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Home » News2002 » The Frugal Life News – 07/08/02

The Frugal Life News – 07/08/02

************************************************** ********Name This Mineral!******** It has been estimated that the daily minimum requirement of man is approximately 15mg. Scientists say that in the past, good nutrition supplied just that much, mainly because soil was richer in this mineral and people made use of a galvanized version for cooking utensils and water pipes. Also, it has been associated with diabetes, helps build the immune system and is know to be helpful with men’s prostate problems. Is found in high concentrations in sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Give Up! – The mineral’s name is Zinc. You can read more about it at ****************************** THE FRUGAL LIFE NEWS Published Weekly by Randal Watkins July 8, 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 15,600 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 Some Emails Don’t Have Any Content FINANCES Self-Insurance and Healthcare Costs GARDENING Grow Your Own Bug Eaters: One Bluebird House Makes A Difference SIMPLICITY Thriftiness: A Lesson Learned From the Acorn Woodpecker Heartworms – A Simpler Way FRUGAL TIPS SHARING WHAT YOU KNOW ANSWERS TO PREVIOUS QUESTIONS LEGAL DISCLAIMER SUBSCRIPTION INFO *************** A NOTE FROM RANDAL Hello Everyone, Sure hope you had a nice and safe celebration of the Fourth of July. Donna and I stayed in because it was so hot. We watched a few fireworks on the porch that night. These were sponsored by the community we live in. In preparing for this issue, I noticed several emails that had complete subjects but nothing in the body of the email. If you sent something in and it’s not in the ezine then that’s more than likely what happened to your correspondence. If you need to send it again please make sure that your email software is sending the complete email. You can do this by going to the sent folder and looking at the finished copy of the email you happened to send me. Thanks for all the new questions, answers and good old fashioned frugal tips. Without your contributions and readership it would be hard to complete this ezine. 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! Randal Watkins ***************** FOCUS ON FINANCES SELF-INSURANCE AND HEALTHCARE COSTS – by Gary Foreman Dear Gary, I just read an article on “Medical Care for Less”. I was wondering how to go about being “self-insured”. Could you tell me more about this? How it works? Do you pay monthly premiums? Who do you call to set this up??? Thanks! Molly Molly knows much more about ‘self-insurance’ than she realizes. In fact, she’s already using it. Consider an illustration. She doesn’t have insurance to cover her everyday dishes. If one is dropped, she’s responsible for living without it or buying a replacement on her own. In fact, it would be silly to have insurance for that type of loss. To understand self-insurance, Molly needs to recognize why it would be silly to insure the loss. The answer is fairly obvious. She can afford to replace a broken plate without anyone’s help. But, suppose that she had a valuable set of antique china. She might have insurance to protect her in case of theft or damage. Why is that smart? Because Molly couldn’t afford to replace an expensive plate if it were damaged or stolen. That’s the gist of self-insurance. We all face potential expenses. Some are big and we choose to buy insurance to cover them. Others are smaller and we decide to handle them ourselves. In effect, we’ve chosen to “self-insure”. Today people feel that they need insurance for every possible expense. The idea that insurance is for losses that we can’t afford has gradually been lost. People seem to think that insurance is a way of shifting the cost to someone else. It’s not. It’s really just putting a large number of people together knowing that only a few will suffer big losses. And with everyone in the group making a small contribution there will be money to pay the few big losses. Small expenses really shouldn’t be covered by insurance. Remember Molly’s plate. The insurance paperwork would only add to the cost of replacing the plate. Somebody has to pay for the claims adjusters and the people approving and writing checks. In fairness, sometimes an insurance company will get a better price because they’re buying large quantities of an item. But in many situations their negotiating skills don’t offset the additional expenses. OK, so now that we know what self-insurance is, why would Molly want to choose it? Simple. For the right risks it’s actually cheaper to be self-insured. How does Molly become self-insured? She begins by evaluating how big a loss she could afford to handle financially without help. Self-insurance doesn’t have to be an all or nothing deal. In fact, it’s probably a bad idea for Molly to choose to be completely self-insured for medical expenses. Hospital bills can be painful! She would do better to be self-insured for doctor’s visits and still carry a major medical policy that would pay for a trip to the hospital (after a deductible was covered). That way she’d be responsible for the small bills, but would have someone to pick up the big ones if they occur. Next she’ll look for an insurance company that offered a policy that would only cover the things that Molly couldn’t afford to handle herself. If she’s canceling existing coverage, Molly would be wise to set aside the money that would have gone to premium payments. She can expect to need it later to pay for future medical expenses. Before you self-insure, make sure you understand the worst-case situation.. Know exactly what you could be facing if you don’t have insurance. And don’t self-insure unless you have the financial resources to face the risks that you’re accepting. Don’t risk bankruptcy to