I've always wanted to know if it is faster to heat water on the stove with a lid on or off and if it is faster, how fast?

I've also wanted to know how much water I waste when I turn on the spigot in the bathroom and wait for the water to heat up. I found out my answers below via unscientific study.

Heating Water for the Shower
I had 3 - 1 gallon containers that I used and hoped it wouldn't be more than that for the water to heat up. A 5 gallon container would have been easier, though heavier, as I did waste water in switching between containers, but feel I got a good estimate in the 3rd container.

Over all it took 2 1/3 gallons before my water heated up enough for me to want to get into the shower. These containers were later set aside for flushing the toilet.

What I learned to conserve:
○ Don't use the faucet to let the water warm up, use the low-flow shower-head to cut down on water waste
○ Get myself acclimated to cold showers by getting in immediately and no waiting needed
○ Taking a bath would allow me use less water and the leftover water can be poured into a bucket to use for flushing the toilet, water lawn and water plants

Boiling Water on the Stove
Lid or no lid, that is the question. Is there a decent time difference in one over the other?

I didn't find much of a difference and I tried to keep the experiment as similar as possible - same pot, same starting temperature and same burner.

Both pans had 1 egg in it and the water was just over the egg. Both pans were heated up on high to bring to a boil and on the same burner. The downside is there was a roast cooking in the oven that I didn't think about.

Overall the pot with the lid did heat up faster than the one without a lid but not by much; a difference of 14 seconds seperate them in coming to a boil when put on high. If I had more in the water, that difference might be greater, but another test would need to be done.

What I learned:
○ Using a lid does allow me to get my eggs boiled faster in the morning
○ Not using a lid would give an indirect affect of heating up the kitchen on a cold morning
○ Most important is what I can do with the water afterword to not waste it

How many of these do you do? Better yet, how many are you going to be trying out?

# When refrigerating celery, green onions, carrots and even lettuce, try wrapping them in foil to keep them fresh longer. When you are done with the foil, wipe off and use again.
# Save a lot of money by borrowing videos from the local library for both adults and kids. Put yourself on a wait list for tv shows and popular movies. There's no rush to see a movie when you can see it for FREE!
# Comparison shop for groceries; taking a few minutes on the weekend to check store circulars can save you an extra 20% or more on your grocery bill - you don't even have to cut coupons.
# Using cloth napkins saves a bundle, especially when you are eating chicken or bbq.
# Save paper bags from the store and use them to wrap packages you are mailing off

# When you go out to eat, order water. It is not only free, but healthier and you eat more of your meal (unless you want to take it home with you)
# Don't buy bags of ice when you can prepare ahead of time and make it free with your own freezer
# Shop at yard sales, second-hand stores and online auction sites for clothes, tools and kitchenware
# When you ruin clothes beyond repair, don't toss them out. Cut them up to use for rags, patches or quilt sections
# Extend the life of your lettuce by putting it in a sealed container or towel -adding days to the lettuce

# Don't use Benadryl, instead smear baking soda over the bug bite to calm the itching
# Take your dinner from the night before to lunch the next day
# Cook more meals at home
# Make your own home-made home cleaners and making your own laundry detergent
# Trade in your standard bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs. Prices on CFLs have dropped dramatically, are more energy-efficient, last for years and consume little power and generate little heat.

# Meat is expensive, buy it when it has been reduced in price or cut down to eating meat once or twice a week.
# Go store brand/generic for everything you can - diapers, TP, can goods
# Shop off-season for the items you need
# Don't ever buy Windex - spray on vinegar and wipe off with newspaper
# Cut out your coupons while you are watching tv and then remember to put them in your car for when you are out

# Use cards you received to make new ones to send out. Cut off the front and paste to construction paper and send them back as folded cards or postcards
# Don't buy fabric softener sheets. Use fabric softener samples, pour it into a container or spray bottle, dampen a washcloth and toss in the dryer.
# Don't use baby wipes when changing a diaper, keep a washcloth with you, wet it, rinse and place in a sandwich baggie to take home or use again.
# See a good deal on milk, buy extra and freeze the milk
# Refill your liquid hand soap with soap slivers, shampoo or dish soap

# If you see the greeting card person at the store, ask for any extra envelopes to use for handmade cards - the worse they can say is no.
# Buy the 'loss leaders' at the grocery store to stock up
# Don't buy on impulse, planning ahead is your biggest money saver!
# Line dry your clothes to save on the electricity. Bonus: Your clothes don't get worn out as fast either
# Pay the minimums on all credit card but one, on that final one, pay the most you can and keep paying it that way until it is paid off

