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Cheryl's Sensible Cents Newsletter - 9/15/2005 Did gas prices justify this purchase?
September 15, 2005

Did You Know?....

September is National Preparedness Month
Visit for family or business preparedness information!

Jamie Farr (who played Klinger on M*A*S*H) was the only member of the cast who actually served as a soldier in the Korean war.

In the Wizard of Oz Dorothy's last name is Gail. It is shown on the mail box.

"Wealth consists not in having great possessions but in having few wants." - Epicurus

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Featured Articles:

Self Justification or Practicality? When Gas Prices Justify Action -by Cheryl Johnson
Are You Prepared for a Weather-related Emergency at Home and on the Road? - Courtesy ARA

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In this issue:

Traditional Banana Bread
Fresh Apple Bread
Kunzler's Kick-Off Casserole

Traditional Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup raw "quick" oats
1 & 1/4 cups mashed very ripe banana (about 3 medium-sized bananas)

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2.Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together into a bowl.
3.In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs well with an electric mixer. Beat in buttermilk. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg, mixing well. Beat in brown sugar.
4. Stir in oats. Add banana and mix well. Add flour mixture and blend well with a wooden spoon.
5. Pour mixture into a greased and floured 9 & 1/4 - inch loaf pan. Bake 50-55 minutes, until loaf begins to separate from the edges of the pan and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Fresh Apple Bread

2 cups Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 cup butter
1 & 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, and finely grated
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1.Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and grated nutmeg.
2.Cream the butter and gradually add the sugar until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time.
3.Alternately add the flour mixture and apples to creamed mixture.
4. Stir in nuts.
5. Pour into a well greased 9 inch loaf pan and bake in a 350 degrees F. oven for 50-60 minutes or until bread is nicely browned and springs back when lightly pressed in the center. Cool 10-15 minutes in the pan. Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.

Kunzler's Kick-Off Casserole

A great change for the hot dog!
Prep Time: 20 min. • Bake Time: 45 min

8 slices Kunzler Bacon
1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (15 oz. each) red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
2 cans (15 oz. each) pinto beans, rinsed & drained
2 cans (15 oz. each) black beans, rinsed & drained
2 & 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
1/2 cup water
1 pkg. (1 lb.) Kunzler Franks, diagonally sliced

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook bacon in skillet on medium heat until crisp; drain, reserving 2 tbsp. bacon drippings in skillet. Add onion and garlic; cook andstir on medium-high heat until lightly browned.
2. Mix all ingredients and place into 3-quart baking dish(13"x9"x2"). Top with bacon.
3. Bake 45 minutes or hot and bubbling.
Serves 12
Get more exciting recipes for franks

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Money Saving Tips:

  • Make your own laundry detergent. I've found that this recipe requires just 1-2 tablespoons (depending on load size) for each washer load.

    You will need:

    1 Cup Grated Fels Naptha Soap
    1/2 Cup Washing Soda
    1/2 Cup Borax (20 Mule Team is one brand)

    For light load, use 1 tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 tablespoons.

    I found my local grocery stores to be much cheaper than online sources (which include shipping costs) for these ingredients. All can be found in the laundry aisle of your grocery store. Arm and Hammer makes the washing soda (*not to be confused with baking soda)

  • Cleaning Tips

  • Add about half a cup of white vinegar to the laundry rinse cycle to freshen and soften clothes. Use a little more for very hard water.
  • Cover up scratches on old wood surfaces. Not recommended for heirloom pieces but, a quick fix for less valuable wood furnishings. Make a thick paste of instant coffee and water and rub into scratches to make them less noticeable.
  • Keep bath toys in a recycled fruit bag. The plastic net bags complete with drawstrings, that some fruits come in, are great for organizing and draining bath toys. After your child's bath, just throw all the toys in the bag and hang them from the shower head or other hook.
  • Recycling

  • Use plastic milk jugs and clothespins to create a child's game. Good game for a birthday party or to add something new to family game night. Cut a hole in the backside of a milk jug (big enough to retrieve clothespins.) Draw a line (or use tape indoors) about 5-6 inches from milk jug. Have each child stand at the line and give them a specified number of clothespins to try to drop into the small top opening. (retrieve from the hole you cut in the back to give to next child). The one who gets the most in wins a small prize or privilege! For parties you can have a grand prize, 1st 2nd, 3rd etc. if desired.
  • Unwanted small stuffed toys can be used as pin cushions.
  • Old CD Rom Disks can be used as driveway or walkway reflectors. Nail several to a wooden stick and place as desired. Painting the stick a bright neon orange or yellow will enhance the overall effect.


