Halloween; Save money with DIY projects!

Well it is the season of scaring; and even if everyone thinks it's time to splurge; I know a few tricks to save some money by doing DIY techniques that will bring those dollars back into your pocket without looking like a cheapskate!

First Rule:
Buy your Halloween things directly after the season for the next year. Everything immediately becomes 50-90% off. This works for all holidays, and is great if you know you won't be moving and have the room to store things for the time being. The money saved is astronomical and really opens up your holiday budget.

Second Rule:
Shop around for products. Always check places that carry discarded items from other stores (I.E. Building #19, Ocean State Job Lot, Price Rite) because chances are they'll carry at least decent products at an extremely cheap price.

Third Rule:
Remember how much you need. Plan, plan, plan. This will SAVE YOU MONEY in the long-run. Measure things; make sure you are aware of how big everything is and how much you'll need.

Projects

Cobwebs:
These are the cheapest item to buy, and the thing is; the more you stretch them out, the more realistic they look! This is great because you can buy two bags (maybe $2 total) and do your entire house/apartment and have them look better than the guy that has it hanging like snow off his roof.

Old Gray Sheets:
First, check if you have any old white sheets. If not, go to the Salvation Army (or something similar to it) and buy the rattiest sheets you can find. Take some dark gray dye and throw them in the was with a couple drops. This gives them the old and dusty look; throw em' down on your furniture and walah! Old house. It's great to keep crumbs off your furniture too.

Lighting:
Fire up the dimmer and fire up a little savings. Run your lights low, this alone gives the feeling of dark and dreary without even having done anything yet. A simple little way to save a little money.

Curtains:
The same design for the sheets works for the curtains; cut them up and clip them in front of the windows. If it's not too cold where you live, open the windows to make the curtains flutter like in the movies. Just remember not to leave the heat on!

Table:
Want to make your kitchen/dining room table look scary? Repeat the sheet process. Also, a couple days before, pick some flowers and spray the buds with black spray paint lightly. When they dry, the outer shell will be black and the inner will be the original color with some black. With the dried out look and the dimmed lights, this will be a hit. Make a bouquet of these for a really eerie effect. Place a few matchstick candles on the table, or if you can, get some of the candles that burn black. Creepy.

Food:
This should be an article all its own, but I feel I should just discuss here. Every place around this time of the year offers food at the supermarket with ghouls and ghosts all about, but these are expensive and not really unique. Here's some ideas to really get a rise out of your friends. I like the Crazy Scientist food menu. It is:

Eyeballs (peeled grapes)
Intestines (cooked spaghetti)
Liver (jello)
Fingers (carrots)
Toenails (peanuts that have beencracked in half and the insides filed out a little)
Brain (cooked cauliflower)
Nose (cooked hot dog--and yes, I get veggie dogs)
Teeth (pieces of chalk candy)

And for snacks:

Ghouly Carrot Cupcakes With White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing
Ingredients:
2 ounces white chocolate
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/8 cups white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups.
  2. In small saucepan, melt white chocolate over low heat. Stir until smooth, and allow to cool to slightly above room temperature.
  3. In a bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in white chocolate, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and orange extract. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until the mixture is fluffy. Mix in heavy cream.
  4. Beat together eggs, white sugar, and brown sugar in a separate bowl, and mix in the oil and vanilla. Fold in carrots and pineapple. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Mix flour mixture into the carrot mixture until evenly moist. Fold in 1/2 cup walnuts. Transfer to the prepared muffin cups.
  5. Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool completely on wire racks before topping with the icing and sprinkling with remaining walnuts.

Mummy time:

I haven't tried this, but I've seen some good stuff for building a $30 mummy here. I think maybe next year I'll give it a go.



Next year, I think I'll be a little more dense about what I'd like to do and there will be much more fodder for you to read from here; but, for now, somehow this will have to do. Hopefully this gets you in the Halloween spirit and you'll be able to save some money using these DIY techniques!


save money diy this Halloween

20 Ways People Waste Money on Nothing in College:

This list provides ways to cut down on your loans by saving money through simple research. A lot of this is directed towards freshman in college who don't know the first place to look to save money. Ready?

