Free Computer Virus Protection (Yes, really!) + How to Know How Much Stuff to Keep

Every other Monday, I answer a few questions from readers.  If you’ve got a question you’d like me to answer, email me or leave your question in the comments.

Good Monday morning, dear readers!  One quick thing before we get to questions.

You can sign the petition to get the adopted kids out of the DRC even if you DON’T live in the U.S.

They need 75,000 more signatures before March 10th, so if you can sign it and share it with your friends, that would be marvelous.  I have two friends with kids who are stuck there, and there are hundreds more.

(I wrote about the petition in the P.S. on this post.  Also, the DRC is short for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.)

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On to questions!

Can you recommend a computer virus protection company that works well but doesn’t break the bank too badly?

-Brian

Several other people have asked about this as well, so I checked with Mr. FG, as he works in IT and takes care of all computer security matters for me.

free high quality antivirus software

He recommends a number of free ones (the first two are his faves):

Malware Bytes

Microsoft Security Essentials

Avira

AVGA

A lot of these have premium memberships, which are obviously not free.  However, we just use the free versions of all of them and have not had any need to upgrade.

Interestingly enough, he says that Norton and Symantec (both paid products) are inferior to the ones listed above.

I hope that helps!

(I’m not affiliated with any of those programs.  They’re just products that we use ourselves.)

My family and I just moved into a new home and circumstances forced us to downsize considerably. As I’m unpacking, I find myself wanting to purge a LOT. Our home was cluttered before because we had too much, I can’t imagine all of THAT in this smaller place!

I’m feeling a little trapped by my possessions, though, how do you balance frugality with simplicity with sentiment? For example, 6 crystal ice cream bowls handed down from my grandmother who passed 7 years ago. She likely picked them up at a yardsale, so not family heirlooms. I don’t need bowls dedicated to just serving ice cream. But they were a gift… (That’s the simplicity versus sentiment problem)

I’m also debating downsizing my every day dishes to 4 place settings for my family of 4. We currently have 12 place settings, a hand-me-down from my aunt. We like having friends over and we could use paper plates then, but that’s not very frugal. We also intend to have 6 kids, so 8 place settings eventually. But not now. What would you do?

-Emily

When I’m trying to decide how much is enough, the most useful thing I can ask is, “How much will I/we fully and regularly use?”

how much do you regularly use

It’s a pretty simple question, but it really helps me to figure out what’s enough and what’s too much.

For example, in my house, we have a set of about 12 plates and 12 bowls, and almost every single day, we use all of our dishes.  To me, this says we have the right amount.

(I do have some extras in an out of the way cabinet for when we have guests.)

Or when it comes to clothes, if I haven’t done laundry in a while, our drawers begin to be a little bare.  This means that we are actually wearing all of our clothes, which is just how I like it to be.

drawer of vertical tshirts

So, regarding your everyday dishes, if you end up using only 4 every day, then maybe 4 is the right number.

But if you are like us and use plates more than once per day, maybe the whole setting of 12 is right.

fg everyday dishes

I personally don’t want to have to wash all the dishes between every meal in order to have plates and bowls for the next meal (that would complicate, not simplify my life!), so everyday dishes would not be the first place I’d downsize.

I’d be looking at underused kitchen equipment first.

Like those ice cream bowls.

A thought about gifts: just because something is a gift does NOT mean you have to keep it.  This is particularly true if the person who gave them to you is no longer around and couldn’t possibly be upset with you for getting rid of them!

Also, your memories of and love for your grandma probably don’t depend upon the possession of the bowls, you know?  You’ll still remember her fondly without seeing the bowls.

And if you feel super sentimental about them, you could always take a picture before you donate them.

So.

If you need more space in your kitchen and you have other ways to serve ice cream and you don’t feel super attached to the bowls, then donate them.

If by some chance you NEED ice cream bowls in the future, I can almost guarantee you that you can find some at a thrift store when the need arises.

Basically, rather than just automatically downsizing everything, think about what YOU and your family actually need and use.

If other people use four plates a day but you use 12 (4 for every meal), then feel free to keep 12.

And if other people feel great joy as they use their ice cream bowls every day, that’s great, but if your bowls collect dust, then send them on to a new home.

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Alrighty, readers!  The floor is yours!

Any thoughts about virus protection?  And how do you find a balance between simplicity and sentiment?

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Is it wrong to eat gluten/dairy? Plus answers to some homeschooling questions.

Every other Monday, I answer reader questions.  Want me to answer one of your questions? Email me and put “Q&A” in the subject line.

Two things before we get to questions:

Free Pizza

By the way, the Penny Hoarder emailed me this weekend to let me know that you can do some mystery shopping and get a free pizza plus $5 for reviewing Papa John’s.  I have not personally tried out this company, but I know some of you are interested in mystery shopping/doing surveys for moola.  Let me know if it works out for you!

