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Published Twice Monthly by Randal Watkins
The Frugal Life
November 11, 2003

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Hello Everyone,

Holidays are soon upon us and I sure hope you will practice frugality and not go into debt like many people do. In the Frugal Decorator we have some great ideas for your holidays, please take some time to read her ideas.

If the ideas turn out great, why don’t you post them in the Holidays and Special Days forum so others can try them too. We appreciate your faithful readership and contributions to all of the forums.

Until next time,




by Dr. Charlotte Gorman*

Most household appliances will require servicing occasionally, and repairs can be expensive. Below are some tips to help keep the costs at the lowest possible level.

1. Always follow the instructions in the owner’s use-and-care manual for the proper care and operation of your appliance to help ensure long service and minimize the need for repairs. The longer you can use an appliance before having to repair or replace it, the more money you will save.

2. After the warranty on an appliance has expired, do as many of the required repairs as you can yourself rather than take it to the repair shop or call a service person to come to your home. Do not repair or attempt to repair an appliance yourself while it is still under warranty. Doing so could void your warranty. Read your warranty to be sure.

3. If you do not have the necessary skill or expertise to do your own repairs, consider taking an introductory course in household appliance repair which might be offered at a nearby college, high school, vocational school or technical institute, or by the County Extension Service. Such courses normally are relatively inexpensive. You should be able to do your own repairs for less than the cost of hiring someone to do them.

4. Before you call a service person to come to your home to repair an appliance, read the section on “problems” in the owner’s use-and-care manual which came with the appliance. It will list some things to check. For example, is the appliance plugged in? Do the batteries need replacing? Is the appliance turned on? Has a fuse blown or has the circuit breaker tripped? Does a button on the appliance need to be pressed? Does a knob on the appliance need to be turned? Reading the use-and-care manual could save you the cost of a service call.

5. If you have an old appliance which needs repairing, consider how much the repairs will cost. Also, consider the age and overall mechanical condition of the appliance. Ask a reputable, reliable service person his or her professional opinion regarding whether you should have it repaired or replaced. Based on all the facts you have, make the decision that will be to your financial advantage in the long run.

6. Check with relatives, friends, neighbors, and co-workers for their recommendations of reputable, reliable, honest, and reasonably-priced appliance repair persons. Using a repair person without these attributes could cost you more money now and in the long run.

*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.



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By Kathleen Wilson

1.First things first. Set a plan or a theme for your Christmas decorating. It doesn’t cost a thing to have a good plan, and when you are working with budget ideas, this is what pulls your ideas together, and makes everything you do look purposeful, and personal. Some theme ideas for Christmas? The rustic lodge xmas, a toyland xmas, countries around the world, Victorian, country, santa, snowmen, old fashioned, the list goes on and on!

2. Make garlands out of felt scraps. Cut Xmas shapes out of felt in miniature, mini stockings, holly leaves, mittens, and string together with needle and floss or strong fishing line to hang all over the house. Remember when you string each shape, tie a knot on both sides of the shape to hold it in its place. You can add more dimension to the shapes by cutting two of each, stuffing them lightly, them sewing the two together. Glue would work also if you aren’t a sewer. Saved used dryer sheets are perfect for this
kind of stuffing, or even tiny fabric scraps that are too small for other uses.

3.Drop a tealight candle in your cleaned out glass mayonnaise jars, tie a holiday ribbon around the neck, and you have a beautiful candle with xmas charm. You could nestle the candle in peppermints, nuts, or even sand if you wish. Try grouping several together for a dramatic evening effect. These also make great luminaries.

4. Start a Christmas collection. This can be a great tradition to initiate in your home. My girls and I starting collecting Santas 3 years ago, and it’s something they look forward to, choosing our yearly Santa together. I know it will be a fond memory for them, and I plan to let each child choose a Santa to take with them when the day comes that they leave the nest and start their own home. By the way, this doesn�t have to be expensive, or even
store bought. Try sewing or crafting a new decoration each year together for even more memories! Or check out your dollar store – they have some really cute ceramic holiday decorations for a buck or two. Remember, it’s the memories you’re interested in here, not a collectable based on monetary value.

5. If you are looking to do a toyland theme for your Christmas decorating this year, try searching out teddy bears and dolls at your local thrift stores. Wash them in a pillowcase and put them in your dryer for at least 20 minutes, then dress them up with ribbons and holiday fabrics. Group them under your tree, on mantels, and on windowsills. Stack small squares of cardboard together and wrap as a tiny present, then tuck them under a
teddy’s arm, or wrap an empty box and use it as teddy’s seat by the front door.