  • Rent a room off campus- Although you feel like you don't know anyone and need to live on campus your freshman year, you pay much more than renting an apartment. Trust me, you'll meet plenty of people; this is an easy way to save around $600 a year.
  • Don't get a meal plan, buy your own groceries- Again, easy way to save money. Or, better yet, grow your own groceries! If you buy in bulk at places like Costco, Walmart, and Price Rite you'll find that you spend maybe $40 a week!
  • Buy your booze in bulk- It's expected that everyone in college drinks. Of course, I'm not saying if you're under 21 you should, but if you are going to drink, buy 30-racks of all your beer and big handles of your hard liquor. It's a bit of a pain to carry around, but you spend much more if you buy just 6-packs and flasks of hard liquor.
  • Drink only on weekends- Another downer, try to cut off Thirsty Thursdays. I know, I know, it's what gets you through the week. This alone can save you $10 a week, $40 a month. It's only one night, and your class on Friday's grave will improve dramatically.
  • Drink Cheap- Buy the cheap stuff. Pabst Blue Ribbon, Old Milwaukee, Busch, Old English; there are tons out there, I'm not going to name them all. Or, of course, you can brew your own.
  • Get a monthly bus pass- This will only save you money if you commute to class five days a week. If it's just to go see your friends every weekend, chances are you aren't saving any money at all. A lot of times it seems like you'll use it much more than you do, but you aren't. Keep track of how many times you go on the bus the first month; chances are, afterwards you'll ride it about half as much. If that still validates the bus pass, go for it; if not, save your money.
  • Get a free checking + savings account (or MoneyMarket as I describe here)- A free checking or savings/MoneyMarket account is a great way to save yourself from being slammed with fees. Most banks give no-minimum accounts to college students, which is great when your bank account is floating around $7.35 as mine often was.
  • Don't get a credit card- So many people I know got credit cards for emergencies; the only emergencies I ever saw them use it for was a new skirt they "needed" for work that was 50% off. Don't bother with it.
  • Compare prices for books- Don't just buy your books from the school, there are plenty of places to check out for books. Abebooks.com, half.com, amazon.com-- usually I'll end up buying books from all of these places, not just one. Compare each book's price to each website, I often saved about $100 a semester this way.
  • Ramen Noodles- Ramen Noodles are a God-send. At $.12 a package, how can you beat them? Of course, they aren't really good for you per-se, but they fill you up when money is tight.
  • Become a Vegetarian- This is the hardest one for most people. Meat is one of the most expensive things that people buy; especially when barbaque season comes around. Veggie burgers are often cheaper than meat and healthier. Cutting out meat altogether can put money back in your pocket.
  • Stay away from expensive electronics- Say it with me, "Unless my Major is involved in technology, I do not need a Macbook Pro". Laptops that cost $500 are good enough for me, so they're good enough for you. Save yourself $1500 by buying a cheap laptop. Also, stay away from new Ipods, they WILL break. The same for Iphones or any other expensive new phone. The free ones always last forever, and when someone spills beer on it, so what?
  • Stay away from Monthly/Seasonal Payments- Get rid of your cable subscription, Netflix, home phone, Sports Illustrated, porn subscriptions, etc. These aren't necessary. Get the cheapest cell phone plan and internet (if you need it like I do); these will suffice.
  • You don't need new clothes- Every month girls need new clothes. Although their wardrobe is spilling out of their closet, they've got nothing to wear. However, once you get to college, guys are no different. You don't need new clothes, you need an iron and an ironing board. And if you need clothes, go to the thrift store.
  • Meet Skype- Want to cut out your expensive lengthy cell phone costs to your parents or significant other? Check out Skype; it's free, you can have video chats with people, and you can just talk like you're on the phone. Most newer computers have a built in microphone (and many have cameras as well), which makes this completely free to keep in touch with everyone if college is far away.
  • Find alternatives to the gym- Sell yourself as a dog-walker if you need exercise. Ride a bike to class. Go jogging. Use the school's gym. Do NOT get a membership, it is a waste of $40 a month.
  • Apply for one-time and online jobs- Sell your body to medicine for a day; write reviews for products on line; there are many ways to make money online (in fact, this blog is so far a failed test of such a thing). I haven't gotten it figured out yet, but so I hear...
  • Take community college classes for your gen-eds- I know, you chose your school because it's the best in your field. Well, during the summer, take some community college courses. These run usually around a couple hundred bucks a course (which beats the $2000 a course at private colleges), and can cut off a semester (or in my case, it was a year-- yep, $30,000 saved by spending $2,000 for two summers) from your college tuition.
  • Go to state school- I didn't do it, but I wish I had. Save huge amounts of money by going to state school. Save your money for Graduate.
  • Keep track of your spending- Last, save your receipts. Calculate your monthly expenses. Which of those don't you need? Cut them out for next month. Do this every month to keep track of where your money is running off to.

