justkimu: (FruGal)
Greetings friends and neighbors!

I've had Ms. FruGal on the shelf for some time - mostly because I was feeling very uninspired. There is soo much good information out there, and many great frugal/simple living writers. My two favorite writers (Frugal Fu and Frugal Abundance) are working on other projects... Those two ladies, out of all the other sites I've read, were the most real and down-to-earth. They didn't off up lofty ideals, or demand that you follow some crazy budget plan. They will be missed. *hugs*

With that - I'm working on cup of coffee number two. As you know, all the typos that you see were most likely added somewhere in space and time by the Typo Faeries (local chapter 1111). Sometimes my youngest will add her comments to my work, but it mostly looks like cursing (which, of course, I never do...).

Over the past few days I've asked folks if they have any questions. These will be my writing prompts over the next few weeks (as I'm working on a big mega super duper post about menu planning for people in the Real World). If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments...or wiggle over to here and fill out the poll.

And now - on with the show!

What is the cheapest way to service a car?
Great question! :)

The best way to service a car is to perform monthly checkups. Make sure your fluids are good, tires are at proper inflation and so on. A lot of hard-core frugal folks will do mechanical work on their car themselves. Unless you already have tools, or cheap/free access to tools, the initial expense of DIY car care is pretty expensive. More than likely, if your car was made within the last decade, there is an onboard computer system. Unless you know what you are doing, messing with the computer system can cause dire results.

But don't despair! :)

There are many great car mechanics out there who don't charge bazillions of dollars to keep your car in shape. Ask your car-owning friends who they go to for car repair. Do some leg work on your own as well. When you find a mechanic who feels like a good fit with your budget, ask important questions before you sign any paperwork.

Here are some examples of questions to ask:
~ If I bring my own replacement parts will you perform the labor (there is an incredible markup on parts)
~ Do you offer any discounts (yes, mechanics do offer discounts)
~ How do you handle large repairs (the sub-text here is - what happens if the repair bill is more than I have on hand)

Again, the way to keep your car in top shape, without breaking the bank, is to manage the little things before they turn into big things.

What is the best way to stay healthy if you don't have health insurance?
Another good question!

I've been asked this one quite a bit...and over the last few months this question is one of the most popular.

Here are some things that have helped us.
~ Find where your local branch of the State Health Department is located.
~ Purchase a copy of "Where There Are No Doctors."
~ Stay away from the internet when trying to make a diagnosis of what is wrong with you. Once you get a diagnosis, then you can wade through the muck and mire of medical (real and totally fake) info out there.
~ Check into state funded insurance. You will be surprised at the number of people who qualify, but never use the service.
~ Stay healthy. While this might seem like a "no-brainer," many people don't take care of themselves. Eat a healthy diet, engage in moderate exercise (walking at least 30 minutes a day), drink plenty of fluids and reduce your level of stress.
~ Be very careful when dealing with "alternative practitioners." I say this *as* an alternative practitioner. Anyone that offers you drastic measure of getting healthy (especially a "cleansing") should not be used as a healthcare expert. Returning to a healthy state when you are sick usually involves lots of rest, not putting your body through extreme conditions
~ This one will make me lose my AP street cred, but here goes... Get your vaccines. I agree that bulking up 3-5 at one time is awful. No one can take that kind of WAP! to the system. This is where your local health department branch will come in handy. They offer individual vaccines, and you are able to get the lot numbers for every that goes into your body. And, yes, vaccines are *not* always a method of prevention (i.e. recent cases of polio and pertussis in patients that have been vaccinated), but it *does* cut down on your chances.

One more thing on the vaccine topic, then I'll move on. Those who do vaccinate will sometimes blame natural/holistic parents for the rise (very, very, very small rise at that) of common child-hood illnesses (chicken pox et al). Actually, it is not the crunchy kids who are getting them, but those children that have absolutely no access to health care. They are also the children who are most at risk for any type of illness or disease due to their economic situation. Sadly, children are the growing demographic of our population without health insurance. Just an FYI for both sides of the vaccination fence.

I've got the cloth diapers, secondhand crib, and Craigslist baby listings - what else can I do to save money on baby needs?

Sounds like you are totally on your way! :) There are many great sites that offer tips on DIY baby/child care, and how you can save tons of money by making your own wipes, baby food and so on. I am not really partial to any of them, as many of them have the same advice/ideas/recipes. So let me just go from personal experience. ;)

I'm going to pass on a tip from my Mother-in-Law -- Yard Sales. Yes, as simple as it may sound, yard sales have helped us save more money than anything. A close second would be thrift stores.

Outside of food, diapers and clothes (this includes shoes) have been our biggest expense. Our youngest has issues that prevent us from using cloth diapers, so I'm always looking for coupons and good deals. With my son, clothes and shoes last for about 12 hours then go into some vortex. The older two are on the cusp of pre-teenage-hood, so clothing and shoes are a top priority these days. Always ask for discounts on items that have stains or tears. Tears can be fixed at home, and most stains will come out after being soaked in Biz overnight. Also, the stained clothing can be used during craft time, or outside play time.

Another place to save money is with toys. After four kids I've learned that rocks, sticks and empty boxes provide way more entertainment than any toy I've ever purchased. Sure, sure, toys are fun for awhile, but then they fun wears off. Our toybox is stocked with wooden blocks, a wooden train set, cars and kitchen supplies (old spice jars, un-matched plastic ware, etc.).

The only thing I buy new are shoes, socks and underclothes (with the exception of cloth diapers, which I've purchased used many times).

As easy as it is to get suckered into the baby marketing scheme, resist with all your might. A jar of Cheerios you can put in your pocket is about $2. It is much cheaper to buy the Cheerios yourself and put them in a little (reusable) container.

Also, you'll learn that all the things you think you need for childcare will end up sitting in a corner somewhere. Baby needs are simple -- love, warmth, comfort and time. :)


The entire brood is awake, so I'm off to make something for breakfast. Feel free to ask questions or comment on what I've written above.

Lots of love!

November 2012



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