avoid an insurance premium. Review your decision regularly. Changing circumstances could mean that you need to go back to having someone else assume the risk. Other insurance areas could provide savings for Molly. Checking deductibles is a good idea. The deductible is the amount that you pay before your insurance begins to cover a loss. Call your insurance agent. Ask them the difference between $250 and $1,000 deductible on your car insurance. In effect, you’d be increasing the amount of self-insurance up to $1,000. Same thing with your homeowner’s policy. Self-insurance isn’t an automatic solution to the high cost of medical coverage. Under the right circumstances it can help. But it’s not a magic pill that brings high costs down. And, remember that self-insurance works better for people who have accumulated some financial resources. If you don’t have any savings, self-insurance isn’t for you. ______________________ Gary is a former Certified Financial Planner who currently edits The Dollar Stretcher website and newsletter Find some great link with lots of bluebird info here: **************** FOCUS ON SIMPLICITY **************** THRIFTINESS: A Lesson Learned From the Acorn Woodpecker Times of plenty often lead to over-indulgence, carelessness, or laziness. However, the Acorn Woodpecker makes the most of abundant times by consuming only what it needs and storing the rest. By storing extra nuts for the lean winter to come, the woodpecker is assured of enough food for itself. This also helps to provide food for squirrels, titmice, jays, and deer. Acorn woodpeckers prefer soft wood trees, such as Douglas fir and white pine, but if not available, they will use oak and sycamore and have also been found to use fence posts, loosened shingles, telephone poles, cracks of fallen logs, and even cedar siding of homes and buildings. They store about 1,000 acorns for each member of the group and since they are all stored together, a tree may hold 10,000 acorns. Once found was a tree that contained 50,000 acorns tucked away in a neat pattern. They are careful not to penetrate the wood that grows beneath the bark of a tree. If an acorn is dropped during flight or insertion into the hole, the woodpecker will retrieve the acorn and continue it’s job. Every acorn is important, nothing of the harvest is wasted. Thus, God uses the labor and thriftiness of the Acorn Woodpecker to help carry out His commitment to provide food for other birds and animals. In the same way, we who have been blessed with more should be thrifty and store up for those times of “winter” to provide for ourselves and for others who have special needs. Source: Character Sketches, Vol. 3 – Inst. in Basic Life Principles ************** 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. 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 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: ***************************** FRUGAL TIPS – From Our Subscribers In my local beauty supply store I found concentrated shampoo by the gallon on sale for $4.99/ $7.99 reg the shampoo diluted made 8 gallons!! This translates in to 16 cents per qt on sale 24 cents per qt reg price some times it is a little thin so just put it into a spray bottle so it doesn’t run on of your hand or off your head!! – Lorel ******** For the past 6 months I’ve endeavored to get debt-free. I have cut out cable (no-brainer) and opted for a 7$ rabbit-ears set. I cut long distance and got a cell phone (gotta have one, anyhow, for car emergencies). Got on budget-billing for power (nice to know EXACTLY how much it will be) and use a floor fan to cool the living room. I have bare-bones local phone service (just dial tone). Refinanced my car (saving $1200 over the next 2 yrs). Increased my insurance deductibles so my monthly rates dropped (with higher coverage!) and I’ve almost totally cut out buying convenience food (MUCH lower food bill!) By far, the BEST tip I could give anyone is BUDGET your earnings! Had I been able to see in black & white where my money was going (where DID $423.00 for a car payment GO before I had the car???) I probably would have saved a good nest egg by now. The other important tip would be SAVE IT- we all know to pay off our debt first (credit cards/car payment) but saving a por tion (even a measley $10/week) will rack-up over time!!! – Julie ******** One of my simple solutions for laundry and cleaning has been switching to Sunshine Concentrate and using Essential Oils for disinfectant, choosing a smell that helps me clean with a great attitude. The essential oils in the hand soap pumps keeps the sinks disinfected, clean, and smelling great also. Here’s the link to what I’ve used for 14 years. — Donna ******** Someone made the comment that it was difficult to keep celery for a period of time in the refrigerator. Here is a tip that helps it keep longer. When you purchase the celery, do not wash it. Leave it whole, but cut off a thin slice of the root end. Wrap it in aluminum foil, shiny side in, and place it in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator. It will keep much longer than normal in this manner. – Rick ******** I’m surprised that Gary didn’t mention the “commonsense” formula that has been used for years by thinking people. No more than 1/4(25%) of your “take-home” monthly pay of the “main” breadwinner for the house payment. The reason to NOT include the spouse’s earnings is easy. What if he or she must stop working? Yes, I know many people will say this limits them severely, but I’d rather be “safe than sorry” And this makes it so easy to shop! If your weekly “take-home” is $500, then your monthly house payment should be no more than $500. Considering the fact that not only are utilities extra, but also homeowner’s insurance and let’s not forget upkeep. Seems folks get the biggest house they can afford and then have nothing left for painting, plumbing