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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Self Reliance Expo Coming, Help for Seniors, Feebay Follies

Bruce’s Poor Man Survival Bulletin
Your choice for Urban Survival Resources

In This Issue:

1. 3 Easy steps to a no dig garden
2. Keys to a successful garage sale
3. Self Reliance Expo in Denver/April
4. Tech Care for Parents, help for older Americans
5. EBay blows it again
6. Noteworthy government stupidity-big cost to citizens

There is no expedient to which the average person will not go to avoid the
hard work of thinking."
-- Thomas A. Edison

Plenty of Praise for the People of Japan

Unlike the US experience with Hurricane Katrina where looting took place, police left their post and some did some looting, and the government fell down on the job…the Japanese have remained civil.

I’m told the Japanese are taught since childhood to be prepared. They keep a bug-out kit handy near the door, they know escape routes, they regularly hold disaster drills and so on.

It would be challenging not to panic under such chaos and devastation. Needless to say, their store shelves are now empty with citizens seeking food and supplies. Even here in America, supplies of iodine are running low as west coast residents stock up ‘just in case.”
Despite the Japanese stock market reopening quickly and their government pumped billions into an already hard hit economy, the financial repercussions will be felt there and here for a decade.

World financial markets are certainly not expressing a lot of confidence right now. This week alone, $300 billion in U.S. stock values have been wiped out. The Dow Jones industrial average lost about 2 percent of its total value on Wednesday. The Nikkei 225 stock index has lost about 10 percent of its total value since the beginning of this crisis.

Barack Obama is acting as if all of this stuff going on in Japan is no big deal. In fact, as Keith Koffler recently observed, Obama seems to be really enjoying himself in the midst of this crisis....
This morning, as Japan’s nuclear crisis enters a potentially catastrophic phase, we are told that Obama is videotaping his NCAA tournament picks and that we’ll be able to tune into ESPN Wednesday to find out who he likes.
Saturday, he made his 61st outing to the golf course as president, and got back to the White House with just enough time for a quick shower before heading out to party with Washington’s elite journalists at the annual Gridiron Dinner.

Meanwhile, Obama is also going on another ‘working’ vacation this week to Brazil…In the United States, even a minor snowstorm can cause a run on the supermarkets in many areas. If a major league disaster or emergency ever hit the food in the stores would be gone really quickly. Are you prepared?

No society has ever made it past the 40-year mark once they decoupled their money from gold. The last time U.S. currency was backed by gold was 1971 ... 40 years ago. And look where we are today.

Three Easy Steps-No Dig Garden

With food prices skyrocketing, many of us are opting to grow something edible, a sort of Victory Garden. Even those with little gardening experience are experimenting with yard garden. Hey, why mow when you can eat?

For a no dig garden, choose a spot in your yard and mark it off. Your spot should get 6-8 hours of sunlight and not be subject to frequent high wind.

Prepare the area with thick layers of overlapping wet newspaper. Cover the paper with a thick layer of each of peat moss, compost, grass clippings, chipped leaves, humus, spoiled hay or whatever is handy.

Next, pull a section of the layers back, down to the paper. Place your plant on the paper and move the organic material around to the roots and press the soil to remove excess air and water. Use one part nitrogen rich material, such as grass clippings, compost or manure to four parts carbon rich material such as peat moss, straw, chopped leaves, etc.

These materials are generally free-save those grass clippings in other words. Replace ornamental plants in yard with dwarf fruit trees or other edible plants. Remember, all gardens require:

--light --nutrient-rich soil --food/water

If you irrigate, systems work best and conserve water. Try to use about three inches of mulch which reduces weeds and provides nutrients and reduces moisture evaporation.

Head off weeds naturally by mixing equal parts lemon juice and vinegar in a spray bottle. Thoroughly spritz the weeds, avoiding desirable plants-you’ll save over costly weed killer

Grow your Own Food in your backyard
It’s about not being so dependent on grocery stores. If for some reason the grocery stores closed in your area for an extended period of time, where would you get your food? I would be getting mine from my garden.

Online Gardening Community, many interested in sustainability

Green thumb wisdom…No clue which plants to keep, and which to toss?
Simple-pull them all and if It comes back, it’s a weed.



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Soothe poison ivy rash with by applying lemon juice full strength to affected areas.

