April
17 - 2009

Friday Wrap-up: Inservice Edition

Kids are out of school again today! I guess it’s just a warm-up for summer vacation.

As always, there are some great articles out there on the Web.

Make extra money (or tide yourself over during unemployment)

The Simple Dollar published a list of 50 side businesses you can start yourself. Read through the comments for caveats and cautions from readers, as well as a few additional ideas.

Something I don’t see mentioned in the post or in the comments is that you need to keep track of income and expenses for tax purposes. Anything you do for income is fair game from the IRS. Vist the IRS site for small businesses to get started.

What socking away windfalls can do for you

If you follow Get Rich Slowly, you might know that he’s been saving for a few years to buy himself a Mini Cooper. Apparently, he’s now cruising Oregon in his dream car. Find out how in his post “My Mini and the Power of Saving.”

Use paper towel rolls to protect knives

If you use quality knives, hopefully you know not to put them in the dishwasher (the heat can damage the metal), not to use them on a metal or glass surface (you’ll dull them fast), to wipe them dry after using (especially carbon steel, which will rust), and not to throw them haphazardly into a draw (you can chip the blade). But where should you store them? This post suggests squashing a paper towel core to make a knife holder. Then they can go safely in a drawer (safe for you and safe for the blade).

The pitter-patter of (pricey) little feet

Don’t lose your frugal cool just because you have children. This post from the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op provides a laundry list of ways to live inexpensively even with little ones in tow.  My own top tips would include these:

  1. Library, library, library. Free books to learn about whatever your child’s current craze may be, free movies and a climate-controlled place to spend time year-round, not to mention the people watching and opportunities to run into friends.
  2. Memberships. If you live in a city or town with a zoo or museum that you frequent, join. At our city’s zoo, a family of four would pay $38 to visit once. An annual membership costs $80, and it’s tax-deductible (plus you’re supporting an institution that benefits your community). If you will visit more than twice during the year, it’s more than paid for itself. And as someone pointed out when my daughter was a baby, that way, you can visit and not fret if an exploding temper (or exploding diaper) sends you home after 15 minutes.
  3. Remember kids are kids. Most children revel in the chance to go to the park with a parent. Invest in a few things — a sled, a used pair of roller skates — and you can have fun together all year. Make popsicles together. Or put a kid in playclothes and send them out with some mud. In my case, I grin and bear it when my daughter spreads bits of string and yarn all over the house — those “tools” become jumps for her, the dogs and toys; ziplines; clothing; craft projects and so much more. That’s why, in November, the Toy Hall of Fame inducted a very special, cheap and natural toy: The stick. In fact, on Friday, my daughter’s friend found a good one and said she was bringing it to our house, because Mlle. Cheap “always likes to play with a stick.”

Re-use empty laundry detergent jugs

Repurposeful strikes again with not one but 10 ways to re-use an empty detergent jug. There are some great ideas here — in addition to the oldie-but-goodie of simply filling it with homemade detergent.

What happens AFTER you recycle?

Just this week, I was stashing my recyclables in their various locations around the house (waxed-paper cartons in a bag in the laundry room; cardboard and glass in my municipal recycling bin; styrofoam tray in a bag in my office closet) when I thought, “What about AFTER these are recycled? How can I actually buy recycled materials?” I haven’t found all the answers, but on Focus Organic this week, a guest post presents some information about buying recycled office materials.

Certainly, buying recycled is a challenge. At my local big-box store recently, I was pleased to see that they now offer paper padding for shipping, but their eco-best printer paper was 30 percent post-consumer content, and the only recycled-content file folders they carried were hanging file folders, which I didn’t need.

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