Tag Archives: saving money

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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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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Saving Energy $$ and Being Green at the Same Time

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Using a screensaver is not energy efficient.  Put your computer and monitor on sleep mode when you aren’t using it.  Don’t leave it on during the day or night when you aren’t using it.  $600 million dollars in energy is wasted each year, according to Real World Green, by businesses not following these tips.

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If you need some encouragement to save on your heating bill this winter, try the “Freeze Yer Buns Challenge 2008″ at Crunchy Chicken Blog (Putting the mental in the environmental).
The idea is to pledge to keep your thermostat at a low level this winter. In our case, we always keep our heat at 68 in the winter and the AC at 78 in the summer (if we use the AC, that is).
As Crunchy Chicken says, “How low can you go?”
 
 

 

 

 

 

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How I Started My Intensively Planted, Organic, No-Till Garden on Hard Clay Soil With Weeds (or “Diary-of-Someone-Who- Saves-Tons-of-Money-by-Growing-Their-Own-Food”)

 

I started by laying cardboard down on top of the grass where I wanted my garden.  Then I threw all kinds of leaves, grass clippings etc. on top.  After a few months, I cut holes in the cardboard, dug a hole and planted a plant with some good compost (spread the poor soil over the compost on the cardboard). The first year I didn’t attempt planting seeds.

 

(NOTE: You don’t have to PURCHASE a tiller!)

  

Thereafter I just kept adding leaves, paper, and cardboard to keep the weeds out.  We don’t have trash pickup so all paper products, boxes, etc. go to the garden.  This is a great way to get rid of juWhy put compostables in the landfill? 

 

My compost pile is constantly moving. When I need space to plant, I shove it over. Or plant in it!  Cover with grass clippings if you don’t want to see carrot peelings and such.  If a weed comes through, I pull it and throw it on top of the compost/mulch.  If it has seed heads, it goes to our free-range chickens.

 

I use a deep composting method in my chicken coop (all free, I’ll mention that later) so I drop composted chicken manure near the base of the plants for extra fertilizer.

 

The first year I didn’t garden at all in the winter (I am able to garden nearly year round in our mild climate).  I simply lay cardboard down so it would be easy to plant (no weeds) in the spring. Then I pulled it aside to my paths.  I kept the boxes from blowing around by weighing them down with uncomposted cow manure or chicken manure (whatever you have on hand).  You don’t want to put uncomposted manure on plants, it will “burn” them.

 

This reminds me why I don’t like raised beds in boxes–it’s a pain to pull the weeds at the outside and inside edges of the boxes.  I can easily put newspaper to the edge of what is growing. Plus, I’m too cheap and lazy to build boxes. And too impatient:)

 

I started with rows, but have now made wide beds that the middle can be reached from each side easily.  When I plant spinach for instance, I fill the entire bed for a foot or so in the bed, then put something else next to it. You might say my rows look striped. I try to confuse the bugs.  It is far easier for them to traverse a straight row of something they love to eat.  They get confused if they have to jump over garlic, say to get to something they love.

 

I use all manner of boxes for my paths. Just stick your thumb on the seam of a cereal box and you will split it.  I put the colored side up on the paths–last longer.

 

I sprinkle egg shells around my tender seedlings to protect them from slugs and cutworms.  I dump my coffee grounds around the base of the plants once they are strong and this fertilizes them and keeps the weeds down at the base where it’s hard to pull weeds.

 

(NOTE: You don’t have to PURCHASE good fertilizer!)

 

 

The first year I started with easy things to grow: beans, squash, garlic.  At the beginning I was not strong enough to dig the holes–I had to rely on my DH!  Now the soil is very workable and almost black.

 

(NOTE: You don’t have to PURCHASE good soil!)

 

When planting, I look for a big weed that needs to be pulled.  I just plant in that hole. A twofer!  When you plant intensively, the good plants crowd out the bad weeds.  You don’t want ANY exposed soil.  So plant lettuce between your cabbages and broccoli in the spring.  Until cabbage and broccoli gets big (and it gets too hot for lettuce) your lettuce will be something to eat while keeping that space from getting weedy.  By the time it’s too hot for lettuce, the cabbage and broccoli leaves have filled in the space.

 

Announcement of soon-to-come-post: You don’t have to purchase seeds! Tune in next time…..

 

 

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