February 28, 2006

Vinegar's Unbelievable Variety of Uses

That plain, white, cheap vinegar you can pick up at the grocery has an unbelievable amount of uses around the home. Why? Vinegar is a natural germ-killer. The Heinz Company has produced research studies showing that white vinegar will kill 99% of the bacteria, 82% of the mold, and 80% of the germs it contacts. And, it's natural, biodegradeable, and safe for kids and pets.

How to use it? Use it straight to clean toilet bowls as well as kitchen cutting boards and countertops (let all set for 30 minutes, then rinse). Put a bottle into the washer and let a cycle run. Clean windows with a spray bottle filled with a dollop of vinegar to a bunch of water (10% vinegar, 90% water).

In gardening, vinegar is amazing. Put it out in a jar top, and the bugs run. Put a teaspoon in the vase water, cut flowers last longer.

There's lots more at about.com, 131 Uses for Vinegar.

How to Clean - 1

Keeping a house clean and neat is easier for some than others. Living the simple life means maintaining control of the house, as opposed to managing its chaos, in order to maximize your time and energy for other things.

For those new to living simply, cleaning can be overwhelming. Some may be new to doing it themselves: in their old life, they hired someone to do it for them.

Therefore, in tandem with the How to Cook series, this series of posts will deal with various aspects of housekeeping.

Simplifying Your Stuff, Organizing the Home

First, remember Rome wasn't built in a day, and the Queen of England isn't visiting tomorrow. A home isn't going to be 100% at any time, there's always going to be something on the task list. Your goal isn't a lab, it's a pleasant living environment. Check those expectations.

Second, stop and consider your rooms. They have a purpose - maybe more than one. Is one bedroom serving as a guest room and an office? Okay, two purposes. Kitchen, where you prepare and store food. Bathroom, well -- you get the idea.

Each room should not contain anything outside its purpose. The office/guest room shouldn't have your kids' sporting goods thrown about it. The bedroom shouldn't have dishes. You get the idea. What if they do? You're simplifying your life: decluttering is part of that. Anything that isn't a part of that room's purpose shouldn't be in that room.

Third, find your storage area if you don't have one. Consider the temperature and light: those food bargains from Costco need to be kept in cool, dry places. Plan and create storage shelves if you need them. At Lowe's, you can get metal shelf holders for about a buck and scrap lumber for the shelf itself. Get your storage area ready for work.

Fourth, get your storage containers ready. Dollar Tree, garage sales, and those BankerBoxes from Office Depot (6 for $6.00) are all good storage containers that will stack. (I like the clear plastic ones because I can see what's inside.) Heck, those free cardboard boxes left behind the liquor store are great, too. You want lots of places to put the excess stuff coming out of those rooms you're organizing.

Fifth, spurge on several big plastic laundry baskets. They're great. Easy to carry, and you can take them through the house: e.g., toss all the excess from the den into the basket, then distribute as part of daily pick-up.

In your big simplicity push, you can use several of these to sort a messy room: throw away basket, give to charity basket, goes someplace else basket. I like the basket approach because it keeps the overwhelming feeling at bay: a basket a day, and before you know it, the office is an office again. Like magic.

Next post: you've got to throw away stuff when you're simplifying. Every house has a limit on what it will hold. What to keep, what to let go of painlessly ...

February 26, 2006

Filial Responsibility Laws - List of States Having Them

States with filial responsibility laws are: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

To look up the actual language of the statutes, here are the citations:

1. Alaska Stat. 25.20.030, 47.25.230 (Michie 2000)

2. Arkansas Code Ann. 20-47-106 (Michie 1991)

3. California Fam. Code 4400, 4401, 4403, 4410-4414 (West 1994), California Penal Code 270c (West 1999), California Welf. & Inst. Code 12350 (West Supp. 2001)

