My daughter is continuing her series on selling online with thrift store finds. Recently she and several readers discussed whether or not this is ethical.
There are some outstanding free resources for educating yourself about just about everything under the sun- from Yale, to MIT, to others you may not have heard of. Here are some of our favorites.
Baking Chocolate: This is the substitute I have used for squares of baking chocolate since 1978, when I received a cookbook for Christmas with this substitute. I was 14 years old.
Add 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1 Tablespoon of butter for every square of unsweetened baking chocolate called for.
Eggs: I've shared several substitutes for eggs here.
Golden mushroom soup: There's a recipe here. It's not really much cheaper, but it is healthier.
Sour Cream: tofu based substitute here.
Large Family, Single Income:
We have seven kids and often have two extras over weekends and holidays. But we have always been a single income family. I have gotten a lot of variations on this question:
“Hi there! Please excuse my intrusiveness, but could you please share with me how you and your hubby bring in enough income to raise such a large family? I ask because I am a newly wed and we are hoping for a family…but I have been wondering how people handle it all financially.”
Free: Quick Budget Meals
I am always blessed and encouraged by those who write so positively about the art of cooking. Truth is, cooking is not a highlight on my things to do list. However, I really enjoy nurturing and taking care of my family and I also like to eat, so providing sustenance is often on my agenda. As eating healthy and living the frugal life is often on my mind, I must say that I have seen many a blog post about how it really costs less to eat a healthy diet. In some ways I believe this can be true, and if you look at long term health as a priority, this would be very true. Nevertheless, a healthy diet does not come cheap.
As food costs continue to escalate, and if you live as I do in an area where it is difficult to find anything with marked down prices or need to travel 40 minutes to find a good sale, keeping the food budget in check can be a challenge. Our diet staples are vegetables and fish, neither of which are inexpensive items in my neighborhood. Gardening is a great plan, but finding gardening success in South Texas...well, let's just say I am still working on it.
So finding a frugal recipe from time to time which can be applied or adapted to our eating for heart health plan is always appreciated. Homemade pizza has always been a real treat at our house, but after Husband's heart attack I took a bit of different approach to this meal. Now that he has made so much progress and is doing very well, I do use a bit of low fat mozzarella on his slices, but we have also found a sprinkle of feta cheese over our roasted or raw veggies and baked on a low fat crust is delicious as well.
Recently I came across this recipe for pizza crust. I really appreciate this low fat option and the fact the crust does not need to rise before baking. We did not make the Mexican version,but it looks like another healthier option we may try in the future. Although my family's overall diet and recipes would not be totally compatible with those shared by Danielle, I still have found great ideas to apply to my own menu. If you haven't visited Blissfulandomestic.com, please take some time to peruse this site. What a wealth of frugal advice!
As I can easily spend $30.00 or more per week on vegetables and fruit, the idea of sprouting seems appealing to me. The cost of the seeds would be minimal and the health benefits perhaps even better than raw vegetables. I have read some cautions about the sprouting of beans, so think I may pass on them and try sprouting seeds. Just wondering if anyone might be willing to share some sprouting experience?
Be sure to visit our Thrift Store post, and get some tips on reselling those finds from my oldest daughter, who is making a decent next egg each month doing just that.
Frugal Baby Stuff:
Clothes: My philosophy is that if you wear it once it's used, so I buy them "pretested" at thrift shops, consignment stores and garage sales. You can get out almost any stain with this recipe:
1 cup Cascade Dishwashing detergent
1 cup Chlorox 2 (color safe bleach) OR Borax (Twenty Mule Team is one brand)
1-3 teasoons of Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)
5 gallons of water.
Mix this solution and soak garment overnight. Wash it in the washing machine normally. I use this solution over and over. Occasionally it will lighten a brightly colored item, but since I use it on tough stains, it's an item that was a lost cause anyway- so it doesn't matter if the solution spoils it.
