Category Archives: tightwad

Growing Vitamin C…Growing Roses For Your Health

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     In order to growing food frugally, it’s important to think about how much the inputs are costing you versus the benefits you are receiving.  For me, the cost/benefit ratio of buying organic food in a supermarket has never been high enough to justify doing so.

 

     Among the investments I’m making this year to the edible landscaping are old fashioned roses that have the added benefit of producing hips.  Rose hips were used in England during world war II as a source of vitamin C.  Oranges and lemons were difficult to find or afford during the war years. I’ve read that boy scouts were asked by the government to collected rose hips to be made into a syrup which was bottled and used medicinally.

 

     The current recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C for men is 90 mg per day and for women: 75 mg per day.  Your body can’t store vitamin C so it’s important to ingest some every day.  According to the NYTimes, this important vitamin is needed :

 

… to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.     

 

     I’m looking at ordering “Dortmund” or “Hansa” roses to scramble up my trellis and shade my house in the summer.  Their rose hips, with between 1700 to 2000 mgs.of vitamin C, outpace  citrus fruits in terms of vitamin C production. Hips also contain vitamins A, D and E, anti-oxidents and flavinoids.

 

     Here is some further information from the American Rose Society regarding the healthful hips:

 

“Fresh hips from R. canina were used as a diuretic, as a coolant, and a mild astringent. Both leaves and hips were used for infusions or tea. The hips from R. pomifera were made into preserves and also into a drink. It was very popular in certain areas of Austria and Bavaria. R. roxburghii hips were used by the Chinese to aid against indigestion and the Ainu in Japan ate the hips of R. rugosa.”

 

     My plan is to use the hips in tea in the winter to give us a boost in vitamin C—thus keeping us healthier and keeping us warmer while we set our thermostat lower.

 

     If you try this at home: please remember to check that harmful sprays were not used on the roses. Since I garden organically, this is not a problem.

 

     In sum, I hope to have most of our nutritional needs provided for on the property before we retire. That’s my little bit of insurance and reassurance come what may. One of the best ways to be frugal is to be healthy.

 

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Thrifty Thursdays #2

 

·       If you are paying for extra cable channels AND a service like Netflicks, perhaps you are paying twice for the same enjoyment. Consider getting rid of one (or more if you are really indulgent).  If it were up to me, I’d ditch cable altogether and watch things on youtube and hulu.com.  I find enough to keep me busy at the latter which is an ad-supported streaming video of TV shows and movies from NBC, FOX and many other networks and studios.

·       One frugal thing I do is buy clothes that can be washed by me—I hate paying money to a dry cleaners. I handwash delicates and have even washed my husband’s suits and pressed them myself –although I DO generally pay for suits and coats to be cleaned. I do know I’ve saved tons over the years on this one item

·       Speaking of clothes, I am terrible about staining the front (ok, sides, back, sleeves) of my clothes. I keep a lot of white and beige tops that go with anything in my mix and match wardrobe, but It’s hard to find these. When I see white or beige tops on sale I buy four.

·       I bought small fancy flavored coffee grounds for holiday gifts and saved back a few for me. I add a couple tablespoons to my sale coffee and spread the luxury a little.

 

·       The FDIC has a nice publication called Practical Advice for Everyone on How to Save and Manage Money

 

·       Gardenweb has many great forums, but my favorite is the frugal gardening forum. Here is a link to what these folks think are their best frugal gardening tips.

  • ·       I’ve had good experiences buying contact lenses online with http://www.1800contacts.com/  While my eye doctor’s office has rebates, they are a hassle and nowhere near the savings I get online.  The online service beats *mart prices even.

·       One of the ways that I have saved money over the years is to have a homesteading mindset.  You can do this in the middle of the city and on a little acreage. I could say more but there are some nice explanations and links here:

·       Even if you live in a first floor apartment with a patio you can have a garden.

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Pantry and Freezer Challenge

     After Christmas, I try to eat out of the freezer and pantry so we have very little grocery expense.  It makes it easy to pay off credit cards that we used to buy holiday gifts.  We keep a budget and do all our shopping with credit cards that we pay off each month so we incur no interest expense. (see previous post about “loan” being our f-word).

     Another reason to do this is to make room for filling the freezer and pantry again with homegrown items.  It ensures that we are not wasting food by throwing away items that are past their due.

