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Published Weekly by Randal Watkins
The Frugal Life
August 11, 2003

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Hello Everyone,

This issue we are featuring a new column, “The Frugal Decorator.” So many times we talk about ways to save money on necessities, but how about being frugally extravagant? Decorating to some is extravagant but using Kathleen’s ideas I believe we can all benefit. Hope you enjoy the new column and the information.

As I mentioned in our last ezine we now have a website section dedicated to the house we are selling. Many of you have been following along in our journey from AL to VA and our search for land for a year and a half and then beginning our house building project — and most recently our decision not to move there because they removed the trees behind the screened porch. We have been proceeding with the project so we can complete and sell this home. For my wife, Donna, it’s just to great a heartbreak. Having had vitiligo and not being able to have “fun in the sun” since the late 70’s, it’s been devastating. However, we both know that when one door closes in life, another one opens. We believe this home is for somebody else’s dream and the website is now ready for us to begin marketing it. If you have anybody moving to Central Virginia, PLEASE forward this ad to them :-))

In Central Virginia – Nelson County – 2 or 3 BR/3 Bath

Land of “The Walton’s” and nearby Blue Ridge Parkway.
Custom-designed and built home on 6.72 acres with lots
of biodiversity for wildlife and birds. Mountain views,
no house in sight, total peace and quiet but within the
protective covenants of River Trails subdivision. $234,900
Get more info:
241 River Trails

We would appreciate any help you could provide in sending a buyer our way..

Thanks again for sharing and subscribing to The Frugal Life News.

Until next time,




With tax-cut checks hitting mail boxes, now is a great time to review your income tax situation to insure that you won’t have an unpleasant tax surprise next April 15.

The tax bracket rate changes, resulting from recent tax legislation, scheduled for 2003 are:

From 38.6% to 35%;
From 35% from 33%;
From 30% from 28% and
From 27% from 25%.

This means that on the same amount of income as 2002, you should owe less tax.

If you received a refund last tax year, you’ll likely see a larger refund for 2003 tax year.

In this case, you need to increase your Personal Allowances so that fewer taxes will be withheld and your take-home pay will increase. A very good website,, will let you calculate withholding for a variety of circumstances.

If you wrote a big check last year, consider decreasing your Personal Allowances. More taxes will be withheld, but it will make April 15 a lot easier to live through.

Of course, if you’ve had a significant change in income or deductions – houses, kids, marriage – then you should automatically rework your withholdings.

If you’re one of the lucky beneficiaries of the 2003 tax legislation either through:

— Reduced tax rates;
— $400 per child increase in dependent child credits;
— Reduced taxes on dividends and capital gains; or
— any other provision of the 2003 tax legislation;

what should you do with your returned money?

I think you already know how I would answer this question…

Use it to Pay Off your Number 1 Priority Debt!

You will be in good company.
According to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll, more than twice the number of Americans who have seen an increase in take-home pay or who expect an IRS bonus check will pay off bills rather than spend it – 45% vs. 22%.

There’s some concern that this will not result in the economic stimulus that politicians are hoping for.

I think that’s nuts.

Paying off a debt or two using your tax cut liberates monthly payments that will be worth far more than if you squandered it on a new DVD Surround Sound Theater system.

It turns out paying off your debts with the tax cut is THE patriotic thing to do!


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 and/or to find out why financial guru and best-selling author, Suze Orman, is advising her millions of followers to “Pay Everything Off as Fast As Possible!”, CLICK HERE:



1. Find suitable habitat – open and semi open areas

2. Select optimal location – 30-100 feet away from human dwellings unobstructed by trees/shrubs within 40-60 feet

3. Paint white – they attract more

4. Keep other species out – use starling-resistant entrance holes

5. Once established, keep holes closed until Martins arrive – if they bred at your site the year before, they are likely to return

6. At new sites, open houses when adults begin arriving if you don’t have starling-resistant holes – keep them plugged until 4 weeks after adults arrive in order to attract subadults to new colonies

7. Discourage predators – remove vines, brushes, shrubs and wires that extend near the housing

8. Build housing to specifications – 7×12 floor (min. 6×6), entrance hole 1-3/4 to 2-1/4 wide and placed at 1-3/4 to 2-1/4 above the floor.

9. Play a recording of martins’ dawnsong to entice investigating martins

10. Mount your martin house on poles that can be raised or lowered easily – you will want to evict competitors and conduct weekly nest checks. Purple Martins are very tolerant of humans and will not abandon the next after these disturbances.

Gather lots of information at this site:


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


By Kathleen Wilson

Most of us who are decorating on a budget at some point decide to entertain in our homes, and would like to do so with a little pizzazz! Unfortunately, many TV shows and magazines would have you believe you must spend $100 and up (on a budget, they claim) to dress your table for an event. Nonsense! Here are some great ways to create a smashing tablescape using creativity, not cash!

Choose a theme for your table. It could be a color theme, nature, sports, holiday, tea party or a celebration. Use your imagination.

