Friday, February 7, 2014

WHAT happened to her eyes?

Dear Cheapskate,

Do you have trouble reading small print? Like this. Do you need a magnifying glass to read the newspaper? Wait, Cheapskate, do you read a newspaper, a real newspaper made out of paper, and not an electronic tablet? Wow. No wonder your eyes went bad, you're old. Really old.
Fear not!!
I know a miracle!!!! It's top secret but I love you so I will tell you about this miracle. Are you ready??

Reading glasses!!

I know what you're thinking. Miracles are expensive. How much do these miraculous "reading glasses" cost? You can't afford the millions of dollars. WRONG! I mean, no, you can't afford millions of dollars - good luck buying a diamond encrusted bathtub- but you can afford this particular miracle.

What would you pay for a miraculous little device that transforms your eyes from lazy globs of mucus into finely honed, focused, precision, type-face recognition machines? $100? $500? $10,000??? Sure, but you only have to pay a dollar!! One little dollar! You'll be able to read and you'll look smart, too! I know you're smart but you'll look even smarter sporting glasses!!

The dollar store has reading glasses for a dollar!!! That's ONE DOLLAR.  I went crazy and bought three pairs! And one of the pairs is diamond-encrusted!!!!! (photo coming soon)

You're welcome.

Cheapskate, what are the best things to buy at the dollar store?

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Dear Cheapskate,

Penelope emailed me again from her house on Cape Cod:

"Dear Mildred, [Should I tell her my name's not Mildred? She's 111 years old. Should I let it go?-cs]

I got your email and your complaints about the weather. First of all, do you think that because I'm old I want to discuss such an inane topic as the  weather? Boring!! Your whining about 45 degree weather is ridiculous. If it were 45 degrees here I'd be so warm and happy. I'd be running over the dunes in my bare feet, laughing, if it were a balmy 45 degrees. It's not 45 degree here on Cape Cod. It's so cold here on Cape Cod that even the whales are shivering. And they're covered with a warm layer of blubber! BLUBBER!!
Speaking of blubber, I've noticed some of the youngsters, like "Bobcat" Jenkins, who's only 85 years old, and his niece, "Frostbit" (she only has four toes but that's another story involving a stowaway situation back in 1963) Jenkins, are what you wussies call "plus-sized" and what I call F-A-T fat. I call a whale a whale and I call fat, fat. Call it like it is, I say. Face the truth. If you're fat, you're fat. You're not "svelte-challenged", you're FAT.
I have an extremely simple, cheap, way to lose weight.  Here it is:
Don't eat!
Just don't eat, you pig. (I don't mean you personally, Mildred. I know you can still fit into the woolen skivvies you wore rowing across Pawtucket Lake when you raced with the P-Town crew team in high school. You always were such a pretty one!) [Wow! Thanks, Penelope! Now I'm sure she has me mixed up with someone else.-cs]
Bobcat and Frostbit and the other members of the Blubber Club (Ha! I made that up, about the Blubber Club!! hahahaha!) are always spending money on prepared "diet" meals and going to meetings and paying money for "diet" pills. But guess what. They're still fat! And poorer from spending all that money. 
Just don't eat.
It saves time: No going to the grocery store, no cooking, no sitting at the table eating, no cleaning the dishes, no going to meetings.
It saves money: No buying anything. No buying food except maybe some carrots or celery.
Another thing you could do is get a tapeworm to live inside your gut. People these days are so uptight about parasites. Bodies are already full of parasites anyway so why not get a useful one that you invited? [I have to say that I officially don't recommend this. Not my idea.-cs]
It's so cheap and easy to be thin. Leave the blubber on the whales.
I hope this was helpful. I'm happy to share my wisdom.


P.S. Are you going to come and visit?"

Thanks again, Penelope!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sock It To Me, Baby

Dear Cheapskate,

You get to meet Penelope!!! Penelope has been frugal her whole life and she's been alive since 1900 so she's had many years of cheapskatery. And, yes, she's almost 111 years old. She'll be 111 on 11/11/11. I know you think I'm making this up but I'm not. I would never make up something so phony. I'd say she was 86 and was born on some random date in May to make it sound believable. Everything I tell you about Penelope is true. I suspect that Penelope herself is not an entirely truthful person however, as some of the things she says are too amazing! She emailed me the following from her house on Cape Cod (Yes, she was born before the Model T was invented yet she uses email!!):

"Dear Mildred, [She calls me "Mildred" for some reason.]

Young people don't know how to mend things. Why, when I twenty years old [ She was 20 in 1920!] I danced the Shimmy to the song "Shim-Me-Sha-Ha". Have you heard it? Look it up on YouTube. Ah, those were the days... drinking champagne and dancing all night, going home with a different boy every Saturday, watching them fight over you. Nowadays they call the cops if you so much as punch someone in the gut, but then, oh, then, the fights over us girls! Wonderful!! Wonderful fights! Broken noses everywhere.

