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Thread: HOW TO: Survive the downturn - are you in financial trouble? Help with advice too!

  1. #1

    HOW TO: Survive the downturn - are you in financial trouble? Help with advice too!

    I will be posting my advice as I think of things.

    Anyone who knows things that people can do to survive the downturn please post your suggestions.

    People are losing their homes, going without the basics like power, water or heat.

    When you are in that situation it's hard to think of the little things that could make a difference, or cheap ways of doing things that normally cost money.
    Last edited by free1; 12-24-2010 at 08:28 AM.

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  3. #2
    Heat: Move everything you need into one room, start living like you are in a one bedroom apartment.

    If your computer is in the same room, you are using the wasted heat energy to warm yourself.

    Use a space heater. Walmart sells them for $15. Once your little room is heated, it costs little to maintain it (if your insulation is good). Use the built in thermostat to help save power.

    Windows are the worst heat loss things you have. If you can put up anything to block the cold from them, do it. Styrofoam can be found in the trash and makes a great insulator. Even several layers of cardboard would work, but not as good.

    Seal any air leaks.

    Make sure you can let the sun in during the day.

    Use a heating pad or electric blanket to keep yourself warm, they only use around 50W. Turn it off after you are snug in bed, use layers of blankets instead.

  4. #3
    Cook with no electricity in a sun oven you can make with cardboard and aluminum foil:

  5. #4
    Electric: Turn off those lights! Get a bunch of those LED night lights so you can walk around at night without turning on the big lights.

    Use a LED flashlight and buy batteries for it at the dollar store. Use that as much as possible to move from room to room.

    Get Compact Florescent Lights (CFL) for everything. Power companies subsidize those when you buy them at hardware stores. Check around and see who has the discounted ones. <<<<< Just doing this will reduce your power bill significantly!

    Turn down your hot water heater. Turn up your fridge (a little, you don't want food going bad).

    Turn off your computer monitor when you walk away.

    Again, use heating pads or electric blankets to keep warm. Dress warmly inside.

  6. #5
    Electric appliances and doo-dads still use electricity when they are turned off and plugged in. You need to use a circuit breaker like a power switch if you want to cut the power draw (or simply unplug things).

  7. #6
    • Turn the heat down in winter, and wear long johns and sweat suits
    • If loosing your home ask the mortgage company to produce a Deed to prove they own the property. If they cannot, consult an attorney because they may not have the authority to foreclose on you. Most of the mortgage companies cannot produce a deed because they have been lost in bundled mortgage deals.
    • Wrap your hot water heater with a blanket designed for that purpose
    • Don't use the close dryer...use an outside close line.
    • invest in gold and silver
    • start a business (think about how to help others save money as a business)
    • buy in bulk, and use co-ops
    • grow a garden and freeze or can the excess
    • In the Summer set the thermostat at 80 degrees. It is actually healthier to experience the fluctuations in weather conditions
    • Don't buy processed foods, make things like Cajun beans and rice, tamales, home made biscuits.
    • make a grocery list and stick to it
    • use coupons, and look on line for specials. If you can combine a coupon for a "buy one get one free" deals you can sometimes get the items free or for little cost.
    • wash cloths in cold water when possible.
    • get the whole family involved in finding ways to save
    • find oil on sale, and do your own oil changes
    • team up with neighbors to create shared trips to places like farmers markets, ext.

  8. #7
    Shower: You can wash your hair using one of those black camping bags you hang out in the sun. Worse case you can use two black trash bags, one inside the other, and fill it only partly so it doesn't burst. You pick how to get the hot water where you want, not rocket science.

    Wash the other parts you need to more regularly as spot washing, no need to submerge yourself under a shower head, you could do it at a sink. Or use a sponge.

    You could completely turn off your hot water heater this way. They will use energy even when just sitting doing nothing. A well insulated, blanketed, electric water heater will use on average 1 KWH a day just to maintain it's temperature.

  9. #8
    1) cancel your cable service. not only is it over priced and unnecessary but watching tv is constantly telling us all the crap that we need making us feel 100 times poorer. honestly, if we didn't have society reminding us how miserable we must be without all the stupid gadgets we really would not miss them. the more difficult thing is to convince children they are unnecessary as they have all their classmates eating up the same consumer bull$#@! all day long. and unfortunately kids will listen to their peers rather than their parents.