Diaper Wipes: Buy used receiving blankets. Cut them into squares roughly the size of diaper wipes. Hem them or serge the edges, or whip stitch them to keep them from fraying. These work better than diaper wipes because they have texture, and therefore clean better. YOu can use just plain water and toss them into your diaper pail or a bucket near your changing area. Launder them as needed and reuse. If you don't want to use plain water, make your own diaper wipe solution. Here's one recipe:
2 cups water
1/8th cup olive oil (most recipes call for baby oil, and you can certainly use that instead. We prefer olive oil)
1-3 tablespoons baby shampoo or baby bath
drops of essential oils (optional- we like a drop of tea tree oil and a drop or two of lavender)
Soak your wipes in this solution. Keep an extra ziplock bag in your diaper bag for used wipes- or make disposable wipes by soaking paper towels in this solution in a plastic container or a ziplock bag. -Incidentally, I still use those previous tips, the laundry stain remover and the 'diaper' wipes even though we don't have babies anymore. The 'diaper' wipes make great clean ups for when we have to eat in the van while running from here to there and back and again. The stain remover works for almost any stains, including berry picking stains.
The DeputyHeadmistress blogs regularly at The Common Room and less regularly at the cooking blog, The Common Kitchen;I've been married 30 years,am the mom to seven plus unofficial foster mom to two little boys, Mama-in-Law to two, and Grandmama to five blessings under 3, and yes we are very proud.=)
It has always been fascinating to me how vocabulary changes through the generations. In my younger days, the word "cool" might have been defined as biting or chilly. The word "in" was the word with a similar connotation to the word cool. People or objects that were considered to be of value were "in." Now, I am not saying we would say "in" when we liked someone or something in the same way the word "cool" is used in today's vernacular. I do, though, consider the two words to be similar in meaning. And yes, I will admit I am from the days when the word "groovy" was on the lips of many (but not mine.)
Up to this point, I have never been what the culture would call "in" or which would now be described as "cool." Actually, Husband and I have made many counter-cultural decisions. Not by any means with a need or desire to be different, it is just that we seek to live our lives based on Biblical principles and that means we often say "no" to something the culture finds to be a "yes."
For many in today's world, Husband and I drive a very uncool car with dents in the side and some missing trim. I think it might be referred to as a "beater." The fact that it is paid for and gets us where we need to go is more important to us than the fact this car is not cool. Living in a doublewide mobile home certainly makes us not cool to some people. But again for us, the fact our home is paid for overrides its not being cool. Our list could go on as we homeschooled our children, rarely, if ever, go to any really "cool" places and our names would never be found on any kind of a "who's who" list.
Now, though, I think we may actually be becoming "cool." How can this be? Because I think being frugal is becoming a "cool" thing. There are more frugal blogs than I could ever check in a day and let's not forget Dave Ramsey of the debt free scream who has done a great job of making the debt free life cool. I applaud Dave for making what was once the norm, living within your means, a cultural plus again. Truth is there are young men and women reaping great financial benefit for making the frugal life a "cool" one and I am grateful.
Actually, I am encouraged by frugal becoming cool. Anything that makes people really consider the whys and hows of living a well thought out life can only be an asset to their own personal future and to that of our country.
So I ask you? Do you think being frugal is gaining popular support and are you frugal cool?
Thrifty Tuesday: Selling online with thriftshop finds.
Market value and how to go about setting prices that are fair to yourself.
Two quick and frugal recipes- Pakistani kima (or hamburger curry), and a very quick chow mein recipe.
I love this home-made bathroom cleaner solution.
Kindle titles related to frugality or bringing in income:
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, service, and human dignity -- principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.
In this New York Times best-selling book, The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy, Dr. Thomas J. Stanley uses over two decades worth of surveys, personal interviews with millionaires, and data to reveal the secrets for building wealth in America. Dr. Stanley shattered the contemporary held beliefs about America's rich - and how they got that way. It is seldom inheritance or advanced degrees or even intelligence that builds fortunes in this country. Wealth in America is more often the result of hard work, diligent savings, and living below your means. The Millionaire Next Door reveals the common denominators that show up again and again among those who have accumulated wealth.
Do you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck? Do you wonder where your money went at the end of each month? You are not alone! Grow It, Build It, Save It! explains how one family changed their terrible behaviors with money and now save over $11,000 each year!
Each chapter offers a detailed explanation of a saving strategy that the author and her family have implemented in their journey to financial security.
Don't let money stress you out! Take the tips and tricks outlined in this book and start making progress today!
