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.


Updates and Thoughts

Published / by Annie

Hello everyone!

Just wanted to let you know what has been going on.

I’ve been slowly tinkering on the Shoestring Girl book (you can see my progress and help edit it here). It’s going slow but at least it is still going. Sending thanks and great big bear hugs to everyone who has helped so far with the book!

I’ve also been practicing with my fiction writing as both a reward and a break from the book. Friend and fellow author Ronnie Virdi (he is a great author, check him out!) is doing really well with his fiction works; in time I would like to add some more fiction titles to my repertoire in order to boost my income and get the stories out of my head that I’ve harbored there since I was a kid.

I’ve had a lot of trouble drafting longer works so I decided to play with fanfiction as practice. I’ve gotten good reviews and learned a lot. For me, I apparently work best without much of a draft. If I just focus on one scene at a time I do much better than I ever have; one of my current stories (split up into parts) is getting close to 60,000 words. Considering that most of my stories fizzle once I reach the 1,000 word mark, I am delighted with the results of this experiment.

For the record, the change might simply be the result of the head injury; my Shoestring Girl book I’m working on has topped 70,000 words, making it my biggest book to date. Either way, I’m delighted with the results.

Since I have been feeling better I had a very long talk with some friends and family members. I suggested that I might want to try going back to a public job in some fashion because, frankly, I’m sick and tired of being broke. I was shot down faster than a guy with a lame pickup line. Each and every one of them said that I have quite a ways to go before I’m ready to go back to work. I might not see it (being on the inside) but they all pointed out some serious communication and mobility issues that I still have. Due to their very valid points I am still off work.

Sigh. Did I say that I’m tired of being broke? I don’t mind living cheap but this constant struggle to pay for the basics (and not having enough to even cover that) is getting ridiculous!

On the bright side, my Social Security Disability claim is apparently still going, thanks to an attorney I hired but didn’t remember (I know, my memory stinks). A friend of mine who has helped several friends with their disability cases (she fought for seven years to get hers after being injured) has volunteered to help. She has known me since before the accident and has been one of the most vocal about not letting me drop the case to try to work. As she put it, I still have a lot of trouble understanding verbal conversation, especially when there are distractions, as well as trouble remembering and following instructions. She said that someone trying to train me in a new position would likely suspect that I was on drugs, despite the fact that I don’t take any. Ouch!

She also pointed out that while I am trying (via my writing) to pay the bills, that I have worked my whole life, am thus qualified for the assistance, and that said assistance would make things easier while I strive to get my writing royalties back up to a living wage and get on my feet overall.

As for my current situation, I have had to sacrifice my MagicJack because I could not afford to pay the annual fee. I am currently using the Talkatone app on my old iPad mini to make and receive phone calls as a result. It doesn’t ring in half of the time but it is better than nothing.

I’ve managed to keep the water and the Internet turned on, and while the electric bill has a balance I have yet to receive a disconnect notice. Thanks to you guys I’ve managed to keep the landlord happy but here soon I’m probably going to have to seek assistance to cover that.

We’ve got food, though, so that is a very good thing. We’re still doing laundry in buckets so we have clean clothes as well.

I am going to warn you, however. If I can’t pull a rabbit out of my hat I will have to relocate this blog to a free host if I can’t come up with the renewal fee in a couple of months. I will work to keep the website name (I believe I should be able to manage that). I’m also considering the creation of a mailing list to keep in touch with you in the event that worst comes to worst. I will keep you posted on that, so don’t worry. If you check the website and my Facebook page you will know how to find me.

That’s all I can think of right now. If you have any questions just leave them in the comments.

Take care!


Mental Peace

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on Mental Peace

This post was originally published September 26, 2009.


In our pursuit of simplicity, we will meet a lot of people who live and think a lot different than we do. These people may even try to convince us that we are wrong in wanting to pursue a simpler more peaceful existence. We may watch others doing this or that and think how silly they are to be doing this, while they are looking at us with the same disdain.

That is not peace. Nor is it simplicity. When we worry about what others do or think, we rob ourselves of energy better spent on making our own lives as peaceful as possible. We waste time better spent on us by worrying about what these folks are doing and saying.

Let’s be frank here: Who cares what they think or do? Honestly, in a hundred years, who’s gonna care what these people have done? In a hundred years, who’s going to care what YOU have done?