4. Connecticut Gen. Stat. Ann. 46b-215, 53-304 (West Supp. 2001)

5. Delaware Code Ann. tit. 13, 503 (1999)

6. Georgia Code Ann. 36-12-3 (2000)

7. Idaho Code 32-1002 (Michie 1996)

8. Indiana Code Ann. 31-16-17-1 to 31-16-17-7 (West 1997); Indiana Code Ann. 35-46-1-7 (West 1998)

9. Iowa Code Ann. 252.1, 252.2, 252.5, 252.6, 252.13 (West 2000)

10. Kentucky Rev. Stat. Ann. 530.050 (Banks-Baldwin 1999)

11. Louisiana Rev. Stat. Ann. 4731 (West 1998)

12. Maryland Code Ann., Fam. Law 13-101, 13-102, 13-103, 13-109 (1999)

13. Massachusetts Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 273, 20 (West 1990)

14. Mississippi Code Ann. 43-31-25 (2000)

15. Montana Code Ann. 40-6-214, 40-6-301 (2000)

16. Nevada Rev. Stat. Ann. 428.070 (Michie 2000);
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. 439B.310 (Michie 2000)

17. New Hampshire Rev. Stat. Ann. 167:2 (1994)

18. New Jersey Stat. Ann. 44:4-100 to 44:4-102, 44:1-139 to 44:1-141 (West 1993)

19. North Carolina Gen. Stat. 14-326.1 (1999)

20. North Dakota Cent. Code 14-09-10 (1997)

21. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2919.21 (Anderson 1999)

22. Oregon Rev. Stat. 109.010 (1990)

23. 62 Pennsylvania Cons. Stat. 1973 (1996)

24. Rhode Island Gen. Laws 15-10-1 to 15-10-7 (2000); R.I. Gen. Laws 40-5-13 to 40-5-18 (1997)

25. South Dakota Codified Laws 25-7-28 (Michie 1999)

26. Tennessee Code Ann. 71-5-115 (1995), Tenn. Code Ann. 71-5-103 (Supp. 2000)

27. Utah Code Ann. 17-14-2 (1999)

28. Vermont Stat. Ann. tit. 15, 202-03 (1989)

29. Virginia Code Ann. 20-88 (Michie 2000)

30. West Virginia Code 9-5-9 (1998).

These state laws vary; however, law student Shannon Edelstone, in her award-winning essay (cited below), studied all of the state laws and found that most agree that children have a duty to provide necessities for parents who cannot do so for themselves. The states' legislation also gives guidelines to the courts, telling judges to use a number of factors when weighing the adult child's ability to pay against the indigent parent's needs. Judges, accordingly, have considered such variables as the adult child's financing of their child's college education, as well as his/her personal needs for savings and retirement.

What state had the most court cases dealing with application of its statute? In my search, it was California.

Sources: Filial Responsibility: Can the Legal Duty to Support Our Parents Be Effectively Enforced? by Shannon Frank Edelstone, appearing in the Fall 2002 issue of the American Bar Association's Family Law Quarterly, 36 Fam. L.Q. 501 (2002); my own research using Lexis.Com.

June 9, 2010 Update:  I have discovered that the New York Times has used this post as a graphic without my knowledge or permission. The link to that graphic, which accompanied an article written by Jane Gross in the Times' New Old Age Blog is here:  http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/health/NOA/30states.pdf

I've written the Editor.  I suppose some would say that having your stuff lifted by the New York Times is a backwards compliment. 

Personally, I just want my readers to know that I did this work, I'm not the one who has stolen a blog post here. 

February 25, 2006

Vegetables: Fresh or Frozen or Canned

Which form of vegetables is best for you and yours? Fresh is considered best, of course: however, those fresh veggies lose a lot of their nutritional value if you boil them in water for long. Better to steam them.

It's all about the nutrients. Both Vitamin C and folic acid escape quickly: in raw vegetables, both will start vanishing after only a few days.