These 20 ways should help you save money this upcoming year in school. There are plenty of ways to make college work without walking away with over $100k of debt like so many people I know did, so start being smart about your money and you'll save more than you'd ever expect.

Have some Room? Save money by growing your own Tomato plants!

Looking to save some money at the grocery store? Think outside the box:

Many people are trying to figure out ways to save some money at the grocery store; and I mean, look at how high prices have climbed and who could blame them? I'm just the same. The cost of food is absurd. Currently where I am it's $3.29 for a pound of tomatoes. A pound of tomatoes? That's ridiculous!

Now, wouldn't it be nice to go and pick your own tomatoes in your living room for almost nothing? Seems obvious enough, and with the winter months ahead, the prices are only going to be going up. But how come I don't hear about people growing vegetables during the winter inside? you may ask. Well, it's just one of those things that people assume are left to the crazy-vegetable growing people that have giant greenhouses (which aren't a bad investment, by the way). Vegetables take up almost 35% of our grocery bill (yikes!), and this has been something I've been doing since high school when my dad turned me onto it (I'm a vegetarian, so any way to save on my veggies is a huge plus for me). Okay, so you're interested? And more importantly, do you know what you'd be using the tomatoes for? Let's do it.

Let's start with some background. You know absolutely nothing about gardening; or, maybe you do. I'll assume you know what dirt is. And seeds. So I would suggest that you go and buy seeds
(or take them from tomatoes that you have purchased, let them dry, and then plant them... but I seem to have very little luck with these. I'd recommend going for organic tomatoes to take seeds from if you can; they're healthiest). I'd also recommend cherry tomatoes (they seem to do best in terracotta pots from my experiences).

How to Choose Tomato Plants-
When you're choosing a tomato plant type, it is very important to keep in mind what you have space for. Taking the plants that claim to be "high yield" might at first seem to be optimal, but in this particular situation, probably not. Tomato plants can be either "determinate", "indeterminate", or "semi-indeterminate"; determinate are short and bushy (about three feet-- don't require support to stand), indeterminates tend to be tall (from five to eight feet tall), and semi-indeterminates tend to be in between (hence semi... duh [about three to five feet]). These growth patterns also have much to do with how they provide tomatoes. This is why you need to know what you plan on doing with your produce when it is ready for harvest. The determinates (the short guys) produce all of their tomatoes at once, while indeterminates (the tall guys) will continue producing until frost hits. The semi-s are, well, in between. (duh) You may think it's best to get the biggest plant that you can; but remember, bigger isn't always better. Any plants with thick, green leaves are going to be 10x better than plants that are bigger but have yellow wilting leaves near the soil.

Time to Plant-
Does your house stay above 45 degrees Fahrenheit? Then any time is the right time. Now, which room is the one that gets the most sunlight? In fact, which space in the room specifically gets the most sunlight? That's where you want to place the pot. Otherwise, you may as well be wasting your time. Keep in mind, you may only want to try one plant before you decide to make your living room a greenhouse. Terracotta pots are my best recommendation; they are attractive, and contrary to popular belief, they are quite cheap. But really, you could use anything: a kitchen colander, paint pots, cooking pots, plastic and glass jars, vases, even topless soda cans! Just remember to wash out the pot completely before adding soil and the plant.

Tomato requirements-
It seems that most people think if you plant a seed and water it, that's good enough and it will grow. This isn't too far from the truth, but the small difference decides whether you're going to be having any tomato sandwiches for free soon. Tomatoes, like you and I, want to be happy. They enjoy lots of sun (as much as you can get them), a little bit of water every day (if their soil is wet an hour after you watered them, then cut back a little), soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8 (okay, if you need that, you're a little weird). Certain plants like to climb, certain like to lay around on the ground. Do some research on the types you're interested in first. Keep in mind that there are advantages and disadvantages, regardless of whether they need a stake or a cage.

Pros of stake/cage: Bigger tomatoes, less space, earlier harvest, cleaner vegetables.
Cons of stake/cage: More work, lower yield, increased risk of sun-scald/cracking/blossom end rot (you know, all the stuff that causes you not to buy them at the store).