The Frugal Life: The Simple Path to Living a Good Life on a Budget
Author Michelle Stewart delivers a common sense approach to living a simple, frugal life. With tips that include how to save money in almost any area of your home, how to cut back on entertainment costs without giving up fun, and how to incorporate your entire family into the process, The Frugal Life offers advice that will work for busy moms or anyone trying to save money for the future.
Michelle Stewart goes beyond tips about saving a few cents with coupons or cutting back on unnecessary spending. Through real-life illustrations, she looks at the reasons people spend too much money and outlines some steps for changing the way you think about finances. Anyone can save money, pay down debt, and live a more peaceful life; they just need to be willing to make some basic changes in how they deal with money.
FREE! (May only be free today)
These books are free at the time of listing. This can change, so be sure to check the cost first, before you download. YOu do not need a Kindle to take advantage of these offers. You can read them on various free reading apps If you're curious, this is the Kindle I have, and I have used others and mine remains my favorite. Mine has Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi and I don't have commercial screensavers. But then, I bought mine used from a friend for fifty dollars. Won't see that bargain again.
More really good reads among Kindle titles that are free or only .99 here
Watching the highly recommended retina specialist fumbling with his laptop and forgetting how to use the mouse to check my computerized file was when it first hit me. Why hadn't I taken my own advice? A routine eye appointment had given my eye doctor cause for some concern. He noticed something on my retina needing further examination and expertise. Now sitting in the office of the doctor recommended, I realized I may have moved a bit too hastily.
As a self-pay patient, I do have the advantage of choosing my own caregivers. Previously when searching for a dental specialist, I had been careful to not only call the doctor suggested but to also ask friends for other recommendations. That diligence had provided my family with a $730.00 savings and excellent medical care. I think it was my haste to get my own eye care process over with that I acted without sufficient thought. When I called this retina specialist's office, I was not duly impressed with the person I spoke with. Now certainly office staff do not necessarily reflect the services of the professional, however, they can project the attitude of the office. This should have been a caution light for me.
When I arrived for my first appointment, the amount I had been quoted changed to now include any other tests that might be warranted. I was asked to pay the upfront quoted amount which I did readily and then agreed to pay other charges if needed after seeing the doctor that day. Somehow I just knew there would be more charges and there were.
Obviously the elderly doctor was not at all computer savvy. Now I, too, bear this reputation, but I must say seeing your doctor not able to remember how to use the mouse connected to his laptop, well.....even for one as technologically impaired as myself, it could cause a bit of consternation. The doctor did seem to function quite well with the tests given to me and as one who is closer to elderly than youth, I understand that proficiency in life should not be bound by using technology. Years of medical experience really do count. Still it just made me consider that I should have investigated my options more carefully.
The fact that the doctor kept forgetting the details of my case whenever he returned to the examining room could very well have been just because he was also trying to see at least 10 or more other patients at the same time. Wouldn't you find keeping all that many patients medical details straight? So I gave him the benefit of this doubt.
The first appointment ends with the doctor giving me little information but the recommendation of another test. I explain I am self-pay and need to know if this is really necessary. He assures me the test is needed. I diligently seek to find the costs of the test and next appointment and Husband makes the decision we will go forward.
I will not bore you with all the resulting details. Let me just summarize my next visit with the fact that I stood strong in refusing to sign papers saying any balance from my visit would go to Medicare. What balance? Hadn't I paid up front for these services? And why didn't the young woman seem to grasp I was not eligible for Medicare and Medicare would not want my bills? Oh, and then what a surprise when a bill came in the mail for the balance due after I had so carefully made clear I was asking for the entire amount required for the doctor's services and which I had been asked to pay up front. (Somehow they had neglected to include the charge of the doctor.) Really? They didn't think I was asking for the charge, too?
The good news was the test showed what I had expected all along. The retina appears to be fine at this time. You see, I had done some of my own research and did not believe there was a real problem with my eye, but due to some serious retina issues in my extended family, I chose to be wise. I am not sorry I had my eye checked, just sorry I did not do a better job choosing "the checker."
