Category Archives: Frugality

High School Parents: Beware of the C3 Scam

Published / by Annie / 1 Comment on High School Parents: Beware of the C3 Scam

The other day my daughter received a letter in the mail informing her that she was selected to attend a special workshop to help her receive financial aid for college. Considering that I’m scrounging around for enough money to keep our water from being shut off today, I had her there with bells on.

Come to find out, this was just a ploy. They were marketing a service for $2,000 that would tell us what we need to do (like completing the FAFSA and study for the ACT).

My first warning sign was when they started talking about their service. My head popped up because in the letter it was indicated that the basic financial aid help was free.

The second sign that something was up was when they po-pooed the fact that my daughter has already received one scholarship plus money from the state due to her grades.

“We go after the big money,” they told us.

The third sign that something was off was when the “counselor” didn’t know an important fact about taking the ACT.

The straw that broke my back was when they told us we either had to shell out this money now or my daughter would never be able to go to college because open enrollment ended the next day.

This wasn’t my first rodeo when it comes to folks like this so after I refused we went home and looked them up. Even the Better Business Bureau is warning people about these folks. Complaints ranged from not doing what they said they would to refusing to accept their cancellations. One person reported that this company was taking money from their mother’s account two and three times a month despite the fact that the service had been cancelled (sorry, I misplaced the link on that one).

Even more interesting, my daughter went online and promptly found a number of websites that do the exact same thing that they claim to do for FREE.

So if you happen to get a letter from this company, I advise you to toss it in the trash.

The New Shoestring Girl is now LIVE on Smashwords

Published / by Annie

Hello everyone!

Guess what? As soon as I started working in a program I remembered well from before I was hurt I managed to get this book properly formatted on the very first try!

It is now live on Smashwords here, and will be coming to Amazon, Apple, and other retailers soon.

I will let you know  just as soon as other retailers begin listing it; you can keep up to date on my Facebook page and the sales page here on Annienygma.

Thank you so much for your support!

My New Writing Setup

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on My New Writing Setup

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I was dedicating my old XP to writing, so today I figured that I would talk about my setup.

My computer is really old. In the 11 years that I’ve had it the battery has died and the speakers have started failing. It is currently on its third keyboard, and even that is starting to fail. At one point I even had to replace the processor fan when it died. Even with all of that the poor thing is still ticking, though I’ve created a few workarounds.

I hooked up an external keyboard to solve the typing glitches, added an external mouse because the buttons on my touchpad tend to act up, and then tossed in an old monitor that I’ve had for years. As a result I’ve created a dual monitor desktop system out of this ancient laptop. That allows me to have two files on full screen, which makes working a lot easier.

Here is a picture of my setup:

Even better; I worked this up using stuff I already had. It literally didn’t cost me a penny! I set up an old folding table in my kitchen (my favorite room for writing) so now I even have a dedicated writing spot. I’m hoping that this new setup makes me more productive.

On another note, now that I’ve got my issues fixed I’ve been making steady progress when it comes to formatting the new Shoestring Girl for ebook format. Hopefully it will be finished soon so that I can move on to my next project.

The Shoestring Book is now in Print

Published / by Annie / 4 Comments on The Shoestring Book is now in Print

Amazingly, CreateSpace worked really fast; my book is already available for sale in print!

You can find it on Amazon and CreateSpace.

Katie and I are working as fast as we can on the ebook; I made a newbie mistake when I was creating it that has forced me to completely reformat it so that it will look right. Right now we’re taking turns doing this page by page. As soon as it is published I will let you know. We’ve got over 400 pages to reformat so this is going to take a little while, I’m afraid.

 

The New Shoestring Girl Book is Almost Ready!

Published / by Annie / 4 Comments on The New Shoestring Girl Book is Almost Ready!

Hello Everybody!

I am exhausted. I’ve been working at this non-stop since I last posted. In the end I had to get Katie to help because for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to do some things with the formatting and I needed fresh eyes and a healthy mind to help review this 400 page monster.

But we did it!!!

The book cover

Right now I am in the process of uploading the print version of this book to CreateSpace to get it published. Once that is finished I will work on formatting this sucker for ebook format.

