Getting help

Horrendously Expensive Medications

The latest email from includes an article from a subscriber who couldn’t afford the $280 (!) co-pay on a prescription. He remembered those TV ads about how the manufacturer “may be able to help.” He called and explained his situation. They gave him a coupon for a month’s worth free. Since his was an acute condition, this was enough to get him through.

It can’t hurt to ask!



Getting Heavy Stuff Taken Away Free

Quite some time ago, the start button on my treadmill stopped working. The motor is probably fine, but without the start button, that’s no good.

“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”

Benjamin Franklin

So, I spent way too much time wondering how to get the heavy, bulky thing down the steep stairs outside my front door. I’m not physically able to do that, and most people I know are very old or disabled. So it sat there.

Then, I remembered a part of my own book, duh!

“Getting rid of things without a haul away fee

You can give things away on and (the free section). This can be useful when you need to get rid of something that would cost a fee to haul away or to dump. If someone takes it away free, you come out ahead and so do they.”

I advertised it in the free section on Craigslist, making clear that it won’t work unless you can get past the start button. Someone took it away the next day. I think they were a scrapper, gathering metals to sell to scrap places.


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



A Gap in Disability Coverage

Something many people don’t know is that the work requirements for Social Security Disability are different than those for Social Security Retirement benefits. For both of them, you need to have worked for ten years in your life.

For disability, five of those years have to have been worked within the ten years before you apply for it. So if you’ve been getting by on savings and family help for more than five years before you give up and apply for assistance, you won’t get it.

If you are deciding to leave the work force to care for children or elderly parents, consider ahead of time what that might do to your eligibility if you were to become disabled.



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

Memorize a Phone Number!

I’m probably not the only one who relies on the Contacts list in my cell phone. When my previous phone suddenly and completely stopped working, immediately I didn’t have any of my contacts!  That experience taught me to keep a paper or Word document copy as well. I have some phone numbers on paper in my purse, too.

But what if you aren’t at home, and don’t have your paper copy with you? If you were stranded, a business might let you use their landline, but phone books are rapidly going out of style, and your friends’ cell numbers wouldn’t be in a phone book anyway.

I recently found out third hand that if you get arrested, they may not let you use your own cell phone. Once your phone is booked into their property hold, your contacts are gone with it. (Yes, I know you don’t plan to get arrested. It’s rarely a plan, and unexpected things can happen with traffic stops.) All those people you might have called are suddenly not available to you.

Who would come and bail you out? Who could come and get you if you were stranded? Better yet, who would call everyone you know until someone could help?

Memorize at least one person’s phone number.

52 Weeks: Tax Week: Free Tax Preparation

From the book: “If your adjusted gross income is below $57,000, free tax software is available from the IRS. Go to and type “free file” in the search box.

AARP offers free tax preparation for people with low to moderate incomes. If they are busy, they give preference to people age sixty and older. Go to and search on tax preparation.”



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

Hunger in America

A few years ago on a discussion board someone asked, how can people be hungry in America? There’s a church in every neighborhood and a food bank in every town. At the time, I didn’t know the answer to that question. Since then, I’ve looked in to it.

The answer is, resources are limited. Where I live, the food bank parcels out food to the food pantries, mostly churches that serve a specific neighborhood. There are two food pantries that serve my neighborhood. One of them is open three days a week, which sounds like one could get plenty of food. The thing is, any one household can only come to get food there once each thirty days. When the food bank is short of food, it changes to once each sixty days. For one person, they give a paper grocery bag full of canned and packaged foods.

The other pantry has recently cut back to the first and third Tuesday of each month. They give what they have, one meat, sometimes eggs, bread, and canned and packaged goods, roughly a plastic grocery bag full. If you get there late, the protein will be a can of tuna or shelf stable pack of chicken rather than a frozen meat.

The food pantries are meant to be a supplement. If your income is low enough to qualify for the food pantry, you probably also qualify for food stamps, aka SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This is meant to be a supplement to whatever you can afford to spend on food. It’s very easy for a family with a low income to have enough expenses that they don’t have cash for food, and depend entirely on the ‘supplement.’

Some say, well, they should get a better job.

If you look at something like the Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows what jobs exist in this country, you’ll see that it is literally impossible for ALL of us to have well-paid jobs. As you go down the job pyramid from CEO to worker bee, there are just a whole lot more worker bee jobs than upper level jobs. That seems like a naturally occurring structure that individuals can’t change.

If every working age adult suddenly became book-smart, energetic and personable and went back to school to get a degree, doctor, lawyer, engineer, business leader, all the good jobs, some of them would fill the available top jobs. Many of them, still educated and energetic, would have to take the mid level jobs because there are far more people than there are highly paid jobs. Then another bunch of them would be bringing out your purchase at the auto parts store and delivering your furniture because those things need to be done. When the upper level jobs are full, even our hypothetically all equally wonderful workers will work the lower level jobs because that’s what exists.

The more available jobs may pay minimum wage. Some that pay a little more may only offer twenty or thirty hours a week of work. Furthermore, many people are not healthy, book-smart, and energetic.

At the food pantries near me, 80% to 90% of the people in line are over fifty and under sixty-five. Many have walkers, oxygen, canes, back braces, and other visible signs of illness or disability. Others surely have non-visible illnesses and limitations.

Low wage jobs, limited work hours, illness, family expenses, limited supplemental resources. That’s how it’s possible for people to be hungry in America.

Wonderful review

I am so moved by this review. “Tightwad Gazette of the 21st Century” is exactly what I wanted people to think about it:

“Great book!, February 18, 2014

By Lita McRiley “Sorlina”See all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This review is from: Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely (Kindle Edition)

This book is jam-packed with tips, ideas, and strategies for saving money. It’s the Tightwad Gazette of the 21st century… internet addresses for DIY help, encouragement for readers, personal anecdotes, this book has it all. To top it off, it’s delivered in a light, easy to read style that isn’t preachy or judgmental. A very helpful, and enjoyable, read!”

The Tightwad Gazette has been the “bible” of thrifty living. My hope was to make it the ‘old testament’ and mine the ‘new testament’, and it seems I have succeeded.