sure is hot out there. I had forgotten just
While I was there, I played tennis and actually got a real good “whooping”
from one of my son’s friends. I guess there is no respect for age when it
comes to competition. LOL
Playing tennis over time I have found the balls can’t be used effectively
anymore. Does anyone have any ideas how to use them once they have lost
their bounce? If so, just post your ideas to our new bulletin board. You can find directions here.
It’s good to be back and this issue raises some good questions for all our
frugal readers. Hope you have a safe summer and continue to enjoy The
Frugal Life News.
I do welcome any ideas you have for improvement. Look forward to hearing
from you. Please post your questions/answers to our new bulletin board. You can find directions here.
Until next week!
FOCUS ON FINANCES
SIMPLER LIVING IS COMPASSIONATE LIVING
My wife and I hosted a Life Group in our home doing a workbook to encourage
Christian growth. The group breaks for the summer since there are way to
many options for gatherings. Now we’re looking around for ideas on another
workbook that will get the message of frugal living into others. The one
we’re considering is: “Simpler Living, Compassionate Life” Has anybody
done this? It’s hard to find a book on simple living that has study group
ideas. My wife has been reading through this one and gets real excited at
the thought of turning more folks towards a simpler lifestyle. Here’s a
synopsis of the book:
“In a rare collection of voices, Henri Nouwen, Cecile Andrews, Richard
Foster and others examine how voluntary simplicity can enrich your path to
wholeness and abundance. Contemplative readings blend with practical
suggestions to encourage you on the journey. Simpler Living, Compassionate
Life includes a study guide for a life-changing four-, six- or eight-week
course for groups or individuals.”
Editor’s NOTE: Here is a testimonial on this book and its effectiveness.
Hello! Regarding the Simple Living Study Group. I highly recommend the
book you mention, Simpler Living, Compassionate Life, and the study
guidelines found in the back of the book. I participated in small group
study using this book and study guidelines a couple of years ago and it was
a wonderful experience that started me on the path for simple living.
By the way, love the newsletter. Keep up the great work! – Mary-Kate
The Dollar Stretcher – by Gary Foreman
Dear Dollar Stretcher,
I live in Texas I just got my renewal for my homeowners insurance. Last
year I had a payment of $723. It went up to $1,123 for the new year. Their
explanation was that it was due to all the claims for black mold. Do you
have any ideas on where to look for cheaper insurance? I am with Allstate.
Wow! That’s a 55% increase. And a very good reason to ask what alternatives
are available. Unfortunately for JF, it’s not as simple as calling around
looking for cheaper rates. Let’s take a look at black mold, what problems
it’s causing for the insurance industry and their customers and finally,
what JF can do to lower the costs of her insurance.
Most homes contain some mold. All it takes is a little moisture and an
organic food source. Recently we’ve learned that newer, more air-tight
homes are better for growing mold. And one of the varieties is a ‘toxic
black mold’. For all you scientists out there it’s stachybotrys chartarum.
Please don’t ask for the pronunciation!
Mold is commonly found in homes after the wallboard gets wet. The mold
causes a number of problems. Besides being unsightly, it smells and can
cause breathing problems for some people. Experts estimate that 10% of the
population is allergic to mold.
A leaky water pipe or roof is all it takes to start a mold colony. Clean-up
can be a large job. The source of the leak must be eliminated. Moldy
materials need to be removed or decontaminated. If the moldy area is more
than 10 square feet an environmental professional might be consulted. For
health reasons some people move out of their homes until the clean-up is
Enter the insurance companies. They’re seeing many more claims for black
mold than in prior years. A 50% increase for some companies. And, it’s
common to spend $40,000 for a claim.
To further complicate things, JF lives in Texas which has been particularly
hard hit by the black mold problem. In fact, Texas insurers want to be able
to exclude mold coverage from their homeowner’s policies. The Texas
Department of Insurance is considering the request. Two of the three
largest insurers have stopped offering policies that cover water related
damages (including mold).
The Texas situation highlights the problems faced by insurance regulators.
Naturally they want to hold down the cost of insurance. But if they hold
prices too low the insurance company will lose money and stop offering
insurance in the state.
To further complicate matters, there are a number of lawsuits that also
drive up costs. Not surprisingly, a visit to the internet will turn up
attorneys who are willing to sue on a victim’s behalf. One Texas family was
awarded $32 million dollars and bulldozed their home.
We should all have access to the courts to protect our rights. But more
lawsuits and lawyers means greater costs that must be paid either by the
insurance companies or their customers. No one ever cleaned mold while
sitting in a courtroom.