You see, the doctor really was too busy to explain the why and what of his tests and evaluation. Even when I asked in the office for more detail, he just said everything was fine, but after the unexpected bill came, my frugal heart took charge. For my costs of $630.00 I wanted more of an understanding of what had been seen on the eye and a better definition of "fine." So I insisted on a call with more information which resulted in a call from the doctor and finally my questions were answered. Of course, not before the doctor tried to recommend I have the same test he had just given to me! Conflict does not come easy to me, but I have learned much by living my purposeful frugal life and that is to try at least to get what I have paid for.
Let me also be quick to share that I am grateful for the medical profession and have more positive experiences than the one just shared. I do think, however, it would be wise to consider the following advice:
Spend some time researching your own medical issue so that you know the questions to ask your caregiver and have some understanding of what your condition may be.
Keep a log of tests performed, medication prescribed and ask for copies to have for your own personal files.
Whenever possible, seek out recommendations of caregivers from others with similar medical concerns.
Ask for and expect to receive adequate information to understand whatever health issue you are being seen for.
Anyone else found had a recent experience where they should have taken their own advice?
When the budget is tight, and when is it not, it’s worked for me to plan a minimum number of servings of the most expensive part of the meal or the main dish, and then have enough side dishes or a decent amount of an inexpensive filler on the side for everybody to use to fill in the hollow spots. This way, so nobody leaves hungry, but neither are they filling themselves to the gills with the highest priced items on the table. In addition to the usual basic rice, noodles, bread, and mashed potatoes, you could try stuff like:
side dishes of seasonal fruit or vegetables
Make a first course of soup to take the edge off.
Fan-cut baked potatoes
Caraway seed bread (both a soaked grain and a regular version)
Roasted winter vegetables (if you have leftovers of this, they go nicely in a pot pie or in soup the following day)
Make your own batch of biscuit mix and you can set out extra biscuits (or cheesey biscuits) in a jiffy.
Irish Soda Bread (including a soaked grains version)
Basic whole wheat bread
We also sometimes just serve popcorn (made from scratch, not the microwave kind) as a side-dish for meals where chips would more traditionally be served.
It's time to file taxes if you didn't already, and I didn't. I'm still waiting on one final piece of info, but I do know who I'm going to use. In fact, I already filled in all the blanks and will be ready to hit the e-file button once I get that last piece of the puzzle.
I know of three major competitors in the e-file business, and I've used all three. In the past I have used H&R Block because they had the best name recognition. Then I switched to TurboTax because they were cheaper and actually found me a few more dollars when I used both sites to compare.
Last year, I tried both of those plus TaxAct, and I settled on TaxAct. I thought all 3 sites were very comparable in ease of use, and all were comprehensive enough to handle my multiple streams of income and deductions. The biggest difference: the first two are free if you fall under a certain income level, while TaxAct is free for everyone.
There is a catch: TaxAct charges you $9.99 if you want to import all your information from the previous year. So it's free the first time, then in the following years it's up to you to decide whether your time is worth $10. Since I have 10 kids at home and quite a few sources of income, I chose to pay for the import this time. It was still cheaper than their competitors.
But I'm guessing that it probably only saved me 20-30 minutes, so I probably just passed up the chance to save the equivalent of $20 or $30/hour. Next year, I'll enter the info myself, buy the family a bucket of ice cream to celebrate, and still have a few dollars in my pocket.
Unlike Pat of corninmycoffee-pot.blogspot.com, I did not find February to "feel" like a very frugal month. Pat really made some progress in her frugal journey by instituting a no spend month and I was pleased to wholeheartedly cheer Pat on. Yet for me, February felt more like a spend month than a no spend one.
An unexpected doctor bill, new shoes for Husband and newly purchased washer and dryer had left me feeling like I have some empty pockets. Truth is spending money is rarely my activity of choice. (Well, I must admit shopping for grandbabies does bring me much joy.) Shopping is an exercise in caring for my family, but not high on my list of things to do.
Having gone months without a dryer and diligently saving money in my appliance fund, I was not overly excited to hear my washer playing a grinding tune. Already a machine with issues and over ten years of age, Husband made the decision that we needed to find replacement. Our Saturday of getting caught up with some yard chores quickly became an afternoon of appliance shopping.
