Month: March 2016

Yard and Garden – Trees

A tree or part of a tree falling on your house or your neighbor’s house can be very expensive, and sometimes deadly. It can be very costly to hire a professional to trim or remove a tree that has become a hazard. Some states or counties have assistance programs for qualified homeowners. Failing that, you can save some money by shopping around for estimates. You can also save by doing the cleanup yourself, if you’re able to or can find a volunteer who is. Once a tree is cut down, consider advertising free wood on Freecycle or Craigslist. Make it clear they’ll have to cut it up themselves.

If the tree is near power lines, ask the electric company if they will trim or remove it. If the tree is a hardwood, the guys who sell firewood by the side of the road might be willing to clear it away in return for the wood.

 

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack

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Yard and Garden – Watering

By now everyone has heard about not running the sprinklers in the sunny daytime. More water evaporates that way and goes to waste. At the same time, watering in the evening risks the plants staying damp all night and getting a fungus. The very early morning is the best time to run sprinklers.

On the other hand, sprinklers aren’t the only way to get water to your grass and plants.

In 1998, I had a garden in the yard of a rental apartment. The landlady paid the water bill and wasn’t going to pay for watering a garden. Two weeks after I planted the garden, we entered a six-week drought. I dug irrigation trenches in the garden so that water running in at one end flowed throughout the garden.

Then I went to the hardware store and bought a long length of fat hose. I connected it to the drain hose of the washing machine and drained the water from the washer out the back door and into the garden. (At that time, I used those ceramic laundry disks, so there was no detergent in the water.) The garden survived the drought.

Another good source of water is a rain barrel. As the name implies, it captures rainwater in a barrel for later use. YouTube and eHow have videos and instructions on how to make a rain barrel. You need a food grade fifty-five gallon drum, screen, two spigots and some tools. You can also buy them readymade at places like Lowes. The rain from the barrel can be hand poured, or fed into irrigation ditches.

You can use rain barrel water to wash the car, and if not needed outdoors, to flush the toilet. My grandmother used it to wash woolens.

 

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack

Yard and Garden – Wasps, Bees

For pests like wasps that might be eating the fruit off your fruit tree, the easiest trap I’ve seen is the one from The Complete Tightwad Gazette. Take a two liter plastic bottle, cut a banana peel into strips and drop them into the bottle. Add one cup vinegar and one cup sugar and swirl around to mix. Add water to two inches below the top. Tie a string around the neck of the bottle and tie the string to your fruit tree. The pests will be drawn to the fermenting banana, fall into the bottle and die.

Bees won’t be attracted to this because of the vinegar. If you have bees you don’t want, please call your local county extension to find a beekeeper that will take pollinator bees away. Meanwhile, to keep them away from your yard or deck, try spraying the area liberally with diluted blue Dawn detergent. Put about an inch in the bottom of the spray bottle and then fill it up with water.

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack

 

52 Weeks: Yard and Garden – Pests

To kill insects in the garden, one recipe is to mix a concentrated solution of one cup vegetable oil (any kind) with one tablespoon of regular dish washing liquid in a container with a lid. Shake well, and shake frequently as you use it. Take four teaspoons of this concentrate and mix it with water in a two pint spray bottle. Use this to spray both top and bottom of plant surfaces. Only apply this when the outside temperature is under 85° F. If it is very hot out the mix may damage tender plant tissues.

There are strategies to prevent the insects in the first place. Various plants repel the pests that prey on other plants. If you Google “companion planting” you’ll find several links to charts about plant companions. Here’s one for instance: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/companion-planting-guide-zmaz81mjzraw.aspx

 

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack

Dental Work

Any Internet discussion of frugal dentistry will mention getting your dental care at a dental school. This is great if there’s a dental school in your area. I called a dental school and asked about their program. They offer services for a low price, but not on an emergency basis. You have to be already signed up with them. Dental students do the work, closely supervised by teaching dentists.

