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Published Weekly by Randal Watkins
The Frugal Life
May 1, 2003

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Hi Everyone,

Sorry this issue is late! We have been in Hawaii on an award trip through
Nature’s Sunshine. Our long flight caused me to have a severe case of jet
lag. I am just now getting back to feeling normal again in terms of feeling
rested. Crossing time zones confuses my body and I often don’t know if I
should be sleeping or awake.

We have some good discussions going in the various forums on our bulletin
board. Once you are registered to use the bulletin board, you can quickly
see (the folder on each forum will be blue if there are new posts) where
any new posts are since you last accessed the bulletin board. Just open
each forum and access the respective topics and when you are finished press
the link that says “Mark Topics As Read”. By doing this, it will permit you
to see only what forums have new posts. This saves me time and I am sure it
will do the same for you.

We appreciate your readership! Please pass The Frugal Life News on to your
friends! It’s how we grow!

Until next time,



“Ok, Greg, here is my first question.

I purchased your course on Friday and read through it that night. I am
excited about paying off my mortgage but a little nervous also as it goes
against everything I have been taught about saving and investing.

I am a 49 year old single mom with a 13 year old son. It makes sense to me
to have my mortgage paid off before he enters college and hopefully, long

Here is my question: Earlier this year, I converted from a regular IRA to a
ROTH IRA. I have the cash to pay the taxes on this conversion. Would it be
better to re-characterize this back to a regular IRA and use the cash to pay
down more of my mortgage?

Thanks for a great course.



Dear Judy,

Thanks for a terrific question.

As you know, in the U.S., if you have a traditional IRA and meet certain
income requirements, you have the choice of converting a traditional IRA to
a Roth IRA.

A Roth IRA has several advantages over a traditional IRA. If you are at
least 59 1/2 and have owned the Roth IRA for at least five years,
distributions are tax-free. Distributions before age 59 1/2 or from accounts
owned for less than five years are subject to tax on the EARNINGS, and, in
some cases, an additional 10% penalty.

If you convert a traditional IRA to a Roth, you must pay income tax on the
entire amount at the time of conversion.

For example, if you converted a $35,000 traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, and
you were in the 28% marginal tax bracket, you have to write Uncle Sam a
check for $9,800!

This money cannot come from your IRA assets. It must come from your piggy

Your Debt Elimination plan creates an interesting opportunity. You can keep
your Roth IRA and pay taxes as a result of the conversion or UNDO
(re-characterize) the conversion and invest the cash that was earmarked to
pay the resulting taxes in your mortgage debt.

In effect, paying taxes to obtain the Roth conversion amounts to investing
new money into a retirement account prior to becoming Debt Free.

So, it’s pay taxes, and pray your Roth IRA investment results are good
enough to overcome this cost, or pay off debt and receive a guaranteed
tax-free return. Not to mention owning your home faster.

I’d press the UNDO button.


Payoff All of your Debts in 5-7 Years using the money you

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:
Debt Into Wealth


By: Diane Relf, Extension Specialist, Environmental Horticulture

If you as a gardener do four things right, your container garden will give
you spectacular success: select the right container, use the proper soil,
select the right plant for your site, and use simple maintenance procedures.

Select The Right Container

A good container should be large enough to provide room for soil and roots,
have sufficient head room for proper watering, provide bottom drainage, and
be attractive without competing with the plant it holds.

Drainage holes are the secret to success by making sure the plant never
stands in wet soil. Roots require air space in the soil to live. If the
desired container does not have drainage holes, consider growing the plant
in another container, perhaps a plastic pot, and displaying it in the more
attractive container.

Size and appearance of the container should be in visual proportion to the
plants grown in it and the setting where it is used. Avoid excessively heavy
containers on balconies and display shelves. The container should also be of
a compatible color and design or style for the setting where it is to be

Use the Proper Soil

The potting soil, or medium in which a plant grows, must be of good quality.
It should be porous for root aeration and drainage, but also capable of
water and nutrient retention. Most commercially prepared mixes are termed
artificial, which means they contain no soil; therefore, no insects,
diseases, or weeds.