As we do not have access to a vehicle of adequate size to transport Craig's List finds and as Husband was not wild about taking a chance that a second hand washer would be the best answer, we ended up purchasing new. We did seek out several scratch-and-dent and second hand stores, but were not assured that the products available would be the best choice.
Our appliance repair/purchase fund covered the cost of the new hopefully dependable washer we found. Husband, though, decided that since we had hoped to replace our dryer in the future, we should make that purchase now as well. (Oh, for this frugal woman who watches her budget categories so carefully and now realizing that she would have to do some robbing of Peter to pay Paul, this was a bit of a bummer.) By making this decision however, we received free delivery and removal of our old washer and dryer and saved the time and hassle of another shopping trip in the months to come. My little floor budget category again loses steam as those monies have now purchased my dryer.
So Husband helps me work through what feels to me like such a spend month. He says in over 31 years of marriage we have purchased one used washer and one new one. Another washer used for a good portion of those years came with a house we purchased. And in all our years of marriage we never bought a dryer. Either we went with out or had one come with a house purchase. The dryer we now have that is no longer working and came with a home purchase is about 28 years old.
So I practice a grateful heart. Even though I do not like to spend money and would like my appliances to live forever I am grateful for our appliance fund that helped towards our need. It will be a blessing to have a dryer again even though the loads dried will be few. What a relief to have made these purchases with funds on hand even though I was hoping some of the monies could go in a different direction. Budgets are a blessing and even though some of my categories are on empty now, the process of refilling them will continue. Spend month or no spend month, the bottom line is living within your means.
How was your month? Spend or no spend?
Take along a measuring tape, and also take measurements of your kids (and maybe you and your spouse) ahead of time and write them down inside your pocket calendar or on a paper in your wallet- where you know you will always have it with you. Many times second hand clothes will not have tags because they've been cut off. If you can't have your family members try the clothes on, checking measurements is the next best thing.
Check all fastenings very carefully. Also look especially close at the knees, back pocket seams, and the crotch of all blue jeans. Those seem to be the places most likely to show weakness, thinning fabric, or holes.
Stock up, but with care. It's worthwhile to pick up boy clothes, especially after about size 6, if you have little boys who will be growing into them. Boys are harder on their clothes, and consequently, boys' clothing in good condition is harder to find when you need it. With girls' clothing you have more flexibility in general. We do have one girl who is an exception. She has multiple disabilities and a funny body shape possibly connected with that. There are only one or two particular styles that fit her and look nice on her, and she wears a girls' size that isn't as commonly found, so when we find clothes that meet our needs for her, I usually buy them.
Shop ahead: I look at thrift shops all year long for gifts, for stocking stuffers, for special finds that make suitable presents. I keep a stash in my closet.
Make use of Goodwill Rewards Cards in the U.S.- as I understand it, not every state has these, and the program varies from one state to another. In South Carolina, for instance, you get one point for every dollar, and when you get to 250 points, you get 25% off your next purchase, plus some other special offers. Wisconsin offers five points per dollar, and the points can be used for in-store specials. More here.
Use your thrift shop and yard sales to bring in a little bit of extra cash. Selling things on online is generally not a get-rich quick scheme, but it is a decent way to bring in some much needed extra income if you do your homework and are disciplined about it. I choose books.
My oldest daughter, married, two babies 2 and under, one with needs which take a lot of time with doctor and therapy appointments, has been reselling things on e-bay and making a steady amount of 'egg money' through her sales. She's started a new feature on the family blog inviting others to share their thrift store finds. She'll be including give-aways and advice on reselling- she's discovered some very interesting items that are steady sellers. please join her!
Be willing to look at things from more than one point of view- that's why I was able to get this 300 dollar item for 5.00- the store staff didn't realize what they had, so they had set this item up on the wrong end, and nobody could figure out what it was for.=)
ASK questions- the most basic question is "Are you having any specials today? Because I asked that question I was able to get my son this suit for .50 cents.
The store was running an unadvertised sale, and they hadn't got the signs out yet, either- they were selling all the men and boy clothes for $5.00 a bag. I bought several needed shirts for my husband and son, and squeezed in the suit as well, and it all came out to .50 an item when we got it home (tip: roll clothing, don't fold it, to fit the most items in a bag).
