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Cheryl's Sensible Cents - 6/15/2006 Newsletter
June 15, 2006

What's New?

Rice Pudding Recipes
Taco Seasoning Recipe

In this Issue:

Featured Articles
What Will Your Children Learn about Money Management? - Cheryl Johnson
Recycle Furniture: Use a Dresser to Organize your Garage
Shop at Aldi and Save on Groceries
Learn to Build a Website
DebtSmart Column: Problems with Balance Transfers

Cream of Celery Soup
Maple Syrup
Ground Beef Recipe

Money Saving Tips

  • Alternative Uses for Common Household Items: Uses for Bottles
  • Recycle Clothes Tips
  • Beauty Tips

Craft Ideas
Make Watercolor Paints

Quotable Quote

Your financial life is like a garden. If you tend a garden carefully, nourishing the flowers, pruning, and weeding, it's going to be a lot more beautiful than if you just water it half-heartedly now and then. - Suze Orman

Did You Know?

Of the more than $50 billion worth of diet products sold every year, almost $20 billion are spent on imitation fats and sugar substitutes.

Mvelopes is electronic envelope budgeting. Sign up for a f-r-e-e trial and take control of your finances now. Mvelopes Personal

Featured Articles

Problems with Balance Transfers

Hi Scott,
I have gone through the trouble the past few months to get a permanent, lower-interest credit card and also to get a promotional rate on the new card to transfer balances ($5,000 to $12,000). I go through the whole process and get approved for $1,000. I cancel the card immediately, because it's just not worth it.

I canceled a card with 29,000 credit earlier in the year because I didn't want to support the company.What might be the problem?

The problem may be that your credit score is not high enough to get the new lines of credit you need to transfer all your balances. Ironically, by cancelling your $29,000 credit card you may have reduced your credit score (FICO).

If you close your accounts, you may be closing your options. Your credit score is based on many components--most importantly, the timeliness of payment on debt. After that, other components include: type of credit, amount owed, length of credit history, and how much debt you have relative to your available credit.

It’s those last two items that may hurt your score by cancelling your credit cards. What I suggest is not closing the account, but simply using it infrequently. I use each credit card that I have for at least two weeks during the year. This way the bank doesn’t close the account for inactivity, and I benefit from having many cards with long histories.

Additionally, your best low-rate offers will arrive by mail on your existing accounts. Hold on to the card and don’t use it for a while. Once that bank realizes that they’re not making money from you, they will send an enticing low-rate offer hoping to hook you in until they can raise the rate. Once that happens, and you take advantage of the low-rate, all you need to do is be DebtSmart by watching the calendar, being careful to transfer your balance to another low-rate offer before the first bank has a chance to raise their rate once the promotional deal ends.

The other problem with closing your account is that the debt-to-available-credit ratio will increase. For example, say you have two credit cards, each with a $5,000 credit limit and one has a $5,000 balance. As it stands, you have a debt-to-available-credit ratio of 50% because you owe $5,000 on a total of $10,000 in available credit. If you closed the 0-balance card, you would owe $5,000 on a total of $5,000 in available credit, which is a 100% debt-to-available-credit ratio.

In other words, you’re totally maxed out. Banks like to see this ratio at about 30 percent, so it’s in your best interest (no pun intended) to keep that number low. Simply getting new lines of credit will bring that down and possibly increase your score. You can find out more about your credit score, and how to get it, by visiting

Scott Bilker is the founder of and the author of Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Debt, Credit Card and Debt Management, and How to be more Credit Card and Debt Smart. Send your questions about money, credit, loans, mortgages, or debt, to him at: Scott Bilker, PO Box 563, Barnegat, NJ 08005-0563 or online at:

What Will Your Children Learn about Money Management?

- Cheryl Johnson

I recently was asked, "If you had to give one piece of financial advice to college students, what would it be." First of all, college is way to late to start teaching about personal finance. By this point in life, children, may have already developed poor spending habits.... Read On

Recycle Furniture

There are lots of ways to recycle furniture and give a favorite piece a new purpose and new life. Recycling helps the environment, saves resources, and saves you mo/ney. Tawra Kellam gives advice on how to Use a Dresser to Organize Your Garage.... Read On

Shop at Aldi Grocery and Save

Free e-book Money for Life
It seems I'm not the only one that save lots of money shopping at the discount grocery store, Aldi's. Tawra Kellam of shares her experiences with this great discount grocer! .... Read On

Learn How to Build a Website

I had to learn how to build a website, write content for my site, choose and optimize keywords, choose a profitable theme, and market my website. I knew nothing except how to surf the web!