    Self Justification or Practicality? When Gas Prices Justify Action

    I recently traded in our beloved family van. The family conversion van was an asset that I had always considered a personal luxury (although it was used when I purchased it) and which had some sentimental value. The family had experienced at least one very wonderful vacation together traveling in it's comfort. But recently, as gas prices soared, the family van started to become more and more a serious liability.

    Getting a meager 11 to 12 miles per gallon just wasn't budget friendly any more. In fact, it was beginning to stretch the budget a tad too much for my comfort! Besides the price of gas, the van would soon require several maintenance services such as, tires, brakes, a tune up, and new shocks. And, with the extended warranty running out in a couple of months, it was likely to become the money pit I had nightmares about. All this with still two years to pay on the loan. The time had come to re-evaluate my transportation options.

    My expectations of what value the van currently held were, to my dismay, indeed correct. Given the price of gas today, I owed quite a bit more than it's market value at this time. Considering this and other factors, the situation moved me quickly up to the new car market. I would have normally only considered a used car.

    Amazingly, no matter how the numbers were crunched, and weighing all the pros and cons, it seemed that my best option was "a new car." Being a foreign concept to my frugal lifestyle, this was hard for me to accept. A strict debt management program, and a very tight budget, had not allowed room for me save for the expense of a used car. So, here I was, seemingly in the twilight zone. Could this really be happening? Could it actually be more cost effective, budget wise, to buy the new car? I had to weigh all my options very carefully before signing on the dotted line!

    First a few realistic facts to consider:

    1. There was no way that I could afford to keep the van, given the monthly payment, and purchase another more economical car. Even if I never put another drop of gas in it. First of all, the worse thing you can do to a vehicle is to let it sit for long period of time. Second; Would I really just let it sit? Third; I would still have other expenses, like insurance, to pay. I knew that even had this option been available to me, it would have negative results in the long run.

    2. The van had over 100,000 miles on it. If I stuck it out until it was paid in full, what major repairs await me? I would be free from car debt in two years, but what would I have to endure to get there? Being a one car family, how would my husband get to work in case of major breakdown? Was I potentially setting myself up for a bad situation?

    3. If I buy a new car, I will be extending my goal to become debt free. It means a lot to me to one day be completely free from debt. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, am I willing to delay my goals?

    4. I am spending the same amount of money monthly on the van loan payment and gas, as I would be spending on a new car payment and gas. The new car getting about two times the gas mileage as the van.

    So, where is my money best spent? At the gas pump? Or, investing in a new car with a warranty and better gas mileage? The new car was starting to look pretty good to me! My monthly budget would only be affected slightly by investing in the new car. However, I would be acquiring more debt. Quite the dilemma for a frugal gal.

    I also considered that this would be a long time commitment for me. Now mind you, I am not the type that goes about buying a new car every few years, as many people do to simply keep up with the Joneses or keep with the new styles. Ideally, I would be keeping the new car for it's entire expected life. In my frugal opinion, that's about 15 years minimum!

    What did I do? After several long hours of deliberation with my self and, after weighing out all the pros and cons, I invested in the new car. I just couldn't get past the fact that it seemed more practical and logical to put the money in a new car rather than in the gas pump. At least the new car would be under warranty and was more economical. This immediately removed a great deal of stress worrying about major car repairs and gas prices possibly soaring even higher.

    This was a very difficult decision for me. In my spendthrift days, I had proven to be an expert at self justification. This ability to justify just about any purchase is, among other factors of course, one of the reasons my debt rose to unmanageable proportions. I try to be very careful not to slip back into my old habits.

    However, after given a few days to think on it more, I am very happy with the decision I made. I actually feel a tremendous amount of stress relief. Apparently, the van's future was worrying me more than I realized. I am not kicking myself as I originally thought I would be.

    So what do you think? Did I do the right thing? Was this self-justification or, was it the practical and logical thing to do, given the circumstances? I would love to know what you think. Be honest. Tell me like you see it! Tell me what you think

    Recommended Reading

    See if your local library has the following item for check out or click on the title to purchase it for just $5.99 currently, at Book Closeouts.

