Dollar Stretcher: Finding true professional handymen

Marco Eagle

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How to make money by eating healthy

One way I've found to make money is to save the seeds of the fruit and squash that I eat. I can sell the cleaned, dried seeds for ten to twenty times what I paid for the food. With avocados, I sprout the seeds in water (it can take two to three months) and when they have true leaves, I list them online for at least $10 each. I generally make an extra $2,000 to $3,000 each year. It's not much, but the seller fees on Etsy are much lower than other sites. Every little bit helps.


Easy winter meals

In the cold of winter, we have a soup swap at my house. Everyone brings a quart of soup to share and a quart of soup for each person attending. We generally invite six people. We each enjoy the evening of soups and everyone goes home with quite a variety. The soups can be frozen and will last for weeks. The cost is minimal and the evening is always fun. Best of all, we are able to enjoy the soups for the rest of the winter.


Ask the grocery expert

I do a lot of my grocery shopping during off-hours. Once the kids are in bed, my husband watches them and I go shopping. I ask questions of any of the employees I see, especially in the meat and produce sections. I've found out when they drop prices of things that are nearly out of date and when I can expect certain items to go on sale. I'm saving a lot and we're still eating well.


Why buy broth?

For a long time, I've made my own veggie broth. My neighbor comes often for tea and remarks that my house always smells delicious. It's because I generally have something going in my slow cooker. That day it was veggie soup. She tasted the broth and wanted to know what brand. I explained that it came from all the leftover peels and pieces of veggies that would normally be tossed. I freeze carrot and turnip trimmings (peels) and ends from celery, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, onion skins, leeks and green peppers. It goes in the slow cooker when I have two bags full. I add water and just let it simmer. After I strain out the veggie matter (which goes in the composter), I bag the broth into single use bags and freeze. It costs little to make versus buying the ready-made stuff, which has a lot of salt and preservatives.


Finding true professional handymen

When my kitchen faucet needed fixing, I called a plumbing company that advertised that they specialized in home plumbing repairs. The person they sent was able to fix the problem, but I learned while chatting with him that he was not a licensed plumber (by which I mean licensed by the state). The same thing happened when I had an electrician come to the house to install some ceiling fans. This company advertised that they provide full capability electrical contracting. The company even claimed that when a situation requires a professional electrician, customers can feel confident in calling on them for help; nevertheless, when the contractor arrived and I asked point blank, he said that he was not licensed. This time the job eventually got done, but it was only after many trips back and forth for which I paid dearly. My point is that if you think you're getting (and paying for) a licensed electrician/plumber, you may well be getting someone less than fully qualified. From now on, I will make sure I'm getting what I thought I was paying for.


My 401K experience

Your recent article about a 401K reminded me of a tip. When I was working, my employer offered matching up to 3 percent of contribution to the company's 401K. I thought at first that I could not afford this, so I started out at 1 percent and my take-home pay actually went up. I increased it to 2 percent and my take-home pay went up again. When I went to percent, my take-home pay still increased. There is no tax withheld on 401K and the less taxable income meant more take-home pay. This may vary, depending on income level. Talk to someone in payroll to see what impact your contribution will have on you.

Since I was older when I started this, I only paid in for about three years. I didn't think that little bit would make much of a difference, but I left it until I was 70.5 years old and needed to start taking an annual disbursement. It had more than tripled in value. Now I take the minimum required disbursement each year, which gives me enough cash to take a little vacation or make a major purchase. The principal goes up each year more than the amount of the disbursement, and the money will still be there if I need it for an emergency.


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