Since in the end it really doesn’t matter what you or anyone else does, why waste your time on it? Why not instead focus on having the most peaceful existence that YOU can have?

Plowhorses are frequently fitted with blinkers to keep their focus on the row ahead. This helps the farmer to keep the rows straight as he plows. The farmer has to do his part as well, for if he is distracted he may guide the animal in an unwanted direction. He has to pay attention to where he wants to go.

We are like that. If we are worried about what the field near us looks like, we won’t be paying enough attention to our own field, and thus our rows will be crooked.

This is true for any pursuit, but the pursuit of simplicity, frugality and minimalism concentration is very important. We tend to lose track when barraged by those who don’t understand, who don’t share the same goals as we do.

Instead of worrying about them we need to spend that time focusing on ourselves, focusing on what we want to accomplish.

The less we worry about what others want and are doing, the more peace we will have in our lives.

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!


Old Posts

Published / by Annie

Thanks to the efforts of reader JG, I am now able to go through the old posts that I sacrificed to defend this website.

I am slowly going through them and plan to put the best of the stand-alone posts up one by one, Throwback Thursday style.

As for the rest, since they are a bit like a journal, I am going to put them all together and release them as a journal of sorts. This way those who are interested can start at the beginning and read all the way through to where we are today. Please be warned that it is going to take a bit for me to do this; I want to finish up my current book project before I start.

Thanks to everyone for sticking with me!


Thank you my friend for rescuing the posts. You are wonderful!


P.S. How do you like the new website design? Katie is the one that designed not only the header image but the little icon that shows up on your tab. That girl has some serious talent!


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:

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:


Happy New Year

Published / by Annie / 6 Comments on Happy New Year

Happy New Year my friends. For my next trick I plan to rise out of the ashes of what has been a really crappy couple of years and flap like a chicken or something.

Katie and I rang in 2017 by throwing away our old calendars. I took my 2016 file folder and archived it. I was tempted to give it the round file treatment but I realized that I might need my tax records even though I’m broke.

And while I lost Princess Leia, Charlotte the spider, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and a ton of others that I loved I found out tonight that the Cubs WON the World Series for the first time in 108 years!

I was born in Chicago. That’s my team right there. Doesn’t quite make up for Leia but it’s a start.

Anyway, last but not least I now have 65,776 words written on the new Shoestring Girl book so I’m very happy with that.

So here’s hoping everyone has a great year!


You Know You’re Poor When…

Published / by Annie / 4 Comments on You Know You’re Poor When…

During Christmas I found myself surrounded by family and friends when the subject of my cheapskate ways (and thus my website) came up. One of my companions made the comment that the majority of folks really don’t know what it is like to be poor and to do crazy (and sometimes illegal) things just to get by.

Time went on and we started discussing the crazy stuff we have done and seen others do just to survive. Some of the stories were simply mind-boggling so I asked permission to create this list so that others could get a glimpse of the other side of the fence.

To make this easier (and eliminate any potential identifying markers) I asked them to finish the phrase “you know you’re poor when…”

Here is what they came up with.

These items are in no particular order. For the record, some of these things are harsh and dark, but others are simply hilarious. I have done some of these things personally; as for the others, the only requirement was that it had to be something that they had either done personally or had actually seen done.

I make no judgment about the stories shared to me that night and I trust that you won’t either.


