book 281x300 Giveaway: Couponing For The Rest of UsAnd now for something completely different: a coupon expert who doesn’t like coupons.

Kasey Knight Trennum, who blogs at Time 2 $ave/Time 2 Give, says that she’s never sung the praises of coupons. Ask her about “the joys of saving a ton of money,” however, and she’ll get pretty vocal.

More than vocal: Trennum wrote a book, “Couponing For The Rest of Us: The Not-So-Extreme Guide to Saving More,” that’s designed to help readers save money “without it becoming an obsession.”

The author offers information on topics like deciphering “sales cycles,” how to locate coupons for items your family actually eats, smart stockpiling, making the Internet do most of the legwork, and turning saving into sharing.

And again, a sane approach: “I can’t stress enough (that) balance is the key to making couponing work for you. You have to figure out how to make it fit into your world; it cannot become your world.”

In addition to the book, this week’s winner will also get a cute little green accordion-style folder. After all, some coupons are still made of paper rather than pixels.


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th10 The fascination of DIY Cool Whip.Yesterday I made a bowl of raspberry Jell-O because cooking – even if it’s just boiling some water – is a great work-avoidance tool. So much easier to postone sitting down at the computer if you can tell yourself, “I’m fixing dessert.”

I ate so much Jell-O as a kid that I rarely indulge, save for turning the powder into a scary-looking (but delicious) rhubarb cake. But it’s a big treat to DF. Whenever he opens the fridge and sees a bowl of the stuff he’ll sigh happily and say, “You made Jell-O!” as though it were a tremendous culinary achievement.

We didn’t have bananas or even fruit cocktail to jazz up the gelatin, let alone Cool Whip (another of DF’s faves). That’s when I remembered Amy Dacyzcyn’s recipe for homemade whipped topping.

Oil or cream?

I’d been fascinated by the idea – DIY Cool Whip! – since I noticed it in “The Tightwad Gazette II” a couple of months ago. Nobody kicked frugal patoot like Amy Dacyczyn, so I was inclined to follow where she led.

The ingredients: powdered milk unflavored gelatin, sugar, oil and water. Lots simpler than commercial Cool Whip, whose label contains more than a dozen ingredients – including high-fructose corn syrup, skim milk, light cream, sodium caseinate, natural and artificial flavors, xanthan and guar gums, sorbitan monostearate and polysorbate 60.

Yum.


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th3 150x150 How much does your suitcase weigh?I sure learned some interesting things about luggage while researching my latest piece for Retail Me Not. My favorite factoid was how light the bags are getting. Modern bags can weigh as little as 3.3 pounds – much easier on the arms, and also providing more wiggle room as regards an airline’s 50-pound luggage limit.

Randy MacKenzie of Edwards Luggage, a family-owned store since 1946, does monthly “how to pack” seminars in the family’s four San Francisco-area stores. Packed for two weeks of travel, today’s lightweight carry-ons can weigh in at 21 pounds. (Hint: That gives you room for 29 pounds’ worth of souvenirs before you start to pay extra.)

A few of her favorite manufacturers:

  • Rimowa: Lightweight and incredibly durable, this manufacturer offers colors that won’t embarrass the business traveler – “an absolutely gorgeous chocolate brown, a beautiful navy blue, a very dark purple.”
  • TUMI: Lightweight with “some really spectacular colors.”
  • IT Luggage: These semi-deconstructed, very basic bags weigh as little as 3 pounds and come “in all the colors of the rainbow.”
  • Swiss Army: These “youthful-looking” bags are less expensive but still wear well.

I love my own Delsey case, but if and when it ever gives up the ghost I’ll be looking for lighter luggage — from Delsey or someone else.

Just FYI: Large bags are still available if you’re heading for a cruise that requires formal wear or some other special garb. (Fun fact: Cruises exist for fans of nudism, Elvis, Shakespeare and “Star Trek.”) But a carefully packed medium-sized bag will generally do just as well, according to MacKenzie.


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th What does a working kitchen need?A blog post over at Get Rich Slowly asks readers which cooking  utensils/equipment they couldn’t live without. “In the kitchen: When less is more” posits that plenty of the things marketed as necessities end up as just so much culinary clutter.

“How much do you need to have a working kitchen?” asks writer Lisa Aberle.

Good question.

My comment on the post became pretty lengthy – so lengthy, in fact, that I realized I feel pretty strongly about the subject. While I understand that foodies and gadgeteers love their avocado slicers and their cheese straighteners*, I’d like to point out that:

  • More isn’t necessarily better, and
  • Specialization is the last refuge of marketers.


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th 2 The low maintenance preppers.I just went shopping in our basement, bringing up several items that were missing in our upstairs cupboards: catsup and ibuprofen (both from Costco), a jar of homemade jam, a can of chicken soup.

It always tickles me to see how much we’ve got stored down there, from the kale we grew and dried to bedpillow-sized sacks of dried beans.

Since I live in a really seismic state, the stockpile also makes me feel safe and prepared. Well, as prepared as one can ever be for another Good Friday Earthquake. (And yes, I’ve thought about what might happen if the house collapsed into the basement: Anger, panic and finally rueful laughter.)

That’s probably why an Everyday Cheapskate post called “Don’t be scared, be prepared” resonated so much and got me thinking, once again, about food preparedness.


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