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The Frugal Life News – 05/11/06


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The Frugal Life News
May 11, 2006 Edition
The Frugal Life

A Note From Randal

Hello Everyone,


We just got back from West Virginia where we attended a birders conference. It was very informative and I was able to see the banding of the song birds right before my eyes. I even had the opportunity to hold a Golden Warbler after he was banded. That is such an experience to see such a beautiful creature up close and personal. We have pictures if you want to see them here

I think you can tell from my expression it was a very memorable experience for me.

We have had lots of activity in the forum so remember to visit and help out if you can. As always we want to welcome new subscribers and thanks to all of you who have been sharing The Frugal Life News and our sites with others!

Frugally yours,

Frugal Finances

Early Tax Tips

April 17 was Federal Income Tax day in the U.S. I spent the majority of the first half of April working on our taxes.

Even with the help of my meticulously organized wife, this chore consumes a lot of hours for a voluntary compliance system. It’s particularly disheartening when you must write a large unplanned check at the end.

I have to agree with the tax advisers. The best time to think about next tax season is the day after tax season; so, I thought about last tax season and what would have made it more enjoyable…

I didn’t come up with anything.

But I did uncover three ideas to make it more efficient.

Idea #1: Eliminate Surprises

The worst tax surprise is a large refund! Somehow we’ve been conditioned to believe leaving our money in government hands until tax time is a good thing. I’ve heard this described as a form of forced savings, which I might swallow if the refund were used to pay off debt or fund an IRA instead of buying a plasma TV.

This kind of saving has a price tag… interest you didn’t avoid; interest you didn’t earn; and lost purchasing power due to inflation.

The second worst tax surprise is owing a large amount. While not as bad as a large refund — at least you held the government’s money until tax time – this can force you into debt. If instead of holding the government’s money, you spent it, you now owe a lender with tremendous power to extract payment from you, and you might as well consider interest charges an additional tax.

Both of these surprises can be eliminated with 15 minutes of effort. A large refund means you over-withheld taxes. A large tax bill means you under-withheld taxes. Adjusting your W-4 cures both. Use this free Form W-4 Assistant

to adjust your withholdings and print a completed Form W-4.

Takes about 5 minutes to complete and 10 minutes to walk it to your HR dept.

Idea #2: Itemizing? Fughetabout It!

You want tax simplification? Be careful what you wish for. If there are no deductions, there’s no itemizing, but, the reduction in paperwork is a form of simplification.

The Standard Deduction goes a long way towards making itemizing a waste of time. Currently at $10,000 for married couples filing jointly, you’ll need at least $10,001 of allowable deductions before itemizing starts to make sense.

Every dollar over $10,000 saves taxes at your marginal tax rate. In the 25% tax bracket, $10,001 of itemized deductions, mountains of paperwork, and hours of time saves you…25 cents.

Estimate your largest deductions for the coming tax year. Typically these are home mortgage interest and property taxes. If this total isn’t close to $10,000, take the Standard Deduction this year and relax.

Idea #3: Don’t Hunt for Tax Tips, let Tax Tips Find You

The U.S. tax code changes continuously. Even tax professionals have a hard time keeping up with discontinued, new, and pending regulations. Temporary changes, like special allowances for hurricane Katrina victims, are easily overlooked.

Instead of scouring business magazines, tax guides, or websites to stay current, subscribe to IRS Tax Tips:,,id=105773,00.html

This email notification service sends tips about taxes from the IRS each business day during the tax-filing season and periodically throughout the rest of the year.

After you get over the anxiety of receiving an email from the IRS, you’ll discover a wealth of resources to help ease the tax filing process. Some 2006 Tips included…How to File Electronically for Free; Avoiding Common Errors; How to Determine if Your Social Security Benefits are Taxable; Tax Deductions for Hybrid Vehicles; and more.

If you can’t make next tax season enjoyable, at least make it quick!

Isn’t it time you tried a Wealth-Building System that works…
100% of the time?!

Greg Moore is the Architect of the Debt Freedom System,
“DebtIntoWealth — Lessons from My Journey to Debt Freedom.”

Free Lesson #1 – Debt Freedom Course

Pay off all of your debt in 5-7 years using the money you already make. 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!”

Frugal Gardening


I am a freelance writer who often does pieces on frugal living topics. Recently, I published a list of 25 alternative plant containers that are fun and recycled/cheap. Check out the list here: ainers_25.html

I hope it sparks some creativity in your home.

Editor’s Note: This tip is from the Gardening section of The Frugal Life forum.

Frugal How-To

Bleach and Vinegar – A Safer Substitute

Vinegar neutralizes bleach and any other chlorine products, which is very useful to know if/when you accidentally spill bleach somewhere where you don’t want it! Grab the jug of vinegar and use it liberally. If used immediately, vinegar will even keep bleach from destroying the color on dyed clothes.

Do NOT mix bleach and vinegar except in small amounts, as it produces chlorine gas which can be deadly.

Vinegar is a bleaching agent in its own right on the order of lemon juice, so take caution if using it on really fragile surfaces.

I experimented with a stain on my kitchen counter: A piece of colored paper had been left on the counter and water had been spilled on it. It was several hours before it was discovered, and by that time there was an orange square on the counter top. I dribbled vinegar on the stain and went to do other cleaning. When I returned in about a half hour, the stain was completely gone. It takes more time to work than bleach, but it’s many times safer to use.