# Wash your clothes in cold water to save on heating expenses
# Have a stain, cold water is suggested to get it out most of the time
# Store your left over vegetables in a jar in the freezer, then once a month, pull it out and make homemade vegetable soup
# When gift giving time rolls around ask for gift cards to grocery store and second-hand stores if money is tight
# Buy in bulk and repackage in smaller sizes for use later

# Don't forget to use the discounts that come via your grocery store for spending a certain amount - my local store has good deals on baseball tickets
# Remember to clean out the refrigerator of the left overs once or twice a week
# Plant a garden and grow your own vegetables
# Learn to sew up or patch ripped items and save yourself money from buying another item
# When grocery shopping check the damaged goods area in the back for deals

# Buy a programmable thermostat; if no one is home during most of the day, set it to turn on a half-hour before anyone arrives home
# Find a consignment shop - This puts cash back in your pocket by getting money for the clothing you no longer wear - that's still in good condition
# Flexible spending Accounts - saving you a bundle on taxes by paying your child care and health care costs with pretax dollars.
# Always seek a second opinion when an animal vet suggests a pricey surgery procedure
# Treat saving as a bill. Consider having the amount transferred automatically from your checking account or paycheck

# Use junk mail envelopes to write on for shopping and to do lists
# If you drink soda pop in cans, don't forget to recycle and get money back by weight or per can
# Save the bread crumbs or bread ends to make your own flavored croutons
# Cancel all the extra services you don't use on the tv, cellphone and landline phone - call waiting, txt messaging, premium movies.
# Use the cuffs of sweatshirts or jeans for tying up hair

# Put soap slivers, small gift soaps and hotel soaps in a nylon and hang it around your outdoor water spigot to wash up with
# Shred your personal mail or old documents and use it in the packaging when you mail
# Soup and bread make a simple, quick and cheap meal
# Plan once a week or once a month cooking
# Save the juice from canned fruits and make popsicles
# Get the word out when you are in need of an item, someone may have it stored away to give you

There are so many products that are sold on tv to make our life easier, healthier and happier. Some of them are simple enough that we don't need to spend any money to get the same essential product and others take a little handiwork and time.

1. The Snuggie - A blanket with arm holes
The cheaper alternative would be to toss a blanket over yourself and be done, just like it has been done for years without complaint. However, if the arm holes are a necessity you can pick up an extra large robe at a yard sale and wear it backwards. Note: Consumer Reports review of Snuggies

2. ShamWow - microfiber cloth
A cheaper alternative to would be to simply use the rags that are accumulating from unworn and torn shirts, jeans and bedding. However if that is too much to stuff to have around the house a simple wet/dry vac would work might efficient if the spill is much to large for a cloth towel. If one must have a microfiber cloth, I have seen them for 1-5 dollars depending on the size, which is a fraction of the price when bought on tv. Note: Consumer Reports Review (with vid)

3. Save a Blade - disposable razor sharpener
Since one of the ways blades become dull is do to abrasion and oxidation, which cause bit of rusty metal to fall off, keeping the blade clean and dry is the cheaper alternative. At the end of use, clean the blade of hairs and dry well. I use this method on my razors which makes them last a good 3 months.

To cut down on the abrasive wear make sure you soften the hairs using warm water or lotion or just shave less when you know you will be covered up or during winter.
You could file the blade down, but you may end up filing it below the plastic housing and then it is no good.
Other cheaper alternatives: electric razors, straight razors (for men), going native.

4. The Slap Chop - another nut chopper
A cheaper alternative is to go to a thrift store or yard sale and pay a couple dollars for one instead of 19.99 plus shipping and handling. My chopper has a glass container for easy cleaning, containment of food and quick pouring onto a salad.
There are even heavy duty choppers on amazon for half the price of the tv version

5. Twin Draft Guard - a door draft blocker
A cheaper alternative is to is to roll up a large towel, tie the ends and toss in front of the door, I've been doing this years and it has worked perfectly well - I just kick the towel back in place after using the door, takes 5 seconds.

Other alternatives: A leg of Jeans filled with clean rags, beans or cotton. You can also buy draft blockers for much cheaper if you don't want to make one. And for permanent options there are metal and plastic door guards that can be attached to the door.

6. The Windshield Wonder - cloth on a stick
Your cheaper alternative is just a stick away. Grab a rag, microfiber if you prefer and pick up the little plastic bat that trips you up in the yard and get those windows clean in the hard to reach areas. Simple as that. You could even use the extension nozzle from a vacuum to reach better, anything works really.