Anyway, when I was twenty, just a few years before everyone from the shoeshine boy to the milkman became a millionaire in the stock market...That reminds me. There are so many uses for shoe polish!! I'll tell you some day! Anyway, before then, when everyone was still poor, a girl had to re-use and re-purpose her dancing dresses and especially her stockings. This involved a lot of mending and sewing.

Here's a tip: draw a line up the back of your leg or draw a fishnet pattern all over you legs if you can't afford stockings. It looks like you're wearing stockings! But it's just drawn on!!!  Don't use a wax pencil and then go dancing. Trust me. Messy! Very messy. Yuck.

Young people these days. I swear. Your toe pops out of your sock and what do you do? You throw it out! [Penelope must mean that young people throw out their socks, not that they throw out their toes.] You just go buy a new one. Nonsense!

Here's how to darn your darn sock. Hhahahahahahahahaha! Get it?

1) Get an old light bulb. Not one of these new-fangled twirly compacted ones, but a nornal light bulb.

2) Stick a sock in it! Hahahahahahahah! Actually, stick the light bulb in the sock.

3) Get a needle and thread and sew up the hole in the sock using the light bulb as a form.

So easy! Even you whippersnappers with your prissy unscathed knuckles can do it. "

Wow. Thanks, Penelope! I hope you'll email me about all the great uses for shoe polish. I can't wait!

Cheapskate, do you mend things or do you just throw them out and buy new ones?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

101 Uses For A Brick

Dear Cheapskate,

Whoops! Did I say one hundred and one uses for a brick? I meant to say one. One use for a brick. I can tell you of one way to use a brick. Not one hundred and one ways to use a brick. I must have been thinking of college, you know, where "Econ 101" or "Math 101" really means "Econ 1" or "Math 1". One. Only one. One way to use a brick.

It's been cold here in California. Relatively cold, anyway. Hovering around 44 degrees inside my house and colder outside. Stop laughing! I know it's, like, minus 40 degrees in Montana with a blizzard and two feet of ice on the road, and that your spit freezes solid before it hits the ground. You'd be waltzing around in your bikini if only you were lucky enough to have  a balmy 44 degree day. Still, for us wimps, a 44 degree temperature in the house, day after day, is wearing, even if our spit is still wet when it hits the ground. (And we spit on the ground all the time!)

Cheapskate, I know what you're thinking. But what about the the cat? Forget the spit. What about the poor stray cat named Thompson who lives outdoors? Is he shivering in the cold and rain? Is he wet and bedraggled, hunkered down under the neighbor's barbeque, his ears hung in sorrow, questioning the meaning of life and miserably waiting for Spring?
Cheapskate, I'm way ahead of you. First, I made a little house for Thompson (yes, a "cat house") out of a bookshelf and a tarp. Then I added a heating pad, which plugged into an extension cord, which ran across the wet porch exposed to the elements and to hungry, gnawing possums, then crimped under the door, and finally plugged into an outlet in the kitchen.

Because of the whole pesky electrocution/fire hazard problem I needed a non-electric warming system.
The sock filled with microwaved rice didn't work.
The thing at the pet store cost forty bucks so I didn't buy it.
The cat didn't like the emergency foil disaster blanket. (I thought cats liked crinkly things?)
Then I remembered the soapstones. Growing up in Connecticut where it really does get C-O-L-D, even colder than in California, mom would heat up a soapstone for each person. We'd wrap the hot stone in a cloth and put it between our icy cold bedsheets to keep our toes warm all night.
I didn't have a soapstone to heat up for Thompson but I had a brick! Turns out a brick doesn't have nearly the specific heat capacity of soapstone but so what???

1) Clean off a brick.
2) Put it in the oven while you're baking a casserole. (It's cheaper to share the use of the oven than to heat it up for the casseole then again for the bricks. And who doesn't want a casserole imbued with a brick flavor?)
3) Wrap the brick in a clean rag.
4) Place it somewhere you need heat, like in the cat house or at the foot of your bed.
5) Don't be a retard and burn yourself or your clothes, your house, your pet...

Wait, I think I can come up with 101 uses for a brick! Yes, I'm sure I can!

