Category Archives: Life Lessons

10+ Ideas for Saving Money

We bought some garden supplies yesterday. A while back I discovered how and where to get the supplies cheaper than I had before. The regular retail price of what we bought was $12. I paid $4. The $8 difference isn’t huge, but do that 5 or 10 times a year? Yep, it’s significant.

frugality image

These  are my “secrets” although none of them are secret.

  1. Be willing to buy something that isn’t in pristine shape, frequently you can get it cheaper, maybe a lot cheaper. We’ve done this with all sorts of goods: luggage at the L.L. Bean outlet with the wrong initials on them, used diner dishes from a thrift shop, etc. I buy clothes, china/glass at thrift shops. I go to my local salvage (scratch & dent) market before I go to the supermarket. (See #2 below.)
  2. Go through sale items before you shop elsewhere in a store. True at L. L. Bean’s outlet, the supermarket, the salvage store, a consignment shop, thrift shops, etc. Most stores have a regular sale corner or shelf. If you learn where that is, or where the markdowns go and go through them first, you avoid buying 4 new rolls of paper towels instead of 3 and one with a rip in the plastic cover for 1/2 off.
  3. Don’t buy things just because they’re on sale. I wanted 2 things yesterday: cloth paint tarps and the garden materials. Got everything for just under $20. I know I can find the garden materials on sale, it’s just locating them, so if I hadn’t found them on sale, I would have passed. The paint tarps (not on sale, but usually smaller and cheaper than other tarps) are to put over the ever-larger leaf piles, so leaves aren’t blown back into the yard and to speed up composting.
  4. Be willing to walk away or have an alternate plan if what you want isn’t on sale. First time I looked for the garden materials this year I couldn’t find them on sale. The alternate plan for this is a lot of weeding. or using a home-grown substitute for what I bought, but it’s messier and doesn’t work as well.
  5. Be willing to do some work to get the bargain. I had to go look though the store for my bargain yesterday, then find someone to talk to. Needed help from the cashier too. If you’re always in a hurry, this will probably keep you from getting those bargains.
  6. Don’t damage items or try and bargain with the retailer, unless you know they’re okay with it. I had a retail store for years. I hated people who would pick up a $5 book and ask me to sell it to them for $3. Asking for a break at the end of the season is one thing. Or, if you truly need to buy a lot of something, talk to them beforehand. Don’t ask for extra discounts during sales.
  7. Buy in or out of season. In season for perishable items, like produce. Out of season for nonperishable items, like winter coats. The bargains in nonperishable items usually start as the seasons change, and get larger (with less selection) as time goes on.
  8. Know what customary retail is on an item before you go bargain hunting. If you’re paring down your food bill, frequently people make a “price book.” No one (or very few people) seem to do the same thing for durable goods they’re interested in: sofas, tires, prom dresses, etc.
  9. Find websites which will help you save time/money. I will tell you as a person who has spent a lot of time finding these, there are too many to review in any kind of timely way. If you want food coupons, there’s some really outstanding ones. If you want info re organization, same goes. If you want to save money in general, there’s a bunch of those too. If you go looking for general “save money” websites, you can quickly be overwhelmed. Be specific what you want help with before you go looking.
  10. Learn about cheaper substitutes: chicken thighs instead of breasts, for example.
  11. Limit what you’ll buy. For us, that’s six month’s worth of something which isn’t perishable, if I have the room. I bought shampoo a while back. I had coupons good for $2 off 2 and it was on sale as well. I had 3 coupons. I got 6 bottles. Normally, I’ll only buy 3 extra, max., but the shampoo won’t go bad, and my coupons were about to expire. Also, I’d just cleaned out the space where I’d store these, so I knew I had room.
  12. Be willing to comparison shop by phone if you’re buying either a large quantity or something that’s expensive. I just read an article by someone in the business who recommended this for caskets, etc. dealing with the death of a loved one. I’d never considered that, but why not? If it’s true of caskets, it’s certainly true about 4 dozen azalea plants or 1 tonne of gravel or 3 cases of tomatoes or 25 lbs of ground round. (See Jill Bond’s Mega Cooking if  you’re interested in strategies re food bulk buying.)

 

Unexpected

I have Desha Peacock’s decorating book. I just missed seeing her at a bookstore event. Found out about it the week following. Anyway, I was intrigued and I bought the book: Create the Style You Crave on a Budget You Can Afford.