I was sure I could never do all that site building stuff without earning another college degree. But, SBI made it easy for me to learn how to build a website, step-by-step, and become the successful internet earner I am today...Read On


Save on Groceries and Cook Great Meals
The Grocery Book
Just $19

Cream of Celery Soup

2 cups chicken stock
3 cups celery, cut in small pieces
2 cups boiling water
1 slice onion
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
salt and pepper, celery salt, and paprika to taste

Combine stock and water, add celery, cook until tender. Press through a sieve. Scald onion in milk, then remove onion. Add flour to a little milk to make a paste. Add celery mixture to scalded milk, add flour paste, add cream and seasonings. Heat in a double broiler.

Maple Syrup

3 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon maple flavoring
2 cups boiling water

Pour 3/1/2 cups brown sugar into the 2 cups boiling water, stirring to dissolve. Add 1 teaspoon maple flavoring. Stir well. Allow to stand for 24 hours to blend flavors before serving. Makes about 1 quart of delicious maple flavored syrup.

Ground Beef Recipe

1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 can tomato soup
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz. elbow macaroni
Italian seasoning
salt and pepper

Brown beef and onion together. Drain off fat. Add 1 can of tomato soup, seasonings to taste, cheese and a little water to make soup "saucy". Let simmer 15 minutes as you boil macaroni. Add cooked macaroni and either serve from skillet, or put in greased casserole dish with buttered bread crumbs and bake at 350 degrees F. for 20-30 minutes. Makes 4-5 servings.
- Courtesy Cate, editor of

Cate's tips:
--I use bags of shredded sharp cheddar, for more flavor and to save time.
--A great dish to make ahead and re-heat.
--Perfect for potlucks or families in need. Just add bagged salad, a box of croutons and fresh Italian bread.
--Sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top. Yum!

Send us Your Recipes

Need ideas for dinner or recipes?

Best Home Baking: Old Farmer's Almanac Home Library -Go to Recipes & More Section
Recipe Secrets
Free Recipes at ClubMom!
Country Cooking Recipes
E-Cookbooks Library

Money Saving Tips

Share Saving Tips, Recipes, and Frugal Living Ideas.
Send in Your Reader's Tips

Visit our money saving tips directory here

Beauty Tips

1. Keep hands soft - Rinse hands with vinegar water after hand washing dishes or clothes.

2. An inexpensive home remedy for troubled complexions - Rub cornstarch on the face after cleaning. Dries pimples without drying skin.

3. Wear gloves while polishing shoes to prevent polish from staining skin.

4. Paint nails with ease - Use a turned over dinner plate to prop hand up while polishing.

Alternative Uses for Common Household Items


1. Use a one liter soda bottle for a boot tree. Insert in boot to hold shape.

2. Plastic bag dispenser - cut off bottom of 2 liter soda bottle. Attach to wall or inside of cupboard door, upside down. Fill with bags, pull out from uncapped top hole to dispense bags.

3. If you have an older toilet, make a water saver for your toilet tank. Remove labels from a one liter bottle and fill with water. Place in toilet tank to save water.

4. Sugar canister: Use a funnel to pour sugar into a clean, and dry, one gallon jug with handle. Sugar stores nicely and is easy to pour from container.

5. Make a homemade funnel by cutting off the top of any bottle or jug you have handy. Turn upside down and use as a funnel. Use several different sizes to make several different size funnels.

6. Make a scoop by cutting out a diagonal corner of the bottom of a plastic milk jug. Use quart, 1/2 gallon, and gallon jugs to make appropriate size scoop for the job required. Use smaller scoop to scoop clean gutters, or use scoops for sand, bulk goods, bail water from a boat, etc.

7. Fill with water and freeze to keep cooler cool.

8. Make a watering can - poke holes all across in front of capped top. Fill with water, tilt to pour as with watering can.

Recycle Clothes

1. Save elastic waistbands from panty hose to use in repairing or sewing shorts, slacks, etc.

2. Use an orphaned sock to repair jacket sleeve cuffs. Cut double desired width, fold over (as in a cuff) to double thickness and sew cut ends together to jacket sleeve.

3. Reinforce sleeves (elbows) and knees of children's clothing using leather scraps from unused or unwanted leather clothes or gloves.

4. Sew pockets on the knees of workpants to add knee padding (sponges, etc) when doing work that requires getting on knees (gardening, flooring, etc.)

5. Make a pair of inexpensive maternity pants - Cut the front of pants out from seam to seam and replace with the strectchy top portion of panty hose.

6. Pot holders - cut worn jeans below the knee, tuck top half of cut piece into lower half and sew around sides.

Reader's Tips

Please share your tips

Craft Ideas

Make Watercolor Paints

You will Need:
baking soda
corn starch
food coloring
small bowl
light corn syrup
several small containers or jar lids

Combine 3 tablespoons each baking soda, cornstarch, and vinegar in the small bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup. Mixture will fizz. Wait for fizzing to stop and separate the mixture into several small containers or jar lids/caps.

Add about eight drops of food coloring to each batch and mix well. Use a different color in each batch or combine colors to make new colors.

Use right away or wait for them to dry. When dry, wet paint brush before using paints. Use as with any watercolor paints for arts and crafts.

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