1. Heat storage device.
2. Part of a garden path.
3. Tie a threatening note to it and throw it through a window.
4. Tie a love letter to it and throw it through a window.
5. Tie a gift to it, (maybe a nice tie?) and throw it through a window.
6. Take the love letters you have received, tie them to the brick, and sink them in the Bay.
7. Put it in a puddle. Step on the brick to avoid stepping in the puddle.
8. Scrub away your calluses.
9. Use instead of sand paper to remove paint.
10. Do you wake up at night to find that your goose down comforter has fallen off the bed? Tie a brick to each end of the comforter to hold it in place.
11. Use it to smush slugs.
12. Carry one in each hand while you go for a walk to beef up your arms.
13. Lift and repeat to beef up your arms.
14. Use the corner like a piece of chalk to draw artwork on the sidewalk.
15. Use the corner like a piece of chalk to draw arrows on the sidewalk so you will remember your way home. (Hansel and Gretel should have done this instead of the bread crumbs thing.)
16. Throw it at pigeons to knock one down for dinner.
17. Sit on one when driving if you need a boost.
18. Pretend to talk on it like a cell phone. Say, in a snooty voice, "What, you're still using an iPhone? That old thing?"
19. Scrape off some to make a red powder and apply it to your face as rouge.
20. Add water to the powder and use as ink to write tragic poems on the dungeon wall.
21. Put it on the top of your head and walk without it falling off. This will improve your posture.
22. Use it to break open walnuts.
23. Use it as a hammer when you can't find your hammer.
24. Put it on end and lean it against the house. Stand on the end - you may have enough of a boost to be able to see into the window. (I did this yesterday. Why? you ask. Why??????)
24. Use it to press down the pie crust dough when you can't find the rolling pin.
25. Dip it in paint and press to the walls for a decorative (custom!) paint effect.
26. Put it in the toilet tank to displace water and cut down on the volume of water used per flush.
27. Put a couple in the refrigerator to displace air and to work as a thermal mass to reduce power usage.
28. Use it to prop up the couch where that leg broke when you were moving that time.
29. Plug up the hole in the floor that goes straight to the basement.
30. Dangle one from a thin string over the front door. Act like you don't notice it and make people linger underneath it as you chat unconcernedly. Watch them nervously back away from your house.
31. Start an "all-brick" band! Two bricks bang together to form cymbals, bricks of different sizes make a xylopohne, bricks scraped against each other make that "washboard" sound, etc.
32. Drill a hole through a brick and blow to make a flute-like, or didgeridoo-like sound. (Then join the band in #31.)
33. Cover up mouse holes in the baseboard.
34. Press flowers between the pages of a book and set the brick on top to increase the pressure.
35. Stand on the roof and throw them down at bad guys, like my neighbor - she knows who she is.
36. Place one on the loose roof shingle to keep it from blowing away.
37. Bang one on a piece of a metal downspout to make music. Join the band in #31.
38. Smear brick with a paste of flour and water and bake to make a square tortilla. Save energy and combine baking with #1. Declare them "Brick Baked Torillas" and sell at a fancy store for big bucks.
39. Place spoonfuls of cookie dough on the brick and use as a mini cookie sheet.
40. Tie a piece of rope to the brick and throw it over a wall you wish to scale. Grab onto the rope. The weight of the brick on the other side will help to hoist you over the wall.
41. Loudly clap two bricks together to scare away bears.
42. Strap a brick to the bottom of each foot for use as shoes when you have to walk across a bed of hot coals.
43. Strap a brick to the bottom of each foot for use as shoes when you have to walk across a bed of nails.
44. Strap a brick to the bottom of each foot for use as shoes when you have to walk across a stretch of hot asphalt.
45. Strap a brick to the bottom of each foot for use as shoes when you have to walk across an Oakland sidewalk covered with chewing gum and shards of glass.
46. File your fingernails with the side of a brick. Hint: Move your nails across the brick, don't move the brick across the nails.

More to come... Can you add a few?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Waking Up On A Cold And Frosty Morn

Dear Cheapskate,

I know. Why get out of bed in the morning? Why?
It's cold out there, out in the frigid bedroom air! (You don't use heat, do you? Especially not at night? Heat costs money!!) It's too cold to stick even the most brave and curious of body parts, your little arm, out from under the warm blankets. Would you subject your arm to such an insult? No, of course not! What to do?

I have a couple of suggestions.

1) Don't get up! If you telecommute via iPhone, or, even better, are unemployed, just stay in bed! Wrap yourself in an extra blanket and sit up if you desire. Keep some snacks by the pillow - a bowl of almonds and raisins is nice. Lean your back against a pillow, read a book.

2) If you must get up, sleep in your clothes. Say you go to sleep on a Tuesday. On Tuesday night dress in your Wednesday clothes then get in bed. Delicious warm bed. Wake up Wednesday ready to go! No need to expose your bare skin to the inclement bedroom. You're warm and dressed already.
If your clothes are too uncomfortable to sleep in, change your wardrobe. I recommend sweatpants. Business suits, jeans, anything tight or prone to wrinkles - get rid of it.

3) If you refuse to sleep in your clothes (you are so stubborn!) keep them next to you under the covers. In the morning get dressed under the covers before you get out of bed.

4) As a last resort, scream. Scream and run for it. Throw off the covers, rip off your flannel pajamas (scream with extra gusto as the icy blast hits your naked body), yank on some warm clothes and a down vest, shiver, do some jumping jacks until you warm up enough to stop screaming, and you're good to go.

But what about the water pipes, the spider plant in the macramé hanger by the window, the "Cheepie" the pet parakeet? They need heat don't they?

Friday, October 22, 2010

What The Food Inustry Doesn't Want You To Know About Popcorn!!!


I love popcorn.

