fixing problems http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/13349/all en-US 20 Great Frugal Skills — and How to Get Them http://www.wisebread.com/20-great-frugal-skills-and-how-to-get-them <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/20-great-frugal-skills-and-how-to-get-them" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/changing_a_tire.jpg" alt="Man changing a tire" title="Man changing a tire" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="160" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Independence is at the heart of frugality. The more that you can do for yourself, the less you have to pay others to do those things for you. But to be independent, you need skills.</p> <p>Then 20 skills below can all help you become more independent and frugal. Some of them might come naturally, and some of them might be frustrating &mdash; but they're all beneficial. And you don't need to develop full mastery to get the benefits; with many of these skills, just a little knowledge can provide a lot of help. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-lifesaving-skills-everyone-should-know">10 Lifesaving Skills Everyone&nbsp;Should Know</a>)</p> <h2>1. Gardening</h2> <p>Growing your own food can be a great way to get fresh produce for very, very cheap &mdash; as long as you know how to keep your plants from dying. I recommend that &quot;budding&quot; gardeners (I'm sorry, bad joke, I know) start with fresh herbs in containers. They can be grown inside or out, and since fresh herbs tend to be expensive at the grocery store, these plants offer a lot of value for a minimum of work. While every type of plant is different, having a couple of small container herbs will also help you get used to plants' needs &mdash; how much sun, when to water them, and so on.</p> <p>If you're interested in starting a bigger garden, make sure to do your research before diving in &mdash; the last thing you want to do is pick a plant that will immediately wither in your or-so-sunny yard or never truly thrive in your moderate climate. Get Rich&nbsp;Slowly has a great post on <a href="http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2009/01/11/7-tips-for-starting-your-own-vegetable-garden/">starting your first garden</a>, and if you're interested in learning more about what grows well in your region, contact your local <a href="http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/">Cooperative Extension</a> office.</p> <h2>2. Cooking</h2> <p>Always dining out is one of the most budget-busting (and possibly health-busting) things you can do. Thankfully, while cooking might seem daunting, it doesn't have to take a lot of time or effort. When&nbsp;I first started cooking, I focused a lot on one-pot meals. The first &quot;recipe&quot; I cooked for myself regularly was simply this &mdash; mix drained canned kidney beans, thawed frozen spinach, and shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese in the microwave or in a pot on the stovetop. When the cheese is melted, spoon the filling into a tortilla, wrap it up, and eat. It's fast, it's tasty, and it's pretty healthy &mdash; and there are a lot of recipes out there like that.</p> <p>Learning how to cook has become so much easier with the Internet, too. You can search for recipes for your favorite foods, and if you don't know how to do something the recipe calls for (&quot;What the heck is a braise?&quot;), you can search for a how-to video. And there are great overviews on how to start cooking, too. Mark Bittman, the king of delicious, healthy, and simple cooking, did a Q&amp;A about <a href="http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/lessons-in-home-cooking/">cooking at home</a> that addresses several aspects of getting started. I also recommend this roundup post from The Kitchn that collects several <a href="http://www.thekitchn.com/kitchen-basics-15-ways-to-star-135498">cooking basics</a>, from cooking brown rice to roasting a chicken.</p> <p>Also, if you have a friend who cooks regularly, offer to buy ingredients in exchange for preparing dinner together. You get to hang out with a friend <em>and</em> get a great cooking lesson.</p> <h2>3. Baking</h2> <p>I put cooking and baking separately because I find that people often think of them as two separate skills; I've talked to a lot of people who say &quot;I'm a better cook than a baker,&quot; and vice versa.</p> <p>A lot of people get intimidated by baking because it seems less forgiving. Amounts need to be more exact. There are mysterious chemical processes afoot.</p> <p>The truth is that baking, like cooking, can be very simple. Take <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/beer-bread-i/">beer bread</a> for example. It requires three ingredients &mdash; beer, flour, and a little bit of sugar. You put it in a greased pan in an oven, and you get bread.