My book is all about finding useful, affordable alternatives to the things modern life has conditioned us to believe we “have to” buy.
Think of something that costs money that you don’t know of an alternative for. Challenge me to offer an alternative by leaving a comment on this or any other post. Please include the word “challenge” in your response.
When Federal income tax was first instituted in 1913 the form was three pages long, the instructions only required one page, and that’s all there was to it. Ah, the good old days. Last year I filed a tax return that was 22 pages long.That was my own silly fault for having so many different tiny streams of income, each requiring its own page or pages. Lucky for me I actually enjoy keeping records and since I got bifocals I don’t have a problem filling out forms. If you itemized deductions or if you have a business with deductible expenses, you kind of have to keep records even if you don’t enjoy it.
The first thing I did was get in the habit of saving all paperwork and receipts that I would, or even might, need for taxes. I have a file folder for it and just drop them in all year long. When tax time comes I have a messy stack of papers, but I have them all and I know where they are. Failing to prepare for an unpleasant task doesn’t make the task go away, it just makes it harder. If it’s too late for this idea to benefit you this year, act today to make next year better. Designate a spot for any and all tax-related paperwork. A file, a box, a drawer, wherever it will be easy for you to put the papers as they come in.
Recently I made Excel spreadsheets that mimic the tax forms that I use. I can enter income as it comes in and deductions as they happen. At any moment I have a snapshot of what my tax situation is shaping up to. This is helpful for making decisions that effect one’s taxes. It tells me if I need to start saving up to pay self-employment taxes. When it’s time to fill out the forms, I just move the numbers from my spreadsheets to the forms.
Clearing out papers for the new year? It’s important to destroy any data that could let identity thieves do you harm. Account numbers, date of birth, place of birth (those security questions websites ask you), and most importantly social security number.
The most common suggestion is a shredder. The best shredder is a cross-cut style that makes confetti instead of strips. Theoretically, a patient person could reassemble strips. Personally, I think that as long as businesses and my neighbors are carelessly discarding whole sheets of paper, no one has the motivation to try to piece together shredded strips. If my data is harder to get to than the next person’s it’s relatively safe.
When my shredder quite working a few years ago. I looked around for alternatives. My favorite is tearing off the important parts, tearing them up, and getting them very wet. Once they are soaked and soft, I squeeze the into a very tight ball and throw it out. You can’t tell by looking at it that it’s anything important, and there’s no way to undo it and still be able to read anything.
I read about the idea of disposing of large amounts of paper by soaking them in water in a large bucket or pan until they disintegrate into pulp. I tested this. On day one I tore a bunch of unneeded checks in half and immersed them in water in a soup bowl. Twenty-four hours later they were soft enough to easily pull into small pieces. Three days later they were still soft but showed no sign of turning back into pulp. Maybe I should have used a container large enough that I could stir and mash them. As it was, I just squished the softened checks into a tight ball and threw it out.
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.
Several times I’ve seen the advice to sharpen scissors by cutting tin foil with them. I tried it. What happened was the blades got cleaner. It took off small bits of rust and burrs. They were shiny and maybe felt a little sharper. One site said that if you do that very often you wear away the steel in the wrong places. Sharpening is done at an angle, not straight on as with cutting. Sadly both eHow and www.diylife.com bought into the tin foil sharpening meme. www.diylife.com has space for comments. That’s very helpful so people can contribute counterpoint to the articles.
I looked into the angles for sharpening. The angle ranges from 12 degrees to 35 degrees. The larger the blade the larger the angle should be. A machete gets 30 degrees, and an Xacto knife gets 12 degrees. It’s best to use the angle the manufacturer originally put on the blade. Most sharpening is done with a sharpening stone. Details on how to do this can be found at www.wikihow.com/Sharpen-a-Knife. It’s possible that your local butcher might sharpen a knife for you at little or no charge.