I don't love:
  • The mess and the colories making popcorn the old fashioned (yet delicious) way - in a pot of oil on the stove.
  • Paying the big bucks for bags of microwave popcorn.
  • The fuss and noise of an air popper.

What to do??? Don't eat popcorn, right?


Cheapskate, I have made the discovery of the CENTURY!!!! I can't believe I didn't figure this out sooner!
You can microwave regular old popcorn for mere pennies!!!!

Here's how:
1) Buy a bag of regular popcorn - the bag with just the kernels, nothing special. It's cheap.

2) Put some kernels into a Tupperware-type container.

3) Place the lid loosely on top. IMPORTANT: Do not seal the lid on or it will explode. The idea is to contain the popcorn while allowing air to escape.

4) Place in the microwave and look and listen for it to be done. CAUTION: Steam is very hot.

5) Voila!!!! Incredilbly cheap and easy popcorn!!!! No bags, no oil, no popcorn popper, no muss, no fuss.

6) Add toppings if desired.

7) Experiment with how much to put in the container and how long to pop. (I put 1/4 cup kernels into the 1 quart container - it doesn't take much.)

Microwave bag: 50 cents
Microwave kernels: 5 cents
300 bags per year
SAVINGS: $135 per year!!!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How To Have Ragin' Paaaaartay!

Dear Cheapskate,

Parties needn't be expensive!  I suggest a party for one. Throw yourself a nice party. Splurge! Treat yourself to something special, like three-bags-for-a-dollar marshmallows from Grocery Outlet. (I saw them today. Go! Run get them!) This will be such a cheap party!

What? You don't think it's a real party unless some guests attend? Ok, fine. If you absolutely must have a party for more than one, here's how to do it:

A party!!

Have your party from 3-5pm. These are “between meals” hours. The object it to confuse your guests about the expectation of a meal. Is it dinner time? Lunch time? Neither? Since they’ll be served only a few snacks your guests will be happier if they aren’t unpleasantly surprised by the lack of a meal.

This happened to me recently when I flew on an airplane for the first time in many years. The last time I flew, back in the 1950’s I think it was, I had a piping hot, delicious meal plus all the extra leftover desserts. I received a box of crayons, a deck of cards, some wings to pin on my shirt, and a pair of cozy foot warmers, plus I got to visit the cockpit and meet the captain. Imagine my shock last month when all I got on the plane was a lousy little bag of peanuts. And I didn’t get to meet the captain!!!!!!!!!!!

Do not shock your guests this way. It would be poor manners to shock your guests.

Serve chips and hummus. You can get an enormous bag of tortilla chips at Costco for under four bucks. Use my hummus recipe (below). Multiply the recipe by ten and you should be good to go. Total cost for snacks: about $9.

In your invitation (use evite or some type of free invitation) indicate “BYOB”. Hopefully your guests will be big on drinks and you’ll end up with a lot of leftover booze.

If you’re worried about having enough glasses (serve tap water), save up empty jars for this purpose. Start saving now!

For fun! If, like me, you’re not used to entertaining, it’s wise to brush up your wit in the days before your party. Look up some jokes online so you can get the conversation rolling with gems like, “Why don't aliens eat clowns? Because they taste funny.”

It’s best to have an ending time. If your guests stay too long they may begin to expect a meal. And if they ate a lot of your snacks the effect of the beans should be kicking in so you may want them out.

I know this will be a fun party!!! Who wants to come????

Cheap Hummus
1 cup dry garbanzo beans
Cook in the pressure cooker with water for 30 minutes
Drain and put them in a blender with
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tahini or peanut butter
the juice from 1 or 2 lemons (get free from neighbor's tree)
4 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp paprika

This post first appeared on The Frugal Hostess.
If you threw a party like mine (the non-loner kind of party, the party with actual human guests) and you still have any friend(s) left, go to the Frugal Hostess's blog and read all her posts. You'll find out how to have a real party!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How To Pay For College: 5 Tips

Dear Cheapskate,


Did I scare you?

Imagine you're stranded in a disabled U-boat, a mile beneath the ocean's surface, running out of food and oxygen, you're sweating, listening helplessly as the pinging sound from the enemy battleship above gets closer and closer... The terror!*

Cheapskate, if you're sending Little Johnny to college you know the terror.

"How will I pay for it?"
"I'd rather die than go into debt."
"Maybe the kid can join the Army instead."
"Why did I have kids, again?"

Cheapskate, fear not. Up periscope! Launch torpedoes! Prepare to surface! College can be cheap!!


1) Have Johnny attend the local community college for the first two years. Here in foggy California community college is a bargain. It's only a few hundred bucks rather than forty thousand smackers! Johnny lives at home for free and saves a bundle on dorm fees, too!

Ok, let's be honest. Johnny can't stand living at home and would rather live in a sewer pipe than live with mom for one more minute.

Mom was kind of looking forward to having the whole house to herself! Shhh. Do NOT tell Johnny!!!!!!!