    Frugal Luxuries
    Tracey McBride created the newsletter Frugal Times in 1993 and has since delighted thousands by elevating the skill of living frugally to an art form. Now Tracey's commonsense techniques for making "every day a feast" and her wisdom on how to cultivate abundance are gathered in one volume. Tracey shows us how to savor the intangible gifts we receive when we create a nurturing home, share luscious yet low-cost meals with family and friends, master our budgets, learn to combine style and thriftiness, and cultivate our dreams and imaginations without spending a cent. Filled with ingenious, heartwarming, and practical advice, Frugal Luxuries helps us remember what is truly of value in our lives - our time, our loved ones, and our inner sense of prosperity.

    Are You Prepared for a Weather-related Emergency at Home and on the Road?

    (ARA) - Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, strong electrical storms and blizzards. People living almost anywhere can be impacted by these forces of Mother Nature. Families should stock their homes and cars with key supplies that may be needed during a disaster and the power outages that can result. And these weather-related events can pop up with little warning, and be very dangerous for a family that is unprepared. A family that talks over their emergency plans can calmly put that plan into action when an emergency hits.

    Emergency preparedness experts suggest the following items be included as part of your home emergency supply kit:

  • Several clean containers of water, large enough for a three to five day supply of water, or about five gallons per person.
  • A three to five day supply of non-perishable food.
  • A first-aid kit and manual.
  • Flashlights. Experts recommend the new magnetic force flashlights, such as the NightStar, that never need batteries or bulbs. Place one flashlight near your breaker box and keep another with your supplies.
  • A battery-powered radio and extra batteries.
  • Sleeping bags or extra blankets.
  • Water-purifying supplies, such as chlorine or iodine tablets of unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach.
  • Prescription medicines and special medical needs.
  • Waterproof matches.
  • Special items for babies, such as baby food, formula and diapers.
  • Disposable cleaning cloths, such as baby wipes, for the whole family in case bathing facilities become unavailable.
  • Personal hygiene supplies such as soap, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, etc.
  • “One of our strongest testimonials is from a woman whose husband had just undergone major heart surgery,” says Steve Vetorino, inventor of the NightStar flashlights manufactured by Applied Innovative Technologies. “Shortly after coming home from the hospital, they were hit by Hurricane Isabel, which left them without power for a week. Unlike their battery flashlight that failed when they needed it, NightStar always worked and helped get them through a difficult time.”

    The advantages of having a magnetic force flashlight in your storm preparedness kit are that they never need batteries or bulbs, and are always ready when you need them. By briefly shaking the NightStar flashlight, it provides 20 minutes of light on a single charge.

    When shaken, a high-strength magnet passes back and forth through a wire coil. The electrical energy generated is stored in a capacitor that be recharged repeatedly, will work in extreme temperatures and will never corrode -- even in humid or salty environments. NightStar flashlights now have state-of-the-art LED technology that puts the flashlights’ beam on par with conventional bulb flashlights.

    Even if you are at home when disaster strikes and your home is well-stocked, you may still need the storm emergency supplies in your car. If your home becomes unsafe to enter, such as after an earthquake, your car may be one of your most important resources after a disaster.

    Think of your car’s trunk as a big steel supply cabinet. Keep your storm emergency supplies in the trunk along with tools, jumper cables and a spare tire.

    Always keep your gas tank full -- fill it when it reaches a half-tank. You’ll be grateful for the full tank if you are stuck in a traffic jam during bad weather. Keep your car mechanically sound and ready to use.

    For more information about storm preparedness tips, NightStar flashlights and other accessories, please visit, or call (303) 857-1405. (Courtesy of ARA Content)

    For more emergency preparedness information visit the following websites:

    30 Tips for Emergency Preparedness, National Preparedness Month 2005 at

    Family Disaster Guide, Are You Ready?

    Family Friendly Sites - Resources for the Family - Articles, reviews and products for the family in the areas of entertainment, education, health, finance, lifestyle, parenting, technology and travel. -Family Activities
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    Funny Pictures & Videos - Clean Humor - A great place to find some funny stuff to share with friends and family, or just to brighten your own day!


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