Archive for the ‘Frugal’ Category

First Number In Action: Vet Bills

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Among the delays for getting posts up on Life of Pookah has been illness within our home. One miserable week laid out in bed followed by another week of slow recovery.

Pookah has been very, very worried! Pookah has worn herself ragged trying to take care of Pookah’s pet humans. The extra effort on Pookah’s part has required massive consumption of tasty foods.

Now Pookah is searching for this “Pudgey Pudgins” individual is, and why “Pudgins” is in Pookah’s house!

Then, Old Lady Cat was ill, then took a nosedive for the worse. Translate this to additional vet bills. On the heels of Pookah’s daughter’s illness and ongoing slow recovery, this is extra expense that is breaking our monthly budget.

Did this qualify as an emergency, and why?

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Non-Frugal Screwups – Part Tres

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

A bit of background: I got chicken grease on a few shirts. They were sent off to the dry-cleaner at a cost of about $3.00 each.

WANT Small Tasty Bird!!!

Well, the dry cleaning didn’t get the grease stains out. In fact, it looked like it had set them in.

Three shirts = $60 new, or $30 on sale/used/discounted.

Big Ouch.
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When To Call A Professional

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

My human just dragged a first kill through the tall grass onto the sidwalk!! I’m watching from the window!

The pull cord on our Craftsman push-mower (with power assist) is jammed up inside. It no longer allows the operator to use the pull cord to start the engine.

YAY! Nasty LOUD growl-monster is dead! Pookah’s ears are saved! Human will no longer stink as much! This is a good, if graceless, kill!

I took the cover off. Then tried to disconnect the fuel line from the gas reservoir so that I could tilt the reservoir out of the way and get to the bolts holding the main, metal cover on. Once removed, I would have access to the mower’s guts, and be able to take a look at the jam-up.

My human disemboweled the growl-monster! Finally, all those lessons in hunting are taking root! See?!?! Humans CAN learn! Look at all the… blood? grass? brown-gunky-sticky-bits? Human is bent over it, feeding. Can’t see…

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Frugal Idea – Save That Toothbrush

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Is your toothbrush all worn out? Ready for a replacement? Do you already have a replacement ready – in one of those econopacks that you bought at a discount? Good!

Do NOT throw that old toothbrush away.

You can:

  • Use it to clean the hard-to-reach places around the kitchen or bathroom faucet.
  • Use it to clean out the crud in the kitchen sink drain.
  • Use it to clean dust off the coils of your refrigerator.
  • Use it to get those hard-to-reach spots on the pile of rocks exterior.
  • Use the handle as a soft prybar.
  • Turn it upside down and use the corner of the head to smooth out wet caulk.
  • Use the handle as a disposable stirring rod.
  • Use it to clean all the dust and insulation wrapped around an improperly installed light switch or electrical outlet (after turning the power off and testing it for no nuclear go-juice, of course).
  • Use it as a launching lever to toss kitty treats past Pookah’s nose.

BANZAI!!!!!

I keep a couple of old toothbrushes in my toolbox, another couple with the pile of rocks cleaning kit, one under the sink in each bathroom, one under the sink in the kitchen, and a few in the wash room (they’re great for cleaning lint out of the lint trap screen).

Plus, those soft or hard plastic dental tools don’t decompose very quickly in a landfill.

Non-Frugal Screwups – The Return

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

If you recall from a previous post, I spattered fried chicken grease across a couple of dress shirts I use for work (part of the required dress code). In an effort to save them from expensive replacement, they were sent off to the dry cleaner, at a cost of about $3.00.

You did not give small tasty bird to Pookah!

Well, the dry cleaning didn’t work. Both shirts are still stained.

Vengeance! Graaawwrrrr!!!

Pardon me while I disengage a furious, frenetic, feline from my ankle. (Yes, Pookah just ran in and wrapped herself around my ankle – snarling, biting, and kicking. In her defense, my leg was right next to the scratching post she normally uses for this activity – and she WAS holding back. I’m only bleeding a little bit. In my defense, my leg bears little resemblance to a scratching post. At least, it used to.)

Now, as I was saying, dry cleaning didn’t work.

So the next step is to try some DiDi7 I picked up years ago. The worst that can happen is that my formerly nice shirts will have the buttons cut off (and added to the general rock pile supply of buttons), and deposited in the rag bin. If it works, I get my shirts back at no cost beyond the time and cleaning.

EvilPantsMustDIE!!!!

Aaargh!!! Pookah!!