    2) the other thing i would say to do is rely on your family and try to keep strong family relationships. the trend over many years has been towards individual independence in all aspects of life where each person feels the need to have their own house, car, etc. by their own salary. it didn't used to be like that, families used to share responsibilities and support each other. even towns i believe would group together to make sure everyones needs were taken care of. so now people felt no need for family and become alienated for silly reasons. make amends with any family members you had issues before, just put it in the past. family closeness is one of the most important things in surviving hard times. not just because they can help you materially but give emotional support and advice on how to best get by.

    3) don't go too cheap on food. try and still eat as healthy as you can. you may save a few bucks by living off ramen noodles but you will get sick and regret it.

    4) i don't believe in overemphasizing turning off lights. i agree to get a voltage monitor (radio shack has them for $10-$20) to put things in perspective. leaving a light on all the time is really probably not going to cost more that a dollar or so per month. my step mom is constantly turning off lights and it annoys the hell out of me and not worth the $2 she is saving by living in the dark. but sure, when you go out it makes sense to turn the lights off, just don't get carried away.
    Last edited by LukeP; 12-24-2010 at 09:18 AM.

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  11. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Bern View Post
    Electric appliances and doo-dads still use electricity when they are turned off and plugged in. You need to use a circuit breaker like a power switch if you want to cut the power draw (or simply unplug things).
    Right, good one, I forgot that.

    Buy cheap power strips on sale and use them on everything. Those little black box "wall warts" are notorious for sucking power just sitting there.

    Get something like a "Kill-A-Watt" meter on sale or on ebay and go around measuring EVERYTHING for how many Watts it pulls, write it down, and try to get rid of the largest loads first, then work your way down. Some libraries are lending them out, check that, you really don't need to own one just to check everything. Walmart even sells something like that, use it and return it.

    Buy everything on sale. Wait for the sales at the grocery store and stock up. Use coupons like crazy. Search online for sites that post sales and good deals. Buy things used or at salvation army type stores.

    Help someone else who doesn't know this stuff, teach them how to do this and you will be helping them for a long time.

  12. #10
    Learn how to read your power meter and start reading it every day at the same time. Make lowering the daily number a game and try to reduce it every day.

    Learn how to count the rotations of the little spinning dial to tell exactly what you are drawing at any one moment. There is info online on how to do the calculations. Just use a timer or stop watch or any digital clock with seconds. You can then turn things off and test again and see what draws what (only really good for 100W or more loads, Kill-A-Watt is better).

    You can run stuff on solar power or wind, consider that, lots of information online. You may find good deals at swap meets or on ebay. Buy "blems", panels that have small defects, like dents or chips, who cares what they look like, you just want power. Go to , best deals I've seen.

  13. #11
    You can freeze bread. Buy it on sale and it will stay frozen for months. Take it out a day before you need it and put it in the regular fridge section, it's amazing!

    If you open a bag of lettuce, put a few sheets of folded up paper towels in the bag before closing it, squeeze out any air (but don't damage the lettuce). It will keep longer.

    Watch for those sales!

  14. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by free1 View Post
    I will be posting my advice as I think of things.

    Anyone who knows things that people can do to survive the downturn please post your suggestions.

    People are losing their homes, going without the basics like power, water or heat.

    When you are in that situation it's hard to think of the little things that could make a difference, or cheap ways of doing things that normally cost money.
    Your question, which is an excellent one, inspired this article that gives all sorts of information including start up business ideas
    Last edited by romacox; 12-24-2010 at 11:32 AM.

  15. #13
    1. Make soda an occasional item. Make iced tea at home instead. It's better for you and much cheaper.

    2. Invest in a few small appliances. Crock pots are easy ways to cook on the cheap. Buy chicken and potatoes when on sale and throw in some spices. I have a $25 brew station coffee maker that makes my morning coffee easy. It's sooooo much cheaper to make coffee at home, even compared to Mc Donalds.

