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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Honey, I Shrunk the Utility Bills

The Poor Man’s Guide to Saving $$
On Your Water Bill & More

Due to a death in the family, my wife and I recently moved back to Michigan from Arizona. We had been gone 10 years and boy, were we in for a shock. Despite what we saw on the nightly news about the demise of Michigan, there is no recession here.

Why do I say that?

Other than Detroit and Flint, most places seem pretty normal. Elsewhere, we’ve found customers overflowing at restaurants and retail stores and loads of road traffic. And the biggest clue we’ve found that there is no recession is with the government and utilities.

Utility costs are significantly higher here now and the government sure has tacked on a bunch of ‘fees.’ A basic $19.95 landline phone, for instance, costs $35 a month when all the government fees are included…pretty much the same for gas and electric bills. Don’t get me started on car insurance, which I found 40% higher than what I was paying in AZ (and believe me, Arizona drivers are among the worst in the nation).

That leads me to think local governments and utilities feel there is no recession and that everyone can afford sky high rates!

Imlay City, MI has one of the highest water rates in the state of MI and they want to increase it again according to a recent newspaper article. They have a budget shortfall, so they’re going to stick it to the consumer. The rate here is $20 a month higher than what I paid in the desert! It sure sounds like Detroit is sticking its neighbors with fee hikes galore to bail themselves out – imagine that in a state surrounded by the largest fresh water system in the world!

Unless you own your own well, you’re going to pay some steep rates. Here are a few ways I’m cutting my water bill down (stay tuned to find out how you can save even more money on your monthly utilities.

I’ve launched my own beat the government campaign and have installed water barrels at outdoor downspouts to capture rainwater for gardening. Home Depot sells flex pipe used for irrigation and such but only in 100’ or 10’ lengths; not exactly conveniently packaged for most homeowners.

The old folk wisdom that says place a brick in your toilet's water tank is partially correct: It's an effortless way to save water, but a brick isn't the best choice of object. Use a plastic bottle filled with water instead.
Don't worry, you don't have to turn hippie and "let it mellow if it's yellow" in order to save clean water — which is an increasingly scarce resource. Most toilets will flush perfectly well with a little less H2O. The average model uses three to seven gallons per flush. A bottle in the tank will displace enough water to save half a gallon to a gallon each use, or up to about 10 gallons a day in a typical home.

All you have to do is drop a little sand or some pebbles into a ½ gal. plastic bottle, fill it with water, and put it in the tank, making sure not to disturb the toilet's working parts.

Read more:

Composting toilets used to be the sole domain of survivalists and backwoods campers, but they are becoming increasingly common in areas where drought conditions and water restrictions are a fact of life. Commercial models are more expensive than traditional flush toilets, but their design makes the transition to a composting toilet easy and inoffensive. You can save a significant amount of money by building a composting toilet yourself. A homemade model can be as simple as a toilet seat mounted on a 5-gallon bucket, or you can build it into a cabinet structure to hide the evidence of decomposing waste.

The cost of buying one, even used, runs $800 and up – which amazes me for something that essentially has no plumbing fixtures. I figure I can build for less than $50 and here are a few sites offering free plans for creating one. Check them at:

Of course, using water miser shower heads, using gray water techniques to recycle water, turning water off when shaving or brushing your teeth, not watering your lawn (use gray water or rain barrels instead), making sure you have no faucet drips, etc., will all help cut your water usage.

Want More Free Tips – You Could Save
An Average of $175 a Month
--that’s $2100 annually!

Something else I discovered here…Consumers Energy of Michigan, for example, does not offer free (or even paid) home energy audits. In most parts of the country, this is a given. Simply amazing!

Prior to moving back to MI, I performed one of these on our AZ home and for less than $100, we managed to cut our utility costs by $175 a month – you can too and I’ve developed a free guide you can use.

The Poor Man’s Guide to Low & No Cost, Low Tech Eco Friendly Ways to Save Money – it’s a 30-page PDF which can be downloaded from my site (main page, lower right) at: http://www.PoorManSurvival.Com

You’ll find other useful, free, consumer-friendly resources at my site but perhaps the most useful resource I can offer is a free subscription to my weekly emailed Poor Man Bulletin. Also contains my politically incorrect insights about the government. To get this opt-in only subscription (we never rent or sell you email address), send an email to:

Yours for better living,
Bruce “The Poor Man”

P.S. Feel free to share this with your family, friends and co-workers.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Americans Offshoring Themselves for Med Treatments, Make a Quick Buck

Poor Man’s Recession Bulletin
Your Choice for Usable Information

In This Issue:

· Americans ‘offshoring’ themselves for medical care & more
· Make a Quick Buck!
· Top 5 Consumer Problems
· Get a free lawyer to fight collection abuse
· Gee…most citizens don’t trust Washington
· Tips, Tricks & Resources to save money

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with
-Anthony Brandt

Detroit Looks Like a War Zone

Last Sunday Dateline aired a report on Detroit hosted by Chris Wallace, an area native. It’s worse than I thought, although I must admit, I avoid Detroit (I even avoid their airport when possible). A few weeks ago I reported on a plan to literally bulldoze about a 40 square mile are of the city. After viewing the report, I’m more in favor of that concept. The city has been abandoned over the decades by the auto industry and most white people, leaving it to gangs (both street and political) to fight over the carcass.

Detroit, in many ways, is a snapshot of what is wrong with the country. Political vultures more interested in lining their pocket rather than serving the people they were elected to help. Corporations don’t give a damn about their community and ship jobs to Mexico or China (their excuse is cheaper labor, but it’s rare to see lower prices, especially with cars).

Speaking of cars. Want to make a quick buck? Used cars are scarce in the Motor City as people are hanging onto them longer and asking high prices for them. Auto ads in the area feature primarily new cars or very late model cars at inflated prices.