Research has found that canned apricots, spinach, and pumpkin provided more vitamin A per serving than those cooked while fresh. Canned asparagus, potatoes, and spinach also proved to outrank or equal fresh-cooked for vitamin C. However, freshly cooked tomatoes had higher vitamin C and fresh carrots, more vitamin A, than either canned or frozen.

The researchers explain that processed (canned and frozen) veggies can be nutritionally superior to fresh produce because the processed ones are chosen at optimal harvest, when nutrient content is at its peak. This is very important for finding vitamin C in green veggies.

Since processing seeks to maximize nutritional content, the debate becomes: frozen or canned?

Both are preserved when the vegetables are at their nutritional best, at the peak of their harvest. Canned vegetables do have a salt problem, unless you check the label and buy a "no-sodium" or "lo-sodium" variety. (Canned fruits, likewise, have that sugar issue.)

What's the difference? It's in the preparation...

Canned: cans (or glass jars), machine-filled with vegetables, as well as brine or liquid, are pre-heated and then automatically sealed. Then, they are cooked under standardized times and temperatures, assuring the veggies will store without refrigeration. Once cooled, they stay in warehouses until they reach the store shelf. You need only re-heat.

Frozen: Freshly harvested veggies are first slightly pre-cooked to keep their natural appearance and flavor during the long time they'll be stored. Otherwise, they'd brown. Then, they're placed into polyethylene bags or fiber cartons which are wrapped in marketing labels (veggie name, company logo, etc.) and placed in freezers. They still need some cooking time.

When you're at the store ...

If you buy vegetables in a can, make sure that the can isn't leaking or buckling anywhere. Swells mean spoiled. A little dent is okay.

As for vegetables from the freezer, their packages should be solid. Any package that's wet or weak means it's defrosting -- and any package that has a stain on the outside or that has an icy crust means the package was defrosted and refrozen. Doesn't mean they're toxic, but it does mean some taste has been lost. Choose something else.

Once you're home ...

Store your canned veggies at a temperature no higher than 75°F., and they'll keep for at least a year. Even after a couple of years, they'll still be safe to eat, but some taste will be lost. Open a can, put any unused portion in the fridge: they'll stay good for a couple of days. Frozen veggies need to be kept at 0°F. or lower. Open a package, put the remainder back on ice asap. If it defrosts, use it now.

Bottom line: Between the two processing options - frozen or canned - it apparently comes down to taste as a general rule. I like frozen peas better than canned, for example. Fresh remains the optimal choice: which means those Spring-time Farmer's Markets can't open a moment too soon.

Sources: allrefer.com, US Dept. of Agriculture, British Foodservice, Colorado State University Extension Service.

February 24, 2006

Free Online Tutorials for Popular Software

There's a nice collection of online tutorials for Microsoft products like Publisher, Word, Powerpoint, and Office provided by Kent School District in Washington.

Microcounsel has a nice list for WordPerfect users, too -- although it is focused for law firms and despite the fact that less and less people use WordPerfect these days.

How To Cook - 1

With newscoverage dealing with the American lifestyle, it's coming to light that one of the problems of change is that people never learned to cook, or they've forgotten how after years of buying processed food.

Lots of people don't cook from scratch - you know, go into the pantry, search through the kitchen, use a pot and a pan, and come out with a meal that tastes good. (Sandwiches don't count. Reheated takeout or premade frozen doesn't, either.)

And maybe they should, and maybe they'd like it. It's fun. And, it's part of simplifying life. A simple life involves cooking.

So, here's the first in a series of posts dealing with this basic task. Cooking's not hard, cooking's fun -- and there is something wonderful about setting down to a homecooked meal at a table with your family. It's therapeutic. It's fun. Heck, it's spiritual, man.

You do not need to be Julia Child, and you don't need tablescapes by Sandra Lee to do this.

First, there's a vocabulary for cooking - basting, panfry, parbroil: the folks at Crisco.com have a good, clear list for you. Don't memorize this, just go look up the words you don't know when you need them.