For the rest of the article go to
? Fdepartments%2Fenvirohort%2Farticles2%2Fcontainr.html
href=” “>
Container Gardening


Visit Healthy Pet Corner for lots of information, products,
and links for birds, cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, and reptiles.
All for Pets



Studies show that hospital patients with window view of trees recovered
significantly faster and with fewer complications than comparable patients
without access to such views. One large tree can provide a day’s oxygen for
up to four people.


Here are a few resources for teacher, homeschoolers, or children who want to
know more about trees.

The National Wildlife Federation has great educational resources href=” “>

Treeture – Website designed for children, with lesson plans about trees

Arbor Day Foundation provides classroom activities and games href=” “>


Here’s a kit with everything you will need to start making your
own pampering and cleaning products for pennies with the
easy-to-follow recipe guide.
Make Your Own


From our Cleaning forum:

I don’t know if any of you use the baking stones marketed by The Pampered
Chef.  I have a number of them (I used to be a consultant) and thought I
would pass along a cleaning tip. I use this often on my own stones and have
found it effective when  cleaning stones purchased stones at yard sales..  If
you are familar with the stones you know that under no condition are you to
use any sort of soap or detergent on them.  The result is a soapy after
taste. Some people are uncomfortable with the idea of using only hot water
and a scraper to remove any residue of cooking. There are two substances
that are perfectly safe and effective . Both vinegar and baking soda are
great at cutting through excess grease and/or stains and each rinses
absolutely clean.  I use either a paste of baking soda or simply dump some
in /on a damp stone. Either using my hands or a scraper I work the baking
soda into the stone taking advantage of the abrasive nature of the paste
that is formed. When I’ve worked the area I simply rinse with hot water and
let air dry.


Maybe you can help these folks out with a few suggestions? Or post some of
your own questions. LOG-IN TO POST Here’s the link: href=” “> Forum

Questions Needing Answers at The Forum:

1. I have a terrible problem with mold under my kitchen sink. That side of
my house never gets sun so it is very damp under there. I am afraid if I
clean with bleach and water the mold will just come back because of the
dampness. Any suggestions? – Lynda

2. please help me…. my house stinks so badly,   it is from my basement, i
have added water to my drain, and it still stinks really badly. i have been
burning candles to cover the smell up.. i need to get rid of the smell…..
is this harmful to my family , please let me know

1. I love artichokes so like any frugal “farmer” I purchased some seed.
When they arrived I discovered I 100 seeds. I am a bit overwhelmed. I
thought I might grow four plants.  I plan to keep some for next year to see
if they will germinate after that long but in the mean time I have a bunch
of extra seed. Would anyone like a few? According to the package they are
good in zones 7-10. Post here on the forum if you are interested in giving a
few a try. Perhaps we can make connections.

Personal Care
1. What is the cheapest (yet still effective) lotion? My face gets quite dry
and I was wondering what the least expensive one would be.

1. Does anyone have a canning recipe for jalapeño dill pickles? I’ve
checked several recipe websites but haven’t located one. Thanks for your
help! – max

2. If anyone has a really really GOOD recipe for MEATBALLS (for spaghetti &



Have you noticed how popular bath and pampering products have become? The
HomeSpa Party Plan taps into that craze. Guests at HomeSpa parties will
learn how to make bath salts, personalized perfumes, body spritzers and more
using essential oils, while you make a nice income from Nature’s Sunshine. href=” “> Home Spa Party


If you’ve been a natural health nut, you have a lot of information others
need to have. Earn an income selling over 600 natural health products, skin
care, water filters, beverages, essential oils, and more. Earn trips and
car allowance. Websites are also available for $15.95/month. href=” “> Nature’s Sunshine


If you have pets, they’ll love Flint River and you can make an income
providing good pet foods and other pet products to friends, neighbors and
your family. Pets keep eating, so customers keep buying. If you love
animals, this is a very rewarding home-based business. With only 100 volume
a month you can earn 19% on all sales. href=” “> Flint River Ranch


Life’s Abundance has great products by Dr. Jane Bicks and Dr. Barry Sears who
developed the Zone Diet for Overweight Dogs. Besides dog, cat and horse
products, you will have a non-toxic line of cleaning products – safe for
pets and children. Visit this website for more information. This type of
site is also available for $10.95/month (plus an initial $20 set-up fee). href=” “> Life’s Abundance


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.