That film that covers the windshield on the inside is simply the fumes coming off the dashboard on a hot day and the best way to get the gunk off is a good window cleaner. Even using the squeegee at the gas station would be the cheapest way, no money spent and you have your cleaner and stick, just make sure to get the excess out of the squeegee.

"Thrift comes too late when you find it at the bottom of your purse."

When I have a full toilet paper roll, I pull off more squares of TP than when the roll gets smaller, in order to make it last longer. The same goes for milk, I grab the big glass when I have just made it and the smaller glass when I have only a little left. Even though I can make more milk or grab another roll of tp, I still want to try to lengthen the life of the last bit but only when I see I am down to the final bit.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I have a scarcity switch that kicks on telling me to make it last. But that switch doesn't seem to kick on when I have just pulled out a new bottle of dish soap, nope, not until I am down to the last bit and shaking and squeezing the bottle like a maniac.

Over a period of time I realize it will happen and that it is just a retraining of brain, but it is frustrating to not think about making something last longer until I start to see the last bit slosh around at the bottom.

When my family would go to Grandma's house she would rinse out the paper towels and the paper plates and let them hang to dry until she could use them again later. She would never use them again to give us kids but she would use them for herself to wipe down the counter or the paper plates to eat off of herself. Even though she had a pile of perfectly decent, washable plates getting dusty in the cupboard or a 6 pack of paper towels in the basement she could still re-use these items until they couldn't be used again.

For her, the retraining her brain got was during the depression era. She always blamed it on her Scottish background. Either way, she come to a point that when she looked at the things around her she felt she needed to find ways to make them last longer, even though she had an abundance stored away.

Sometimes I wonder if it is easier to live with the scarcity switch on after you have had outside influences force it that way. I certainly don't romanticize the depression or the idea of constantly living with scant food and things. But sometimes the push from outside our control can be a good thing - in moderation.

Right now my goal is to just get into the habit of flipping my scarcity switch on and off and the appropriate times, much like I have gotten into the habit of switching on and off a light to a room.

WalletPop has a list of 20 worthless pieces of junk - some I agree with and other I don't so much.

1. Happy Meal Toys - As a collector of stuff, the cousin to junk, I can see the coolness to collecting, unopened children toys from fast food places. However, they aren't made for long lasting playtime and most kids have more than enough toys to play with. I consider this a grey area.

2. Wipe Warmers - I had to look this up and I would consider this worthless as well, thanks to the convenience of nuking a wet handcloth to the proper warmth, I don't see the need nor the expenditure of the electricity to keep it warm.

3. Radar Detectors - I never understood these because anytime I was in a car that had one I would hear it go off and the driver would say something like, "oh that goes off around automatic doors as well." All that beeping would drive me nuts and if I drive the speed limit, no need to get it - if I don't, I deserve the ticket.

4. Ab Rollers - Frankly, I would put 99% of the exercise equipment sold on tv in that category. As an alternative to an ab roller, I have found that an exercise ball will do fine for sit-ups with back problems and sliding two books on the carpet(one under each hand) works great for the other ab roller type.

5. Single-Slot Piggy Banks - I like piggy banks, though I don't have one now that I use (I use a glass jar) I like the whole classic idea: Keeping money in one place, not being able to see how much you have saved so far, having the joy of cracking it open when it is full. Pigs get enough of a bad name, let's not take the money away from them too.

6. Iconic Breeze - Air filters can serve a purpose if taken care of. People with allergies swear by air filters, there is even one in the cash office I work in to cut down on the money dirt. But if the filter isn't changed out, it's worthless. If regular cleaning in the room isn't done as well, it's worthless. Again, another grey area.

7. VCRPlus Gizmos - I don't see the benefit of this at all. To me it's like saying you have the coolest double 8-track player. Anything with the word V-C-R in it is a waste in my eyes.

8. Ice Cream Makers - I was reading about this cool way you can make ice cream in a bag. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks inviting; plus I don't have to lug around a 20# ice cream maker and set aside the time.

9. Home Theater Sound Systems - If I never went out to a theater this would be worth the cost, not the cost of a $5 thousand one but a decent one under $500 would be nice for watching an action movie.

10. Books in a Kindle World - I made the mistake of showing this to my partner, now she wants one to open up more space on her bookshelf for older books that wouldn't be on Kindle. I prefer the book version still, picked up from the library as I don't collect books all that much; currently I have under 10 books on my shelf. Another grey area for this one.