Second, you need to have the basic equipment. Here's a short, simple list - and you can find good quality stuff at places like TJ Maxx and DollarTree, with great finds to be had at garage or estate sales:

Pyrex measuring cup - 2 cup size. It will handle the microwave (until you get the gumption to get rid of that thing).

Measuring cups/spoons - one of those gizmos that combine measurements into one is cool.

Cooking Spoons - get big wooden ones, they usually come 3-4 in a package. Get one big scoop, too. DollarTree has great buys on GoodGrips for this stuff.

Spatula -- one. Start with one.

Strainer - get a big one, you can start a collection later.

Knives - don't get one of those collections; get a chef's knife, a serrated one (uneven edge), and a smaller one. Don't be intimated by what the fancy chefs tell you. The goal is to use the tool to cut the food and not yourself -- pick ones that fit your hand as well as the task. The chef's knife is big enough to handle an eggplant or a chicken, and the serrated one is a must for cutting thru bread, chocolate, etc. The small one is used when the big one is clumsy.

Cutting Boards - get a wooden one, plastic holds germs and knives can slip on glass. Big is good, too small and you wonder what to do with the food as you're chopping, etc. It needs to give you room to work. Let a collection grow over time.

Cookie Sheet - one.

Grater - one.

Cast Iron Skillet -- simple, perfect. You have to "cure" it. Do this by covering it with oil or shortening and baking it for one hour at 350 degrees. Don't immerse in water, or you'll have to recure. Wipe it clean. Yes, you read it right. Find one of these babies dark and well-used at a garage or estate sale, and boy howdy - you've found a treasure. Bake, broil, fry - fabulous.

Soup pot aka "Dutch oven" - 5 quart or more, round, has a lid.

Pots -- Two pots with lids. Pot differs from pan by having height and a lid.

Baking pan - start with a basic Pyrex 9" by 13" and get ready for Brownies.

Bowls - a basic set of three is fine, Pyrex is nice because it can handle heat and cold. Try Amazon - 3 for 9.99.

Sources: Ehow.com Kraft.com ; Aunt Clara's Kitchen, and my own experience.

To follow along with someone, check out FoodNetwork online videos, Cooking.com videos, and WorldCulinaryInstitute.

Great first cookbook: Pam Anderson's How To Cook Without A Book.

February 16, 2006

Great Money Helper

The Consumer's Almanac has a great money site. Here, you can input personal information and obtain your net worth, as well as get help planning for vacations, retirement, and the kids' college. Not the only site you'll need, but a good place to start.

Setting financial goals isn't the most fun thing to do, but you know you need to do it, and afterwards, to check yourself against them on a regular basis to insure you're on track.

This site helps.

February 15, 2006

Test Yourself - The Mortality Test

There's a new test for seniors. It's designed to help you determine how much living you have left. According to its developer, the quiz's purpose is "to try to help doctors and families get a firmer sense for what the future may hold," says developer Dr. Sei Lee, a geriatrics researcher at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. They claim that the test is approximately 81% accurate. We'll see.

February 14, 2006

Janet Luhrs - Simplicity Trailblazer

Janet Luhrs wrote The Simple Living Guide in 1997 and it continues to be a great source of information and inspiration on living simply. It's weighty and costs around $25.00 new at my local Barnes & Noble, but alibris.com has used copies for around $9.00 and new copies for around $14.00. Visit a copy at the library, see if you don't think it's worth having as reference on your shelf.

Her website is pretty, and provides various aspects of her longstanding, famous Simple Living newsletter as well as the offer of free tips into your inbox, daily. The newsletter is not free, it costs $3.00/month; however, it has quite a large following and is well-known for its quality of content. You have the option of subscribing to online or print editions.

Who is Janet Luhrs? Random House describes her:

"Janet Luhrs gave up a law career to practice voluntary simplicity, and she is now a journalist and the editor and publisher of Simple Living: The Journal of Voluntary Simplicity. Her quarterly newsletter, which has been called "the nation's premier newsletter on voluntary simplicity" (Boston Globe), as well as her own personal simplifying journey have been featured in U.S. News & World Report, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and on Donahue. A regular guest on NPR, she lives with her two children in Seattle, Washington."

