Is It a Frugal Fix, or Am I Just Being a Redneck?

I confess I must have redneck blood. When something breaks down, my first impulse is to reach for the duct tape.  I want to fix it without spending money.

As an example, last weekend the van wouldn’t start. David wanted to call a mechanic and I handed him a bottle of Coke. I told him to pour it on the battery terminals.

He ignored me and drank the coke.

We compromised. I had just talked to our oldest son, who inherited my father’s mechanical abilities, and knew he would be driving for an hour so he could talk. My husband called him back and told him what the van was doing and everything he had already tried.

After talking, he went back to the van, took both battery terminals off and cleaned them with a wire brush. The van started right up. (The coke would have worked faster.)

Anyway,  I constantly struggle with my redneck tendencies because they are not frugal!

I have made the most redneck mistakes on my dishwasher.

My first mistake was to spend $100.00 to build my portable dishwasher into my kitchen. What I failed to take into consideration was the age of the dishwasher. Shortly after that, the baskets deteriorated so much that it ruined my silverware with rust spots.

I went to, and made my second redneck mistake. I ordered new baskets, but the cost was over half of the amount of a new dishwasher.  If I had only needed one basket it would have been worth the expense.

Even worse was the “redneck” fix I had tried on the old baskets. I set them on my wooden kitchen table and ended up scratching it. I thought I would pour rust remover over the rusted out ends. I placed the basket over my new stainless steel sink and the rust remover permanently spotted the sink.

The new baskets were installed and I thought everything was good, when the pump started to leak. I did the only frugal fix that I am proud of – I took a plastic turkey platter and slid it under the dishwasher.  Everyday I unload the dishwasher and dump the water out of the plastic tray.

I am protecting the floor as I wait to replace the dishwasher. I actually have a  dishwasher lined up, but we will have to build a cabinet for it, so I am patiently waiting for my husband to work out all of the details.

Mary Hunt at Debt Proof Living, recently wrote about planning for appliance replacement. Please go read her article.

I wish I would have listened to her. I should have replaced the dishwasher in 2007 instead of building it in during my kitchen remodel.

I guess I might be a redneck.


My dishwasher with its turkey platter drip pan.

Better Homes and Gardens Agreed

I was thrilled when I read the “Living Green” section of the April, 2010 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. They agreed with me about rebates and tax credits. (See “Rebate? Not a Deal Maker”, March 10, 2010)

Pg 101. Point 3. “Payback isn’t the only indicator of whether you should upgrade. Be realistic about the money you’ll get back by making an energy upgrade.

Though you’re eligible for a tax credit by replacing your current windows or furnace, for example, the credit likely won’t be enough of an incentive on its own. You may not recoup all your costs in energy savings either.

However, investing in a good-quality, energy-smart products offers other benefits, with personal comfort topping the list. And if you were already considering a replacement product, the tax credit may provide an opportunity you don’t want to pass up.”

The bottom line is to wait until a product needs replaced, then look into tax credits or rebates. And do your homework to get the best deal for your money.

Rebate? Not a Deal Maker

My friends dishwasher died last week. She said it was from the sixties and it was time to replace it. They heard on the news about the rebates for energy-efficient appliances and thought it died at an opportune time.

They went shopping, chose a model and asked the salesman for paperwork on the rebate.

The money for the rebate was gone. Actually, the money allocated for our state for rebates was used up in the first eight hours of the first day the rebate was offered. They were three days  too late.

Yet, even now I am still seeing advertisements on the rebates!

Rebates are not a reason to make a major purchase. If you qualify, then by all means do the paperwork immediately and send it in. But do not, put a rebate on the pro side of your “pro con” list when deciding whether to make a major purchase.

The majority of purchasers will not take the time to fill out the paperwork, find the serial number, find the model number, cut out the UPC code, copy their receipt and send it in during the allotted time. Manufacturers know that.

Even our utility companies that are telling us how “green” they are, know it. Utility companies change which item will get a rebate from year to year.

We watched the ads of the rebates on replacing your energy-efficient windows for several years. We came into some money and since, I swear, the man who built our house took the windows out of a 1950 trailer; they desperately needed replaced. They were single-paned Plexiglass!

Our windows were installed during a mild December. I was so happy and looked forward to the smaller heating bills. Then we looked for the paperwork to get our rebate. The ads were for $300.00 per window and we replaced all the windows in our small home.

Imagine my surprise to find that the rebate was not offered that year, but it was available the following year. When my contractor found out he offered to change all of the billing to January of the next year. We declined.

I know, I am painfully honest. People don’t believe me, but I have a hyper conscience and I like to sleep at night.

I learned to ignore the rebate when making my decision right then and there. Everywhere you turn, you will hear about rebates, the paperwork is mailed to the contractors, plumbers, electricians, etc. They will use it as a selling point. I am not faulting them.

Last year there was a rebate and a tax credit offered to replace your furnace. When my plumber was checking my furnace last fall in preparation for the coming heating season he mentioned it. He did the math for me and said I could get a furnace for one-fourth of the price. I didn’t bite.

I trust my plumber and I know it looked good on paper, but I still would have to pay 100% of the cost to him up front and wait to be reimbursed. There was a 50-50 chance that I would not. He admitted that the furnace, although old, was working very well.

I feel the same way about tax credits. They make it difficult to qualify. My friends purchased a home last year, but it was a couple months before the tax credit took effect, so they missed out on a $6500.00 credit.

The bottom line is to buy what you need, when you need it. If you are going to buy it anyway and you qualify for a rebate or tax credit, don’t procrastinate, do the paperwork right away.

Just don’t replace something that is working fine for an elusive rebate or tax credit. It’s not worth going into debt for or using your hard-earned savings.


I am out of soap. I have to use special soap because of my sensitive skin. It is only available online. I keep two bars in both bathrooms and one bar in the kitchen. I am down to two bars and a sliver of soap.

I noticed I was running low a couple weeks ago, but with the Christmas presents on my credit card I didn’t want to order it then. (I pay my credit card off every month.) So I decided to wait.

If I wait until Friday it will not be on this months credit card bill. So, I leave a sliver in the basement bathroom (because I rarely use it) one bar in the kitchen and carry the other bar back and forth from the sink to the tub in the other bathroom.

This is called “delayed gratification”.

I have been unemployed for two years now and my husband’s salary has been drastically reduced due to health insurance premiums (His employer used to pay all of it) and reduced hours due to the economy. I am so grateful that he has a job!

I have to use “delayed gratification” every week as I make my grocery list. I am aiming for $50.00 a week and there are four of us. My adult daughter moved back in and my son is seventeen, so I am not talking about feeding a two year old. It is four adults.

I make my list and then move items that can wait to my list for next week.