Luckily, both  Johnny and mom are motivated to tolerate each other by their infinte cheapness. Mom tells Johnny his room will always be his (though she can't wait to make it into her study or rent it out!) and Johnny refrains from scowling at mom too much.

2) Apply for financial aid. The lower your income the better.

3) Johnny has a part time job during the school year. Not only does he save up money for the final two years of college away from home, but you have the house to yourself more because Johnny's off working at the Stop 'n Spend!

4) Do NOT take out a loan!

5) Send Johnny to the cheapest college you can find.

Cheapakate, how do you save money on college?? Do tell!!

*I so totally know about submarines. Look, there's me with the other 4-year-olds in a submarine! I was part of a little known experiment during the cold war. A band of highly trained 4-year-olds were sent on a secret submarine mission in the Baltic Sea! We're clutching the torpedoes! Dive! Dive!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bad Ideas


I'm cheap. You know I'm cheap. But am I too cheap? Never!! Absolutely never! Never ever!

Except that one time.

This is embarrassing. Maybe I shouldn't tell you this.

While riding my bicycle I became hungry. As I reached into my back pocket for a life-sustaining, 3-for-a-dollar, power bar, I spied an unopened package of peanut butter crackers on the side of the road. You know those orange day-glo cracker sandwiches? They were unopened!! Why not pick them up and eat them for free? What could be the harm? They were unopened! I'd save, like, 33.3 cents!!!!

I took a big bite.

Have you ever snacked on road tar mixed with powdered laundry detergent and poison? The crackers looked like crackers but baking on asphalt had transformed them into something else.

I knew I shouldn't have told you about this. I hope you still love me.

Cheapskate, have you ever tried to save  money and realized it was a big mistake? Do tell!!!!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Things Not To Buy: Anything In A Commercial

Dear Cheapskate,

Do you wish, with all your might and main, that you lived the life of that happy person in the commercial? The slim business woman eating that burger? The charming fellow drinking that beer, driving that car, wearing those cool shoes? Even though you're a cheapskate, it kind of crosses your mind that maybe, just maybe, you should blow two days of your $5 budget on a box of chicken nuggets?

Let me tell you about commercials. Zeus (that's Zeus, the god, not Dr. Suess, the author) throws a lighting bolt and the commercials appear! All over the place - TV, internet, billboards, magazines... for the good of mankind!

Just kidding.

When you buy something that appeared in a commercial you are paying for the item plus the cost of the advertising. I read somewhere that when you buy a new car (Don't buy a car! Not even a used car!!) you're paying $2,000 just for the advertising plus another $1,500 towards some auto worker's retirement! If true, that's $3,500!! You could buy ten used cars for $3,500!! Even you are given a car for the price of $0, it's still expensive because of gas, insurance, etc.

Notice anything else? Junk food, fast food, weight loss food, beer, cars, anti-aging lotions... This is all stuff you don't need! If you needed it, they wouldn't have to advertise it to make you think you need it because you'd already know you need it.

If you see something in a commerial and you buy it:

1) You're paying for the advertising.

2) You don't need it!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Finders Keepers

Cheapskate, are you there? Is anyone reading? I feel so sad and morose, probably because I have quit eating sugar. Cheapskate, your eyes are bugging out - I know you can't believe it. Until last week I lived on sugar. What is life without sugar??? It's nothing, I tell you!! Nothing!!!!! But, my dear Cheapskate, you can help! Leave a comment and I will feel so much better! Say anything, anything at all, just let me know you're there!!! Are you there?

Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers

Dear Cheapskate,

Usually, when finding things, the losers are not "weepers"; the losers are "yay-I -got-rid-of-that-crap"-ers. But if those who formerly owned your finds do indeed weep, so be it.
"Finding things" is a great way to aquire things for free.

Often, especially in summer, aka "stuff on the curb" season, people leave their unwanted items in a cardboard box on the curb. This is a great way to find things as there is no question the items are available for the taking. I recently found the following:

Antique tatted doilie
Cat toy
Airtight and airproof container
Broken electonic fake fish tank (unfixable so I threw it away)

Tip: Use discriminating taste or you'll end up with a house full of junk.

Oh, wait, what? You've never heard of tatting? Seriously? Do you think those lace doilies just appeared out of thin air???? No, great great great grandma sat in her wingback chair by the fireplace, peering into her lacework by candle light, her hounds lying obediently at her feet, and tatted those doilies with her little tatting needles!!!  And that makes me wonder, what kind of insensitive monster would leave great great great grandma's hand-tatted doily on the curb????

Sometimes I find things that others have lost. If I am sure the item has no hope of being reunited with it's owner, then the rule of Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers comes into play.

Things I've found recently:
A dollar!
Fleece jacket
Miss Piggy Puppet
Hair Ties

When you find things, not only are the things completely free, they're not much trouble (you didn't have to go shopping, you found them as you went about your business), and you find things you didn't even know you needed!!! I did not know that I needed an electronic fake fish tank. I mean, I had no idea. I didn't even know there was such a thing!!!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Frivolous Friday: Biscuits for the Cheap and Lazy

Dear Cheapskate,

Need a decadent snack? You don't have to make a special trip to the store and you don't have to spend a lot of money. Try these butter biscuits which are basically just warm butter sponges. Load them up with melted butter! (And you thought I lived an austere life of deprivation, but no! These biscuits are pure luxury!)

