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The Frugal Life News – 10/07/02

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Published Weekly by Randal Watkins
October 7, 2002


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Frugal Christmas Ideas

Payment Monitoring

Compost Tips

Avoid Using Throw-Away Plastics







Hello Everyone,

Its been cooler here in Virginia but no rain since I last mentioned we received 2 1/2 inches. We are really praying some rain will come our way. I guess the strange weather has effected the leaves turning also. We went to the Blue Ridge Parkway last week and the leaves weren’t turning yet. Hope they turn soon. Nothing like seeing God’s creation in the foliage.

With holidays coming up you will want to check out the answers I have at

So many times I hear of people spending more than they should for Christmas. Most people pay for Christmas via charge cards. Sometimes people don’t have the debt paid off until late into next year. Often the presents are only appreciated for a short period of time and then discarded. Make a decision to implement some new frugal christmas ideas and I am sure you will enjoy your holidays even better.

Thanks for all your contributions and encouragements.

Until next time!



Batten down the hatches… here they come again! This time they’re using… Payment Monitoring!

You probably know that your Debt Card company, the company that provides you with your “Credit” card, will penalize you if you make a late payment. They’ll slap a $25 – $35 late fee on you and may increase your interest rate, especially if you have one of those low “teaser” rates.

But did you know that now, for example, if you make your Discover card payment on time but happen to be late on your Mastercard payment, your Discover card interest rate can increase? Now you have two high interest rate debt cards (or more)!

This is because Debt Card companies are monitoring your payments to ALL of your debt card accounts… not just theirs. A late payment on ANY account can result in an interest rate increase for ALL of your accounts.

They figure that if you’re having trouble paying another debt card company, pretty soon you’ll be having trouble paying them. They’d rather not wait for that to happen. So, they raise your rates… squeeze some more interest out of you… even though you’ve NEVER been late to them.

Of course, this increases your minimum payment, which makes it more likely that you’ll be late, which will increase your debt card interest rates, which…

Want to win this game?

Don’t play.

Put your current cards on auto-pay, where at least your minimum required monthly payments are automatically drafted from your checking account, until you get them paid off. This way, you’ve protected yourself from ever being late.

Then get rid of these cards.

————- Payoff All of your Debts in 5-7 Years using the money you ALREADY make! Greg Moore is the author of the Debt Freedom Course, “DebtIntoWealth — Lessons from My Journey to Debt Freedom”. For your FREE Lesson 1 of this course, CLICK HERE:



Make your own compost tumbler. Buy a reasonably sized plastic garbage can. Drill drainage holes in the bottom. Toss in organics and roll around to mix the goodies. Don’t forget to add some soil for microbes!

How to make excellent leaf mold: bag those fall leaves in a black bag, leave over the winter season in a sunny spot. By spring the leaves will have decomposed.

Caffeine is known to be a natural herbicide. All the tea bags and coffee grounds make wonderful compost, but don’t over do it.

For fast composting, locate in full sun.

Shred as much as possible. The more surfaces exposed, the faster it will break down.

No grease or oils, please. Coffee/tea and water as well as sugar water will help to decompose.

Compost everything that’s organic.

Do not compost fat, cat and dog droppings, nor dairy products.

Compost and mulch are entirely two different things. Compost is a soil amendment. Mulch is used on top to protect the plant from heat or cold depending on the time of the year.

Coffee grounds help diminish alkaline soil. Worms love to help decompose them. Article found here – DEAD LINK REMOVED



They make up 20 percent of our waste stream, are not biodegradable, require the use of toxics in production and generate toxic waste. Many plastics are not truly recyclable, but are only reshaped into products with limited uses.

Reduce Your Volume of Waste – Recycle glass, aluminum, metal, paper, cardboard, etc. Participate in Household Hazardous Waste Clean-up days. Start a compost pile in your backyard.

Use Safe Cleaners – Safe cleaners save money. For dishes/ use soaps rather than detergents. For dishwashers/ try using 50% washing soda and 50% borax, or a detergent with the lowest possible phosphate content.

Buy Food with Less Packaging – Many products are “over-packaged.” Microwavable items sometimes include two or three types of plastic as well as disposable paper items. While shopping, if you don’t need a bag, don’t take one. Bring reusable bags and, if necessary, request paper bags. Encourage your store to use wax paper bags, rather than plastic, in your produce department.

Buy Reusable Over Disposable Products – Don’t use plastic foam, – some contain CFCs which are harmful to the ozone layer. Use cloth bags over paper or plastic. If you buy plastic containers, reuse it for storing food items. Cut up six-pack rings so they don’t harm wildlife.

Use Dishtowels, Cleaning Cloths and Cloth Napkins Whenever Possible – Cloth decreases your use of paper and can be used over and over.

Use Wax Paper or Foil Over Plastic Wraps and Bags – Save and reuse bags when possible. Use wax paper in microwaves and reusable plastic containers.

Don’t Put Harmful Chemicals Down Your Sink – These chemicals end up in our waterways. Decrease or limit your use of phosphates, which promote algae blooms that harm marine life. Drain cleaners are dangerous. Mix one cup baking soda, one cup of salt, one quarter cup cream of tartar; follow with boiling water, use a plunger or a pipe snake.

Question Manufacturer’s “Environmental” Claims – Food manufacturers and grocery chains are starting to manipulate and mislead the public with false claims. Beware of “biodegradable” plastics which are dangerous to the environment.

Discuss These Issues With Your Family – Explain the long-term effects of environmentally-damaging practices.