DIY Bundle Notecards

If you bought the Ultimate DIY Bundle and you haven’t redeemed your $15 Fawnsberg credit yet, I just got word that their six-pack notecards are back in stock.  This is definitely the best deal and works almost perfectly with your $15 credit (the sets of six are $16.50).  Your bonus offers expire on February 26th, so don’t forget to redeem them now!

Alllrighty….on to some questions.

Hi Frugal Girl!

I have a dilemma I am hoping you can share some wisdom on. When I came to your blog I was not a Christian, nor did I have any issues eating gluten or sugar – especially when said items are organic. However, fast forward these 5 or 6 years, and I am Christian and now I have been examining this gluten free idea. I have had a lot of headaches and other things that people keep telling me would be resolved by nixing gluten in my life.

yeasted banana bread

Now, I have read lots of things – and I mean LOTS – about gluten free, not being gluten free, what it implies for Christians in the Bible about wheat…. I honestly don’t know what to think. I am coming to you because you love breads, and you use sugar and dairy and all of those other things that food purists say never to eat…and yet you said that your girls had their first ever antibiotic this year! I was floored!! I have put a lot of stock in eating “perfectly” and we are sick fairly often.

So, to sum it all up – I was wondering if you had some insight on this gluten free thing when it comes to the Bible and wheat and just the whole mess.

Thanks!

Hmm.  Well, I think the decision about whether or not to eat gluten and sugar is more a matter of what your own body can handle than it is about what the Bible says.  I don’t think the Bible either prescribes or prohibits gluten or sugar, and so it’s a matter of applying wisdom.

The Bible does say we should take care of our bodies, but everyone’s body has slightly different needs, so I don’t think you can find a blanket solution for every person.

fruit salad

I say if you want to try eating gluten-free to see if it helps your headaches, then go for it!  If going gluten-free has no positive effects in your life, then go back to eating gluten with a clear conscience.

It is true that my girls had never had antibiotics until December, but that’s not necessarily due to what we eat or don’t eat.  I mean, I try to feed my family reasonably well, and we don’t eat much in the way of processed foods, but some of my kids’ healthiness could just be due to genetics.

I do think eating healthfully is important (I’m not gonna start keeping Ho-Ho’s in my cabinet!), but the fact of the matter is that we live in a broken world with sickness and disease and sometimes we are going to get sick no matter how hard we try to eat well.

homemade whole wheat sandwich bread

So.

I buy some local food, I buy some organic food, I try to make sure we eat a lot of produce, I make most of our food at home, and it’s not a sugar free-for-all here (we eat sugar in moderation).

But gluten and dairy do not seem to negatively affect our health, so I’ve not felt it necessary to cut those out.

Basically, I think you should just try to figure out what works best for your family’s bodies and be confident in that.

In other words, don’t be discouraged by the fact that other people eat differently, and don’t assume that you’re failing at eating healthfully just because you get sick sometimes.

In my country (Germany), we do not have homeschooling, so this has always been fascinating to me. I wonder, you do look over your children’s work, when they are finished and discuss it with them, answer questions and whatever comes up?

Do you give your children the topics they are to do (I mean the two older kids/teens) on the end of schooltime or in the morning? Some you will, like repeating topics, that proved difficult, but in general?

Do you say: tomorrow you look into Algorithms for math, photosynthesis for science, tenses for Grammar? Or do you tell them in the morning, before they start?

Oh, another question, do you do history? And is it world history or “just” American history?

You’ve got a lot of questions there, so I’ll just answer them in little separate sections below.

saxon math 54

First, yes, every day I look over my children’s independent work, mark what’s wrong, and they correct it (sometimes with me if they can’t figure out how to fix it themselves).

I have teacher’s manuals and answer keys to make this process faster and easier, though for the younger two, when I correct things like grammar and vocabulary, I don’t usually need an answer key.

I do some subjects with my younger two girls (history and botany), so since I’m sitting right with them as we do those studies, there’s no need for me to look over and correct their work.

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IMG_6731

Rather than assigning specific pages each day for each subject for each kid, we kind of figure out at the beginning of the year exactly how much work we need to do in each subject in order to finish by the time summer arrives.  So, for example, they do one lesson of math per day, two pages of grammar, and so on.

This means I don’t have to give out daily assignments…rather, the kids all know how much work they’ll do each day.

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We do indeed do history, and not just American history.  America is such a young nation by world standards, we’d be missing out on a lot if we only covered our own history.  Plus, when we do get to American history, it’s important to see our own country’s history in the context of what else was happening in the world at the time.

I hope that helps to give you a better idea of how things work as we do school at home!

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Whoa. I’m over 1100 words right now, which means I’d probably better wrap up this Q&A post and save some other questions for next time.

So, it’s your turn to be wordy now!

What are you thoughts on gluten/dairy?  Evil for all?  Evil for some?

Does your homeschool operate like mine?  (I’m sure my German reader would love to hear from a bunch of you!)