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!