   Some of the things we have eaten this week include sesame chicken noodles made with frozen whole wheat noodles, one large frozen grilled chicken breast and a splash of peanut sauce.  I’ll try to post my frugal version of this recipe later. Since I live in outer Podunk, I have to make due with terribly mundane grocery products so I will post a recipe for this using what I can get locally.

Sesame Chicken Noodles

   I save the last couple of tablespoons of peanut butter in the jar for making this dish. I almost always have cooked noodles and chicken on hand in the freezer for quick meals.  To the jar of peanut butter I add 1/4 cup of soy sauce, a tablespoon of sugar, a little hot sauce (I like Tiger Brand) and a little water. I microwave this on defrost (so the plastic doesn’t melt and just enough for the peanut butter to unstick to the sides of the jar) and shake the jar like mad. Pour this over the leftover noodles, add diced, cooked chicken. If you have planted onion tops in the garden, go looking for them now and add them to your dish! Wa La!

     I’ve been enjoying some free roasted herb turnips from the garden. I peel and cook the turnips they aren’t hard anymore, then toss with a little olive oil, paprika, salt pepper, garlic powder and basil and roast under the broiler until they are a little browned. Yum!

     Since I noticed that there are several packages of veggies that were at the back of the freezer from year’s past I cooked them up in a stir fry. To the frozen broccoli and greenbeans, I added sliced onions and carrots leftover steak.  I mix up homemade teriyaki sauce and keep it in the fridge so I can quickly make stir fry anytime I want.  I’ll try to post that later…

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Debt Snowball

     Related to my last post “Be Your Own Bank,” is Dave Ramsey’s  concept of “ debt snowballing.”  The idea is to pay off a small debt balance, then roll that money that would be going to that debt to the next largest debt.  In our case, we went after the highest interest debt we had and continued from there…

This way of living has had tremendous benefits.  From Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette, I learned to apply savings to areas that would create greater savings.  This is deliberate living that requires you to be financially self-aware at all times.

     I guess this last concept is more like a “savings snowball.” In the past, I started by having a yardsale that gave me the money to spend on garden tools and seeds. The money saved by growing our own food (we included the cost of gas and wear and tear on our vehicles to to to the grocery store) was then invested in canning equipment and dehydrators.

     Each year at this time, we make a list of what we are going to put our savings into.  Some of what we will do this year are invest in more chicks (for eggs and meat). While feed has increased, we have started freeranging our hens and realized some savings there.  Even though we pay for feed, we get a lot of garden vegetables from the compost made from the deep litter we use in the coop (for another post–we compost all paper products, junk mail, etc…) But I digress….

     I’d really like to take some snowball savings and invest in some miniature milk goats that I could use for (at least) cheese and maybe milk and yogurt.  So far, I haven’t convinced anyone else that this is a good idea. I’ll let you know….

     Every year, we take some of our savings and invest in more edible landscaping. By retirement, we should have enough fruit and nut trees and bushes to support ourselves without needing to use a grocery store.  In my mind, the ability to feed yourself is insurance. It’s one thing to be poor, it’s entirely another to be poor and hungry. No one need be hungry, even in the city (but more on that in later post…)

     In the meantime, I’d love to hear some of the reader’s lists for what to invest their savings snowball in to help them save MORE money….

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Be Your Own Bank

     Anyone can see that a 700 billion dollar bailout of the banking industry has to have some effect on our schools and pocketbooks.  It will be difficult to pay for these budget deficits with taxes alone—especially if you expect that there will be some loss of jobs due to the economy going south (you figure, there HAS to be some effect there.) I predict that one of the first places that budgets will be cut will be the education system.

     It’s much easier to weather the coming storm if you are in a good financial position. I agree with both Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman about having a couple months pay saved (in a safe bank?)in case of emergency.

     In our case, it has allowed us to be our own bank. If a car needs immediate repair, we are able to pay for it without putting it on the credit card (what we consider to be a loan).


     “Loan” is the f-word in our vocabulary. We avoid paying interest like the plague. While we now have a smallish house loan, we are paying extra each month so as to avoid thousands in interest. I’d rather have that money to invest in things that will improve my quality of living.

 

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Dollar a day Eating Plan

A couple of California teachers ate food costing only $1/day for a month to prove it could be done. You can read about their project here

The wife is a vegan, so there was no meat involved in their diet. But, if you think about it, most of the world eats little meat. For years I could average $1 per meal per person in my household. This is mainly because we grow much of our food. This saves more than the grocery bill because there isn’t the fuel cost to get to and from the grocery store (we live far from a store). In the last year, however, it has been difficult to achieve dollar meals.

