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THE FRUGAL LIFE NEWS
Published Weekly by Randal Watkins
July 1, 2002
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CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE:
A NOTE FOM RANDAL
Update on Kentucky
How Much House?
Got A Dead Tree That Needs To Be Cut?
Heartworms: A Simpler Way
SHARING WHAT YOU KNOW
ANSWERS TO PREVIOUS QUESTIONS
A NOTE FROM RANDAL
Here is an update on a project you (the subscribers) and Keren were involved in
before I took over.
Hi my name is Janice King and I was in Keren’s last news letter she wrote. It was about the Family Resource Center in Kentucky. I wanted you to know what wonderful people you have reading your articles. The readers responded so well to the resource center and are still sending things to this day to help the poor. They were really wonderful and still are. God sure did Bless you with this Mailing and I hope you put it to good use.
They have filled up our center and have helped many with it. I know I sure was blessed by this project and have made many new friends with it also. I want to thank your readers for all the blessings, prayers and kind words they gave us, they are wonderful people.
Some have asked for an update on how things are going and we have been stocked up on our hygiene products very well. We have gotten lots of clothes but still shortage on kids and baby clothes. Undergarments go out just as quick as they come in but many were so happy with all they received and were really grateful. Our next project is school supplies and backpacks in case any would want to know.
I hope you enjoy your readers as much as I did and I hope the Lord blesses you with this mailing. Thanks so very much for taking this over for Keren.
Love and Prayers
Janice, Angela & Carolyn
East Valley Family Resource Center
Sure is nice to know your money and gifts are going towards some tangible results.
Remember to stay cool during these hot days and evenings. 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
HOW MUCH HOUSE? – by Gary Foreman
Considering the cost of homes these days, what is a reasonable percentage of a person’s salary that should be used for a mortgage payment? And does this percentage include everything needed to run that home (utilities, water, phone, etc.)? Margie
Good question! And with the current median selling price of a house being over $185,000 it’s an important question, too.
In recent years, people say that you can’t buy too much house. Common thinking is to buy as much house as you can squeeze into today’s budget. Expected increases in housing prices and your salary will make the deal fit better next year than it does today.
Yes, both housing prices and wages should go up over the long term. For instance, the Consumer Price Index shows that housing prices have increased about 43% over the last 10 years.
Unfortunately, the mortgage is due over the short term. Neighborhood housing prices can drop for a year or two. And not everyone gets a raise each year. In fact, some people lose their jobs. So you can get into a lot of trouble before the long term increases bail you out.
OK, so if bigger isn’t always better, how expensive a house can Margie afford? Let’s start with what people actually do spend. The U.S. Statistical Abstract shows that of all the money we spend, about 33% goes to housing. That would include shelter, maintenance, heating and cooling.
So should she plan on spending 33%? Probably not. Maggie will need to consider her family situation. Looking for a new house because you’re about to have a baby? Groceries, medical, college savings, daycare could all require a higher percentage of your money than before.
And past financial decisions will also affect what Maggie can reasonably afford. Alimony and child support are common issues. In fact, Tierney Foster, a long-time Realtor with Remax in Bradenton, FL won’t give a client advice on affordability. She refers them to the lender who will consider their debt ratio and other factors that will affect the calculation.
Interest on any debt that you owe will lower the amount that you can safely spend on housing. In real rough terms (depending on your interest rates), for every $8,000 you have in credit card debt you have $100 less to spend on housing each month. And that works out to a house that costs $16,000 less.
Remember that you can only spend 100% of your after-tax income without getting into trouble. And you really should be saving a portion of that for things like college education and retirement. If you spend 40% on a house, and another 30% on food and transportation, you won’t have enough money to cover everything else.
Another problem that Maggie will run into is that housing expenses aren’t easily adjusted. If you buy a house that’s too expensive there’s not much you can do reduce the mortgage payment by 10%.
And, if housing consumes too much of your money, it’s hard to make it up in other areas. You’ll never make up $200 each month by reducing your spending on entertainment! An over-expensive house often puts a family budget in serious jeopardy.
Which brings us back to the question of how much house can Margie afford. There are some broad guidelines that she can use. In most cases if she’s planning on spending less than 30% of her after-tax income on housing she should be alright. On the high side, if she’s approaching 40% she’ll need to be very careful.
She might want to check out calculators on the internet. Bankrate.com has a good one . They provide financial information and aren’t affiliated with anyone in the industry so
their advice is neutral. She might also want to check with a mortgage banker or broker and ask their advice on what would be affordable.