11. Ear Candles - I had to look this one up as well. I would agree, a waste of money.

12. Bargain DVDs - The only benefit I see to bargain cds and dvds is if you have to own the movie so that you can watch it over and over and over again, in which case buying bargain prices is best. Again, my partner likes this option of building a collection, but I don't. I watch movies at most 2-3 times and that includes catching it for free on tv or checking it out from the library.

13. Trade Show Swag - I don't remember the last trade show I was at and what I do remember is that the magnets got tossed in the trash, the pens were used until they broke or got lost and the pads of paper were the only items that lasted the longest. Trades show are for the information not the swag in my opinion.

14. Giveaway Thumb Drives - I used to love getting these in the mail for free, but I have way to many and no way of knowing what is on each one until I plug it in because they are so small. I need a 256GB thumbdrive for keeping track of everything.

15. Tie Racks - I still think people wear ties so a tie rack is nice to have in the closet, though some guys I work with just fold them up in the back of their sock drawer. This one would be a personal preference, similar to a shoe rack or whether to hang jeans or fold in a drawer.

16. Hobby Kits - Walletpop wasn't to thrilled with these and I can see why, if Dad doesn't have time to put together the model jets, they aren't very useful to him. In this case it would be a 'buyer beware' type of thing as it could be a waste of money.

17. Irons - The iron is still in use in this house, with 100% cotton clothes a good swipe with the iron does wonders for ones look. I don't see this as a waste of money at all until they come up with clothes that never wrinkle.

18. Polaroid Cameras - In a world where we like everything instantly I would think that these would stick around. Alas, they are going the way of black and white photos and are more a view of a person's artistic expression.

19. Shoe Inserts - I know I need new shoes, but I would rather get the last bit of life out of them with shoe inserts. Probably not the best for my feet and a waste of money if I buy enough of them.

20. Rice Cookers - Rice is cooked in a container with water in the microwave and it tastes just fine for me. Because I have an alternate way to cook rice, I see the cooker as waste of money. Chefs or foodies may think otherwise.

So for anyone keeping count:
5 are not a waste of money
9 are a waste of money
6 are in a grey area

Not a waste - Single-Slot piggy banks, Home theater system, Bargain Dvd and Cds, Shoe inserts, Irons

Waste - Wipe warmers, Radar detectors, Ab rollers, VCRPlus Gizmos, Ice cream makers, Ear candles, Trade show swag, Thumb drives, rice cookers

Grey area- Happy meal toys, iconic breeze (air filters), Kindle, Tie Racks, Hobby kits, Polaroid cameras

What are your ideas on this 20 items - agree or disagree? If you feel I am wrong on an item, tell me your thoughts; I'm open to new ideas.

I don't go to secondhand thrift stores (Goodwill,ARC,Savers) as often as I would like to but when I get a chance I make sure I check out the entire store and look for certain things but also skip on others. These are the ways I shop in a secondhand store; my hits and skips.

Hit the Gifts - I gather gift ideas throughout the year as I talk with family or if they send me a list of what they want/need for the upcoming year. With this in mind, I search for gifts throughout the year and stash them in one location in the house so I don't lose them.

Hit the Cookware - Looking for good quality pots and pans are always a good investment whether for yourself or to have handy for someone who needs a housewarming gift. The look of the cookware isn't as big of a deal as the quality; I can clean up a pot with some elbow grease. Sometimes the best items found are the vintage items because "they just don't make them as good as they used to" sometimes.

Hit the Rare Finds
- Occasionally I come across an item that is a little more than I would normally pay or it may not be a priority on my list, but I know that it will come in handy in the near future. I pick these items up; some stores have a short-term return policy that helps in the decision if I'm unsure.

Hit up Office Supplies
- I hate all the office supplies I go through and have to buy for both work and home, so coming across a sturdy drawer divider for office supplies or even a decent quantity of packing tape is a hit for me.

Hit the Jewelry Cases
- Secondhand stores don't just keep jewelry in these. I've found some dvd movies and playstation games to give as gifts along with a nice watch or two that would be a fraction of the cost if I bought them at the store new.

Hit the Bookshelf
- I don't recall the last time I bought a book brand new, and there are so many books available for every type of bookworm. I'm fond of 1st editions and antique books along with picking up childrens books for nieces and nephews.

Hit up Lost Items
- I lose winter hats all the time and if I come across some good thick gloves I will grab those as well. The same goes for containers with lids I can take food to work in as I always nuke the lid into a warped disaster.

Skip Your Multiples - If I already have enough dress clothes for work I don't look in that area, however if I am in need of a back up pair of dress pants, I will look but not hard.