Now create a centerpiece. Remember to keep it low so that people can talk comfortably over it! This is where the most emphasis will be on your table, so put your effort and budget right here! Use cardboard boxes or upside down bowls or pans under a tablecloth to add height to the centerpiece. If you are really looking for drama, create one taller platform, and then several slightly shorter platforms for accent pieces.

Now using your theme, search for things you own or can buy inexpensively to create your piece. Large and small vegetables from the supermarket, clean terra cotta pots filled with flowers, inexpensive glass balls in a bowl, even a football over a draped jersey! (Ok, make sure we’ve cleaned it well, here!) You can add smaller items to the lower platforms if you choose!

Next step is to add candles. You can skip this step if young children will be attending. Candles can be bought quite inexpensively at the dollar store or on clearance. Don’t have any candleholders? No problem! Votives and tea lights can be popped into old teacups, apples can be cored to hold a taper candle, or you can just set pillars and votives on top of an old wall mirror or picture frame used as a tray!

Finally, add some finishing touches. Sprinkle confetti all over the table (can be made with scissors and old colorful magazine pages), lay out pretty stones for a nature theme, print faux sports tickets out on the computer as place cards, wind leftover ribbon through your centerpiece, or sprinkle flower petals all around. Set out your place settings, tie ribbon around the napkins and chair backs, and fold cloth napkins you sew yourself out of scrap fabric to be placed prettily in the water glass.

Most importantly, showcase your creativity, and have a great time with your friends and family!

Copyright 2003 K. Wilson

Kathleen Wilson is the author of “Quick Decorating
Ideas Under $20:The Budget Decorator’s Bible” and
Editor of the free ezine, The Budget Decorator. To get
more great free ideas on budget decorating, and to
learn about her book and popular workshops, visit her at the
The Budget Decorator



By Dr. Charlotte Gorman*

With August temperatures hovering at 100 degrees and over in many parts of the Country, a lot of folks are concerned not only with keeping cool but with the high cost of keeping cool. Below are a few suggestions for saving on summer cooling costs:

1. If your home is equipped with a central cooling system, and it gets hot enough to turn on the system, try setting the thermostat during the summer between 78 and 80 degrees F during the day. (Use a room thermometer to check the temperature in your home if your particular cooling unit–such as a window air-conditioner–doesn’t give the temperature in degrees.)

Experiment. You may be able to turn the thermostat up a few more degrees and still be comfortable during the day. You probably will be able to turn the temperature up even a little more when you go to bed at night. You may even be able to turn the unit off on some nights and still be comfortable. Perhaps you could run a portable fan and/or open the windows on other nights. Experiment to find the ways in which you can stay comfortable and use the least amount of energy.

2. Consider a heat pump for cooling and heating your home. A heat pump can cut your use of electricity for heating by 30 to 40 percent and also might provide some savings in cooling costs. Check with experts about the possible benefits of using a heat pump in your geographical area.

3. Make sure that draperies, furniture, and other items are not obstructing the flow of cool air coming from the cooling vents. If the cool air is obstructed, then you are not getting the full benefit of the cool air for which you are paying. For example, if a floor vent is positioned so that

most of the cool air is going behind the draperies, then you are definitely wasting money. Inexpensive plastic air directors can be purchased which will direct the flow of air out into the room.

4. Use the kitchen and bathroom ventilating fans sparingly if the air-conditioner is on. In just one hour, these fans can blow away a houseful of cooled air. Turn off the fans just as soon as they have done their jobs.

Go here for more great ideas

SOURCE: The Frugal Mind by Charlotte Gorman

*Dr. Charlotte Gorman is an Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Sciences, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A & M University System. She is the author of The Frugal Mind, The Little Book of Living Frugal, and Speak for Yourself.


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


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:

Critters Forum
1. Hi I am a nature-type person, and I don’t mind the occassional cricket here and there. But right now, they are drving me nuts! My house has a crawl space under, and we are LOADED- I’m serious- they are sooo loud, they are not letting us sleep! My husband even thought it was the noise of the air conditioning unit or something that wasn’t working right! There are hundreds of them! we have an entire nation of crickets under our house! The only
information I could find on getting rid of them, was using something called Diatomaceous earth  but I have no idea what they are or where to find them. I can’t afford a pest control company, plus. specially having the crawl space under the entire house, including the kids’ rooms, I rather use something natural- Any suggestions?   Thanks!

Finances Forum
1. Does anyone know what the approximate cost is to hire a moving company to relocate cross-country(VA to AZ), with packing services, etc.? Any suggestions for good reputable companies who can accomplish this monumental task. In earlier days, before I was sidelined by an unexpected heart
condtion at age 37, I would have packed myself. Unfortunately, since I just got out of the hospital last month, I’m stuck in no shape to do anything. I would appreciate any suggestions you guys can offer. Thanx, Angel

Recipes Forum
1. My husband and I work opposite shifts so that one of us can always be with the kids.  I work nights, when he is home for dinner.  My husband does not cook anything he can’t microwave.  I want to make sure my kids are getting nutritional meals while I am away.  I have a crockpot, a rice cooker, and a bread maker.  Does anyone have any good recipes that I can start in the morning or afternoon before I leave for work so that my family can eat?  Thanks!



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


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


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.