1. You know you’re poor when dumpster diving is an acceptable sport.

2. You know you’re poor when you never lock your door because you have absolutely nothing to steal.

3. You know you’re poor when $5 on the Dollar Menu is all you have to feed your entire family.

4. You know you’re poor when the neighbor’s fights are your version of reality TV.

5. You know you’re poor when you know how to use a box of Sudafed to pay your electric bill.

6. You know you’re poor when your grandmother celebrates every time she refills her Percocet prescription.

7. You know you’re poor when your whole neighborhood shares the cable bill.

8. You know you’re poor when you learn how to hack just so you can steal your neighbor’s internet.

9. You know you’re poor when sugar daddies are a viable source of income.

10. You know you’re poor when you envy your local drug dealers.

11. You know you’re poor when all of your tires are donut spares.

12. You know you’re poor when all of the DVDs you own are bootlegged.

13. You know you’re poor when you close your car windows with duct tape.

14. You know you’re poor when you really do live by the motto “duct tape fixes everything.”

15. You know you’re poor when all of your presents are purchased on an EBT card.

16. You know you’re poor when the most successful member of your family is a drug dealer.

17. You know you’re poor when you visit the website of your local jail to find out where your friends are.

18. You know you’re poor when you are more afraid of the cops than the dope fiends.

19. You know you’re poor when you look at the dope fiends as a source of cheap merchandise.

20. You know you’re poor when “reduce, reuse, recycle” also includes cigarette butts you pick up off the street.

21. You know you’re poor when you pray for snow so the landlord won’t come knocking.

22. You know you’re poor when a medical card means you can finally get a phone.

23. You know you’re poor when you catch a rat in the kitchen so your kids can have a pet.

24. You know you’re poor when you consider the stuff set outside after an eviction to be a free yard sale.

25. You know you’re poor when a happy meal is whatever you can buy with the change in your couch cushions.

26. You know you’re poor when you dig for change just to make it home.

27. You know you’re poor when you look at a fellow smoker and ask to share the wealth.

28. You know you’re poor when you can’t afford to eat at the restaurant you work at.

29. You know you’re poor when you steal ketchup packets so that you can make spaghetti for your kids.

30. You know you’re poor when you gather up extra napkins after you run out of bathroom tissue.

31. You know you’re poor when you call up your brother and ask him to reconnect your water meter.

32. You know you’re poor when you know how to make a pack of hot dogs feed your kids for a week.

33. You know you’re poor when you use shampoo and dishwashing liquid to clean your laundry.

34. You know you’re poor when you call your dog your official bed warmer.

35. You know you’re poor when the creek is your swimming pool.

36. You know you’re poor when you carry a fishing pole to hide the fact that you live by the river.

37. You know you’re poor when your phone is over 10 years old and you are still using it.

38. You know you’re poor when the pawn shop is on speed dial.

39. You know you’re poor when you give the scissors to your toddler and ask her for a haircut.

40. You know you’re poor when you use kool-aid to color your hair.

41. You know you’re poor when it takes five people to buy one 40-oz.

42. You know you’re poor when your second job is a phone sex operator.

43. You know you’re poor when you’re afraid to own upholstered furniture because you are so afraid of bedbugs and fleas.

44. You know you’re poor when 13 people live in a one-bedroom house.

45. You know you’re poor when the cockroaches move next door.

46. You know you’re poor when you have to take stuff back to the store just so you can buy your kids a birthday cake.

47. You know you’re poor when you have to use your dirty socks for feminine pads.

48. You know you’re poor when you are banned from getting money from the pop machines.

49. You know you’re poor when you have to pass around a 2-liter bottle because you’ve had to sell all of your glasses.

50. You know you’re poor when you go to Ruler Foods and ask to put away carts just so you can collect the quarter.

51. You know you’re poor when you exchange food stamps for cash to pay the water bill.

52. You know you’re poor when you grow your nerve medicine in the back yard.

53. You know you’re poor when you have to wipe your butt with a coffee filter.

54. You know you’re poor when you know just how far 50 cents worth of gas will take you.

55. You know you’re poor when you stick your own hair in your food to get a free meal.

56. You know you’re poor when a seafood dinner is what you’ve managed to catch in the creek.

57. You know you’re poor when you try to claim your pets as dependents.

58. You know you’re poor when you start smoking just so you can get a break at work.

59. You know you’re poor when you sell your dirty panties for gas money.

60. You know you’re poor when you raid the local tobacco field every time you run out of cigarettes.

61. You know you’re poor when you pimp out your daughters just to get the finder’s fee.

62. You know you’re poor when you count on your food stamps just to pay your bills.

63. You know you’re poor when you know exactly how long it takes for a check to hit your bank.

64. You know you’re poor when you know how to use the memo field on your checks to escape a debt.

65. You know you’re poor when you consider the weeds in your yard to be a food source.

66. You know you’re poor when you know how to make a tampon.

67. You know you’re poor when you know how to curl your hair using bathroom tissue.

68. You know you’re poor when there’s a tree in your town that everyone calls “the pooping bush.”

69. You know you’re poor when you eat dog or cat food on crackers.