Quick buck II – No doubt you’ve heard about the early retirement program for attorneys called the class action lawsuit but did you know you might be entitled to some free stuff as a result of those proceedings? In many instances, the losing business must repay customers through freebies or discounted merchandise and services. Check this free site to learn more about these settlements:

There’s a new network of consumers who buy products in order to reward businesses who are making the most of socially responsible (certainly won’t include Consumers Energy of MI which DOES NOT offer home energy audits) decisions…check it out at:

Tips, Tricks, Resources, Money Savers

· Refrigerators are usually the most energy hungry appliance in the home. If your fridge is more than 10 years old, might be wise to replace it, View the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy which offers ratings.

· More than 200,000 Americans traveled abroad for healthcare last year. Cost of care abroad is usually a fraction of US costs. Example: A heart bypass here costs an average of $125,000 while in New Zealand, it is only $38,000. Dental work in Mexico is dramatically cheaper than Arizona (7 miles west of Yuma in Los Algodones, there are 350 practicing dentists who speak English and charge 70% less)…500,000 Americans visited India for treatment; 410,000 went to Singapore. Most foreign doctors are trained here. The average cost for full health insurance in Costa Rica is about $95 a month for two adults (again, US trained doctors). Resources:,,

· Share large files easily & free with…use or
· Free office tools – get free invoicing at, custom software and tools from Google Pack,, free customer relation management software at or
· Find out what auto repairs really cost at:
· Turn snacks into money. Raise money for your school or favorite charity by recycling. Sign up for free at, and you can collect yogurt cups, candy wrappers, cookie packages and more & use their pre-paid postage to send them in.
· Find more free software (reliable) at: CNET –
· Win $50,000 savings bond for your child – Got any young scholars at home in grades 5-8? Visit – it will show them how to create a short video varied science concepts for a chance to win one of 51 regional prizes, one of 10 trips to NYC & the chance to compete in the finals for the $50K. Deadline is 5/27/2010
· Keep flashlights ready to use…batteries, when stored in your flashlight will drain so store them with one battery turned around so it doesn’t make contact.
· Stuck without a D battery? Put a C battery in the slot and add 3-5 quarters to mimic the size of a D.
· Make a mini greenhouse by saving the clear plastic containers with attached lids you get from the salad bar or supermarket to serve as a hothouse for seeds you start indoors. Fill halfway with potting soil & add seeds and water. Put the lid down and set in a sunny windowsill until the seeds begin to sprout.

Finally, avoid speed traps (every state and city is on the hunt for more revenue) by going to these sites before you begin your road trip.

Debt Settlement: Fraudulent, Abusive, and Deceptive Practices Pose Risk to Consumers. PDF report to Congress from the GAO
Highlights -

Got a tip or resource? Share them with us & we’ll provide you with a link to download any of our special Poor Man reports free of charge!

Resources for Stockpiling and Disaster Preparation

Make Your Own Energy
Step-by-step guide reveals how to
make your own energy for $100 or less.

Terrific site for resources and green, eco-friendly goods
Earth Day Special
DYI Energy Efficient Updates can help you save some big CASH!
FREE-30-page PDF saves an average of $175 per month or $2000 annually – Not getting this is like leaving money on the table.

Poor Man’s Guide to Eco Friendly No Cost, Low Cost & Low Tech Ways to Save $ & the Environment…click on the Poor Man Free Reports folder, the PM Eco Guide PDF

News Roundup

The remedy is often worse than the disease…

"Politics has poisoned the well."

Poll: 4 out of 5 Americans don't trust Washington
America's "Great Compromiser" Henry Clay called government "the great trust," but most Americans today have little faith in Washington's ability to deal with the nation's problems.

Public confidence in government is at one of the lowest points in a half century, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center. Nearly 8 in 10 Americans say they don't trust the federal government and have little faith it can solve America's ills, the survey found.

Rumor Control Sites Provide the Facts

In a given week, Snopes tries to set the record straight on everything from political smears to old wives’ tales. No, Kenya did not erect a sign welcoming people to the “birthplace of Barack Obama.” No, Wal-Mart did not authorize illegal immigration raids at its stores. No, the Olive Garden restaurant chain did not hand out $500 gift cards to online fans.

Snopes is one of a small handful of sites in the fact-checking business. Brooks Jackson, the director of one of the others, the politically oriented, believes news organizations should be doing more of it. Put them on your favorites!

The Top Five Consumer Problems and How to Avoid Them

If you know where potential problems lie, they should be avoidable. That’s the apparent logic behind the Federal Trade Commission’s Report of Top Consumer Complaints. Every Spring, the FTC puts out a list of the top reported sources of consumer problems. But it normally doesn’t get a lot of national media attention, and that’s too bad. Because if we all took the time to understand the problems represented on this list, we’d be much less likely to become victims. For the full list, go to:

After spending two years clipping and saving through the use of coupons, Kasey Trenum and Kelly Thompson have started teaching others how to do what they do through day long workshops, says the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Time 2 Save workshops teach the concept of creating a pantry stockpile by buying enough of an item while it is at its lowest price, then waiting until the item goes on sale again 10 to 12 weeks later to replenish the stock.

“Right now, when you need to go to the grocery store, you make a list then you go, but you’re tied to your list,” Mrs. Trenum explained. “Now whether salad dressing is $3 or whether it’s $1.99, if you need it, you buy it.
“I buy it when it’s 19 cents and I don’t buy it again until it goes on sale, and that’s the way our bill is like $30.”

The appeal of saving money led Flintstone, Ga., resident Tammy Thompson — who isn’t related to Kelly Thompson — to attend a workshop in early February. The 42-year-old said she knew she was about to lose her job and she needed to find a way to save money.