The point is that because it is said that you should or shouldn't use a cage, keep in mind your own interests. If you do decide to let them grow on the ground, keep in mind you do have to mulch once the tomatoes begin to show. This means that you need to be moving the plant around as well as the topsoil a little bit to keep the bottom of the tomatoes themselves from rotting.


Harvesting-
I know you're excited to get the vegetables off the plant, but please try to wait. The average tomato plant takes between 49 days (Fourth Of July plan) and 90 days (Garden Peach).

Some final facts for you:
An average tomato plant produces on average 35 pounds but up to 45 pounds of tomatoes.
Based on these stats, and if the cost stays around $3.00 a pound, we can assert that we are getting on average $105 worth of vegetables from one plant. The seeds might cost $1, the water used might even cost $1, the pot... maybe $5. Now only if I could get that percent return on all of my investments! Now you can make some cheap and delicious healthy meals like olive, pepper, and tomato pasta without breaking the bank!  Just one more way to save money the DIY way.

Paying too much for Heating? Save money through my tips!

Okay, well; most of my readers are college students, so a couple of these don't apply-- this doesn't mean you can't save money through this DIY project. Because most of this will help. What I aim to do here is provide ways to save you money long-term (and a lot of it) through simple maintenance and common sense. Ready?

First, some facts. If heating oil stays around $3.19 a gallon (and who knows how much it could go up by the real cold settles in) and the average home uses 666 gallons (in New England [src: Prov. Journal]) while the average apartment uses 400 gallons (src. Prov. Journal), this means the average home uses nearly $2124 and the average apartment uses $1276 just to stay warm. That's a lot of money just for maybe 4 months; it's between $300 and $550 dollars a month for half the year!

Let's make some changes.

The Save Money -ing DIY -er

Thermostat:

Sounds simple enough; drop your therm
ostat a few degrees. Wear sweatpants around the house and suck it up. A few degrees is about a half gallon of oil at the minimum a day. Doesn't sound like much. Every month that's almost
$45 saved. Still seem pointless? Not to your wallet.


Comforters:

This might seem a little repetitive, but at night when you're idle you'll notice the cold more often; plus the air is often a bit colder.
Go buy a nice comforter and drop the temp in the house even more-- save another 10-15 gallons of oil. That's a few more bucks. Now if you really want to save money, go and hunt through Grandma's attic (or your parents) for some old home-made quilts; they're extremely thick and you won't even have to buy a $30 comforter.

Fireplace:

Does your house or apartment have a fireplace? Well, time to open the flue and take the truck for a ride. If you check out Craigslist and scour the Classifieds of your newspapers, tons of people cut down trees and just want someone to take the wood away. This is gold during the winter. Often you've just got to split the wood; chances are you can either get a cheap axe from a yard sale or someone you know has one. Capitalize on this if you can; try to take as much wood as you can. A little manual labor never hurt anyone.

Water Heater:

What? Why is he talking about water heaters to save money on my home heating? Drop the water temperature for your showers. As great as it is to take a scalding hot shower after battling the elements on your way home from work, this is a huge no-no. It's the place where much of your oil is used, and unnecessarily. Try bringing the thermostat on your heater down to 120 degrees, you'll adjust before you know it.

Pipe Insulation:

Although this seems to be something that would be for a home-owner, this is extremely valuable and plausable for an apartment renter to do as well. It costs maybe $30 to insulate your heating pipes and saves about 15% of the heat that your oil burner makes that is often lost through transferral to your heating system.

Replacement Windows:

Replacement windows are ideal for long-term money savings. Windows that are old; usually past the 10 yr. point, have lost a lot of their durability with the elements, and are due to be replaced. Replacement windows are the cheapest option; you don't have to rip out the entire window frame and they are relatively easy to put in (I've done it a few times before, and it really isn't that bad). These cost about $150 each, but should last another 10 years and cut 10% off your heating bill annually.

Insulation:

Insulation is a wonderful thing. Often, people say "My walls are insulated" and thing that's that. Just like the pipes, there are always things forgotten. Take above and below for example. What the hell is he talking about, you might be thinking. Ceiling and floor. Is below your floor insulated? The ceiling of the room below you. Heat can easily escape through the floor. Hey, dumbass, heat rises, cold sinks; not the other way around. While this is true, A) heat is often generated in heaters running along the floor, which forces it into the floorboards and into the basement (or room below) and B) the floor temperature is still warmer than outside and the ground, so that's heat lost. Inuslation is pretty cheap, check out Home Depot or Lowes to get the grade you want. If it seems a little price-y, the cheapest stuff is better than nothing.



