Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pssst! Wanna win a hundred bucks?

All you have to do is help us make 100,000 posts before December 31. Well, you have to write a good, informative and intelligent post, too. And if you're not the winner of a hundred dollars, you have more chances of winning twenty five dollars. And even more of winning a Dollar Stretcher Tote Bag.

Just a couple of rules:

You have to be a member of Dollar Stretcher Community Forums and you have to post! Becoming a member is quite easy. Just click on the "Join" link in the upper right hand corner and fill out the information and you're in. Posting is easy, too. :)

Here's the official scoop:
100,000 Post Challenge

See you there.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Surviving on credit

I don't know about you, but I was surprised - no, the word is shocked - when I read that without credit (aka debt), many, many businesses would fail. That many small businesses depended on getting regular loans to meet their payroll.

Is this the way America does business? I guess so... in my apparently way out of touch, feeble old mind, if you can't afford to pay your help, you don't hire them. If you have to borrow money to meet basic expenses (materials, workers, etc.) you're not a success. You're a failure.

I can't help but wonder how many failing businesses have been parading around as successes? Maybe we'll find out.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Who's playing games with grocery prices?

Just stating the facts:

A few months ago at my favorite grocery store, I noticed that the price of cheese had jumped two dollars for a three pound package - all but Swiss cheese. I decided to buy Swiss rather than the intended cheddar and save a couple of dollars.

The next time I went in, Swiss cheese had jumped two dollars... but cheddar had dropped back to its original price. I bought cheddar.

The next time, it was all priced the two dollars higher. I didn't buy any. Cheese is not a basic need, as much as I like it.

This time? It's all one dollar higher than the original price. I bought a package grudgingly. I will stretch it as far as I can. I won't buy any more until I really, really feel a need for it.

Will the price come back down? Serious doubts here. At least we have a pretty good idea that others reacted to the price changes the same way I did.

Oh, the games they play to find out just how much we'll pay. Sooner or later, we'll feel as if the new, higher price is old hat, and they'll raise it again, maybe just a little next time. Well, we can hope, can't we?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"It's the economy, stupid!"

Yeah, it really is this time. Many of us haven't had a real change to the way we live that just a little tightening up can't handle, but retirement accounts and other stock and bond accounts got hit pretty hard.

What is that to real life? Nothing at this point for most of us. If your retirement plan lost money, it doesn't stop you from eating this week. In all probability, it won't stop you from eating any time in the future, either.

What might cause a real problem is if many of us panic and start selling off stocks or closing out retirement accounts altogether. That was a key problem at the beginning of the "Great Depression," and it's what caused the big drop in the market just a few days ago. Not that "we" sold, but the big players did. When they panic, the market stumbles. That should give you an idea of what happens when people all across the nation try to do the same.

Remember the mantra, "Don't be a part of the problem; be a part of the solution"?

The solution, regardless of our personal beliefs about who is at fault or what to do about it, is to hang in there. Wait.

If it's going to happen, it's going to affect all of us, and it won't matter how much money is stuffed under your mattress, you're going to suffer, too.

There are checks and balances in force right now that weren't there when the Great Depression came along. Hopefully, we've learned from the past so that we're not doomed to repeat it.

Disclaimer: I am NOT making a prediction.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Random and fun facts for all you frugal carrot eaters out there

Carrots are of the parsley family, so if you want to be super frugal, you can eat carrot tops the same way you would parsley, although the flavor is somewhat different. Use them in stews and soups, or chop them finely to give a unique, carrot-like flavor to salads.

If you buy carrots with the tops still on, cut them off before storing. Not only will the fresh tops go limp, they'll pull moisture from the roots and cause them to wilt, too.

Carrot puddings, carrot pies and carrot cookies, as well as the Jewish New Year traditional sweet carrot stew "tzimmes," were in use long before the carrot cake came into the limelight - mainly because of the carrot's natural sweetness.

There is such a thing as carrot syrup, but it won't crystallize, so no one has found a good commercial use for it.

Today, we eat more carrots than ever; almost 10 and a half pounds per person in the US. That's good news for a people of fast "food," sodas and ice cream.

Cooking breaks down a carrot's fiber, making the beta carotene and sugars easier to digest. A cooked carrot, contrary to most other vegetables, is more nutritious than its raw counterpart.

Carrots were the first vegetable to be canned commercially.

Fresh carrots soaked in hot water to which various flavors have been added (usually salt and spices) soak up the flavor along with the water, making an interesting snack.

If you eat too many carrots, you'll turn orange. That's a fact, not something to scare your kids with (or maybe it is, if you want them to eat carrots). It's called caratoderma, and, while it's not proven, it may tax the body's ability to convert high concentrations of beta carotene to Vitamin A.

Other nutrients that carrots provide in abundance are Vitamin C, Vitamin K, fiber and potassium.

Carrots have been shown to help in lowering blood pressure if eaten regularly.

Pound for pound, carrots are in the same cost versus nutrition category as cabbage, potatoes and pumpkins. That means you get a lot of food and a lot of nutrition for your money. That's frugal!

Almost forgot... more about carrots here: Carrots in the Frugal Food Plan. Purple carrots, baby carrots, how to buy the best carrots...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Social lament

I apologize in advance for posting yet another time about things nonfrugal. This was brought on by Gary Foreman's post to his blog "Scary!!!" so we can blame him. (This time.)

There used to be a small farm nearby where the man, his wife and kids did the harvest by themselves, mostly by hand. It was so cool to drive by and see them all out working together, but so sad to realize how unusual it was.

How often do families work together to ensure their own future? In this age of convenience, we've forgotten that a fulfilling life is not one of indolent laziness but one of interaction and relationships with those we care about.

Our society is becoming more fragmented all the time. No one can change that but us.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I wanted to thank everyone for their behind the scenes support in my "not political" post. I wish Blogger allowed us to see email addresses, but we can't, so I can't reply to the many comments I promised not to publish. You know who you are, and I thank you.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Up the Poudre

This is an autumn garden planted by God - no human intervention at all. It's a rest stop just off the highway.

We took an afternoon drive up the mountain valley of the Poudre River to see the colors. Cost: about $16 worth of gas and $5 for snacks. Not bad for a once in awhile outing.

The real value is priceless, though.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'm not going to say anything...

About the "bailout" facing Congress and the US. And I'm not going to make any political comments one way or another, except for the little McCain graphic up there on the left. Don't bother me with comments or emails or anything else. End of story.

What I will talk about is your own responsibility toward your own finances. Whether you sink or swim is your responsibility. Not Uncle Sam's or the Welfare office or even your good Aunt Emma or whoever.

It's time that consumers in America - and I'm speaking of consumers of lipstick and houses; of potato chips and bonds; of movies and gargantuan tractors - all these consumers need to grow up. Quit playing the blame game. Quit waiting for someone else to bail you out. Quit being angry that someone else gets the money and you don't. There's no such thing as a free ride, no such thing as getting something for nothing, or even something substantial for just a little.

It all costs. It costs in taxes, in higher prices, in the loss of human dignity, in real opportunities to make something of oneself without being pampered and fed government handouts.

If that's political, then so be it. I believe in the American spirit and that spirit is not one of welfare and programs to salve the consciences of those who would sell our freedoms for their own gain.

No comments will be approved for this post. I will move on... frugality reigns.