You won’t get bleach spots on your clothes and you won’t have to worry about pets and children getting into it. It won’t hurt rubber (elastic items) and it won’t burn your skin. If you get some in your eyes, splash with plain water and wait for your eyes to water to clear it up – no need for an emergency room visit!

Other bleaching uses: Vinegar will usually get rid of rust stains on clothing and other items. Soak the piece with it, sprinkle with salt and put it in the sun to dry. Wash as usual after this treatment.

Vinegar will sanitize your laundry as well as any surface – just like bleach.

Source: Frugal Living at – From Pat Veretto Visit the website for more tips on vinegar:

Make Your Own Home, Bath and Beauty Products

Essential oil kits allow you to make your own safe non-chemical home and beauty products. Making your home less toxic for yourself, children and pets.
Make Your Own Home and Beauty Products

Frugal Decorating

Home Made Bench

Hi everyone, I have some thing I made recently and had many compliments on. A porch bench!! I found 2 old iron dining room chairs in the back yard when I moved. I took off the seats, I painted them white, put the chairs facing each other, cut a piece of plywood the length and width (1/4 inch wider on each side), screwed two 1×4’s on each side for the front and back. I got sponge batting and an old sheet to cover the plywood stapled it to the plywood and screwed the plywood to the two chairs from the seats of the chairs. I then went to a garage sale (I love garage sales)! I found a wicker head board for $5 and screwed it to the back of the bench. it was so pretty everyone wanted to know where to get one like it. Kajunbelle

Deodorize While You Kill Bacteria and Viruses

Get the anti-microbial properties of essential plant oils so you can kill germs without bleach and toxic cleaning products. The plug-in AromaBall makes it quick and easy.
AromaBall for Deodorizer and Anti-Microbial Home Defense

Frugal Pets

Herbal Heartworm Program and Prevention

Robin Sockness works with pet owners with an individualized program and has currently worked with over 700 dogs. Herbs are safer and less expensive so it’s a win-win situation for all. Prevention programs available.
Herbal Heartworm Program & Prevention

Pet Information, Links and Natural Foods

Healthy Pet Corner provides lots of information and links for dogs, cats, birds, horses, rabbits, and reptiles.
Healthy Pet Corner

Frugal Tips From Our Subscribers

White Mexican Cheese Dip
(like the white dip in Mexican Resturants)

1 pound white American cheese (Land-O-lakes)
3/4 cup Jalapeno Juice
1 cup of Half-n-Half
sprinkle of black pepper

Melt on high heat stirring constantly from bottom of pan until
all is melted. Taste great!

Frugal Learning

Singing Success At-Home Study Course

The Singing Success Vocal Training Program, by celebrity vocal coach Brett Manning, is the only vocal training program that guarantees a full octave increase in your vocal range! You’ll learn to sing as easily as you speak, completely eliminating vocal strain, and you will learn to master the techniques of vocal style, including runs, licks and trills. Money-back Guarantee:

What’s Going On In The Forum

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:

Questions Needing Answers At The Forum

Cleaning Forum
1. Hi, I am new here at the forum though I have accessed Herb’s Place for a long time.
Here goes. Our basement drain backed up a few times last fall, we cleaned up, then had a pro. co. come in to snake out to the city water. Just a bit of calcium buildup, no roots, I saw the camera run. House is 40 yrs. old. He said there is a bow in the pipe under the washer, probably from years of settling. Since then, only when the first wash water drains into the tub there is a strong sulfer smell. Subsequent drainings have no odor. It is not related to any other drain use in the house.
Any ideas why the smell? Thanks

2. I had a candle lit on the hearth of my fireplace and the wax melted off and stained the brick. I was able to scrape off the wax mostly, but there is a shiny, and now waterproof, stain. How do I clean it off?

3. I rented out a camper over the winter to a couple of guys that were building a prison a couple of towns over from me the agreement was to clean it out before they left well that didn’t happen, spoiled meat everywhere in the cool boxes unwashed dishes even dog stuff on the floor we have emptied out the meat and rotten things and it still smells really bad Daniel

Home Based Business Ideas
Nature’s Sunshine Products – Herbs and Supplements

Earn an income selling over 500 natural health products, beverages, essential oils, skin care systems, water filters, and more. Websites for $11.95/month.
Nature’s Sunshine Products

Home Spa Party Plan – Make Bath and Body Products

Have you noticed how popular bath and pampering products have become? The HomeSpa Party Plan taps into that craze. Guests at HomeSpa parties learn how to make bath salts, personalized perfumes, body spritzers and more using essential oils, while you make a nice income.
Home Spa Party

Flint River Ranch – Oven Baked Pet Foods

Make additional income providing healthy pet foods and bones to friends, neighbors and family. Pets keep eating, so customers keep buying. If you love animals, this is a very rewarding home-based business. With only $100.00 volume a month you earn 19% on all sales.
Flint River Ranch

Life’s Abundance Foods and Supplements

Formulated by Dr. Jane Bicks and Dr. Barry Sears who developed the Zone Diet for Overweight Dogs. Besides dog, cat and horse products, they have a non-toxic line of cleaning products – safe for pets and children. Websites available for $8.50/month.
Life’s Abundance


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© 2006 Randal J. Watkins

Information in The Frugal Life News (TFL) has been derived from sources
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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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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.

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You may forward or use this copyrighted newsletter on a website if you
include the following credit:

Editor, Randal J. Watkins, of, provides this free
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now to shop or view the list of free newsletters available.
The Herbs Place

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