</p> <p>Yeast bread does get a little more complicated, but this <a href="http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2007/11/04/homemade-bread-cheap-delicious-healthy-and-easier-than-you-think/">homemade bread tutorial</a> from The Simple Dollar talks you through the steps.</p> <p>As for sweets, again &mdash; start simple. Brownies are one of the most basic dessert recipes you can bake. Try this <a href="http://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipes/rachael-ray-magazine-recipe-search/dessert-recipes/the-best-basic-brownies">brownie recipe</a> from&nbsp;Rachel Ray.</p> <p>Whether you're cooking or baking, follow the recipe. There's time for substitutions later once you get more comfortable with cooking.</p> <h2>4. Canning/Preserving</h2> <p>Buying (or growing) produce in bulk when it's cheap and in-season makes frugal sense &mdash; if you're able to preserve it for later. Canning can be intimidating &mdash; sterilizing jars! Specialized equipment! But being able to preserve summer's best fruits and vegetables can make it worth it. Check out the&nbsp;USDA's <a href="http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html">home canning guide</a> &mdash; it gives you all the basics.</p> <p>If you don't want to go all the way with canning, the National Center for Home Food Preservation also has information on <a href="http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze.html">freezing</a>, <a href="http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/dry.html">drying</a>, <a href="http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/cure_smoke.html">curing/smoking</a>, <a href="http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can6a_ferment.html">fermenting</a>, and <a href="http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can6b_pickle.html">pickling</a> foods. In fact, making <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/spicy-refrigerator-dill-pickles/">fridge pickles</a> is one of my favorite easy ways to preserve vegetables ranging from carrots to cucumbers to okra.</p> <h2>5. Sewing</h2> <p>Sewing is a great example of a skill where just a little knowledge can help a lot. All you need is a needle and thread to <a href="http://www.esquire.com/style/tips/how-to-sew-a-button">sew on a button</a>, <a href="http://video.about.com/housekeeping/MendTear.htm">mend a tear</a>, or even <a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Hem-Clothing-by-Hand">hem clothing</a>.</p> <p>Of course, if you do want to get a sewing machine, you have many more options. There are several super-useful, simple projects that you can tackle after you <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmaZBTMzkoY">learn how to use your machine</a>, such as <a href="http://www.designsponge.com/2010/02/sewing-101-curtains.html">sewing curtains</a>. creating <a href="http://www.lovetosew.com/aprons.htm">aprons</a>, or even making an <a href="http://quilting.about.com/od/quiltpatternsprojects/tp/easy_quilts.htm">easy quilt</a>. And when your skills really get up to snuff, well...it's time to <a href="http://voguepatterns.mccall.com/bridal-pages-186.php">sew your own wedding dress</a>.</p> <h2>6. Knitting or Crocheting</h2> <p>While sewing might be a more valuable skill when it comes to fixing things, knitting and crocheting allow you to make great cold-weather wear that's both useful and giftable (or even sellable). In my experience, the best way to learn these skills is to ask a friend to teach you or to take a class at a local yarn shop. Or you can try <a href="http://www.knittinghelp.com/">KnittingHelp.com </a>or the <a href="http://crochet.about.com/od/learnbasics/a/beginners.htm">About.com Guide to Crochet</a>.</p> <p>I also love these skills because they provide something relatively mindless to do while watching TV or riding on public transportation.</p> <h2>7. Exercising</h2> <p>Unlike many of the other items on this list, improving your exercise skills might not save you money directly. But a healthy lifestyle can help eliminate medical visits and improve your mental health.</p> <p>Several types of exercise &mdash; even something as simple as running &mdash; can be daunting when you first start them. Even if you plan to approach exercise frugally, it can be beneficial to talk to an expert or take a class before you start doing it on your own. For example, go to a running store and get fit for the <a href="http://running.about.com/od/shoesapparelandgear/a/foottypes.htm">right running shoes</a> for your body, or take a yoga class before using <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/half-moon-full-wallet-free-online-yoga-videos">free online yoga videos</a>, so a teacher can help you learn the proper alignment.