Buttons and Bolts

Eventually, you’re going to need a button.  Or a bolt.  It’s a pain to have to make a special trip to a store to buy the one button you need to fix the shirt you need today.  Likewise, when you find you need a bolt or a screw for some minor repair.  It’s especially frustrating to have return to the same hardware store that you had been to just 2 hours earlier because you need one more bolt to finish your project.

buttons_jarIf you have a jar full of buttons, there’s a good chance you can find one that’s close enough to do the job.  A jar full of bolts and nuts, screws, and similar hardware is also very useful.

This is more a matter of saving time than money, but your time is worth a lot of money (isn’t it?).  When you’re throwing away old clothes or old furniture or anything that has buttons, bolts, screws or any other kind of fasteners (and when you see these things that other people have thrown away), take a look and see if you can salvage some of those useful fasteners and add them to your home store.

Whenever I throw away an old shirt, I remove all the buttons and put them in the button jar.  If I have several matching buttons I sometimes keep them together on bit of string or thread.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve added to my nut and bolt collection by just taking a few that are easy to remove from furniture that my neighbors have thrown away.  I’ve also taken knobs from drawers and cabinets that I’ve found on the curb.  And some hinges.  And many of those cool IKEA fasteners and the little dowel rods.  (It’s good to have carry a Swiss Army knife or multi-tool for this sort of thing.)

Keep stocking your home store with buttons and bolts that would otherwise end up in a landfill and it will serve you well.

This is a Coffee Maker

Years ago (I mean, in the 1970s), Father Guido Sarducci was selling “Mr Tea” — a “tea maker” that was little more than a funnel under which you would place a cup with a teabag in it.  Sarducci said something to the effect of, “Just add boiling water, and Mr Tea does the rest!”

But think about it: your electric “coffee maker” doesn’t do anything more than bring water to a boil and let it drip over some ground coffee in a coffee filter.

ceramic_coffee_filter_holderDo you really need a machine to do that?

I assume you already have a machine that can bring water to a boil.  It’s your stove.  And you have hands and arms and a brain.  So use you brain and ask yourself:  Why should I spend money for a machine that does something that I can do with things I already own?

It’s called “pour-over coffee” and you make it with a coffee-filter holder that fits over a cup or carafe.

A “pour-over coffee maker” costs a fraction of what an electric coffee maker costs.  And it is easier to maintain.  And it takes up less space.  And it doesn’t use any electricity.  And it will probably last longer — like, it might last for the rest of your life — while you will probably need to buy a new electric coffee maker at least once every 10 years, maybe more often.

Okay, so the pour-over coffee maker doesn’t have a clock and a timer.  You’ll live.

Use your stove.  Use your hands, your arms, and your brain.  Don’t buy something you already have.

If You Like Popcorn, This Popper Will Save You Money

popcornPopcorn — the kind you buy in bulk and make yourself — is a very economical snack.  Less than 40¢ per serving (and I mean a man-sized serving) for the popcorn kernels and quality popping oil.

But to do it right, you need a good stove-top popcorn popper.  I have a popcorn popper like the one in the picture.  Stainless steel, with a very study handle to turn the paddles that move the kernels.  (And note that the handle is directly connected to the paddles, no gears to wear out and break.)  It cost about $80, but it’s a piece of quality cookware.

popcorn_popperOver the past few decades I’ve had at least 3 or 4 popcorn poppers: the hot-air popper, the motorized electric popper, some microwave contraption, and probably some other thing.  Nothing tastes as good as popcorn made on top of the stove.  Anything electric will eventually break.  Plastic is junk.  There’s no need to pay for something that uses electricity to make heat when you already have a stove.

This stainless steel popper will probably still be in working order decades from now.  Despite its relatively high cost, it saves money because it will last longer than other poppers and it makes the popcorn that tastes better and costs less than microwave popcorn (and much, much less than bagged popcorn or potato chips).

Don’t Buy Something You Already Have

cast_iron_waffle_makerAssuming you already have a stove …why would you buy an electric waffle maker?  Most of the cost of an electric waffle maker is the electrical parts, the parts that allow it to get hot and remain at the correct temperature.  But if you’ve already got a stove that gets hot, why do you need that capability in a waffle maker?  Do you need an electric water boiler?  Do you need an electric bacon fryer?  Do you need an electric egg cooker?  If you do those things on the stove, why can’t you make a waffle on the stove?

Buy a cast-iron waffle maker and let the stove do the heating.  You can even buy 2 or 3 if you would like to make more than one waffle simultaneously.  The cast-iron variety doesn’t light up or ring a bell when it gets to the right temperature or when your waffle is done, but you can learn how to tell when a waffle is done, don’t you think?  And a cast-iron waffle maker is easier to clean, takes up less space, will last longer … and costs less.  Also consider a stainless steel stove-top popcorn popper.