February 13, 2006

Free E-Cards for Valentine's Day

Free electronic greeting cards are a great thing. Nice to receive, and they are growing in complexity - animated, as well as flash, versions are available. Of course, lots of folks have spam filters up and running which prevents the card's delivery.

Solution? Lots of sites send a message with a jump, instructing the recepient to travel to a website where the card will be revealed.

For Valentine's Day, maybe an ecard isn't the best thing for the love of your life. But it's a nice idea for grandma, right?

Check out:

February 11, 2006

Simple Living Mysteries

For those who love a good cozy mystery, i.e., one that has laughs in it, there's an addition to the recipe collections (think Tamar Myers) and the dog collections (think Susan Connant) ... there's a couple that fit the Simplicity bill.
The Picker Who Perished by Kate Holmes is available through Albris.Com.

There is also Shop Till You Drop, a Dead-End Job Mystery, by Elaine Veits. A funny read, it was an Agatha Award nominee. In fact, it's part of a series of "Dead End Job Mysteries."

Can you think of any others?

Nat'l Ass'n of Retail & Thrift Stores

Wow, there really is a National Association of Retail and Thrift Stores, and they have a lot of free information for you at their site. Among other things, there's a Shopping Guide, an FAQ, and a listing of their member stores.

They also provide a quarterly newsletter, "Resale Details," with a free subscription. It's good. Archives are on the site, and Winter 2005 has great info, including:

"Be careful of pop-culture themes like cartoon characters. Instead of investing in SpongeBob bedding and curtains that the child will outgrow in a few short years, use easily removed wall appliqu├ęs and inexpensive accessories such as throw pillows or sheet sets to accentuate a theme."

It's a real find.

February 9, 2006

Declaration of Independence from Overconsumption

Vicki Robin, New Road Map Foundation president, spoke to the United Nations on April 6, 1994. Her speech, "A Declaration of Independence from Overconsumption," appears in abridged form at the Foundation's site. Excerpts include:

"Overconsumption Is A Catastrophe for Ourselves: Declining quality of life. Our habit of overconsumption enslaves many of us to longer hours at tedious or morally questionable jobs. We say we value relationships over possessions, yet our behavior says the opposite. As we spend less time with our families and communities, we end up with more crime, violence and teen suicides. ...

"Overconsumption Is A Catastrophe For Our Country: Economic weakness. Our habit of overconsumption has led to debt, bankruptcy and the lowest savings rate in the industrialized world. We don't have money to invest in infrastructure, in education, in the future.

"Personal excess encourages institutional abuses. The more-is-better mentality allows us to tolerate wars over oil, and corporate practices that are wasteful, polluting and unethical. We can't say "no" to Nintendos for our children or new gadgets for ourselves, so how can we expect our government to say "no" to deficit spending or CEO's to say "no" to exorbitant salaries?

"Overconsumption Is A Catastrophe For Humanity: Modeling an unattainable and unsustainable lifestyle to the global community. The earth cannot support everyone in the manner to which Americans have become accustomed. We must find a way to limit our excess and maintain or increase our quality of life while providing the world's people with our best knowledge and technologies so that they too can enjoy sustainable livelihoods and lifestyles.

"Overconsumption Is A Catastrophe For The Earth: Environmental destruction. Overconsumption accelerates species extinction, water and air pollution, global warming, and accumulation of toxic waste and garbage.

"Resource depletion. Overconsumption means we're using renewable resources faster than nature can restore them. Twenty percent of the groundwater we use each year is not restored. One million acres of cropland are lost to erosion annually. Ninety percent of our northwestern old-growth forests is gone."

After this, Ms. Robin gives strategies for change on both an individual and group level, as well as defining the myths surrounding the resistance to change.

It's a must read.