Keys to a successful garage sale

As I write this, it hit will near 60 degrees and spring might finally be on its way and with it (even my cat is beginning to shed), the start of garage sale season. In many parts of the nation, garage sales have become more sophisticated even down to handing out bags so folks can haul off their treasures.

Our community holds a city wide sale weekend and for $5, you can include your home on their sales map. It does seem a community sale brings out a lot of folks and last year we made almost $1000. Here are some keys to holding a profitable sale.

>>make legible signs (and be sure to remove them once the sale is over) with hours and location.
>>Price your stuff…we hate those ‘guess-the-price’ sales.
>>have enough change, singles especially (it does amaze me at how many visit sales expecting folks to ‘break a $100)
>>be willing to dicker or save the high priced stuff for online sales
>>have some decent stuff, few of want or need more junk
>>if appropriate, place ads in local, community newspapers, online at Craigslist, etc.
>>consider offering refreshments or homemade goodies for sale. If you have children, this could be their project. Last year, I had a crockpot of hot dogs, cookies and a variety of soda (ours was a 3-day sale) available at cost.
>>try to have adequate parking available. Park your car(s) on the next street if need be.
>>Pricing-use even amounts and offer package deals on multiple purchases.

Best days to have sale vary from city to city. In AZ, sales began early in the morning while it’s still cool out and as early as Wednesday, but as a rule, Fri, Sat and Sun are good times.

Seems no matter where you go, many sales primarily offer only children’s stuff…fine if that is what you need, but the rest of us have no interest and if that’s your sole reason for having a sale, say so in the ad.

It’s nice to have a few special items included in your ad that will draw people such as antiques, books (as opposed to DVD only), guns, knives, tools, etc. Items such as clothing, sell better when displayed on a rack as opposed to being dumped out on the ground tarp, use tables for the rest and place big pieces such as furniture or lawn equipment toward the street where it will attract the attention of drive-by’s.

Finally, beware of your city government. It’s absolutely astonishing, but some towns now require a permit or limit the number of sales one can hold (some even have outright bans on sales and/or signs).

Mint coin sets have little intrinsic value since they’re made from base metals. The exception might be silver mint sets…we think you’re better off with bullion or pre-1965 US coins.

Weekly roundup of resources…

Self Reliance Expo-Denver April 8th and 9th
Perhaps more than ever before, people are seeking ways to become more self reliant and create a more sustainable living area. It's great for the environment, and it's great for the pocketbook. This is the lifestyle that teaches great family values and protects your family during economic downturns. This is the only Expo where you can gain knowledge about every aspect of self reliant living!

Simpler CPR-a very useful skill to save a life-Get a how-to online

Feebay raises fees, again
Yes, eBay is now charging fees on what is categorized by your bookkeeper as a business expense. (The IRS doesn’t tax businesses on expenses.)
Use this chart to see how the new fees will impact you…

11.7% increase in the number of households with more than one family
Living in it since the recession started

Help for Struggling Older Americans
Older Americans are facing serious financial problems, forced by circumstances not of their own making to skip meals or cut prescription medicines in half — or not even take them at all. Many are also dealing with the loss of their spouse, their friends and even their purpose in life.
AARP Foundation recognizes that there will be people who fall through the safety net and will struggle to meet their most basic needs. We work to fill this gap. Get help now.

Related Resource: Tech Care Package for Mom and Dad (Grandparents too)
How to site created by Google. Offers 50+ 2-minute videos with step-by-step instructions on everything from how to cut and paste, to creating a blog.

Mother was right. Cut away green spots on a potato before cooking or eating. Causes illness.

A Modern Missouri Homestead

If you're trying to simplify your life and become more self-reliant, check out this new blog from Sherry Leverich Tucker, a homesteader and market farmer in Missouri. Sherry has been blogging about springtime animal births, soap making, and so much more! Stay tuned for even more advice on self-reliant living, and how she learned to grow and process sorghum into a sweet syrup. Full story at:

Food prices went up nearly 2% this month, overall higher by 37% from a year ago…
They are predicted to move even higher while the stock market lost 240% this month

Noteworthy nonsense…Stuff you won’t see on your nightly news! Congressional pork cost taxpayers an average of $17 billion annually! How can we get in on the ’free lunch wagon?”