Since taking the course, Tammy Thompson said she has saved “a tremendous amount of money” and has a new perspective on the grocery store. Before the class, she didn’t keep many groceries inside her home and would instead eat out with her husband for almost every meal.

She said her husband was skeptical at first, but after seeing their grocery bill cut in half and the abundance of food now in the house, he’s just as excited as she is.

She said she has gone shopping twice since the class, and both times her bill was about $75 to $80 for two weeks’ worth of food, plus stockpile items.

….Thank you Sarah for this tip!

You have great resources and I wanted to let you know about one - This page, has some great information and resources on living frugally and the site has some great coupons that would make a nice addition to your page if you are interested.


Abused by a Debt Collector? Get a Free Lawyer

Owning more than you can pay is bad enough. Being badgered, hounded and abused by a debt collector can make your life a living hell.

But if you ever find yourself harassed with dozens of phone calls daily, here’s something you should know. You don’t deserve to be treated like a doormat nor should you tolerate it. More important, if your legal rights are being violated, you might qualify for free legal help to make it stop.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act stipulates what third-party debt collectors can and can’t do when trying to collect. In 2009, the FTC received almost 120,000 complaints about third-party debt collectors: an increase of nearly 50% from 2008. The two most common complaints were phone harassment (34.7%) and obscene, profane or abusive language (13.5%), both violations of the law. And the FTC is taking violations seriously. For example, just yesterday they issued this press release about a million dollar fine levied against one national collection agency.

What should you do if you’re being bullied? First, meet someone who took the bull by the horns: Michelle Vizzini. This Philadelphia woman woke up one morning to find her bank account frozen at the hands of a debt collector for a 13 year old debt she says she doesn’t owe. More at:

Parting Thoughts & Cheap Shots

Cheap Credit Ending for Americans?!

Even as prospects for the American economy brighten, consumers are about to face a new financial burden: a sustained period of rising interest rates.
That, economists say, is the inevitable outcome of the nation’s ballooning debt and the renewed prospect of inflation as the economy recovers from the depths of the recent recession.

The shift is sure to come as a shock to consumers whose spending habits were shaped by a historic 30-year decline in the cost of borrowing.

“Americans have assumed the roller coaster goes one way,” said Bill Gross, whose investment firm, Pimco, has taken part in a broad sell-off of government debt, which has pushed up interest rates. “It’s been a great thrill as rates descended, but now we face an extended climb due to our ballooning deficit and out-of-control government spending binge.

But I do ask myself, when was credit ever cheap? With the possible exception of mortgages, credit card interest rates were always exceptionally high – beyond usury or even Mafia rates.

With the end of cheap credit comes the end of our economy as we knew it, consumer excess will probably vanish and as I reported in previous issues…there will be a rise in use of barter, land contracts, community currency, etc. Indeed, many citizens are preparing to leave the US as indicated in a recent survey…

Record Number of Americans Ready to Flee

In a survey of readers on March 22, 2010, found that nearly 96% of respondents said they are more likely to move out of the United States than they were last year.

More than 500,000 readers of the company’s free Daily E-letter were asked a single question: Are you more open to moving outside the United States than you were 12 months ago?

A stunning 95.6% of those who responded said they were now more willing to make the move and leave the U.S. Sort of an OFFSHORING of ourselves. Hell, Wall Street doesn’t want any US consumers of their goods anyhow.

I know you’ve heard all of us encourage everyone to stockpile silver US coins and/or gold but even precious metals markets are being manipulated by Wall Street and other speculators…watch for oil to continue climbing despite lower US consumption so as I always say – it’s time for another revolution folks!

Join me at my ranch in Costa Rica!

Oderint, dum metuant

Yours for better living – Bruce “The Poor Man”

A Shallow Planet Production

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Art of Swapping, FreeCycling & Underground Economy

Poor Man’s Recession Bulletin
Your Choice for Usable Information

Inside this issue:

· Primer on becoming prepared
· Blacklisting consumers
· Notes on the Underground Economy
· More free deals
· The Art of Swapping
· Our Earth Day Giveaway-Eco Friendly Guide/Save $, Save Planet

Vice is the spice of life! --Unknown

Sin, Vice, Black Market & the Undergound Economy

Several years ago, a friend of mine was shot six times at close range with a .22 caliber pistol after leaving his place of business about 5am – he survived. He and his wife ran a speakeasy or after-hours gambling and drinking establishment.

Although he was able to joke about the event during my visits with him in the hospital, it brought home the dangers of participating in the underground economy. Most folks associate the underground economy with vice of some sort and that’s a pretty accurate statement but not always. I have another friend who sold pirated copies of movies to a private list of buyers, not nearly as dangerous.

Annual revenues from off-the-book activities range from $650 billion to as much as $1.5 trillion dollars and as the economy worsens for many, that figure will only grow. The government never leaned its lesson from Prohibition when dozens of street hoodlums became incredibly wealthy by smuggling booze. Once Prohibition ended, liquor sales in this country actually fell (much to the chagrin of one smuggler whose son became President).

Study after study has shown the underground economy always grows whenever governments increase taxes and/or regulations. The underground economy is growing in Europe as well. For example, due to insanely high tobacco taxes, terrorists are now finding it profitable to smuggle cigarettes – thank you Uncle Scam.

As the economy tanks and middle class jobs and wages vanish, there isn’t much choice for many people - allowing this true form of free enterprise to expand further. Most decent paying jobs are never coming back. Use of barter and alternative currencies will also continue to grow.

Take this as a reminder that our Poor Man CD Rom contains a terrific ebook on 45 Ways to Make a Living-Without a Job. You can order it at our site.

What is America’s favorite recreational drug? Viagra!

A Primer on Becoming Prepared…Down & Dirty Guide

1. A 4 week food reserve Why? If your bank closes down, or you are snowed in, or roads are closed for rioting for a while, you’re not left hungry from the inability to get to the store.

