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Miserly Moms > Columns > Miserly Moms

Maxed Credit Cards, Diabetic Cooking, Making Your Own Soy Milk, Homemade Nutri-Grain Bars
by Jonni McCoy

Q. We are in need of some kind of financial help. We are currently $30,000 in credit card/medical debt. Is there a time in someone's life you feel it is the only alternative to claim bankruptcy? We have also thought about a credit counseling agency. We have been thinking about this for eight months now. I am really not behind in credit card payments, but a lot are maxed out and seems like they receive a payment a day or two late and sock me with a $29 late fee. I am desperate. Thank you for your advice.

Desperate in PA!

A. Dear Desperate,

Your situation is becoming all too common. We spend and spend, or we have a medical emergency, and we get in over our heads. Suddenly we realize that we can't keep up with the payments.

Medical bills account for 80% of all personal bankruptcies. But this does not give us the excuse of filing for bankruptcy. As Christians, I believe that we are responsible for our actions, and should not dump them in someone else's lap. That is what bankruptcy does; it leaves the bill with the creditors.

You mention that you are able to keep up with the payments, so bankruptcy shouldn't be an option. I would see a Consumer Credit Counselor instead. They offer credit counseling for no fee or a low fee. They can arrange for a better payment plan and perhaps for the creditors to stop assessing finance charges. They can be reached at (800) 388-CCCS.

I also think that contacting CCCS will help with your late fees. Some creditors purposely post payments late in order to get the fees. By getting CCCS involved, this should stop. Until you meet with CCCS, mail your payments two weeks before the due date so they are less likely to post them late.

My last piece of advice is to stop using credit. You mentioned that the cards are maxed out. It sounds like you may be using them for everyday life. We should be living within our means and only using credit for emergencies. Leave the credit cards at home. If a true emergency arises, you can usually get to them.

Q. My dad is a diabetic. I cannot afford to pay the outrageous prices that they have in the "sugarless" shops and not only that, some of the foods contain too much salt or sugar than he is allowed. I really don't trust anything that says "sugar free." I would love to learn how to make him cakes, foods and simple snacks for him to enjoy with out the worry of too much of salt and/or sugar.
Thank you,

Veronica Henry

A. Cooking from scratch is going to be the best answer for your situation. If you can't afford the convenience of premade food, and you don't trust their ingredients, then you need to make them. To get you started, I would look into some sugar free cookbooks. Some use natural sugars which won't help you, but some use NutraSweet.

I personally think NutraSweet is very bad for us, so I would explore another sweetener called stevia. It is an herb that is very sweet that comes in powdered as well as liquid form. There are cookbooks for stevia use as well. One is Stevia Sweet Recipes by Jeffrey Goettemoeller.

They even offer some free recipes to try out. Stevia can be purchased at most health food stores.

Q. I have a daughter who is milk allergic and can tolerate soy milk. Do you happen to have any suggestions on how I can save money on our grocery bill?

A. Soy and rice milk can be an expensive addition to the grocery bill. We have found it on sale at health food stores. Most health food stores put out monthly flyers much like the sale flyers for regular grocery stores. I watch these for sales and stock up on it and store them since they last awhile (check the "use by" date).

Regular grocery stores are catching on to the health bandwagon and are often carrying them and putting them on sale as well.

The last alternative is to make the milk yourself. It has a different taste, but you can do it if you wish. Here's a recipe to try:

Soy Milk

1 cup soybeans, soaked overnight
7 cups water
pinch salt
1 T honey

Rinse soybeans in very hot water. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat. Pour 1 cup of the soaked beans and 2 cups of water into the blender at a time. Blend for about 1 minute per batch. Strain the bean pulp. I use a fine mesh stainless steel strainer, and then strain again in an ultra fine mesh strainer. You could also use a coffee filter or cheesecloth for the last strain. Flavor the milk with salt and honey (or whatever sweetener). Add a few drops of vanilla to taste. Store in the refrigerator.

Q. My children really enjoy eating Nutri-Grain bars but they are quite expensive. Do you happen to have a recipe for making these.
Tracy Qua

A. Here is a recipe for a similar bar.

Semi-Nutragrain Bars

1 package yellow cake mix
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup melted butter
12 ounces jam or other filling
1 T. water

Mix cake mix, oats and butter. Press half of the mix into a 9x13 greased pan. Mix jam and water and spread over the mix. Add the remaining mix on top and bake for 20 minutes at 375. Before cutting, cool completely.

Variations: Use a strawberry cake mix with strawberry jam as the filling, or use a chocolate cake mix with peanut butter and marshmallow cream as the filling.

Jonni McCoy is the author of "Miserly Moms-Living On One Income In A Two Income Economy" and "Frugal Families-Making The Most Of Your Hard Earned Money!"

Visit the Miserly Moms Website at

Our sincere thanks to Jonni for allowing us to reprint her wonderful work!

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