Unconventional Budget-Slashing Tips

by Lynn B. Johnson on June 27, 2009

Recession Survival GuideCampbell Norwood has written a book that will be of great interest to our Wallet Blog “Deals” readers. Titled Recession $urvival Guide: Low-Cost and No-Cost Strategies to Spend Less, Save More!, her book is full of low- and no-cost opportunities for stretching one’s household budget.

“I wrote the Recession $urvival Guide from the perspective of knowing that there are a lot of families in our area, and around the US, who have never dealt with economic recession. They’re scrambling, embarrassed, and don’t know what to do,” Norwood said. “My goal is that readers will be empowered to make no-cost and low-cost changes.”

When Norwood was raising her young daughter, “I would read ways to save money on my energy bill, for example, by putting in double-paned storm windows.” She laughed. “As if I had the money to do that. Or air conditioning: turn it down! Well, that’s nice, assuming that I had an air conditioner, which I didn’t.”

“I loved your tip for putting a bowl of ice in front of a fan,” I said.

“Exactly. It’s cheap and easy, and it makes a particular difference in dry climates,” Norwood said.

Simple budget-slashing tips are abundant in her book. In one chapter, she outlines how easy it is to make your own inexpensive cleaning supplies. “A two-dollar gallon of vinegar and a box of baking soda goes a long way towards a clean house,” Norwood said.

For example:

  • Glass Cleaner: “Equal parts of water and white vinegar in a spritz bottle. Beautiful shine!”
  • Toilet Cleaner: Make a paste of borax and 1/2 cup lemon juice or white vinegar. “Spread on the inside of the toilet and let sit for a couple hours before brushing clean.”
  • Dishwasher Rinsing Agent: “Using vinegar instead of the expensive rinse products works as well. Put the vinegar in the rinse  dispenser of your dishwasher.” (She also advises that you can extend the life of your dishwasher detergent by mixing it 50/50 with baking soda, or you can make your own dishwasher detergent with one tablespoon baking soda and one tablespoon borax.)
  • No-Scrub Dish Cleaning: “Sprinkle a cup of baking soda into the container, sprinkle water on it to wet it down, and let it soak overnight. Next morning, the residue wipes right off!” (I have also used this method to clean my oven in a no-smell, non-toxic manner and it works great!)
  • Drain Cleaner: It’s “safer, cheaper, and easier with baking soda and vinegar. I pour a generous helping of baking soda down the drain, and then slowly add vinegar. SLOWLY because the vinegar and baking soda will interact like a miniature eruption, bubbling up and out of your drain. Once I’ve let it sit and bubble for a  while, I pour boiling water down the pipe.”

Norwood’s book is chock-full of easy and inexpensive tips like these. More than just a book of tips, though, Norwood’s Recession $urvival Guide provides a helpful tool for learning where your money goes each month.

“The SHOW ME THE MONEY! chart in Chapter 2 lets readers chart what they’re spending right now, and then you read the book, and then you chart what you’ve spent  the next month, and the month after that,” Norwood said.

Norwood’s tips come from serving low-income people and families in the social services realm, but also from her own real-world experience.

Thirty years ago, Norwood was a single mother of a toddler girl. “I remember thinking, ‘Well, I have a car to sleep in, so it’s not like I’m homeless.’ Or I would think things like, ‘Well, I know if I swallowed my pride and went to an emergency shelter, or applied for welfare, I could have a roof over my head, so it’s not like I’m destitute.”

Even after Norwood got off the streets, she still struggled with money and its importance.

“For some people, someone who grew up poor might be determined to make a lot of money. For me, it was the opposite struggle. I didn’t believe for a lot of years that it was OK for me to be fiscally responsible, or to have money. When I got a paycheck, I felt like I didn’t deserve it. It was a many years’ long struggle,” Norwood said.

“As I began to get a little education about finances and budgeting, and learned that it was OK for me to pay my bills on time and not be in debt, it changed the way I thought about myself, because I think it has to,” Norwood said.

Norwood’s openness about her own experience among the disenfranchised lends a true “you can do it” spirit to her book.

“I hope readers will understand that they’re not alone, and there are a lot of things, a lot, that they can do. There was a reviewer of the book who wrote to me with her tips, and said, ‘I really thought my husband I were doing everything to do. There’s so much more — we could literally be saving another hundreds of dollars a month.’”

Readers of Norwood’s book can also visit her blog at http://hardtimesamerica.blogspot.com/ .

“Wallet Blog will be one of our go-to resources, and I’ve subscribed to your feed,” Norwood said. “I’m glad I didn’t see this while I was writing the book because I might have been too intimidated, because there are so many resources out there.”

I suggest that you buy her book now, so you can say you read it before Norwood’s Oprah appearance, which, as far as I can tell from my interview with her, appears to be a foregone conclusion. Oprah, have your people call Campbell Norwood — your viewers need to hear her wisdom. I’m just happy that Wallet Blog got to her first.

Disclosure: My acquaintance with Campbell Norwood goes back a couple of years, from when she was the secretary at my church. She always impressed me as a calm woman of great wisdom. She also convinced a pagan to sing in our church choir. So I was already aware of the fact that Ms. Norwood is something of a miracle worker.


Donna Draper
My association with Ms. Norwood began many years ago when we worked together. We worked in the social service field, helping people help themselves. She is extremely knowledgable on saving, budgeting and such, as she did it herself for many years. She is a wonderful speaker and taught me how to speak over the telephone! (Always smile when you are speaking on the phone; she said. It comes through in your voice) A very intelligent and kind person. Read this book! Great advice!

Donna Draper
June 29 at 01:06 am

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