2. A 30-60 day stock of any essential medications you or a family member needs Why? Same as item 1. Additionally, you risk needing a refill precisely when the doctor is on vacation or the pharmacy is closed. Another advantage of a larger supply is that buying in bulk saves money per dose.

3. Heat source other than your gas or electric items. Why? Same as item 1.

4. At least $1,000 cash stashed in your home. Why? Same as reasons one, two and three, but for yet another reason as well. Imagine another banking system virus that shuts down ATMs (already happened in 2003 due to a Microsoft Worm).

5. At least a week of water / juice / hydration Why? If your municipal water is contaminated, pipes are broken due to an earthquake, or if the construction crew was careless and cracked your pipe and the city cant afford to fix it for a while, you arent left high and literally dry.

6. Next size up of essential clothes like jackets, underwear, and one pair of shoes for kids. Also have 2-3 packs of next size up diapers for babies. Why? Kids grow. (If not, see a doctor.) Unfortunately, we often dont realize that theyve literally outgrown their britches until something breaks. If you have a spare next size up jacket, you dont find the dual emergency of a child too large for the jacket they had and not being able to get to the store or having the money to get another one. And the shock of not being able to fasten a clean diaper on Junior while stranded at home is not an emergency if you have a stash of the next size up on hand.

7. Spare glasses and other medical equipment Why? If your only pair of glasses breaks, you may find yourself both blind for lack of another pair and too strapped for cash / credit to get another pair. So have at least one spare pair of eyeglasses on hand. The same goes for hearing aid batteries, wheel chairs for those who are mobility impaired, and other medical equipment a family member is dependent on. This prevents the theft of such an item or its damage or simple wearing out from becoming both a health disaster and financial one. If you have the spare on hand, use the spare and search for options for a new one at leisure.

8. Car maintenance emergency stock Why? If your car can’t go, neither will you. Have a gasoline can or gasoline substitute on hand. Car oil, other car fluids, and a spare battery can also be life- savers.

9. Pay off all of your secured debt. Why? Car loans are between five and ten percent right now. You cannot get that rate of return in the stock market, and you cannot afford to pay those debts when unemployed or during high inflation. So pay it off now.

If you own your car out right, you do not have to worry about repossession if money becomes tight. If you own your cars, pay off your house. Late, lost or stopped credit card payments ding your credit score. Late, lost or stopped house payments can lead to foreclosure. These literally physical investments can prevent a sudden need from become both a financial and personal emergency. Consider it an investment in your personal security and sanity.

Thanks to

Sign outside nursery…It’s Spring – We’re so excited we wet our plants!

Free Deals for You

Share Your Goods & Services (see Art of Swapping below)*

Sign up for a free account & manage your health, weight, etc.

Select a lawyer-vetted document (like living wills) from a database

Get free backup storage
for your computer (I use it)

Free office software – good quality

This site provides valuable coupons & contributes to charity of your choice…passes along 60% it earns whenever you print coupons

Join this site and each day it will alert you to offers from local businesses-the catch…the bargain kicks in only if a minimum number of customers buy it.

Find Out What Auto Repairs Really Cost
Get a free, independent, unbiased price range & estimate at:

For designs that might move one to contemplation
check out:

Unixarcade Zazzle’s*

Resources for Stockpiling and Disaster Preparation

Make Your Own Energy
Step-by-step guide reveals how to
make your own energy for $100 or less.

Terrific site for resources and green, eco-friendly goods
Earth Day Special
DYI Energy Efficient Updates can help you save some big CASH!
FREE-30-page PDF saves an average of $175 per month or $2000 annually – Not getting this is like leaving money on the table.

Poor Man’s Guide to Eco Friendly No Cost, Low Cost & Low Tech Ways to Save $ & the Environment…click on the Poor Man Free Reports folder, the PM Eco Guide PDF

Newsworthy, Noteworthy, Naughty

Scamster Offers No Apologies

Back in the '80s, a New York area electronics chain, Crazy Eddie, collapsed after a financial scandal. Its convicted CFO, Sam Antar, now exposes the alleged financial fraud of others and writes about it

I am a convicted felon and a former CPA. As the criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie, I helped Eddie Antar and other family members mastermind one of the largest securities frauds uncovered during the 1980s. My responsibilities at Crazy Eddie included skimming, money laundering, insurance fraud, securities fraud, and a list of other criminal activities too long to list here. More at:

Dealtree is the leading provider of auction management, logistics and returns processing services & software for Manufacturers, Distributors and Retailers. Dealtree provides a full service, single source solution that efficiently moves goods and information through the reverse supply chain.
It’s owned by Best Buy & sells returned merchandise and it’s launching it’s newest site soon called CowBoom – potentially a good source of electronices and other merchandise to acquire for resale purposes. Laptops, games, digital cameras and more & from brief exam – about 30-70% less than retail.


Good Housekeeping reveals the "Top Five Mistakes" consumers make and provides tips for what people can do to protect themselves in the future:

1. You Don't Know Who You're Dealing With:
You wouldn't buy a watch from the sketchy guy on the corner so why entrust your credit card to a questionable website? The same is true for flyers you receive in the mail for discount services, or an unsolicited e-mail offer.
Before you are wooed by a low price:
See the rest at:
Consumers using credit cards online: Be wary of retailers that attempt to blacklist you

The Fair Credit Billing Act allows cardholders to dispute charges that they had previously agreed to pay. When this happens, the credit card company investigates and decides whether the company or the consumer is in the right. Much to retailers' dismay, the credit card companies generally defer to consumers who seem like they're on the up-and-up and don't make a habit of requesting charge-backs.

That's not how Brian Heideman sees it. He's president and chief executive of, a Santa Monica, Calif., firm that bills itself as "The Net's Largest Shared Database Of Charge-back Risks – See more at:

Here are three steps you can take to join the freecycling movement.