Does your dental insurance have a new deductible each calendar year? If all you need is the annual cleaning and exam, you can save yourself a deductible in alternate years. Have an annual cleaning in early January and then again in December of the same calendar year. Then skip the next calendar year and do it again the year after that. Your cleanings will be eleven-plus months apart in the first year and thirteen or fewer months apart in the second year. You’ll pay a deductible in only one of those years.

In 2012, I got a cleaning, x-ray, and exam offer from a local dentist in my Groupon.com email. They gave a stupendous discount. After three years of skipping routine cleanings, I was glad to have a chance to confirm that my flossing and brushing routine is working well. If I had waited half a day I would have seen the same offer through MyPoints.com Deals. Then I could have gotten the same Groupon.com deal through MyPoints.com and earned eight points per dollar. Next time.

I’ve found out about many resources just by talking about things with people in general. A woman in my Sunday school told me about a local dentist who gives free care once a month, first come first served. They don’t advertise this; it’s all word of mouth.

I don’t remember who told me about the Volusia County Human Services office. They will give a voucher to have a bad tooth extracted without charge. They don’t cover any other dental work. But since an infected tooth can be fatal, it’s nice to know there’s a way to get it extracted. The dentist I asked would have charged over $300 for an extraction, including exam and x-ray.

A place to start to find resources in your area would be to call the county health department. Another good resource for any kind of human services need is 211. You can dial 211 on your phone or go to http://www.211.org online. This is a service of the United Way.

Thrifty message boards on the Internet are more and more mentioning getting dental work done in Mexico. It costs a fraction of what it would cost in the U.S.

Drugstores sell temporary repair kits to replace a lost filling on your own. The house brand is less expensive. The instructions say to see a dentist within forty-eight hours after using the kit.

Some dentists will give you a family discount. You usually have to ask, they don’t advertise it. While you’re asking, inquire about discounts for seniors, military, paying cash up front, and anything else you can think of.

 

 

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack

Medical – Hearing

I’ve known a couple of people who could suddenly hear just fine after a professional cleaned the wax out of their ears. Some home strategies for ear cleaning are likely to make a bad wax situation worse by pushing it further into the ear.

The drugstore kits with the little syringe bulb have worked well for some online posters. It’s important to soften the wax first, perhaps with olive oil or baby oil, and then wash it out with the syringe. It may come out more easily if you warm your ear first, whether with a hot compress or a heating pad. Sometimes you have to squeeze the syringe pretty hard to get enough force behind the water. It might be wise to boil the water first and let it cool, to prevent the admittedly minor risk of infection from the water.

Hearing aids make a world of difference to someone who has lost part of their hearing. It means a lot to their loved ones as well. They are also wickedly expensive. If you need hearing aids and can’t afford to buy them, check out Starkey Hearing Foundation’s Hear Now program. Contact them at http://www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org /programs/hear-now/ and hearnow@StarkeyFoundation.org or (866) 354-3254. They also accept donations of used hearing aids.

Not all hearing aids are equally good for each person, and some are hardly any good at all. Don’t rely on a salesman; ask your doctor, ask AARP, ask the Better Business Bureau.

Something to know is that x-rays can damage hearing aids. Put them out of the room when having x-rays, including dental x-rays. Don’t leave them in a bag that will be going through the airport baggage scanner either.

 

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack

Medical – Basic Tests

Some labs offer special pricing for people without insurance. A few years ago, I got the standard annual physical blood testing for just $100 from such a lab in my local area. The support staff at the doctor’s office may know about these labs.

You can get low cost lab tests without a doctor’s order from www.directlabs.com. Their number is 1-800-908-0000. Bert Fish Medical Center in Volusia County, Florida offers lab tests without a doctor’s order at very low prices. To look for something like this where you are, search on “direct access lab tests” or “low cost lab work,” and the name of your town or county.

Giving blood involves a kind of mini-physical. You learn your blood pressure, iron level, and cholesterol level. Many fire stations offer free blood pressure screening. Some drugstore chains have blood pressure testing machines. Many county health departments offer screening tests like mammograms and pap smears for little or no cost.

 

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack