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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

Published Weekly by Randal Watkins
July 8, 2002




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Some Emails Don’t Have Any Content

Self-Insurance and Healthcare Costs

Grow Your Own Bug Eaters:
One Bluebird House Makes A Difference

Thriftiness: A Lesson Learned From the Acorn Woodpecker
Heartworms – A Simpler Way







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



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???

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

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:


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



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

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


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.


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

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 :)

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