To thank you for all of your help and support I want to give you the PDF copy of the book for free. It isn’t much, but I want to pay forward all of the kindness and support you have given me. Please feel free to pass it around to your friends – and if you know of any bloggers who would be interested in it, please send it to them as well.

You can download the book here. Just right-click and select “Save As” to download it to your computer. (This link has now been removed since it is now available in ebook format. You can purchase it here.)

If you don’t mind, would you mind leaving an honest review about the book somewhere when it is published? Reviews are like gold to authors cause they are what help us get noticed. Heck, just telling your friends about us helps more than you can imagine!

Anyway, I won’t keep this PDF file up forever; I plan to remove it once I get the book published in ebook format at the very least, so grab it while you can and share the love.

Oh – I will let you know when the book goes live.

Thank you. Thank you for everything!

Love, Annie

How I Survived Several Years Without Running Water

Published / by Annie / 5 Comments on How I Survived Several Years Without Running Water

In today’s modern age water is usually only a handle turn away. As a result it is usually taken for granted. But what would you do if that flow of water ever stopped?

Once, a long time ago, it did for me. This is how I survived.

After finding myself an unwed mother I really hated myself. I had failed in the one thing that I was raised that females were to provide: A loving father and family for her young.

So I dated, thinking to correct that issue. I decided to go shopping for a father for my daughter.

After a time I thought I had found him: A man who seemed like an industrious person, down on his luck but willing to sacrifice to come out on top. Being no stranger to sacrifice and knowing how hard it is to find someone with the strength to do without and struggle in pursuit of a greater goal convinced me that he was “the one.”

I was wrong and he was a lie, but by the time I realized this we were already married and I was stuck; forced to live in a house without basic utilities like running water and sewage I decided to make do.

At first we used a bucket instead of a commode, and when it would fill up my husband would carry it outside at night and return some time later with it empty. I do not know what he did with the wastes but if there was a compost pile he used – I never saw it, and I do not want to know.

Within a few months we dug a large pit into the earth, and I watched as my husband added gravel to the bottom of the pit, poked holes in an old metal barrel, and covered it up. We now had a septic system, and were able to use the drains in the sinks and the commode he obtained from unknown sources.

Water at first came from the homes of friends and family until time and distance removed that option and I became too embarrassed about my living conditions to ask other people. By this time most suspected I was in an abusive relationship, and it hurt to listen to the countless lectures on what I should do with my life. I became a recluse, and started getting water from a local gas station, carrying it home in re-purposed cooking oil containers given to me by a local restaurant.

Dishes were washed in hot water, by hand, in two plastic containers, but I digress. First all I had to wash in was a couple of large bowls, and everything was either dried by hand or placed on clean towels until it air-dried until I obtained a dish drainer.

Bathing was primarily sponge baths, done in cool water in summer and water heated on the stove in winter. Eventually the children and I would take baths in an oversized Rubbermaid storage container, pretending it was a bathtub. Every opportunity to bathe at friends houses was accepted graciously until the lectures became too much to bear.

As the years passed I would ask my husband when the oft-promised water meter was going to be dropped, volunteering to do whatever needed to be done to hurry things up. “You already have running water dear,” my husband would sneer. “Now run to town and get some!”

Eventually flood damage caused our last source of easily available water to close and I was desperate for a solution. Grasping for an idea – any idea, my eyes fell upon the creek just yards away from the back door of the house. I thought in desperation – why not?

Bucket by bucket I would carry that water into the home, and its unlimited supply enabled me to keep things so much cleaner that I would thank God for the wonderful bounty of that little creek. All water would be boiled before being used for washing with a little bleach added to the rinse water, just in case. I refused to take any chances.

One day I decided to use that water in our old washing machine since we had no money for the Laundromat. Bucket after bucket I carried that day, first filling up the tub to wash and then again to rinse load after load of laundry. I was delighted at my industriousness, ignoring the blisters on my hands, thinking of how proud my husband would be that I had not begged for money to go to the Laundromat but had instead managed to care for our laundry needs at home. I lost track of time, however, so when husband came home his dinner was not ready. He was not impressed.