1. Find a freecycling group near you at Recycling Group Finder. If you can't find a group near you, consider starting one, either on your own or through organizations like the ReUseIt Network,, The Freeuse Network,, Sharing Is Giving or The Freecycle Network. Freecycling works best when the group members live geographically close because it's more convenient and uses less energy when stuff is exchanged.

2. Each freecycle group will have its own rules, so learn and abide by those rules. But commonly there are four kinds of posts: Wanted is you searching for an item; Found is telling others that you got what you were searching for; Offer is letting the group know what item you have to give away; and Taken is informing the group that you found a person who needed the item offered.

3. Before buying something, check to see if any one in your group is looking to get rid of the item you need. Before throwing an item in the trash, post an offer for the item to see if any one needs that item.

“No revenue is sufficient without economy.” Benjamin Franklin regarding government spending

The Art Swapping

I’m planning to host a swap exchange in late May. My kickoff event will be a community wide garage sale coming in the middle of that month. We have enough room to host a dozen families who wish to sell their items with plenty of parking (no charge). We thought about selling hot dogs & burgers but were warned the food police will slap us with a fine for doing so without a food vendors permit (typical pinheaded bereautwit), so we’ll ask for donations instead.

We’ll ask those interested to sign up & provide an email address. Several weeks prior to the event, we’ll send out a notice promoting the date & time. We’ll also lay out the ground rules including how many items someone can bring, what kind of condition it should be in, what can participants take home. We’ll use a point system to value the goods from 1-4 with number 4 being the most valuable. These rules will also be posted around the event as a reminder to everyone.

If you don’t have the room, consider approaching your church or community center. We’ll have help from friends to organize and host the event and to keep track of points and tickets. Leftovers will be donated to charity. After the event, we plan to have a picnic with everyone bringing a dish and we’ll provide the beverages.

You can set up the same in your area and many swaps include skill exchanges ranging from haircuts, massages, baking cakes, accounting work, lawn mowing, etc. It’s best to establish the value of your swap in advance so when you approach another person so both parties know upfront if it’s a good deal.

If it works out, we’ll try to establish an area barter network…probably using Yahoo Groups to set up a free exchange much like and other groups.

As always, we welcome your suggestions and input. Laissez nous faire

Yours for better living,
Bruce “The Siam of Swapping” Poor Man

A Shallow Planet Production
Feel free to share this Bulletin or tweet it!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Surviving in the Suburbs, The Kinetic Vehicle-Is it Legal? New Resources

Poor Man’s Recession Survival Bulletin
Your choice for usable information

In This Issue:

· Surviving in the suburbs
· The Kinetic Vehicle-is it legal?
· Win $1,000 + Resources
· Locating free Wi Fi
· Get the new Poor Man Eco Guide to Saving $ & the Environment
· Household CEO freebies, samples, and more

The Masses are asses & they prove it everyday by the way they vote, the way they drive!

Designer Duds

When I was a kid if we got a pair of Levi jeans, we thought we were pretty cool. There weren’t many other ‘designer duds’ that I can recall from back then, although my Dad’s friends used to wear something with an alligator on it whenever they went golfing. So how did most of us go from hand-me-downs and jeans or maybe a pair of Keds shoes to $150 sneakers that kids are willing to kill over? (By the way, the Keds brand still exists).

When my two boys were growing up, their mother bought them everything designer label. I once asked her about why she would spend 20% or more on a name vs. function. Her response, ‘designer labels are better made.’ My former spouse was much like many other shopaholics. We were clearing $5-8,000 a month and she thought nothing of dropping $500 on a blouse at Saks 5th Avenue. Everything for the kids had to be a designer label; there was no generic anything in our household. Personally, all I could think of were those 3rd-world sweatshops that robbed America of its garment industry and how Madison Avenue conned us into buying cheaply made, overpriced goods.

The paradox to this however, is how poorly the average American dresses, despite the tons of cash spent on clothes each year. I don’t care if it’s the theatre, an airline seat, a church seat, most people look like slobs…especially the guys. Of course, I always find it so attractive when you see overweight high school girls who think they look cool in a tank top and jeans with their thong and gut hanging out!

In many ways, most of us have become new consumers though. You really don’t have to spend money to have a good time or to cook a good meal. Nothing like some hard times to make us eat a little humble pie.


New Resources We Found for You!

How to End Long-Term Contracts
It’s not always easy to get out of auto leases, cell phone, gym club contracts.
Most will allow you to transfer your contract to another party without fees. Try posting ads on or go to a paid site such as:

Cell phones –
Gym Membership –
Car lease –

Win $1,000 for Auctions
At most auctions the bids grow higher. At this online auction, prices drop lower and lower. Grab a deal on jewelry, electronics and more. Register before 5/20/10 and one lucky person will win a $1,000 auction credit.

Power Up Your Coupons
The newest trend in couponing include bigger payouts, especially from brand name manufacturers. Average increase is about 2- cents BUT watch out, many have faster expiration dates. Redemption of coupons printed from your home computer are rising so in addition to checking retail sites and reputable sites including:

Be Generous for less…
Buy discounted giftcards for less – up to 40% off from 1,400 retailers and the shipping is free at:

If you’re the household CEO, Organize with these freebies…

Giveaways & Sweepstakes Blog –

Reliable roundup of no cost items at:

Sign up for info about samples, coupons, discounts & deals here”

No purchase required for these samples at:

Something to think about…four trillion gallons of precipitation falls on the US each day but only 1/10th of it is used and none of it is ever lost. The water John used to baptize Jesus, still exists.