    3. If you have dogs, don't get cheap dog food. If corn is the main ingredient, pass it up. The more expensive stuff has more meat in it, so your dogs will eat less. However, you can cut the portion and add to it. If you have cans of green beans, peas, carrots, etc in your pantry you aren't using, you can mix those in. If you have some eggs about to go bad, mix those in. That can of sardines you have no use for? Mix it in. Around this time, lots of food is on sale. Walmart by me has sweet potatoes for 10 cents a pound. Put them in a crock pot and mix them in.

    4. Cici's Pizza. Need I say more?

    5. My wife hates this, but guys, if you need new underwear, buy the novelty boxers after the holiday. Nobody at work has to know your boxers say "NAUGHTY" with candy canes all over them in August.

    6. Shop at Mexican grocery stores. The produce is always much cheaper. Keep in mind your fellow shoppers there are likely feeding twice as many people as you on half the salary. Buy bulk beans and rice and cook them in the crock pot.

    7. Drink at home.
    Don't taze me bro. Don't touch my junk. Don't tread on me.

    Maybe you need a friend not into politics...

  16. #14
    Thanks to everyone, great ideas! Keep 'em coming!

    I wonder how many people I know are actually having problems but are too proud to say.

    I know a number of people who are spending their credit cards up just to make it, but it's like pulling teeth to get them to admit they are broke and going backwards. No one wants to admit they are broke with no hope in sight.

    Then there's the reports on the news lately that say that people are spending more, but I think that people are using credit, so this will all come to a screeching halt soon when everyone has to start paying the payments. No one will be spending anything.

    Now if we could just get rid of the Federal Reserve....

  17. #15
    If you drive a vehicle that gets 18 mpg trade it for one that gets 30. This will really add up if you don't feel you have to buy the latest model. Trade, but down grade the year so you don't have to take out a loan. This is hard for some people because they want to maintain the image of a life style they can't afford but it can make a bigger impact on savings than turning lights off. And quit buying "junk," buy what you actually need.

  18. #16
    1. Get a Roommate.
    2. Car Pool.
    3. Insulation,Insulation,Insulation. It's been already mentioned, but, that is the number 1 thing, to cut heating/cooling costs.
    4. Focus on doing anything, that will bring in any amount of extra money, that is flexible, and doesn't cost you more than time.
    5. Don't go to the store more than once a week.
    6. Fast Food is Illegal.
    7. Those 16-18 year old kids can work!!!, at least during summer vacation.
    8. Sell that useless stuff, around the house...

    If that doesn't work
    1. Rob a Bank.
    2. Get good at giving head. (prostitution, job promotions).
    3. Sell those kids into slavery.
    4. Take out insurance policy on spouse, and encourage new dangerous activities.
    5. Run Drugs/Cigarettes from mexico.
    6. Encourage your family members to do any of the above, and double cross them for a large cut.

    If that doesn't work, you can do the worst thing of all.
    1. Get into politics, and take bribes.
    2. Wait for that Obama Check, that was supposed to arrived by now.
    3. Go on Welfare.
    4. Go back to college for the student loans/grants.
    5. Deliberately get caught breaking the law for the free meals, and housing.
    Last edited by RonPaulIsGreat; 12-25-2010 at 09:45 AM. Reason: misplaced word

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  20. #17
    If you have to drive, get smart about cars and how to keep them running.

    Once having done that, never, ever, ever, buy another brand new vehicle.

    Personal vehicles are the second largest purchase that a person will make, and there is nothing that is a bigger sinkhole of money than a new vehicle.

    Between deprecation, higher (sometimes astronomical) insurance costs and finance charges or lease fees, and you're totally hosed before you get out the door.

    Buy used vehicles from now on, the level of "used" being directly related to your ability to keep an old car running. The same knowledge will also provide a pretty fair estimate of costs involved as well.

    If you keep a number of vehicles running, get a "cash only" account at your preferred auto parts supplier. I have a non credit NAPA account, that I use for nothing more than parts and supplies for my three vehicles, tractor and my parents vehicles. I pay at the sale under my account and save roughly 20% each time.

  21. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by RonPaulIsGreat View Post
    5. Deliberately get caught breaking the law for the free meals, and housing.
    That's surprisingly common among the homeless during winter when the shelters fill up.

    Consider turning off your water heater completely. Coffee makers are surprisingly good for extremely efficient showers. -- Just don't forget if you left a filled filter in it... unless you want to smell like coffee - which I wouldn't blame you for.

