Smart SpendingSmart Spending

They may not look pretty, but slow-cooker meals provide cheap and filling fuel.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 1:33AM

Crunch time: Exams are approaching, two final projects are due, and I am still fairly shaky on certain fine points of Spanish grammar. 


That's why on Saturday I filled the slow cooker with great northern beans, ham scraps, chopped onion and grated carrot. I stirred up a pan of cornbread and settled down to read Hélène Cixous. By midafternoon, I had five or six nights' worth of dinners in the fridge.

I refer to this as "one-pot glop" nutrition. Some days you don't have time to wonder what you'll fix for supper. Leftovers rule, and one-pot leftovers reign supreme. 

 

Once again, my slow cooker has helped save money on food.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 1:20AM

When I was a kid, many of our meals began with a pound of ground beef because it was the cheapest meat to be had. These days, my mom would be horripilated by the price of ground round. It's costlier than steaks used to be, way back when the Earth was still cooling.


Recently I discovered an alternative -- and I'm not talking about vegetarianism. 


Acting on a friend's instructions, I wrapped a 99-cent-a-pound pork roast in foil and put it in the slow cooker overnight, on low. The next morning it was so tender I could shred it with two forks.

 

You have the power to make changes in your life.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 1:15AM

Want to drop a bad habit or develop a good one? You need a plan. Specifically, you need a list. Lists make us feel confident and in charge. They make us feel we're already halfway to achieving our goals.


We love our lists. We especially love short lists. "Three easy ways to … (lose weight, stop smoking, become a millionaire)" is a guaranteed attention-getter. 


Life is never really that simple, of course. If all it took were three steps, everybody would be thin and rich, with unstained fingers.

 

Your friends' junk could become your new treasures.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 1:08AM

Want to get a head start on your yearly spring cleaning by de-cluttering? Try a tactic recommended by a Smart Spending message board reader posting as "AwakenedSpiritHawk1." Twice a year, this reader and her friends have a "shopping party" with food, fun and freebies. 


Got a stack of books you've read? Home decor items given as gifts that simply aren't your style? A shirt you rarely wear? Here's your chance to clear closets, bookshelves and tabletops. Think of it as your own private Freecycle. After all, one person's discard is another person's great find. 


This isn't regifting because no one's forced to take anything. Everyone brings food and drink to share, and everyone has fun, the reader wrote on a message board thread. "We hang out, enjoy each other's company, eat and shop for free."

 

One hour's pay out of every paycheck will add up fast.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 1:01AM

You know you should be building an emergency fund. Yet somehow there's too much month left at the end of your money.


A Smart Spending message board reader posting as "Eek17" suggests a fairly simple way to set aside some cash: Save one hour's pay out of every paycheck. 


"I have built up a nice EF this way. It's easy, convenient and I don't miss that small amount out of my check," the reader notes in a general frugality thread

 

I couldn't turn a blind eye to family's plight.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 12:49AM

Last July, a fellow driving an SUV called me a sucker for giving money to a homeless man. The incident upset me deeply, so I wrote an essay called "Why I gave a guy a dollar."


What I didn't mention in the piece was how I happened to be walking down that particular street. I was on my way home from the bank and the post office, having just mailed a cashier's check to a long-time friend whose home was about to be foreclosed upon. 


She and her husband have three kids still at home, and in the past year they've both had spells of unemployment. They'd been late with the house note before, and this time the mortgage company issued an ultimatum: two months' worth of payments by July 16, or foreclosure.

 

A backup can be a lifesaver in an emergency.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 12:38AM

Recently I treated my daughter and son-in-law to sandwiches (using a coupon, of course). At the register I heard those words no one wants to hear: "I'm sorry, this card was declined."


I responded with the same words all the deadbeats use: "That can't be right. Run it again." 


He did, and it was declined again. Face aflame, I paid with a different card. (Yes, I could have paid cash but I use credit cards for the rewards. And ever since I got out of divorce debt I have paid my balances in full each month.) When I got home I called to ask why my plastic had been declined -- and the answer was also one of those things that no one wants to hear. 

 

Blogger offers tips for minimizing conflict.

By Karen Datko Oct 30, 2009 6:20PM

Many people have had a bad boss in their career -- a supervisor who is manipulative, deceitful, vicious, grossly egotistical or all of the above.

 

But you can find a way to survive or even remedy this bad situation, thanks to some valuable tips from Patrick at Cash Money Life.

There is a caveat here: These tips will work best if the boss’s bad behavior is directed specifically at you and not the entire workforce. "It's a lot more difficult to avoid conflict if your supervisor treats everyone the same way," Patrick writes.

 

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