What can JF do? Her choices are fairly limited. The most obvious thing is
to check with other insurance companies to see if anyone offers a
comparable policy for less money. In Texas the two largest competitors to
Allstate have already stopped writing new policies. So JF might have
trouble finding a good alternative. Her best bet would be to check with an
independent agent who represents a large number of insurance companies.
She can also consider dropping coverage for water related damages from her
homeowner’s policy. That could make a big difference in her bill. Before
doing that she needs to understand the risk. If a pipe bursts, she won’t
have anyone to help pay for damages or repairs. The age and condition of
her home should influence her decision. She’ll also want to consider her
ability to pay for a repair if it’s needed. Remember, that the reason for
insurance is to cover losses that you can’t afford to pay for yourself.
I’m not familiar with Texas law, but she might be able to buy coverage that
would exclude “additional living expenses”. That covers the cost of moving
your family out of the home while the clean-up is completed. Don’t forget
that you might need to move out for other reasons. For instance, a fire.
Think through the potential expenses and how you’d handle them.
Another option would be to increase her deductible. Yes, that could cost
her some money if she had any claim. But it would reduce her insurance bill.
One final thought. Although a big premium jump is painful, it’s still only
$33 per month. JF might be wise to swallow hard, pay the bill and keep the
coverage she has. Remember, the $400 she’d save wouldn’t go very far in
covering a $40,000 clean-up.
Gary Foreman is a former Certified Financial Planner who currently edits
The Dollar Stretcher website and newsletters. You’ll find hundreds of articles to help stretch your day and your dollar. Copyright 2002, Dollar Stretcher, Inc. All rights reserved.
FOCUS ON GARDENING
PRAYING MANTIS – FRIEND OR FOE? – by Arzeena Hamir
Not many gardeners come into contact with a praying mantis but few can deny
that they’ve heard of the infamous way in which the insects mate. While the
female can indeed feed on its mate’s head during copulation, praying mantis
also have other amazing features. The mantid is the only predator which is
fast enough to catch mosquitoes and flies. It is also the only insect that
can turn its head all the way around (180 degrees).
Praying mantis have voracious appetites and will eat a variety of insects
including aphids, grasshoppers, fruit flies, house flies, moths and
crickets. However, in addition to these insects, praying mantis will also
eat beneficial insects like hover flies and lacewings. If you’re a gardener
who is contemplating using praying mantis for pest control, do keep this in
Most praying mantis are sold as egg cases; each egg case will hatch between
50-200 young nymphs. For the best pest control, use 3 egg cases for a garden
under 5,000 sq. ft. We recommend that you use your egg cases immediately
although they can be refrigerated for up to a week after receiving them. You
can either hang the egg case outside and allow the young nymphs to escape,
or you can set up a terrarium.
Indoor Care of Praying Mantis
Set up a terrarium with in a fish tank, gold fish bowl, yogurt container, or
even a jam jar. Whatever type of container is used, a stick or branch should
be provided for the insects to hang from as well as a small dish of water in
the bottom to add humidity to the enclosure.
Place mesh over the top of the container to prevent the young from escaping
but still allow air and food to be put in. The temperature should be kept at
approximately 25-28 C (75-80 F). The easiest way of maintaining the
temperature is by using an under tank heating mat. Keep the container out of
direct sunlight and maintain a humid atmosphere by misting everyday.
Feeding Praying Mantis
The young nymphs will wiggle out of their egg case in about 3 weeks. As they
grow bigger, move them into a larger container so they have enough room to
feed and move. Upon hatching, the mantids must have live food every 2-3
days. If not, they will devour each other.
Living insects, such as fruit flies, aphids, cockroaches, crickets, beetles,
grasshoppers, spiders, caterpillars, moths, and houseflies are a favourite
food of the mantis. The smaller, softer-bodied insects are a better food
source for the young nymphs. After having completed their early stages, they
may be fed insects larger than aphids and vinegar flies such as mosquitoes,
flies, and roaches.
If they are not released, each adult will need its own cage. One mantis may
be kept on its own as a pet and fed throughout the year.
Arzeena is an agronomist and garden writer with Organic Living Newsletter.
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FOCUS ON SIMPLICITY
They could be considered a frugal item since they save time. However, there
may be a lot about microwaves that you don’t know. We don’t microwave – too
much research about the dangers associated with them. The microwave that
was built-in this house is our herbal tea cabinet where teas and hot
beverages are kept. It becomes a conversation topic when we have guests.
