Tightwad Tip #12,826

Well, it would be #12,826–or higher–if I simply wrote down a daily log of tightwaddery @twc central. . .

Anywho, since I’ve not gotten around to adding a hose bib for the back yard, yet (yeh, the place has been w/o one for 40 years, since it was built, 22+ of them under our stewardship, so it’s not a big rush item), and one of our two hoses (needs at least 2-50′ hoses to be useful for back yard) bit the dust toward the end of last summer, I decided to keep an eye out for another one.

Found one. It’s one of those expanding/collapsing hoses. 50′. Just a couple of bucks. Seriously. Even at a “fell off the back of a truck” store, that’s unbelievable.

Believe it. But there was a reason: the rubberized fabric hose sheath had a 1” seam split. Oh Noes! Not.

1. Sew up the split.
2. Coat the repaired split with silicone gasket compound.
3. Wrap that with self-sealing silicone tape.
4. Cover the self-sealing silicone tape with pieces of the “dead” hose’
5. Rewrap with more self-sealing silicone tape.

Tried it out. Looks good.

Even if it only lasts one season, a 50′ hose for under $5 isn’t that bad, but I fully expect it to last longer than that. In fact, I do not expect the repair job to fail at all during the hose’s usable service life.

Oh, the tip? I should think it was obvious: don’t pass up a bargain just because it has one flaw, as long as that flaw is repairable. . . inexpensively (read “inexpensively” as “dirt cheap” *heh*)

Small Pleasures

Took my Wonder Woman along with me on a jaunt to my favorite “fell off the back of a truck store,” in part to help me keep my expenditures down. Well, that worked well. *heh* Oh, don’t get me wrong, the butcher’s bill was not that bad, even for a tightwad like me, but. . .

She found a Tramontina combo ( one of Tramontina’s triple-ply stainless, small Dutch ovens and an induction plate) for half what I paid for a 12” Tramontina pan seven years ago. . . on close-out @33% off the regular price. Yeh, that was still more than my tightwad heart had set as a likely outing cost, but at less than 30% of the Amazon price for the set, I am able to at least rationalize the purchase, especially since I know I’ll at least be using the pan for years to come.

Used the combo today to make a fritata–potatoes ion bottom, layered with sauteed onion/garlic, corn, broccoli, red pepper, cheese, and egg/heavy cream. Oh, ver’ yummers.

Cooked another one-pan meal with our lil 3-piece Tramontina induction cooking set. Cheesy chicken-broccoli-rice casserole. Yummers. Liking this lil set. (Induction cooker works with the rest of my pots-n-pans, but since it came with such a nice 3-ply mini Dutch oven, no sense in not using it, right? πŸ˜‰ )

Still even more pleased that my Wonder Woman found it at less than 30% of the Amazon price.

Tightwad Tip

Like those wet wipe cleaning cloths but dislike (relatively) expensive one-use throwaways? Try this:

One part isopropyl alcohol
one part white vinegar
one part water
a few drops of dish soap
an “essential oil” that appeals to you (optional)
some clean rags (I have a bunch of cheap microfiber cloths I used for my “kitchen batch” of these)
a glass jar with a lid

That’s it. Mix the liquids. Rags in jar. Liquid mix poured on top. When you need a cleaning rag for kitchen or bath, open the jar, take a cloth and squeeze out any extra cleaning solution. Replace lid. Clean.

When you are finished cleaning with the rag/cloth, just launder it and then re-treat.

Isopropyl alcohol is inexpensive, as is vinegar. Cleaning cloths can be as cheap as just about any old absorbent cloth rag. A few drops of dish soap? *pfui* Heck, the most expensive thing, relative to amount used, might be your choice of an “essential oil.”

Pro tip: if you elect to add an essential oil, choose one with cleaning and/or disinfectant properties–preferably both. I added a few drops of melaleuca oil to my cleaning solituon, for those reasons. Oh, and I like the aroma, though it’s a bit faint with so much vinegar.

The Tightwad in Me LOVES This Site

Ecoprojecteer My paternal grandfather would feel right at home with this guy, too. (Short rabbit trail: Granddaddy could build anything, it seemed, with just hand tools, ingenuity and a little blood and sweat. “Blood and sweat? Yeh. It’s a tradition in my family that any time one of the men does a wood working, mechanical, plumbing or electrical project of any kind, SOME blood must be spilled. *heh* Oh, none of us have yet lost body parts or required surgery for our injuries, but the “blood sacrifice” tradition has held up pretty well. Meticulous care and safety equipment, etc. seem to make no difference. If there’s a knuckle there to be barked on a bolt, it’ll play doggie. :-))

Anywho, back on point, they guy has a bunch of really fun, interesting and CHEAP TO BUILD projects detailed on his site. Love it. This one inspired me to wonder if I could build a cardboard wading pool… πŸ˜‰


Tightwad Confessions

Sometimes, tightwaddery results in… alternate “expenses”.

