Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Harvest=Savings!

It's fall! It's cold! It's rainy and muddy! That means it's a great time to go to the out of doors and participate in the harvest, that special experience where the earth starts decorating with tasty things to eat, and we get the benefits. That was a little less poetic than I was going for...

This weekend I went to Detering Orchards. A trip requires a car, so if you don't have one, talk up the trip a few weeks before with car-bearing friends. It's on Coburg Road, past the town of Coburg, keep going, enter Linn County, and when you think you should turn around, keep going. On weekends it's crowded with children, but sometimes they have free apple pie and ice cream. Score! Once there, you and your friends grab big five gallon buckets and head for the trees. Most of the rows are labeled with the type of apples. Now, here's the trick to getting the most fruit for your dollar: windfalls. There's a discount if you pick your apples up off the ground, and you should really have no trouble finding rot-free apples. My roommate and I filled up two buckets and paid $16.50.

Now I've got to have an apple processing party for myself. My cousin scoped out some mason jars from a free box, which are reserved for apple sauce and maybe a few jars of chutney. I'm using this website as a reference for all my canning needs: Ball Canning and Preserving I've got my own food dehydrator, but since that one got send home to my parents', I'll be borrowing most of my preserving things from Grandma: food dehydrator, big canning pot, jar lifter, peeler/corer/slicer (these things are amazing!) and jar rings. The only thing I'm going to have to buy out of this deal are the apples and flat lids for the mason jars. Preserving means they won't go bad before I eat them, and I'll have tasty applestuffs through the winter! My after Halloween plans: grab all the unused/discounted pumpkins I can and freeze the pumpkin for pies!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Getting Around Banking Fees

I suppose it was bound to happen. Banks say "Hey, we're going to lose a lot of money!" They get a big shot of money. Banks say "Hm, that was good, but we were making a lot more money when we were being irresponsible lenders, and we're going to have to make up for all the money lost because of these enforced ethics." So they look to their loyal customers, people to whom they promised free checking lo, these many years ago (13 for me, thanks BoA) and say, "We have this about you start paying us not just for new checks, not just the random fees that we've charged over the years, but for EACH MONTH that you spend your own money."

Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo are all hopping on the bandwagon with this monthly fee idea. $5 doesn't seem like a lot, but if you used your debit card every month, it would be $60 a year. As a person who holds on to her 6 year old phone because she can't afford a smartphone plan, yeah, I want to keep that $60. I'm looking into credit unions to see if they can offer me a better deal. It's going to be like Mary Poppins in here.

If there's no better solution, I've got to get really clever. I got used to dealing only in cash while I was in England, but that was because I got my pocket money in cash. Still, I hear that taking money out of an ATM doesn't trigger the monthly fee, so if you don't have to use your card, just take out a handful of cash. The problem is going to come when I have to buy textbooks. Then I'll have to do MATH to figure out if it will cost me at least $5 more to buy my books with cash at the bookstore rather than my so far pretty darn clever online tactics. And I HATE doing math. That means to save the most money, I may have to limit my debit card use to the three times a year that I have to buy textbooks. Nice thing is, once I've already triggered the debit card fee, in theory, I can use my debit card the rest of the month. Bad thing is, then I'll get into the habit and break it out when I'm supposed to be only using cash.

This post isn't all that coherent. I'll make an update when I find out the deal with credit unions. Meanwhile, enjoy some Ben Folds Five.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Make your own flashcards

If you're taking a language class or another where you have to memorize a lot of vocabulary, you probably like to carry around a pack of flashcards. I know I needed them. But using one 3x5 for each word is wasteful, even if you have big handwriting. And the mini flashcards that come on nice rings from the bookstore play on your "paying for cool" weaknesses. Here's how you save trees, money, and space in your backpack:

1. Choose your cards. Staples sells 500 packs of 3x5s for $2.99 and 5x8s for $9.29. 3x5s are the best deal, you'll see why
2. Get friendly with a pair of scissors. It helps to have ruled cards in this case because they're easy to cut straight. For each 3x5, cut in quarters. You'll get 2000 flashcards out of a pack of 500. If you're using 5x8s, and you cut into 8ths, you'll get 4000 out of 500.
3. Money saving math: $2.99/2000=$0.001 per card $9.29/4000=$0.002 per card If you're patient, you could punch a hole in each, get one of those clippy rings, and make your own flashcard book for a fraction of the bookstore price.