Off and on I’ve dipped into it. Most of it seems to be articles about hip bloggers, which doesn’t interest me much. I don’t care about their blogs, their lives or how popular they are. Many of them, because they are on average 20-30 years younger than I am, are talking about things I already know to save money: the dump’s swap shop, upcycle, antique stores, flea markets, swap, etc. I do all that and have. So, a half a dozen times I’ve resolved to get rid of the book, donate or sell it.

I’d gotten there this morning, again, and found one of her “quizzes” which are supposed to help you figure out your “sweet spot.” I write in books I buy for information, and had various notes in this one about colors, but nothing else. But today? Today I wrote this about a “mood board” (I’ve never managed to make a mood board, or creative board, or whatever work. I’ve tried!)

“Seriously? Decide to feel a certain way and you make that in a room?

HAH!

Fat chance!!!

Part of this was “Ask yourself these questions:. . . (My pencilled notes are in boldface.)

How do I want to feel in this room? How do I want my family to feel and others who visit?” My comment here was: How the F do I know? Never thought I could control how I feel in a room. Rooms victimize you.

“What colors would I like to see in this room? How much of this color or colors can I envisage?” No envisaging. NO visualization. None. Forget it!

I feel a little like I did when I discovered I’d been traumatized by knitting. My lack of visualization was deliberate, once. I decided I had to do that because thinking in pictures yanked me around emotionally, and my emotions made me crazy.

Of course, that was almost 40 years ago, but I’ve discovered that flipping the switch I did, from thinking in pictures to thinking in words isn’t easy to do, or to undo.

desha peacock book

I’m not sure how to fix this. I like our new living room, mostly. I learned a lot doing it. But other than having an idea about how I want to combine colors in the house, spending as little as possible, and getting DH’s overall approval, I have no idea about what to do or how. I only know the next piece usually, if that.

The living room’s paint needs touch up and to be cleaned up in some areas. I want to take a strip out of one room to make a hallway, so I have a wall with a large bookcase. Aside from that? I have no next steps.

The back roof has to happen this year no matter what, and much of the available money will go to that. After that? I have no idea.

It annoys me that this is seemingly so simple for some people and so difficult for me. I know why I did what I did. It was necessary, when I was 20, but it isn’t necessary now and it makes my life difficult in all sorts of ways.

I can’t write fiction. I can’t plan craft projects without doing a “sketch” because when I imagine a finished project, it never turns out that way, etc. Not being able to imagine what something might look like is a total PITA!

New Rules

  1. Handle things as little as possible.
  2. When items are for sale, if they don’t sell at some previously set time frame, try to remove at least 75% of the items from inventory.
  3. If it’s in the house, you don’t use it, haven’t used it, and you have no idea when or if you’ll use it, get rid of it or reuse the components.
  4. Ask for help when you need it.
  5. Take advantage of good weather.
  6. Talk to the people you do business with. If you’re personable and reasonable, it can save you money. Maybe not a lot, but some. We drove the rental van about 8 miles yesterday. Because we were personable with the folks we rented from and the person before us had put in a little more gas than they had to, the guy told us if the gas hadn’t gone down below x level, to not worry about it. It hadn’t, and so we didn’t buy gas.
  7. Make use of the resources and tools you already have. This one actually cost us money. We forgot our hand truck yesterday and so had to rent one, sigh. We didn’t use it much, but we still paid for the one we rented. Today I’ll throw the one we own in the car.

full hand truck

My Dad

would be over 100, if he was still alive. His birthday was early this month.

I think, like everyone, when you have an anniversary of this type, you remember the person in question. I have and have been. I wonder what he’d think of who I am now? I’m very different from the daughter he knew. I’m also not “successful” in the same way that he used to deal with his kid crap. Would he think I’m a failure because I’m not all that interested in intellectual pursuits, scholarship, or seeking money/status/power?

I don’t know.

Hopefully it would be enough that I’m happy. Maybe not. There’s one thing I’ve finally accepted about almost everyone who “knew me when.” I approached my early relationships with about 3 premises: I was broken/damned, I was less than they were, or I was there to entertain. NONE of that do I do now.

Many problems I have with my birth family and old friends is just this: I won’t accept any of those as the premises in a relationship anymore. This confuses and upsets people who have known me for a long time.

They think I’m going to provide hours of entertaining stories about being outrageous, emotionally fall apart, or just agree that they’re inherently “better” than I am, and we may or may not “fix” me.

street signs

I don’t and won’t play anymore.

Makes things awkward ‘eh?