Microwave until soft: 1/2 stick butter (yes, melting butter is biscuit blasphemy because it affects the flakiness but I'm too lazy to cut up cold butter)
Mix in:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder (could use 2 but 1 is half the price)
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup water with a squirt of vinegar (could use buttermilk but I'm too cheap)

Plop globs onto a cookie sheet (no buttering the pan, no cutting or shaping the dough - too much work)

Bake at 375 for about 18  minutes

Tip: Turn on the oven as you put the biscuits in. Do not preheat! Use that preheating heat to cook the biscuits. No wasted heat! Preheating is for spendthrifts!

Cost (if you bought the flour in bulk, the butter at Costco, and the baking soda at Grocery Outlet): 48 cents
That's 7 cents for a giant biscuit!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Movies! Books! Puppet Shows! Concerts! Poetry Slams! Dancing Girls!

Ok, not dancing girls. Except maybe in a tap dance class, which could happen.


I'm talking about the public library. Never pay for books or movies. Borrow them from the library! If, like me, you live a couple of blocks from a tiny branch library, a library with a small selection, fret not. Go online, order the latest best seller (or moldy old poor-seller) from the main library, wait for the happy email notification, then go pick it up at that little library! They'll rubber band your name onto it!!!!

The library offers all sorts of other stuff, too, like stories and shows for little kids, art exhibits, lectures by famous authors, movies with popcorn, chess, free lawyers and tax help, internet access, puppet shows, magic shows, "Dial-A-Story", workshops on writing, speaking Spanish, jazz combo, quilting, and knitting.

All totally free!!


I pay a $116 per year library tax with my property tax. I have to pay it whether I use the library or not, but I do use it a lot!! It's a bargain! If I bought all the books and movies I get from the library it would cost a bundle.

Savings: Thousands of dollars

Monday, June 14, 2010

Marriage. Hunh! Yeah. What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing!

Dear Cheapskate,

Save a ton of money by implementing the following tip:

Tip: Don't get married.

Aw, Cheapskate, you look so upset! Are you deeply offended? Have I gone too far? I knew this would blow your mind! If you're serious about saving money think of marriage not as a romantic endeavor but as a money sucking scheme.

[Note that though this author is twice divorced she is still absolutely, totally, 100% UNBIASED!! Isn't that great!?!!]

Reasons to NOT get married [Completely objective!!]

Spending and Debt.
Is the prospective spouse a cheapskate? Is he as deliriously frugal as you are? Probably not. (Who is?) Do you want this spendthrift near your finances?

Financial Aid.
Do you have kids in college?
Check out these financial aid FAQ's.

You could be stuck with your spouse's medical bills! Then again, maybe you can find a spouse who will provide you with precious medical insurance. [If anyone knows of the availability of this type of medical-insurance-providing prospective spouse please send info asap to and disregard the rest of this post.]

Reasons TO get married.
Publicity stunt.
The right to visit your spouse in the slammer.

Cheapskate, I can see that you are still very offended.
Have you been happily married for many, many years? Did it save you money? Do tell!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lotion Revolution!

Dear Cheapskate,

Disaster! I'm out facial lotion.
Nightmare! Grocery Outlet is out of my lotion of choice, the 99 cents stuff, my maximum allotment for facial lotion.

I read the ingredients on the side of the jar. The main ingredient in my lotion, apparently, is mineral oil. I searched online. The most expensive lotions (like, $500?!?)  feature olive oil as an ingredient.
So, why not just use olive oil??? I already have olive oil. I don't even have to go to the store, forage for aloe vera plants, pillage a bee hive for wax, or otherwise expend effort gathering ingredients.

Cheapskate, stop laughing. Do you have a good reason to not try using olive oil as a facial lotion? Bold ideas like these change the world so wipe that smirk off your face.

I slathered it on. It spreads so you only need a few drops! I wondered. Will this burn my skin? Will I get zits? Will someone try to put me in their salad?

So far it works great! My skin is so not dry! And, ok, I'm not kidding when I say "not dry". It takes a while to soak in. Like, hours. I imagine this might interfere with one's makeup, if one wears makeup.
I am confident, however, that as a preeminent trendsetter, I will be the envy of all and soon it will be unfashionable, embarrassing even, to appear in public without an oily sheen to one's face.

It's official. Olive oil is now my official facial lotion - and body lotion and foot lotion, too! If bio-diesel cars can leave a trail of odeur de vegetable oil their wake, why can't I?

Jar of cheap lotion: 99 cents
Jar of expensive lotion: $500
Olive oil: 99 cents
Savings: $0 to $499

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Dandelion: Worthless Weed or Delicious Dinner?