</p> <h2>8.&nbsp;Making Minor Household Repairs</h2> <p>There are several things around the house that you want to hire a professional for. But when it comes to minor fixes like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">unclogging a drain</a>, <a href="http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/how-to/intro/0,,20051832,00.html">fixing a hole in drywall</a>, or <a href="http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/how-to/intro/0,,550857,00.html">installing shelves</a>, you can save hundreds of dollars by doing just a little work.</p> <h2>9. Making Gifts and Cards</h2> <p>Not only are handmade gifts and cards from the heart, they can be a lot cheaper than that store-bought stuff too. Check out our list of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-gifts-you-can-make-today">gifts you can make today</a> or five <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-5-cheap-greeting-cards-that-blow-hallmark-away">great homemade greeting cards</a>.</p> <h2>10. Writing</h2> <p>Want to communicate efficiently, be taken seriously, and land great jobs? Then shine up those writing skills. Being able to accurately get your point across will always serve you well.</p> <p>Now available online, <a href="http://www.bartleby.com/141/">The Elements of Style</a> is the granddaddy of all grammar and usage books; it will reteach you everything you forgot from school. But writing is about much more than knowing where to put your commas. You can read all of the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/books/review/colson-whiteheads-rules-for-writing.html?pagewanted=all">guides</a> <a href="http://chronicle.com/article/10-Tips-on-How-to-Write-Less/124268/">to</a> <a href="http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/a-guide-to-becoming-a-better-writer-15-practical-tips.html">writing</a> that you want (seriously, do that &mdash; one of the best ways to become a better writer is to read what other people have written), but, like any other skill, writing improves primarily through practice.</p> <h2>11. Haggling and Negotiation</h2> <p>Haggling can save you money on everything from furniture to medical care, and knowing how to negotiate can mean the difference between a good starting salary and a great one. Our own Kentin Waits has a great guide to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-laws-of-negotiation">the seven laws of negotiation</a>.</p> <h2>12. Painting</h2> <p>I'm not talking about artistic painting (although that certainly has its benefits). If you can <a href="http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/how-to/intro/0,,20159698,00.html">paint a room</a> or even <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-paint-the-exterior-of-your-home">paint the outside of your house</a>, you can save a lot.</p> <h2>13. Budgeting</h2> <p>A solid budget is at the core of any good personal finance plan &mdash; it's what helps you ensure that you're saving some of your money while also getting to spend some on things that really matter to you. There are several ways to budget &mdash; check out our pieces on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-first-step-to-budgeting">the first step to budgeting</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/budgeting-for-people-who-hate-planning">budgeting for people who hate planning</a>, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system">the envelope system</a>.</p> <h2>14. Selling/Marketing</h2> <p>If you ever plan to have a yard sale, list an item on Craigslist, or market yourself as a job applicant, it behooves you to know how to make whatever you're selling as appealing as possible. (And no, being good at selling things doesn't mean doing your best sleazy car salesman impression.)</p> <p>Discover <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-secrets-of-highly-successful-craigslist-sellers">the nine secrets of highly&nbsp;successful craigslist sellers</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-have-a-successful-garage-sale">how to have a successful garage sale</a>, or how one writer <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-still-make-money-with-ebay">still makes money with eBay</a>. Or if you're trying to market yourself for a job, read about <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-to-get-hired-be-memorable">the importance of being memorable</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stupid-things-to-put-in-your-cover-letter">stupid things to put in your cover letter</a>, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-unique-ways-to-score-a-job-interview">unique ways to score a job interview</a>.