emergencies and that leak in the roof. – Bill R. “People live all their lives to spend money they don’t have, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t know!” ******** I wanted to comment on the submission regarding the outrageous increase in homeowners rates in Texas. I am victim to the same mold crisis. I’ve never had an allergy and never filed a claim and they more than doubled my homeowners insurance to pay for these mold claims. I’m a single mom homeowner and this increase made my mortgage go up over $100 a month. I really can’t afford that, so here is what I did. What I did in my situation was call my mortgage company and find out how much money I had to put back in my escrow to bring my payment back down to as low as they could get it. You hear about people making extra payments towards their principle but if you have spare money, a lump sum payment towards the escrow can reduce the monthly mortgage payment. If your reader is like myself, the mortgage is probably their biggest bill and much of an increase in that could strain finances. I was fortunate enough to be able to work some overtime to send in the additional money, but a seasonal job or even a tax return could help here if the timing is right. Thanks for reading. – Pamela ********** On dryer sheets: I never buy them. Talk about a savings! – Alisa ********** If your clothes dryer takes longer than 30-45 minutes to dry and your dryer is still getting warm to the touch your dryer VENT needs to be cleaned out. Not cleaning it out is also a fire hazard. Results are immediate. – Alisa ********** Another way to extend dryer sheets or dispense with them all together is to soak the used sheet in fabric softener or gather several oddly colored fabric squares and soak them in the fabric softener or spray onto a square. (some “ultra” softeners don’t spray well – dilute with some water in that case). Wash the cloth sheets fairly regularly with your laundry. Choose colors that stick out from your regular clothes so you can find them quickly. Fascinating ezine. – RS ********** Your last article stated that you’ve been having a problem with squirrels in your garden. I have a solution, plant marigolds bordering your garden. They are pretty but have a peculiar fragrance. I have used this trick for the last eight years or so. I’ve lived in cities where the squirrels are numerous. The squirrels do like to nibble off the young tomatoe plants and I would plant a marigold appoximately a foot apart, outlining the garden. Hope this helps – Amy ********************** SHARING WHAT YOU KNOW Q. Can anyone recommend a financial advisor in the Miami area.? – Maria Q. Does anyone have any ideas on getting rid of urine odor? My daughter just moved to Germany where her husband is stationed in the military. She lives in an old apartment building and she can`t get rid of the urine odor in the bathroom from previous tenants, no matter how much she cleans or what kind of air freshners she uses. It`s worse on humid days. Any suggestions will be appreciated. – JF Q. Does anyone know how to get cat urine out of inside of a mattress. Our cat urinated on the top of our new mattress and we used enzymes and blotted up all we could by pushing down the mattress top. However, we think some may still be inside the mattress. Thanks in advance for any ideas! Editor Q. We just had several poplar trees cut down in our yard. However, little shoots are popping up all over the yard. What do you recomend to kill the stump so that these shoots stop growing? Please post your questions/answers to our new bulletin board. You can find directions here. ************ ANSWERS TO PREVIOUS QUESTIONS 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? A. If all else fails to remove mold, try tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil. Put about a tablespoon of oil in hot soapy water and wash down. After that, keep a spray bottle of the mixture in the bathroom and spray before a shower. Before you use it make sure you are not allergic to the oil, both these oils are very powerful. Tea tree oil is possibly more effective but smells pretty awful – eucalyptus smells lovely. – Iva Editor’s Note: You can get great essential oils at /essential.html A. We had the same problem – I put some bleach in a cheap spray bottle and sprayed the mildewed areas – worked like a charm! Be SURE the area is well-ventiated, and wear goggles i case of splashback. If your bathroom has an outer wall, you can prevent mildew problems down the road by purchasing and installing an inexpensive ventilating fan unit, available at major home centers. You can also install fans in interior bathrooms, but you would need to have ducts installed. Be sure to leave the bathroom door cracked open while you are showering to allow steam to escape – AND – even MORE frugally, take shorter showers and use less hot water! Less hot water usage = less steam = less mildew. A. I found mold on the painted walls above my shower compartment. I sprayed the walls with a solution of 1/2 water and bleach and it came right off when I wiped it down. I also keep the same ratio of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Great for hard water on fixtures etc. – LeBrun A. Use bleach to remove the mold and mildew then repaint with a good quality paint and have the paint store add stuff to the paint to halt mildew growth. also vent if at all possible. even a small portable fan would help A. On the mold on painted surfaces question: A 10-1 ratio of water and bleach in a spray bottle works. Lightly spray the surface. Let it dry overnight. It may require multiple sprays or you might have to change the concentration. – Alisa A. I use warm water with a little bleach, (not to much, you don’t want to strip the paint off the walls) about a cup in a bucket of water. The bleach not only kills the icky mold and bacteria, it leaves a barrier so it won’t