The statistics are alarming. For years, it was spoken about except in some vague general terms. If you grew up in the 60s or 70s, you could actually work your way through college. You’d graduate and maybe have a couple of thousand dollars of debt. These days, forget it. If you do go to college, you end up being so deep in debt you’ll be working for ‘the man’ way into your 30s. The chances of having a youthful adventure like going to Europe or traveling across the US are simply not in the cards. It seemed that everything is geared to making the youth of America beholden to society, or more exactly, trapped by society. Keep ’em in debt, keep ’em from questioning.

Even that argument pales to the facts emerging.

The cost of college is so high and the possible jobs out there so few, that the ‘boomerang generation’ has come to fruition. These are kids, who have graduated from college, deeply in debt and forced to return to their parents to live. This isn’t some sort of isolated, cherry picked statistic. 85% of America’s college graduates go back home to live with mom and dad. I’m not sure about you, but when I graduated college, I couldn’t wait to be on my own and start my own life. There is a sadness that things are so bad that both parents and child are compelled into compromises little dreamed of a few short years ago.

OK, this may not be so bad if the education children receive is cost effective. Forget about the obscene increase in college tuition that have risen 128% in 30 years. Despite this increased cost, the quality has declined – dramatically. One 2011 survey showed 45% of the students queried showed ‘no improvement’ in critical thinking, complex reasoning or even writing after graduating school. Another survey showed that American college students today do 1/3 less homework than those in 1965. In short, no matter how you want to parse it, the quality is not what is expected while the cost has increased. It is dysfunctional.

This dynamic is just part of a larger problem. The older generation, my generation, is investing in itself, taking the easy way out and giving short shrift to the very people we need to sustain our rapidly approaching retirement. In terms one old friend was found of saying, “We’re screwing the pooch.”

This topic will be explored in future blogs including how wealth as moved away from the young, how those without college educations are precariously positioned and how the dream of a better life for our kids is vanishing like a snow in March.


5 Frugal Halloween Costumes plus Bonus Make-Up Tips
© Frugal Yankee 2011Whether you are working on a tight budget or even better, you want to engage your family in a fun project, making Halloween costumes is a gas. It shows off creativity, doesn’t cost much and just about everything you need is lying around the house.

Here are five ideas for costumes and at the end of this article are some home made make-up ideas. Now have fun and remember, Halloween is a time to eat, drink and be scary!

Duct Tape
Aluminum Disposable Pans
Grey Sweat Suit
Dryer Vent Tubing
Old Pair of Sneakers
Gallon Milk Jug (empty)
Various Gizmos found in the house and garage.

Put on the sweat suit
Use the vent tubing for arms and legs.
Aluminum Pans for front and back of torso
Cut Milk Jug for a helmet (decorate with gizmos and magic markers)
Cover the old sneakers with silver paint or duct tape.
Attach pieces with duct tape or thread.

Materials: Dark Colored Sweat Suit (preferably black)
White Contact Paper
White and Black make-Up
Draw the various bones on the white contact paper.
Cut out the bones and attach to sweat suit.
Use the makeup to color the face (white) and eyes (black)

Collared shirt and dark pants
Old Glasses (Dollar stores will have inexpensive fake ones)
Wand (a nicely crooked stick from the backyard will do nicely)
Cloth or felt
Instructions: Using a photo dress the child as closely to the photo as possible.
For the cape and scarf use felt or scrap cloth.
Use the eyeliner to draw the ‘scar’ on Harry’s forehead.

Who said Muggles weren’t magical?

Materials: Inexpensive Rectangular Laundry Basket
Cloth Straps or old suspenders
White Paper
Glue or tape
Old baseball Cap
Small Balloons
Cut holes in bottom of laundry basket so legs can comfortably fit through.
Make straps to go over the shoulders & attach front/back of basket.
Line basket with white paper.
Attach blown up balloons to basket with tape or glue
Attach some balloons to baseball cap.
(this idea can also be used for laundry)

Hooded white sweat shirt
White sweat pants
Black felt
Black face paint
Cut various sized ‘spots’ from the black felt
Sew or glue the ‘spots’ all over the sweat suit and hood.
Cut and sew dog ears onto the hood

Take foundation make-up and add food coloring to it – green for witches, aliens or zombies, black for zombie eyes, blue for smurfs etc.