Energy Efficient Updates can help you save some big CASH!
No one wants to waste money-30-page PDF saves an average of $175 per month or $2000 annually – Not getting this is like leaving money on the table.
NEW & Free…Poor Man’s Guide to Eco Friendly No & Low Tech Ways to Save $ & the Environment…click on the Poor Man Free Reports folder, the PM Eco Guide PDF

Free Wi Fi – to find the closest cafĂ©, library, hotel or other business that offer a free connection (many McDonald’s & Big Boy’s offer this)…


Some Dollar Stores do Feature Made in America items
Writer finds 26 items for sale that are made in USA. Food items, office supplies, etc.
Speaking of savings…at you can purchase items in bulk.

A cash-only lifestyle keeps people debt-free and conscious of their spending habits. Although living with cash in hand requires careful budgeting, logging expenses and intense perseverance, in the end, there’s a big pay off: according to finance guru Dave Ramsey, consumers can save 12 to 18 percent of their money by relying on dollars instead of credit cards. Learn what tricks to use when parting ways with your plastic and how to bypass any obstacles brought about by your Benjamins.

Great idea – store small kitchen gadgets and tools that clog your drawers in flower vases on your counter for easy access.

For designs that might move one to contemplation
check out:

Unixarcade Zazzle’s*

Resources for Stockpiling and Disaster Preparation

Make Your Own Energy
Step-by-step guide reveals how to
make your own energy for $100 or less.

Terrific site for resources and green, eco-friendly goods

Get money back on items you purchased that later went on sale…
Log onto to get free email alerts about
Post-purchase markdowns; then return to the store with a receipt.

News & Views

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 48 states face shortfalls in their budgets for fiscal year 2010 that total $196 billion or 29% of state budgets — the largest gaps on record.

Experts say 10 states are bordering on insolvency — along with California and Illinois, other states in the hot seat including Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. They are all in the soup, financially. And in 2011, many states face revenue gaps as big as or bigger than the ones they are wrestling with this year.


The Kinetic Vehicle…Is it legal?

This is MAX, which stands for Mother's Automotive eXperiment. No, we're not done with it. It needs a streamlined body, for one thing, since we're shooting for 100 miles per gallon. The engine is a turbocharged 1100cc Kubota diesel, and and even sans streamlining MAX is surprisingly peppy. Peppy enough to win the inaugural Escape from Berkeley race in October '08 (Berkeley to Las Vegas without petroleum fuel) thanks to good performance, great mileage, and the ability to run on cooking oil straight out of the bottle. We intend to run the same team in April 2010, when Escape from Berkeley will take us from Berkeley to Mexico; Yours Truly behind the wheel and Sharon Wescott behind the map...unless by some fluke we get a diesel motorcycle whipped together for Sharon, in which case we'll be calling for volunteers in the right seat. Click here to read all about the MAX project or here to just read about MAX this year.\

White House braces unemployed for slow job rebound
Given the depth and length of the recession, the White House wants to cool expectations of a rapid economic recovery before the November elections that will determine whether Democrats retain control of the House and Senate.

>>><<< Gasoline prices today are lower than the highs of July 2008, but they are higher than they were in 2009. Analysts point to recent growing demand for oil that has led to higher prices, and they continue to debate the point at which oil production might peak over the next decade…If you’ve read some of my posts from last year or earlier, you’ll recall that I suggested ending Saturday mail delivery – not to save the post office anything, but to reduce the amount of fuel consumed in the US.

The government is by far the largest consumer of fuel in this country and in most cases, they are not fuel efficient. Another area of government inefficiency often overlooked…too few local municipalities know how to properly time traffic signals, leading to a horrendous waste of gasoline through constant stop and go driving.

H.L. Mencken’s classic warning… “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed—and hence clamorous to be led to safety—by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

Survivalism in the Suburbs

Yahoo Finance! reported that a new trend is coming out of chaotic California: ‘Crisis spurs spike in ‘suburban survivalists’. “Six months ago, Jim Wiseman didn’t even have a spare nutrition bar in his kitchen cabinet. Now, the 54-year-old businessman and father of five has a backup generator, a water filter, a grain mill and a 4-foot-tall pile of emergency food tucked in his home in the expensive San Diego suburb of La Jolla.”

If Mr. Wiseman really needs his various preparations then what would the probability be that the area he is in is experiencing massive civil unrest, supply chain disruptions, gang warfare and a host of other undesirable effects?

Often when thinking of disaster preparation people get a little extreme, do not accurately assess the probability of events, focus on fairly immaterial questions like how to buy gold or silver and neglect the more important issues.

When considering physical preparation I think the best insurance is a three month supply of food and a 72 hour kit.

The kit should be extremely portable such as a backpack which may be quickly taken in the automobile should there be a need to evacuate. The food storage is a great hedge against inflation, insurance that you can eat which is not subject to counter-party risk, protection against potential supply chain disruptions such as the recent swine flu advertising campaign, and relatively cheap. Food storage is a form of savings and procuring a three month supply of food may cost only a few hundred FRN$s.

Sure, there are additional preparations you can make such as opening a free GoldMoney account where you can begin using gold or silver in ordinary daily transactions, procuring a shotgun or Glock 9mm, storing a year or two of food, spending a bundle to secure a farm in a remote location.

Are you prepared? You may even consider taking a survivalism course.

Here’s a site ( which lists survival schools throughout the country – of course, you can find much of the same information for a fraction of the price via our Poor Man Recession Survival CDs – buyers get Poor Man I and Poor Man II for a whopping $10 & free shipping. Order the MegaDeal at our website.

The police are not here to create disorder. The police are here
To preserve disorder.
–Mayor Richard Daley

PARTING SHOT…from the ‘Is anything made in America?’

I recently took my mother to a store called Hobby Lobby. It was packed to the rafters with overprices crap made in China AND it was jammed with eager shoppers! I refused to make any purchase and asked one of the managers if anything in the store was made in the USA – not one thing…yet all these Motor City citizens who moan about losing their job to foreign competition were standing in line wallets at that ready!

