Friday, April 30, 2010

Appliance Reliance

Dear Cheapskate,

Do you have appliances in your house? A water heater perhaps? A stove, dishwasher, garbage disposal, washing machine...? Have you replaced a thermocouple or cleaned out an air gap? Replaced a hose here and there?
I hope you didn't need to.

I loathe the work of fixing things. But do you know what I loathe even more? Paying someone to do the work of fixing things!

Cheapskate, I have a repair person - it's me. Or, sometimes, it's an unfortunate friend or offspring who happens to be nearby at the time of the appliance crisis and who is a reluctant recruit. (And I wonder why I'm so alone?? Why does no-one drop by???)

When an appliance gets stopped up, stuck, leaky, spews smoke, makes a clunking noise, or flies across the room, here's what I do: I go on the internet and learn how to fix it. I find the online owners manual or search with keywords like, "doesn't drain", "stuck", "no power", or "shooting flames".

Now that I've learned a few things, (like, for a stuck disposal, I first push the red button, then try using an allen wrench, then a broom handle!) it gets easier and easier.

I save so much money fixing things myself!!!

You handy(wo)man, you!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Frugal Hostess is Cheap!

Dear Cheapskate,

Today we're honored to have the famous Frugal Hostess write about being cheap! I ALWAYS read her blog. We're so lucky!!!!! Read her post below then go to her blog and read everything else!

Our guest blogger writes:
Don’t Waste Your Money
By The Frugal Hostess

Pre-Shredded Cheese, Pre-Sliced Apples, Pre-Cut Veggies: These products are a waste of money. Seriously, are you really that busy that you can’t spend three minutes shredding up some cheese? The cost is almost double the regular block of cheese or whole apple, and the product is sprayed with chemicals that keep it from sticking together or turning brown. How about you just slice an apple up when you want to eat it – or just bite it, you big baby – and hold the NatureSeal? (NatureSeal is the white powder made up of ascorbic acid and calcium salts that keeps pre-sliced apples from turning brown. Gross, right?)

Fat Free Half and Half. What a crock. Half-and-half is half milk and half cream. Take a minute to think about that. Does it make sense that it wouldn’t have fat? Of course not. Fat free half-and-half is really high fructose corn syrup dosed to taste like cream. How dreadful. This is obviously a product that is too good to be true. How about you just drink real cream like a normal hedonist? (Same goes for that flavored or shelf-stable kind. You must be kidding.)

Books. The Frugal Hostess wishes that books could replace dollar bills as currency, because she’s sure that this change would result in her being an instant millionaire. Books are so great and so worth having. However, if you read quickly, you could end up spending a hundred bucks a week on books. Try looking for reading material at the thrift store, where paperbacks are usually less than $2. Or go to the library and experience our tax dollars at work funding the free download of porn on the computers.

Flea Shampoo. Soap kills fleas. Like, any soap. So the idea that you have to get special flea shampoo for your dog is dumb. Just use regular shampoo or dish soap.

Unscented Products. Listen, TFH hates to break it to you, but an unscented product smells like crap. Unscented laundry detergent is one of the worst smelling concoctions you could ever smell. Unless you are allergic or something, don’t fool yourself into thinking that unscented equals lack of scent; it just equals lack of a good scent.

Bubble Bath. Dish soap. Better bubbles, lower prices, and you can multitask if you’re behind on dishes.

Flowers from the Florist. Get flowers from the grocery store. If you don’t like the mixture they’ve thrown together created, feel free to switch them around. It never fails that The Frugal Hostess wants orange and red flowers and every bunch has two purple stems. Just trade those out with the orange ones in the next bunch.

What are some other total and complete wastes of money?

The Frugal Hostess is the figurehead of a lifestyle brand for poor people. She writes about inexpensive entertaining and other things that are cheap but not easy on her irreverent food blog at

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Travel for Cheapskates

Dear Cheapskate,

My strategy for saving money while traveling: Don't! Don't travel!! I stay at home. I love staying home! I just want to be at home.

Some people, espeically, I've noticed (in my world), young people and middle aged men, have a great wanderlust. These people must travel. They'd go nuts staying home. I have consulted with an expert, one Peter Bryson (one of said "young people") who travels super cheap! Next Wednesday, Mr. Bryson embarks upon a one month three country tour and his total cost will be $439!! Total! That's even cheaper than staying home!!!

Mr. Bryson generously reveals his simple secret:
Get a one month Greyhound bus pass for $439. Combine the costs of transportation and lodging into a single manageable sum by traveling at night and sleeping on the bus.

Cheapskate, hold on. I hear your questions.
But what does he eat?
Does he ever take a shower?
Does he get a crick in his neck from sleeping in a seat?
Doesn't he want to travel during the day and look out the window some time?
Does he stay in the bus for a whole month without getting out?
Who takes care of his cat while he's gone?