Example: the two hours I spent getting a communications issue straightened out this afternoon/early evening.

OK, the tightwad part: since I do not very much like to talk on the phone (missing visual cues, etc.) and I have NO desire to be connected wherever I am 24×7, but I do recognize the benefit of having a phone handy when I’m out and about (especially when deep in the “piney woods” backroads of America’s Third World County), I have a cell phone, but it’s sub-basic, a pre-paid, calls-only “dumb” phone.

Suits me just fine. Ever since I ditched a more expensive phone and plan, I’ve been just hunky-dory setting it to “Off” unless I want to make a call. And at $15/month for many, many (MANY) more minutes than I use, it’s just about right. Yes, there is one cheaper option, but the company that offers it doesn’t cover America’s Third World County worth spit.

And all has gone well with this lil pre-paid “dumb” phone for five years or so until today.

Entered the code to add air time/minutes and… message said to call support to complete the transaction. “WTF?!? Never seen THAT before!” thought I. So, called. Told me the code had already been used. Over the course of almost 2 hours, I finally learned that the code had been credited to the wrong phone, one with a completely different number to mine. *huh?!?* Yup.

Four different people told me they’d corrected the problem and credited my air time and all, and four different people were wrong. Round and round it went, until I finally found a service person (apparently the only one in India) who knew how to deal with the issue.

So, I have my tightwad-qualified phone for another couple of months. It does what I want it to (again) and doesn’t do what I want it to. Simple, inexpensive: just the ticket for a tightwad. But there are times… *sigh* Fortunately, this is the first such time in the years I’ve been using this thing, so “amortized” out, a couple of hours inconvenience divided by about five years isn’t all that bad, I suppose. *heh*

Fun Lil Micro-Mini Project

To make a short story longer…

I have an area of our back yard* I’ve mentally designated for a future backyard* garden. Right now, I’m burning wood trash there, in a small pit I’ve dug–limbs, small trees I’ve removed and even good sized logs from a mimosa tree I’ve long hated.

Oh, the lil micro-mini project? Making charcoal in (very) small batches. I get a good fire going and then when it’s burned down a bit I shovel dirt and ashes over the burning wood until I blanket out even traces of smoke. Next day, I uncover the charcoal that’s been created and put it in a steel container until I’m absolutely sure there are no live coals still left, then into a covered plastic bucket.

Oh, the charcoal? For a very small earth-sheltered forge I plan on putting in the same small pit for use turning some old files and lawnmower blades into knives. (I’ve already annealed the files/lawnmower blades to make them soft enough to work… in earlier woodpile burns. :-))

Waste not, want not.






Note the difference. While I may seem (or even be) pedantic, it’s for good cause. I keep reading things on the web–and even in books that’ve been through the whole nine yards of traditional publishing, including editors, proofreaders and the like–that use “backyard” and “backseat” and other such adjectives as though they were nouns. It chaps my gizzard. The distinction is a useful one and should not be abandoned by the illiterati of contemporary writers simply because they’re too butt lazy to be well-read.

Tightwaddery: Simply Clear Thinking

A few years ago, our central air conditioning unit began showing signs of eventual–more like near term–failure. Of course, we looked into replacement; who wants to live through sweltering summers? And then, after several years of annual “resurrection calls” to AC service folk of varying ability, it failed.

We chose to swelter through that Summer. (OK, we added fans. *meh* Was not all that bad.)

But what did we ultimately do? Well, we had several options:

    Continue to suffer through the humidity of late Spring and the heat and humidity of Summer.

    Try to ameliorate the situation by installing a whole house fan–an option that appealed to me but wasn’t a solid sell.

    Install a new central AC unit.


    Zone the house and use “point cooling”.

Sure, a new unit would probably have worked and been more efficient than our old one by far, but what we ended up with

    Cost much less than 1/10 of replacing (and upgrading, of course, including the air handler that would’ve had to be replaced inside, etc.) the central AC unit

    Uses much less electricity than the old central AC unit, and not much more than when we went a Summer with just fans!

    Allows us to effect additional savings when we want by simply turning off cooling for areas we aren’t using.

Of course, we went with the least expensive method of zoning the house: window units. Yeh, yeh, I’m sure that impacts the salability of the house, but since that’ll really only affect our heirs, we just DGARA. We own the place (no mortgage) and have no intention of ever moving, so why should we care? (If they want,the kids can install central AC when we’re gone and they need to sell the house. We won’t care.)

Disadvantages: minimal.

Advantages: overwhelming.

Thinking inside the box and looking away from stale, boring, “standard” solutions can make one’s lifestyle more affordably comfortable.

Oh, one cool plus: freed up the 60-AMP 240-Volt circuit the central AC had run on to be split into 2 30-AMP 120-Volt circuits. Sweet!

