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Home » News2002 » The Frugal Life News – 06/21/02

The Frugal Life News – 06/21/02

****************************** THE FRUGAL LIFE NEWS Published Weekly by Randal Watkins June 21, 2002 ******************************************* PLEASE REMEMBER TO VISIT OUR SPONSORS THEY KEEP THIS SERVICE FREE ******************************************* The Frugal Life News is sent to subscribers only. If you would like to unsubscribe from this newsletter, please DO NOT reply to this email. Please see the bottom of the newsletter for instructions. ********************************************** PLEASE NOTE: Due to the large volume of email we receive from The Frugal Life site and response from the more than 15,000 subscribers, we cannot reply to your questions and suggestions, but we will try to post all of them as time and space permits within the context of this newsletter. This is a caring and sharing newsletter, so feel free to participate. ******************* CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE: A NOTE FOM RANDAL Father’s Day Visit Use for Tennis Balls? FINANCES Black Mold GARDENING Praying Mantis – Friend or Foe? SIMPLICITY Microwaves FRUGAL TIPS SHARING WHAT YOU KNOW ANSWERS TO PREVIOUS QUESTIONS LEGAL DISCLAIMER SUBSCRIPTION INFO *************** 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 how hot! 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! Randal Watkins ***************** 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.” Wish you could join our group in the Fall! Here’s the book: HREF=” &bfpid=1889108626&bfmtype=book”> Simpler Living, Compassionate Life 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 ***************** BLACK MOLD 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. J. F. 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 completed. 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. _______________ ******************* 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 mind. 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. Resources: – Purchase egg cases on-line February-July href=””> – Ohio State University FactSheet /feldman.htm – Praying mantis life cycle href=” /feldman. htm”> Arzeena is an agronomist and garden writer with Organic Living Newsletter. Subscribe here for this free e-newsletter **************** FOCUS ON SIMPLICITY **************** MICROWAVE OVENS 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 here! 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 Thanks for all the response, I have a new page at with all the answers. href=”/tshirtpillow.html”> 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? Thanks for all the response, I have a new page at with all the answers. href=”/recycledpaper.html”> 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 href=””> *************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER Information in The Frugal Life News (TFL) has been derived from sources believed accurate and reliable. In no event shall *The Frugal Life,* Randal Watkins, 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. 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’ names with their suggestions, tips, and ideas unless a reader requests otherwise at the time of the submission.

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