Cheap threads and other frugal tips

This week we have had lots of interesting letters from the frugal community.

John from Whangarei writes, “I have discovered another virtue in having a son-in-law – especially one that is about my size! I now receive an endless supply of pre-loved clothing. My wardrobe is literally bursting with the almost-latest fashion jeans, jackets, and shirts. I am now, very subtly, suggesting what he may like to buy, knowing that it will come my way in the future!”

Here’s a way to work out if clothing is expensive — look at the price tag, and divide it by the number of times you expect to wear it.  Here are a couple of examples. Tee-shirt, cost $20. Expected to be worn say 50 times. Cost 40 cents per wear. Fancy wedding dress. Cost $1,000. Expected to be worn once – hopefully! Cost $1,000 per wear. These are extreme examples, but you get the picture.

Another way to turn this on its head is to commit to paying no more than say $2 a wear for evening dress, 50 cents for casual clothes, or say 20 cents for socks and undies. In other words, if you expect to wear a casual shirt say 50 times, then the maximum you should pay is $25.

Peter from Hastings has this tip about potatoes and gardens.”Those reusable fabric bags from The Warehouse and the like are just the thing for storing potatoes. They let the air through, which helps keep them fresher for longer. You can also fill these bags with a 50-50 mix of compost and peat moss and plant a couple of seed potatoes in them, if you want to get an early or late start on the growing season. Keep them on a warm deck and put them inside if a frost is forecast. The handles make moving them easy and they can be folded down when the plants get bigger. Don’t forget to water them a bit more often, just like raised beds. I made three round raised beds out of non-woven weed mat that lasted four seasons. I got all three from one 20 metre roll. I used industrial polyester thread from Spotlight on a standard sewing machine with no trouble. They were one metre diameter by 330 mm high and held roughly 250 litres. The base was two layers and the sides were folded in three and sewn onto the base. For a one metre wide roll allow 3.3 metres for the sides. This allows for a small overlap. You can put them on an unused pallet if you have access to a pallet trolley for ease of moving. This could be an answer for those who have no gardens around a rental dwelling.”

There you have it – a moveable garden!

Kay from Kaitaia has been onto the oily rag website and has a suggestion for those making Yorkshire puddings from Fred’s recipe – to recap: “I use 2 eggs, 100 ml of skim milk, 100gm of flour, and a pinch of salt. Mix it all up into a thin batter. Place a little cooking oil in the bottom of each recess of a muffin tin, then put into a hot oven, 250 degrees Celsius. Once heated through, take the tin out and quickly pour in the batter. Place in the oven and leave 10-15 minutes until they rise. The trick is to have the tin really hot to start with – and NOT to open the door while they are cooking! We have them with a meat roast – yum!”

Kay says, “Another trick is with the thickness of the mix – a thin mix will make tall but thin Yorkshires, while with a thicker mixture, they will be shorter and fatter!”

We put Kay’s tip to the test, and quite right, the thickness of the mix is important. We think having a slightly thicker mix gives better results. They are such a treat on a cold night.

The extra cold temperatures and lengthy power cuts for many folk this winter has again reminded us about the virtues of having a full pantry of bargain buys – and a wood burning stove. While others freeze, those who live off the smell of an oily rag will again be reminding themselves how clever they are!