Hopefully you apply some of these tips and this winter you will be able to save some serious money through these do-it-yourself (DIY) ideas!

Looking to make Cash from your cash? Try a MoneyMarket

With the current trends these days; high gas prices, insurance rates through the roof, the stock market gone haywire, and the cost of food at an all-time high, we're all trying to save and make just a little extra cash. I mean, otherwise, why would you be here, reading my blog on saving and making money? I could talk to you about stocks and how even with a crashing market this is prime time to make money quick with hedge funds and playing the dips and rises with the market, but not all of us (including myself) have money for doing something such as that. Since that is not an option, I bring to you a far more safe option that is simple and guarantees to add a little bit of proverbial weight to your wallet.

Money market accounts are a great way to make a few extra bucks without tying up your money. Currently, banks like Bank of America and Sovereign are offering no-fee money market accounts for anyone who opens an account up with $5k or more; this means that you are able to withdraw and deposit money into these accounts, which have an interest rate around 2.2% (as opposed to a regular savings account of .3% percent) and an apy of 2.3-2.4% without getting slammed with fees. Of course, if access to the money isn't necessary, I would recommend CD accounts (if you're not interested in stocks, cause that's a whole other can of worms) which give you higher interest and apy rates that don't change. The rates right now are at about 2.7%, which isn't a huge difference, but it does help if you can do it. Only a few years ago I was able to lock in at a 5.6% CD rate and made over $600 doing absolutely nothing. If you are more interested in the CD account; first try to get one the month of your birthday (they'll often times offer a 'birthday' rate which is .5% higher most of the time) and check into Credit Unions, they tend to have slightly higher rates.

I know, I know, you say "what's the point of making an extra 1.9% when I need to make serious money". Well, let's do the math. You have exactly $5,000 to put in the bank. Let's say you put it into a regular savings account. That means in two years (.3%) $1.50 interest a month; $36.00 in two years. Doesn't seem too bad. Now let's do it with a 2.3% Money Market account from Bank of America. That $5,000 is now working for you, making about $11.50 a month; $276.00 in two years! That's an extra $10 a month for doing absolutely nothing. Now with more money, that adds up much quicker.

Okay, so you've got some savings that you want to keep your hands out of (another great thing about CD's), and you want to get a 12-month CD at 2.8% for your $5,000. With compounding interest; there's about $14.00 a month, $168 a year (which would be $336 a year if you re-opened it for another year or made it a 24-month CD). Not bad, not bad.

And remember, almost every bank is FDIC covered (temporarily) up to $250,000; however, in a couple years it will be back down to $100,000 (yes, this might be the stupidest thing you've ever heard of cause it's up there for me too). However, this doesn't affect most of us. This is an easy, safe way to make money with the money you've got. So I suggest everyone go out and do it (if you've got the means, of course)! Save and make some money!

Gas Mileage Improvement. Save money!

Okay, so I've got my motorcycle license... and with the gas prices, who wouldn't want to think about saving a few bucks? I'm also driving a beaten down 1994 Toyota Camry with 150k on it, which gets pretty good mileage. The bike I like is a Honda that averages around 45 mpg, my car gets around 30 mpg city and highway. Now let's assume that gas stays at $3.00 for simplicity of this. If I could snag this bike for $2k (which is entirely possible), how many miles would I have to travel to break even. Insurance for a year would be +/- $200. Saving 15 miles on every gallon that I used it would mean I'm getting 3/2 the mileage I am currently. The math suggests that I'm currently paying 10 cents a mile; and I travel on average 10,000 miles a year. So I'm paying $1000 a year in gas. If I could take away half of that by traveling by motorcycle, that would bring me down to $500. Add the insurance, and I'm already up to $700. Yikes. And how much would gas cost at 45 mpg? Let's see... $3.00 divided by 45 mpg equals 6.6 cents a mile. 6.6 cents times 5,000 miles $333.33 dollars. So, although the bike gets better gas mileage, I actually pay $33.33 more afterwords.

Let's try if I suck it up and travel 3/4 of my mileage on bike. 10,000 miles, 2,500 of them by car. At $.10 a mile, is $250.00. Insurance, $200.00. So that leaves me with $550 to cover gas and (hopefully) pay off the bike and then start to save money. 6.6 cents/mile at 7,500 miles is $500. I would save $50, which would mean in 20 years roughly the bike would pay itself off. Haha; yeah, ok.