Skip the Special Cleaning - I pass by the items that need dry cleaning or heavy duty ironing as I never get to a dry cleaner and rarely like to iron clothes

Skip the TLC
- If I am unsure about getting out a stain on a tee shirt, it won't be worth it to drop $2 no matter. The same goes for some tears on clothes that are more involved and cigarette holes in clothes. Buy according to your TLC skills unless you really are up to a challenge and willing to lose the money if you can't fix it.

Skip Glued, Dented, Chipped - If I find furniture or houseware items that are glued, dented or chipped I usually skip them unless it falls below my TLC skillset. Chipped and glued items I usually don't buy at all. Hairline fractures in a cookie jar are skipped by me.

Skip Projects - If what I find is within my skillset yet will involve a lot of time, I skip it. Unless I can get to it right away, I know it will just sit and get dusty or I will lose interest in getting it fixed.

Skip Holiday Items
- I'm not one to decorate for St. Patricks day, so the cute door hanging will be skipped along with the Santa statue and the Valentine's Day Pillow. There is an exception as that is something that is vintage and I know someone who collects for that holiday.

Skip Safety Issues
- I don't pick up strollers, helmets or baby seats as secondhand because you don't know the history of the item or if it has been recalled. Some people might pick up something that they know to be recalled in the hopes of getting a new replacement from the company, but I don't think it is worth it.

A joint research from Starcom and Nickelodeon found out a few things. First the study:

"The research -- which is being shared with clients but not released widely -- was conducted over fourth-quarter 2008 and first-quarter 2009, and included nationally representative online surveys of 1,000 parents with kids aged 2 to 17 and 700 children aged 8 to 17. Qualitative parental responses were culled from blogs."

72 percent agreed with the statement, "It's no longer important to keep up with the Joneses."
48 percent said that "we have redefined what's truly meaningful in our lives."
Over 60 percent of those polled said they were buying more store brands than previously
73 percent said they had started using coupons more.
46 percent said they would take a "staycation" and spend time at home as opposed to traveling.

News like this always warms my heart that people are seeing the usefulness to living within their means and not worrying about what the neighbors think of the way they live. They are doing what is right for their finances and for their family and seeing the benefits from it.

I'm glad that people are not as brand loyal as they used to be. Personally I have seen a few changes in the grocery markets that are helping as well.
1. I see that store name items have as much shelf display as some of the brand name displays
2. I'm seeing more stores promote their store brands at the end of aisles and giving a larger display along the inner aisles. A 99¢ box of corn flakes can be just as good tasting as the brand name for 2.59
3. I notice that many of the store brands are going back to a two color design to make them stand out from the others, mostly blue and white or red,white and blue.

I work in a retail store office that counts the coupons coming in and I must say that I have noticed an increase in coupons as well. Usually weekdays are slower for coupons but now weekdays have about as many coupons that weekends had almost two years ago. Also people are using multiple coupons more - a BOGO coupon along with a second cents off coupon or are using store coupons along with manufacturer coupons. I have also seen an increase in multiple coupons for the same item - meaning people are either buying more papers on Sunday or getting multiples from online sites.

Finally, the newest word added to Merriam-Webster online, staycation, is one that many of us have done already when finances didn't allow, and we now have a feeling of belonging and, we don't have to worry about others thinking we are 'losers' because we aren't traveling as often as often as them. Which brings us back full circle to the 72% who said they weren't going to keep up with the Joneses any longer.

Frugal-living really is easy when you cut to the chase. It is just the attitude and willingness to change that takes time and a little push sometimes.

The following is a guest post by Franz Longsworth

It’s summertime and the living is easy for only a select few these days, as for the other 99% of the population it is rather important to get your finances in order. Saving more, spending less moola, and being green seem to be a good fit for a 2009 motif.

So to help save money this summer a yard sale comes highly recommended whether you are shopping at one or attending one they can be extremely beneficial because if you like to save money than shopping around at a neighborhood garage sale can afford you the benefit of buying hard to find items at pennies on the dollar.

Often times you will find items that have been used once or twice and have expired their return policy so that means you get to benefit.

With warmer temperatures comes a ton of neighborhood sales and when you stroll out around your neighborhood on any given weekend day the odds are your going to find some great sales and bargains. The best part being that all prices are negotiable and you never know what kind of great retro finds that may pop up.

To find a sale all you have to do is look for signs around the neighborhood, check out your local newspaper or Google a garage sales.