February 8, 2006

Sightsee by Bus

Here in San Antonio, we have lots of beautiful things to see and appreciate, although truth be told -- it's rare for the locals to frequent the River Walk. Wrong of us. Where are you? How often do you go see things that the tourists are discovering?

VIA has a special $3.00 bus pass for its Sightseer Special. Buy this ticket at any one of several locations (Botantical Gardens, Museum of Art), and then take your time jumping on and off while touring the remaining sites -- La Villita, the Witte, the Zoo, etc.

Saves driving, saves time, and it's fun. You'll get your exercise in, too. Google your city -- see what your public transportation has in mind for you to do.

Heart Health 4 U

Better late than never, since February 3rd was National Wear Red Day ....

Forty percent (40%) of all heart attacks are caused by elevated Homocysteine levels. And, most heart attacks occur between 4 and 10 in the morning, did you know that?

Homocysteine is a toxic, endogenous, sulphydryl-containing Amino Acid and elevated levels of it (1) physically cause or significantly contribute to: Blood clots, high cholesterol, strokes, sickle-cell anemia, hearing problems, kidney stones, diabetic neuropathy, some types of cancer, Chronic Fatigue syndrome, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Parkinson's disease; and (2) mentally cause: aggressiveness, dementia, depression, memory impairment, and schizophrenia.

You're at a bigger risk of having high homocysteine levels if you suffer from hypothyroidism or have Type 2 diabetes.

What causes high homocysteine levels?
1. Not enough folic acid
2. Alcohol
3. Tobacco
4. Caffeine
5. Stress.

What can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones?
1. Eat right - this includes lots of garlic and other things
2. Exercise - duh
3. Supplement your diet with certain things - which you might find ooky

Want details? Go read everything Valerie Saxion has to report in her show notes. It's detailed, and it's good. Do this, it's important.

February 7, 2006

Cheap Travel Deals

BizRate shops for you and finds good travel deals. Under "cheap vacations" they provide a chart, which is updated daily, of good travel deals.

CheapVacations.Com also offers a choice of deals. CheapsSeats.com has some nice prices, too.

February 6, 2006

Flowers - Find Your Wholesale Florist

The best place to find fresh flowers is at your wholesale florist. There are no arrangements to choose from, only fresh flowers that are bundled for you in green or brown paper, together with a packet of flower food, if you're lucky. You pick the flowers, the stems are priced according to the list shown at the door.

This, of course, is only if the shop is open to the public. Not all wholesalers will welcome you. Google till you find several nearby, and call first.

Here in San Antonio, we are blessed to have Travis Wholesale on Josephine. A dozen friendly daisies for $3.00. A dozen deep red roses for $12.00. And just too much fun, roaming through and choosing from all the rest. One of the best deals in town.

Shopping For Scratch and Dent Appliances

Scratch and Dent Appliance stores appear to be everywhere, if you google for them. Real finds can be found here: dishwashers, ranges, cooktops, freezers, refrigerators, washers, dryers, even trash compactors, dehumidifiers, and window air conditioning units are available.

When shopping for your bargain purchase, remember to investigate the following:

1. Are they offering only scratch and dent products, or does their inventory include Closeouts, Seasonal Items, Overstock, Floor Models, Discontinued Items? (Stores that focus on scratch and dents may have better prices.)

2. Do they respect manufacturers' warranties?

3. Do they deliver? Do they install as well?

4. Will they take your old one away? Better yet, will they buy it?

5. What financing, promotions, rebates, etc. apply?

6. What are their references? How long have they been in business?

7. Do they do repairs?

8. Do they warrant what they sell, independently from the manufacturer?

9. Is there a return policy?

Before the Library: Good Writer Info Site

Barnes & Noble have a growing collection of information on writers at their site. It's a big list, and it is organized in several ways: alphabetically, topically, by genre, etc.

Here, you can learn a lot about the writers' favorite reads, the reasons behind their work, background information. Some entries include video interviews with the authors.