I bring this to your attention, because I’m sure there are teachers who are caught in financial straits in these economic times who might be able to glean some information from their experience. What do you do to save on the grocery bill?

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Hustling for Part-time Jobs

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I was reading a blog the other day about financial security and the author mentioned using the time of our youth to earn some extra money and skills. Often, we think of our youth as the time to have fun and party.

Since I put myself through college without benefit of financial aid or scholarship (my parents would not fill out FAFSA) I know a lot about being young and hustling for jobs.

It served me well when I completed my education–I was used to cobbling together two-three–yes, sometimes four jobs to make enough money to live, and play, too).

While living in my run down hovels (and there were many) I housesat and dogsat for wealthy people who paid me well because I was trustworthy. Often there would be a full refrigerator that they would ask me to eat from so things didn’t spoil. At the time, I was living on a canned bean and macaroni and cheese diet, so leftover filet mignon, lobster and shrimp were heaven-sent!  There is nothing like eating steak  and duck liver pate poolside when you are living far below the poverty level. At the time, I couldn’t afford the four bucks to go to the community pool!

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When changing their decor, they would offer me their castoffs. I laugh to think I have hauled these items across the country several times and am still using many of them daily, Even then, I was a forager and happy-to-take-your- leftovers kind of person. This attitude has served me well over the years.

Not only that, I learned early on how to repair and refinish furniture.  And now, I own nice antiques that didn’t cost me very many dollars.  Because I sewed, I could alter any designer clothes that came my way to fit me perfectly. Not only that, but expensive drapery could be fitted to the home I eventually bought.

You see, folks that need dependable dogsitters, housesitters etc.. are also the kind of people who network. Suddenly, you have more jobs ( and castoff furniture, computers and clothing) than you can take. Later, they have children that they are only too willing to pay outrageous amounts to a babysitter to care for them. Still later, they want to age in place and pay you outrageously for things like: moving their winter clothes from a closet down the hallway to their own.

These employers were interesting, talented people who I learned a lot from being around. One was a world-famous artist who had done large commissioned pieces for office buildings and hotels in the large city I lived in. Another was the PR guy for the NBA basketball team there.

From these side jobs I was able to complete my education and save enough money to put a down payment on a home. That was a HUGE thing for me to do alone. This was before balloon mortgages and easy credit! Thank heavens!

Teachers are very resourceful people. They have to be. In my area, many teachers have side businesses like lawn care that they do after work and in the summers. They run camps.

The janitors at my school do home renovation and repairs. They stay busy too–try getting one to put you on their waiting list! Teachers refer them to other teachers and there is a backlog to get them to do small jobs.  They are in demand because people know they can trust them and are happy to pay extra so that they don’t have to let a stranger into their home.

Think of it this way, people know that a criminal background check has already been done on a teacher. You are “vetted.”

Speaking of side jobs like home repair, I met a laid off computer scientist when I lived in that major city who began doing odd jobs for money when laid off. He became in such demand that he never went back to his old job because he made far more money as a handyman.

Funny aside: I met him when my VERY unhandy, young neighbor paid him a LARGE hourly wage to (I’m pausing to laugh here) change the light bulbs in his home. I’m not talking about inconveniently-placed light bulbs here or light bulbs that required the use of an extension ladder. I only wished I’d known–I’d have done it happily for half the money.

This reminds me of a side job I did for the previous owner of that home next-door. The owner was a DEA agent who would be posted to South America for a couple years at a time. He got tired of the poor job that a local realty company did renting out his home and managing repairs while he was away.  So he paid me (less than the realty company–but still handsomely) to rent the home and have repairs done. He knew how handy and frugal I was so it was really a good deal for him. Most importantly, he knew that since I lived next door, I would not rent to people who would trash his home. Although I did not take them, several other offers came to me to manage property in our neighborhood.

So let’s review (puts on teacher hat): Learn to hustle for jobs, accept any donations that come your way, (hey, you can sell them, if nothing else), learn to repair EVERYTHING, save your money and lastly (most importantly) make connections with your friends and neighbors. I’d love to have my readers tell us about some ways they have hustled jobs. Leave a comment, please.

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