</p> <h2>15. Getting Rid of Pests</h2> <p>Some things &mdash; like bed bugs or roaches &mdash; usually require a professional. But you can deal with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/naturally-get-rid-of-ants-in-your-kitchen">ants</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/homemade-and-store-bought-mouse-trap-designs-that-work">mice</a>, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pesky-pests-easy-homemade-mosquito-and-insect-traps-and-repellent">other pests</a> yourself.</p> <h2>16. Fixing Broken Things</h2> <p>Yes, &quot;broken things&quot; is a pretty loose term. The skill to learn here might be better described as problem solving &mdash; a little bit of online research and elbow grease can save you a lot of money. For example, when my laptop stopped booting up correctly a few months ago, I was sure I needed a new computer &mdash; or at least a new drive.&nbsp;But some Googling showed me that my particular laptop has a design flaw that pinches one of the cables. Thanks to an online tutorial, I not only knew that I could get a replacement cable for under $50, but I also learned how to fix that part so it didn't pinch the cable again.</p> <h2>17. Entertaining Yourself</h2> <p>Frugality 101 &mdash; you're going to spend a <em>lot</em> of money if you feel like having fun means you always need to go to the movies, a bar, or another establishment where you pay to play. While it might seem silly, entertaining yourself is a skill, and one that you can get better at as you discover new things that you find enjoyable. Read. Make something. Visit friends. Go for a hike. Cook something new. Find a free event. Draw. Do a crossword puzzle. There are many, many <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-cheap-fun-things-to-do-this-weekend">ways to have cheap fun</a>.</p> <h2>18. Changing Your Oil</h2> <p>Most laypeople don't know how to fix the stuff that goes really wrong with a car, but you can at the very least a lot of your regular maintenance. The most intimidating of that regular maintenance (at least in my opinion) is changing your oil. But it's totally doable &mdash; check out this <a href="http://www.edmunds.com/how-to/how-to-change-your-oil-the-real-down-and-dirty.html">step-by-step how-to with photos</a> from&nbsp;Edmunds.</p> <h2>19. Changing a Tire</h2> <p>If you get a flat and you don't have roadside assistance through your insurance or an organization like AAA, you'll probably be stuck with a hefty fee. Don't let that happen. Popular Mechanics tells (and shows) you <a href="http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/maintenance/4199895">everything you need to know to change a tire</a>.</p> <h2>20. Couponing</h2> <p>Some people love couponing, and others think it's just <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-why-i-don-t-clip-coupons">not worth it</a> &mdash; but <a href="http://frugalliving.about.com/od/bargainshopping/a/Coupon_Guide.htm">good couponing skills</a> <em>can</em> save you money. At the very least, you should get in the habit of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/empty-coupon-code-box-you-re-paying-too-much">searching for online coupon codes</a> &mdash; a quick search can save you a few bucks.</p> <p><em>Did I miss any of your favorite frugal skills? Leave your thoughts in the comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-great-frugal-skills-and-how-to-get-them">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pick-up-one-of-these-frugal-hobbies-this-weekend">Pick Up One of These Frugal Hobbies This Weekend</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper">Secret Lawn Tonic Recipe From Golf Course Groundskeeper</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-create-your-dream-backyard-on-a-budget">How to Create Your Dream Backyard on a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-20-or-less">10 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $20 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-a-second-language-can-boost-your-career">11 Ways a Second Language Can Boost Your Career</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Personal Development Cooking fixing problems gardening skills writing Mon, 27 Aug 2012 10:36:41 +0000 Meg Favreau 952375 at http://www.wisebread.com Should You Repair a Dripping Faucet? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-repair-a-dripping-faucet <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-repair-a-dripping-faucet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/dripping_faucet2.jpg" alt="Dripping faucet" title="Dripping faucet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="125" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Drip. Drip. Drip.