Friday, September 25, 2009


Dear Cheapskate,

I recently spent part of a Saturday afternoon at the makeup counter at Macy's. I know! I can't believe I went to Macy's either! But my spendy friend wanted to go, and I wanted to spend time with my spendy friend. Going to the makeup counter at Macy's is definitely not an activity for cheapskates, let me tell you.
There were all these hopeful ladies with bad skin, scurrying around the makeup counters, desperate to spend, like, a hundred dollars for one lousy little jar of miracle facial cream! A hundred dollars!

Q: What is the correct amount of money to spend on miracle facial cream?
A: 99 cents.

You can get a huge jar of miracle facial cream at Grocery Outlet for 99 cents.

Q: What is the correct (and free) miracle facial treatment activity for a Saturday afternoon?
A: Exercise! Preferably bike riding because it's the most fun. And wear sunblock.

Stock up on sunblock when they have it at Grocery Outlet. I just bought two bottles for $3.99 each. I saved $16!!! (It would have been $12 each at a regular store.) Woowee! I don't have to worry about my face or my credit card and I can spend my Saturdays bike riding!!

PS Why is it called sun block? It doesn't actually block the sun. It doesn't work that well.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tools: Tree Trimming

Dear Cheapskate,

Do you trim your trees once or twice a year? I do. I use a couple of ingenious trimming tools. There is this awesome tool: It's a saw connected to the end of a long extentable pole! Before I knew about this particular tool, I had a complicated system for tree trimmming involving ladders, rope, a hacksaw, sneakers with good grip, a helmet, and lots of shouting and running away fast.

Is this wonder tool expensive to purchase? Probably. It must be because it's a wonder tool. But I don't even know because I check it out from the Tool Lending Library for free!

I often get tools from the Tool Lending Library. It's connected to the Book Lending Library, so sometimes I check out some books while I'm there, too. It's great!

Tip: Return the tools on time. The overdue fees are large.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Finding Things: Hair Ties

Dear Cheapskate,

Remember that time you were laughing about how people used to save bits of string or save rubber bands from newspapers? In 1973 your dad had that rubber band ball? You were practically doubled over. Well, don't laugh! The tip I'm giving you today is in the realm of such extreme cheapness.

Get our your hankerchief, for you will soon be weeping at my sad, sad story.

My sad story:
When I was growing up, I was too poor to afford fancy coated elastic hair ties. I had use regular old rubber bands saved from newspapers to make a ponytail! Regular old rubber bands pull your hair out and hurt like crazy. So I learned to keep a sharp eye out for abandoned elastic hair ties.

Luckily they're all over the place! Especially in parking lots. To this day I rejoice when I see a nice hair tie lying on the street, free for the taking! Oh, blessed un-pulled-out hair!! This morning I found one while I was riding my bike down Telegraph Ave. Not only is my hair safe from painful pulling, but the hair tie has a happy new life! And I save monney!

You may think it's gross to use a hair tie that has been run over by cars and has maybe been in someone else's greasy ponytail, but so what? It's better than having your hair pulled out by a mean rubber band.

You may think this is not a way to save a lot of money, but listen: If you are this cheap in every aspect of your life, you will save a bundle!!!

Read and learn, Cheapskate, read and learn.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Food: Bananas

Dear Cheapskate,

The cheapest place to buy bananas is Costco. A pack of nine bananas is $1.29, or 14 cents per banana. They are very green though. Will they ripen nicely? It's a gamble.

The next cheapest place to buy bananas is at Trader Joe's. At Trader Joe's a banana will cost you 19 cents, regardless of size.

At Berkely Bowl a medium banana is 25 cents (based on a 69 cents per pound price).

At Grocery Outlet, seven bananas in a bag is $1.99, or 28.4 cents per banana. I know it's hard to believe, but the almighty Grocery Outlet is not always the cheapest!!
You know what else isn't the cheapest at Grocery Outlet? Raisins. Today I could have bought a two pound bag of raisins for $3.99 at Grocery Outlet but I didn't because raisins are only $1.25 per pound at Berkeley Bowl! But this is not a post about raisins, it's a post about bananas. Try to focus on the correct subject, please.

At the Quick Stop gas station, one banana is 75 cents.

Yummy bananas!!!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Food: Meat

Dear Cheapskate,

Here's my suggestion for buying meat:

Never, ever buy meat.

It's ok to eat meat if it's offered to you for free, like at a party, or as part of the free snack at Costco. I just had a delicious free sample of top sirloin at Berkeley Bowl. ($7.99 a pound to purchase - Do Not Purchase!)

One pound of hamburger costs, like, three bucks!!! That plus some vegetables and bread will only make two meals! For about the price of one pound of hamburger you could have twenty hearty bowls of Bean-Lentil soup!!!! For one pound of top sirloin you could have fifty-five bowls of Bean-Lentil soup!!!!

Two dollars - Price of meal with hamburger
18 cents - Price of meal of Bean-Lentil soup

Savings by not eating meat: 91-96%

I'd rather put that dollar eighty-two into the bank and lentils into my stomach!

There are all those pesky environmental conerns, too. It takes 500 gallons of water and three acres of land to make one lousy pound of hamburger. (Ok, I made those numbers up. It's something like that. Look it up.)

How many green beans could you grow with three acres of land and 500 gallons of water? A LOT!!!! Way more than a pound!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Food: Super Cheap Soup

Dear Cheapskate,

I hope you are hungry. Very hungry. Because I have a huge, cheap meal for you. I, myself, am stuffed, and I have plenty leftover! You'll be stuffed, too.

