Money Saving Techniques: Selling Steamed Bread, Farm Care-Taking and Using Coupons

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PHOTO: ZIMMYTWS/FOTOLIA
Here are some easy ways to save money around the homestead. 

John Minton from Fairhope, Ala.:

As soon as I saw Ruth Ross’s recipes in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS article “You Can Bake Steamed Breads … Right on Your Stove Top!”, I
knew I was onto a fail-safe cash project. And what made it
so great was that I’d recently bought some large enameled
pots … perfect for stovetop steaming!

I knew instinctively that two of the breads in particular
would be real moneymakers, because — just reading their
names — I couldn’t wait to taste them!

Within minutes, I was buying a supply of dates, raisins,
and walnuts, and that evening three of us enjoyed Ruth’s
Boston Brown Bread and Steamed Date and Honey Bread …
with cream cheese, homemade fig preserves, and assorted
other toppings (they were delicious even plain).

As we ate, I thought about ways to sell this good stuff,
and that same night I made up a batch of both breads and
even tried my own variation: Orange Date Nut Bread. While
the goodies steamed, I hand-printed half a dozen posters,
and next morning — armed with my ads and with dishes of
the breads cut into small, tantalizing samples — made
the rounds of my neighborhood.

By noon, I’d tacked up my posters at the Laundromat, the
local hospital, two small grocery stores, a drugstore, and
a cafe. At the hospital, I passed around samples and took
orders on the spot. Everywhere else, I just left the
bite-sized persuaders … then raced home to catch the
telephone orders.

It was that simple. And, though I’ve now taken down my
posters, the orders are still coming in as fast as 1 can
handle them. I sell my loaves for $1, $2, or $3 … according to whether they’re made in 1, 1 1/2-, or
2-pound coffee cans, I clear about $350 for 40 hours of
work (my profit on a $1 loaf is between 65 and
70 cents and it runs proportionally more for the larger
loaves). And, with my large kettle and rack arrangement, I
can steam 14 to 16 small loaves at a time.

Folks, modesty fails me: Those breads are absolutely
lipsmacking good! And a less painful way to make good money
at home I have yet to come across.

Lorrie Fassi from Glencoe, Mo.:

My man and I have always loved the land and wanted to live
close to it, but we haven’t yet saved enough money to buy
our own homestead.

That’s why it was an important moment for us last year,
while traveling in the Pacific Northwest, when we took our
first peek at THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Inspired by Dale
and Sandy Deraps’ article “Caretake a Farm (and Live Rent Free),” and by a friend who’d tried
caretaking in Canada, we soon thought of little else but
finding a place of our own to tenant.

What’s more, Jorge felt that his talent for leatherwork
could take us closer to our dream, but we knew he’d need a
roomy and semi-permanent workshop … still another reason
to seek a position as custodians.

Like the Deraps, we placed a newspaper ad in an area we
found appealing (in our case, the region surrounding
Missoula, Montana). But — before the ad had stopped
running — we realized that our chosen locale just
didn’t seem right for us.

Suddenly I said, “Why don’t we go to an area that we know,
and feel comfortable in … a place where we have good
references?”

“For instance?” Jorge asked.

“Why, St. Louis,” I replied. “It’s my hometown,
and — after all — it’s the very place where the
Deraps had such good luck!”

So off we set, on a thousand-mile journey back to Missouri.

And now, sure enough, here we are about 30 miles west of
St. Louis … with a nice-sized farmhouse, some horses and
a stable to care for, and a barn converted to a quaint,
country tack and leather shop. We already have our garden
going and our chickens clucking!

At last we have a means to our end, thanks to Dale and
Sandy and MOTHER. Our “work” (it’s hard to see it as that)
as country caretakers suits us just perfectly … and it
looks like it’s going to make our dream come true.

Sara Sanders from Troy ,Ohio:

When my husband and I were expecting our first child, I
started looking for ways to augment our income without too
much initial cash outlay. And — since a baby needs a
lot of attention — I knew I should choose an occupation
that wouldn’t take up a lot of time. When I came across the
article “Recycled Refunds,” I realized that
refunding could be just what I was looking for.

So I set out to collect the basic necessities: mail-in
coupons (readily available from grocery stores and women’s
magazines), product labels (from my own shelves and those
of relatives and friends, and from the city dump),
envelopes (from the discount store), stamps, and a good
refund bulletin (a little newsletter that lists current
refunds, tips, and ads offering coupon sources. Or you can swap a book of trading stamps for a six-month
subscription. But you might try several different
newsletters until you find the one that most benefits you.)

My starting-out costs were: 50 cents for 100 envelopes, $10 for
100 stamps, and a book of trading stamps (worth $2.50) for
a six-month JayBee’s subscription. I saved, salvaged, and
begged labels and box tops as best I could, so that my
total investment was only $13. Most refunds are for amounts
from 25 cents to $2, and my receipts from those first 100
envelopes came to $105.60. Minus the $13, my net income was
$92.60.

In the beginning, I spent a lot of hours getting
organized — collecting forms, sorting labels,
etc. — but I now average about an hour a day … addressing envelopes and enclosing the appropriate coupons
and labels. I try to send out 20 to 25 offer responses each
week, and my returns come back in four to six weeks. The
postage increase hasn’t hurt my profits, since most
companies have increased their repayment amounts to
compensate.

My net tax-free income for the first year was $595 in cash
and merchandise … not bad for an hour’s work per day!

Refunds are Big Business’s way of enticing us consumers to
buy. I don’t know how many millions are made in increased
sales, but I do know that my refunding enterprise is a
reliable help to us in making ends meet.