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s a sound most of us know all too well. Sooner or later, we encounter a dripping faucet in our home. For some people, it&rsquo;s a no brainer to replace it. One washer and some very simple plumbing maneuvers, and it&rsquo;s all done. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-household-fixes-you-should-stop-paying-others-for">5 Household&nbsp;Fixes You Should Stop Paying Others For</a>)</p> <p>But to others, it&rsquo;s not all that simple. Some people just do not want to mess with faucets, washers, and water supplies, period. Others have to get down into a nasty, bug-infested crawl space to reach the water shut-off valve. Whatever the reason, they&rsquo;re not into the idea of doing it themselves.</p> <p>In that case, it&rsquo;s time to call a plumber. And with the <a href="http://www.aplumbers.com/plumbing-costs ">average price of repairing or replacing a dripping faucet</a> being $40-$100, it raises an interesting question...</p> <p><strong>How much money does a dripping faucet really waste?</strong></p> <p>I was ready to get down and do some serious calculating, but this being the information age, I figured someone on the Internet had already created a calculator for this one. And sure enough, after literally minutes of searching, I found this <a href="http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/sc4.html">water-waste calculator</a>. It rounds the numbers in the calculations, but the final outcome is spot on.</p> <p>So, for this hypothesis, let&rsquo;s go with one home and one dripping faucet.</p> <p>I&rsquo;ll say that the average leaky faucet drips once every two seconds. That makes 30 drips/minute, and...</p> <ul> <li>30 drips/minute = 43,200 drips/day</li> <li>43,200 drips/day = 10.8 liters/day or 2.85<a href="http://www.metric-conversions.org/">&nbsp;U.S. gallons/day</a></li> <li>2.85 U.S. gallons/day = 1,041 U.S. gallons/year</li> </ul> <p>The average price of 1000 gallons of tap water in the US is $1.50. I found several sources for that, including <a href="http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_does_a_gallon_of_tap_water_in_Texas_cost">Answers.com</a>, <a href="http://www.fcwa.org/story_of_water/html/costs.htm">Fairfax Water</a>, and <a href="http://www.leakbird.com/running-toilets/the-average-monthly-household-water-bill-5100-water-facts-and-running-toilets-leakbirdx">LeakBird</a>. So 1,041 U.S. gallons = $1.56.</p> <p><strong>So is the dripping faucet worth repairing?</strong></p> <p>Well, that all depends. I'm against waste and usually wouldn't even ask a question like that. But in this case, it's warranted. There are two definitive answers depending on the solution you plan to use for the dripping faucet.</p> <p><strong>If you do it yourself: Yes</strong></p> <p>Pretty simple math. One 35-cent washer is going to have paid for itself within three months. If you have the know-how and the time, by all means change that washer. After three months you&rsquo;re saving money.</p> <p><strong>If you hire a plumber: No</strong></p> <p>Forget the moral implications for a second here. I know any kind of waste is wrong, especially in a world where millions of people don&rsquo;t have access to clean drinking water. But from a purely financial perspective, it&rsquo;s not worth it.</p> <p>Even if you get lucky and find a plumber who will charge the bottom-end $40 fee for the repair, it will take 25.6 years to break even! OK, rates will go up over time, but you&rsquo;re still looking at around 15-20 years. And if you get a plumber that charges the $100, you&rsquo;ll be old and gray longer before your investment pays off. It would take over 64 years to get back to zero at $1.56/year.</p> <p>Yes, waste is rotten. But if you really don&rsquo;t care, and don&rsquo;t mind (or just don&rsquo;t hear) the dripping sound, you now know that you&rsquo;re not throwing hundreds of dollars down the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">drain</a>. Not even close.</p> <p><em>[Note: Sorry for the typo in the math and thanks for pointing it out. It has now been fixed!]