Dear Cheapsakte,

You're so smart, you clever thing! Yes, dandelions are edible and delicious!

Do you carefully cultivate your garden only to have slugs eat your lettuce? Do you dig, plant, fertilize, water, and toil, only to reap a few lousy green beans? Do you make grueling trips to the tool lending library for trimmers and diggers? Grow dandelions!

Is it difficult to grow dandelions? What special equipment is needed? A crack! All you need is a freaking crack in the concrete. Do nothing. No watering. Nothing. And there's your dinner.
Guess what! It's tasty. Eat the flowers and everything. Why make a trip to the store and waste $5.99 on spring salad when you can simply pluck your greens from the driveway for free?

What other urban weeds are edible? Do you know??? There must be a ton. Let's forage!

UPDATE: Whole Foods SELLS dandelion greens for $2.99 a bunch!!!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Gross Me Out The Door!

Dear Cheapskate,

What's Crackalackin'?

Did you collect Garbage Pail Kids cards in the 80's while listening to Cyndi Lauper sing "She Bop" and teasing your hair? Did you think, "Damn Skippy, these cards are awesome! Snot and puke are hilarious! Hahahahaha!" Did you clutch your stomach and double over laughing? If so, you're reading the right blog post.

Cheapskate, if you are delicate, like I am, please read no further. If you must read on, I beg you, please, please, have your smelling salts ready. Consider having a physician stand by. I don't want the shock to fell you. I don't want you to wig-out.

I have discovered or invented several wonderful but grodie ways to save a ton of money. I'm not saying I do these things myself. Maybe I do and maybe I don't. Maybe I just know someone who does. Maybe these things are done only in novels written for children. Who knows?

Toilet Paper.
Use one square. Are you a 25-squares-at-a-time yanker? Your toilet paper will last 25 times longer by using only one square per episode!
$100 per year with '25 squares' method
$4 per year with '1 square' method
Savings: $96 per year

Dental Floss.
Use the same piece of floss over and over and over until it breaks. Don't use it a mere once then toss it. A decent piece of dental floss is good for at least ten flosses!
$60 per year with 'disposable floss' method
$6 per year with 'reusable floss' method
Savings: $54 per year

Chewing Gum.
It's reusable. It loses it's flavor after ten seconds of chewing anyway so why not start with a tasteless piece for free? Stick your chewed gum on the bed post for safe keeping then pluck it off when you're ready for a chew! One piece of gum will last for days!
$50 per year with 'disposable gum' method
$5 per year with 'reusable gum' method
Savings: $45 per year

Cheapskate, I know! These ideas totally wail!!

Do you know any other disgusting yet brilliant ways to save money? Gag me with a spoon!

Friday, May 21, 2010

For What Ails You

Dear Cheapskate,

Once in a while, I ail. I ail and when I ail I'll do anything to make it stop. If I'm not prepared for an ailment before it strikes, I could, in a fit of misery, do the unthinkable: spend money!  On September 26th, 2009 I spent money on a pepto bismol-like substance that wasn't even on sale! Cheapskate, I hope that nothing ails you and that you feel healthy and happy.

But just in case, be sure to have the following in your medicine cabinet:

Petrolium Jelly
Baking Soda
Corn Starch
Hydrogen peroxide
Super Glue
Duct Tape

No need for pricey anti-fungals, anti-histamines, or anti-aliasing. Over the many, many, years of my very long life I have gleaned the following home remedies and old wives tales:

Ithcy Feet a.k.a. Athlete's Foot
Soak your feet in salt water and/or rub them with hydrogen peroxide.

Bee Sting
Plop a paste of baking soda and water onto the bee sting.

Poison Oak (I hope I never get this again, ever)
Immediately wash skin with soap. Plop a paste of baking soda and water, or cornstarch and water, onto the rash.

Put petrolium jelly up your butt.

Diaper Rash
Put corn starch on your butt.

Runny Nose
Don't eat milk products.
Boil water and breathe the steam.

Chapped Lips
Put petrolium jelly on your lips.

Drink a little baking soda mixed with water.

Eat soda crackers a.k.a. saltines. Drink gingerale. Don't eat fruits or vegetables.

Superglue your skin together.

Sore Throat
Gargle with salt water.

Eat a spoonful of lemon juice and honey.

Burns (minor)
Immediately run cold water over the burn.

Morning Sickness
Eat soda crackers or carrots.

Put duct tape on your wart.

Just snap out of it! (This actually works sometimes, bion.)

Eat raw fruit. Eat prunes.

Do you know some other home remedies? Do they work? Please comment!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dishwasher Detergent And Your Dishwasher: A Fascinating Study

Dear Cheapskate,

Do you wish, every time you pour dishwasher detergent into the little indentation in the door of the dishwasher, that you didn't have to shell out for dishwasher detergent? I do.

So I tried some things.

I washed the dishes au naturel, in water only, with no soap. The dishes were still greasy.