FRUGAL TIPS – From Our Subscribers

In response to Julie’s note of last week, Hi: This won’t help Julie, but if anyone else disaster, you need to contact the American Red Cross. If Julie’s disaster is not more than 30 days in the recent past, she can get the help too. My granddaughter and I used to pack the “comfort kits” which held a toothbrush, toothpaste, wash cloth, towel, razor, shaving cream, and other essentials. She loved to help. The American Red Cross will also help the family purchase esesentials for living, food, furniture, replace medicines lost, clothing. This is given in the form of vouchers to the local thrift shops or the local grocery stores. Each person in a disaster also got a new set of clothes. Most of the diaster victims (mostly fire victims) were referred to the Red Cross by the local firemen. As soon as they went out on a fire and assessed the damage, we were called. In our Ladies Auxiliary for the Retired Navy Group, we go to the local grocery store and buy gift cerfiticates to give to needy families at Christmas. I was able to deliver the certificates to a Great Grandfather bringing up his 4 and 6 yr. old great grandsons. It was rewarding to just call him and take the certificates to him, surprising him and not telling him what I had for him. – Betty G.

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Q. Please help looking for bread made without yeast. Have to use rice or millet flour for baking. the problem is I like to toast bread for breakfast and can’t find any bread without yeast. I would like to make the bread at home. I have to stick to a gluten free,yeast free, and sugar free diet due to health reasons Thanks

Q. I will be getting a new kitten next week. Does anyone know how I can save on shots and other things? Can I give the injections mylself? – Janice

Q. Does anyone know the best way to eliminate moles from ones yard? They seem to be tunneling through the whole yard and eating my bulbs with abandon. Thanks, Virginia

Please post your questions/answers to our new bulletin board. You can find directions here.


Q. Does anyone have ideas on getting rid of/repelling squirrels from our garden? They eat our tomatoes right off the plants before they even ripen. They eat about half the tomato and leave them lying on the ground. We have caught them with the tomatoes in their creepy little paws. – JF

A. I have squirrels that come on my deck several times a day and even bring their babies to eat since i put out peanuts in the shells for them….non-salted. My deck is covered in pots of tomato plants since i do not have the land to plant them elsewhere. The squirrels have never touched any of the tomatoes on the plants or those that have fallen off the plants. Could it be another little creature??? i am in NJ. and my squirrels do not like tomatoes at all. The peanuts I throw are all around the plants. they have never touched even one tomatoe. – Marie The animals depend on YOU! Please look TODAY for small ways to help animals in your community and around the world!

A. Most folks find using tomatoe cages help keep them out….some folks find sprinkling cayenne pepper or black pepper around the area help…my father has had excellent success by using chicken wire around and over the top of his garden, thus nothing can get in but him when he opens the hand made gate. Some of them still sneak through, but for the most part they have stayed out. I have found that my squirrels don’t like what I use….garlic barrier which you can find at However, none of the above works for everyone. The only sure fire way is to humanely trap them and move them far away to the woods….unfortunately, I have heard that squirrels don’t adapt well to the move and usually are harmed or die. So, I think you just have to work on your own ways to keep them out.


Q. I loved the answers to the Family Holiday Parties, so I thought I would ask suggestions for Family Birthday Parties. Our family is rather large consisting of 8 parents, 9 children and 6 grandchildren. It doesn’t seem like an overload but when you try to celebrate everybody’s birthday it can get out of control. My oldest daughter is turning 21 and I would like to throw a Birthday party that allows everyone the opportunity to get together to celebrate the big event without putting any financial burden on family members to buy yet another present. I’m sure that your readers are full of creative ideas. Thank You,

For some great ideas to have a family birthday party go to


Q. Hi – Loved the Thanksgiving meal suggestions…how about Christmas ideas…We have a large extended family on my husband’s side. We need suggestions for Christmas gift exchange without breaking the piggybank (i..e. exchange only items you received as a free-premium throughout the year or homebaked) and are also very interested in other non-traditional giving ideas (i.e. give to a local need/charity during the year and on Christmas, give a praise report of how the funds were used. (Money given mid-year also saves stress at the Christmas crunchtime.)

SIDENOTE: We lost our home and loved-one to a disaster and learned about this Christmas idea by being the recipient of a stranger’s Christmas tradition. Midyear, a family of strangers, who had heard about the tragedy, sent us a explanation note and the $70.00 they typically spend at their adult-Christmas gift exchange. At their Christmas gathering, we were their Christmas story to share of how that $70.00 bought back the daily essentials-of-life and some dignity for us. (When disaster strikes, it does not leave you a packed suitcase with toothbrush, comb, razor, deodorant or change of clothes…That $70.00 helped!) The money was a tremendous blessing to us at our time of need…and the giver said that, rather than spending monies for an adult family-gift-exchange (buying unneeded meaningless trinkets that would be tossed aside a few days after Christmas), they were blessed by giving to the real-life needs of others and teaching future generations a new Christmas tradition!!!) Anyone have any other Christmas gift-exchange ideas or alternative Christmas giving ideas? – Thanks, Julie

A. Go to for some innovative ideas to use this holiday season.


Q. Does anyone know a way to catch or eliminate ground hogs ? They are becoming a real pest in our area, dangerous holes can cause injury and damage equipment . Thanks, John

A. We bought a good quality cage. After much trial and error regarding bait we finally came up with a snack that was irresistable, canteloupe rinds, watermelon rinds, and lettuce, (mix and match). We get unattractive produce from a local produce market at no charge. We got 14 this summer. They multiply as rapidly as the rabbits do. They are very destructive when it comes to the garden and tunnel under homes, sheds, and outbuildings to make a den. Once they do, skunks will sometimes invade the den and take over, then you have another problem. Good luck! That’s all from Jeanne for now

A. People call my son, when they have groundhogs. He takes his Jack Russell dogs and pays a visit.

A. Have heard that garlic down their passageways will help. Also there is a sound device that they don’t like but has to be purchased. I have not had to use either of these since mine just ‘got out’!! – LeBrun

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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.

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