In conclusion, unless you plan to travel solely by motorcycle, there is no financial gain to buy one (or at least for me). The cost for the insurance eats up most of the money saved. Of course, if gas goes back up to $4.00 a gallon, then I would estimate if over half of traveling is by bike, it would save some cash.

For now, it shall not be of any use.

So you Want to fly cheap-- how about Ryan Air?

Well well well... look what we've got here. Some kid who thinks that RyanAir is going to solve all of his financial issues with traveling in Europe. Well, kid, I've got some bad news. It ain't that easy. First, Ryan Air won't mention to you that if you're an American citizen you'll be slapped with fines each way. We're talking at least 10 Euro each way. So put that onto the flight cost. Now, tally on the cost of the bus to the out-of-the-way airport that you'll be going to... on each end. That's another 16 Euro each way. Now, tack on the fact that at least one of your flights WILL be late and/or a non-arrival (which they won't tell you about, just like how they won't tell you that the gate has been switched to the other side of the airport), never mind the fact because of their times you'll probably be sleeping in an airport. Been there, done that; not fun. Now, if all of this makes it still sound worth it, or even make it seem as though it is more of an experience than other flights, go for it. As much as I complained about them, I probably will, because frankly I can't afford anything more expensive if I fly. That type of flying is still a treat. However, some notes from someone with prior flying experience with this "wonderful" company.

A) Be prepared for anything. I mean anything. Almost all the plane engines sound like they're about to burn out; I can't say why (my belief is that they opt'd out of the insulation in the plane so that the engines are extremely loud and sound like there's something wrong when there isn't). The noise seems to quiet down as the flight continues, but it still gets your heart going initially.

B) No, really, be prepared for anything. They'll never be consistent; sometimes they weigh baggage and sometimes they don't. Sometimes they'll hit you with the you're-an-american-so-you-suck-pay-this-fee and sometimes they won't. It's very odd.

C) If you happen to end up at Stansted Airport, you'll see hundreds of young and old men and women all over the floor in sleeping bags and blankets; don't be alarmed. I was more worried about the security guards walking around with the AK-47's. I highly recommend sleeping on the water heaters that surround the building; they're wide and don't get too hot, which is great for winter travelling. No one really seems to have figured them out yet, so shh!

D) If you end up in Pisa (Galilei Airport); there is no way to be comfortable, and there is nothing near the airport (except for a supermarket like a mile away). Bring sleeping bags or a blanket, the chairs are brutal. The only chairs you've got a chance of being comfortable on are on the second floor next to the Bank. The food is also ridiculously expensive, so I recommend hunting down that supermarket. However, be prepared to know some Italian. It's kind of nice, though, because they don't think you're a tourist if you can speak enough (they don't really have tourists in that area of Pisa).

E) No matter what, always buy bus tickets that are not time specific, because you will miss that bus. No matter what you think, you ARE going to miss that bus. If you must, buy for two hours later than you expected. Even if you land on time, depending on the airport the customs could take hours. Even if the line isn't long. Just trust me on this; you'll thank me in the long rung.

Got it? Now go travel.

Customize Your Amplifier cheap!

Okay, I'm not going to show you how to make your amp go to "11", but I've got something that worked pretty well for me in making my cheap-ass Ampeg 4x12 cabinet look cool and expensive for pretty much no money. Seems fair enough. All your money went to gas to get to the last show you had an hour away; I know, I've been there. Anyways, here's a little something I took a risk on, and it paid off pretty well (at least I think it looks cool). Customized wood cabinet made easy.

1. Gathering Materials-
So you've got your goods, right? You've got your amplifier, a utility knife, various levels of sandpaper, if you're lucky an electric sander, a Phillips and a Flathead screwdriver, a plastic cup, a paint brush, an ice cold beer (or six... this could be a while), a pint of black paint, a pint of your favorite (or whatever you have- darker is better) stain. Got em? Good. Crack that beer open, crank up the tunes, and let's do this.

2. Unscrew the excess-
Ok, go around and unscrew all the little things; the handles, the wheels, the little rubber stoppers, the pack piece. We'll get to taking off the screen that covers the front later on. Make sure you put all the screws and such in the cup (hah, and you thought it was for the beer).

