Sunday, January 04, 2009

Belt Tightening

Who isn't worried about the economy these days? Writers are notoriously poor. We have no "emergency nest egg" to live off of if my husband or I couldn't work, no IRA, no education fund for junior, and frequent tough decisions to make such as: do we pay the mortgage on time or buy fuel oil?

Happily, there are lots of ideas in today's Morning Call newspaper for how to tighten one's fiscal belt. The paper itself was a bargain, but if you click on the links, you'll get the tips for free. Good way to get started.

In the article Start Early, Save Big writer Genevieve Marshall shows how motivated high schoolers can take college-level courses (at community college) as young as 15 at huge savings (and sometimes for free). State-supported dual enrollment programs make it possible for one student, for instance, to have completed her freshman year of college by the time she graduates high school, saving her roughly $80,000 even if she transfers to a private school to finish out her bachelor's degree.

Writer Greg Karp says in his Spending Smart column that it's getting closer to the day when we can pink slip our cable company. My family typically watches a half dozen different channels and it grates on me that we're paying upwards of $60/month. Some of our neighbors are spending $100/month and more. These days, some cable channels--Comedy Central, for instance--offer a lot of content for free on their Web sites. If you're a movie buff, you could save money by going with Netflix instead of pay-per-view or those "premium" movie channels.

And finally, in the delightful series On the Cheap, Spencer Soper features one woman's frugal way of avoiding the sometimes high cost of liquid hand soap. She cuts up a bar of milled soap (think Dove or your other favorite brand) and submerges it in a quart-size Mason jar of warm water. Eventually the soap breaks down and the water takes on the color and scent of the milled soap.

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