Chinese pet food is poisoning pets, and Chinese made toys were harming our children and now we learn Chinese drywall used in homes is injuring its occupants and most will have to be torn down as they’re beyond rehabilitation.

Even wind turbine contracts for use in this country are going to China – ARE we that stupid? No wonder so few middle class jobs exist. Some pundits call this a consumer revolution and most retailers have never seen anything like this before (the fact Americans have stopped purchasing useless crap). More Americans now rent their home vs. own one as jobs went bye-bye and the real estate market crash wiped out trillions of dollars in wealth.

Call it shrewd shopping or the ‘new frugality,’ most Americans either plain old can no longer afford the toys (except for any new electronic gizmo it seems) or they’ve finally wised up to the fact more isn’t always better…until Wall Street figures out it’s in their best interest to start making things here again (even if it costs more) they’ll continue to lose customers.

Frankly, our circle of friends makes a conscious effort to avoid stores which feature only made in China crap! We buy and swap a lot of stuff and take pride in feeling saavy rather than shabby!

Yours for better living,
Bruce ‘the contrarian’ Poor Man

A Shallow Planet Production

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What is a Time Bank, Pajama Mama, Best Free Software-More

Poor Man’s Recession Bulletin
Your choice for usable information

Inside This Issue:

· All about Time Banks
· How to Hold a Garage Sale
· Smarter Driving thru free software
· The promise of thin-film solar
· Meet the Pajama Mama

Cleaning anything involves making something else dirty, but anything can get dirty without something else getting clean…Laurence Peter

A bit of humor to start your day…
Over five thousand years ago, Moses said to the children of Israel “ pick up your shovel, mount your asses and camels, and I will lead you to the Promised Land”.

Nearly 75 years ago, President Roosevelt (Democrat) said, “ Lay down your shovels, sit on your asses, and light up a camel, this is the promised land”.

Now Obama has stolen your shovel, taxed your asses, raised the price of camels, and mortgaged the Promised Land.

Furthermore, I was so depressed last night thinking about Health Care Plans, the economy, the wars, lost jobs, Savings, Social Security, retirement funds, etc .
I called Lifeline, the suicide help line. I got a call center in Pakistan . I told them I was suicidal.

They all got excited and asked if I could drive a truck…
Got a great idea?
Let your Fans decide! Post your idea on our Wall, and a video, too if you’ve got a lot to say.

Make a difference in the lives of those trying to make a difference by “Liking Up” the venture you feel are worthy. You just might make the next great alternative energy source a reality.

Via Twitter & Facebook!/pages/FUND-Me-FUND-Me-NOT/341596023308?v=app_4949752878

>>>Finally, I was amazed to learn that accounting firms are farming out your tax returns to accountants in India. I knew American companies didn’t like American workers but this is crazy…in 2003, some 25,000 returns were done in India, by 2005 it was 400,000 and growing. Obviously, they have a way around our privacy laws or at least what’s left of them!
How to Have a Blow Out Yard Sale

It’s getting to be that time of year again…Yard sales pop up in the spring and summer like mushrooms, but there is a knack to having a successful one. The reasons you may want to have a yard sale are numerous. Despite the hard work involved in getting the sale together, it is a chance to have fun, meet your neighbors, make money, lose money, get skunked, recycle, and clean out the clutter that has been accumulating.

The first order of business is to get a pad of paper and a pen and start going through the rooms in your house. What room has the most junk? Is it the kitchen, bedroom, garage? Check every corner of the closet, the shelves, etc. and evaluate everything honestly. Don’t get overly sentimental. If you haven’t used the thing in 10 years, why keep it around collecting dust? When listing your “inventory,” make notes like “Must go,” “Takes up too much room,” or “Can’t part with it.” This will help you organize what items will go in the yard sale. The greater assortment of goods, the larger your profit will be. More at:

Responses to telemarketers…

‘I won’t be able to take advantage of that because I begin my 10-year sentence for mail fraud this week – I don’t want to make any commitments until I’m released.’

Thanks for calling, but the Social Security Admin just declared me legally dead. My bank accounts are frozen, & my lawyer thinks it will take a year or so get things fixed.’

Interesting Resources

Leslie Truex, also known as The Pajama Mama, truly knows how to combine comfort with making a living. For over a decade she has been working at home, often in her pajamas, and helping others do the same.

She is the owner of the 12-year old site which has been recognized by telework and small business associations as a quality resource for work-at-home information. She is also the author of The Work-At-Home Success Bible. She has been interviewed by The Daily Buzz,, Women’s Day Magazine, Redbook, Today’s Parent and in a host of other media outlets.
Dropbox is a free backup software that allows me to easily and securely backup the most important files on my computer to an external disk somewhere else on the internet. They offer 2GB of secured online storage for free. If you need more space than that, they have an account with 50GB of storage for $9.99 per month and another with 100GB of storage for $19.99 per month.

Terrific site for resources and green, eco-friendly goods
5 Myths About Going Green-Video

Free Colleges

How to Go Green in Your Kitchen Video

How to Protect Your Assets in the Coming Inflationary Crisis”

Alternative Energy, Green Jobs Resource & News

How To Make A Rain Barrel…good for the garden

The Best Free Software of 2010

Get what you DON'T pay for: Here are 196 programs that cost nothing but will make your computing life richer—all while keeping your wallet fat.,2817,2361876,00.asp?KC=PCMA033010

Safer, Smarter, Fuel Efficient Driving™
FuelClinic™ software will show you how to improve your gas mileage and get 10% to 20% better MPG (sometimes more) using the vehicle that you already own, while helping improve road safety, reducing traffic congestion, and saving you money.