grow back so quickly. I sometimes add a little mild detergent (like dish soap) into the water, for extra cleaning power. Make sure the room is well ventilated and REMEMBER, don’t mix household cleaners with bleach, it’s hazardous to your health. Happy cleaning – Brooke ******** 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 A. The lady that has a problem with a lot of lint coming off her towels doesn`t say if she dries them in a dryer. I think this would help a lot. After a few dryings she shouldn`t see too much lint. – JF A. maybe the tennis ball advice from last week will beat the fuzz out of those new towels, you might try it and let us know if it works ?? :) Last Week’s Advice – Put two or three tennis balls into the dryer with your just washed pillows and as they dry, the tennis balls will knock out any lumps that will form in the pillows if you try and dry them without the tennis balls. And if you have too many tennis balls, then share with other people who wash their pillows regularly. ******** 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. A. The reader who asked about kids’ meals really hit the nail on the head. My kids have too much stuff as it is, then they want to go to a fast food chain and get a toy with their meal that I will probably step on in the dark. A rather ingenious lady I know likes to order kids meals’ when she eats out, as they are just the right size for her. She then takes the toy home and puts it in a bin in the closet and passes them out at Halloween instead of candy. I usually can’t get mine home without the kids trying them out, but after they inevitably wind up at the bottom of the toy box, I fish them out and put them in the “free” box at my annual rummage sale, or cart them off to Goodwill to share the “wealth”. Even with the overabundance of little plastic toys out there, there are still kids who appreciate ANY toy. – G A. Fast Food Toys have become collector items. Since a kid’s meal is enough for me as a snack, I keep the toys in a laundry basket to hold my collection. Or, you can give them to a Battered Women’s Shelter, Children’s home, etc. I enjoy your questions and answers. – Diana A. There is a great book called “fast food nation” by Eric Schlosser. All you ever wanted to know and a lot of stuff you didn’t, about the fast food industry. Its shocking and informative. Enjoy :) ********* 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 A. Years ago, we sold AMWAY products, and I remember they had a special recipe for cleaning your pool. Of course, I don’t remember the recipe, but I do remember that LOC was used. LOC is a low-sudsing degreaser – so I’m sure any kind of low suds degreaser would work. Just a dip a sponge in diluted cleanser and go around the pool. A lot of the build up around the pool is from body oils. A. When we had an above ground pool with a vinyl liner, we had the same problem. We simply got out a scrub brush (nylon bristles, nothing too sharp) and a container of Soft Scrub with Bleach (or the Arm and Hammer cleanser with Bleach). We put some on the scrub brush and used some of the water from the pool to scrub away. It took off most of the ring. I didn’t worry about the cleanser and the bleach ingredients in our pool filter — we had a cartridge filter. I’m not sure how this would work with a sand filter. – Sharon A. A cure for all sorts of hard water stains and chlorine buildup, good old Vinegar. I use Apple cider vinegar because it just smells better!! For big jobs (mopping pool liners) use warm soaping water first to remove/loosen dirt and caked on stuff. Hose off the soap and dirt, then start mopping with water and vinegar. For tuff spots, use the vinegar straight. Don’t get soap or vinegar in your pool, it could throw the PH outta wack :) good luck – Brooke ********* 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. The home office is in Ohio, this may be one of the dealers. There has been a Kinetico water softener here for over 5 years and maybe less than 10. My parents had it put in – It’s not electric – all you do is add salt to a plastic container, the salt seems to last a long time, but that may differ depending on the water to be softened, the city softens the water here first, how much softened water you need. I think it had been a demonstrator so they got it for a little less. But is not expensive to operate. electricity seems to keep going up in rates rather than down They sell their own slat but the price is not bad either. Here in Berne IN I think someone would come on a schedule, check the softener, add salt as needed or deliver the salt, the bags weigh about 50 Lb., but you can divide it up into smaller bags if you need to carry it downstairs as I do. They loaded the bag for me at the store, but they do have wheeled carts available for you to use at the store. At home you could may slide the bag onto a wheel cart, maybe a golf bag cart would work also. A 4 wheel cart that converts to a 2 wheel cart when needed, they are not too expensive, sometimes they go on sale at Walmart, Lowes, etc. should have them. My dad gave me a piece of scrap wood to add to it, which makes it easier to carry items that would fall through the bottom or back which ever way you are using it. But they have been “real back saver” for me. I don’t know what I would do without them. You can even use them inside to hold heavy items and move from room to room The most expensive one I have is the hardest to convert because they don’t have the holes lined up well. I was able to tie a fairly good size bookcase onto one, and using it with 2 wheels, got several bookcases upstairs by myself. – Sheryll *********** 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 A. try for good phone rates. Instructions on the web site. – Gail *************** 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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