</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-repair-a-dripping-faucet">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-some-cash-with-these-6-clever-cleaning-hacks">Save Some Cash With These 6 Clever Cleaning Hacks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/breathe-easy-10-natural-air-fresheners">Breathe Easy: 10 Natural Air Fresheners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-own-eco-friendly-dryer-sheets">Make Your Own Eco-Friendly Dryer Sheets</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-online-resources-for-the-design-impaired">Top 5 Online Resources for the Design Impaired</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Green Living Home fixing problems leaky faucet plumbing saving water Tue, 12 Apr 2011 10:00:48 +0000 Paul Michael 523500 at http://www.wisebread.com Wise Bread's Frugal Food Gone Wrong http://www.wisebread.com/wise-breads-frugal-food-gone-wrong <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wise-breads-frugal-food-gone-wrong" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4656891738_0fe762f8c5.jpg" alt="Eating bad food" title="Eating bad food" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I do not like wasting food. Not only is throwing out food wasteful, but it's also financially irresponsible. One of my ever-present goals is to prepare just the right amount of food so that I'm full but not stuffed, and so that I have leftovers, but not so many that they'll make a lovely home for mold in the back of my fridge. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/waste-not-want-not-stop-throwing-away-your-food">Waste Not, Want Not: Stop Throwing Away Your Food!</a>)</p> <p>But sometimes, sometimes our desire to eat frugally goes terribly wrong. I started thinking about this the other day while listening to an episode of comedian <a href="http://marcmaron.com/">Marc Maron</a>'s podcast (a heads-up if you follow that link &mdash;&nbsp;his material can be profanity laced). He had fellow comedian David Cross on the show, and they told a story about how David tried cooking beans, but failed miserably &mdash; ending up with an unpleasant-sounding &quot;bean concentrate&quot; that he ate anyway...for multiple meals.</p> <p>Inspired by that story, today I present tales from some Wise Bread writers that are not for the weak of stomach. From inexpensive outings turned pricey to the inevitable Thanksgiving cooking blunders, I hope that you can learn from our mistakes.</p> <h3>Feeling Chicken</h3> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a>: It's 1 a.m.</p> <p>I'm woken from my slumber by a pain I know all too well. It's that churning, cramping sensation you get when something you have eaten severely disagrees with you. And I know exactly what the cause of it is, and how much more pain I'm about to be in for. As I fall out of bed and crawl to the bathroom, my mind flashes back to several hours earlier.</p> <p>We had done grocery shopping a few days before, and my wife had bought a big pack of fresh chicken wings. I'm a lover of buffalo chicken wings, and this time I had plans to make my own from scratch. Unfortunately, the design of my wife's car makes it very easy to miss a grocery bag or two, as there is an under-floor compartment in the trunk. And on this occasion, my wings were in there. The next day, as I was hunting around in the fridge for my chicken, I wondered if we had left them in the store. I checked the old fridge in the garage, usually reserved for drinks. It was not there.</p> <p>Then I realized where the chicken was.</p> <p>I opened up the compartment and found my shopping bag filled with my chicken wings. It had been a cold night. Cold enough to keep the wings fine? Yeahhh! I wasn't about to throw away good chicken; that's like throwing away $10.</p> <p>I prodded and smelled them, they seemed fine. Ish. Maybe a tad off, but as I was about to deep fry these suckers, it would kill anything lingering, right?</p> <p>I wolfed down 12 of the delicious wings covered in my homemade buffalo sauce. Ahhh, good times. Flash back to me crawling across the bedroom floor. I wanted to bang my head of the dresser for being an idiot. Thank goodness everyone else in the family refused to try them, including my two young girls. After 12 hours of vomiting, dry retching, and general misery, I made a vow to never again take risks with food. And to this day, I cannot smell buffalo sauce without wanting to gag.</p> <p>(Paul, unfortunately, has multiple stories about terrible eats &mdash; check out his curry debacle in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-being-frugal-went-wrong-tales-from-the-cheap-nasty">When Being Frugal Went Wrong</a>.)</p> <h3>Gravy, Sweet Gravy</h3> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a>: When we were first married, my husband made an unusual gravy for our first Thanksgiving dinner together.</p> <p>At the time, my husband worked for a paternalistic company that supplied free turkeys to all of its employees for Thanksgiving. I doubt we would have tackled roasting a turkey, preparing gravy, etc. if we had not received this gift, and simply would have enjoyed our parents' home-cooked meals instead.