What is Time Banking All About?
At its most basic level, Time banking is simply about spending an hour doing something for somebody in your community. That hour goes into the Time Bank as a Time Dollar. Then you have a Time dollar to spend on having someone doing something for you. It’s a simple idea, but it has powerful ripple effects in building community connections.
Each Time Bank has a website where you list what you would like to do for other members. You look up Time Bank services online or call a community coordinator to do it for you. You earn Time Dollars after each service you perform and then you get to spend it on whatever you want from the listings. More at:

Economy is a poor man’s revenue: extravagance a rich man’s ruin.
--Lydia Child

For designs that might move one to contemplation
check out:

Unixarcade Zazzle’s*

Resources for Stockpiling and Disaster Preparation

Make Your Own Energy
Step-by-step guide reveals how to
make your own energy for $100 or less. – Free Resources & Calculators, Debt Management, More|69490843011


The Promise of Thin-film Solar
From Mother Earth News, by Steve Heckeroth

Every hour, the sun beams more energy to the Earth’s surface than the global population uses in a year. Meanwhile, humanity struggles with the effects of pollution, climate change and fossil fuel dependence. Could it be that the solution to these problems is right above us? Modern photovoltaic (PV) technologies take advantage of renewable energy from the sun by converting sunlight into electricity. So why aren’t more of us using this remarkable technology to power our homes? When asked, the reason most people give is the cost of installing a PV system. But new thin-film PV products are getting better and cheaper all the time. This technology could soon change the way we think about electricity and make sunshine our “fuel” of choice.

The Rise of Thin-film Solar

The type of solar-electric module currently dominating the industry is crystalline silicon, which is made by encapsulating wafers of highly refined silicon under rectangular sheets of glass framed with aluminum. These modules have been the primary solar energy technology for more than 50 years.

Crystalline modules still dominate in PV sales, but in the last few years most new development work has focused on thin-film PV technologies. In 2005, more than 95 percent of the PV market was served by crystalline modules. Since then, thin film’s share of the market has risen steadily and is now 25 percent. Hundreds of thin-film companies have entered various stages of product development or production.

Large-area thin-film PV modules and laminates have been commercially available since the ’90s. Thin-film modules still aren’t as efficient per unit area as crystalline silicon modules, however, they have other advantages over crystalline silicon. Perhaps most importantly, thin-film solar is much less expensive to produce. Many thin-film panels are produced from amorphous silicon. These solar cells require much less high-grade silicon than it takes to produce crystalline silicon panels. Thin-film solar cells can also be made from other semiconductor materials, including copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) and cadmium telluride.

Can We Make Every Roof a Solar Roof?

Rather than building massive new power plants, why not install PV panels on every sunny roof and on simple shade structures over every parking lot? The same mass adoption that allowed room-sized mainframe computers to morph into laptops could cause huge, centralized power plants to give way to rooftop PV panels. In fact, some U.S. policies already encourage distributed generation by giving substantial tax incentives to homeowners and businesses that install PV systems.

Because thin-film solar panels are both lightweight and flexible, it’s possible to incorporate them directly into buildings — as roofing materials, for example. The idea of building-integrated photovoltaics is not new. Architects have been using PV modules as roofing since the early ’80s, but using the glass modules available at that time was both challenging and expensive. Glass is transparent, long-lasting and weatherproof, but it can shatter and is not an ideal roofing material.

In contrast, thin-film solar cells work very well on rooftops. Uni-Solar’s amorphous silicon thin-film laminates have been available for more than a decade, and new solar roofing products may soon be coming on the market. In October 2009, CertainTeed, a leading North American manufacturer of asphalt shingles, announced an agreement to develop roofing-integrated PV products for the residential market. In September 2009, Dow Building Solutions announced it is working with Global Solar, a leading manufacturer, to develop thin-film solar roofing shingles.

Many other possibilities exist for building-integrated photovoltaic applications. A few companies are producing thin-film modules that can be used as windows, and there is also great potential for developing low-cost solar siding. For every new technological development that’s announced, there are dozens more in the works. In short, solar power is becoming more affordable and available all the time. It’s possible that future generations will wonder why people ever used fossil fuels to produce electricity.

Excerpted from Mother Earth News, the Original Guide to Living Wisely. To read more articles from Mother Earth News, please visit or call 800-234-3368 to subscribe. Copyright 2009 by Ogden Publications Inc.


Seems Every country is in trouble…Parting Shot

As you might imagine, I subscribe to a large variety of newsletters, primarily of the economic forecasting type. I don’t see much optimism anywhere for any country other than India. The US is overextended with $100 trillion of debt and entitlement (Medicare, Social Security, etc.) problems, the Euro sucks because of Greece, Portugal and other budget concerns.

Probably what does frighten me the most is how states like California ($20 billion) and Illinois ($12.8 billion) will survive their indebtedness and WILL they ever learn anything about the future such as living within their means? Or, will they succumb to their normal behavior of seeking new ways to tax and spend? Some recently aired examples:

· New Hampshire literally stole $110 million from a medical malpractice insurance pool ...
· Colorado is trying to seize a $500 million surplus from a state workers’ compensation insurer ...
· Connecticut has tried to create its own magic accounting rules ...
· Hawaii has decided to change the definition of the English word for “week,” cutting schools down to four days ...

No doubt you’ve heard the news reports about the religious militia group arrested by FBI in MI, OH and IL…do you think they are the only group, which is fearful of our government and its unconstitutional actions, spendthrift ways and so forth?

The stimulus plan has pretty much been a disaster from what I can see – too much given to too many who created the financial mess in the first place. The next five years will be interesting as the warning signs are pretty clear and we’ve not faced up to the debt situation and lack of innovation here. My guess is, however, other nation’s will get hit even harder.

Celebrate Earth Day, April 22, 2010 and Happy Easter!

From the worldwide headquarters, the contrarian curmudgeon known as:
Bruce “The Poor Man”

A Shallow Planet Production