My next door neighbor sensed my plight; a few weeks later he caught me outside with my buckets and volunteered his small sump pump for my use. Gratefully I accepted the small device, rigged up enough extension cords to cover the span, and as the pump was not strong enough to push water all the way to the house created a holding area halfway between with re-purposed trash cans. It was a slow process but my daughters and I were delighted. It was the closest we had been to running water in years.

Eventually my husband gifted me with a sump pump of my very own, one powerful enough to reach all the way to the back door with a trickle of water, and I felt like a queen. I could easily wash laundry during the day, though the trickle of water meant that it took a long time for the laundry tub to fill up.

Drinking water was purchased at the store after beginning to use the creek.

I had given up asking about the water meter when one day there was a knock on my back door. A man from the water company was outside, where did I want this meter?

Oh, happy day!

 

Cheap Rent: Man lives in storage locker for two months

Published / by Annie / 3 Comments on Cheap Rent: Man lives in storage locker for two months

Talk about cheap rent! Here’s a video about a man who actually lived in a storage locker for two months!

This is actually doable; I know a family who lived in a storage building for several months after a job loss caused them to get evicted. I wouldn’t want to do that around here when the weather was cold; my friends did this back during the summer a few years back.

Enjoy!


How to Tenderize Meat Without a Gadget

Published / by Annie / 3 Comments on How to Tenderize Meat Without a Gadget

This is one of the earlier posts that has been salvaged.  It was originally posted on September 24, 2009.

Meat tenderizer

If you have ever dealt with a tough piece of meat, you know it can be frustrating. The temptation is high to buy that hammer especially designed to tenderize that piece.

You don’t have to. In fact, you already have something in your kitchen that will tenderize that cut of meat just as well as a mallet. It’s called a plate.

Yes, the average run-of-the-mill ceramic plate. Turn it on it’s side and it becomes the perfect weapon against meat toughness!

I sprinkle my meat with a bit of tenderizer on each side before tapping it multiple times with the side of one of my plates. In the picture I use a saucer cause it’s smaller and easier for me to manage, but any type of plate or saucer will do, provided it’s solid and not plastic or paper. Then again, some of the more solid plastic plates may work as well!

Just whack on that tough piece of meat with the edge of a plate until you think it is good and tender all over. I enjoy taking out any frustrations so mine get beat up pretty bad, flipping mine over a couple of times just to make sure I’m done!

Remember whenever you think you need a new gadget – you may have something already at home that will already do the job, sometimes even better than that shiny new thingy at the store. One less thing cluttering up your drawers, and a bit more money in your pocket!

Enjoy!

How to Eat Your Christmas Tree

Published / by Annie

Okay, folks, time to recycle that tall piece of greenery you have stuck in the corner of your living room. While most of us just toss it out with the trash, did you know that you could actually eat it?

I’m serious, you really can.

I’ve known for a while that you can actually eat pine trees. In fact, you should never starve if you are stuck in a forest with pine because seriously, the trees! Eat them!

From what I understand in ages past pine trees were called the feast of kings because when kings would go out with their armies to invade other lands they allegedly relied on these trees to feed themselves and their armies even when there was meat around (I guess to supplement the meat).

Now I’m not sure about the legend but if you’re hungry and you’ve got a tree that you’re about to toss in the trash, why not try it? Can’t hurt.

Here is the link to eating pine trees: http://tacticalintelligence.net/blog/how-to-eat-a-pine-tree.htm.

And last but not least here is a link specifically aimed at teaching you how to eat that Christmas tree instead of tossing it away: http://wholefedhomestead.com/how-to-eat-your-christmas-tree/.

Enjoy!

Simple Christmas

Published / by Annie / 3 Comments on Simple Christmas

Katie and I tend to make our Holidays simple but this year we’ve went a bit lower than usual. Since money is tight Katie made some edits for the website and gave them to me as her gift. She is the one who designed the new logo, actually. Isn’t she talented? I bought her a box of hair bleach since she wants to go back to her natural blonde. Grandson is getting a coloring book, an art book, and a pack of tracing paper since he likes to draw and everyone else focuses on getting him toys.

Katie also played Secret Santa at school this year so one of her friends received a mug decorated with her favorite animal and an assortment of food treats. Some special friends and family members received Christmas cards from us since we’ve been neglectful about keeping in touch over this past year.

So that’s the bulk of our Christmas, purchased for under $30. How much did you spend?