Americans have 86,000 governments to contend with-each with their hand in your pocket.

Ohio Town Sees Public Job as Only Route to Middle Class
“Wages at the bottom of the labor market have stagnated since 1970, with inflation gobbling up gains made over the years. The federal minimum wage buys a lot less today; it represented just 38 percent of the average hourly wage for private, nonsupervisory workers in 2010, down from 47 percent in 1970, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. . . .
Dim prospects push young people here toward another government solution. Brynna Frazier, 30, said the most popular choice among her friends was the military, which, at $1,600 a month with health insurance, was the best job around. Ms. Frazier, a waitress, has not had health insurance in any job she has ever worked, including Wal-Mart, Taco Bell and a telemarketing firm.” (New York Times)

Government employees help themselves to taxpayer money via government issued credit cards under a program called SmartPay. Millions of dollars in unauthorized spending, according to the GAO, take place by government employees to buy everything from breast implants and expensive vacations to casino trips, $500 designer brief cases and laptops. Seldom is any disciplinary action taken and Congress increased the spending limit on the cards once they learned of the abuse…no wonder everyone wants to work for Uncle Scam! The GAO estimates the looting of such cards by government thieves at more than $300 Million annually. Few of these thieves ever get more than a slap on the wrist-if caught.

The government owns 30% of all the land in the US. It put a two year halt on solar energy projects in Arizona so it could study the potential environmental harm such development might cause. Government owned land in the Rocky Mountain area holds a world record amount of easily mined shale oil-more than 800 billion barrels, more than Saudi Arabia, but Congress continues to vote against its development.

More waste-stupid duplication. Despite states having passed medical pot laws, idiots at all levels of government continue to arrest and harass such clinics. The feds have 342 different programs all doing the same thing - economic development (in addition to state agencies)…there are 72 agencies which check for water quality, again, in addition to state and local government entities…the feds have over 50 departments involved with drug crime, again, duplicating what states already do! Where will the waste ever end?

The duplication of ‘services’ provided by government agencies is often duplicated and investigators found that in 38% of cases, programs failed to show any positive impact, but Congress still feeds their budget every year!

A dollar from 1950 is worth about 7 cents today. The average family in 1950 had an effective net tax rate of about 7%…a new Ford in 1950 cost $1395.00

Parting thoughts…Feebay & a new strategy

EBay tells sellers to simply raise their fees! With razor thin margins & a down market>it makes no sense.
Once again feebay strikes. During a lousy economy when most sellers are trying to make even a small profit, eBay is now going to take another piece of an already razor-thin pie…one that any CPA will tell you doesn’t make sense. (See link above). More announcements are pending, no doubt ones which will erode margins further.

This week I got any email from a buyer who said his book order never arrived and wanted a full refund. The odd thing is I had Delivery Confirmation on this package, which indeed recorded the item as delivered. Tough, I had to make the refund and I strongly suspect, I was scammed…what good does it do to pay extra for the service when it won’t hold water? It was suggested I either pay for a signed confirmation or insurance. On a $10 item, this makes little sense since that’s another $1.85 cost!

Many of my fellow sellers have either abandoned using eBay due to its cost and/or are thinking about it. Most of these folks complain “no one can make any money there anymore.” I know of several drop-off eBay stores which have stopped accepting goods!

Some of who have read this newsletter for any length know I recently began using Amazon too and I am happy as I sell more, (I’ve experimented using the same listing, same price on both sites and Amazon ALWAYS sells faster) and it’s quicker to list and their customer service is excellent.

I am ramping down listings on eBay, moving all new books to Amazon while using eBay only for antiquarian books and antiques. Another example, I had a NIB WiFi modem which sat on eBay for three months, it sold in 12 hours on Amazon!

If you’re starting out and can stand all of the new rules, such as witholding your payments, inability to leave proper feedback for idiots who don’t pay, high fees, IRS Reporting, and the like, it’s still a good place to get your feet wet in online selling, without a lot of upfront cost or expertise.

That's all folks for this issue from the Poor Man!

Check our Resources

Don't Get Caught With Your Pantry Down-New 11th Ed.

Go Green-save money!

Free Money assistance for women, businesses, more.

A Shallow Planet Production

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