You can learn many lessons through thrift shopping- patience, delayed gratification, gratitude for what you have, creativity.
As I have been mulling over my frugal life of late, I thought I would share five ways that can ensure success in the frugal life:
1. Define Your Terms:
The word "frugal" can mean many different things to each of us. My frugal life may seem spartan to some of you and yet be quite lavish to others. Success comes best in pursuing the frugal life when we have a clear cut understanding of why we are choosing to live out this lifestyle. The foundation for why Husband and I choose frugal living is because we base our life decisions on the Word of God and so seek to be good stewards of all God has blessed us with, including our finances. (And no, I do not believe the Bible teaches that all need to be pennypinchers, but I do believe it teaches us to use our financial blessings with wisdom.) On this foundation, Husband and I build our frugal life with consideration of our desire to live debt free and within our means. Our personal health and our commitment to our family also are elements taken into consideration when defining our frugal life.
2. Keep a Positive Perspective:
Frugal success comes from having the right attitude toward the process. Not everyone gets to choose all the details of living out their frugal life, but we do get to choose how we respond and our bias towards the experience. Seeing the frugal life as an adventure and an opportunity to develop character, how to skills and resourcefulness really helps to keep a proper focus.
3. Use Comparison With Others Wisely:
Husband has always said that it is the rare person who can stand alone all the time. In most any season of life, there can be great encouragement found in sharing the path with others that are like minded. Find a friend on a similar journey if possible. Going against the culture and the mainstream of society (which is what living the frugal life does) can be lonely at times. However, books, blogs and even others in your church or community can be great assets to your frugal life. I would also share a caution that comparison with others can be deadly. Everyone has different goals, abilities and motivations for the why and the how of the frugal life. We can learn from and be encouraged by another and yet still desire to or need to walk a very different frugal path. I enjoy following a blog where a young couple have made amazing financial progress by following a frugal lifestyle (and by making many wise business decisions.) More than likely I will never have their monetary reward. That does not however, give me cause for despair or discouragement. On the contrary, I rejoice with them at every new success and am grateful for their heart and financial savvy.
4. Count the Cost:
For most of us the frugal life is not an easy one. That is okay. Easy is not always the best choice. For real frugal success, you need to be able to say no to yourself. Learning how to be content with living within your means and finding ways to make ends meet can make you feel uncomfortable at times. Delayed gratification usually brings much blessing but the process of denying yourself things now for a better later can be quite an adjustment. I confess my thoughts do consider the ease of opening a can of soup for a pot when washing the plethora of pans after making the homemade variety. The washing, drying and folding of plastic bags is one more thing to add to a busy day. Saying no to an item I would love to purchase for my home or seeing an adorable outfit out of my price range for a grandbaby isn't always easy, but it is best for me to do so. If yours is the frugal life, you must be willing to learn to say no.
5. Find the Routine:
After really coming to terms with the reasons and motivations for living out your frugal life, one of the best ways to ensure success is very practical. I am most successful in my frugal life when the things I do become routine. Recently I purchased a new lamp for next to my bed. The old one could only be turned off by pulling the plug. Do you know I still find my new lamp unplugged some mornings? Pulling the plug each night before going to bed had become so routine that I still do this even though there is no longer a need. For me, attaching something new to what I already do or consciously doing something new in the same way and as close to the same time in my day, ensures that this activity will soon become my routine. Right now I know that I need to make bread baking a part of what I do at least one of the days I am home each week. It has not been happening because I have not been diligent to make this a part of my homemaking routine.
Each of us will have a different definition of what it means to live our frugal life with success, but stopping to consider what works well for us and sharing with others is a great way to encourage those seeking this path. What ensures your frugal success?
Do you occasionally need padded envelopes for mailing photographs or smallish, fragile items? Save the styrofoam trays that come with package of cheese, some fruits, and so forth from the grocery store. Clean them well, and trim to fit two pieces in your envelope. Slip your pictures or other item between them to protect them in the mail.
If you discover while making household repairs that a small screwhole is stripped, use a wooden golf tee. Dip the narrow point in carpenter's glue and insert it into the hole. When it dries, cut the golf tee flush with the rest of the surface. Drill a new hole for your screw into the golf tee.
