Ask Miserly Moms: Dry Skin & Mystery Shopping

by Jonni McCoy

Q I need help for my dry, flaky skin on my face. Do you know of any inexpensive home remedies?
- Ms. Fletcher

A I have the same problem. I have been trying many things to help, including taking supplements of essential fatty acids (omega 6, omega 3). But the best thing I do is moisturize twice a day. In the Depression, women used Crisco (or its equivalent). It works, if you choose to try it. But I prefer a more natural approach. Sometimes I will apply a pure natural oil that can be bought at most health food stores, such as wheat germ oil, jojoba oil, or almond oil. This can be rubbed in and left on at night. For a cream type recipe, try these:

Moisture Cream

  • 1 oz. glycerin (makes the cream smooth, but can be omitted for cost)*

  • 1 oz. witch hazel (make sure it contains no rubbing alcohol)

  • 1/2 oz. rose water (for scent - any scented water will work)

  • 3 T. honey

  • 3 T. wheat germ oil

Mix these ingredients together until well mixed. Store in an airtight container. Use within one month. * found at drug stores

Cucumber Cream

  • 1 cucumber, unpeeled

  • 1/2 ounce beeswax (or paraffin)

  • 2 oz. almond oil

Dice the cucumber and puree it in a blender. Strain it using a mesh cloth or strainer. Melt the wax over a double boiler, and immediately add the oil and cucumber. Mix until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use within two months.

Q We have four children {12,5,2,1} We do not live beyond our means. I thrift shop, never shop without a list, etc. to save money. My husband is a police sergeant at night and paints during the day. (Policemen in our town are not paid what they are worth). He is so exhausted sometimes that I know it is only the grace of God that he is able to keep going. I was curious if you knew of any legitimate ways to earn money working at home.
Mom of 4

A Working at home can be a great way to supplement family income. Most people who have tried it believe it is the perfect solution to being at home with the kids and bringing in some income.

Before you get started, there are a few things you need to know. For example, make sure you know how many hours you could devote to a job. Then, make sure you understand the expenses involved with the job (equipment needed, travel, special training, office supplies, etc.). Then understand the tax laws about self-employment, and how to file estimated taxes during the year. Plan on paying extra taxes for the Self-Employment Tax required. For more information on what else to plan for, please read Donna Partow's book, Homemade Business (1992).

Some ideas for jobs include cake decorating, calligraphy, sales of home products, answering service, aerobics instructor, accountant/bookeeper, catering, antique repair, baby gift baskets, balloon delivery, data processing, hairstylist. Check local ads for jobs that may be posted. Create a flyer for yourself and your business and deliver it to the companies that could use your services. There is also much information and help on the Internet for stay-at-home moms. I have created a special list of links on my web site for work-at-home (WAHM) sites (

Q A friend of mine told me about Miserly Moms and that she had read something about where one can get free lunches and dinners at restaurants by being a "secret customer" and eating at certain establishments and then filling out surveys regarding the service and food. Where could I find info on this and who to call?
Thanks so much,

A Secret shoppers are a fun way to get free stuff, and even money. But there never is a true "free lunch." All secret shoppers are required to fill out evaluations after performing specific tasks at the restaurant or store. Corporations are paying the secret shopper a fee for an evaluation of the service their employees provide. I have been a secret shopper for 2 companies. One was a pizza delivery firm and I received $5 for each pizza I bought, ate, and evaluated. The other job is for a chain of sports stores. I am required to buy certain things, return them, ask for specific products, then evaluate their performance on these services. I receive $16 for each evaluation turned in.

To find these jobs, I used two sources. First, I went onto the Internet and used some multi-site search engines (Metacrawler, Cyber 411, SavvySearch) and use keywords such as "secret shopper" or "mystery shopper." Most companies allow you to apply with them online. Others require a signed contract be mailed in. There are some that require a fee to apply - I avoid these.

The second source that I recommend is the special issue of a newsletter called BIG Ideas/Small Budget. They put out a report on mystery shopping and provide numerous phone numbers and addresses of shopping organizations. To get a copy of this special report, there is a $5 fee (for info email Pat Wesolowski at This one is worth paying for.
Happy Shopping!

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 There is a new way to learn what Miserly Moms and Frugal Families have to say. Get it on tape! Audio cassette tapes are now available for each. They are recordings of workshops given by Jonni McCoy. Each is 1 hour in length and costs only $5 ! For more details, please visit

The advice given in this column is based upon personal information and experience. For further information on the disclaimer, please visit this address:

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