    Flour is a miracle. It's ridiculously cheap and can be combined with just about anything or you can eat bread plain.

    Replace unsanitary toilet paper with a bidet.

    If you're handy with computers, considering underclocking your parts and reducing voltage. Don't allow games or other demanding applications to run in the background. Always make sure you have your computer set up to go to STR (or better) sleep mode when you aren't using it. Consider replacing your desktop with a power-efficient laptop.

    Dryers consume obscene amounts of electricity, and in many cases, they're unnecessary. For a time, I relied on a propane heater, some PVC pipes, and coat hangers........................ :x

    Be creative!

  22. #19

    One thing no one wants to hear this year is someone dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.

    The electricity needed to run the fan in a gas heater is MINIMAL!

    But... As I said before, you can use a heating pad, electric blanket, or space heater to keep warm. Heating a small room really doesn't cost that much, and if it's that cold, be happy with 55F. Again, a "Kill-A-Watt" meter will measure the KWH used from a heater like that as you use it, so you can easily calculate the cost within the first hour you run it. It's not as bad as you think. And if you use the thermostat it's not running all the time.

    The Power Company gets a lot of money from EVERYONE on every bill that goes towards keeping people's power on when they can't afford it. USE THE PROGRAM!

    During the winter months there are a lot of groups / charities that have funds to help people keep their power on. Ask them if you can do something for them for a buck. Search for "help paying power" or words like that and your town's name. Call those groups and ask what programs are available, they know.

    This is what I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR:

    "Fire Department workers found him dead in his home with the oven on and the oven door open. It is suspected he was using the appliance to heat his home and died of carbon monoxide poisoning" 12/08/2010 El Paso

    And turn off that damn TV!! JUST FLIP THE SWITCH!!

    When the TV is off you will have a lot of time to think of ways to get yourself out of this situation. Get out and do something, you never know who you will meet and what opportunities will present themselves if you are just sitting there like a lump on a log!

    When you go to the store, putt along the back roads slowly and try not to push hard on the accelerator. Try to pick a route with few stops or lights.

    Hang clothes to dry, put a line in the garage if conditions are bad outside.

    One thing that seems kind of strange... In winter, if you have a dolly you can roll your refrigerator out into the garage where it's colder, or outside on a patio that gets no sun if it doesn't get very warm outside. This will save power but a normal fridge is only about $10 to $12 a mo. of power.

    "A record number of people are trying to get help paying their heating bills" ... "the Fulton-Atlanta Community Action Authority" ... "The agency is tasked with distributing federal funding to people who need help paying their gas and electricity bills" ... "FACAA CEO Joyce Dorsey said in her 20 years working for the agency, she’s never seen so many people needing help. “They’re desperate. They’re anxious. And they’re angry,” said Dorsey." ... "She anticipates her agency will run out of its winter assistance funding by February." GET THERE EARLY! 12/03/2010 Atlanta

  23. #20
    eBay or Craigslist stuff you don't need/use. I like CL since it's free.

    Buy stuff you do need from CL, classifieds, etc. Try not to buy anything new, especially cars (thanks AF).

    Buy good in bulk when possible and if you can use the food/product before expiration. Or buy in bulk with a group of people and divide. Have potluck dinners with your friends.

    Install a programmable thermostat. Tuen the heat down, wear more sweaters. Turn the AC up, wear less clothes.

    Accelerate slowly and coast to up you mpg's.

    Don't buy anything you don't absolutely need.

    Drink less, less often, brew your own, don't waste money at a bar no matter what.

    Ditch cable!!!! You can watch just about every TV program on the intertubes with little delay.

    Cook all you own meals, don't eat out.

  24. #21
    At the grocery store:

    Look out for rebates, take a little time to study the weekly sales ad, combine sales with coupons. Also--keep an eye out for your grocery store's "discontinued/damaged" section--sometimes you can find some pretty good deals on some expensive stuff. When you do find good deals, stock up. The prices at grocery stores are often lower than discount/bulk retailers, if you can hold out for the sales.

    If you're going to buy food in bulk, look for honest reviews prior to buying--and don't hesitate to contact the manufacturer for a coupon to buy a small amount at the store (or a free sample) before buying two pallets-full of spaghetti sauce that tastes like sweetened unwashed ass. If the manufacturer won't provide a sample/coupon to try in a small amount, you may want to pass it up unless there are a lot of fantastic, legitimate reviews.