If you make a lot of bread, you might like a dough scraper. But you can also use a regular ice scraper such as the ones you use for your car windshield as well, and they cot a lot less. You can also use ice scrapers to clean out your freezer.
If celery tends to go bad before you are able to use it all, chop the whole bunch at once. Spoon it into ice cube trays. Add a bit of water to each compartment as well, and freeze. When frozen, remove the cubes and bag them and return to freezer. When making soups or stews calling for celery, just add a couple of these celery cubes (or more, depending on the size of your recipe). You can do this with herbs like parsley, too.
Roll up old magazines or thicker catalogs and hold them in place with a rubber band or two. Use them as boot trees- stick them upright inside your boots to help the boot top stay straight.
Repair a broken umbrella by making a splint for the broken rib with a bit of wire cut from an old wire coat hanger. Lay it alongside the broken rib and duct tape them together.
Zipper broken on a jacket or hoodie? Slide a paper clip through the hole and it's good as new.
Use an old umbrella long beyond its prime for a drying rack. Strip away all the fabric and hang the umbrella from a hook in the ceiling, or from a wire shelf in the laundry room. Use for drying delicates, stockings, and other lighter items.
Here's a video on removing the fabric: http://youtu.be/Zlhzs59FOak
Addendum- free Kindle books! You don't need a Kindle to take advantage of these. Most of them are only going to be free today- doublecheck the cost to make sure it's still free.
The American Frugal Housewife- Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880) was an American abolitionist, women's rights activist, Indian rights activist, novelist, and journalist. Her 1833 book An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans was the first anti-slavery work printed in America in book form, while her American Frugal Housewife, first published in 1828, was a wildly popular nineteenth-century manual for homemakers. Other works from Child, who is best remembered for her Thanksgiving poem "Over the River and Through the Woods," include The Mother's Book, The Girl's Own Book, and The Family Nurse.
The Thrifty Thought...
Thriftiness is not about being cheap! It's about spending consciously on the things that bring us the most happiness.
Leor Grebler explores ways that everyone can get more out of money, time, and life through a series of observations on common activities - grocery shopping, getting gas, buying expensive electronics, and more.
Enjoy 86 different vignettes and thoughts on how to gain time and quality out of life
Placing a multitude of books back upon our shelves, I ponder whether or not these books held in my hand will someday be considered collector items or just "trash" to be disposed of when Husband's and my days are over. A recent evening of a Thank You Celebration is also on my mind. Youngest Son, most grateful for his published novels, invited some families who had read the rough drafts of his books before publication and had given honest and helpful criticism. A book theme was used to give structure to our evening and our guests were asked to bring a book or two to share with the rest of us. The idea was to elicit how these books had taught or entertained each participant in some way.
The evening was magnificent and seemed to be enjoyed by all. Husband and I decided our decorations would be the books that most influenced our lives. I had a grand time the morning of our celebration placing different piles of our books around the house. Those classics that have inspired our walk with the Lord, great literature, how-to books, thrifty tip books, and our favorites read to our children not so long ago.
Now as I hold these volumes in my hand (Husband said the day was like walking around with our best friends), I revel in the pages as I place them again upon our bookshelves. Some of our books show much use and bring back many a memory. Firstborn Son commented the evening of our celebration about his memories of our reading The Little House on the Prairie series under blankets in our drafty house and my heart remembers too.
Now I wonder though with all the emphasis on e-books and Kindles and Nooks and contraptions of that sort, if my books will someday be obsolete and I feel sad. One of my most wonderful childhood memories is entering the basement of my childhood library. It was an incredible building of stone and slate and the basement was the keeper of the children's books. Oh, the smell of the books and damp basement was like perfume to this reader's heart!
I look at these machines that now "house" books and I must confess I wonder about the future of what I call "real books." I tell my children this Nonna will not be reading books on those machines to her grandchildren. I want pages to flip through, covers with pictures to examine and books that show the wear of love and appreciation. Yes, I can see the frugal benefit to these e-readers and how the cost of books is less. And please don't get me wrong. I really appreciate the DHM who so graciously blogs here with free e-books for our consideration. I will confess that there is a nice collection of e-books on my laptop that I do scan from time to time.