I used a substitute: One drop of liquid soap and two tablespoons of baking soda. This worked ok! I would save oodles of money! I'd buy baking soda in bulk and save even more!!

I did some second grade math.
Baking soda in bulk is 89 cents a pound.
Sun (aka "brand X") detergent is $3 for 4.75 pounds at Walgreens, that's 63 cents per pound!! Cheaper, even, than the clever baking soda substitute!!
Safeway brand is $3.49 for 4.68 pounds, or 75 cents per pound.
Cascade is, like, $6 for 4.69 pounds, or over $1.25 per pound - don't even look at the Cascade, not even on sale. You're paying for the advertising.

Conclusion: Sun is the cheapest dishwasher detergent, even cheaper than home-made.

Cheapskate, I know what you're thinking.
Does one use the same amount of baking soda as dishwasher detergent?
Are baking soda and dishwasher detergent the same weight per volume?

I wondered, too.
I washed the dishes using a mere two tablespoons of detergent. The dishes were perfect! (If "perfect" means "mostly clean but you still have to wipe off some crud, as usual".)
I weighed 1/4 cup of baking soda. It was exactly 2 ounces.
I weighed 1/4 cup of dishwasher detergent, expecting it to weigh more, but no, it was also exactly 2 ounces!! The baking soda and dishwasher detergent are the same weight per volume! The diswasher detergent is cheaper than baking soda!!

Tip: Buy brand X dishwashing detergent, preferably on sale.
Tip: Use only two tablespoons (or less) of dishwashing detergent. Do not fill up the whole cup. The box of detergent will last twice as long if you fill the cup only half way!
Tip: Make sure the dishwasher is crammed full before running it. We have a saying in my house, regarding dishes in the dishwasher: "You can always add one more."
Tip: Do not substitute dishwasher detergent for baking soda in your cakes and cookies.

Water, Energy.
Cheapskate, you think too much. You always have just one more question, don't you? Put your hand down - this isn't school; this is a blog. Does the dishwasher use more water than washing dishes by hand? Is saving a few pence on soap cancelled out by the cost of running the dishwasher? Here are the facts (I got this info online so it must be true):
The dishwasher uses less water than washing by hand!!

Here's a great article about dishwasher usage: Does Using a Dishwasher Actually Decrease Water Use?

Whew! Now I don't feel guilty about using the dishwasher!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sleep, Sleep, You Are Getting Sleeepy...

Dear Cheapskate,

I am so sorry to hear about your insomnia. Are worries about a spendthrift mistake keeping you awake? Did you blow half of your daily $5 budget on a lousy, useless piece of cheese cloth with weave so large the yogurt seeped right though and you wish you had your money back? That's $2.50 gone!  No wonder you can't sleep.

Cheapskate, I've had my share of insomnia and I have ways to beat it. Free! No need to spend money on sleeping pill presciptions, dream doctors, teas guaranteed to ease you into a gentle slumber, aromatherapy, a Chillow (mighty tempting - it's a chill pillow?) or a sheet of magnets to place under you mattress.

Cheapskate's cure for insomnia.

1) No caffeine.
None. Seriously. Not even in the morning. Not even chocolate. Not even if you're one of those people who say, "Caffeine doesn't affect me."

2) Exercise.
Hard aerobic exercise. Ride your bike up and down steep hills. Run stadium stairs. If you already exercise a lot, do that plus something else. Make it hurt.

3) No naps.
Not cat naps, no chair naps. Even a short nap will screw up your sleep.

4) Bed is for sleep only.
Don't do anything in bed except sleep. No reading, no eating crackers (goes without saying), no jumping, no watching movies on your laptop, no singing. If you can't fall asleep, get out of bed. Teach your  body that bed is for sleeping and you won't tolerate anything but.
Cheapskate, I know what you're thinking. And yes, there is another activity that you can do in bed and yes, that activity will help you to sleep. Go for it.

5) Regular sleep schedule.
Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. If you go to bed early or sleep in, you'll have sleep trouble again! Even if you didn't fall asleep until 3 in the morning, get up at 7 anyway. Get your internal clock working.

6) No drinking after 6pm.
I don't mean alcohol. (Never drink any alcohol.) I'm talking about liquid, like water, coconut milk,,, Do you want to fall into a delicious slumber only to be jolted awake by a call from your bladder? No, I didn't think so.

7) Temperature.
Open the window, close the window, add blankets, remove blankets. Whatever works.

8) Comfy bed.
If you don't have a comfy bed, get one free on craigslist or freecycle. Rig one up! I pile up blankets under my sheets for extra softness.

9) Reduce stress.
I know, easier said than done. Don't watch a scary movie or call your enemies just before bed. If you can never sleep the night before a bike race, quit bike racing!

10) Pep talk.
Say to yourself, "It doesn't matter if you don't sleep, you'll function just fine tomorrow! Don't worry about falling asleep!"
You know you're totally lying but you fall for it anyway! You sucker.

This is what I do for insomnia, for free!!

What do you do for insomnia?