</p> <p>Since he brought the turkey home, it was decided that my husband would prepare it. He did fairly well, periodically getting instructions from his mother via telephone. Making the gravy was difficult, however. He kept adding flour from a Tupperware bin but could not get the right consistency. Exasperated, he asked his hungry bride (me) for help. I inspected the pan and noted that the gravy tasted like cotton candy. Then I asked where the flour came from, and he pointed to a small bin that contained confectioner's sugar.</p> <p>As newlyweds, our kitchen was not expertly stocked, so we had sugar but no flour. At the time, we were both disappointed that the gravy was ruined but now laugh at the easy-to-make newbie mistake.</p> <h3>Imperfect Produce</h3> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a>: My favorite farmers market buys are the bags of slightly damaged fruits and vegetables. I'm more than happy to cut out a few brown spots if it means I get to enjoy a huge bag of juicy peaches for a dollar. Dinged-up apples? Totally ready for pie. Those just-starting-to-shrivel mushrooms? Fine as long as I cook them later that day.</p> <p>I do get produce paranoid, though, and I always take a thorough look around the outside of the bag to try and ensure that I'm not accidentally buying something really off. One time last summer when I bought a bag of sweet corn, though, I didn't look hard enough. The ears looked gorgeous and felt nicely firm. Once home, I started pulling them out and shucking them one by one. The first two were fine &mdash; a couple of slightly shriveled kernels at the end, but otherwise, deliciously edible. Then I shucked the third ear, and saw what looked like stock footage from a dinner-themed horror movie. The ear of corn had a gaping hole in it that was absolutely crawling with tiny worms, all wriggling and spilling out onto my counter.</p> <p>I yelped, dropped the corn, then immediately picked it up again and put it in the trash with the rest of the ears. I can only hope that the farmers market didn't know about the infestation of crawlies when they bagged the corn up for sale. Gross.</p> <h3>Too Much for Tacos</h3> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nora-dunn">Nora Dunn</a>: I'll forever be haunted/amused by a night on the town a few years ago where I observed the differences in how a group of fellow travelers approached an outing to a restaurant in Hawaii for &quot;Taco Tuesday.&quot; Poor Phil was the victim in this story &mdash;&nbsp;he had the least amount of money, but thanks to poor planning, ended up <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taco-tuesday-the-inner-mechanics-of-budgeting-on-vacation">spending more than everybody else</a>. I'm pretty sure we all know somebody like him. His blunders remind me to be conscious of how I spend money on food &mdash; and to make sure it's worth it &mdash; for me. There is no right or wrong answer; just choices to be made.</p> <p><em>What frugal food blunders have you made? Share your thoughts in the comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wise-breads-frugal-food-gone-wrong">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-salvage-a-burnt-meal">10 Ways to Salvage a Burnt Meal</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cooking-great-meals-with-your-car-engine-the-heat-is-on">Cooking great meals with your car engine. The heat is on.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-tasty-ways-to-use-chicken-stock">25 Tasty Ways to Use Chicken Stock</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/free-food-in-your-yard-edible-weeds">Free Food in Your Yard: Edible Weeds!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-budget-friendly-meals-everyone-should-know-how-to-make">10 Budget-Friendly Meals Everyone Should Know How to Make</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink cheap eats fixing problems Mistakes Fri, 25 Mar 2011 11:00:12 +0000 Meg Favreau 508897 at http://www.wisebread.com Fixing Mistakes: 7 Steps for Any Situation http://www.wisebread.com/fixing-mistakes-7-steps-for-any-situation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/fixing-mistakes-7-steps-for-any-situation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4199675334_66c3e3d61d_z_0.jpg" alt="Statue of a man with his hands covering face" title="Making mistakes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all goof sometimes... Though many mistakes are minor, and don't cause much of a ripple in the world, some mistakes hurt other people and have to be dealt with quickly and completely. Here's a 7-step process for dealing with any mistake, whether it's something on a business or a personal level.