Frugal Ideas – Get A Freezer Chest

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Get a stand-alone freezer chest. Seriously! A new one will run several hundred dollars, and increase your electric bill. But the savings from buying food in bulk, cooking in bulk, and freezing in bulk — combined with a microwave oven — will usually pay for itself in less than 2 years (the increase in electric bill can kill some of the cost savings). Just remember to give it annual maintenance – cleaning the coils, vacuuming behind it, and defrosting/cleaning the interior. The ability to just pop a single serving-size, reusable container filled with frozen, home-cooked goodness into the microwave when you first get home from work will more than pay for itself in the time saved. The more often you can do this, the more the time savings adds up during the week. That means more time to work on other things.

Like scritching Pookah’s chin.

The initial cost is going to be around $200 – $300. However, it allows you to purchase (and keep) larger quantities of food – especially when it is on sale, cook even larger quantities of food, and (most importantly) store that food for later use. Estimated Savings (based on eating 3 meals/week this way, including being able to use sales even more to your advantage, plus a guesstimate of an additional $20 in your electric bill): $20 – $40/month.

Frugal Ideas – Food Preparation

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Food Preparation. Nothing sucks out your enthusiasm like getting up at 5:30am, going to work at a job all day (even a good job), and then coming home to “When is dinner?” Defuse this with a little planning: On the weekend, get enough stew materials for 3 meals, and enough pot roast/chicken/pork chops for 3 meals. Clean out your refrigerator – trash the stuff that isn’t safe to eat, add the stuff that can be eaten to your crock pot and/or soup pot. Fill up your soup pot AND your crock pot. Cook them both at the same time. Freeze the results in serving-size containers. By planning ahead, and cooking large amounts at once, you’ll actually save yourself time, aggravation, and make better use of your food.

Estimated Savings: About $4.00 per meal prepared this way.

Non-Frugal Screwups

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Here, in our part of the primordial scrub, we have a delightful fast-food chain that serves spicy fried chicken. S.O. and I have increased the grease portion of our diet significantly by addicting ourselves to this comfort food.

Unfortunately, I also picked up the habit of eating there for lunch once a week. This has the side-effect of spattering chicken grease across my work shirts (they are dress shirts due to the dress code – i.e., expensive).

Soaking them in Oxyclean (great product, highly recommend it) didn’t do the trick.

So now I have two $20 shirts that may need replacing. (Higher price because there aren’t any sales currently running.) And I’ve likely been increasing my medical expenses due to the increased fried food plus grease.

Cost to dry clean – about $1.50, for a total of $3.00. Add in another $1.00 in gas for the round trip. Plus about thirty minutes out of my life to make the trips.

Dry cleaning is less expensive than replacing them, but has negative environmental effects. The extra half hour normally wouldn’t be a problem, but it could have so easily been prevented!

Aaaargh!!!

Said fried chicken place is now stricken from the lunch roster.

Good! Human was not bringing small tasty bird pieces home for Pookah. Now human must go without, too!

Frugal Ideas – Cat Litter

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Try the wheat chaff cat litter (we use Swheat), and sprinkle in a handful of the pine pellet cat litter. In our experience, the wheat chaff generates less dust than clay-based litter and does a better job of odor control in the short-term. It has the plus of being completely biodegradable, so the resulting waste will stay organic and rot into naturally recycled dirt without the complications of clay. (From what I’ve read, don’t use the resulting waste in your compost heap – since cat contains meat byproducts, the resulting used cat litter may attract unsavory four-legged critters or, even worse, provide an incubation site for various diseases and parasites.) The pine pellets help control the odor over the medium to long-term (in case you forget to change the litterbox, or are particularly sensitive to the pungent aroma of cat urine). This may not work for everyone, depending on your health, your odor sensitivity, and how, ah… selective your cat is. Both products mention above are priced less than the equivalent clay-based cat litters when you price it by volume. The wheat chaff/pine pellets are looser and take up more space, so the bags are larger, and the same weight of litter will actually last a LOT longer.

Ahem!
Your work shoes are here. They are clean. My litter box is not clean.

Whoops. I have to go, uh, take care of some chores.

Frugal Ideas – Junk Mail = Note Pads

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

All those letters and snail mail you keep getting in your mailbox? Get a letter opener (or use a standard blunt table knife for extra credit in Frugality), and open them by cutting off the entire front side of the envelope. Then use the backs as scratch paper. If you’ve got kids, make it a game. A staple gun, pot of glue, or (really Frugal) thick binder clip can turn your envelope back collection into a pad of scratch paper easily. This trick is so useful that I have purchased only 3 reams of paper in the last year.

Estimated savings: $3.00/month (based off of the cost of a ream of paper on sale, at about $36.00).