Nice place to go before you go to the library ....where the books are free for the reading (although I suppose Barnes & Noble would prefer you went and bought some things at their store ...).

(Who's in that photograph? Answer is here.)

February 4, 2006

No State Income Tax

Not every state taxes the income of its citizenry. Just something to ponder if you're considering relocation. Those that don't: Alaska, Texas, Florida, Washington, Nevada, South Dakota, and Wyoming. (Two others, New Hampshire and Tennessee, only tax income from dividends and interest.)

For those that do tax, the rates vary. A comparision chart is provided at tax.admin.org.

(Those states appearing in red do not have a state income tax.)

Free Directory Assistance (411)

1-800-FREE411 (1-800-373-3411) really works, and it's free to you.

The catch: a 12 second advertisement of a local business that plays before you get assistance -- if it competes with the number you've requested. You then get to choose whether to stay with the business you've originally requested, or opt to call its advertising competitor.

Not calling a business? No ad.

The service also provides the option of connecting by pressing a single number on your keypad, rather than writing the number down or holding it in short-term memory.

When I called, there was a number of rings before the call connected. However, I got a real human being on the line. Big plus. And, I asked for a friend's residence number. The automated number immediately popped up; it was correct; and it repeated twice, so I had more than enough time to get the number in my head and dial it myself.

Why is it free? The advertisers are paying for it. Good for them.

Source: Snopes.com, mercola.com

February 3, 2006

AARP Offers Lots of Free Tax Help

AARP offers online help as well as personal counseling via its Tax-Aide program. Lots of basic questions are answered in its FAQ section. Wondering about your sale of securities, or which form to use? Those questions are answered here.

Across the country, AARP has over 30,000 volunteers at 8,500 locations. (At the site, if you input your zip code, you can find the closest Tax-Aide location.)

Here, IRS-certified volunteers provide both counseling and preparation services to millions of low- and middle-income taxpayers, with special attention to those ages 60 and older. These Tax-Aide folk also can be scheduled to visit with your group; this can be arranged online. Or, you can send in your questions online, and file electronically if you choose to do so.

The cost of all this help? Zip. It's free. All of it.

February 2, 2006

Freebies Online - A Freebie Directory

Volition.Com heralds itself as the oldest freebie site on the Web. With its organization of freebies by topic (fonts, software, magazines, music, movies, etc.) it's a phenomenal source for great deals.

February 1, 2006

Are You Brave Enough to Read Empire of Debt?

Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin have a website, The Daily Reckoning, as well as a free e-newsletter. Both are good reads. They've also written past New York Times' bestsellers Demise of the Dollar, and Financial Reckoning Day, and have just hit the bestseller list again with Empire of Debt.

Their take on our current economy isn't cheery. It's probably not anything that you haven't already considered, though. And, they offer advice. Buy gold. Rent, don't buy. Things like that.

Another Great Site: Thrifty Fun

ThriftyFun.Com is another great site. It's filled with recipes, household tips, crafty things. Free newsletter, photo contests, things like that. Lots of stuff for the kiddos. I have been receiving the daily tips newsletter as well as recipe tips for awhile now, and they are dependable and filled with suggestions.

Great Site: Seattle Simplicity

Seattle Simplicity is a new blog, started a couple of months ago by a very brave 30-something woman who's changing her life. It's a great site, worthy of bookmarking.

Why? Not only does it have good advice, etc., but this woman is sharing her trek with you -- in detail. She's even giving you the numbers.

You need to read this one. Often.

Example of Excess No. 1: Know What You're Not

After debating whether or not to include Examples of Excess on this site, I have chosen to do so. Why? Because part of defining what you are includes the understanding of what you're not.

When you're tired, and this alternative lifestyle does take effort, perhaps these Excess Examples will remind you how far you've come. Or maybe, they'll just give you a chuckle.

And, now, Example of Excess Number One: ParisHilton.Com. I don't think I need to type another word.
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