Bean-Lentil Soup
1 cup dry red beans - 50 cents
Soak them in water overnight

In a skillet cook up (with or without a little oil):
2 onions, chopped up - 40 cents
lots of tomatoes from garden, chopped up - 0 cents
1 red bell pepper, chopped up - 50 cents
1 thing of garlic, chopped up - 20 cents

Dump the above, plus 1 cup dry lentils, plus 4 cups water, plus

spices - 20 cents
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp salt

into a big pot and simmer for an hour.


For $1.80 (or less - I overestimated the costs) you'll have soooo much Bean-Lentil soup! Like, ten giant bowls of the stuff! That's 18 cents per meal! That's ten meals for one person. That's five meals for two people! Or if you're like me, that's two meals for one person, who then is sick of beans and lentils, and then there's a meal for two, and then one meal in a tupperware as a "lovely gift" to a friend, and then three meals into the freezer for next week after a little break from Bean-Lentil soup.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Clothing: Thrift Stores

Dear Cheapskate,

I just bought my whole winter wardrobe! My whole winter wardrobe, plus a cap, plus two Christmas presents!! I did blow almost my whole daily budget in one fell swoop - I spent $9.
I should tell you that I am very lucky in a particular way. Lucky in a way that makes it easy for me to get all the clothing I need for free or almost free. I am lucky to have a special talent:

I am blessed with my own sense of style.

This means that I can wear whatever I want. And what I want to wear is clothes that are comfortable and cheap.

Rule: Never, ever pay more than $5 for an article of clothing.

I have not had new clothes for a very long time. I scored at the thrift store today. I got a Gap cotton turtleneck, which appears to be unused, for $3. I got an Express velour hoodie, so new the tags are still on (!) for $3. I got three brand new caps for $1 each! I only need one cap but I think I can unload the other two on my kids as Christmas presesnts! They'll think I spent twelve bucks!!! Ha Ha!(Actually, they won't think that because 1) they know I wouldn't spend $12 on a cap and 2) they read this blog.)

Tip: If you rarely buy clothes, it will be that much more exciting when you do. I am very excited about my new clothes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Next Sunday, at this particular wonderful thrift store, all the clothes will be one dollar!!!! Woo wee baby!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bean Counting

Dear Cheapskate,

For you, I wasted 59 cents. For you! Ok, really for me, so I could prove a point and feel smug. My dear Cheapskate, sometimes you tell me you're frugal because you ate a can of beans in lieu of meat. I am not impressed. You can do so much better. I will tell you how. It's simple.

Buy dry beans, not canned.

Here's what I did:

I bought a 16 ounce can of cooked black beans for 59 cents. (Wasteful.)
I bought a 16 ounce bag of dry black beans for 99 cents. (Not wasteful.)

I counted the beans in the can, one by one!!! There were 427 cooked beans in the "59 cents" can.
I counted out 427 dry beans. After that, I felt silly counting beans so I didn't actually count all the beans remaining in the bag of dry beans. I can tell you that 427 dry beans is not even 1/8th of the bag!!! That's around 12 cents for the same number of beans in the "59 cents" can!! The bag of dry beans is still practically full even with 427 beans removed!! Wow! There are lot of beans in that bag. Bean heaven.

You save over 80% by buying dry beans instead of canned beans!! That's a bundle! Imagine saving 80% on everything you spend money on!!

That's like getting five cans of beans for the price of one!! It's like getting four cans of beans free! A whole family could be stuffed with dry beans (I suggest cooking them before eating) for only 59 cents.

When you buy the beans in a can, you're paying someone four times the cost of the beans just to cook them! And put them in a can.

Dry beans are the way to go. What a bargain. Don't get me started on split peas and lentils!!

PS If you're the green type, dry beans must be the superior choice - no cans to manufacture, transport, and recycle.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Freecycle: Given

Dear Cheapskate,

Here are some things I've given recently:

Fireplace Stuff. This came with my house and after not using it for a year, I am sure I can part with it.

Chocolate Chip Cookies. My addiction. Offering these on freecycle was a big hit! I met some cool people. These two nice brothers came over by bicycle and had cookies on my porch. (And took a bag home with them.) They tipped me off to the free garden soil at the ecolgy center!

Bike shorts. By coincidence the person who asked for them was the person who gave me the pantyhose!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Plants: Cuttings

Dear Cheapskate,

You don't have to pay for plants! You just take a cutting from another plant, stick it in the dirt, give it plenty of water, and voilĂ ! New plant. I have done this succesfully now with lots of plants. Some of the cuttings died, but some of them are growing like gangbusters! (Whatever gangbusters are?)

I have done this with potato vines, tomatoes, aloe vera, and some other succulents I don't know the name of. If you're not sure it'll work, just try it anyway. What have you got to lose?

Tip: Keep the cuttings wet for at least a few weeks until they take root. Once they start to grow, you've succeeded!

Tip: If you covet your neighbor's plant, just go over and ask if you can take a cutting!! Not only will you have the plant, you'll be kissing up to your neighbor - she'll be flattered that you admire her plants and will like you more!

Then do what I do: Laugh as you stroll through the plants section at Home Depot.
"Hahahaha! Nice try plants! Nice try looking all enticing with your pretty green leaves and oxygen but I don't need to buy you - I grow my own! Hahahaha!"