The performance art was exhausting. Thinking I was a homicidal maniac and being terrified of myself was exhausting. Feeling like I was damned and deserved whatever derision or nastiness put on me was crushing.

I’m not there. I’m not going back.

I’m boring, don’t entertain, have no need to be told how to live my life, and almost never do anything outrageous anymore.

Dad liked/encouraged my outrageousness. He didn’t understand the emotional over the top behavior. He was proud of my ability to entertain people and be a good hostess.

Flow or No

Whether it is because of the PTSD or otherwise, I tend to work in spurts or fits and starts. I keep thinking I should just be able to schedule something for a few hours, I can, but mostly don’t.

I need to accept that the abuse, panic attacks, and PTSD all make a regular schedule very difficult, if not impossible, as much as I’d like otherwise.

I need to stop fighting this and just accept it as the way I flow, period. I think when/if I can do that, the panic attacks or vestiges of them will lessen dramatically. It’s my belief that the panic is due largely to people being able to “see” what I’m doing or have done. I have a lot fewer problems, like nearly none, when I’m working for other people. This is only the stuff I do at home.
fits & starts2
Can I repeat, again, how much I really, absolutely hate the woman who abused me? It totally sucks to have your brain be your main enemy. It sucks more to view any finished project as something which will be attacked, belittled, or sneered at, whether it’s a clean kitchen counter or an art work. This just makes getting anything done a real challenge. [And I needed more of those, right?]

P.S. Reading this, I realized t’s wrong. I don’t hate her. I hate what she did to my brain. If it wasn’t that no matter how much work I do, this will be with me forever, I would have very few feelings about here at all.

She’s gone, her daughter is gone. The memories of what she did just make me feel sorrty: for her that she could be so nasty, her daughter and myself because she felt it necessary to emotionally attack two innocent little girls,, who grew to be wounded women because of it. It was just a waste.

Figuring It Out

There are many things I’m working to figure out: the best way to track business info without the data base I’ve used for years, the best arrangement of furniture (and what to use) in the living room, kitchen and dining room, the best way to remove the excess stuff from the house and storage, etc.

It seems I’m damned with either too much or too little: too much stuff, emails, things to do, too little time or resources. And I need to add a job to this? Well, yes, I do. One resource lacking is a chunk of money.

So, I’ll go look for a job in July or so. In the meantime, I need to go into high gear shedding excess stuff, reducing expenses by getting into a smaller storage unit, or getting rid of it altogether. Nothing there is new, except the idea of getting a job.

In the meantime, I’m still figuring things out. I’ve decided on two things to reduce stuff, stress and disruption. They have nothing to do with each other, except both are things I’ve decided to do to reduce my overall stress. They are:

  • Making appointments in the morning, preferably early morning, so I don’t have to switch gears midday, then switch back to whatever I was doing before.

appointment book

  • I use mechanical pencils by preference. I think they use fewer resources and I like the way they write better than traditional, wood-clad pencils. Because of the tax effort, I was using a lot of leads. After replacing one lead, then another, and then another, it occurred to me that instead of replacing one lead with one lead, most of the pencils will take an extra 3 or so. I got down the extra leads and filled all my pencils.pencil lead

This is very much like the resolve I made a few months back: that is, not to let my tank get less than 1/2 full, period. When it is down discernibly, I try and buy gas on the way home. End of “Oh spit!!! I have to remember to buy gas . . .” when I may (or may not) have actually included enough time to do such a thing. I’m also keeping a car journal now. Doesn’t take that long and next year I will absolutely have the mileage I used on business. I won’t have to figure it out from receipts, checks, etc. Hurrah!!!

 

gas guage

Always Unplanned

I picked up a load of stuff from my car last night and brought it in. Remembered, just now, that my phone’s battery needed charging. Phone wasn’t in any of the places where it gets put away, no ringy-dingy when we called it. Thought I’d left it in the car?

Nope. It had fallen out of my hands onto the ground last night. And it poured last night and poured. My phone is almost certainly dead. DH said, “Well, maybe those $60 waterproof cases are worth it?” because my case cost $20 and as far as I was concerned it should have been $10. We’ll see. The phone currently sits in a bowl of rice. My bet is that it’s fried.

sick cell phone from images.google.com

I guess I need to do a spot check, every night: phone, wallet, and keys. I usually do that as I’m walking out the door. Too late then if I’ve left it somewhere or dropped it, like this.

Blast!

J

Phone was in its case. We removed it and put it in a bag of rice. Last time we tried this, it didn’t work. But this time, it did! My phone is working.