March 30, 2011

Tightwad Gazette I Refresher - Day 27 - March 30

Tonight my husband asked me why I was washing out the milk jug with soap and water and letting it dry in the dish drainer. I told him that “I have an idea on how to reuse it.” He said a slow, “okay.” It does seem that everyday I think about what I have just read in the Tightwad Gazette and I find a way to implement something new into my life. Being a tightwad or living frugally (sounds prettier) to me means that you are trying to become less dependent on buying stuff and you are becoming more independent or self sufficient.

Just think about it. Why go out and buy containers to store stuff in, when you probably have something you can use around the house. One of the greatest storage items are pails that ice cream comes in. I love storing things such as popcorn and dry beans in spaghetti sauce glass jars.

This month I am becoming more aware that although I have been living frugally, I still have a ways to go. Getting my Amy D. fix each day is working.

Let’s get to today’s reading of page 262 through page 269.  I have underlined my comments.


In the book April drew what her refrigerator looks like. The book is filled with her drawings and sketches so this book isn’t just words, but there are sketches on nearly every page.

Here are the contents of the Tightwad Refrigerator.
1. Three reused apple juice jugs containing grape juice from concentrate, dry milk that has been mixed and saved vegetable broth for use in soups.

2. Reused margarine tubs containing leftovers.

3. A month’s supply of eggs.

4. Homemade refrigerator dough.

5. A reused baggie of thawing pumpkin puree.

6. Cheap fruit like bagged apples and oranges .

7. Homemade salad dressing and BBQ sauce in reused bottles.

8. An Apple with one bite missing.

9. Cheap veggies like carrots, celery, and cabbage.

10. Stacks of bulk purchased sale stick margarine.

11. A child’s glass of juice with 1/2 inch remaining.

12. Bulk purchased yeast costing a fraction of the type sold by the packets.

13. Leftover corn chowder for husband’s lunch at work.

14. Bottle of homemade pancake syrup with 1/8 inch remaining.

15. Canning jars of green beans, pickles, spaghetti sauce, etc.


This recipe equals 20 store packets at 25% of the price.

4 cups flour
4 cups cracker meal (or ground inexpensive crackers)
4 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
3 Tablespoons paprika
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix well and store indefinitely in the refrigerator in a covered container.

The first time I made this, I increased the garlic powder and the onion powder as I felt it needed more flavor. Even so it is still cheap as I buy the 5th Season brand of spices at Wal-mart for only 50 cents.


Amy gives a detailed description of how she patches a pair of jeans. Basically what she does is that when there is a whole in a knee, she rips out the seams on either side of the knee to about 4 inches, or 2 inches above the tear and 2 inches below the tear. She makes a new patch out of denim fabric that matches the jeans (or from an old pair of jeans). To do this she cuts out a patch that is wider than the pant leg and is 5 inches high. Sew the top and bottom edge of the patch under 1/2 inch and then topstitch the patch over the tear. Then tuck the edges of the patch into the seams of the jeans and topstitch to close the seam.

When my oldest son was young, he wore sweat pants all the time. But, as little boys do, they tend to crawl around and fall down, so it wasn’t long before there would be a hole in the knee. I would take another pair of sweat pants in the same color that was also in bad shape and I would cut out a square of fabric that was twice as large as the knees (I would patch both knees so they matched). Then I would fold this fabric over and stitch it on 2 of the three open sides. On the third side I would stitch a seam half way and then turn the patch inside out. I would then pin it to the knee and I would topstitch this to the knee, tucking under the open seam as I sewed. Then I would sew an ‘X’ across the patch for added strength.

The result was a double patched knee with an X that looked almost quilted. Some mothers at his pre-school wanted to know where I got his “reinforced knee” sweatpants. These patched knee pants worked so well, that he outgrew them before they wore out.


How do you have a good yard sale? Think about all the yard sales you have been to and the ones that you have disliked and do not repeat their mistakes.

1. Hold a yard sale in a populated area and an area where yard sales flourish. If you live in a hard to find place, see if you can have your sale at a friend’s house that is located in a more populated area.

