Spend the Time

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.

A New Financial Start

Maybe you spent a bit too much over the holidays. January sometimes brings on a sort of financial repentance, and a desire to use money more effectively in the new year. My book can help with that. Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely deals with the need for financial change from both directions – spending less and earning more. Maybe you have friends or relatives who spend too much, or want to get out of debt. The book would make a nice gift for them, or just tell them about it. Want to retire early? Take a fantastic trip? The strategies in the book can help you move toward any financial goal.

It’s available on http://www.amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle versions.


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.


Nutritious “fast food” at home: Vegetables and Rice

This “fast food” vegetables and rice dish  is my fall-back food when I need to eat a real meal right now, or don’t feel like cooking.

What makes it fast food is that once I’ve cooked it I can reheat it in the microwave in just a few minutes. The actual cooking in the first place does take time and work, but after that it’s faster and better than pulling through a drive through restaurant, and of course much less expensive.

I like for it to be close to half vegetables, for nutritional value, color and carbohydrate balance, so I use lots of carrots and summer squashes. If I’m using whole fresh carrots I peel and then grate them, anywhere from 3 to 7 carrots. If I’m using canned carrots I rinse and drain them and chop them coarsely.  Three to five summer squashes like zucchini and yellow squash add bulk and nutrition without having an overpowering flavor. Frozen sliced yellow squash works for this if you mostly thaw it and then chop it up coarsely. I like the taste of mushrooms in this, but they tend to explode in the microwave so I usually leave them out.

Once I have a lot of the vegetables chopped or grated, I start making brown rice into yellow rice. Store bought yellow rice has ingredients my body can’t cope with and costs more than making it myself. Put two cups of water or broth in a large pot over high heat. While it’s working up to a boil sprinkle in  2 teaspoons of  turmeric and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. The turmeric makes it yellow, and when combined with black pepper is reputed to help prevent cancer.

Add either 1 teaspoon of celery salt OR 3 chopped celery ribs and a teaspoon of salt (making it with real celery is noticeably better), 1 chopped onion and 2 to 5 cloves of minced garlic and 4 to 8 tablespoons of butter. I like lots of butter, others may want less.

The onion, celery, garlic and seasonings are the basis of the flavor for this dish. When the water boils add a cup of brown rice and all those vegetables you chopped at the beginning, lower the heat to very low and cover the pot. Let it cook as long as rice package says; for brown rice usually about 45 minutes. After the full cooking time, turn the burner off and let it sit 15 minutes without removing the lid at all.

At this point a vegetarian may want to add a legume such as green peas or cooked lentils so it can stand alone as a vegetarian entrée, or a vegan one if you use something other than butter. Sprinkling it with sunflower kernels when you serve it would be good too.

I used to enhance the protein content of this dish by stirring in several eggs about ten minutes before the rice was finished cooking, and then mixing them in very well after it was done. With the eggs and with or without green peas this variation makes a nice vegetarian entrée.

Without the added proteins this is an efficient side dish with any meat – vegetables and starch in one pot.

If you’d like to make it a one-dish omnivore’s meal, stir in chopped cooked chicken or other meat. If you like bell peppers they would be good in this too with meat.

I freeze this dish in single serve portions. It’s very easy to pop it out of the container, microwave it 2-3 minutes until it’s thawed enough to spread it out, put slices of sharp cheddar cheese on top and microwave until the cheese is melted. It’s great when I have to be somewhere in a hurry and need to eat first, when I get home hungry and don’t want to wait to cook something, and when I just don’t feel like cooking.

With lots of extra vegetables and a double amount of rice I’ve made up to 24 servings of this at a time. If you’re feeding more than one person you can freeze it in family meal size portions, so dinner is already ready already when you get home. If you freeze part of it in single portions, then if someone is home on their own they’ve got a quick meal on hand too.

Shopping list:



Black pepper

Celery or celery salt




Carrots, whole or canned

Yellow and/or zucchini squash, fresh or frozen


Green peas


Sunflower kernels



Bell peppers