    Don't buy lunchmeat, buy a whole ham, roast or turkey and roast it, then carve up. Much more versatile, cheap--and you get the bones to make stock.

    Oh yeah...learn how to make really good stock. You'll understand just how crappy canned and bouillon are once you learn how. The best way I've found is to saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic (don't burn the garlic!), add bones, cover with water and add a lot of salt--bring this to a simmer on the stove, not a boil! Once it starts to simmer, put the whole pot in a 280 F oven and let it cook for at least 4 hours, up to overnight. Once it's done, leave it as is and use in soup or as a stock--or you can reduce it slowly on the stove (simmer gently on the stove until it's volume is reduced by half.) Freeze it or can it if you like. One trick that's nice is to pour it into ice cube trays so you have it in small amounts to add to dishes.

    Buy a decent wine in a box if you use it for cooking. Yes, there are decent boxed wines. Avoid cooking wines, they're kinda gross.


    Blankets and/or layers of clothes. Exercise will warm you up too. Close off unused rooms in your house and don't forget to block the heating vents.


    Turn things off, get into the habit. Put numerous appliances, computer stuff, phone chargers, etc. on a strip with a switch and turn off when not needed.

    In regards to putting a refrigerator in a really cold area--I've read that this can make the thermostat malfunction. Don't know more off the top of my head though. But, prepare ahead and thaw meat in the refrigerator (like you're supposed to). If you're really thrifty and have open space in your freezer, fill containers with packed snow and stash in the open spots. Let thaw in the refrigerator, and use to water plants, water for the dog, water for hand washing delicates, etc.


    Use the water from a dehumidifier to water plants, or for various non-consumption related tasks, like hand-washing delicates. Use thawed snow as stated above. Use low-flow showerheads, don't run the faucet while brushing teeth, fix leaks PROMPTLY--it really adds up....and you could have a shock of a water bill.


    Get rid of cable/satellite/expensive cell-phone plans unless it is **really** worth it.

    Research what you need, before going to the store. Especially on items like vacuum cleaners, appliances, electronics, vehicles, tools and bulk purchases.

    If you have a fireplace, learn to cook in/on it with cheap foods. Don't experiment with the spendy stuff.

    That's all for now--good thread!

    ETA: Don't buy expensive kosher or sea salt, unless there's a damned good reason--it's just a trend. Oh, and if the recipe calls for 1 tsp of sea or kosher salt, use table salt and reduce use to about 1/4th of a teaspoon. On the other hand, if you buy pepper in bulk, it's worth it to get peppercorns--they don't lose their potency as quickly as ground pepper.
    Last edited by amy31416; 12-25-2010 at 12:04 PM.
    Those who want liberty must organize as effectively as those who want tyranny. -- Iyad el Baghdadi

  25. #22
    Get twice the use between washings by tuning your underwear inside out.

  26. #23
    I've been experimenting with Google Voice lately. It isn't intended to be, but it's quite usable as an only phone line. You get your own permanent # & free calling to US/Canada, free call forwarding (with lots of options and a very intuitive control panel), and no monthly fee. The call quality is clear and crisp, with no noticeable lag. Calls outside US/Canada are ridiculously cheap, usually $.01-$.08/minute.

    You need a phone # to register (as well as a mic and decent internet connection), but you could use anyone's # so long as they're willing to enter in the confirmation # for you when the system calls, and forwarding to another # is optional, so there's no reason you can't use Google Voice as your only phone, and you can answer calls from your computer if you have a Gmail page up.

  27. #24

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  29. #25
    I was going to suggest doing a bank job...but this is good advice too.
    "I shall bring justice to Westeros. Every man shall reap what he has sown, from the highest lord to the lowest gutter rat. They have made my kingdom bleed, and I do not forget that."
    -Stannis Baratheon

  30. #26
    I don't know how extreme people are, but I did this once.

    There are places that that sell overstocked food, or recently expired food by the pallet.