It just seems to me that I do not read e-books the same way as "real" books. I love to highlight my books, fold down the pages I want to go back to, and even keep some of my most treasured books close. You should see my Bible! Notes and dates fill the pages as I cherish certain verses and make them my prayers.
Yes, I can see the handwriting on the wall. I have lived through many incredible technological advances and years ago would have marveled at the thought that I would write more with computer keys than my beloved pencil. I just wonder though if I will ever approach books on screen the same as I do those on paper.
So here is my question: Do you find that you read e-books with the same enthusiasm and retention as "real" books? I really would like to know.
Also, I am including a link that really has nothing to do with this topic but is an incredible resource of frugal ideas. Enjoy!
Just making you aware that I am a Vision Forum affiliate and any purchases made through my link would be to my benefit.
How to use nail polish remover to remove the print from plastic containers- this is useful for using those containers for gift giving and special storage. Really neat idea!
Get your kids on board and teach them about frugal living, too. Make your life and theirs easier when you share the joy!
Here are 37 ways to save money, along iwth how much money you'll save. Now, most of these we either already do, or we never spent money on them in the first place so we can't 'save' money by not spending it where we already weren't spending it- but maybe you'll find something useful.
Here are some ideas for crafters.
The Poverty Diet- what we did to help dig our way out of a budget hole caused when both of us lost our jobs at the same time and we had no savings at all.
A series of ten short but highly useful lessons we learned along the way.
You probably already do most of these things to save money on laundry. But do you have something like this?
Polder Wall-Mount 24-Inch Accordion Clothes Dryer, White
When we lived in Japan we had something like this over our Kitchen sink, and I handwashed dish towels and wash cloths every night and hung them up to dry:
Better Houseware 882 Hanging Garment Dryer, Stainless
Get ready to garden with these free Kindle books (you don't need a Kindle to read them, but most of them won't be free tomorrow):
THIS OLD HOUSE Magazine
Tears fill my eyes as I read this beautiful missive that speaks so eloquently of the realities of parenting and living out what I would call the "work life." No sugar coating the realities by Ann Voskamp, writing at aholyexperience.com, just simple, almost brutal, honesty about a life filled with hard work, long days and even some sleepless nights. Days like you and I live as we seek to fill our days with what really matters. I am encouraged and may you be as well.
As I reflect on Ann's words and think of what to share on this frugal blog, I realize that my desire is to to encourage you and myself as well, that there is a higher purpose in what we are doing as frugal livers than just saving money. Deal sites abound, and many do an excellent job of sharing how to save money. I, too, desire to share any tips or experiences that I find make my frugal life work better. Yet it is the why of what we do that helps to make the challenge of living out the frugal life meaningful.
Our families are worth the cost of working hard and seeking to live within our means but materialism seeks to make us lose our focus and find our meaning in that which soon dissipates. The temptation to find our purpose in what we own and provide for our families can easily deceive our hearts.
I write letters to my children in a small journal type notebook. Nothing fancy mind you, just pages that hold my words of love and remembrance. My married children have taken their journals with them, but I still write a few times each year to Youngest Son. After a recent addition about his 18th birthday and new driver's license, I flip through the pages of my letters written to him since birth and remember.
After I close this memoir, realization comes that little read had anything to do with material possession. It was ordinary and meaningful moments I had sought to capture and the relationship that I had written about lived out in the midst of fun days and even some heartbreaking circumstances.
So for those struggling this day to make ends meet, you are not alone. For those whose hearts crave just one more thing to make your heart happy, you will be disappointed. We work hard and keep our focus for many reasons, but perhaps one of the most important is to pass on to the next generation the freedom to live within their means and to understand that relationships and life's beauties are not bound by our finances.
I have never looked back on my life and wished for more money to have bought my children more things. Certainly there is nothing wrong when one is blessed with extra funds to use well, but it is time and heart that best suits our families. Fancy trips, big houses and designer clothes are no substitute for ears that listen, mouths that speak truth and righteousness and hands that clasp tight while walking through each day.
May God grant each of us eyes to see what is most important and encouragement to live our frugal lives well.