</p> <h3>1. Acknowledge the Mistake Directly</h3> <p>Don't add to the mistake already made by ignoring it in the hopes that it will go away. Whether you've messed up on a customer order or forgotten your spouse's birthday, ignoring the failure won't make it seem less important; it will just make you seem like more of a jerk. Be straightforward. Directly and briefly, but honestly, acknowledge that you messed up. State specifically what you did and how much you regret it.</p> <h3>2. Take Responsibility</h3> <p>The automatic response of human nature is to jump into self-defense mode; at no time is this response stronger than when we are forced to acknowledge our own shortcomings. Resist the urge to find somewhere (or someone) to put the blame, even if it's justified. There are always extenuating circumstances, and most of us don't mean to mess up. But all the good intentions don't change the fact that you've made a mistake. Don't point fingers or use circumstances to make an excuse; doing so only makes you sound like you care more about getting out of trouble than really dealing with the problem you've caused, however unintentionally.</p> <h3>3. Apologize</h3> <p>Those two little words &mdash; I'm sorry &mdash; need to be heard by the person who's bearing the brunt of your mistake. &quot;Please forgive me&quot; is nice, too. It shows that you understand this person has a choice of whether or not to forgive the mistake. It acknowledges that you need forgiveness. And it puts the responsibility on the offended person, forcing them to either accept the apology, and thus, start moving on, or choose to ignore or refuse your apology and leave you with nothing else to do. Nobody wants to be the bad guy and refuse to accept an apology. If you don't verbally, directly apologize, however, the person who has been hurt doesn't have to make that choice to forgive and move on.</p> <h3>4. Offer a Practical Way to Make Up for the Mistake</h3> <p>In a few, rare cases, there's really nothing you can do to make up for what's been done. Perhaps you accidentally hit a neighbor's beloved family dog with your car and killed it; offering to run out and buy a new puppy isn't going to fix things, so don't offer. However, in most cases, you can think of a way to make amends. If you've broken, lost, or otherwise damaged property, you should offer to pay for it. If you've hurt someone you're close to on a deep level, you might offer to go to counseling together. If you're at a loss for what to offer, ask: &quot;What can I do to make this up to you?&quot;</p> <h3>5. Give the Other Person Time to Think and Respond</h3> <p>The deeper the hurt, the more difficult it is for a person to let go of it. Don't force an immediate response. People need time to think, to process, and to let go of hurt feelings and offense. Make your direct acknowledgment, take responsibility, apologize, and offer a way to make amends; then step back and say something like, &quot;I'll give you time to think this over.&quot; Offer another, specific time to talk so you don't forget to follow through with what you've said.</p> <h3>6. Listen and Respond</h3> <p>During both the initial conversation and when you follow up, take the time to let the other person talk. Sometimes what people need most is just to share how deeply they were hurt, or the repercussions of the mistake that's been made. Venting isn't fun to listen to, but it helps people sort through the feelings and get to the bottom line, which is where you need to both get in order to fix the mistake and move on.</p> <h3>7. Do What You've Said You Will Do</h3> <p>The last point is most important: if you've offered a way to make up for the mistake, and it's been accepted, follow through quickly. Failing to do what you've said you will only bring the mistake back in an even more unpleasant way and make it almost impossible for you to be taken seriously when you try to apologize again.</p> <p><em>How do you deal with mistakes? </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fixing-mistakes-7-steps-for-any-situation">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-worst-mistakes-good-spouses-make">5 Worst Mistakes Good Spouses Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-signs-you-need-to-dump-your-friend">11 Signs You Need to Dump Your Friend</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-couples-should-ask-in-the-money-talk">5 Questions Couples Should Ask in the Money Talk</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/happily-ever-after-how-to-stay-married-for-29-years-and-counting">Happily Ever After: How to Stay Married for 29 Years (and Counting)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-relationship-rules-you-should-be-breaking">10 Relationship Rules You Should Be Breaking</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development fixing problems problems relationships work and relationships Wed, 09 Mar 2011 12:36:10 +0000 Annie Mueller 501446 at http://www.wisebread.com