May 02, 2011

Tightwad Gazette II - Day 16 - May 2nd

What do tulips have to do with today's reading from the Tightwad Gazette II?  Nothing, other than I love tulips and mine are blooming.  There is a town north of us, Pella, and it is a Dutch community.  They will be having their tulip festival soon and I always feel that warm weather is finally here when the tulip festival rolls around.  But enough of tulips.

Here are a few helpful tidbits of information today from Amy Dacyczyn.

I really enjoyed her article on “Calculating payback time.” Many times I have looked at a gadget and thought it was kind of neat – such as a tomato slicer, but then I think about how often I will use it and how much space it will take in my kitchen drawer as compared to a knife that is already in my drawer. I would rather use a knife than to have another gadget taking up space.

Let’s get to today’s reading.


Amy and her husband got a “free for the taking” remnant of a utility trailer. It had been a pop up camper in its former life and then had been stripped down to a utility trailer. Utility does not really describe it as it had been abandoned to the elements for a long time. But Amy’s husband saw possibilities, so they picked up the trailer. Her husband spent $335 on new wheels, pressure treated lumber, hardware, wiring and lights.

They needed a trailer for moving their household belongings 40 miles to their newly purchased farm house. Amy and her husband would be moving everything on weekends. They checked into renting a trailer and it would cost $15 per use. So, they used their newly refurbished trailer and they immediately recouped $150 from what her husband had spent on parts.

Over the years they have used the trailer over and over and have also used if to barter when someone needed the use of the trailer.

To figure out the payback on an item, you divide the cost of the item by the savings per use to determine how many times you would have to use something to pay back the cost.

I purchased hair clippers for $30 in September 2009. A haircut for my husband and for my son cost $15 each. In the first month that I used those clippers I recouped their cost. I have saved money on haircuts ever since then. Along with the savings my husband enjoys the convenience of never having to make an appointment.

When figuring payback time, consider the following.

1. Factor in the life expectancy of the item you plan to buy.

2. Consider how long you will need the item.

3. Generally, put your money in items that have the quickest payback time first.

4. If a new product comes on the market that might save you money in the future, wait to buy it: The price may drop dramatically.

5. Consider the 90/10 rule. Sometimes for 10 percent of the money you can buy a tool that will do 90 percent of the job.

6. With great reluctance, Amy suggests you factor in time savings. Some people use time saving as an excuse for buying an expensive gadget.


As you may know TVP stands for Texturized Vegetable Protein and it was designed as a substitute for meat. It is sometimes referred to as “textured soy flour.” TVP comes in dry form in three sizes: flakes, granules and hunks. Before cooking it in any form you need to reconstitute it by adding warm water.

It has very little flavor of its own and it has a texture that is very difficult to distinguish from ground meats. If you don’t want it alone in a dish, you can add it to a cheaper hamburger. Combine half 73% hamburger with half TVP to make a full pound of lean “meat.”

Besides being healthy, it is also cheaper. TVP is a good source of fiber and protein. It isn’t a chemically made product as it is a by product of processing soybean oil.

TVP can be found in health food stores.

Tomorrow we will look at pages 139 through 146.


Anonymous said...

I am one of those weirdos who like TVP! I have hoped to get sausage and bacon flavored, but the pocketbook refuses to agree. I have made TVP "MREs" with tiny pasta, tomato powder and italian seasonings for a sort of bug out meal. It needs only boiling water, not long cooking. I can only imagine the joys of TVP sausage and gravy!

Granny said...

A great post. I've never tried TVP but am going to buy some at the health food store. I'll also check to see how long it can be safely stored.