Frugal Librarian #37: Take the plunge

If you’re not French-pressing, you’re shortchanging yourself.

A recent convert, and not for lack of trying from others, I’ve rationalized that it is more than win-win.  Four wins.  That’s right, a quaternary level of winning.  Insert hackneyed, two months’ stale Charlie Sheen reference here if you’re that person, followed by a sound life-examination.

1)It’s green. No filters showing up in the landfill. And after you’re done with it, swish the grounds around in some water and dump them onto a potted plant or garden bed of your choice. Apparently, plants love the stuff and worms will turn rock hard clay into aerated loam because you discarded your morning joe bilge there.

2)You use less coffee.  I reckon up to a third less.  There are a lot of oils and nuanced flavors that come through that you weren’t getting before. So your coffee dollar goes further. Frugal readers know that is one greenback that isn’t going near as far as it used to in the global marketplace.

3)You get more caffeine. There are scientific types that take this stuff very seriously…to a lab coat level.  They’ve determined optimum extraction occurs somewhere between 190 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit.  Your Mr. Coffee percolator is at best about forty degrees shy of that mark.  If you slug it out of a wide-brimmed soup cup like I do, cool down time is not an issue.

4)You get a whole bunch of counter space back. Think of all the cool stuff you could put there instead!

Yeah, so you’ve got to learn how to boil a small amount of water and you can’t set a wake-up timer on it.  Buck up. You get to feel like a chemistry major without floating a D grade-point average.  Also, you’ll have to start looking at the microwave to see if you’re running late. It’s worth it.

Take a look at the Budget!


It is that time of year when newspapers and discussions of full of budgets, budgets, budgets! Want to look them over? Here are the links to the governmental recommended budgets currently being discussed and voted on by our elected representatives:

United States of America
Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2012
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget

State of Iowa
Summary of FY2010 and FY2013 Budget and Governor’s Recommendations
http://www.legis.iowa.gov/DOCS/lsaReports/BudgetAnalysis/LAGAR_Summary_Final.pdf

Scott County of Iowa
Scott County, IA Budget & Financials for 2012
http://www.scottcountyiowa.com/administration/budget.php?fyear=FY12

City of Davenport
City Administrator of Davenport’s Recommended Budget FY2012
Print copies available for viewing at all three Davenport Public Library Locations

Need contact information for your local governmental officials? Call, email or text the Davenport Public Library Reference Department:

Phone: (563)326-7832
Text: Start a text message with DPLKNOWS and send it to 66746.
Email: reference@davenportlibrary.com

or In-person: the reference desk is staffed during all library hours

Frugal Librarian #32: Black November 1st

Awww, my stomach. Just rehearsing. But normally that’s the morning-after lament of the serially psychotic that go after doorbuster sales. In case you’ve been a devotee of online bargains using great portals like fatwallet.com, you’ll notice there was a steep uptick in the amount of great posted deals starting a couple weeks ago. The reason for this being, retailers depend heavily on this time of year to bring their ledgers into the black and have a strong 4th quarter. They need more time. As far as they’re concerned, it started the day after Halloween.

Here is an excellent write-up the Argus did, hitting all of the key points with a few tips.

So if they’re bumping Black Friday up, does that mean we can engorge our stomachs a month early as well?

Frugal Librarian #32: If the shoe fits?

Maybe its the element of risk or the fear of commitment, but I’m still skittish about buying shoes online.

There is definitely a larger selection and you can sometimes save a few dollars — especially now as they blow out old stock in the fall to make way for new styles.  As far as getting a gander at them, all the online merchants seem to have them mandatorily photographed from a half dozen angles.   But what if the dang things make you feel like one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters when they arrive by mail?

Major player Zappos tries to assuage that fear by offering free and unlimited returns.  You’re not supposed to notice that they build about 5 bucks back into the item cost.

Take this one for example. Looks like something I could abuse, cover in winter rock salt and be too lazy to polish for the next 4-5 years.   But what’s a Stonefly Milano?

After straw polling my peers, I’ve been told an excellent way is to know how a certain brand fits and count on that manufacturer’s internal controls to be consistent.    In other words, once a size 11 New Balance, always a size 11 New Balance.  In that event, it might not be a bad idea to go to a shoe store with a notepad and number two pencil to build an extensive brand dossier for your feet.

Comment with your shoe tips and favorite merchants, as well as any woeful tales of goofing on a size and getting stuck with $6.95 return shipping each way.  Hey, sometimes you roll the dice and lose.  That’s life.