3. Go House-
Go house? What?!? Yep. Put a soft cut into the black vinyl surrounding the amp, but be gentile, you don't want to put a gash in what is going to be your new exterior! A little bit of a mark won't matter, that thing is going to be sanded down like no one's business. Rip that shit off; let the beast in you come out. But before you do, play around with the screen in the front; for me, the Flathead screwdriver worked pretty well in popping it out, but I know most cabinets are different.

4. Sanding time-
This is when it begins to be a pain in the ass. Chances are, if you're doing this, your guitar cabinet sucks. That being said, your guitar cabinet is probably plywood or particle board, which sucks, is extremely rough, and looks like shit. This is why I recommend the darkest stain you can get. Start with your roughest sandpaper and grind the shit out of it, side by side. Just imagine that you're using a cheese grater to the face of that kid that shat in the brown paper bag and switched it with your lunch in junior high. Crack open that second beer.

5. Is that baby smooth as butter? Ok, time for some painting-
Here's what you do; put a coat of stain on it. Don't forget to stain the back piece (like I did). You're going to probably slab five or six coats on this beast to really give it a good look. If you're painting in a dry hot area, it should dry for a few hours between each coat. This is perfect time for beer three, four, five...

6. My more custom touch (optional)-
Ok, well I thought this was a nice additional touch, but you don't need to. On the insides of the cabinet, around the screen, I painted it black to make the white rubber piece that surrounded it stand out. I did two coats. I also took off the "Ampeg" logo to make it not obvious that it was shit.

7. Waiting, reconstruction-
Give it a day or two to dry and put the hinges, wheels, screen, etc. back on. Now rock that sucker like it's no one's business.

DIY Guitar cabinet save money

DIY Guitar cabinet save money


There; now you're a rock God. Go blast em' away and buy some new strings while you're at it with all that new saved money.

Making Your Own Wine - The Simple College Way

Okay, well... this doesn't really make you money, but it helps save money. I guess you could sell it to minors, but I can't condone that kind of activity (legally). Anyways, this isn't really that hard, and should only cost you a couple bucks for about a gallon of wine. Read the directions once through before you start, because at some points you have to be quick. Ready?

1. Gathering Ingredients
Pretty self-explanatory. What you need is a bag of sugar (you use only a small amount, the store-brand is about.... $2. Or, if you live on campus, go steal some from the caf), 3 cans of frozen grape juice (about $5), some measuring spoons, a funnel (if you're in college this should be NO problem), a gallon container (a milk jug works great for free), a balloon or condom, and yeast (they're in the baker section of the supermarket, a 3-pack is usually $1 or you can get the jars for like, $5 and stock up for about 40 gallon's worth).

Side note about yeast: Yeast is what makes this process work. There are many MANY different strains of yeast, and the yeast you buy at the grocery store are not what vintners and beer brewers use. That yeast tends to be more powerful, and much more expensive. Yeast is a living fungus, it comes to life when it comes in contact with water. When it is given food (sugar), it eats and releases its byproduct (urine), which is alcohol. Gross, right? Using the correct (hey, we're using baker's yeast here) type of yeast will greatly increase the taste of the wine, but if you mix it how I'm about to, it doesn't work out too bad. If this article gains popularity, I may very well create another going into more detail and more flavor.

2. Mix the concentrate!
Simple process. Thaw the concentrate (I usually nuke em each for about a minute). Pour them into the container using the funnel (otherwise your carpet/bed/goldfish tank will turn purple... trust me), and add TWO glasses of water, NOT three. I would actually recommend on the last glass to not pour the whole thing in, the less water is in it, the more sweet the wine will be. But then again, the less wine you'll have. Your call.

Now it's time to aerate the concoction. Put the cap on the bottle and shake the shit out of that thing. Shake it like the neck of the dude that banged your girlfriend. After about a minute of putting the jug through Hell (and hopefully the cap hasn't come off), you're ready for the next step.

3. Make the Mash!
Now you're ready to add the sugar. But first, DRY OUT THE FUNNEL. Time after time I have forgotten to, and it's the biggest pain in the ass I've ever experienced. Now that you know better and it is dry, dump 3/4 cup sugar into that chaos that's in the jug, put the cap on, and then shake the shit out of it again. If the sugar settles, you're fucked. It's like Speed, if you go too slow, you're dead (ok, not dead, but the wine will taste shitty).