70. You know you’re poor when you eat Kibbles and Bits as a breakfast cereal.

71. You know you’re poor when you’re still breast feeding your six-year-old because you can’t afford to feed them.

72. You know you’re poor when you smoke a cigarette every time you are hungry.

73. You know you’re poor when you drink a cup of hot water every time you are hungry and tell yourself that it is soup.

74. You know you’re poor when you decide to keep drinking because there is no food in the house.

75. You know you’re poor when everyone you know works at McDonald’s.

76. You know you’re poor when your job doesn’t cover your medical expenses.

77. You know you’re poor when you have to sell your dog to pay for dinner.

78. You know you’re poor when your commode sits at a 90-degree angle.

79. You know you’re poor when you have to reuse your bathroom tissue.

80. You know you’re poor when you stick stuff in empty soft drink cans just to increase the weight.

81. You know you’re poor when your cat adopts the neighbor because she’s hungry.

82. You know you’re poor when people judge you because your parents bought you an iPhone.

83. You know you’re poor when people judge you for wearing nice clothes even though you bought them at a thrift shop.

84. You know you’re poor when you are grateful that the wealthier members of your family purchase your children or grandchildren expensive toys.


Do you have anything to add to this list? Please share your stories in the comments below.


Sign of the times

Published / by Annie / 7 Comments on Sign of the times

While Katie and I forgo decorating our home to celebrate the holidays we still enjoy walking around our little neighborhood to examine the festive atmosphere. We may live in the ‘hood but several of our compatriots enjoy going all out for the season.

I wasn’t up for last year but since I’m feeling a bit better we resumed our little tradition this Christmas Eve. We anxiously awaited dusk to arrive, grabbed our coats, and started walking.

Our first stop was a pair of houses just a couple of blocks away. The folks who live there team up to create a fabulous display complete with music and the occasional light show so I was excited to be able to witness their annual offering.

As we approached I noticed that the lights weren’t on. “That’s odd, “ I commented to Katie. “They’re usually lit by this hour.” Disappointed, we continued our walk expecting them to be alight by the time we came back through.

The second house we approached was just as dark as the first. So was the third, the fourth, and so on. Slowly we realized something sad.

Only two houses in our little hood had even bothered to decorate. Even the brightest houses were dark and what displays we saw were muted.

It is a sad time when nobody decorates for Christmas, not even the ones who savor the season.

In my experience, people in this area don’t decorate when money is tight because they are afraid of the electric bill. It is a sign that jobs have been lost, income decreased, and fear prevails.

I wonder what next year will hold.

Were there any changes in how your neighborhood celebrated Christmas this year? Did you do more or less this year? Why? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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?

Shingles Made of Recycled Tires

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on Shingles Made of Recycled Tires

I recently found a web page where a creative frugalista used old race care tires instead of shingles on a roof and my inner cheapskate fell in love.

I’m not exactly sure where you would get old race car tires but I still wanted to share this. Some of you might be able to figure out a way to use other tires for this as well, and if you do, please share how you do it in the comments below.

Anyway, click on the link here to read all about it and help share the love by sharing this post if you like it.


Second Chances

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on Second Chances

It dawned on me this morning that I have been blogging since early 2009. It started as an experiment after I got laid off because my friends told me that blogging was a BIG THING just to pass the time.

Long story short, I realized that I deleted almost eight years of my life just to defeat some hackers and protect my friends.

That is terrifying.

The worst part here is that I’ve got a backup of most of it. I could stick those back up if I could figure out how.

But you know what? I can either look at this as a loss or accept it for the second chance that it is. I now have the opportunity to completely start from scratch without the burden of my past.

It’s not really different from the time I tossed the things that would fit in my old van and moved across the state to start over. The only difference is that I lost my history instead of physical items.

When was the last time you started from scratch? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Last Chance for FREE Books!

Published / by Annie / 1 Comment on Last Chance for FREE Books!

Okay guys, before the latest round of excitement I told you how to get a bunch of great books for absolutely FREE.

Well, that deal is almost over.

Tonight it all ends. All you have to do to get this wonderful collection of books and courses revolving the eco-sustainable lifestyle, including a FREE copy of my book The Minimalist Cleaning Method is to click this link, type in your email address, and wait for them to send you a link to the download page.

Grab it while you can.

Pissed off and starting over

Published / by Annie / 4 Comments on Pissed off and starting over

I just had a bit of a battle here. Somehow hackers managed to get back in and contaminated a bunch of my files.

Rather than risk endangering you I deleted it all. It just wasn’t worth it. You are much more important than this stupid page.

As a result I am going to have to ask you to resubscribe. I’m sorry, but it was the only way to make sure you were kept safe from the hackers.

Peace, Annie