All the Live Long Day

With the last years’ worth of talk about passenger rail between here and Chicago, there is a vivid battle on our local papers’ comment pages between the “that would be nice” faction and the “they’re just trying to get re-elected, where will the money come from?” team.

Before taking a side, one might wish to peruse this fresh book by James McCommons, Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service.

This one isn’t gathering dust on our shelf.  People are using it no doubt to bolster their arguments.  That being said, how cool would it be for Cubs fans and the 75% of the University of Iowa students from Chicagoland? Or, nationally, anyone spending two hours riding the bus in Los Angeles for lack of infrastructure?

Frugal Librarian #20: Frozen Credit

Another tip from the new book by NPR personality Chris Farrell, New Frugality… freeze your credit card.  No, not do a security freeze to prevent people from accessing your credit file, another great idea.

He means take the card out of your wallet or purse and put it in a container full of water.  Then give it the ol’ Han Solo treatment in your Frigidaire.

“Put the credit card away when you’re eliminating debt.  One technique is to store the card in the freezer.  That’s right, place the credit card in a container of water and stick it in the freezer.  You have to wait for it to thaw before you can use it again.  It gives you the time to think whether you really want to use it.  Yes, the card will work once it’s thawed.”

Frugal Librarian #19: Tips from “Bud”

The next few Frugal Librarian blog posts are ideas gathered from Chris Farrell’s new book, The New Frugality.  Farrell  is the host of the public radio program Marketplace Money.

Bud Hebeler is a retired aerospace engineer from Boeing that founded the conservative financial advice website analyzenow.com. Below are some of his top savings tips:

-Arrange for automatic savings deposits from your paychecks
-Sell things you don’t really need on the Net or elsewhere
-Downsize your home or rent. Renting provides mobility to get jobs elsewhere in the country
-Grow your own vegetables
-Buy items with cash
-Rule out cars, cell phones, or iPods for children—or even for yourselves
-Make do with old computers, and software. Use no downloads requiring payments
-Try to get lower-cost TV, Internet, and telephone services
-Turn down the thermostat and wear sweaters

Frugal Librarian #16: H1N1 sauce

frugallibrarianI wouldn’t recommend slathering pork spare ribs with it, but a hasty palm swab might be in order down for the next few months any time you shake hands, touch doorknobs/railings, or handle money.

But why pay “the man” a hefty price for the brand name Purel?   I found this outstanding recipe for DIY sanitizer!  I mean, who doesn’t have a whole bunch of grain alcohol lying around?

“Why would you want to make your own hand sanitizer when you can pick up a bottle in most stores? Many reasons: It could be cheaper to make in bulk, you get to control the ingredients (which is great for those with allergy issues), and you have the peculiar right to brag about yet another thing you made yourself.
You can earn those eco-friendly DIYer brag rights with instructions from Eco-centric blog, EcoSalon:
In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup each of pure aloe vera gel and grain alcohol with 5 drops of tea tree essential oil. To make it smell less pungent, add 5 drops of your favorite fragrance oil. Using a funnel, pour this blend into a bottle small enough to stash in your purse. (Rinse out an empty tube of makeup or lotion to make use of waste.)”

Might not hurt  to get that flu shot, either.  But if you’re one of those folks that don’t believe in vaccinations, raid grandpa’s still and put some uh that thar Bed Bathtub n’ Beyonder stuff in it.

Frugal Librarian #15: Incredible Bulk

frugallibrarianThis is not a health blog.  Check here for the endless amounts of oatmeal benefits.

It’s funny how I used to view A.M. food as competition for coffee space.  Now I wouldn’t know what to do without a trough of it on the passenger side floormat.

Steel cut oats have a whole slew of advantages, the most important of which, they taste absolutely nothing like the stuff that comes in the cardboard tube with the old man on it. They’re actually…awesome.

Here’s the frugal part.  If you’re willing to pay what everyone else forks over, the lowest you’ll find in town is $3.20 a pound for a 24 oz. bag of Bob’s Red Mill.  This is America, and middle America at that.  We should be able to buy it by slow-moving-vehicle.  After much Internet scouring,  I feel foolish to admit the final stop was the QC’s own Greatest Grains store.  For maximum chagrin, say the business name slower.

If you’re willing to buy them in silo-sized amounts, they knock the already attractive $1.49 down to $1.19 per pound.  Use that savings to find yourself some big tupperware containers.  With 25 pounds of “organic” horse feed in your closet, you’ll need it.