Spend the Time

A Penny Saved . . .

is more complicated than it used to be.

I remember when I could take a bag of coins to the bank and they would count and roll them for me. Not so much anymore. Some banks charge for this, others won’t do it at all.

Coinstar kiosks in stores will magically roll them for you, but they take a percentage. Luckily you can get around this by accepting one of their gift card options instead of cash. This only works if you shop at a place they offer a gift card for.

When my husband had a vending business, we just rolled the coins ourselves. It’s not hard, and no more tedious than folding laundry; easy to do while watching TV.


Time to Trade and Test Seeds

You don’t have to have a big yard to grow some of your food and herbs. Pots on the porch or balcony will do fine for parsley, oregano, onions, all those relatively small plants.

If you do have room for a full garden, there are ways to do it less expensively. Maybe there’s a gardeners’ group in your area where people trade their extra seeds, and you won’t have to buy so many.

The frugal gardener knows that last year’s seeds are still good this year if they have been stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Indeed, mine were just in the cupboard, and they stayed good until the next year.

To test them just before planting time, lay ten seeds in between two paper towels and keep them moist. If at least seven of the ten sprout, the seeds are good. In 2013, I planted 2012’s onion seeds and they grew nicely.

You can make compost in a covered five gallon bucket. I’ve done it. Start with a layer of dirt, such as topsoil or garden dirt. Add a layer of kitchen scraps, stir it into the dirt and get the whole thing wet. Stir it every day and keep it damp but not soggy. Add more scraps and more dirt as the scraps become available. Stop adding scraps while there’s still room to stir the compost. You do have to keep stirring it daily even once it’s full. Over time, the scraps will break down into nutritious compost. You can use raw vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, crushed and crumbled eggshells, and dried grass clippings and leaves. Don’t use bones, meat, grease, or cooked foods.



Save on Sprouts

You can make sprouts at home for a fraction of what they cost at the store. You need the seeds of whatever you want to sprout, a glass jar, cheesecloth, and water. Put a teaspoon of seeds in a small glass jar. Stretch cheesecloth over the top and secure it with a rubber band. Add water and soak the seeds for twelve hours. Pour off the water and set the jar on a sunny windowsill. Rinse and drain every day. When you have a jar full of sprouts, store in the refrigerator.

Directions for sprouting are widely offered on the Internet, including at http://www.ehow.com. Alfalfa sprouts are an old standby. I’ve also seen broccoli, onion, and kale sprouts.


For more ways to save, see my book Frugal Living for the 21st Century

Staging A Home To Sell

I’ve just been reading an article on staging a home to get the best price when selling. In addition to the usual advice to remove clutter and personal items like photos and all that stuff on the fridge, they mentioned having a friend or relative look at the place with a fresh eye. We see our own homes all day every day, it’s easy to see only what we want to.

Something similar that helped me when I last staged a house was to take pictures, just for myself, to see what they showed. Oh my! I didn’t notice that stack of papers until I saw it in the picture. Too many decorative items – it looked fine to my eye, but the camera is merciless. It doesn’t just add ten pounds to a person, it adds ten pounds of clutter to a room!

My home wasn’t ready to show until my pictures looked like magazine pictures.

52 Weeks: Frugal Invitations and Thank You Notes

With better quality home printers and software available now, more couples are designing and printing their own wedding invitations. If you buy enough of the same kind of paper, you can make matching thank you notes as well. One enterprising poster on www.thriftyfun.com even made her own paper by re-pulping junk mail. Instructions for this are common on the Internet, including on http://www.eHow.com. To find it, type “make paper from junk mail” into the search box. Some are attractive and original.



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.


“What I Don’t Have to Spend, I Don’t Have to Earn”

About half the time when I say that to people, they stare as if what they heard me say was, “Erndampt, ag rojabrane.” I’ve tried saying it in different words, but sometimes it just doesn’t fit a person’s mindset.

If I arrange my life so that I don’t have to spend $60 a month on dry cleaning, then at least theoretically, that’s $60 I don’t have to earn that week. Of course when you have a steady and sufficient salary, you’re going to earn anyway. In that case, what you don’t have to spend, you can save up for something bigger that you want, like a vacation or early retirement.

When you’re relying on intermittent and unpredictable self-employment income, and your health isn’t reliable either, not-spending is a wonderful way to handle gaps in income. This is great for people who are retired, disabled, temporarily out of the work force for personal or family reasons, etc…..

If working overtime hours is putting pressure on your health or your family life, perhaps you could not-spend instead of working yourself into the ground.

For hundreds of examples of ways to not-spend (and still live a normal life), see my book, Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack

Challenge Me!

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.