2. The first sunny spring weekend is your best bet for a great time for a yard sale.

3. An ad will not be needed if you have your sale in a great location. You can post signs around and then if it rains and you want to cancel, you can just go out and take down the signs.

4. Make your signs noticeable. Use red lettering and balloons to get the attention of a possible consumer.

5. Placement of your signs is critical. Place on all the intersections near your home as far as the main road.

6. Begin gathering stuff early. Have a designated carton to put your yard sale items in it throughout the year. If your quantity of items seems lean, buddy up with a friend.

7. No one likes to see knick knacks and huge piles of clothing. Organize these items. Put the big items out front for people to see as they drive by. Hang up as much of the clothing as possible and get it organized. Lay out children’s clothing according to size.

8. When considering pricing, remember that your primary objective is to get rid of stuff, and not make money. Generally sell things for 10% to 50% of a comparable new item.

9. Expect to negotiate. Hold firm if you think the item is already cheap enough.

I know people who buy stuff at yard sales and then fix it up and sell it on e-bay.


Actually this article tells the value of basic math problems. Amy said that she is a mathematical midget versus her husband who is a math whiz. She uses common examples of why you need to be able to do math problems in your head. One example was comparing the prices of cereal to see which is cheaper by the ounce. Well, unfortunately or fortunately, we have cell phones that also have calculators built in. I pull out my cell phone all the time and use the calculator on it to do price comparison.


Amy had several readers send her recipes for baby wipes made with paper towels and a solution of baby oil and baby shampoo. Amy didn’t like the idea of throwing all those paper towels away so she used the old fashioned version - wash cloths designated for baby’s bottom. Also the commercial baby wipes have alcohol, fragrances and other things that aren’t good for baby’s skin.

I purchased a 12 pack of white wash cloths for this purpose. I would wet the wash cloth and then I would wipe it across a bar of ivory soap. Then with this in hand I would pick up the baby, head to the changing table and wipe the baby’s bottom with the wash cloth. After I had changed the diaper, I would toss the wash cloth and diaper into the diaper pail. I washed a load of these every day. Again, we had a tight budget and it was either buy diapers and baby wipes or buy groceries. We only had $37.50 per week to feed us (back in 1986) so I couldn’t afford the luxury of diapers and wipes.

Amy noted that many daycare centers require baby wipes so you can always try the paper towel recipe as follows:

1 roll of Bounty paper towels
2 1/4 cups water
2 Tablespoons baby shampoo or baby bath
1 Tablespoon baby oil

Cut the roll of paper towels in half and remove the cardboard center. Mix the water, shampoo or baby bath and oil in a plastic container. Place half a roll in a container (perhaps an old baby wipe container), put the lid on and turn upside down to let the towels thoroughly soak. When ready to use, pull the towels from the center of the roll.

Tomorrow we will look at page 270 through page 277. Part of the discussion will include how to organize clothing that has been stored away for later use, Amy’s stain recipe for getting out a multitude of laundry stains and looking at electrical usage in the home.


HDNelson said...

Well now that I've got a nearly empty milk jug here myself - I'm wondering what you're planning on doing with yours...

Martha said...


I use several different kinds of paint brushes when I am painting - all different sizes from 1/4 inch up to a normal paint brush size. I am going to cut out 1 side so that I can keep my paint brushes in this carton.

Then, the next one I am going to do some funky faux painting and I am going to paint it up with cute designs and such, and hang it from the side tree, outside the window of our den, and see if any birds are willing to feed from it.

Just thought it would be a fun little painting design.

I am also going to be saving a few more as I think they may come in handy this summer when I am working out in the yard a lot.

Anonymous said...

I remember using the washcloths for baby wipes also. Now I have passed this on to my nieces who do not have alot of spare money and they are doing the same thing. In fact I spent a weekend a few weeks ago cutting down old towels, flannel sheets and unusable sweats, basted the sides and the each wound up with more than 40 wipes a piece that they were thrilled with