6. Place a few inexpensive glass balls in a bowl and embellish with a few sprigs of greenery or some leftover ribbon. If you don’t have an extra bowl (it is the holidays, after all!) try decoupaging a box with leftover Christmas wrap, or cover with a little fabric and glue.

7. Take down your pictures and wrap them like a gift, then hang them back on the wall for great holiday cheer! You don’t have to do this all around the house, how about just in the entry, or maybe the dining room?

8. Tie greens or ornaments to the chandelier with a little Christmas ribbon, just make sure they don’t hang low enough for any candles on the table to catch them on fire.

9. Make your own gift tags out of leftover paper. Ok, this is not a new idea, but try punching it up a bit. Add details by layering shapes over the base paper, use paper punches and scalloped scrapbooking scissors to add style, use a gold calligraphy pen to add names. Or use the scalloped scissors to make old holiday cards into tags.

10. Sponge stars or other seasonal shapes on your window with paint! No, I’m not nuts. Just add a teaspoon or so of liquid dish soap to acrylic craft paint, (I like white or gold metallic) and after the holidays you should be able to wash it off with window cleaner. Use a non- scratching dish scrubber if you come across a stubborn spot.

There it is, the 10 best budget decorating ideas for Holiday decorating! Always remember the most important reason we celebrate, and the reason we take the time to make our homes warm and inviting – our loved ones! Have a wonderful holiday season!

Kathleen Wilson is the author of “Quick Decorating Ideas Under $20:The Budget Decorator’s Bible” and the editor of The Budget Decorator, a free ezine dedicated to the “budget impaired” home decorator. Visit her here for more great ideas.


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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:

Automobile Forum
1. Has anyone tried one of those mileage boosting devices that are advertised in your SPAM?  They clamp around the fuel line and supposedly affect the hydrocarbon chains in your fuel so your car can use the fuel more efficiently.  They cost $90-100.  If the claims are true, the little gizmo could pay for itself quickly, but I’d like to hear from someone who’s used one.

Cooking Forum
1. Greetings! My first post here. I’ve just discovered the use of stoneware to cook my pizza crust. offers quite a variety of accessories but I’m looking for some lesser expensive stuff to make bread.  Anyone have an idea where I can seek and find?

Critters Forum
1. does anyone know if lady bugs can harm pets if they eat them?

Miscellaneous Forum
1. Hey there everyone! This is my first time posting here. Here’s my dilemma- my boyfriend just revealed to me this past weekend that the only reason he hasn’t proposed to me yet is because he doesn’t have enough money to pay for the traditional $20,000 wedding for me, and it’s been really upsetting him and making him feel inadequate. I was overwhelmed, of course, with love for the him and his sentiments, but I really don’t have any interest in that kind of extravagance! I’d be perfectly content to marry him at city hall tomorrow, but we both would really like to have a wedding that is very personal, and maybe start a few traditions of our own. So, I’m here trying to get some creative ideas from all of you! About the where, the cake, the decorations, everything! I’ve got a lot of ideas but I’m sure there are things you all could suggest that I’d never even think of! Mostly, we just want to celebrate our love in a style that is all about who we are
together. So fire away! Any suggestions are VERY welcome and much appreciated!

Pets Forum
1. Hi, has anyone ever figured out how to give a cat a bath when they hate water. I know I haven’t.  But she will allow me to rub a wet cloth on her. She doesn’t like being sprayed.  I was wondering if anyone knows of a remedy or solution that helps get out tangles, especially on her back where she can’t clean hersef.  It would need to be something I could rub on a cloth.  I am looking for a safe solution that would be good for her hair.  I am talking about a homemade solution and not something else that I have to buy.

2. Hi to everyone .. I just registered today. I was wondering if anyone might have some   information or experience as to why cats would spray after they have been fixed. Both of my cats were about a year old when I fixed them. I have a male and a female,brother and sister cats, and   I have caught both of them spraying on the wall   in my bedroom. Any comments or thoughts?

3. We have a cat that pee’d down the furnace vent and now that its getting colder outside we have turned on the heat. When the heat comes on we have a strong ammonia smell that rises through only one vent in the house. I have tried putting lemon juice down the vent and I am tired of covering up the smell. what can i use besides calling someone to clean it out, don’t want to spend a lot of money.



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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.
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.