Some individuals realize how great the profit potential is from selling off old unused items and have made the choice to throw their own sale. The average sale can bring in around $200.00 and for tough times like the ones we are in, that most certainly could help. Some simple tips are to sell what people want if you wouldn’t buy it than most likely your customers won’t either, be negotiable on prices, and advertise advertise advertise.

The most popular items that sell at a Garage Sale are:
* Baby items
* Clothes
* Strollers
* Furniture
* Electronics
* Yard Equipment and Tools
* Books
* Jewelry

Almost every household in America either has a compilation of these items or will need to compile them.

This article was written by Franz Longsworth an avid Garage Saler and bargain hunter who got the desire to use his web development to help other bargain hunters in the world with a simple and easy to use website in: garagesalestracker.com


4 additional tips I have learned from garage sales:

-- If you are looking to raise more money or don't have much stuff, include neighbors in the sale or sell homemade sweets and drinks - heck you could even have a BBQ going and sell dogs, burgers and sodas. (sidenote: Please look presentable when selling food, if you look like you aren't clean, you may not get many sales.)

-- If you look like you are enjoying yourself and enjoy having people around to look at your stuff, then they will pick up on that and stick around longer.

-- Please, please, please keep things neat as it makes it so much easier to browse, just don't hover over me as I put something down in the wrong spot.

-- Most important; make your signs easy to read from a car that is driving at 15mph along a road.

Millionaire Next Door was the first place I saw the word CEO being referred to the handling of household money. I had never thought of it like that. Like a business I want to generate revenue (savings) to make my household a financial success and look good as a credit risk. Which means I want to cut back as much of the debt load that is dragging me down.
That's the easiest way to look at it all. Sometime ago I was reading a book on sales and jotted down a few notes that I thought would be good to translate to household finances.

Practice makes perfect - If you don't try you'll never get better and you won't get the results you are looking for. Just keep getting up and going at again and again, eventually things will be more comfortable to you.

Standing Out - It isn't so bad to have the oldest car in the parking lot because you know what you want to attain.

Opportunities are all around - There are ways to bring in a little extra money (rebates, surveys)and ways to cut down on expenses.

Do a comparison check - Size up how far you've come and where you want to go to make sure you are on the right path

Studying Pays off - Learning how to fix an appliance on your own or researching the best person to do it for you will pay off for you in multiple ways.

You have an opportunity of a lifetime - Taking control of the household finances is one of the best ways to take control of your life, your friends and family can't do it better than you.

Numbers Game - Eventually the changes you have made will add up to a positive revenue and a positive change in attitude.

Time is money - The time it takes to save money may not always be the best way to save; it will depend on how you value your time.

Be persistent - If you start slacking off you will see the results quickly, keep in mind that it could take months before you see results you like - keep your eye on the prize and you will attain it.

I don't understand the Walgreens Register Rewards and why people seem to promote as money off the item you are currently buying. If buying a 12-pack of Pepsi is 3 packs for $12 and you get $3 in register rewards back, that doesn't make them 3/$9 it is still 3/$12 because that $3 in register rewards is for the next time you buy an item and not for the current item bought.

I get frustrated when I see people saying:
Aveeno Hair Care, $6.49
Use the $2/1 Aveeno Nourish coupon from the 5-31 Red Plum Insert
You earn $1.50 in Register Rewards to make it $2.99 - Because this isn't true the final price would be 4.49 for the hair care and you would have 1.50 for the next time you buy.

I looked this up and found out some more interesting information about this Walgreens Register Rewards that makes me concerned:
"I went to Walgreens today to use my rewards that I got a month ago and b/c it was expired, I couldn't use it!!"

"In the past you could use these rebates like cash on future purchases. Apparently it has gotten more complicated....."

I didn't like the fact that they were dropping the rebate option that allowed you to build up a shopping card that you could use as cash with no expiration date. I would rather they have gotten rid of it all together and not replaced it. But maybe it appeals to someone other than myself and the above commentary.


I don't like to buy shoes from thrift store unless they are unworn and come with a box. However, one summer about 3 years ago I needed some sandals and found a gently used pair at the thrift store that were mostly rubber. I bought them with the idea of soaking them and cleaning them up really well and since they were $7, if they only lasted a summer it would be worth it.

This is the third summer and they still fit me well, are very comfortable and will probably go a fourth or fifth summer.

Unfortunately, the sandals I bought at the department store for around $50 are not working out as well. I bought these with a gift card and wanted ones that looked sturdy, however I have found that either my feet were smaller at the time I bought them or they are stretching out too much because they fall off my feet constantly as I walk.

Based on this information, the black, thrift store sandals that were gently used are better than the tan sandals bought new last year. I got a better value from the thrift store sandals than from the department store sandals.

