Do It Differently

Choices

A truism of mine is “There are always more than two choices.” At first glance, there may seem to be only two choices. Sometimes that is because many of the choices are so unpleasant we automatically disregard them. Sometimes it’s because we don’t have all the information yet, and when we do we’ll see the additional possibilities.

If neither of the obvious choices is attractive, look around for more.

To take an extreme example, suppose money is so tight that buying toilet paper is a problem. At first glance, the choices seem to be: 1. do without something else important in order to buy toilet paper, or 2. do without toilet paper (eew).

As described in my Frugal Living book, there are several other choices:

“The next step is cloth wipes. I’ve started with just using them for urine. As a woman of a certain age, I pee quite a lot and flush away a few cents worth of paper every time. One 2X T-shirt made about twenty wipes, roughly 6 x 7 inches. I didn’t hem them, and I didn’t need to, so that was easy. Some Internet posters prefer thicker material such as pieces of cloth diaper, or flannelette cloth.

 

I find them to be more comfortable and more effective than paper. They are much nicer in every way. And no bits of paper left behind! A damp cloth wipe can be used like the newly fashionable wet wipes. Flushable wipes can cause problems in water treatment plants, so wetting a cloth wipe is safer.

I toss them straight into a covered container. I don’t feel they add to my laundry costs enough to count. They are small, and collectively add up to no more than a T-shirt per load. I kept track for a while and learned that using this method I use roughly one third as much toilet paper as I used to. People who use them for #2 often use a disinfectant such as tea tree oil, vinegar or bleach in a diaper pail.

This is something that lets me do what disposables do, but without having to buy disposables. If I run out of paper, I’m not up the proverbial creek because the cloth wipes are there when needed. Even if I used wipes for everything, I would still keep paper on the dispenser for guests, of course.

I have seen this method scorned as “reusing toilet paper.” That’s silly. There’s no realistic and sanitary way to reuse toilet paper. People using this method are using reusable cloth instead of disposable paper. Nobody calls using cloth napkins “reusing paper napkins.”

In a pinch, the cloth wipes make okay handkerchiefs, too. A nice clean hanky or cloth wipe is also great for cleaning my eyeglasses without scratching. (Never use paper on dry glasses. It will scratch!)

On an episode of Extreme Cheapskates, I saw a family that used newspaper as toilet paper. This is NOT flushable. They put the used newspaper into a trash bag and when it was full, threw it away.”

In almost any situation, there may be more choices than you’ve thought of. Searching online and talking it over with friends and family may open up new possibilities for you.

 

http://www.amazon.com/author/mariebrack

 

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A Two-Pronged Approach to Spending Less

One way to think about cutting costs is to come at it from both ends. What do I feel I absolutely must spend money on? And on the other hand, what are the obvious extravagances I have no difficulty in identifying and letting go of?

Perhaps one insists on having a home, not living on the street. That’s a good baseline for the housing part of the budget. On the other hand, perhaps one could cross expensive artwork for decorating that home off the list of future expenditures. That’s fairly obvious too.

Maybe have to have a vehicle to get around in a normal fashion, so I spend on that.  On the other end of the spectrum, maybe I don’t need to spend money having an optional moonroof installed on my vehicle.

These are wide extremes. As I’ve worked through the process of cutting expenses, I’ve gradually come closer and closer to the middle balance in all budget categories.

 

Is It True? Freezing Food in Glass Jars

“They” generally advise against freezing foods in glass containers. Liquids expand as they freeze, so if you do it wrong, the internal pressure will break the glass and then you’ve got shrapnel all in your freezer. It’s not safe to eat food whose glass container broke; tiny bits of glass may be in it. Also, if a container slithers out of the top freezer section of your fridge, like they do out of mine, the glass will be all over the kitchen.

On the other hand, there’s been some alarming news about the dangers of keeping food in prolonged contact with plastics. So, I Googled around some. If you do it right, you can use glass containers to freeze foods. Freezing liquids in glass is more risky, but can be done if you don’t mind the occasional problem.

Use tempered glass, like canning jars, or containers specifically designed for freezing.

Leave 3/4 inch space at the top so the food has room to expand as it freezes.

The Archeology of Adapting to a Lower Income

Every time I think I’ve reduced spending as much as humanly possible, I find another level of non-spending below the one I’m currently in.

They say that dirt goes on one layer at a time and comes off the same way. That’s why it takes several tries to clean a neglected baking dish or crudded-up bathtub.

When adapting to a lower income, don’t make yourself crazy thinking you have to change everything at once. If you can, great. If it gives you a kind of emotional bends, slow down and do one thing at a time. Start with what’s easiest. That way, you’re cutting the things you care least about, and so it hurts less.

Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely has a large range of ideas for spending less. Take what you like and leave the rest.

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/author/mariebrack

It’s not the Sodium, It’s the Balance

All my life I had low-normal blood pressure, except when exposed to petrochemically-based fragrances and grooming products, then it spiked. The fairly low blood pressure was fine and dandy, until I got where it wasn’t safe for me to cook anymore. I switched to frozen dinners (mainly Marie Callender’s – they don’t taste fakey like some brands). I noticed my blood pressure started running a bit high. Not horrible like the petrochemical spikes, but too high for complacency.

Prepared foods often have higher levels of sodium than scratch cooking, and high sodium intake is often associated with high blood pressure. So I Googled around and learned, or re-learned, that part of managing sodium levels is not just reducing sodium, but balancing it with potassium.

The sites I found talked about eating potassium-rich foods like peas and bananas. There’s only so many bananas and peas I’m going to realistically eat. Eating them did lower my pressure some, but not enough, and I knew I’d eventually drift away from eating that way. So I bought some potassium tablets and added them to my weekly minder pill-keeping-track-thingy.

Well, wow. Within a few days my pressure was back to my normal 117 or so over 73 or so. I think I’ll take the potassium tablets maybe five days out of seven instead of every day, because there is such as thing as TOO MUCH potassium. If you take too much it can cause irregular heartbeat and even cardiac arrest.

Timers!

My cell phone only handles countdowns up to one hour, and the standard kitchen timer has the same limitation.

I wanted to set a timer for three and a half hours. My computer does everything else, so I Googled how to set a timer in Windows 10. And there it was, I can set multiple timers for up to twenty-three hours, fifty-nine minutes and fifty-nine seconds. Yay!

Click the Windows symbol in the bottom left corner, click Alarms and Clock, select Timer from the top, and click the plus sign at the bottom, then choose the number of hours, minutes and seconds you want. Other versions of Windows may have something similar. To find out, Google “how to set timers in Windows <version>.