There is one trick that Margie can use that might prove helpful. She can pretend that she already owns the house that she wants to buy. Estimate how much the new home would cost. Then set aside the difference between that amount and what they’re currently spending on housing for a few months. In other words, pretend that she’s already paying for the house. She’ll pretty quickly find out whether they can comfortably handle the increase. If she finds that she’s scrambling while playing pretend, she can expect to be in real trouble if she buys the house.
We hope that Margie finds a home that she can love and afford at the same time.
Gary is a former Certified Financial Planner who currently edits The Dollar Stretcher website
FOCUS ON GARDENING
GOT A DEAD TREE THAT NEEDS TO BE CUT?
But you don’t want to spend the large amount of money charged for somebody to cut it…..consider donating it to wildlife. A snag is a dead or dying standing tree. If they pose a safety hazard, consider topping snags to make tall stumps – at least six feet high.
Did you know that more than 1200 wildlife species in the U.S. depend on snags for food, cover, and places to raise their young? In the world of wildlife, a dead tree is a wealth of resources. As snags decompose, they become part of the woody debris that replenishes the soil, nurtures new growth, and prevents runoff.
Species of invertebrates, fungi, lichens, and moss depend on snags and fallen trees for all or part of their life cycles. Insects living in dead wood feast on a multitude of forest pests that can harm living trees. Birds such as woodpeckers, nuthatches, and creepers prey on the wood-eating insects. Many animals, including deer mice and squirrels, cache food under loose bark and in tree cavities. Wood ducks and flying squirrels often nest in the natural cavities of snags. Downed trees that fall into streams provide hiding places for fish and amphibians. To learn more, visit here:
FOCUS ON SIMPLICITY
HEARTWORMS: A Simpler Way
Living simply and frugally involves our pets also. When it comes to heartworms, the prevention costs are high and the actual chemical treatment is very expensive, not only on the pocketbook, but on the health of the animal.
TheHerbsPlace.com has been promoting a natural heartworm treatment and prevention program, and comments are coming in from from some of the people who have their dogs testing clear now.
These folks have had somebody to guide and support them through the process. That person is Robin. She called us years ago for a natural treatment for heartworms. The vet didn’t expect her dog to live since it was old, so she’s so excited to have a happy, healthy, old dog that acts like a puppy. Ever since he tested clear the first year, she’s wanted to help others with their pets. She’s been so excited to hear the same good news from others.
Here’s her story:
“My dog, Bandit, was diagnosed with heartworms after I took him for an appointment because he was coughing and seemed to be getting weak. The vet gave him 6 months to live. I didn’t want to use the chemical/drug method, so I went home and contacted TheHerbsPlace.com. I decided to use an herbal program and now here we are with a healthier dog and the heartworm tests showing totally clear every year, and a natural prevention program to use instead! We are so happy. I want to give back to others who need help in the middle of such a horrible diagnosis, or even for those who want to prevent heartworms naturally. I love animals and what I make from sponsoring people to buy the products, I give to the local no-kill shelter.
I’ve been using Nature’s Sunshine Products since the early 80’s so I believe in the products having seen them do so much for my family and pets in other areas. I have no interest in doing a business, but seeing it’s a way to help my local no-kill shelter gets me doubly excited.” Robin
Read more about the heartworm program, which we now call The Bandit Program. Robin’s website link is here too: http://www.theherbsplace.com/heartworm.html
FRUGAL TIPS – From Our Subscribers
Your old frames might work just fine for someone in need. Used eyeglasses can be repaired and refinished to match the prescriptions of people who cannot afford to buy glasses of their own. Contact your local Lions Club, which sponsors the most comprehensive collection program, or check online
You can also turn in your old eyeglasses at any of these chain stores: LensCrafters, For Eyes, and Pearle Vision Centers
My kids like to drink from those small containers of Sunny Delight and other fruit drinks…expensive. I keep the small reclosable containers, wash them in the dishwasher, and refill them. I keep the Sunny Delight containers and fill them with Sunny Delight from the gallon jug. The labels don’t come off in the dishwasher. Other containers, I cut off the labels, fill them with Kool Aid or lemonade that I made. The kids just grab them out of the fridge easily. Nobody makes a mess pouring drinks anymore. And they are always ready to take on a car trip. Linda
I read about cutting your dryer sheets in half. Excellent idea, also can use to control odor in your car. Just put under seat.
Also on that note, I love the new facial sheets for washing your face. The only problem a large sheet is such a waste. I cut mine in half and get 2 month supply instead of 1. Also I rinse them out let them dry & use to wipe drips off the sink. Can also be used to wipe water spills off the floor.
I love ways to save money & find even tho they are inexpensive can stretch them either further. A large one is too big for me plus waste a lot of facial wash. Thanks – Fran
When using fabric softener sheets, I not only cut them in half and get twice as much for my money, I also put two used sheets together in the dryer and find they work just as well. I also put used sheets in with my linens in the cupboard to give them a lasting fresh smell.
Have a comment about the dryer that had finish worn off by dryer sheets. If you have a dryer that is a ‘timed’ dryer, meaning you just press perm press and it dries until the clothes are dry. We were having trouble with it not drying enough, or drying too long—after 2 different service calls, the repairman asked us if we used the dryer sheets. Well we were. The repairman then told us that the dryer sheets leave a film on the sensor, and it wasn’t able to tell if the clothes were dry or not. Needless to say, we don’t use them in the dryer anymore. I use them to wipe dust off of electronics, keep rodents/bugs out of my closets, drawers, etc. Stacy
I have three cats. I use a rubber glove to remove the cat hair from the upholstery. All you have to do is put the glove on and rub the furniture in one direction. The hair will bunch up for easy removal. If the hair is being difficult dampen the glove before you start.
I cook at home for my three dogs….I use rice and beans hamburger and lots of vegetables….there are several sites on the internet that will give you recipes….my dogs coats have improved and so has their energy level….Claryce
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 mold on my bathroom walls and ceiling over the shower. The mold and mildew removers say “Not for painted surfaces.” So, what can I use?
Q. I am looking for a washing machine tip that will get rid of the fuzz from new towels. I’ve washed them at least 5 times & am still getting fuzz when I dry myself after a shower. I thought there was a trick or something that can be used when washing the towels that will help set the material so this doesn’t happen. What is it? Thanks! – Sharon
Q. This might sound silly but I’ve been wondering lately, does anyone know just how much waste is created by the fast food industry with their gimmicks of toys with the kids meals? We don’t eat out that much, so for mine this is a treat but it drives me nuts when I think of all those toys that end up in the landfills. (My apologies if this has already been discussed. I don’t always have the time to read everything I receive.) m.b.
Q. I have rings around my pool liner from the water level going up and down throughout the summer. Does anyone have a home recipe for cleaning the rings without harming the liner? The cleaner the pool store recommends is extremely expensive. Thank you, Debbie
Q. Our son will be attending a University in Montreal, Quebec this fall (we live in Vermont). We are looking for cell phone service that covers both areas at a reasonable price. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thank you, Julie
Please post your questions/answers to our new bulletin board. You can find directions here.
ANSWERS TO PREVIOUS QUESTIONS
Q. 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?
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
A. Plant the “potato eye” in the ground. Once the plant has developed several leaves place a bushel basket with the bottom broken out around the plant and cover all but 2-3 leaves with ripened manure (composed cow manure might do). Continue until the bushel basket is full. If you want new potatoes from the garden, you can dig out some throughout the growing season. When you want to harvest all the potatoes, just dump out the basket and pull out the potatoes. This way you avoid hoeing the whole potato patch and avoid cutting the skins with the hoe.- Angela
A. My Mother told me that when she was a child, they grew their own celery.I don`t know anything on how they grew it but she said that they would store it in a tub of sand in the fruit cellar,and would have celery all winter. I know not too many people have cellars these days but I always thought this storage method was pretty unique since I can`t seem to keep celery too long in my refrigerator. – JS
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
A. At a class reunion we gave away a “door prize” – it was an old door I had gotten out of a house that was going to be demolished.
A. One item we gave out as a comic gift was:
Duct Tape and WD 40. We labeled it as a “Complete Tool Kit”
If it moves and it shouldn’t use the Duct Tape.
If it won’t move and it should use the WD 40. Marilyn
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
A. We got a system that is ‘on-demand’ not on a timer to run every night. That way, if we’re not using much water in the house, it doesn’t cycle. Ours is a Culligan system, although expensive, it’s been well worth it to have a new one. If there’s any trouble, we just call the Culligan dealer in our area, and they are right out, usually within a 24 hour time-period. BIG plus is, we have a nice warranty on parts, only have to pay for labor/service call. Also, even though it’s a little more expensive, we are on their delivery schedule for salt. Every other month they bring in 2-3 80 pound bags. Carry it right down to softner and put it in. No hassle for us, having to remember to buy salt and carry it down, put it in, etc. They just bill us then. We have their reverse-osmosis drinking system too….they bring the replacement cartridges on schedule and change them for us. No buying bottled water for this household. I’ve saved the small ‘squirt’ bottles that we used to buy in the past, we fill them up about 3/4 full, put them in freezer, and have nice ice cold water to drink. Good luck in finding a system that works for you. – Stacy
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