    Well, I bought two pallets of that for 350-400 a pallet. Be prepared to get enough gum in those pallets to last you years, but if you are a gum chewer, well there was over a thousand dollars in gum in there I'm sure. I still have one of the vegetable drawers filled with gum in the refrigerator. But I got alot of cereal as well, and you can eat that even after a year expired without a problem. There was some other stuff in there like cookies, macaroni, etc... 95% was edible without a problem, the questionable stuff, I fed to the dogs. hehe.

    I don't think I'll buy any more though, I don't chew gum everyday, and I don't eat cookies that often, I gave a good amount away. But if you do, it's a great buy for gum,cookies, cereal eating families. I just threw it in the refrigerator to prolong the expiring time. No one got sick, or anything.

    The stuff I didn't eat was like bags of little jerky type sausages, the dogs loved them though. I'll eat expired cereal, without any concern, meat based stuff is another story.

    But that is the best way to get gum,cookies,cereal for super cheap.

    Actually, the place we bought it from, said that his biggest buyers were convenience stores. One guy bought 2 diesel truckloads of it for his convenience stores. So, you are probably eating it anyway. LOL. Yesterday, i was looking at the chips at our local hucks, and the pringles were 6 months expired.

  31. #27
    Free samples, btw, are really awesome. It makes receiving mail sooo much more interesting when one day you receive a box of pudding, "fortified" powder to go on dog food, and fruit bars - and the next you receive two huge boxes of molasses tobacco (which is awesome, btw -- and this is coming from someone who despises smoking) -- a personalized lighter, and a couple packets of lube. Free expensive baby food & diapers isn't uncommon - and I'm told you'll never need to purchase tampons again....!

    I'm on these two mailing lists:

  32. #28
    tell your kids christmas will be on the 28th this year.

    go out on the 26th or 27th and pick up discarded christmas trees.

    decorate with paper chains and popcorn strings.

    dumpster dive for old discarded toys (parents throw them out so kids' rooms don't get too stuffed)

    purchase presents after the "official" christmas for the sales.
    Those Who Do Not Move, Do Not Notice Their Chains.

  33. #29
    Many years ago a dear friend shared with me how her deceased husband made his fortune during the "Great depression". Here is what she told me:
    1. He was very frugal. Much more so than she was. But she advised me to spend money on what was important to me, and not what impressed others. For example: she liked cloths and cruises, so she spent money on those things. However she drove a Volkswagen car, and had a simple mortgage free home. Most of her neighbors had no idea how wealthy she was.
    2. He made sure he always had $1000.00 cash money that he did not keep in the bank. So when the crash came, he had money for investing when others were selling things to buy food. He bought handfuls of worthless stock for pennies. When the market recovered, some of the stock remained worthless, but others made him rich. He also bought cars (and other things) very cheaply, and sold them at a profit. Note: due to the current economy, most economists are recommending this stash not be in the form of cash.

    It is such a simple strategy. but many overlook it due to its simplicity.

  34. #30
    Rent an apartment or house, don't take out a loan for a house you cannot afford, most banks don't care if you cannot afford it and will give you a loan they know you can't pay off. Most people buy homes based off emotion and social peer pressure because they feel it's the "American dream" to own a home, that dream will shortly be lived when you can no longer afford to pay the mortgage.

    If you have to buy a new car, don't buy a new car on credit - pay them off completely with cash! This is probably the biggest mistake people make, buy new cars, then a year or two, the cars value has dramatically dropped yet people are still paying much more than what it is worth. No new car today maintains its value from when you first purchased it, unless it is an exotic European car. Instead of buying new, buy used but something you can actually afford, but again, avoid taking out a loan or putting your car on credit.

    Buy stuff online instead of retail stores. You have no idea how much cheaper products are when buying online, most online stores do not charge state sales tax and are usually a couple bucks cheaper compared to stores. I have saved a ton of money buying online.

    If you have kids and want them to attend college, send them to a two year community college instead of a four year university. You will literally save thousands.

    Like someone else here said, buy from Hispanic food stores - the food is really cheap and just as good. Also, if you don't know how to cook, START and avoid buying from Fast Food joints, you will save money by eating at home and won't gain as much weight compared to fast food.
    Last edited by Humanae Libertas; 12-26-2010 at 04:01 PM.
    They use force, to make you do, what the deciders have decided you must do. -- Eldridge Cleaver

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