This both did and didn't surprise me. I am finding that clothes I have bought at the thrift store seem to last longer than ones I buy at the store. I buy good quality clothes at both places but it is the value that I get out of them.

If I buy a shirt at the thrift store that has a small tear for $4, I take it home and sew it up; no loss, I know what I bought. However, if I buy a new shirt at a store for $40 and it gets a tear in it, I feel I am not getting my money's worth, even if it was the same brand. I expect more from a shirt that costs $40 as opposed to $4.

This just makes my attitude toward thrift store value even more set in favor of checking them first before buying new.

Obviously frugal living and conservation has been around for a long time, in a 1841 Lydia Maria Francis Child wrote the 130 page book American Frugal Housewife, dedicating it to those who are "not ashamed of economy".

Frugal living and conserving seem to ebb and flow over the decades, the last time it was popular was in the late 70's and early 80's and before that it seemed to be at it's peak in the late 30's through late 40's thanks mostly to the depression years and the second world war.

One of the wonderful things about frugal living and conservation is that it doesn't get old or out dated. It is one easy way to pass ideas on to kids and friends around you and everyone benefits, I feel good for helping out and the other persons has a new ideas to save money or time.

One of my favorite ideas that came from the conservation and frugal living times during the depression and war area were the posters that it generated. Even though the ideas aren't informing us of anything new, it is the fact that these posters were commissioned so that we wouldn't forget, either back then or even today.
[click to Enlarge]

All in all, based on experience I believe more good comes out of calls or letter writing than one would think. Much better than just fuming about it. Most company info you can find on the packaging of the product you are using or online.

However I feel one does get further up the complaint ladder by writing than by calling in, as it is easier to pass along a letter than to pull a call and send it around. If I do write a letter I usually have these ideas in mind.

Definitely write the company: There have been mixed results from what I have heard when you call the company. However, writing the company can be your best defense. You have the situation in black and white with time, date, names and the problem explained. In most cases it goes directly to the department at the headquarters that is setup just for your letters.

Keep your cool: Writing down the facts of who, what, where and when are good immediately after the problem. But when you write the company you want to give yourself some time to calm down. Maybe even write a rough draft and re-read it. Coming off angry can blind the reader of your letter to the good information that you will provide.You can also be 'flagged' as a difficult customer and the company would then take a more defensive stance and not work as well with you.

Have an action plan: Providing not only the problem but ways the company can solve this problem can open the door for negotiations. Be specific, but also be realistic. Just because your email access doesn't work, doesn't mean your internet cost should be waived for a 6 months.

Think like a lawyer: Keep copies of your letters, send them certified if you want to make sure they get to the destination, keep the responses of what they say they will do. Negotiating over the phone is fine, get it in writing though.

Don't over explain: Get to the point, please. If the company needs more information they will ask. Otherwise give them the facts and leave off the background about getting your dog running away. Describe the problem and what you would like done.

Have fun: Just like "bees to honey", not only can you express your displeasure in a nice way, but you can add a little comedy into the matter. It just throws them off totally. Get someone in a good mood and you can get some great responses.

I have two stories to relate to you from my parents and their experiences writing letters to companies - in their own words.

Mom said, "I had found stems in a number of cans of the same brand of green beans, which I frequently purchased. I saved a couple of the stems and taped them to a piece of stationery. I got the address off the can and copied the numbers from the lid, which identified the canning plant.

I had read that a good way to approach a "complaint" is to tell what you like about the product and how the company will benefit by making a change, so I didn't chastise them. I told them how much I enjoyed their green beans and the reasonableness of their price. I suggested that possibly sales might increase if the quality control at that particular plant was reviewed and upgraded.

In return, they sent me a letter, along with coupons for free canned goods from their company.

Dad said, [in the early 80's] "As little bubbles of memory struggle to come to the surface on this, I think the letter I wrote was combination of praise and humor - Praise for their normally excellent product that I was fond of using and humor about the situation.

I didn't use sarcastic humor, but I think it was a red pen that leaked, so I may have made an exaggeration about looking like an ax murderer or how I looked like I had been the victim of a shooting. I probably said something about the embarrassment, but rather than just chew them out and make outrageous demands, I think I specifically asked them to replace the damaged shirt. (I believe that was Linda's idea to make a specific, reasonable request that would satisfy me.)

I think they sent money for that [shirt] and maybe some more pens.

At the end of every month I like to look back at ways I stayed frugal, ideas I came across to use for later and quotes I found that interested or challenged me. I keep a 140 word journal of the day to day over at my twitter account. Nothing helps you feel like you are progress quite like taking a look back at your footsteps.