1 tsp. corn starch
1/2 tsp. water
1/2 tsp. cold cream
food coloring
Mix all ingredients together in an old muffin pan and you are ready to paint. This amount makes one color.

Mix 2/3 cup white corn syrup
1 tsp. red food coloring
2-3 drops blue food coloring to darken
1 squirt dish soap (helps consistency)

Mix ingredients and apply appropriately.

Sources used in creating this article:,,

Other Frugal Yankee articles you may enjoy:

13 Fiendishly, Smart Halloween Tips
A Frugal Halloween
Halloween Costumes – The DIY Way
Halloween Safety – Not So ScaryDo you have a tradition or idea you’d like to share? Please do.

A woman in Michigan has sued DRIVE distributor, Film District, over the trailer for the aforementioned film. It seems the woman was upset because her expectations of the film were based on the trailer. She wanted something akin to FAST & FURIOUS. The lawsuit complains that the film bore no resemblance to the trailer, showed “racism against member of the Jewish faith” and disappointed her. The woman, Sarah Deming, is seeking her money back and the halting of production of trailers like the one she saw.

I love this lawsuit. It says so many things at once. It is hard to know where to start, but let’s try.

The woman clearly doesn’t know how to ask for her money back from a theater. Perhaps she tried and the manager of that particular theater said no, but to take the matters to court seems excessive. Besides everyone knows trailers are simple lures. Just because she fell victim to its inducements says more about her than the movie.

The best thing about this lawsuit if that it succeeds in any measure, will be the starting to see lawsuits concerning commercials. For example McDonald’s, they are promoting “love” and McFlurries. The last time I checked my hamburger did not return my love. Is that alienation of affection, or maybe affliction?

Or how about a commercial for open of those male body washes where the geek gets the more than one girl simply by slathering himself in a chemical. Think of that lawsuit, the geek buys the product, slathers himself and gets nada at the local night club. The suffering, humiliation and pain should be worth millions. Then think of the millions who have suffered the same fate. It boggles the mind.

I certainly hope Ms Deming’s lawsuit works. I can’t wait top see the advertising industry actually be forced to have standards and I can’t wait to have every schmuck in the country file a lawsuit because they didn’t get what they thought they should be watching or reading an ad. The poor babies.


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debitcards, frugal, finances
By now you must have heard that the big banks are planning on charging customers up to $5 per month for them to use their debit cards. For them it is simply another cash flow stream at the expense of the customers who bank with them.

There is no sense in asking their upper management to take less money or their overpaid CEOs to forego their ‘bonuses’ for either the good job or bad job they have don. No, they want to stick their hands into the pockets of the regular folks out there to make their bottom line look attractive to those folks over on Wall Street.

Now some savvy smaller banks are hoping to use this avariciousness to their advantage by offering better deals. One hopes there are enough smart, rural people out there who will drop those big banks and go with these smaller, more community oriented financial institutions.
debitcards, frugal, finances
But here’s a thought.

Let’s really muck them up. Let’s do something that is time proven, smart and we all know that works. Use cash.

Think about it for a second. If we all start using cash, we will be much more frugal. Studies have shown that people who use cash are less likely to indulge in impulse buying. When we see the money go from our pocket to someone else’s, we tend to be more hesitant.

Yet what I really like is that if more and more of us start using cash, the whole credit structure will have its foundation shaken. Then those over paid CEOs and bean counters will have to worry that their market is diminishing. The vision of those greedy bastards finally realizing that we, the American people, are not a bunch of chickens to be plucked whenever they choose, is simply delightful.
debitcards, frugal, finances
Sadly, I saw one TV ‘man on the street’ interview with a woman who said, it won’t be so bad. It’s only $5 month. All I could think is, ‘what a sucker?’ Is that what Americans think when it comes to money? No wonder we’re voting for a bunch of mediocre leaders. We can’t tell the difference between getting screwed and being treated with respect.