Ahh! The Blessings of “Junk Builds”

My home office desk is a build consisting of

  • -a 3’X6′ top I slapped together from (mostly) scrap about 17 years ago.
  • -four legs made of (average) better than 10″ diameter sycamore logs from deadfalls off our trees from The Great Ice Storm of 2007, with
  • -oak 2X4 (from old pallets) and sycamore limb bracing
  • -and a 2’X3′ “keyboard drawer” made from a piece of castoff formica counter and the only purchased item, a heavy-duty drawer glide.

Why is this such a blessing, apart from the fact that it was built for about $12? Oh, well, when I stumbled and fell on the extended “keyboard drawer” a few minutes ago, I broke one of the free oak pieces I used to attach the drawer glides to the desktop, along with the drawer glides.

Cost to repair? Maybe $10. (I can get better, heavier-duty glides now for less at one of my fav “fell-off-the-truck-pricing” stores. *heh*) I have plenty of pieces of oak 2X4, so since I’ll recycle the 3″ brass screws, I’ll need only the drawer glides. Sweet. Heck, I’ve been meaning to replace these now worn (over 10 years old) drawer glides, anyway, what with all the wear I’ve given them using my keyboard drawer as a footrest… πŸ™‚

But… broke the oak support. Man, I have to lose a few pounds… πŸ™‚

Oh, and when the “drawer” fell, I also broke my plastic trash can. S’all right. Pulled it out of a dumpster almost 10 years ago, along with its companion paper shredder (which I repaired and used for five years until it died again… and was replaced by another dumpster paper shredder). I have more such freebies with which to replace the trash can.

I tell ya. Folks toss out the most useful stuff. (I’m about to use a discarded horizontal file cabinet as a “build-in” to a full room height bookcase. What was wrong with it that it was discarded? Oh, the back–cheap, thin mahogany plywood–had been broken. I replaced it with better: a peg board on which things can be hung behind the horizontal file drawers! It was brand new but “broken” in transport. Thrown out. Asked the business owner, and he appreciated the removal.)

OK, this is more than just an “I broke my desk, but I don’t really care” post. Catching wise? Don’t need to be a hoarder, but why just throw out stuff? Put it on Craigslist or something if it doesn’t sell in a garage sale! Here are some Craigslist listings just today for a locale near me:

  • Free firewood pic
  • A Bunch Of Stuff – Couch, Lamps, Gardening Stuff And More
  • puppy
  • Golden Retriever pic
  • FREE Wooden Treehouse/swing playset
  • Car/Truck Hood
  • 36 In. Screen Door pic
  • Free 20+ inch TV

Think what a blessing some of your junk might be either to someone in need or just some tightwad like me. *heh*

Still, didn’t even shake the desk. Just tore off the keybd drawer. My lap and a lil side table are working fine as keyboard rest and mousing surface for my wireless input devices. I frequently use ’em that way anyway when I have my feet up and am leaned back, comfortably “computing” from about a 5′-6′ distance from my monitor. Now, it’s reduced a tad, cos my feet are on the desk proper. I’m amazed i can find room for ’em there, though. The thing holds an awful lot of junk…

Christmas Presents: Ah! Somebody Knows Me Well

Perhaps too well. *heh* In the mail today, addressed to me: FM 21-76, Department of the Army Field Manual: Survival.

Though it was addressed to me, I didn’t order it. I can only assume it to be a gift from someone who knows me well. Now, who could that be…

Whoever it is/was, thanks! πŸ™‚ (Was Lovely Daughter)

(Of course, apropos of the Senate vote to enslave generations of Americans, the first thing my eye fell on when I opened the books was… a focus on escaping capture by the enemy. Of course.)

  • Size up the situation
  • Undue haste makes waste
  • Remember where you are
  • Vanquish fear and panic
  • Improvise
  • Value living
  • Act like the natives
  • Learn basic skills

Hmm, looks like a rubric for post-Obama Americans seeking to escape the enemy and survive as free Americans…

Micro-mini-update: Because of weather/road conditions, Lovely Daughter (why did I typo that as “Lobely Daughter”? :-))and SiL-to-Be did not spend Xmas Eve with us as planned. So, last night was our “make up Xmas Eve”. Re-read Random Yak’s “Lest We Forget”, shared Xmas Chili, Xmas music, etc., and then went on the Xmas Plunder from the Kids Down South. SiL-to-Be demonstrated his awareness of relationship between Sil-to-Be and FiL-to-Be with a wise gift: a Bodum French press coffee maker. Wise beyond your years, Grasshopper.

Tightwaddery Hint

If your family has cats, here’s how to save money on both cat food and cat litter: keep hunting until you find a food they don’t like (but make sure it’s still nutritious). They’ll eat less, and thus they’ll also poop less. Hey! They’ll also not get fat! It’s a win-win.

Thank me in comments.