Quotes to get started:
"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength." ~Corrie Ten Boom

"It's not your salary that makes you rich, it's your spending habits"
~ Charles Jaffe

After the last tree has been cut down, after the last river has been poisoned, after the last fish has been caught Only then will you find that money can't be eaten.”
~ Cree Indian Prophecy

In my desire to buy more local and handmade items, along with thrift finds, to be more consumer conscious and not a consumer zombie, I have found that some items I can buy through the local option of Etsy.com - Some great ideas for gifts that are unique and they have wonderful homemade soaps

Frugal For Life Tips -
# Use your your shredded paper for shipping - fill up plastic grocery bags to cut down on the mess
# Be for you print off the web, do a print preview. Many times, the last page is blank and you can stop the print be for that page and save yourself paper and time.
# BBQ Grease Buildup: Wet rag with vegetable oil. Wipe the greasy area and it will come right off, then clean as usual.
#Leftover pancake batter makes good fried onion rings.Let soak in batter for fifteen minutes. Fry in hot oil
# The Cheapest funnel - cut the top off soda bottles and flip them over for use in your car, kitchen or in the children's sandbox.
# Don't want to fix broken furniture - take it apart and salvage all the good wood, hinges, and knobs for future projects
# Cut out the magnets at the bottom of (some) shower curtains before you throw them away, and use on the refrigerator
# Don't toss the pill bottle cotton - Use the cotton from pill bottles to clean small electronics like remotes - cotton and vinegar work great
# Juice Concentrate Lids - used for drink coasters, quickie ashtrays for smokers and Furniture leg coasters
# Carpet remnant uses - Lay on under the car,Scraps catch car leaks,Cut down on noise,Exercise Mat,Shoe insert
# When out of oil and need to grease a skillet- Rub it with a cut open potato.
#Soften Wind-chimes: stuff a cotton ball into each end of each metal cylinder. The result will be a muted, much softer sound
# Use your bathroom mirror as a dry erase board - much better than a shower wall, I've tried and have the grout to clean up

- Sold off a bicycle on Craigslist because I thought I was going to bike to work but found that I was just didn't have time and biking in the dark and cold really did scare me off.

- Gave away a bunch of camping equipment (tent, cookware, chairs, etc) on Freecycle to a young family that are teaching their kids the about the experience. In return, I got an offer for a free weekend at an RV park; now I just need the RV.

- Recently got caught up watching the 5 episodes of Outer Limits (1963) online. I don't watch much tv, so when I'm in the mood I like sit down with something entertaining

- Did you know: Almost 85% of ID theft cases are due to "offline" transactions such as lost checkbooks and stolen bills - so make sure you shred and shred some more.

- Have you heard about the Fee-Free Weekends in Your National Parks this summer:
* July 18-19, 2009
* August 15-16, 2009

- Have you ever wondered why some coins have ridges while others don't? - Link

- Easy step-by-step guide on how 2 fold a fitted sheet - via Target archives

A Question I have for you:
♦ How do you sway someone towards rechargeable for batteries when their experiences are with them are from 15-20 years ago when did last as long?

This week I would like to share with you my digital shower timer. As you can see it is set to 15 minutes. Sometimes I make it in that time and other times I don't. Let me explain....

While in high school I put my parents through water bill hell- My average shower length was around 30-45 minutes. This was my 'personal' time and my thinking time. There were many occasions when Dad was 'kind enough' to just shut the water off on me and other times they'd let it go. But this bad habit extended into my adult life and my own water bills. That's karma, I guess.

Now I cut back my water waste by using a digital shower timer. A very loud obnoxious timer. Every week or so, if I have beaten the time twice and gotten out before it goes off, I will drop it down a minute if I haven't met my goal I will move it up a minute. My goal is 10 minutes or less.

There are shower timers that will have settings like 3/8/11 minutes that hook up to your shower head and cut the water down in pressure when your time is up, which might be a good idea but the cost of 125.00 doesn't make my situation very cost effective.
Besides having a digital shower timer I bought a low-flow showerhead for $15 that has been very nice and has a good strong water pressure to it, and I have the water heater set to 120 degrees to save on heat but still kill the bacteria in the water - no one wants legionnaires. Plus I wash clothes in cold water to save on the heating bill. Overall, I have dropped the water bill down $15 a month and the heat bill has gone down $30 a month, not bad for doing something that doesn't ask for much sacrifice

For a list of ideas to save water-- 49 ways to save water, indoors and out