Oh well, I think I’ll go back to my vision of those fat cats getting scared. I like that much better. I can dream, can’t I?

Film exhibitors is who they are. These folks run megalplexes or your local art house. They are third leg of the movie business. The other two legs are producers (studios) and distributors. Producers make films. Distributors markets and disseminate them. Exhibitors show them. The way the are acting, they will become extinct just like the dinosaurs. The big climate changing comet that will destroy them will be their greed and shortsightedness.

By nature, exhibitors are a grumbling lot. They complain: not enough films being released, too many films being released, deals with distributors are too tough, patrons aren’t coming, or patrons aren’t spending enough. They seem to have a perpetual cloud over their head, not unlike cartoonist Al Capp’s Joe Btfsplk

The first months of 2011 stunk, business was down 14%. As the summer releases slowly roll out, these self same purveyors of negativity are optimistic that this summer will, but these exhibitors are so out of touch they haven’t figured out they are their own worst enemies. Now before anyone accuses me of being a callous observer, relax. I was an exhibitor for 30 years. I started when popcorn was 75¢ and a small drink was 12oz not the current cup size which requires two hands and significant muscle just to lift.

Here are a few observations of what I mean.

When a ticket is purchased on line, a service charge of $1.00 or more is added. So a ‘service’ which is designed to eliminate lines at the box office, lower labor costs and make the exhibitor’s operations easier becomes a cash center. The convenience charge is only convenient to the person selling the ticket. If exhibitors really wanted to make on-line tickets work, make it free or charge only a pittance like 25¢. It defeats the purpose when the service charge can be as much as 15% of the ticket price.

Here’s another example, at least one major chain wants to develop a “loyalty” by offering a card that promises deals. These loyalty cards are designed to breed an affinity for theater in the hope patrons will come more frequently. Oh, but to join this club, you have to pay dues to the tune of $12 a year, yes, $12 per annum for the privilege of being loyal. Why would anyone pay to be loyal? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Of course, the program aimed at the wrong demographic, but that’s a whole other issue.

Now, let’s stroll over to the concession stand. We all know that everything is over priced, but it is also over sized. A person of my age has no desire to consume 72 ounces of popcorn in one sitting. Nor do I want to ingest a quart or more of soda as I watch a film. If there were regular sizes at normal prices, I may purchase something. These days, I sneak my drinks in despite those self-serving warning signs designed to intimidate.

Even if I were interested in candy, it too is a joke. For $4.00 you get a box with some candy sealed in plastic. When you compare the size of the box and the size of the actual candy, you realize that the box is twice as big as the candy. Big box, high price. You feel ripped off just buying a candy bar. Yeah, that’ll make me want to come and spend money at a concession stand. No, I’ll head over to the local neighborhood chain drug store that sells nearly everything but health to find some inexpensive candy.

In 2011, the studios and the exhibitors love 3D. Why? So they can charge more of tickets, but the unspoken truth is that many of the 3D films make less money than the same film in 2D especially family films. Here’s an example the recent release PRIEST is shown in 3D. It looks like a good trashy “B” movie, but who wants to pay 3D prices to see it? Apparently not many people. It tanked. How many other people are like that out there? More than the industry is willing to admit.

Are starting to get the drift?

Exhibitors are using every trick in the book to get as much money out of their business as possible. That’s not wrong and many businesses do the same, but exhibitors as well as distributors just don’t get it.

In their zeal to make money now, they are not building audiences and they audience they do have, they insult customers with high prices, small sizes, bogus ‘loyalty’ programs and endless ads before movies and nothing that says we care about you. They are short sighted and quickly becoming dinosaurs. Extinction is looming.

The scandal rocking England and the News Corporation says many things. It is about arrogance and illegalities in pursuit of sales. It is about high tech and low morals. It has all the elements of a great scandal. Many are enthralled as it enfolds and wonder who will be the ‘collateral damage’. The question I have is simple. So how come so many organs of the News Corp’s seem to be ignoring it or down playing it? Why are the so-called media outlets of the commonsense people, hardly telling us about some rather nasty business in its own house?