You need to be educated about microwaves. Simple isn’t always time-saving,
but it’s safer! Please read the following articles and forward this
newsletter to others. This is another “gadget” that’s making bucks for
somebody with bad results to the public.
FRUGAL TIPS – From Our Subscribers
About 5 years ago I found a “AA” alkaline battery recharger at a Remington
outlet store. I don’t know if Remington still makes these, but mine works
great. I can recharge batteries up to 5 times. I know it’s not as good as
“real” rechargeable batteries, but it’s a start. Fred Baginski Hammond, IN
I often see comparisons about mortgage interest being tax deductible and
that is always in the back of my mind. However, I don’t itemize my tax
return because my expenses do not exceed the standard deduction. I suspect
that some people that do itemize do not completely get a tax deduction on
their full interest rate because part of that deduction may have been
covered by the standard deduction. On the other hand, if I pay off my
mortgage, I will still get the same standard deduction I always have without
paying any interest. Just a thought to keep in mind. Kim
Don’t forget…tape works great on picking up cat hair. Just make a
glove (sticky side out) and pat away. Don’t do the dryer sheet on dark
fabric couches, you get a white flaking mess
And that leads to another idea. I used to store my pantyhose in the freezer
until I needed them to wear. This seemed to make them wear longer. I know
that you’ll hear that it doesn’t work, but the anecdotal evidence for me
worked. Of course, there were times when I’d forget to pull them out until
the last minute…few seconds with the blow dryer in strategic spots and
they were fine. — Susan
It takes time to sort through all the junk mail. More than 17 billion
catalogs were distributed in the United States in 1998 — about sixty-four
for every man, woman, and child. Catalogs use a lot of paper — 3.35 million
tons of it in 1999. Get consumer tips on reducing catalogue waste. Click
Editor’s NOTE: Please send in your Frugal Tips. What you have been doing
for years to live frugally we want to know. Please post your questions/answers to our new bulletin board. You can find directions here.
SHARING WHAT YOU KNOW
Q. I have lovely maple hardwood floors through out my home. Like several
of my friends with hardwood floors, I have a couple of high traffic areas
that show some wear. Is there an easy and inexpensive way to “touch up” the
finish in those areas without having to refinish the entire floor? Carol
Q. I planted celery in my garden this year, and I wanted to know how to take
proper care of it as it grows. Second question is how to plant potatoes in
buckets or garbage cans? It was done on TV one day and didn’t have time to
write the directions down. If anyone can help it would be appreciated very
much. Thanks Ginger
Q. We are looking into getting a water softener for our home. Any advice
or suggestions on what to look for in a system, etc.? Thanks so much. JMSO
Q. Last year we gave out comic awards (travel kit for the couple who
traveled the furthest–a urinal for him and an adapter for it with a roll of
travel toilet tissue for her; for the newlyweds, a book “Sex After Marriage”
with all blank pages; a container of Miracle-Gro for the shortest adult;
etc.). We’re looking for new suggestions for this year. Would appreciate
hearing from anyone who has been to a function where they gave out any kinds
of comic awards. Thanks, Toni
Please post your questions/answers to our new bulletin board. You can find directions here. Together we can find the answers!
ANSWERS TO PREVIOUS QUESTIONS
Q. Does anyone know how to make throw pillows for children’s t-shirts? I
want to use my grandsons team shirts and don’t quite know how to start?
Thanks – Franny
Q. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this article. I do
almost all of the paper recycling ideas she mentioned. We compost and
recycle paper, plastic, alum cans tin cans and cardboard. I went on a
vacation and couldn’t recycle and it felt terrible! All that garbage… I
was amazed at how much garbage I created. Where can I buy recycled paper
products like toilet paper and paper towels? I know they’re available via
the mail but the shipping is so high… Does anyone know of a grocery chain
or discount store that carries these recycled products?
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
Editor’s NOTE: Normally, I don’t run the same question and answer again.
However, the response below may necessitate a new look at what dryer sheets
are doing to our dryers.
A. I have been gone for a few weeks but read the problem with the spots on
clothing. I also had the same problem about 4 years ago. I was told that
after years of use of the dryer sheets it eats away on the drum in the
dryer. I had to replace the dryer and have not used a dryer sheet since. I
have heard this same problem 3 times since it happened to me. I think now I
just pay attention to it a little more.
Please note: There has been some additions to the olive oil question
presented last week. Check out a new page at
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