Mr. Bryson responds with a link to his blog (and notes that he doesn't have a cat):

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Garden Slug: A Worthy Opponent

Dear Cheapskate,


Lighting fast. Whip smart. Tricky as hell.

You probably thought they were slow and easy to smush. You were wrong.

Last night, as I lurked with my flashlight and specially designated "slug fork" to battle the beasts, I noticed two slugs racing each other across the path. Yes, racing. I could see the slippery trails of slime in their wake. They appeared to be moving slowly but this is part of their trickery. They move fast only when you're not looking. Try this: Look away casually, then whip your head around. By the time you're looking they've slowed down again. Try sneaking up on them from around a corner, or jumping out from behind a bush. They still appear to be moving slowly because they're that tricky. You can't catch them moving fast, but they do move fast. Really fast. When you're not looking.

They also pretend to have dainty appetites. Don't believe it. They can devour 1000 times their weight in one night. Five of them will gang up on one little bean sprout and eat it to the ground. With absolutely no remorse!

I know this because I pick them off one poor defenseless bean plant with the slug fork and then five minutes later the slug army of reinforcements has resumed devouring that very same defenseless bean plant!!!

So, how to defeat this wily foe?

1) Desperate, I went to Home Depot planning to use my store credit on some kick-ass chemicals. I would nuke them. But the $10 box of chemicals promised to kill the slugs AND the earthworms, my pets, the neighbors kids, and every other living thing so I didn't buy it. I was too cheap to spend the $25 for the less lethal chemicals, even if they would defeat my evil sluggy foe.

2) Beer. I hear they will happily crawl into a bowl of beer. Who wouldn't?? But I'm too cheap to buy beer.

3) A bowl of sugar and yeast mixed with water caught about fifteen slugs! The black bowl worked much better than the clear bowl.

4) I will pick them off by hand, every night, until they learn: Do not mess with my plants!!!

Does anyone have a better battle plan? A cheap one??

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Shhhh: Discount Candy Day

Dear Cheapsakte,

The following is top secret information but I love you so much that I am sharing. Don't tell anyone!!!!!!  Get close to your screen and don't let anyone see! I'll whisper.

Shhh. Tomorrow is Discount Candy Day, my favorite holiday!! Tomorrow is the last Discount Candy Day of Discount Candy Season.

Discount Candy Season begins on November 1st and ends the day after Easter, which is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, in case you were wondering. Keep that in mind when planning your life around Discount Candy Day.

On the days after Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Day and Valentine's Day the stores put their holiday candy on sale for half price!! Get up early and go get it!!

Rule: Do not go to the stores I am going to!! That candy is mine!

Yes, it would be cheaper to not buy any candy at all. But you have to live some. Sheesh!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Rag Bag

Dear Cheapskate,

Did I hear you right? Can it be true? Some people don't have a rag bag?????

Wait while I run cold water over a rag from my rag bag. I need it on my forehead to recover from the shock.

Ok, I don't actually have a rag bag, I have a rag shelf. Shelf, bag, whatever... rags are indispensable! Instead of throwing away old clothes and towels, especially T-shirts, toss them into the rag bag. There are so many uses for this material and you'll save a ton of money!!

  • Use them as a substitute for paper towels
  • If you have some pretty ones and a lot of patience, make a quilt
  • Use them to clean your bike
  • Wash mirrors
  • Clean your bathroom (see genius cleaning tips from the frugal hostess - I don't think she'll mind the link here)
  • Wipe up the soy sauce that spilled when you opened the refrigerator too fast
  • Fold a piece into a little pad to protect the side of your truck from the bungee cord
  • Stuff your bra
  • Use little pieces as floor protectors under furniture
  • Tie a white one to a stick and wave it around when you need to surrender
  • Cut into strips and tie off your limbs to prevent snake bite venom from spreading
  • Cut into strips and tie together to escape out a window like Rapunzel
  • When you lose a button, find a replacement from a shirt in the rag bag
  • Use a piece to make a patch on clothing
  • Cut into strips and boil before giving birth, a la Gone With The Wind
  • Polish the silver
  • Cover yourself with a very large rag, such as an old sheet, when you need to go as a ghost
  • Wax your car (if you have a car)
  • Cut a piece of elastic from a waist band and use it to dangle a cat toy from a cat tower (see photo - I did this today)
  • Blow your nose, wash rag, re-use (save toilet paper)
  • Polish the furniture
  • Stuff into holes under doors to keep the cold air out
  • Shred and use to stuff crafts projects, such as sock monkeys
  • Make a sock monkey out of an old sock
  • Make a sling shot out of a stretchy T-shirt
What else can rags be used for?? Please comment before my ideas get even sillier.