The NY Post, Fox News on cable and several other media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch are not focusing on the story. The Murdoch/conservative apologists are saying “It’s unfair, unnatural, and stupid to insist that News Corp. cover News Corp.” (Washington Post) Actually, that would be true if there weren’t an underlying code of honor in journalism. Journalism strives for the truth. Journalism’s role is to inform the public. That’s what is expected. The fact that these apologists and the media outlets aren’t applying the public’s right to know is an indicator what is so wrong with concentrated media.

Concentrated media holdings stifle competition and allows potentially damaging reports, either by omission or commission to evolve. This scandal now has both. News Corp companies have committed crimes and now News Corp companies are not reporting these crimes. One can only imagine if this scandal was at the door step of the NY Times. Fox News would be there 24/7. They’d be calling for heads to roll all the while gloating about “liberal lack of family values”.

We’ve seen this before in the movies. Back in the 30s Frank Capra’s films were full of tycoons who tried to manipulate the public. In CITIZEN KANE, the two headlines during the Kane election were “Fraud at the Polls” or “Kane Wins” depending on how it suited the owner of the newspaper chain. There are more examples. We have been warned. The power to inform can, and will be subverted for less than honorable reasons.

There are many good reporters at the media outlets in question, but the leaders of News Corporation, and Fox News in particular, have been exposed. They are not ‘fair & balanced’. They are not journalists. They are vain, arrogant, and sometimes biased criminals wrapping themselves in a political philosophy to sell news and ads.

There is an old fisherman’s saying, “The fish stinks from the head.” Simply, it means when a fish starts to rot, the head smells first. Mr. Murdoch it is time to get ahead of this scandal and start lopping off the bad heads. it is time for true journalism to find a home at News Corporation. If not, you’re the smelly head.

The pundits that comprise Hollywood ‘insiders’ are debating today whether or not 3D has bounced back from this year’s earlier box office blues. They are wondering if TRANSFORMERS: DARK SIDE OF THE MOON has eclipsed the dark side of 3D.

These knowledgeable people look at the incredible grosses for Michael Bay’s loud, meaningless TRANSFORMERS: DARK SIDE OF THE MOON as proof.
The problem was simple. Hollywood has banked on 3D technology to wow audiences and to fill their coffers. Initially the new technology did indeed bring audiences back to the theaters, but after duds like PRIEST and even GREEN LANTERN, it became apparent. 3D will only go so far. It is too costly for families to pay the ticket cost premium. More importantly, the quality of the films being offered in 3D was simply inferior. Poor plots, ill conceived use of the effects and more, told movie goers that they were being sold snake oil.

Prior to the film’s release the LA Times quotes director Bay, “Let’s make the audience believe again” referring to 3D. The vice chairman of Paramount, the distributor was also quoted. He said, “In the U.S., we had to win a lot of people back to 3-D.”

So Hollywood is looking at TRANSFORMERS as the oracle that will assure them they don’t have to worry. At first blush the numbers makes that assurance. A closer look tells a different story.

For example, factoring out revenues, the same number of people saw the film in 2D as 3D. Factor in that many locales did not offer a 2D option. Hollywood has been insisting theirs convert to 3D or else. Paramount being one of the more aggressive in forcing exhibitors to bend to their will.

Is TRANSFORMERS the divinely inspired savior of Hollywood? No. Will 3D make a rebound? No. Is 3D dead? No.

Like many industries, film making and by extension film going is in transition. Well crafted 3D films like TRANSFORMERS are events. Please note, I said well crafted. The 3D effects in TRANSFORMERS are top of the line special effects.

Event pictures will always draw people into the national conversation and do well at the box office, but 3D films alone will never be Hollywood’s main focus. What TRANSFORMERS has confirmed is that films like this will be made for the gobble marketplace, not the national one, but that’s another story, one in black & white, profit & loss.


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