4. Prep and add the Yeast.
Preparing and adding the yeast is more complex than just ripping open a packet and dumping the powder into the juice. If you want the yeast to work properly, you need to HYDRATE it first. Follow the directions on the package in order to do this properly. If you're too lazy to follow them precisely, just pour some warm water (around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, don't cook the little fuckers) into a cup and then dump the powder into it. DO NOT STIR the yeast right away - For best results, give it time to hydrate on its own before messing with it. Add a little bit of sugar, they seem to like that.

While you're waiting for them to foam, you can pass the time by naming them, reading them stories, reading my other blogs, eating, cleaning up the mess that is now all over your walls, floor, ceiling, bed, cat, etc.

Once it looks like it's got a 1/4" of foam on top, you're good to go. It can take 5-15 minutes for this; be patient! Your wine won't have any alcohol if you are rushed!

5. Mix yeast with Mash!

Time for us to mix the yeast into the mash. And be ready with that balloon or condom (the condoms worked out better for me, cause A) it was humorous and B) in college they're free and everywhere). Before you mix in the yeast, make sure you put a pinhole into your balloon/condom to make sure the gasses will be able to get out, but not get in. You should not be able to see the hole without the balloon/condom being blown into, except maybe at a minute level. I used a tack, and it took a while to get the technique down without ripping the condom.

Okay, now that that is done, let's add the yeast mix to the grape mash. Pour it through the funnel, then put that balloon over the cap space on it like you'd jump on a grenade. That's it; you're making alcohol now! Don't get rid of the cap, you'll need it in a week or few.

6. Now it's time to wait...

Now we wait. Make sure the jug is in a relatively warm spot (the yeast like it to be about 70 degrees F) and leave it alone. Your friends are going to want to play with it, maybe squeeze the jug because the condom blows up and it looks like a penis is in it; don't let them. It should look like the picture below; the balloon/condom will start blowing up and may be the butt of many a joke, but when the wine is done, you will be king. An aroma will also start to fill your room, and people maybe begin to call you a wino, but it's okay; you're saving money. If it seems as though that your balloon/condom is NOT blowing up (give it a few days), put your ear to the container... you should be hearing crackling (like rice crispies). If not, the yeast died. Repeat the steps above (and don't worry, dead yeast won't kill you).

College Students DIY Save Money Home-Made Wine

It usually takes between one and two weeks for primary fermentation to stop. You'll know this has occurred when the balloon deflates considerably. Place the jug into a cool place like a refrigerator at this time. Also, put the cap back on the jug once the balloon deflates almost completely. These two steps will protect your alcohol's flavor, especially if you don't drink it right away.

Once primary fermentation has stopped, the alcohol content should be sufficient for you to get a good buzz from the wine. If you want to improve the taste, though, you'll need to let it sit for a month or two before drinking it. If you REALLY want it to taste good, transfer it from the current container (called a "fermentor") into another container, making sure to leave all of the gunk on the bottom in the previous vessel. This gunk, called "sediment" or "dregs" by most, is primarily made up of yeast cells that have died from alcohol poisoning (you try swimming around in your own urine for a while and see what happens!). Though usually not poisonous (at least not any more poisonous than alcohol normally is), they give the wine an odd flavor. Try like rubbing alcohol. To get the wine out without disturbing the dregs too much, siphon the wine out. Siphoning just means you take a hose and suck the wine from one container to another, leaving a lair of wine and sediment behind. If you don't want any saliva to contaminate the wine, rinse your mouth out with Listerine or vodka prior to siphoning and then use an aluminum foil tip on the end of the hose. Pull the foil OFF of the hose just before the wine gets to it and you should be fine. Or, if you're really lazy, just pour it very gently into another container. It will still get rid of a lot of the sediment. Let it sit for a couple days again before you drink it.

And there you go; a new fun project, and a great way to save some money.

The Beginning

this is my welcome to this wonderful website where I attempt to raise money through various activities which I have been told can supplement your income. This being the first (and don't even get me started on how I think it's a load of shit). This is what happens when you decide you want to become a writing major and get an MFA in short fiction. It's like someone grabs you by the balls and puts a scalding hot light bulb in between your butt-cheeks (apparently spell-check tells me butt-cheeks is supposed to be either "butterscotch" or "button holes") being spread by vice grips.

I have done a fair amount of researching on the various ways that a person can increase the amount of income they can make through temporary jobs, internet "telecommuting", etc. This little blog thing where, as Mrs. Palin would put it, Joe Six-Pack can come read what I say allows me to make money. Yeah, ok; we'll see. I've got a few small things lined up, but right about now I am just about to pass out so I shall cut this first entry short.
Cheers!